Games of Thrones, Season 6, Episode 1 – aka, why should I bother?

Game of Thrones, Season 6, promo imageI adored Game of Thrones when it first came out. I had been excited for years before it came out. But even I approached this season with trepidation. I’ll be blunt (trigger warning: rape mention) I’m talking about the rapes. The extra rapes. Rape where sex was consensual in the books (i.e. the rape of Cersei by Jaime (who hates rape and saves Brienne from rape what even?)) and the rape of Sansa, which had previously been Jayne Poole (which was also bad, but… many people were invested in the story of Sansa’s quiet, feminine strength and… it was problematic OK?)).

Our amazing show, which gave us so many amazing female characters in so many different roles that we’ve never gotten to see women play before and all together, not just one or two and… it was amazing, and where it then went the last two seasons left a lot of people feeling betrayed.

What’s more, last season was weak overall. I talk about this at length in my review of Season Five. I know a lot of people who bailed afterwards. I knew I wouldn’t, but as the new season approached… I wasn’t sure why.

But I watched it, and… I was more than pleasantly surprised.

The following is not a review – I’ve not the energy for that – but rather, it is a minimally spoilery list of reasons to watch this episode and hope that things are turning towards the light. (I mean, not for the characters – those fucks are gonna suffer, you know that, right? – but for us as viewers who need things to get a bit less rapey and sexist.) I make it for the sake of saying ‘You may be worried, but these things happen and they are the good things you probably didn’t think would happen‘:

Things are going to get better for Sansa.

Brienne is gonna be FRIGGIN’ AWESOME.

Dolorous Edd is pretty cool. I just like writing that sentence, ngl.

Tyrion and Varys politically analyse Meereen. You know you want it.

Daenerys. Is not a white saviour to anyone (in this episode). Which is good. She’s taken down a lot of pegs. But she’s also pretty awesome. Which is also good.

Sand Snakes. Are snakey. And even if their characterisation last season was lack luster, they certainly make a statement.

Arya. Is on screen and therefore awesome. But also blind and suffers physical consequences for this.

Nakedness… happens. But not in the way you expect it to.

I mean, the first two points were the most important to me, and they satisfied exactly what I needed to make this episode worthwhile, but the other stuff is also good.

And no, I’ve not told you anything about Jon Snow. As is right and proper. Watch the episode if you wanna know about that.

Doctor Who: Night Terrors

I liked this. There were no obvious gender issues, which made it a relief after last week. The plot was solid and the Doctor was wonderful.

Brief, non-spoilery plot synopsis

Little boy is so scared he sends a psychic message out so strong it is registered by the Doctor’s psychic paper inside the TARDIS. It says “Please save me from the monsters”. And the Doctor comes – to save the day and solve the mystery of what the monsters are and how to stop them.


Creepy little children are such a cliché, but overall this episode strikes a nice balance by keeping us guessing as to whether the child is creepy or creepy things are happening to the child. It certainly achieved something that would be scary for children, which is something Doctor Who has something of a duty to perform, but doesn’t always achieve. If you’re a small child, you want to at least say that you were hiding behind the sofa watching Doctor Who at some point in your life, even if you couldn’t ever physically hide behind your sofa.

I also felt it dealt well with the tensions inside the home that children feel but are so often ignored, or that parents assume they can keep from children, and thereby make worse. More than this, it showed the resolution of such tensions, which is something children need to see. I got no problem with sound resolutions like that happening in Doctor Who.

The only minor points of criticism are that the dad was too easily convinced that the Doctor wasn’t a nutter, and that it wasn’t really clear what happened to the old lady. I loved her as a character, but whatever happened to her didn’t happen in the same way as what happened to the other people. (I know this is vague, trying to minimise spoilers.)

Anyway, creepy children and dolls are a little obvious, but I found the resolution original and satisfying. I also really liked the aspect of meta-textuality introduced by what initially seemed, to me, to be a film set. I don’t know if that was intentional, but I liked it.

Other than that, not much to say. It did exactly what a Doctor Who episode needed to do – nothing more and nothing less. Not the best Doctor Who ever, but perfectly satisfying and not at all irritating. For that much, Mark Gatiss should be commended.