In “Home,” Game of Thrones gives us birth, death, and rebirth. As the characters try to find their way in this ever-changing world, some hold onto their old ways, while others find ways to adapt and survive. Game of Thrones continues to give us exciting stories in beautiful settings. They even manage to surprise us when they give us what we expect. The series starts with a strong narrative, then enhances the story with great acting and smart directing.
At Castle Black, Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) and a few men loyal to Jon Snow remain locked in a room with Jon’s body and the direwolf Ghost. Alliser Throne (Owen Teale) tells Davos to open the door, stating, “No one needs to die tonight,” despite the many weapons trained on the door. The men inside draw their weapons as Thorne’s men begin to break down the door.
Before they can get inside, the giant Wun Wun (Ian Whyte) comes through the gates of Castle Black with a large group of wildlings, led by Eddison Tollett (Ben Crompton) and Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju). When the Men of the Night’s Watch see how ineffective their weapons are against the giant, they ignore Thorne’s commands and drop their weapons. When Thorne calls the men traitors, Ed tells him, “The only traitors here are those who shoved their knives into their Lord Commander’s heart.” We’re glad to see both Thorn and Olly sent away to be locked in cells. Let’s hope there’s no redemption story planned for either of these guys.
North of the Wall
After having not seen them at all during Season 5, Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright), Hodor (Kristian Nairn), and Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick) are back. Bran is being tutored by the Three-eyed Raven, played by the esteemed actor Max von Sydow (Star Wars: Episode VII, Minority Report, The Exorcist). The Three-eyed Raven provides Bran with past glimpses into the life of his now-dead father, Eddard Stark, and Ned’s siblings Benjen and Lyanna. He also sees Hodor as a young man and learns that once upon a time Hodor could talk, causing him to question what might’ve happened to Hodor.
Bran wants to continue to watch more peaceful family scenes of Winterfell, but the Three-eyed Raven pulls him back, telling Bran, “It is beautiful beneath the sea, but if you stay too long you’ll drown.” Bran responds, “I wasn’t drowning. I was home.”
What lesson does the Three-eyed Raven hope to impart with his training? What role does Bran have yet to play in the Game of Thrones? Whatever his destiny is, apparently he needs Meera, as she’s informed by the Child of the Forest Leaf (Octavia Alexandru). Perhaps Bran’s destiny is to help the audience understand how the history of Westeros has shaped its present and future. We’re hoping that the visions of the Three-eyed Raven will eventually reveal some of the genealogical mysteries in Game of Thrones.
After her walk of atonement, people in the street have lost their fear of Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) and mock her openly. Yet she still has one defender in the reanimated Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson). He kills a common man who tells drunken stories deriding the Queen Mother. This most loyal guard stands by her side as she faces the contingent of guards who have been posted by King Tommen Baratheon (Dean-Charles Chapman) to prevent her from coming to Myrcella’s funeral. Though they may not know he’s the recently dead Gregor Clegane, the Mountain clearly makes the guards nervous. And for good reason. Not all the reanimated dead are created equal.
As Myrcella lies in the Sept, Tommen tells his uncle/father Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) that he feels powerless to protect his mother. When Jaime tries to comfort him, saying, “We all fail sometimes,” Tommen responds, “The King is supposed to be Protector of the Realm. If I can’t even protect my own wife or mother, what good am I?” I mean, we were kinda thinkin’ the same thing, but we weren’t going to say anything. When the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) enters the Sept, Jaime tells Tommen to go and see his mother and ask for forgiveness.
Jaime and the High Sparrow face off, each reminding the other of their power. When Jaime threatens the High Sparrow, he asks, “You would spill blood in this holy place?” Jaime points out, “Well the gods won’t mind. They spill more blood than the rest of us combined.” Burn on the gods. The Faith Militant show themselves standing throughout the Sept. Jaime points out that he could kill the High Sparrow before the Faith Militant could get to him. The High Sparrow agrees, telling Jaime, “But who are we? We have no names, no family. Every one of us is poor and powerless. And yet together, we can overthrow an empire.” Jaime may be a skilled swordsman, but the High Sparrow is able to draw upon the power of the masses. It’s hard to one-up the masses.
Inside the Red Keep, Tommen tells his mother he kept her there because he didn’t want to lose her again. He acknowledges he was wrong,“I should have executed all of them. I should have pulled down the Sept onto the High Sparrow’s head before I let them do that to you, as you would have for me. You raised me to be strong. And I wasn’t. But I want to be. Help me.” Sometimes we kind of love the Lannister bastards and their incestuous parents despite ourselves.
In the Great Pyramid, Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), and Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) meet. The Masters have taken back Astapor and Yunkai, leaving Meereen the only city remaining free in Slaver’s Bay. It’s hard to create a revolution with that name hanging over everyone’s head.
Neither of the dragons have been eating since Daenerys left. Tyrion tells the others, “They must be unchained or they will waste away.” He explains that dragons used to range over hundreds of miles, but after the Targaryens starting chaining them up, they grew smaller, with the last few dragons being the size of cats. He points out that dragons are intelligent—more so than humans, some believe—and they know who their friends are. He notes, “I am their friend,” and Varys asks if they know that. Tyrion decides to pay a visit to the dragons. Guess we’ll find out how effective dragon friendar is.
Varys accompanies Tyrion to the lower level where Tyrion walks down into the silent and darkened chamber. Finally, the dragons raise their heads and one snarls at him with a bit of fire. He’s amazed and terrified. He tells the dragons, “I’m here to help. Don’t eat the help.” He begins to walk towards the dragon that seems a bit less intimidating. He reaches to the dragon and tells a surprisingly moving story about his nameday. He asked his uncle for a dragon—even just a small one, like him. Everyone laughed and said that the last dragon had died over a century earlier.
As his hand rests on the dragon’s neck, he adds, “I cried myself to sleep that night. But here you are.” Then Tyrion unclasps the dragon’s shackle. The other dragon immediately turns his head away from Tyrion, exposing the lock on his iron restraints. Tentatively, Tyrion opens it as well. The dragons immediately hobble back into their den, leaving Tyrion free to make his way back out of the chamber. He tells Varys, “Next time I have an idea like that, punch me in the face.”
At least Tyrion’s leadership and knowledge is bringing some kind of change to Meereen, but we have yet to see its impact. Regardless, it was an amazing moment seeing Tyrion with the dragons, even if that change results in lots of burnt bodies and more fires. We’re starting to think the Meereenese might just deserve a little firebombing. Well, that will only happen if they get out, right?
The blinded Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) continues to live the life of a beggar in Braavos. The waif (Faye Marsay) from the House of Black and White comes to fight her again, and this time Arya is more prepared, but still easily defeated. The waif asks her name, and when Arya answers “No one,” the girl tells her she doesn’t believe her. The waif leaves, but Arya continues to swing her staff around until it’s grabbed by Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha).
Jaqen H’ghar continues to ask her to say her name, first offering her sleep under a roof, then a meal, and finally to get her eyes back if she says her name. Arya continues to offer only, “No one.” Arya manages to pass this test and Jaqen H’ghar tells her to follow him. When she goes to grab her bowl, he tells her, “Leave it. A girl is not a beggar anymore.” Has the House and Black of White truly becomes Arya’s home? Can she let go of who she was and be no one? Who can blame her if she doesn’t? Arya Stark is kind of a badass.
Roose (Michael McElhatton) and Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) learn from Lord Karstark that the hunting party has lost Sansa and Theon. Ramsay suggests since Sansa will be heading toward the Wall that he attack Castle Black. Roose points out that murdering the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch would unite every house in the North against them. Ramsay suggests they only need the support of the most powerful houses. Roose realizes that Ramsay’s plan is impulsive and overambitious. He tells his son, “If you acquire a reputation as a mad dog, you’ll be treated as a mad dog—taken out back and slaughtered for pig feed.” Roose is all about the tough love. No one said parenting a sociopath is easy.
They’re interrupted by the Maester’s announcement that Walda Bolton (Elizabeth Webster) has given birth, and Roose has a new son. Ramsay realizes that his own position has become even more tenuous. When Roose tells Ramsay, “You’ll always be my first born,” Ramsay thanks him, saying it means a great deal to him. As they hug, Ramsey stabs his father. Lord Karstark stands in the background, seemingly unsurprised. He tells the Maester to send a raven to the Northern houses to say that Roose Bolton has been poisoned by his enemies. The Maester pauses for a moment, but then realizes that crazy is now officially unchecked and he’d better keep his new Lord happy.
Ramsay meets with Walda, asking to hold his newborn brother. The scene is drawn out and we’re horrified the entire time, assuming Ramsay will kill the baby. He brings Walda and the baby to the kennel and opens the cages of the hounds. Walda asks again, with great concern, “Where is Lord Bolton?” Ramsay tells her, “I am Lord Bolton.” She begs Ramsay to let them go, pointing out the infant is his brother. But Ramsay prefers being the only child and releases the hounds on Walda and the baby. There’s a lot of child death in Westeros.
Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), Podrick Payne (Daniel Portman), Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), and Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) are making camp as they make their way towards Castle Black. Brienne tells Sansa that Arya is alive, but refused to come with her. She tells Sansa that her sister looked good, though “she wasn’t exactly dressed like a lady.” Sansa bemoans not going with Brienne when she first asked, but Brienne tells her, “We’ve all had to make difficult choices.”
Sansa talks with Theon, who remains concerned about Ramsay hunting them. Sansa tries to assure him that she will advocate for him to Jon, pointing out that he can take the black and be forgiven for his crimes. Theon tells her, “I don’t want to be forgiven. I can never make amends to your family for the things I’ve done.” He’s already decided he’s not going with them. As they hug, Theon tells Sansa, “I would have taken you all the way to the Wall. I would have died to get you there.” When she asks where he’ll go, Theon tells her, “Home.” Their parting of ways is surprisingly sad, as was Theon’s tale of redemption.
Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan) tells her father Balon Greyjoy (Patrick Malahide) that they’ve lost their last mainland stronghold in Deepwood Motte. Yara questions the purpose of taking mainland settlements. She points out that though the Ironborn cannot be defeated at sea, they can never hold land and castles against mainland armies. He tells her, “Shut your mouth and obey, or I will make another heir that will.” Seems like there’s lots of crappy parents in Westeros.
As Balon crosses over a rope bridge, he’s challenged by his recently returned brother. He tells Balon, “I am the storm, brother. The first storm and the last. And you’re in my way.” He then throws Balon off the bridge, into the ocean. Welcome home brother, and by the way, What is Dead May Never Die.
At Balon’s funeral, Yara watches as her father’s corpse is sent out to sea. She swears upon the Salt Throne to avenge her father’s death. She’s reminded that the throne is not hers, that the Kingsmoot must decide. She’s told that perhaps she’ll be the first woman to rule the Ironborn, or not. Let’s hope she has actual support somewhere, because this guy doesn’t seem to be Team Yara.
Davos comes to Melissandre (Carice van Houten), asking if there is any magic that can bring Jon Snow back. She doesn’t seem to be in a good space and tells him it’s not possible, not for her. She tells Davos, “Everything I believed—the great victory I saw in the flames—all of it was a lie. You were right all along. The Lord never spoke to me.” Davos responds, “I’m not asking the Lord of Light for help. I’m asking the woman that showed me that miracles exist.”
Melissandre cleans the body of Jon Snow (Kit Harington). He has seven stab wounds, like the seven kingdoms of Westeros. She cuts his hair, throwing pieces into the flame as she says an incantation. Ghost lies on the floor beneath the table. She puts her hands on Jon Snow and continues her prayer. When nothing happens, she repeats her words with an increasingly desperate tone. A resigned look passes over her face and she stops. Gradually, they all leave the room, with Davos leaving only after staring intently at Jon for bit. The sleeping Ghost sits up, and suddenly Jon Snow takes a breath. Whoa.
It looks like Melissandre has a little bit of the Lord of Light magic in her somewhere. Perhaps the moment was helped by Davos’s faith in Melissandre, even as she doubted herself. Perhaps there is something special about Jon and who he is that also contributed to his ability to return. We think it’s probably his handsomeness.
We get a lot of movement in “Home.” Some characters are leaving or seeing home, others are heading home, while others still are making new homes for themselves. Game of Thrones is known for its many deaths, but in “Home” we saw the death of several powerful figures, while those that are more adaptable are finding new places for themselves. The world is changing, and those who don’t change with it may be left to die. With “Home,” Game of Thrones reminds us not to get too comfortable, because they know how to change things up as well.
For our review of “Home,” click here.
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