Game of Thrones, Episode 1: Recap, Spoilers, and Fan Theories

Last Sunday, fans of the much-loved epic-fantasy series, Game of Thrones, cried out in joy as their long fast ended and season six premiered. As we did with The Magicians, every week we’ll be giving you episode recaps, sprinkled with book insights and fan theory.


The season premier was dedicated to catching up with most of the characters and setting up an intriguing season. For the most part, everyone is as expected; Tyrion is with Varys, crafting plans in Meereen where he now believes he can be of most help to restoring the Seven Kingdoms; Daenerys (Dany) is making the most of her titles and her stern voice after she is captured by a Dothraki Khal in the great Grass Sea; Margaery continues to suffer (though beautifully) in a cell in King’s Landing, refusing to confess to the High Septon; Cersie and Jamie are reunited over the loss of Myrcella (they only have one child left); the Dornish Sand Snakes, in perhaps the quickest but most important political change-up, stage a coup and kill their uncle; and Sansa Stark is finally saved from the clutches of the despicable Ramsay Bolton by Brienne and Podrick.

Game of Thrones is epic fantasy,
which means that magic will probably come out on top.

There are some burning questions this time around, which, now that the season is off book, even those of us heavily steeped in book knowledge can’t fully answer. The first and most pressing question is about Jon Snow. Is he reaaaaaally dead? Second, what’s the deal with Melisandre, this episode’s title character, “The Red Woman?” They’re equally burning questions but I’ll have to get to Melisandre in a red hot second because the question about the late Jon Snow is just too pressing. I don’t want to get your hopes up, but I think Jon Snow is going to be resurrected—the camera lingers over his body, creating an affect that suggests the show isn’t quite ready to bury him yet. This should be resolved in the next episode or so because if a corpse is going to be raised, it has to be soon after death . . . duh.

Jon Snow’s death tugs at our heartstrings! And if he comes back (perhaps aided by the lady Melisandre?) we would be awed by her power. But Jon’s death would pose another interesting situation and it has to do with the oath he took when he joined the Night’s Watch: “Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death.” What would happen if he were free from that oath, you ask? If you want to know a widely held fan theory about Jon Snow’s identity, you can follow this link—but this stuff will blow your mind, so don’t say I didn’t warn you:

The other huge development in this episode is with Melisandre. Starting out as a side woman whispering in Stannis’ ear, Melisandre continues to make her mark on the future of the Seven Kingdoms. But the final shot of her in this week’s episode indicates that she’s far older than she appears—could she also be far more powerful than she appears? Could she even be an incarnation of R’hollor itself!? I don’t think we’ve seen enough of Melisandre to accurately guess where her influence will extend. For me, Melisandre is a good reminder that Game of Thrones is epic fantasy, which means that magic will probably come out on top.


Fans of the books know that season six marks the first season off-book, and actually, in a way, the storytelling feels more straightforward than in previous seasons: leads feel more direct than before. The days of out-of-the-blue Ned Stark headrolls could be behind us. It will be interesting to see how HBO upholds George R. R. Martin’s sense of storytelling as the season continues.

The 50 minute episode felt like it was over in a mere five. I have a lot more questions! Where are Bran and Rickon? And when will Arya stop being so stubborn? And how will Cersie take her revenge on the Sand Snakes and the High Septon? Maybe next week. Next week . . .




About the Author:

Nicole Foti is an adjunct professor of writing and cultural studies at various colleges in Rhode Island and Connecticut. She uses academic research as a disguise to think deeply about fantasy, science fiction, feminism, representation, affective dynamics and shifting modes of power.

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