What is dead may never die. Emphasis on the may.
You know what I’m referring to, so hold your undead ice horses for just a bit and we’ll get back to that.
“Home” was a fantastic and eventful Game of Thrones episode that saw many characters longing for exactly that: home.
We get our first look at Bran in over a full season of television, and he’s in a vision of his home, Winterfell, during the time when his father was a child. He gets a look Eddard training in the yard with his uncle Benjen, accompanied by their elder siblings Brandon and Lyanna. You’ll recall that Lyanna was the reason Robert Baratheon rose up in rebellion in the first place and her statue in the crypt — mentioned by Bran as how he recognizes her — was the erstwhile king’s first stop upon arriving at Winterfell. Her role will surely get more clarity in the coming weeks. More immediate is the news that Hodor has not always been “Hodor,” nor was he always so simple-minded. He was once a shy stableboy named Wylis, nagged away from swords and shields by his great-grandmother, Old Nan. How he plays into the mix is anyone’s guess, but he somehow has much more to offer the story than just one word. Bran is rudely dragged out of one of the visions he’s actually enjoyed having, to re-emerge in the roots of a giant weirwood tree alongside the three-eyed raven. He’s warned that even though it’s beautiful under the sea, too much time there will drown you. Seems obvious enough, but I take that to mean that he could enjoy these visions so much that his mind could get lost within them.
Meanwhile, in the present Winterfell, Ramsay Bolton must have one heck of a plot cooking. Not content with Roose’s words about being the firstborn, Ramsay lets his father enjoy the birth of his child for approximately 16 seconds before sticking a knife in his gut. All things considered, that’s not too bad for this family. The poor maester was shocked, but Lord Harald Karstark — reassuring fealty to House Bolton after Robb Stark took his father’s head — was not. Which makes you wonder exactly what Ramsay has going on behind the scenes. He mentions that if the Boltons can get Houses Karstark, Umber, and Manderly on their side, the rest of the north combined couldn’t stand against them. Karstark: check. Umber and Manderly? Not so fast, my friend. Let’s briefly review:
- Greatjon Umber was fiercely loyal to Robb Stark until his death at the Red Wedding. While the allegiance of his remaining family is unknown, remember that after the sack of Winterfell, Bran told Osha to take his younger brother Rickon to Last Hearth, the seat of House Umber, setting up all sorts of future intrigue. (Thank goodness for the wikis. I never would have recalled that detail thanks to the book differences and, you know, the fact that it was three seasons of television ago.)
- House Manderly is another wild card, and one that hasn’t been fleshed out on TV yet. The Manderlys rule White Harbor, the biggest “city” in the north. While Lord Wyman was similarly loyal to the Starks, his youngest son Wendel was also killed at the Red Wedding. His heir Wylis (yes, another “Wylis” for you to learn) is a captive of the Lannisters, making Lord Wyman’s options somewhat limited.
I have to think Ramsay had some alliances secured before knifing his dad, but I guess you never know with that guy. But he’s not one to leave a job half-done. Using the same logic whereby he can’t leave any Starks alive to walk back into Winterfell, he’s not about to leave Roose Bolton’s trueborn son alive, either. Hence Walda and Unnamed Bolton Baby are off to the kennels. The less said about that scene, the better.
Theon gets his own itch for home, though it may have something to do with the fact that there aren’t many places he can show up with Sansa and still hope to keep his head about his shoulders. He intends to take his leave from Sansa, Brienne, and Pod — all seemingly headed to Castle Black at the Wall — and head back home to the Iron Islands.
And while he might expect to be crowned king upon arriving to find his father newly deceased, we learn that’s not the way the law works on the Islands. His sister Asha has designs of taking over, but Aeron Greyjoy (the priest guy) tells her that she must win over the kingsmoot, the gathering from which the ironborn will choose their next ruler. Early favorite is Euron Greyjoy (the kinslayer-on-the-bridge guy), but hey, it’s all up to the drowned god. Theon, buddy, I think you’re jumping out of the frying pan and into … well, a bunch of crazy uncles.
Back in King’s Landing, the High Sparrow has amassed some serious power. And from that smirking grin he gives Jaime, you can tell he knows it. Whether his words of bringing down empires will turn to reality, you can bet it won’t sit well with the Lannisters. Tommen, showing some rare good sense for that family, bars his mother from attending Myrcella on her bier. Not for any nefarious reason, but so Cersei won’t be seized upon entering the sept, as the Big Bird has forbidden until her trial is over. Still, it’s not as if Tommen is entirely unaware of his mother’s shortcomings — he does assume she’s behind the killing of Prince Trystane. Cersei, for her part, accepts her son’s apology and plea for help which means things ’bout to get crazy in King’s Landing.
Across the sea, Tyrion drinks, knows things, and makes eunuch jokes. One of those things he knows is that dragons don’t do well in captivity, and because they haven’t eaten since Daenerys left the city, they’re doing even worse than would be expected. So Tyrion puts on his best friendly voice and unchains a couple of dragons. Maybe all his drinking was to get his courage up for this kind of thing? My bet is that he wasn’t enough of a meal for the dragons to waste time on. Now if Varys had sauntered down there, we might have one less eunuch in the world…
And Arya? Well, Arya gets hit in the face some more and told she can come inside. Thrilling, to be sure.
And we’ve finally reached … the Wall. Jon Snow. And the Red Woman, mercifully back on Kanye’s get-right-for-the-summer workout plan.
Just when Ser Alliser is ready to breach the door and take the room by force, back comes Not-So-Dolorous-Anymore Edd with a host of wildlings at his back. The element of surprise is apparently enough to frighten the entire Night’s Watch into surrender, because that’s exactly what happens when Wun Wun busts the gate open. One arrow, two watchmen, and a big bottle of industrial-strength Clorox for blood stains later, those allied with Jon Snow once again hold Castle Black.
Perhaps it’s Tormund’s mention of firewood that triggers Davos’s action. Or maybe he’s been thinking about it for a while. Whatever the case, he goes to former rival Melisandre to plead for some magic that might bring Jon back. He doesn’t care what god it comes from, but he’s seen it work from Melisandre’s hands too many times to discount. Still, you have to wonder if he’s thought through the consequences. The Red Woman states, “If you want to help him, leave him be.” But she nor anyone else around Jon Snow heeds that advice. As soon as the guy is given a little privacy, he decides to obey the incantation everyone gave up on and come back to life, opening his eyes and gasping in a way that will probably haunt my dreams for weeks.
And just like that, the waiting is done. Jon Snow is alive. As to where he goes from here, your guess is as good as mine.
You know nothing, audience. And that’s just the way we like it.
– Seriously, you’re gonna resurrect a guy who’s wearing nothing but a loincloth? No wonder he waited until everyone left the room to make his appearance.
– “Wylis.” Just doesn’t have the same ring as “Hodor,” does it? Though I’m sure there are already more “Whatchu talkin’ ’bout, Wylis” memes on the internet than there will be votes cast in this year’s presidential election.
– I get that the dragons needed to be unchained to grow. But the issue was that they weren’t eating. Will being unfettered give them an appetite?
– “May I hold him?” Admit it, your gut pinched just like mine did when Ramsay said that.
– Two weeks in a row now Ramsey has fed a woman to his dogs. Can he get to three?
– C’mon, Yara — don’t you know that prudence, caution, and speaking some wartime common sense will never work in this universe?
– I can’t remember back to season four to think what the children of the forest looked like … but I don’t think it was like that thing that was talking to a bored/depressed Meera.
– Ser Robert Strong, for the win! I can wait to see the myriad ways this dude ends fools.
– I still don’t have the slightest clue how the sand snakes pulled off killing Trystane on the boat … after seeing off said boat from the dock. Anyone got this figured out?
– “Next time I have an idea like that, punch me in the face.” Noted.
– Notice that Varys didn’t deny thinking dwarf jokes. Tyrion has him there.
– Ramsay notes that Castle Black is undefended on its southern side, but then where exactly were the wildlings breaking in? Has that gate always been there? Were they just in a courtyard? I think about this stuff too much.
– First rule of beauty school: always neatly trim hair and beard before beseeching the lord of light to give life to a corpse.
Thanks for reading. See you here next week for “Oathbreaker.” Valar dohaeris.