Game of Thrones's Season 6 premiere plunges right into power grabs and mysteries

Moving beyond the books, the series is taking us to all new territory

Warning: Before you embark on our Season 6, Episode 1 analysis, understand that there are literally spoilers everywhere. Valar morghulis. You have been warned.

The highly anticipated season 6 return of Game of Thrones, which finally surpasses George RR Martin's behemoth books, thankfully began right where we left off, with Jon Snow lying in a pool of his own blood.

Jon Snow is still dead, folks. Despite all the rumors and speculations of the last 10 months after the young Olly slid the final blade out of our favourite Lord Commander, he manages to remain dead until the very end of the episode - even with Melisandre, widely theorized to be our best bet at being able to resurrect him, on hand at Castle Black.

Instead, she merely looked on at Jon's cold dead body in disbelief, murmuring, "I saw him in the flames fighting at Winterfell," before retreating back to her room. Here, we see the Red Woman (which also happens to be the title of the episode) change into her true self for the first time - a very old, hunched over and weary woman.

...it's clear how little we know about the world of Westeros, Essos and the lands beyond, and how much there's still left to be explored.

As she stares at herself in the mirror, perhaps questioning her visions, her powers and her trust in the Lord of Light, it's clear how little we know about the world of Westeros, Essos and the lands beyond, and how much there's still left to be explored.

Like Melisandre and the showrunners, David Benioff and DB Weiss (who both also wrote this episode), we're in uncharted territory, with readers of the books finally on the same footing as those who haven't read them (or are frantically trying to catch up still).

The first episode may not tie off any loose ends, but it does give us a bit of a breather before killing off another major character (we're looking at you, Tommen) and, in a sense, allowing us to place where all our favorite characters currently are before we're plunged into the rest of the season.

But there is no gentle weaving between each character's story, fragmented across Westeros and Essos, as we've seen in previous episodes. Instead, we get a fairly steady moment at Castle Black in the aftermath of Jon's death, but then it's a series of cuts to different locations, with a few minutes to spare for each storyline: We get a few minutes with Sansa in the woods, a couple more with Cersei and Jaime, then to blind Arya begging. We even get to see a brief moment of Margaery locked away, then it's to Meeren, Dorne, and Daenerys, before coming back for that solemn, revealing moment with Melisandre.

There are a lot of threads, a lot of characters, and they keep getting more and more fragmented from each other, and this is perhaps going to be the biggest challenge for this season.

Sure, we've picked up the pieces of the Season 5 finale and know where all our favorite characters are heading right in episode one, yet it's hard not to want to spend a little more time with, for example, the Sand Snakes in Dorne.

There are a lot of threads, a lot of characters, and they keep getting more and more fragmented from each other, and this is perhaps going to be the biggest challenge for this season.

We care that Sansa is finally coming into her own and making decisions we can actually get excited about (accepting Brienne's help) rather than decisions we cringe at (not accepting Brienne's help and going to Winterfell with Littlefinger). But I'd like to spend more time with her and her new merry band of followers than with Daario and Jorah trying to find their missing Khaleesi.

A preview of the next episode suggests we'll finally get to see just what Bran has been getting up to, and I'm okay to wait for that. Similarly, I would have been okay to wait for episode two to see how Varys and Tyrion were faring in Meeren. In this same manner, that Jon is seemingly dead in every sense of the word, but hasn't been burned on a pyre or been buried, leaving his fate still somewhat open, is okay too - as long as his fate is resolved sooner rather than later.

So what exactly are we in store for Season 6? For once, not one person outside of the show's cast or production team knows. But with one episode in the bag, Benioff and Weiss, who have had some direction from Martin himself, have proven they can carry each character's thread, both new and old, with the same certainty we've come to know of the series. After all, we've already seen major power shifts, gruesome deaths, new alliances and old falling powers - all right off the bat.

And while I can cut the production team some slack, this first episode was not as seamless as we've known Game of Thrones to be. Thankfully, it has set up all the pieces for some fantastic clashes, both emotional and physical, for the coming episodes.

Game of Thrones Season 6

It turns out that not having source material to follow might be the best thing to ever happen to the series. It means more tension and a less likely chance of someone coming along and spoiling something as major as the Red Wedding.

It means more impetus to watch episodes the night that they air, alongside everyone else around the world, so that, perhaps for once, you may know as much as the most hardcore fans of the series.

Finally, and most importantly, it means things may no longer be so dire for the remaining Stark children. Maybe winter won't be so bad afterall.

But then again, who else is keen to see what mischief Ellaria Sand and her daughters will cause for everyone in Westeros?