Welcome back, Thrones-ians! Sam here, of House Flynn, First of His Name and Heroic Writer of Reviews. After settling in like a Jon Snow corpse with my inaugural Game of Thrones recap last week, let’s get right into what you came for – a breakdown of the epic events in the sixth season’s second episode, “Home,” written by longtime Game of Thrones assistant-turned-writer Dave Hill and directed by “The Red Woman” helmer Jeremy Podeswa.
Beyond-the-Wall: Bran, Meera, Hodor and the Three-Eyed Raven
And we’re back in the cave! Two years later, it seems like both Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven, have, let’s say, changed quite a bit – the former is seven feet tall and the latter is now acting legend Max von Sydow, who can communicate with a look what other actors’ couldn’t in a lifetime of emoting.
We find them in quite a Inception-y flashback of Ned Stark’s younger days, seeing him spar with uncle Benjen and even glimpse the long-discussed, long-deceased aunt Lyanna Stark. Even a young Hodor (his real name is Willis!) is seen. But the Raven drags Bran out of the past and back to the gloomy cave, where the lone Child of the Forest and his companions Meera and old Hodor are. But Meera is pissed; this waiting around for Bran’s training is lame, she says, and she didn’t even get a paycheck last year!
The Child of the Forest (who should really be explained, because even as a book reader with the context therein, I still don’t know who or what she(?) is) comforts Meera, telling her she is what is keeping Bran tethered as he seeks to dwell more and more in dreams and memories, like the earlier one.
The Wall: Davos and Melisandre
At Castle Black, Thorne gives Davos and Jon’s allies – few that they are – his final warning and ultimatum. “Nobody needs to die tonight,” he intones, driving Davos to give his trailer line: “I’ve never been much of a fighter . . . ” Thorne gives the word to break the door down, 40-odd Night’s Watchmen surrounding it armed to the teeth. . .
. . . And Wun Wun the Big Damn Hero kicks down the frickin door down! The Widlings are here! They surround them with relatively few casualties considering the charged atmosphere (three cheers for Wun Wun smashing that dude against the wall). One by one, the Night’s Watch lay down their weapons and Dolorous Edd has Thorne, as well as a raging Olly, thrown into the cells.
(SIDE NOTE: Thorne allowing the Wildlings through the Wall last season really makes his betrayal seem all the more stupid. What did he think was gonna happen? That 5,000 freedom-loving Wildlings would acquiesce to Jon’s murder? It’s a tad disappointing, as Jon’s assassination in the books is far more nuanced – one of the attackers even cries as he stabs Jon because he genuinely doesn’t want to kill him but believes he has no choice)
Tormund sees Jon’s corpse for the first time. “A lot of knives,” he murmurs. There will be a funeral pyre and of course everyone in the audience goes “Melisandre!”
Davos visits the Red Woman, now re-veiled as her young self and suffering an intense crisis of faith, and asks what everyone is asking: can she magically bring Jon Snow back? She tells of meeting Thoros of Myr and Beric Dondarrion back in Season 3 but doubts she could accomplish what the former did with the latter. Davos does his Davos thing and convinces her to try the trick out and we the audience, who’ve expected this for over a year, wait with bated breath.
She performs her ritual, cleaning his wounds, cutting his hair and burns the strands while Davos, Edd and Tormund watch. But it appears to fail. One by one, they wordlessly depart the room, disappointed by the results. Long shots of Jon Snow and Ghost tell us, though, that something is about to happen. Sure enough, Ghost perks up and sniffs the air. Pull back on Jon Snow’s corpse and . . . he gasps for air!
The North: Sansa, Theon, Brienne and Podrick, the Boltons
We haven’t seen head-or-heels of the Karstarks since Robb executed the House’s head in Season 3 for treason. Here, their new House rep reports word of last week’s Bolton massacre. They guess Sansa will seek refuge with her last surviving relative, Jon Snow. Ramsay proposes raiding Castle Black and killing him to eliminate Sansa’s escape route as well as any bit of Stark blood remaining in the North.
But schemer Roose has had about enough of his psychotic son’s “plans,” especially when word arrives his wife Fat Walda has given birth, a boy “red-cheeked and healthy.” The look Roose and Ramsay share is pretty awesome, as even Roose knows Ramsay intends to kill him. The fact that Roose tries to comfort him should have cued me into what happened next: Ramsay murders Roose. RIP Papa Icy Eyes, your deadpan trolling will be sorely missed.
The new Warden of the North goes into the Winterfell courtyard to meet Walda and his new brother and . . . you can guess what’s next. He leads the the poor woman and her baby into the dog kennels, slowly unlocks every cages and let’s the dogs have their fun.
Elsewhere, Brienne informs Sansa of her sister’s survival and Sansa admits going to Winterfell was a mistake. “It was a difficult choice,” Brienne comforts. “We’ve all had to make difficult choices.” Meanwhile, Alfie Allen remains the secret weapon of Game of Thrones, in my opinion. I’ve been a fan of Theon from the beginning and seeing him get a modicum of redemption with Sansa was extremely gratifying. But I was worried he would be branching off from her story and even more worried it would be for arbitrary reasons. But I’ll reserve judgment on Theon’s decision to return to the Iron Islands, mostly because Allen kills his speech before it and, like Bran, gives the episode its title.
King’s Landing: Cersei & Jaime, the Tyrells, the Sparrows
A short but darkly-humorous scene demonstrates the power of FrankenMountain practically beheading a peasant with a touch. With that established, we can return to Cersei, barred from Myrcella’s funeral, with her obedient giant striking fear even in the soldiers defending the Red Keep.
At Myrcella’s funeral, Tommen blames Cersei for Trystane’s death and struggles with his situation with the High Sparrows. Jaime, standing vigil, does his best to guide his last child before the High Sparrow arrives. Tommen leaves to visit Cersei (he also gives a great speech and Lena Headey as always is a genius, lots of great monologues/looks this episode delivered superbly by the performers).
Back in the Sept, Jaime and Evil Bernie Sanders meet for the first time. The High Sparrow sounds a lot like a Faceless Man, pontificating on the value of death and clarifying his pride-less persona. Jonathan Pryce long turned down roles from Game of Thrones because he wasn’t into fantasy; I thank god for that because he manages to be both threatening and benevolent at the same time, a delightfully-new flavor for a show six years old.
The Iron Islands: The Greyjoys
Remember the Iron Islands? Me neither, so the opening scene sets about reminding us: Balon is a dick, Yara is not, Balon wants war, Yara does not etc. The self-styled king sees no reason to give up his dreams of conquest, even though both of his mainland invasions have been an utter failures. He boasts that he alone is the only king left alive from the War of the Five Kings which of course means, given the bloodlust this season has already seen, that he is not long for this world.
It’s been a longtime coming but seeing him on that rickety bridge in the storm (an event only referenced in the books) I felt some grim satisfaction. He encounters a hooded man, who reveals himself as Balon’s long-lost brother, the pirate Euron (Question: how many viewers had no idea who this dude was or what he doing there? Just curious how effective it was). Euron promptly does what we’re all thinking and tosses Balon off the bridge.
At the funeral the next day, Yara is denied her birthright to rule as the first Queen of the Ironborn. Instead, the misogynistic Ironborn chose their kings via Kingsmoot, a gathering of the Ironborn to elect a king, something Euron was clearly counting on. Hey, who recently lost some ships and might need a renegade pirate to help them out?
Blind Arya gets beaten by the Waif again. It seems little different than last week until everyone’s favorite Faceless Men Jaqen reappears, guiding her back on the path of becoming “No One.” While we all love Tom Wlaschiha’s Jaqen, doesn’t his reappearances defeat the purpose of being “Faceless?”
Meereen: Tyrion & Varys
Tyrion is amazing. This is about a non-controversial statement as one can make. With his Meereenese advisers Varys, Missandei and Grey Worm, they discuss ships’ burning, the slave Masters retaking Astapor and Yunkai as well as the dragons, who are refusing to eat without Dany around. He volunteers to visit them as a “friend” and I immediately think “wouldn’t it be nuts if we all expected Jon’s true parentage to be revealed and they suddenly revealed Tyrion had some long-lost Targaryen blood” (seriously, that’s a theory).
Dinklage of course kills his speech relating his childhood desire to meet a dragon (delivered to the dragons) and his father, typically, shitting on his dream. Tyrion unchains them, earning their trust.
MISSING THIS WEEK FROM GAME OF THRONES:
Littlefinger as well as Sam, Gilly and Little Sam were MIA again this week, along with Margaery Tyrell and her family. There were no updates from the Riverlands, where the Blackfish holds Riverrun in defiance of the treacherous Freys (of whom this week’s victim Walda was a family member). We also took a break from Dany while she is marched to Vaes Dothrak as well as the “Martells,” (technically, the actual Martells are all dead, but the Sand Snakes remain). They were presumably off killing any remaining family members they might have missed in Dorne.
Here’s the synopsis and preview for next week’s Game of Thrones episode, “Oathbreaker.”
“Daenerys meets her future. Bran meets the past. Tommen confronts the High Sparrow. Arya trains to be No One. Varys finds an answer. Ramsay gets a gift.”
Game of Thrones airs on Sunday nights on HBO.