Co-written by Danielle Ryan.
Season 6 of Game of Thrones continued on Sunday with “Home,” an episode that, were our world a world which suffered from interminable, years-long winters, would be recounted time and again around the hearthfires of our homes. Instead, we tell this tale again over the super-heated CPUs and glossy screens of smart devices. The first of this season’s new faces galore debuted in this episode, and some of last season’s unanswered questions were put to bed.
Brace yourselves: Spoilers are coming.
Westeros – The Seven Kingdoms and Beyond the Wall
To open this episode, Bran Stark explores the depths of his abilities as a Greenseer and gets his time-traveling warg on with the Three-Eyed Raven to watch his father scrap with his uncle, Benjen, his his aunt Lyanna, and a surprisingly loquacious Hodor (then known as Willis) in the yard of Winterfell. Bran seems thirsty for the experience of living in the past, but if history is anything like the present of this world (and boy is it), he’s bound to lose his taste for rummaging through the dark past. We also got another glimpse of the mysterious Children of the Forest or, well, a child of the forest, who has an exchange with Meera that hints that Bran might not be destined to be stuck in a Na’vi-style uplink with the weirwood in the cave, and that her presence will be essential to his safety.
In King’s Landing, the Lannisters are gearing up to assert their control of the city instead of fleeing to Casterly Rock with their tails between their legs. Cersei‘s new thug, the shambling Frankenstein’s-monster of Gregor Clegane’s reanimated corpse, clearly intimidates the local populace and the rank and file Lannister soldiers holding the Red Keep, and while the High Sparrow all but admitted that his actions were politically-motivated and aimed to bring down a corrupt nobility, Jaime seemed fit to start a one man revolution of his own by killing the holy man in the middle of the Great Sept of Baelor. With tensions on the rise, we could be on the brink of another battle in King’s Landing this season. Simultaneously, King Tommen Baratheon (the first of his name) has started to assert himself as king, and showed some real wisdom by interposing himself between his mother and the ire of the High Sparrow and finding a way to get bridge the gap between himself and a grieving Cersei.
Perhaps it’s misguided zeal for Mother’s Day (coming up next weekend on May 8th, so don’t forget to send your mom a card), but in addition to Tommen’s reconciliation with Cersei this episode sure had a lot of dying dads in it. Ramsay proved himself the mad dog his father Roose warned he was becoming by killing the patrician Bolton not even two minutes after receiving that advice. On Pyke, in the long-forgotten Iron Islands, Yara questions the warlike direction her father Balon has taken the ironborn, and Balon insists he is still the rightful king. Immediately after, Balon has a fatal reunion with his prodigal brother Euron on a rope bridge, and, splat, no more king. Murderous pirates who cut out the tongues of their own crewmen apparently aren’t all that keen on kin. In her father’s absence, it’s clear Yara will continue to press her people to end their part in the war and seek peace with the other realms, though the black-hearted Euron may have other plans.
Elsewhere in the north, Sansa, Pod, and Brienne continue their quest to find the wayward Arya, and Theon peels of on a quest of his own to find redemption and a safe haven at home. Theon is in a strange place; while he’s clearly done the noble thing in helping Sansa escape from the abusive Ramsay, if he stays in the north he’s caught between two forces that would surely execute him if they catch him. With the introduction of his uncles Euron and Aeron, the death of his father meaning a looming Kingsmoot to determine succession, and a possessive and vengeful Ramsay on the loose in the north, Theon’s arc will be one to watch closely.
Finally, we get what fans have been clamoring for since the agonizing betrayal of Jon Snow at the end of last season: in a fantasy setting where deceased members of the Night’s Watch spring to their feet and fight like champion gladiators, frosty necromancers raise massive hordes of reanimated corpses, a lesser noble who’s been resurrected seven times and still keeps fighting, and a gigantic undead Gregor Clegane whose ghastly, necrotic face can be seen through the narrow slit in his helmet, the showrunners have finally stopped pretending that “dead is dead” with Jon. After swiftly ending Alliser Thorne‘s power grab with some timely Wildling assistance, Ser Davos looks to put things to rights at the Wall. Setting aside their differences, Davos pleads with Melisandre to give the Lord of Light‘s hoodoo CPR a try on Jon Snow. In the dramatic final scene, just when all parties have left thinking the procedure was a failure, Ghost perks up as Jon Snow gasps back to life, his scarred body heaving with the frightening promise that his strife in this stark world is not yet ended. Welcome back, Jonny boy. We’ve missed you.
Across the Narrow Sea in Braavos, Arya is still having a fantastic time being a blind, bruised beggar girl. Still bruised and cut from her last encounter with the Waif, she is again attacked by the older girl, driving her into a rage. When she strikes, however, Jaqen H’ghar catches the staff. He promises to let her sleep under a roof, feed her, and give her eyesight back if she only says her name, but she refuses him three times, saying she has no name. He then instructs her to leave her begging bowl and follow him, as she is no longer a beggar girl.
In Meereen, Missandei informs Tyrion that the entirety of Slaver’s Bay has returned to the hands of the slavers, and that Meereen is the only free city left. With their fleet burned, Meereen looks as if it will fall to the masters once more. Tyrion suggests freeing the two remaining dragons beneath the pyramid, and goes to free them himself. He tells the dragons a little story about himself as a boy, wanting a dragon for his name day. “Not even a big dragon, just a little one, like me,” he says. It’s a touching moment, one that allows viewers to understand the wonder Tyrion must feel touching the neck of a creature that’s supposed to be extinct. Tyrion frees the dragons and they disappear into the tunnels beneath the city. The CGI on the dragons was good, better than Dany’s Neverending Story-style escape from the fighting pits, and Peter Dinklage gives an amazing performance that really sells the idea of these creatures being real.
The episode preview gives us some hints that we are going to get a serious Westerosi history lesson this season. Forget Jon Snow’s resurrection and the menacing Euron Greyjoy – the most significant introduction in this episode was to Lyanna Stark during Bran’s flashback. Lyanna is the Helen of Troy in this particular epic, the casus belli of the entire conflict that led to Robert Baratheon deposing the age-old Targaryen dynasty. We get a brief glimpse in the preview of a young Ned Stark challenging some heavily armored men, whom book readers will identify as the loyal members of the King’s Guard. Will we see the entirety of the Raid on the Tower of Joy, and, perhaps more importantly, the tournament at Harrenhal? Meera’s father, Lord Howland Reed, is a central figure in that incident and given Bran’s excitement for praising Hodor’s ability to speak two sentences, we could be seeing a set-up for a big revelation. As Bran grows in his power as a Greenseer, we are bound to see some interesting secrets come to light.
The preview also shows Arya continuing in her training at the House of Black and White, Danerys arriving in Vaes Dothrak, and the Lannisters getting into more fights with essentially everyone. Ramsay receives a gift, which is probably Reek/Theon. Either he helped Sansa escape as part of some elaborate plan and Ramsay was in on it, or Theon got caught trying to get back to the Iron Islands, but it’s pretty likely that Theon is stuck with Ramsay forever.
Oh, did we mention that Jon Snow’s not dead? Risen and ready to lead once again, and through bizarre loophole perhaps freed of his oaths to the Night’s Watch, (“It shall not end until my death,” anyone?), Jon is ready to bring some serious hurt on the malicious forces of the world. Will he march south to Winterfell? Is he actually The Prince that was Promised? Despite Kit Harrington’s protestations that he was only on set to play a corpse (which is true, from a certain point of view), Jon Snow is set to be a central figure in the story going forward. We knew something, Jon Snow.