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SPOILER WARNING: If you have not watched Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 1: “The Red Woman,” do not read on. 

As we hover over The Wall’s bloodied landscape, it becomes clear that our worst fears have manifested — Jon Snow is dead. Cold, stiff, hollow eyes and all.

But why is the Lord Commander’s demise so devastating in a world where death is as common as humanoid monsters with glowing blue eyes? The answer is quite simple: Jon Snow was the last morally redeemable character in Westeros. He broke some rules within the Night’s Watch and sacrificed loyalty for the chance to survive an inevitable clash with the White Walkers (and that is precisely what got him stabbed about a dozen times) but Snow was the final hero in Game of Thrones’ vortex of gore, treachery, reprehensible blonde Kings, Queens and so on. And if you gasped when he lay bleeding out among his brothers last year, knifed last by his very young protégé, you felt it too. The world turned frigid, and the next chapter in this story will make the Lannister dynasty, and a psychotic Bolton terrorizing the North seem like small distractions. Ferocious as she may be, Daenerys Targaryen is the only thing standing in the way of a White Walker take-over. She’s been taken hostage by an army of Dothraki in the Season 6 premiere — far away from the desolate North, further disassociating her ark from all that’s happening on the other side.

The episode titled “The Red Woman” is an apt and eventful start for the season, shrouded in mystery and unapologetic in its continued lust for blood. Melisandre doesn’t revive Jon Snow with magic; Brienne rescues Sansa and Theon in what’s the first glimmer of positivity in years for House Stark, and a murderous revolution takes place in Dorne.

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Tyrion and Varys struggle with the growing unrest in Meereen due to Daenerys’ absence, but hope to sniff out a lead on the Sons of the Harpy. Jaime returns to Cersei with the corpse of Mycrella, further dismantling the Lannister family. However, he vows to get even and take back what they’ve lost. Cersei’s been through a lot (Shame! Shame!), and perhaps the cruel, calculating Queen deserves it, but a touching moment of grief turns exciting when it becomes clear the ruthless siblings are still in the game.

We briefly see Arya struggling as a blind peasant in Braavos; while Roose Bolton threatens the demonic Ramsay with obscurity after Sansa’s escape.

So, what about the White Walkers? It’s hard to think about Game of Thrones’ endgame without including this wild card. Ever since Jon Snow (RIP) witnessed the Night’s King raise hundreds of undead around him, forcing the Wildlings to the Wall, everything has held a sense of urgency, or better yet, despair. The Lannisters can mourn and plan revenge, Jorah can hopelessly pine over Daenerys, Melisandre can reveal herself to be a hideous old witch instead of the fabled Red Woman (savior of fan favorite characters) but winter IS coming.

Perhaps this bleak, depraved land needs to be cleansed by the undead. The Mother of Dragons is stuck in the same place she was five seasons ago and Jon Snow lies dead on a slab. Might be a good idea to pray to the old Gods and the New.

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