It’s not always easy returning to where you grew up, as Theon Greyjoy will undoubtedly learn in the coming weeks, but “Home,” the second episode of Game of Thrones’ young sixth season, made it nice and easy to fall back into the show we love.
If last week’s episode was the setting of the table in preparation for the season-long feast, then “Home” is the appetizer. And what a damn good appetizer it was.
Things began north of The Wall with Bran (Issac Hempstead Wright), who in his lengthy absence, seems to have mastered the power of the flashback. At Castle Black, nightfall arrived and Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale) is ready to fight and kill Davos (Liam Cunningham) and the Jon Snow loyalists. Luckily, Edd (Ben Crompton) arrives with the wildlings, led by Wun Wun, and it’s only a few minutes before Thorne and the rest of the mutinous officers (and that fucker Olly) are dragged to the Black Cells.
In King’s Landing, Cersei’s newest Kingsguard takes special offense to a particularly well-endowed boaster and smashes his head in. Elsewhere in the city, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) advises King Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) to visit his mother, since the young king is the only thing currently keeping Cersei (Lena Headey) sane. As Tommen leaves, the High Sparrow (aka Westerosi Bernie Sanders) arrives. Jaime reaches for his sword hilt and the High Sparrow counters with words, reminding Jaime that even though the sparrows lack power at the individual level, as a group, they are potent enough to overthrow empires.
Across the Narrow Sea, the still-blind Arya (Maisie Williams) struggles to fight back versus the Waif. Fortunately, Jaqen H’ghar appears and ends the fighting. When No One, née Arya, refuses to say her name, a satisfied Jaqen tells her to follow.
And Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), as impressive as he may have been in unchaining Daenerys’s dragons, definitely deserved to be punched in the face. All I could think of was the convienently-forgotten-by-the-show Quentyn Martell and his final “Oh.”
And now, let’s move onto this week’s Riser of the Week. Something tells me you know who it is.
Riser of the Week: Jon Snow
Could it be anyone else? I would like to take a second here to thank HBO for being literally the opposite of AMC and for ending the episode the way it deserved. What makes Game of Thrones so rewarding week to week is that it never feels like we’re watching a filler episode. And so here we are, a mere two weeks into the season, and the biggest question has already been answered. JON SNOW LIVES. And thank god his eyes weren’t an icy blue. We still don’t know if Jon will be any different, but I’m willing to bet we won’t ever see him wearing black again. There’s a big, huge, massively important flashback scene scheduled for next week's episode, and after that, I believe we’ll be looking at Jon in a whole new light. But for now, let’s simply say our thanks that for at least one week, we got something we wanted from Game of Thrones.
Honorable Mention: Tyrion Lannister, for as dumb as it is to confront two dragons, he not only lived, but likely claimed the right to ride one of them when the time comes.
Faller of the Week: Roose Bolton
This might be the most fitting death in Game of Thrones to date. Remember, it was Roose who helped organize the Red Wedding and made sure that not only was it Robb Stark who was murdered, but also Talisa and their unborn baby, Ned. Fast forward a few seasons and pretty much the exact same thing has happened to him. And even more embarrassingly, it happened at the hands of his own atrocious bastard son – a man with more red flags than the entire Lannister army. You have no one to blame but yourself, Roose. You knew exactly what Ramsay is, and you enabled him. You turned a blind eye to everything he did, including destroying the marriage with Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), a marriage you worked so hard to broker. You should have put Ramsay down like the mad dog that he is. Instead, the dog got to you first.
Honorable Mention: Balon Greyjoy – the Ruben Studdard of The War of the Five Kings.
Backstory of the Week: The Kingsmoot
Unlike most of Westeros, where the chain of royal succession is clearly defined, the Iron Islands have a system in place that allows for an election. The kingsmoot is a traditional ceremony in which kings are chosen and voted on by longship captains. When a kingsmoot has been declared, any captain may put his or her name forward as a candidate, since according to the Iron Born, every captain is a king of his own ship. During the kingsmoot, candidates will then give a speech and offer up gifts to the people in hopes of acquiring enough votes to win the Salt Throne.
In “Home,” Aeron Greyjoy (Michael Feast) tells Yara (Gemma Whelan) that she has no official claim to her father’s seat, and will have to contend for the throne in the kingsmoot like everyone else. Her biggest competition will be Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbaek), who in addition to calling himself “the storm,” is also Balon’s brother and perceived favorite for the kingship. So far, the introduction of the Iron Islands has gone much more smoothly than it did for the Martells last year in Dorne. Here’s to hoping what is dead may never die, unless it’s a Sand Snake.
Item of Power: The Weirwood Tree
Although we haven’t seen Bran in the past year, it’s safe to assume that he’s been training with Bloodraven (Max van Sydow), and it’s clear his powers are getting stronger. It wasn’t long into the episode before we were transported back to Winterfell and caught a glimpse of a different set of Stark children: Ned, Benjen, and Lyanna (!!!). We also saw Wyllis, the beefy stableboy who would grow up to become Hodor. Due to the dense nature of George R.R. Martin’s series, the producers for Game of Thrones have long been against showing flashbacks because doing so would open up the metaphorical floodgates. But now, because of Bran’s growing abilities, flashbacks are not only possible, but necessary. As Leaf told Meera (Ellie Kendrick), Bran is eventually going to have to travel away from the tree. Whether or not she was speaking literally is still to be determined, but if Bran is to leave the tree, I hope we spend ample time flashing back first.
- Okay, we are two episodes in and there has been a severe lack of Petyr Baelish. This needs to change.
- Was Jon’s resurrection somehow tied into Ghost? Was there warging involved?
- I cannot wait to see Thorne’s reaction when he sees Jon.
- On one hand, I understand why Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) thought it was necessary to kill his father. But he also killed Walda, who just happens to be one of Walder Frey’s granddaughters. That can’t be good for the Bolton-Frey alliance.
- My first reaction to Theon (Alfie Allen) heading home was that he meant back home to the Iron Islands, but after thinking about it for a while, I’m starting to wonder if he meant Winterfell, and that he’s headed there to kill Ramsay.
- Out of all the origin stories, Hodor’s might be the most interesting. I need to know what happened.
Joe Brosnan works at St. Martin's Press and manages Criminal Element. He’s a New York Giants fan, a Petyr Baelish supporter, and is only now realizing how weird it is to write in the third person. You can follow him on Twitter @joebro33.
Read all of Joe Brosnan’s posts for Criminal Element.