Title: Game of Thrones – “Home”
Air Date: May 1, 2016
Before we begin – Yes, there are TV spoilers ahead. I will not celebrate every twist and turn, but if we are going to talk about what we like, we have to discuss the great scenes. Stop reading if you do not like spoilers. You have been warned!
Last week was a great premiere, marred by a slight case of “too much stuff and not enough time.” This week, Game of Thrones really hit its stride. Several huge moments, the return of some long-lost characters, a few gigantic power swings, and one gasp of breath to cap it all off. If “Home” didn’t have you on the edge of your seat when the credits started rolling, then I’m not sure what you’re doing still watching the show.
“Home” started off with a character we have been holding our breath for. No, not Bran. Whatchu talkin’ bout, Willis?
Of course, I’m talking about Hodor. Who apparently used to be a stableboy at Winterfell, is about Ned’s age, and could talk normally. We also got to see young Ned, Benjen, Lyanna, and Sir Rodrick (who Theon beheaded when he took over Winterfell). Bran’s ability to walk around in these visions of the past should lead to some very fascinating revelations, and definitely called to mind similar plot devices from works such as A Christmas Carol and Harry Potter. Hopefully, Game of Thrones does not rely too much on Bran’s crystal ball to fill in the blanks, but it should fill the gaps nicely if used sparingly. And to hear the Child of the Forest state that Bran will need Meera’s help when he leaves raises some serious questions about what Bran’s role will be in the coming fight.
Still in the North, the wildlings came to aid the man who saved them. Seeing Alliser get brought down so quickly was extremely satisfying. Also, ARE YOU SERIOUS OLLY? The memes are all true. Go home, kid. What is your plan? We’ll come back to Castle Black and OMG JON SNOW at the end of our recap, but… Olly. Man. Too bad that giant didn’t grab him.
Speaking of heading to Castle Black, Ramsay Bolton seems to have the same plan. Excuse me, Lord Bolton. It’s not often Game of Thrones completely surprises me, but when I heard the sound of someone being stabbed after the two Bolton’s hugged it out, I thought that Roose had finally decided to eliminate his unhinged son. I did not expect Roose to go down so easily, and it’s too bad that he didn’t get a more dramatic end, even if this was the most logical way for him to go. It just seemed like Roose would have expected this attack and planned for it a little better, seeing as how he has done nothing but plan the entire series. But to see Lord Karstark stand by and watch (out of fear? Or loyalty to Ramsay?) was deeply unsettling. The brutality with which Ramsay dispatched his new brother and Walda was a mere formality, and probably stamped Ramsay for an extremely satisfying death later this season. It would be a fitting end if Ghost takes care of him.
In a great combination of “characters we missed” and “unexpected death scenes,” we had our trip to Pyke and our brief reunion with Balon Greyjoy. Book readers knew that Balon had to go, but to have Game of Thrones eliminate that ambiguity and actually show Euron “Crow’s Eye” Greyjoy toss his brother over the bridge was a great way to establish his character. Asha has her work cut out for her against this scary individual, and it will be interesting to see the reaction if Theon does follow through with his plan to return home. Hearing Euron ramble about being a god could also play into the larger narrative as well, but we’ll get to that after our return to Castle Black.
In our final location of Westeros from tonight’s episode, the scenes in King’s Landing really hit home. You knew the man boasting about Cersei had it coming, and it was rewarding to see the giant zombie kingsguard eliminated him so easily. Does he have a radar for people who talk about Cersei? Or did he just happen to wander past and hear his queen being insulted? Either way, he is one scary guy, and I don’t think the small army of guards could have put up a fight against him if Cersei had ordered him to fight. King’s Landing was full of tension this week. Robert Strong and Cersei. Jaime and his dialogue with the High Sparrow, who has evolved from “someone with a warped sense of how to help” to “one of the most terrifying people on Game of Thrones.” And poor, sad King Tommen. Trying to talk tough, but ultimately breaking down and begging his mother to help him become strong. Cersei is a strong character, but she is probably not who anyone should go to for life advice.
No Daenerys this week, but we did check in with the crew leading Meereen in her place. Tyrion pulled a Jaime and released the condemned! His conversation with the dragons, who proved their intelligence and ability to understand, was another highlight in an episode chock full of highlights. Will Tyrion continue his parlance with the dragons? Or are they going to run rampant now? Either way, they should have Tyrion’s back, just as Drogon had his mother’s. But how will these two respond when (if?) Dany gets back home? Also across the Narrow Sea, Arya has taken the next step in her Daredevil/no one training, and Sansa knows she is alive. Color me curious as to where the Stark storyline is going, but there are not a lot of hints about where the Stark ladies are headed.
As promised: OMG JON SNOW. It is great that Game of Thrones didn’t string this one along any more than it did, because it could have grown tiresome. That final scene was executed so well, however. Riding high from the return of the wildlings. No mention or hint at Melisandre’s reveal from last week. Davos being her biggest cheerleader, since she showed him that “miracles exist.” The slow washing and haircut. And then… nothing. Everyone thinking it was a failure and leaving the room, completely heartbroken. Just Ghost left in the room; he stirs and then – life. How will Jon react to his resurrection? How will everyone else? How soon before Jon Snow stabs Olly? Too bad, you have to wait until next week.
Maybe I’m putting too much weight in the Greyjoys, but hearing Euron essentially boast that he is an avatar for the Drowned God raises some questions. Jon Snow may, ultimately, wind of being the avatar for the Lord of Light. Melisandre clearly thought it was Stannis, but obviously that didn’t work out. And she has spoken several times about the battle between the R’lhor (The God of Fire) and the “Great Other,” which is essentially the God of Darkness. Unless the Drowned God is a false god and not just a different face of the same big bad (that also seems to be driving the Night’s King and his army of snow zombies), Euron and Jon may be headed for a clash down the line. Especially if Euron has a certain magical object that could become extremely important later on.
Overall, this was a fantastic episode of Game of Thrones. It was just as busy as last week’s premiere, but did not feel nearly as rushed and frantic. Two houses changed over leadership, nearly every known character has been brought back into the fold, and the super secret that everyone knew about was revealed. As Game of Thrones distances itself further and further from Martin’s books, it can hopefully maintain its momentum and continue to shock and surprise.
- Characters: Davos and Melisandre again had some great moments this week. Ramsay helped punch his exit ticket, Bran came back, Jaime and the High Sparrow had a great exchange, and Jon Snow woke up.
- Cinematography: The scene on the bridge at Pyke stood out, as well as Tyrion’s encounter with the dragons. The final resurrection scene was extremely tense.
- Story: Didn’t feel as frantic as last week’s premiere. Powerful reveals (Hodor has a name!), big shifts of power, and a moment everyone had been waiting for.
- Acting: The Greyjoys all stood out this week, with Euron grabbing a scary debut. Everyone in King’s Landing had some powerful scenes, and the people at Castle Black won’t be disappointed for long.
- Bran's back, with some serious power
- Jon's back, with an army by his side
- Dramatic shifts in power of two houses
- Great scenes at King's Landing
- Tyrion meets the dragons
- Wasn't an hour longer