Absolutely nothing of interest happened on this episode of Game of Thrones. It was a pretty average, garden-variety epis- WHO ARE WE KIDDING?! THAT WAS AMAZING! Just click the button, and get to reading!
Spoiler Note: This post is for those who have read the A Song of Ice and Fire series. The post and the comments section will contain spoilers from the novels! Because no, we are not all Unsullied now. If you haven’t read the books yet, please check out our non-book-reader recap. Thanks!
After that finish tonight, it’s tempting to forget anything else even happened in “Home,” or that it was a very strong episode even before the Worst-Kept Secret Ever came to a satisfying end with the resurrection of Jon Snow. So I’m going to resist the temptation to cackle with mindless glee just yet, and dive into the earlier portions of Game of Thrones’ second episode of the year to give those scenes their just due.
The beginning of the episode was almost as striking as the conclusion, kicking off with the long-awaited return of Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright), who has been studying the use of his powers under the Three-Eyed Raven during his absence from the show. They haven’t done anything to improve the makeup and prosthetic work on the Three-Eyed Raven since we last saw him in season 4, but I don’t really care when Max von Sydow is onscreen.
Through Bran’s visions, we’re treated to a flashback of happier times in Winterfell, seeing young Ned (Sebastian Croft) and little Benjen Stark (Matteo Elezi) and their tomboyish sister Lyanna (Cordelia Hill). Surprisingly, we also see a very young Hodor (Sam Coleman) – or “Wyllis,” as he was called back then when he could speak without impairment. The vision is warm and delightful, but the Three-Eyed Raven pulls Bran from it, warning him, “If you stay too long, you’ll drown.”
There’s another new face in the cave- a new actress, Kae Alexander, has taken on the role of Leaf, the Child of the Forest. I’m happy to see Game of Thrones has improved the makeup for the Children this season.
We check in with Meera Reed outside the cave; she’s less enchanted with the scenery and watching Bran roll around the floor having visions, but Leaf reassures her that Meera is needed.
Down at the Wall, the situation has grown more dire for Davos and the men trapped inside the room with Jon Snow’s corpse. Alliser Thorne is sending in his Night’s Watchmen, when finally the cavalry arrives. And by that, I mean Wun Wun busts down the gates, and smears the walls with that one guy who was dumb enough to mess with him. Edd, Tormund, and the wildlings have toppled Thorne’s regime with a minimum of fuss, and the murdering mutineers are imprisoned.
The only surprising thing is that I think everyone expected Thorne’s party to get more butchered than this. It could’ve been a loose end neatly snipped, but now that’s something the show will have to deal with at the Wall in the coming episodes.
In King’s Landing, FrankenMountain is on the prowl for losers who besmirch Cersei’s name with raunchy stories in town. Tommen has proved to be tough at all the wrong times, and is forcing Cersei to remain inside the Red Keep, though Myrcella’s body lies in the Great Sept of Baelor. The young king is realizing how deeply he disappoints his mother, who raised him to be strong. Like his sister, he’s intrinsically good-hearted, but he lacks Myrcella’s strength of will. Tommen is a lovely young man, but a bad king.
The specter of Cersei’s Walk of Atonement hangs over the Lannisters still. Tommen didn’t try to stop it and Jaime wasn’t there at all, and the High Sparrow’s presence now in the sept is a challenge of sorts.
The High Sparrow’s arrogance is on full display when he tangles with Jaime Lannister in the sept. For a man who claims humility, there is not a trace of it when he looks the Kingslayer up and down with the smug knowledge that his Faith Militant would tear Jaime apart if he attacked the High Sparrow. He’s correct, the masses are strong together. But they’re a mob, and a mob can be manipulated easily to turn against their leader. The High Sparrow’s come-uppance will happen.
After visiting the sept, Tommen finally faces his mother and apologizes for not saving her. As always, Cersei loves and forgives her children, no matter their crimes and failings.
You probably shouldn’t make so many no-cock jokes around an army of eunuchs trained in top-notch murdering, Tyrion. I’m just saying.
Popping over to Meereen for our weekly dose of Essosi politics that no one ever really asks for, Tyrion realizes the dragons need tending to.
Considering how starving the dragons should be, since they haven’t eaten in days, I’m shocked they don’t rip Tyrion in two when he approaches their dungeon for a visit and introduces himself as a friend of their mother’s. Perhaps there’s something to all those Tyrion-has-Targaryen-blood theories? In the show, anyway. Whole new ballgame, people.
I did love Tyrion sharing the story of how he wanted a dragon as a child, using his early fondness for the creatures as a way to get close to them- and unchain them, so they’ll thrive even without their mother.
Arya the Blind Beggar is paid another visit from the ever-pleasant Waif but their one-sided stickfight is brief, and the Faceless (Wo)man disappears. Jaqen H’ghar (well, No One really) steps in to offer Arya a chance for this all to stop when he asks who she is, testing her identity, but she remains resolute: she is No One.
Satisfied by her response, Jaqen tells she’s done being a beggar and invites her back to continue her next phase of training. And thank God, because this Daredevil-Stick routine was wearing on me.
Remember last week when I wondered if it was a bad idea for Roose to threaten Ramsay with the existence of a new Bolton heir? (I think everyone thought that, to be fair.) Yeah that didn’t work out too well for Roose this week. Or that well for Walda and her newborn baby, either.
Roose, Ramsay and the new Lord Karstark (Paul Rattray) are dealing with the current Northern situation when they’re interrupted by the news of the baby’s birth. Ramsay acts quickly, killing his father and sending for Roose’s wife. Karstark is on board with the New Bolton Order as he witnesses the murder and doesn’t bat an eye.
Walda and the new baby are horrifyingly dispatched through the use of Ramsay’s favorite weapons- his dogs.
Still freezing in the Northern woods, Sansa and Brienne share news of Arya. Finally Sansa knows that her sister is alive! Not dressed like a lady, of course. The fond smile on Sansa’s face brings tears to my eyes. The sense of Stark is strong with this episode.
Sansa and Theon share a touching moment, as he plans to say goodbye. They’ll be heading north to the Wall, to Jon, and she doesn’t need him now that she has Brienne. Theon acknowledges all the terrible things he’s done, and announces that it’s time for him to go home.
The thought of these two parting is oddly bittersweet. As much as Sansa hated him, he was a familiar face when she was in the middle of hell, and they escaped it together. I wish I could see more of their scenes together, but now it’s time to part ways.
Speaking of Theon’s home- on Pyke in the Iron Islands, Yara Greyjoy and her father Balon debate their next move; the Ironborn have lost their last territory on the mainland, but Balon is stubborn. Angry with his daughter, the last of the Five Kings departs and heads for the rope bridge that strings between the towering structures of the islands. Yes, it’s time for Melisandre’s final leech to pay off.
Through the rain, a mysterious figure approaches. At this point, I actually scoot forward on the edge of my seat. I’ve been waiting for this one, and Patrick Malahide and Pilou Asbæk knocked this scene out of the park.
Euron Greyjoy has come home to the Iron Islands.
Balon’s wayward younger brother has come for him, and Balon knows it. The king manages to cut his brother’s face before Balon is thrown from the bridge to his death.
His body is found the next day, much to Yara’s grief. His people send him to his rest at sea, in their way. Who will rule the Iron Islands now that Balon Greyjoy is dead? Aeron, the Drowned Priest (played by Michael Feast), declares only a kingsmoot can determine who rules.
At the Wall, Davos pleads for Melisandre’s help. He’s seen her incredible (and frankly, fucking terrifying) powers before, and is at his wit’s end- they need Jon Snow back. He dismisses the gods (funny enough, the ones all featured in this episode- the Seven gods, tree gods, and the Drowned god), and asks for a miracle.
These two have been fighting for years but at this point, they know each other better than anyone else. Melisandre has lost faith in herself, but seeing Davos’ faith in her is enough to energize the heartbroken and drained priestess to try one more time to make a difference.
Melisandre prepares Jon’s body, and we see the damage is extensive. She lays hands on him, surrounded by all those who are desperate to believe in this, in her and in Jon. Davos, Edd, Tormund, Ghost.
But it fails. The moment passes, and Jon lies cold and white, dead on the table.
Davos is the last person to leave the room, gazing down at Jon- he’s the last to give up.
The stillness of Jon Snow is uncanny, and transfixing. We’re waiting for it. Is it going to happen?
Ghost, lying on the ground, stirs.
We hover over Jon, waiting. And waiting. And then it happens.
Jon Snow’s eyes fly open and he gasps with life.
Assorted thoughts because my brain’s too melted by the episode to function very well:
The flashback: Fantastic casting all-around. I love the kids. And was that meant to be a young Ser Rodrik training them?
VIP: I’m giving Carice van Houten the acting VIP award of the night. She’s done such amazing work over the last two episodes.
You can breathe now, Kit: The jig is up. Looking forward to the interviews where you tell everyone to go to hell for #HairWatch. I did screech a bit when Melisandre started snipping off Jon’s hair, actually.
Welcome Home: Fantastic to see you all again, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Ellie Kendrick, Kristian Nairn, Patrick Malahide, and Gemma Whelan! And welcome to the all new cast members! Especially…
Euron “I am the storm” Greyjoy: he is a very bad man, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store this season with Pilou Asbæk.
The deaths: I wasn’t surprised by any of them, since they were long overdue (Balon’s leech must’ve been defective) or the groundwork was laid for them effectively (Roose and Walda). But I thought the scenes were all very well done, from the dramatic confrontation in the storm, to Ramsay’s last cold moment with his father, to poor Walda and her doomed baby.
About that ending?: Yeah, we knew he was going to come back but the how and when were still question marks. I jumped like it was a horror movie, both times that I watched the episode this evening. I probably will every time, the way it’s drawn out to maximize the tension and the uncertainty. I can’t wait to see how Jon behaves after returning. There is so much going on, I can’t wait until the next episode of Game of Thrones!