Fair warning: if you’ve not seen this week’s episode yet, stop reading. Just stop. Ok? Cool.
In fact, I’m just going to talk about something else for a bit juussst in case you’re still with us and don’t want a massive spoiler. I’m going to talk about how crazy-tall Bran has gotten! I feel attached to all these Stark children (the ones we have left), I feel like I’ve grown up with them at this point. And now they’re off in the world, having visions and marrying evil psychopaths. Ok that’s enough. Because I’m way to excited to be able to avoid saying…
JON SNOW! In the twist that literally everyone predicted, Jon Snow has returned to the land of the living. Finally I can relax – because, of course, this is Game of Thrones and a twist so obvious was beginning to feel like a hope too far. And wow, did they play with us in that scene – every lingering shot was milked for all it was worth. I started to fear Jon would wake up as Ghost (the direwolf, not a ghost), the amount of times they focused on him. It remains to be seen what exact state Jon is in, but hey, almost any state is better than dead.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s go back to the start of the episode, where the current state of another son of the North was finally revealed: Bran! He’s hanging out with the three-eyed raven and having some intriguing visions. Although we only see one, according to him it’s the only one he’s cared about, it seems that this has been going on for a while (all of last season I guess). And what a vision it was: Winterfell in happier times, occupied by a young Ned, brother Benjen and sister Lyanna. Lovely! Oh and we mustn’t forget Hodor, in his early days of talking and being called Willis. So that was nice. This is a storyline I can really get behind, unlike Meera Reed who is bored out of her mind, and personally I’m hoping they’ve included it so they can begin to address the issue of Jon’s parentage (R+L=J theorists, I am with you).
Over in King’s Landing, the Lannisters have become the subject of general ribaldry – that is until the resurrected/Frankenstein’s monstered Mountain starts smashing heads. Not so much fun then. The Lannisters themselves certainly aren’t in a jovial mood, with Cersei barred from her daughter’s funeral – I briefly thought Tommen had a backbone but it turned out he was just scared – and Jaime caught in an angry exchange with the High Sparrow. I know Jaime was surrounded at that point but surely, surely someone can get a little army together and just take down that bunch of pious fools. I mean, do you really have to hand over your kingdom to any cult that wants it? Is that some sort of law I’m not aware of? Get rid of them and we’ll be done with false humility and fake bravery (well, alright, maybe we won’t. But still!)
Anyway, the Sparrow and his looney followers escape justice for yet another week, and the Lannister family circle tightens as Tommen practically begs his mother to turn him into another Joffrey. My last hope in that family, dashed!
Across the sea, we learn that two of the cities liberated from slavery by Daenarys have simply sunken back into their old ways and Slaver’s Bay is alive and kicking. Unlike the bay at Meereen which is still smoking (Writers: we get it. Dany isn’t sailing anywhere this season. Fine). Tyrion taking charge yet again is glorious and great fun to watch as he attempts to become a dragon-whisperer. It goes surprisingly well, despite Varys’ look of abject terror (I love these two as a duo. There’s something about Tyrion that works really, really well in ‘buddy movie’ situations, I don’t know why). I also must admit to being pretty impressed by the dragons – CGI can so often be very hit-and-miss but they have consistently been well handled and well designed: they look real, they look scary and they look damn cool. I want one.
Talking of sea, we were also treated to some time beside the sea with the Greyjoys. Sounds like the perfect holidays. The poor old ocean-soaked Greyjoys had slightly vanished off the face of the earth of late, so it’s good to see what they’re up to. Which is being angry and war-like. Unless you’re Yara and then you’re being angry and peace-like. Either way, her argument with Balon is kinda done now. The moment Balon stepped on that bridge I knew he was a goner. No one survives a bridge like that – apart from Euron! New Greyjoy in town, Balon’s younger brother, mad pirate and a man who simultaneously believes himself to be both the Drowned God and the personification of a storm. Interesting chap. Probably going to shake things up (vote Yara, not Euron!) Also, I really love the design of the Iron Islands, you can feel the constant atmosphere of the sea running through them and practically smell the salt in the air. The halls are heavy, dark and damp – and ok, we also have the Bolton-ised Winterfell competing in the dark and heavy stakes, but there’s an elegance of design, a rocky, echoey feel that for me, really differentiates between the two.
Enough of that. I’ve reminded myself of the Boltons. Oh you crazy Boltons. This was certainly an episode for swift dispatches as Roose joined Balon in the ‘unceremoniously-done-away-with team’. It’s a big team.
I’ve got to be honest: I had actually glanced down at my notebook when Ramsay’s knife went in and for a moment thought that father had stabbed son instead. How I wish I had been right. Roose is no saint but he was the only person with even a modicum of control over his evil son. Now this was a moment I really didn’t see coming, and of course Ramsay started as he meant to go on: immediately feeding his brother and step-mum to his (very well-trained) dogs. Nice. I had a really weird moment where I hoped that Frey woman would secretly know martial arts, kill Ramsay and suddenly become a main character. Sadly she didn’t. So, anyway, that’s going to be a completely insane story line with constant blood-baths and terror. Interesting though.
More interesting, for sure, than Arya’s current plot. I’m grateful the fighting blind nonsense didn’t drag on too long but now all that’s happened is her return to the House of Black and White. Yawn.
I can’t finish this without returning to events at Castle Black – at the start of the episode I was extremely relieved to see that the Wildlings had answered the call although the fight was a massive anti-climax. Evil hell-child Ollie seemed to feel the same way, being one of the few to still attempt a bit of a dust-up after that giant’s game-ending traitor smashing. That’s two head smashings this week. I loved the scene between Davos and Melisandre: she’s never looked so human, so like a real person, and the back and forth was great. Actor Liam Cunningham plays Ser Davos so well: he embodies that traditionally northern gruff, down-to-earth, honest persona without making it corny and over-done. He’s basically become a more onion-y Ned Stark (if I’ve just marked him for death I am so, so sorry).
The episode draws to a close with a heart-stopping (and heart-starting) gasp from Jon and we’re left waiting another week… please don’t have come back all weird, Jon! Please!
Final grade: A
- I’m glad they didn’t wait any longer to revive Jon or he may have gone off. Come to think of it though, it is pretty cold up there so maybe he’d have been ok.
- It’s at this point I think I’d like to retract my previous support of Daenarys and Margaery to rule Westeros together, and put forward Bran for king. I’m not sure why, he just seems sensible. Margaery can still be involved if she wants though.
- Anything less than an ocean burial would have been deeply, deeply disappointing at Greyjoy Towers.
- Who else screamed at the tv ‘DON’T LET RAMSAY NEAR THAT BABY!’? Surely not just me?
- I get why Theon wants to go home but I was actually kind of sad. That hug!