Jon Snow is alive and well. However, after the events of Oathbreaker, he is no longer Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. With his death, his watch ended, but he didn’t give up the black before he took vengeance on those who killed him. Ser Allison, Olly, and the other traitors were hanged for their crimes in a brutal end sequence. It was slightly heartbreaking to see. Firstly because despite being a scumbag, Ser Allison was a great character. Secondly because of the Jon and Olly friendship. Whilst we are inclined to side with our hero, Jon Snow, the motives of the murderers were solid. This leaves Jon in a difficult situation. He knows what he thinks is right, but he certainly can’t please everyone. He’s learning vital lessons in becoming a true leader. Speaking of which the Red Woman is now more than ever convinced that Jon is the Prince that was promised. Would he really take a shot at the Iron Throne though? Jon ending up as Warden of the North based at Winterfell surely seems more likely.
Having been sidelined for season five, Bran has been thrust front and centre this time round, and it is already an inspired move. In the earlier seasons, despite promises of Bran being greatly important, his story seemed to drag. Now though, his travelling through time with the three-eyed raven, is providing some of the best scenes in every episode. Once more this week, Bran’s vision reinforced the theory that Jon is not in fact Ned’s son. Bran may have been cut short from entering the Tower of Joy, but that screaming woman he heard must be Lyanna, perhaps giving birth. It was great to see Ned again too. Bran had heard this tale of how his father had slain the great swordsman Ser Arthur Dayne before, and it is quite clear Ned had embellished the story to impress his young son. The choreography was really impressive, and it was a really fun, well-executed close-quarters battle sequence. More young Ned would not go amiss in future episodes.
Ramsay once again almost stole the whole show from Jon Snow. The creepy, disturbing aura that Iwan Rheon exuberates is magnetic, and Ramsay is now unquestionably the best villain we have seen thus far. This week Smalljon Umber met Lords Bolton and Karstark, explaining how he distrusts Jon Snow because he let wildlings through the Wall. Interestingly Umber did not simply pledge allegiance to Bolton and instead toyed with him for a while, and questioned his loyalty. He then Rickon Stark and Osha to Ramsay along with the head of the direwolf Shaggydog. This is the sort of development that GoT executes perfectly. It was a shocking turn of events, that now leaves an even younger, more vulnerable Stark in the cruel hands of Ramsay. The likelihood of Jon Snow and Ramsay going to battle at the end of the season seems every the more likely. A mini-family reunion featuring Jon, Sansa and Rickon would certainly be a moment to cherish in this depraved world. However, as we all know, it’s never that easy.
Well that was quick. Arya, having struggled for only two weeks with being a blind girl living on the streets, had her eyesight restored and truly became “no-one”. In fairness, it has been a transformation that all have seen coming for over a season now, and to drag it out further perhaps would’ve been a bore. Especially since last season was the weakest for Arya thus far. I’m sure J’aqen H’ghar is not finished with her yet, but it’s an interesting development, particularly in the current setting. She is in many ways a wildcard, and in the battles to come, whether that be in the North or in King’s Landing, she could sneak in and give the audience a huge shock, similar to the way Stannis did in the season four finale when he came to the aid of the Night’s Watch.
Daeny arrived at Vaes Dothrak and met the rest of the Dosh Khaleen. Given the power of Daenerys it seems unlikely that she will be contained for too long, as the issues back in Meereen and along Slaver’s Bay remain unsolved and there is still the long-term goal of getting across to Westeros which she needs to get back to. Perhaps gaining control of the Dothraki will help in these aims. J’orah and Daario are following quickly behind, so perhaps they will play a part in what is about to happen. It was a rather slow week on the Daeny front, and her story this season hasn’t captivated quite yet, but perhaps this tenure at Vaes Dothrak can spark something big.
Whilst Daeny was occupied, politics rolled on in Meereen. Finally, after what seems like an age of going round in circles, the combined wisdom of Varys and Tyrion appears to be beginning to pay dividends, and it seems change is finally afoot. The issues with Slaver’s Bay and the Sons of the Harpy have led to some great scenes over the seasons but often feels like a part of the story that could have been left on the cutting room floor. Equally, it has very much become a testing ground for first the Khaleesi herself, and now Tyrion, for when they inevitably attempt to take the Iron Throne. We all wait eagerly for that day, but for now, I guess we’ll have to savour every moment that isn’t “Meereen being freed then falling back to the slavers.” Finally it appears we are coming to the end of that.
The story of the Lannisters got little development this week too, but considering the big money scenes elsewhere it’s understandable. The unsettling Qyburn sent his “little birds” to spy across the Kingdoms, whilst Cersei and Jaime attempted to get the ear of the Small Council but ultimately failed. Elsewhere, Tommen marched into the Sept of the Faith Militant to confront the High Sparrow over his mother, but was talked down by the elderly man. The Lannisters are not having the best of times, facing an impending threat from Dorne, whilst also losing control within their own city to the religious fanatics. Their own Small Council are also not interested. This appears to be the struggle before the great rise. The Lannisters have played the pantomime villains for much of the show, but in recent seasons have taken more of a backseat. Both Cersei and Jaime have turned corners (for the most part) whilst Tommen is blameless. They are in a sense, the underdogs, and we all love a good underdog. I can’t see this story having a happy ending though unfortunately for this Family.
There was even a glimpse of Sam and Gilly this week. Sam is taking her to his home, Horn Hill, to stay with his family whilst he becomes a maester. Similar to Bronn, who rode off into the sunset, it appeared that Game of Thrones would not be missing a great deal if Sam did not show up again, for he has played his part. Clearly though his story isn’t over, and he may turn up at Jon Snow’s side once more in the battles to come.
Again the story was packed into this one, and again it delivered. It was a strong week for the Starks with Jon, Bran, Arya and especially Ned, standing out from the crowd. We got a bit of everything, from battles, to hangings, to kidnappings, to politics, to riddles. This is already an explosive season, and it’s only just began.