“The Red Woman” is the premiere episode of Season 6 and the first to air without book material to back it up. In fact, some book readers have decided to opt out of the show at this point, saving it until the original source material is finally released (if it is ever released) by George R.R. Martin. I love the show for its own merits, so it was an easy decision for me to continue watching the series. However, it will make for a slightly different take on these recaps. I won’t have quite the same background material to include, and all speculation should be consider just that—not spoilers. At this point, book readers know just about as much as TV viewers going into each episode. If your theories ever differ from mine, I encourage you to include them as a comment to any of these posts.
In “The Red Woman,” women across the lands struggle and succeed to take power in the wakes of dead men like Eddard Stark, Tywin Lannister, and Jon Snow. In Dorne, Ellaria and the Sand Snakes lead a successful revolution against Doran Martell. Sansa finally assumes the mantle of the Stark household after her father and brother’s deaths, accepting the first banner(wo)man into her charge. For Brienne’s part, she finally finds a lord worthy of her service, whom she has been searching for ever since the deaths of Renly Baratheon and Catelyn Stark.
Meanwhile, Daenerys, Cersei, and Arya all struggle to regain the power they had acquired over the last few seasons, setting up the potential for a vengeful (and violent) season among them. Finally, Melisandre, the title feature and subject of the episode’s biggest twist, is revealed to be so powerful she’s able to disguise her centuries-old appearance and, potentially, bring a man back from the dead.