Jon Snow is finally back. After months of speculation regarding if it would happen, and who would do it, it appears everyone’s first guess was correct. Melisandre stood over Jon Snow’s two day old corpse, said some magical words, and abracadabra, Jon (eventually) awoke from his eternal slumber. Some fans have been disappointed with the execution of the event, but really it was the best possible solution. It’s always seemed like Jon had been too important in the grand scheme of things to merely kill off. He had not achieved whatever his great end goal is. Still, in the final moments of Home, as Melisandre desperately tried and tried again to revive Jon, and Ser Davos and the wildings looked on disappointed (why was Ser Davos so eager to revive Jon?), it appeared that perhaps GoT had done it again: they’d tricked us all. There would be no great revival, and the messageboards would no doubt explode. Then in the final seconds Jon’s eyes burst open, and fans gasped. It was a truly great moment. Somehow, after being convinced he was returning for months, fans were left with the uncomfortable feeling that they were wrong. Only to then have the rug pulled from under them once more. It was a well executed moment, and at the perfect time. The series premiere was a solid beginning to the season, with a major twist. Here, the creators have built expertly upon that foundation, answering the lingering Jon Snow question before it became overplayed, and overshadowed the rest of the season. What happens now is anyone’s guess, and that’s how we like it. A Night’s Watch oath is ended with a brother’s death, so where does that leave Jon?
In other news, Ramsay Bolton became the most despicable character in GoT history. Not only did he kill his father and step-mother but also his newborn brother who would’ve replaced him as heir. It was a truly horrific death, as Lady Walder and her son were ripped to shreds by the hounds. Ramsay is now head of the Bolton clan, which is both unsettling and incredibly exciting for viewers. He is the wildcard in this great battle for the Iron Throne, and has already dispatched of Stannis and his forces. In this episode he was advocating travelling to Castle Black, having deduced that Sansa would most likely be heading there to reunite with the seemingly unkillable Lord Commander Snow. If he follows through on this, it could be quite the story.
Sansa, Theon, Brienne and Podrick were indeed travelling North to reunite the Stark family. Theon, however, decided to return home to the Iron Islands instead, which led straight into a new narrative for the Greyjoy family. They’ve not always been the most entertaining to watch, but this glimpse was a positive start. The Greyjoys invasion (remember that?!) died with a whimper, and then Lord Greyjoy crossing perhaps the most dangerous bridge in all of history, was confronted by his younger, seemingly rather crazy, brother. Euron Greyjoy had been away for quite some time it seems, but returned to overthrow Balon, pushing him to his death. As Balon’s body was given back to the sea, his daughter Yara vowed revenge, but then was informed that the Salt Throne was not yet hers. It was out of her hands. This battle for supremacy in the Iron Islands is an intriguing addition to the tales of Westeros, particularly now Theon intends to return. This could be the beginning of a redemptive arc for Theon, after betraying Robb and generally making terrible life decisions.
Apart from the obvious Jon Snow twist, surely this week will be remembered as the one with all the crushed heads. First Edd returned to Castle Black with a gang of all our favourite wildings, including a giant who proceeded to completely decimate a member of the Night’s Watch by flinging his body against a wall. It was brutal and undeniably cool. Then, back in King’s Landing, one of the common folk laughed and joked about the Queen mother, and naturally the undead Mountain squashed his head with ease. Cersei herself was in the Red Keep, having been banned from her own daughter’s funeral by King Tommen. The King and his mother soon reunited, with Cersei agreeing to help her son be strong, and all seemed well in the Lannister camp. Except of course, for Jaime, who had a war of words with the High Sparrow, and ended up being trumped by the religious fanatic. The High Sparrow left after warning Jaime that together, the poor people could overthrow an empire. Last week’s vow to avenge what has been done to the Lannisters clearly didn’t begin well this week. The last two episodes however, have set up the two main enemies of the Lannisters for the near future, whilst everyone else seems preoccupied with the North: the Martells of Dorne, and the religious fanatics within King’s Landing.
Across the sea, Tyrion was still dealing with the issues in Meereen. Apparently Astapor and Yunkai have now both been lost once more to the slavers. Tyrion decided the best course of action was to release the two dragons from their captivity, which he did by himself. It was a daring move, and the special effects for the most part, impressed. It was nice to hear Tyrion talking of the decreasing sizes of the dragons over the generations due to captivity, as it harkened back to a similar scene deep in the crypts of King’s Landing a few seasons back. It seems like this will be quite a big development in the story of Tyrion/ Dany and co. even though the Khaleesi was absent this week. Meereen never seems to be the most exciting story, but hopefully some wild dragons, alongside the wit of Tyrion and Varys can make for some compelling viewing.
Instead of Targaryens, this week had a heavy focus on the (old) ladies and lords of Winterfell, the Starks. Bran was reintroduced, the first time we have seen him since the tail end of the fourth season. He is still where we left him, way past the wall, but the three eyed raven (played by Max Von Sydow) showed Bran a bit of Stark history back in Winterfell in a vision. He witnessed a young Ned and Benjen Stark sparring, and even a young Hodor, back when he could say more than his name and was called Willis. Interestingly, Ned echoed the words Jon Stark said to young Olly at the Wall last season: That he better keep his shield up or he’d get his head rang like a bell. It was a lovely call-back showing just how similar Ned and Jon really are. Most importantly Bran saw his aunt Lyanna, who of course was the love-interest of King Robert but was kidnapped by Rhaeger Targaryen and eventually died in mysterious circumstances. The mentions of Lyanna have increased over the last few seasons, and if fan theories are to be believed (which let’s be honest, they’re usually not), these little reminders could be so that the audience know who she is when she is revealed as Jon Snow’s mother. The parentage of Jon Snow has been in question since the very start, and that unanswered question was a major reason why most fans felt that he would return from the dead. Similar to Daenerys, his story simply hasn’t been told yet. Apart from this little tidbit, the little trip back to see Bran didn’t exactly establish much except that a war was coming, and Bran (however boring a character he may be) will play a vital role in what’s to come. The pieces are slowly being aligned for the great finale it seems.
Elsewhere, whilst Sansa learned from Brienne about her meeting with Arya (finally!), Arya herself was once more beaten up on the streets. Jaqen H’ghar asked her who she was, promising to let her sleep inside, then promising to feed her, and finally promising to restore her eyesight, if only she told him her name. Devout to the cause, Arya said she had no name. May be she is finally morphing into a faceless warrior, who will return to Westeros to reap revenge on her enemies. Or you know, maybe she’ll continue to be tortured and suffer. Probably the latter.
It was another jam-packed episode of Game of Thrones there’s no doubt about that. Similar to last week, the majority of tales got at least some screen time, which is great, but it can be a little overwhelming jumping from one land to the next, particularly when even more characters are being introduced. For now though the creators are doing an adequate job balancing stories, and these first two episodes have built arguably the most entertaining and intriguing beginning of any season since the first. The stories are scattered but slowly the chess pieces are being moved towards reunions, war and of course deaths.