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The Game of Game of Thrones: Season 6, Episode 1, The Red Woman

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Never wear a statement necklace to bed

Helen Sloan / HBO

Is it just me, or are things awfully chipper in the realm? After a season filled to the brim with child murder, Shame, and numerous other unpleasantries; and with winter pretty much here, you'd think things would feel a little more hopeless as we caught up with our far-flung players. Some of it feels like a very obvious course correction — "The Red Woman" was packed with Yas Queen moments; and yes, I consider that last scene a Yas Queen moment, for reasons I'll get to. But some of it just felt like a more energized continuation to the table-setting that usually goes on in a GoT finale.

But in the Game of Game of Thrones, a lousy rookie season is no reason to write off an entire freshman class of characters. For reasons unknown to anyone, Benioff and Weiss decided to wait until the first episode of the season after their much-hyped debut to have Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes (playing this Thursday at Beachcomber's Bar and Grill in Hermosa Beach, no cover for ladies, half off all house wines) finally do something of interest. Their coup of Dorne started with the poisoning of Myrcella Lannister, but saw a far more dramatic conclusion this week with the murders of Doran and Trystane Martell. Kind of a shame; I really could have used more Dr. Bashir on this show, and Trystane's pet rock was coming along so nicely. Ellaria picks up +35 for killing Doran, plus a brutal one-liner +10 for letting us know that "weak men will never rule Dorne again." Tyene Sand wins a total of +30 for killing a redshirt and Doran's guard who was totally a character with lines and a personality last season. Obara Sand gets +30 for killing Trystane (quite well, I might add!) and Nymeria Sand gets a pity +5 for "You're a greedy bitch, you know that?" which at least gave us a laugh line to go out on. Nymeria Sand is most definitely the Stephanie of the bunch. (Obara is DJ, Tyene is Michelle, Ellaria is Becky, and why did this spinoff get renewed?)

Maria Von Trapp if all the Von Trapp children died

ANYWAY. Look at how long that paragraph about Dorne was! All of this really just matters as it affects Cersei Lannister, back in the Red Keep and about five pounds of hair lighter. I know that it technically happened last season, but I hate the Cersei pixie cut. She looks like a college sophomore who just saw Breathless for the first time. She looks like Maria Von Trapp if all the Von Trapp children died. Anyone who grew up with The WB knows that if the ratings for Game of Thrones mysteriously tank this season, Cersei's hair will definitely get the blame. Anyway, I have to dock her -15 for the aesthetic downgrade, but she does make +5 back for an emotional speech about how much it sucks when corpses get ugly. ("Fuck everyone in the world who isn't us," Jaime Lannister replies for +5, which you know some #RichKid of Beverly Hills is getting tattooed on their tricep right about now.) The fact that she's more sad about her daughter losing her beautiful complexion than losing her life tells you that Cersei hasn't changed a bit. Can't wait for her to get back out on the field.

Game of Thrones Image: HBO

(Helen Sloan / HBO)

Let's hurry back up North, where Ramsay Bolton is mourning his dear Miranda with a speech (+5) which was a bit like watching that weird sad guard in Return of the Jedi mourn the Rancor. After making their leap from the tower, Sansa Stark and Theon Greyjoy are running through the forest on their somehow unbroken legs, and are nearly caught by some Bolton Bros when Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne save their somehow unfrozen butts. Brienne grabs +30 for Bolton slaughter, Podrick gets +10, and Theon even shows up to take out a guard for +10. Brienne — poor, by-the-book goody two-shoes Brienne — lays down her sword and for what feels like the 18th time is like, "are you guys hiring right now?" They are, it turns out! "You shall always have a place by my hearth," pledges Sansa, "and meat and mead at my table." With BENEFITS! Where exactly that hearth and table are remains to be seen — Brienne basically just signed on to a floundering startup that will ask her to "work remotely" for the next two years because the "whole office situation" is "kind of in flux" and besides, "we don't really do traditional offices," but at least she's done freelancing. That's +25 to her for the promotion, and a bonus +10 to Sansa for not quite acquiring Valyrian steel, but at least having someone in her corner who's wielding it.

Brienne + Sansa is as feel-good as this show gets

All jokes aside, Brienne and Sansa finally teaming up was as satisfying a feel-good moment as Game of Thrones can generate. And it's in keeping with this week's Themes: even the Sand Snakes' gory hijinks are part of an overall tide of women getting back up after inept / crazy male rulers fucked them over one too many times. Over in Essos, however, things are a little more murky — both Arya Stark and Daenerys Targaryen are kind of stumbling around in the wake of their own hasty ambitions. Arya's personal vendetta against Ser Meryn Trant left her blinded by the Many-Faced God (please go to another website to have this explained for you), Daenerys was forced to flee when her radical policies in Meereen proved too inflammatory. Nothing much happened to either of them this week; even in disguise, Arya still gets tracked down by her old friend from camp who clearly doesn't have anyone else to hang out with, and Daenerys is headed to Vaes Dothrak to hang out with the other widows of Khals, which, I dunno, sounds pretty safe and chill.

Game of Thrones

(Macall B. Polay / HBO)

Varys and Tyrion Lannister walk around the Meereen set on the extras' off day, still stewing over Dany's disappearance ("Well, she did ride off on a dragon and not come back," the eunuch points out, +5.) The harbor is set ablaze, but we'll have to wait until next week to find out if The Sons of the Harpy were responsible. Jorah Mormont and Daario Naharis track Dany through Dothraki territory trading only the mildest of barbs ("Sometimes I look at you and think, that's what I'll be like when I grow old," says Daario for +8, which would sting more coming from the perfect lips of OG golden surfer god Daario.)

But this was Melisandre's week, despite the episode opening on a long, nail-biting shot of Jon Snow's still-bleeding corpse, and Davos Seaworth's star-making request for mutton (+5; I really have a good feeling about Davos' prospects this season, not only with regard to whether or not he gets that mutton.) The titular Red Woman mostly just stalked around Castle Black looking troubled, but for good reason — Jon Snow is dead, and she "saw him in the flames, fighting at Winterfell." She's having a crisis of faith, and it could go either way, but if anyone's equipped to summon R'hllor and raise someone from the dead just to prove a point, it's Mel. But right now, she needs a nap.

How do we score this moment, which seems like its taunting me with its numerical complexity? Well, we have a +25 for full nudity — I don't care that that's not Carice Van Houten's body, we're talking about Melisandre here, and for her to go au naturale without airbrushing is a major character development. Her sudden transformation isn't so much an instance of "Surprise Magic use" as it is a reveal that she's been using Surprise Magic for the past four seasons. So we'll give her a half score, for another +25. On the other hand, I feel I must dock her the -15 appearance downgrade — but like, more according to Westerosi beauty standards; I think she looks fabulous and fierce. In fact, fuck it, here's +10 for rocking a new look, Mel! Which brings us to a total of +45 for the week. Yas, Queen? Yas, Queen!

We already knew Melisandre's magic was real

But what does it mean? We already knew Melisandre's magic was real, but how does that explain the faultiness of her prophecy? Maybe... and stay with me, here... maybe it means that Jon Snow isn't actually dead. No, I'm serious, this just occurred to me! More importantly, maybe it means that Stannis Baratheon isn't actually dead. We never saw Brienne actually lop off his head, as I like to shout frequently to whomever will listen. Even if she did "kill" him, she doesn't know well enough to burn his body (which the Night's Watch guys certainly knew to do and held off on for MYSTERIOUS PLOT REASONS).

Don't get me wrong, I know how Melisandre feels. When I'm wrong about something I, too, want to go sleep for like a week. But I'm just saying she shouldn't deny the Lord of Light just yet, he works in mysterious ways. In the meantime, give yourself a spritz of Chanel No. 5 and most definitely take off your Youth Crystal before hopping into bed. I can only imagine she had been wearing it every night with Stannis, which is like wearing a full face of makeup to bed after years and years of dating. So much wasted energy! Like those of us playing along at home, she's got to save it up if she plans on making it through this season.

The Verge's League Rankings

  1. Liz Lopatto, 55 (Top scorer: Melisandre, 45)
  2. Loren Grush, 55 (Top scorer: Ellaria Sand, 45)
  3. Bryan Bishop, 55 (Top scorer: Brienne of Tarth, 55)
  4. Kwame Opam, 38 (Top scorer: Tyene Sand, 30)
  5. Ross Miller, 30 (Top scorer: Obara Sand, 30)
  6. Kaitlyn Tiffany, 10 (Top scorer: Sansa Stark, 10)
  7. Jamieson Cox, 5 (Top scorer: Jaime Lannister, 5)
  8. Andy Hawkins, 5 (Top scorer: Davos Seaworth, 5)
  9. Michael Zelenko, 0 (Top scorer: N/A)
  10. T.C. Sottek, 0 (Top scorer: N/A)

For the full list of updated stats visit The Game of Game of Thrones on Fantasizr.

Learning to play the Game of Thrones theme on a futuristic keyboard