What do you think, fellow Throne Geeks, can we ever truly go home again? Game of Thrones has played with the theme of “home” ever since the very first episode of season one when Viserys Targaryen sold his sister Dany to the Dothraki so that he could “return home” to Westeros and take back the Iron Throne. We all know how that worked out in (moral of the story: always politely decline an offer of a “Golden Crown” from a Dothraki khal).
Dany picked up where her brother left off, but has yet to make good on that promise of returning home. She is far from alone in her quest, however, as a number of storylines, throughout the seasons, have focused on characters trying to get back home (Arya to Winterfell, Jamie to Kings Landing, Jorah to Dany (home can be a person too)). Actual homecomings have taken place on occasion, but, to be honest, they don’t often go well: Theon traveling to the Iron Islands for the first time in nearly 10 years (season two) sent him down a dark path, Catelyn’s visit to her childhood home of Riverrun was for her father’s funeral (season three), we all know how well Sansa’s return to Winterfell went (season five), and this season we’ve already been subjected to at least one very sad homecoming with the return of Myrcella’s body to Kings Landing.
But “home” can mean a variety of things, can’t it? Many characters throughout the series have found new homes in unexpected places (and with unexpected people), and in last night’s episode, entitled “Home,” a number of them find themselves “coming home” in unusual ways.
In fact, I’ve sort of buried the lead here as tonight’s BIG revelation (in an already jam packed episode) involved a main character not just “coming home,” but also “coming back” (with a little help, of course) in the very last scene. Which means:
JON SNOW IS ALIVE (I crow with tears of happiness and vindication in my eyes!).
Ok, now that we got that out of our system, let’s properly recap this episode from the beginning!
Beyond the Wall
The episode begins in the home of the ancient and enigmatic Three Eyed Raven (played with grave majesty by Max von Sydow), beneath a giant weirwood tree (white bark, red leaves – sacred to the Old Gods) far north of The Wall. Amidst the gnarled roots of the tree, The Three Eyed Raven shares a vision of the past with his new protégé: Bran Stark (last seen at the end of season four). In the vision, Bran returns home to Winterfell, only he sees it during a time of happiness when his father, Ned, was still a boy. This first flashback (of many planned for season six) is significant in several ways. First, for the fact that Bran can walk in his visions (logistically good for the show, but also very symbolic for the crippled boy).
Second, for it’s introduction of Ned’s younger sister, Lyanna (whose kidnapping by Prince Rhaegar is what spurred Robert Baratheon to rebel against King Aerys Targaryen, though the details of what really happened are shrouded in mystery), and third, for it’s depiction of Hodor before he was…Hodor, but rather a young (though still giant) stableboy named Willis, who could talk (also, he is Old Nan’s grandson). Winterfell looks idyllic in this scene, causing Bran to resist being pulled back into the real world where he is still a crippled boy, and where Meera is having a hard time figuring out her role in Bran’s journey (also still likely mourning the death of her brother, Jojen). A child of the forest tells Meera that she will be needed once Bran leaves the safety of the tree (a small, but crucial, detail that hints at the fact that Bran will physically reenter the larger story at some point – something many fans weren’t sure about). The scene works as a taste of the types of things we can learn through Bran’s new powers, as well as starts us off with a poignant look at “going home.”
In Kings Landing
As we land on yet another funeral in the Sept of Baelor, this time for Myrcella, we get a better sense of The High Sparrow’s power in the city. Though Cersei is barred from attending (she still hasn’t been exonerated of the charges against her by The Faith), Jaime accompanies King Tommen, who is feeling quite down and guilty for not having been able to help either his mother or his wife, Margaery (I sort of loved how he assumed that Cersei had Trystane killed…he’s a bit sharper than I originally gave him credit for). Tommen leaves after The High Sparrow denies his request to see Margaery, after which Jaime not so subtly threatens the holy man. Another sub theme of this episode is how religion and faith play into feelings of security and home. The High Sparrow is at home in the sept, and Jaime, who has no regard for The Gods, is not – a point amplified when His High Holiness not so subtly threatens Jaime right back, as many of his poor followers (the “sparrows”) fill the chamber. The High Sparrow’s socialist agenda is coming more clearly into focus.
Meanwhile, Cersei remains confined to the Red Keep (her “home”) and is constantly being shadowed by her silent Kingsguard protector (who extends his protection so far as to brutally murder a man who lewdly bragged about her in the streets). After speaking with Jaime, Tommen visits Cersei and apologizes for not being strong enough to protect her. Once again, Lena Heady knocks it out of the park, as she, at first, is unable to even look at her son. His entreaties, however, bring out her strongest attribute – her love as a mother – and they embrace. The show appears to be bringing the Lannisters together as a tight knit unit, and it’ll be interesting to see which enemy they take aim at first – The Faith, Dorne, The Boltons, etc.
First, in Braavos, we get another quick check in with Arya, who once again proves her mettle by not giving in to pain (in the form of a another beat down by The Waif) or temptation (in the form of promises from Jaqen H’ghar – Arya refused to name herself despite his offerings of food, shelter, and getting her eyesight back). It’s something of a relief that Arya’s story is moving on from her begging on the streets and back to the House of Black and White (in effect, she’s returning “home”) where she will resume her quest of becoming no-one.
Someone else very far from home is Tyrion, though he has no trouble making himself feel at a home in the great pyramid of Mereen (all it takes is a little wine and the ability to make jokes about eunuchs…in Mereen, this means both Varys and Grey Worm are fair game). Though Dany’s B-Team of rulers (Tyrion, Varys, Missandei, and Grey Worm) is faced with the issue of who burned all their ships, as well as the fact that both Astapor and Yunkai have been retaken by the slave masters, Tyrion chooses to focus on Dany’s two remaining dragons (Viserion and Rhaegal) who are chained up underground and refusing to eat. Since Tyrion’s thing is to “drink and know things” he decides to test his knowledge of dragons (he’s read about them, of course).
And so he ventures into the dragon’s lair and in another one of Peter Dinklage’s trademark monologue moments, Tyrion makes some new dragon friends by unchaining them (and telling them the story of how he always wanted a dragon….even just a little one). The CGI in this scene is absolutely incredibly and we learn quite a bit about the intelligence of dragons, as well as Tyrion’s passion for them. I think these will be good friends for Tyrion to have moving forward.
In the North
At Winterfell, Roose Bolton is unhappy that Ramsey’s men did not recapture Sansa, so Ramsay suggests attacking Castle Black and killing Jon Snow (assuming that is where Sansa is headed) with the help of the major Northern Houses: The Manderlys, The Umbers, and The Karstarks. Present at this meeting is the current Lord Karstark – the son of the man Robb beheaded in season three for killing two Lannister boys in revenge for Catelyn having let Jaime Lannister go – who agrees with this plan. Roose, however, is unimpressed and when news arrives that Lady Walda has given birth to a son, he can’t help but be a bit smug at Ramsey’s expense (side note: this gives us viewers a rare glimpse into the shows timeline, and seems to indicate that Sansa was at Winterfell far longer than most of us thought, since she was present when Walda’s pregnancy was announced in season five. It seems as if she was there at least five months or so). Ramsay hugs his father in congratulations, which he follows up with a knife to the gut. Bye-bye Roose. The North really better watch out now, because not only is Ramsay being backed by the Karstarks, but he decided to remind us of how absolutely despicable he is by ordering his dogs to attack and kill his stepmother and newborn baby brother. Gods, he needs to die a slow and painful death.
Meanwhile, heading towards The Wall are Sansa, Theon, Brienne and Podrick. While resting, Brienne tells Sansa about having seen Arya in The Vale (though conspicuously leaves out the fact that Arya had been with The Hound and that Brienne pushed him off a cliff…). As they and Pod prepare to leave for Castle Black and Jon (word of his death hasn’t spread yet), Theon decides to leave them. In a very poignant moment, Theon tells Sansa he knows there is no forgiveness for him, and though he would have died to protect her if she needed him, now that she has Brienne, he wants to return home to The Iron Islands. I’m a little sad about this development, because their relationship felt so earned and gratifying, but I have to admit to being curious as to his welcome on Pyke.
On the Iron Islands
Speaking of Pyke, Balon Greyjoy, the last of the Five Kings, isn’t happy his Ironborn have lost their hold in the North. After arguing with his daughter and heir, Yara, he attempts to cross the rickety bridge between towers during a storm. Blocking his way is his younger brother, Euron, who has come home despite rumors of his demise under some far away sea. Balon accuses his brother of having gone crazy aboard his ship, cutting his crews tongues out. Euron claims to be the Drowned God and The Storm (“I needed silence” – great nod to book readers who know Euron’s ship is named Silence)…and kills Balon for being in his way (throws him over the side of the bridge to the rocks and water below). Now that’s an intriguing and badass introduction to a new player in town.
The next day, as Yara and a drowned priest send Balon’s body into the sea (“home”), the priest declares there will be a Kingsmoot to decide the next King of the Iron Islands (Yara has a claim, but there has never been a female ruler). Yara, in turn, also vows to find her fathers killer (and feed him to the sharks…maybe this is how we can kill Ramsey?)
In the North: Castle Black
Alliser Thorn’s ultimatum deadline to Davos, who is protecting Jon’s body, is up, so Thorne orders the door to the barricaded room broken down. But, as Davos and the others prepare to fight, the castle’s gate is kicked open by a giant named Wun-wun (the one from Hardhomme). Tormund and the rest of the wildlings (rallied by Edd) storm into Castle Black and the Nights Watch decides…not to fight…I’m a little incredulous that not one of them shot off an arrow at Tormund (obviously the leader), but I guess that’s because he kills one guy while Wun-wun smashes another against a wall? Ok, I’m going with it. In any case, despite rashly charging Tormund, Olly is spared and thrown into a cell, along with Thorne and the others (gotta love Thorne calling Edd a traitor, though! Pot. Kettle. Black.).
With order restored, Davos visits Melisandre in her chamber (I’m still waiting for her to tell him what she did to Shireen…) and asks her if she is capable of bringing Jon back from the dead. Despite this very clunky way of getting into the scene (we know she’s probably capable of that because we saw Thoros of Myr do it, but Davos doesn’t know that…he just assumes that the step after smoke baby demons is resurrection?), both Carice van Houten and Liam Cunningham give great performances – hers one of fear and doubt, his one of desperate hope – that really underline how faith, humility, conviction and power are intertwined as character motivations on this show. Melisandre has lost her faith and her way, but to Davos, it’s not about faith in any god, but faith in what is right. It’s at least enough to convince Melisandre to try, which leads us to one of the best episode ending scenes the show has ever done.
It’s been eleven months since Jon Snow was stabbed to death by his brothers in the season five finale, and the fandom has gone wild with speculation ever since. Fueled by the creators and talent behind the show, the guessing, second guessing, and triple guessing has kept us all in the dark as to when/how the show would bring Jon back, and the final scene in last nights episode played into all that doubt and speculation right up until the very last second. I honestly didn’t know which way the story was going to go, which is a testament to the writers, as well as to the wonderful direction by Jeremy Podeswa.
And so, in a very methodical and deliberately paced scene, Melisandre finds the faith and power to bring Jon back (I loved her final, emotional, “please” at the end of the spell – it felt like a parallel to the desperate way Thoros brought Beric back to life in season three), though those in the room (including Davos and Tormund) don’t believe she has succeeded. As everyone leaves feeling defeated, Podeswa gives a winking nod to book readers and fan theorists who believe Jon’s soul fled into Ghost, by letting the shot linger on the direwolf, before holding on Jon’s body for several long beats…and then he gasps for breath (as I’m guessing many of you did, as well). Cut to the credits. Is it next Sunday, yet?
- Tyrion meets, and unchains, the dragons.
- Jon breathes again.
Most Shocking Moments:
- Ramsey kills his father (and stepmother and brother…that was less shocking, but still positively evil).
- The last of “The Five Kings,” Balon Grejoy, is dead at the hands of his brother.
- “I wasn’t drowning, I was home” – Bran Stark
- “I’m here to help. Don’t eat the help.” – Tyrion Lannister
- “I am the storm, brother. The first storm and the last, and you’re in my way” – Euron Greyjoy
Most Pressing Questions:
- Will Jon be different now that he’s died and been brought back to life? What will his first move be?
- How will the Ironborn Kingsmoot play out?
- Can Tyrion just ride a dragon already?
Well, that’s it for this week’s deep dive into season six, episode two, of Game of Thrones! There is a lot to take in from this episode, even thought I’m sure we’re all mostly focused on Jon. I personally could not be more exited for Tyrion, now that he’s interacted with dragons, and to see how the show’s version of Euron plays out. I’m also dying for more Bran flashbacks (Tower of Joy!!). What about you guys? Favorite moments of this episode? What are you looking forward to next week?
Game of Thrones airs every Sunday night on HBO.
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