So there's good news and bad news for Game of Thrones fans (do we have a name for ourselves, like Trekkies or something? Throners? Can someone get to work on this please?). Season 6 of the enormously popular HBO series gets underway at 9 p.m. ET on Sunday, and after an interminable wait that felt as long as the Khaleesi's trek through the desert to the gates of Qarth, the end is finally nigh. And now the bad news, if these new Game of Thrones photos are anything to go by: Things are looking rougher than ever for our favorite fair maidens in the Seven Kingdoms.
While living in Westeros has never been easy for women — or living across the Narrow Seas, come to think of it (Daenerys Targaryen, you know what I'm talking about) — Season 5 of Game of Thrones set the stage for a darker, more treacherous time to come. Remember fans, Season 5 spoilers ahead!
Between a public shaming so terrible it gave me bad dreams, a blinded young would-be assassin, and a poisoned princess collapsing in the arms of her father/uncle (it's not as weird as it sounds, relax), feminism was taking a pretty solid one-two punch to the gut. So what will we see next for the ladies?
Sansa Stark & "Reek" (Theon Greyjoy)
We last watched Theon and Sansa throw themselves off a high wall to escape the clutches of the dastardly Ramsay Bolton, Sansa's husband/rapist/tormentor and the man who cut off "Theon's favorite part." Now, it looks like the two of them escaped death, but winter is definitely coming. Sansa and Theon look relatively ill-equipped to survive, but never underestimate people who have nothing left to lose.
Sansa Stark & Theon Greyjoy (Even Colder)
OK, it looks like Theon is becoming himself again, though hopefully not the same guy who betrayed the Stark family and murdered those two little boys (not to mention that sick-making botched beheading). Theon could be looking for a little redemption as Sansa's savior, and why not? The two of them did grow up together at Winterfell — and honestly, Sansa just needs to catch a break. Really and truly.
Jaime Returns To King's Landing
Uh oh. We all remember Jaime's twin sister/lover Cersei's humiliating, naked walk of shame through the streets of King's Landing. The High Sparrow and Faith Militant (ironically the same religious zealots she empowered) turned on her and branded her a sinner. She alone was left to deal with the damage her relationship with Jaime wrought on the Lannister family. Well, now he's back, carrying (presumably) the body of their sweet daughter Myrcella, murdered by Ellaria Sand as punishment for the murder of her lover, Prince Oberyon Martell. Things simply do not look good for Cersei.
The Horde On The Move
Daenerys Targeryen has come a long way since her days as Khaleesi to her husband Khal Drogo. She is a bona fide Queen these days, even if she did have to get rescued from Mereen, the slave city she liberated. Things were kinda-sorta looking up: She reconciled with her favorite adviser, Ser Jorah Mormont, and was rescued from an attack by the Sons of the Harpy. As usual, her good luck was short lived. She was dropped into the hands of a Khalasar horde, and we know how good those guys treat women, right? Start sweating now.
The Faceless Girl (Arya Stark)
See, I have the most hope for Arya here. She might be blind, sure, but that girl has a little something called gumption. She is a survivor of epic proportions. She has escaped the clutches of the Kingsguard and the Brotherhood Without Banners. She outwitted Tywen Lannister himself. She made an ally with a Faceless Man and found her own way to the great city of Braavos. Blind or not, this girl is going to be grand, I promise you (although don't quote me on that).
Daenerys Targeryen & Khal Moro
I would like to put in a brief order here for the producers of Game of Thrones; no more raping, okay? (Is that really so much to ask?) Daenerys already had to endure a questionable start with Khal Drogo, the man she eventually grew to love and respect. But this Khal Moro, a rumored ally of Khal Drogo, needs to Just Not. Imprison her, or hold her for ransom, I can deal with that. But please: no more gratuitous rape scenes. Enough is enough.
Alleria Sand & Prince Doran Martell
Alleria is in trouble, yes? I mean, I love Prince Doran and his responsible, measured responses to problems. But Alleria just (presumably) killed sweet little Myrcella after Doran sent his son Trystane to King's Landing. Not okay.
Myranda & Ramsay Bolton
It looks like Ramsay is mourning the death of his lover Myranda, thrown to her demise by none other than his tortured plaything, Reek (Theon Greyjoy). It looks like that, doesn't it? But this is Ramsay Bolton, recently naturalized son of Roose Bolton, Warden of the North and murderer of Robb Stark, and sadistic murderer who loves to skin people alive. So I have my doubts...
How does Cersei even come back from Season 5? Her son, the king, is losing his marbles locked away in his room. Her other son, the previous king, was poisoned right before her eyes (and even though King Joffrey was the worst person ever, she is his mom, so it had to be tough). Her daughter Myrcella is (presumably) dead. And she was just imprisoned, starved, refused water, had her hair hacked off, and forced to walk naked on bloody feet through the streets of King's Landing while people called her terrible names. How does she recover? Cersei's revenge is usually pretty fantastic, and I have to confess I am excited to see what she has in store for the duplicitous High Sparrow.
In fact, I'm excited to see what all the ladies have in store. Because while I sense the beginning of Season 6 of Game of Thrones won't be great for them, I have little doubt they will eventually come out swinging.