Jon Snow is still dead.
There were quite a few unsettled storylines at the end of Season 5, but whether or not Jon Snow had perished was certainly the most pressing. He’s still dead, but all that does is beg another question: Can Melisandre bring him back to life?
There’s a precedent: Thoros of Myr, the hard-partying priest of the Brotherhood Without Banners, has brought back Beric Dondarrion several times. The time we saw it was in Season 3, when the Hound was given a “trial” by the Brotherhood—he killed Dondarrion, and Thoros promptly brought him back to life. Melisandre is arguably stronger than Thoros, or at least she’s exhibited more power. We always knew she was very old, but now that we’ve seen her true form in the Season 6 premiere, does it mean that she’s more or less powerful than we previously thought?
No one in Castle Black is as familiar with Melisandre’s power than Davos Seaworth. The only wise man left in the fort, he’s travelled the world, and has some perspective of the global conflict unfolding. But first they have to make it out of the room in which they’re guarding Jon Snow’s body, preferably alive. He sends Dolorous Edd to fetch the wildlings, the only other people on this side of the wall that owe their lives to Jon Snow. And when Ser Alliser parlays with Ser Davos through the barricaded door, he offers to let them take Melisandre with them. Is there hope for Jon?
In Braavos, his sister Arya Stark is blind, confused, and panhandling. She’s still not quite accustomed to her blindness, but she’s learning to use her other senses; she sifts through the conversations happening all around her, gathering information as she’s camouflaged by her disability. When she’s attacked by “the waif,” her colleague at the House of Black and White, we see that her training is far from over. .
When we last saw Danerys, she had been taken to the Dothraki sea by Drogon (after he had scooped her up from the assassination plot a the Mereen fighting pit), and is wandering alone when she’s picked up by a random Khalasar. She escapes another Khal rape by telling them she was the wife of Khal Drogo. Khal Moro promises her protection, but also that the only place for her is with the Dosh Khaleen, the religious ruling class of widowed Khaleesi that live in the temple at Vaes Dothrak, in the center of the Dothraki sea.
Back in Mereen, Tyrion is left holding the reins of the government, as Daario Naharis and soon-to-be-stone Ser Jorah are out looking for their queen. Tryion must deal with the aftermath of the assassination plot at the opening of the games, and the insurgency led by the Sons of the Harpy. When Danerys freed the slaves, she also took away the masters’ wealth and property, and they’re still a bit salty about it. As he walks the city with Varys, taking its pulse, he’s optimistic, despite everything. He’s been through a lot, and maybe even already hit bottom. But he’s proved that if there’s one thing he’s good at, it’s governance. And he’s got his work cut out for him—the latest move from the Sons of the Harpy is to burn all the ships in the harbor.
In Dorne, news of Myrcella’s death has not yet reached the King Doran Martell; his sister Ellaria Sand elegantly murdered her with poisoned lipstick that didn’t kick in until the boat had left the harbor. When he finally learns the truth, Ellaria executes a coup, killing her brother with the news still in his hand. The palace guards appeared to be in league with the coup, so they only had to execute a couple of people, including his son and heir. It seems that the King had long ago lost touch with his people as he played global politics.
In King’s Landing, Cersei is ready for the first good thing to happen to her in some time, the return of her daughter. When Jamie returns with a somber face and a golden shroud covering their daughter, Cersei realizes she has hit rock bottom. Alone with Jamie, she seems resigned to her fate. But Jamie is resolved: “Everything they’ve taken from us, we’re going to take back, and more. We’re going to take everything there is.” Is he evil again? Is this the end of Jamie’s redemption? What are their plans for Ser Robert Strong?
In Winterfell, House Bolton is on shaky ground. Ramsay has lost Sansa Stark, who escaped his clutches with the help of Reek, the eunuch formerly known as Theon Greyjoy. Roose knows the precarious situation it puts them in—they’ll only be able to defend an assault from the Lannister army if they have the support of the North, which they won’t have without Sansa. He reminds his bastard son that he’s only useful to him if he produces an heir from Stark loins, and that his forthcoming son with Walda Frey could be in line to inherit House Bolton if that doesn’t happen.
Things don’t look so great for Sansa, either. She’s still fleeing with Reek, with Ramsay’s hounds hot on their tail. They’re about to be caught, until Brienne and Podrick Payne come riding to the rescue. They successfully defend them from their pursuers, but not before Reek picks up a sword—for the first time in a while—and saves Podrick from a certain death. Brienne once again bends the knee, and offers fealty to Sansa. This time she wisely accepts. Podrick still has to help her recite the words; either she’s not used to minting knights, or is still in shock from fording a the frozen river. But she eventually remembers, and as she gets into it, her back seems to straighten, the confidence in her voice growing. Shivering in the freezing cold, she seems regal, maybe for the first time. She’s been on a long path to carrying the banner of Stark, and now she has protection, in the form of the queerest Queensguard in Westeros: Pod the sex god, Reek the former man, and Brienne the Beauty.
But where’s Bran?