So: Game of Thrones. Finally — season six — the TV series has overtaken the books on which it is based and the big worry for all us fans is: will it live up to the warped, convoluted, sinister genius of George R.R. Martin’s original material?
As regulars will know, the great thing about Martin is that you never know which of your favourite characters he’s going to kill off next. Really — and I can’t think of any other series of which this is true — they could die any moment, which is one of the things that makes it such gripping, unsettling, memorable TV. (The ritual immolation of that little girl last season, for example. Will it ever be surpassed?) It takes steel to kill your darlings as brutally as Martin does and I wonder if the series showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will have the stomach for it. Perhaps. But I did get the slight feeling — multiple spoilers alert! — in episode one that we were just going through the motions rather than being taken to terrible dark places that we would have preferred not to visit.
Daenerys Targaryen: so she’s been captured by the Dothraki horde (I thought they’d all been wiped out in season one, but still) and brought before a new Khal. Obviously, she didn’t tell any of this Mongol-like tribe on the journey that she was once married to one of their warlords because that would have spoiled the moment. Still when she did reveal her royal heritage to the new Khal, it all seemed sort of obvious: the initial scornful disbelief; a rare flicker of vulnerability from the haughty Mother of Dragons; then the Khal’s judicious acceptance. Still I’m holding out hope for this place he mentioned where the widows of all Khals are obliged to live out their lives. Sounds promisingly awful.
Sansa Stark. Well I’m glad she didn’t break her legs jumping off that high castle battlement with Theon Greyjoy (as obviously they both should have done). She’s been through quite enough after all that vigorous raping from her vile, sadistic husband the Bastard of Bolton. At the same time, though, you think: rescued by Brienne of Tarth? That easily? Without anyone being torn limb from limb by ravening hounds first? Hmm.
Jon Snow. Dead, obviously, but will he come back to life? He’s probably the only major character in Thrones who is absolutely, unswervingly decent, through and through. Which is what makes him so incredibly dull. But we may need him in the great coming war against the White Walkers. So… Maybe if, as has been tantalisingly hinted, the spooky (and, after that mirror revelation, sadly no longer shaggable) Melisandre revives him, he’ll come back as a weird zombie in service to the vengeful Lord of Light, and he’ll suddenly become interesting.
Arya. My favourite character, not counting Tyrion (currently treading water in Boresville unfortunately). Her experiences training to be a badass ninja at the House of Black and White have been like Luke Skywalker and Yoda on ketamine, with pretty much every possible ordeal thrown at the poor girl in order to teach her the requisite humility and mindfulness. Currently she’s blind but there are worrying signs that maybe her journey will soon be over. Not too soon, I hope. Wouldn’t want Thrones to come over all The Force Awakens, would we?
The horrible sexy Middle Eastern-looking women in Dorne. I hate these bitches. Well we all do and we’re yearning to see what truly terrible revenge Cersei and Jaime exact on them for having murdered their daughter Myrcella. But I didn’t think in this episode they were quite hateful enough. Their killing of Prince Doran and his heir (both of whom they blamed for being too nice: a suicidal weakness in Thrones) seemed somehow perfunctory and obvious. Even the spear in the back felt not as shocking as it should have been.
Cersei. Clearly after her Walk of Shame in the last season, it is about time she reasserted her authority and destroyed the meddling prig the High Sparrow, who I think may have been modelled on Jeremy Corbyn. Before she does, though, I think we need to be reminded a bit more about why the High Sparrow and his frightful Social Justice Warrior monks are so deserving of the vilest fate. I don’t want it just to be a matter of that giant new bodyguard she’s got making it easy for her. We need complexity, intrigue before the bloodbath, preferably involving Margaery, with her kit off at some point or perhaps several.
Northern Ireland. Sorry but it’s started to look too much like Northern Ireland.
White Walkers. It’s time they raised their game and stopped being just on-off scare decoration and started to become The Ultimate Menace. It’s their job — or should be. Winter is coming, remember?