This blog is published after the ‘Game of Thrones’ simulcast. Do not read ahead unless you have seen season six, episode two, or want to find out what happens. It contains lots of spoilers etc.
We’re all talking about
Jon Snow’s alive! Jon Snow! Alive! After last week’s slow start, things in the Seven Kingdoms started moving along nicely this week. Just as it looked like the Lord Commander was never going to wake from his slumber, he gasped back into life.
And all it took was the kind of hair wash and beard trim most decent salons will give you for about £35. If only Melisandre had known, and her crisis of confidence needn’t have been so deep. Prior to that, Lord Bastard had begun to resemble a clapped-out old banger, sitting on a driveway, with various non-experts dropping in to give the tyres a kick. Satisfied it was neither an oil change, nor a problem with the starter motor, thank R’hllor that Davos, Edd and Tormund decided to finally consult a proper mechanic.
Talking of Tormund, his return, along with the rest of the wildling warriors, was magnificent, and not a moment too soon, with the giant evoking Hulk v Loki from ‘Avengers Assemble’ as he slammed a mutineer into the fort turret. What happens to Alliser Thorne and That Little Bastard Olly, as he’ll forever be known in my house, is anyone’s guess. Don’t bet against Lord Snow pardoning them next week when he struts around, looking like Castle Black’s first lumbersexual. That’d be the right thing to do. Frankly, I hope he feeds them to the dogs.
What else happened
Jon Snow wasn’t the only familiar face returning this week. After sitting out the entire fifth series and last week’s opener, Bran was back. He was in Winterfell 40 years ago when we first saw him, standing with the Three Eyed Raven watching his dad Ned as a young boy. It was a flashback, of course, but a revealing one, with Benjen and Lyanna too, and a talking Hodor. How did the great lunk of a stable boy lose his power of speech? And what secrets would he spill if he could talk now?
In Kings Landing, Cersei and Jaime are getting their house in order. The former introduced Ser Robert Strong, or Frankenmountain as we’ll call him, the reanimated corpse of Gregor ‘The Mountain’ Clegane. Jaime, meanwhile, had a brilliant showdown with the High Sparrow, and if he still had both hands I’d have fancied him to kill those Faith Militant on his own. But he’s not the man he was, and that will have to wait until he has, as the trailers told us, the backing of the Tyrell army.
Tommen was mourning both his sister – who looked like some Snapchat creation, lying with those painted pebbles on her eyes – and the fact he’s a failure, unable to protect his wife, mother or realm. He did ask him mum to make him strong, though, so expect his backbone to get more tangible by the week.
Over in Mereen, Tyrion, presumably as bored by last week’s inactivity as we were, took the dragon by the horns and began crossing things off his to-do list. He can score a line through ‘Free the dragons’ in permanent marker now, having been brave enough to talk to the remaining pair of beasts. That scene was somehow at once touching, revealing and thrilling, as he made friends with the dragons and spoke of how he prayed for the gift of a dragon all his youth.
It was more of the same in Bravos, with Arya getting another beating from the Waif, although Jaqen H’ghar seems happy enough with her progress to tell her she’s no longer a beggar.
Just when you thought the show had lost the ability to shock, Ramsay Bolton goes and stabs his dad and feeds his step-mum and hour-old half-brother to the hounds. He’s become almost comically evil now. Surely he won’t make it out of series six alive?
The way Theon remembering his past linked in with Balon Greyjoy’s return, and subsequent death at the hands of his brother, Euron, was skilful plotting. There’s a Kingsmoot coming.
What does it all mean
With the weight of Jon Snow’s fate lifted, we can get on with the series now. This episode felt very much like the closing chapter of an opening two-parter, and provided a wholly satisfying, tantalising conclusion to a plotline that has dominated talk of the show since last June.
With Bran’s reintroduction, and establishing flashback, we’re one step closer to the Tower of Joy flashback this whole saga stems from. For the first time in a long while, the children of Ned Stark respectively had a good time of it. Sansa and Jon’s reunion should only be moment away, Arya is on her way to becoming a faceless assassin and Bran might just be the glue that holds the whole thing together.
Meanwhile the reappearance of the thus-far neglected Greyjoys is hugely exciting. Hopefully that storyline will be treated with far more respect than the lightweight action from Dorne, thankfully missing from this week’s episode.
Euron Greyjoy’s arrival on the rope bridge was pretty special, but Tyrion facing down the dragons wins. “Don’t eat the help” he told them, before quipping to Varys “The next time I have an idea like that, punch me in the face.”
Predictions for next week
Ramsay, now Lord Bolton, will start making plans to march on Castle Black. With that many wildlings there, and a resurrected Jon Snow, it’s going to be a huge mistake on his part. The Kingsmoot will begin over on the Iron Islands and we’ll learn more about one of the book’s best characters, Euron Greyjoy. Another flashback from Bran, and hopefully a little more development in Arya’s story.