I am the sword in the darkness
Quite a bit happened this episode, but there’s only one thing that really matters Jon. Fucking. Snow. Is. Back. I mean, we all knew this was happening — I actually predicted David Benioff and D.B. Weiss would yank us around a few episodes longer — but it’s no less satisfying. It’s interesting to consider how satisfying an “I told you so” can be. The fact that we knew this was coming could have rendered it anticlimactic, but Game of Thrones found the perfect alchemy with which to execute it — in a way that rewards eagle-eyed viewers, and let the lead-in fill with tension. For a few heart-stopping moments, it seemed the resurrection wasn’t working, and perhaps HBO was fucking with all those fan theories.
Kit Harington has already apologized for lying to us, and his apology is accepted.
The way it happens is pitch-perfect, with Davos entreating Melisandre; a callback to Thoros of Myr and Beric Dondarrion, and everyone doubting its success except for loyal Ghost. Coupled with the first onscreen appearance of Lyanna Stark, Jon’s probable mother, his identity is essentially confirmed. R + L = J is now canon.
The North Remembers
Sansa’s storyline this week includes a touching conversation with Brienne, in which she demands to know everything about her encounter with Arya and “a man” at the end of Season 4. But come on, Brienne, how did you not recognize The Hound? Sansa would be pleased, she liked him. We also got a tearful goodbye with Theon. Seeing Sansa smile at Arya’s lack of ladylike clothing was a nice reminder of the sisters’ relationship.
“My dreams are different”
Bran Stark makes a triumphant comeback this week, and with Bran comes an introduction to his aunt Lyanna Stark and the intriguing revelation that Hodor was once a man named Willas who could, in fact, talk. In a continuation of last weeks slyly meta writing, Bran echoes the viewers sentiments with this line: “You finally show me something I care about, and then you drag me away.”
For more, look out for our interview with Isaac Hempstead Wright later in the week.
The Lannisters Send their Regards
In King’s Landing, Jaime gives Tommen an unhelpful pep talk (“we all fail sometimes”) and threatens The High Sparrow, who retaliates with this zinger about The Faith: “every one of us is poor and powerless, and yet together we can overthrow an empire.” Meanwhile Cersei, has a tender moment with Tommen, which means his life span is rapidly running out. On Game of Thrones any time there is a tender parent-child moment, someone is toast (see: Davos and Shireen, Ser Barristan and Daenerys, Ned Stark and Jon Snow, Jaime and Myrcella).
All Men Must Die
We get three more deaths this week: re-animation has apparently not changed the Mountain’s appetite for head-crushing. Like Jon’s resurrection, the Westerosi frat boy’s death is not a surprise — it’s telegraphed as soon as he wanders away alone — but it’s no less satisfying. Balon Greyjoy’s death also feels perfunctory and unsurprising, but it introduces his mysterious brother, who seems to talk in poetic prophecies not unlike Jaqen H’ghar (“I am the Drowned God” and “I am the storm, the first and the last”). This is clearly meant to be badass, but it comes off as melodrama in the same vein as the writing on the Sand Snake’s regrettable dialogue. We’ll see where this plot line goes.
Roose Bolton’s is the one that’s legitimately shocking — if only for its suddenness; not for Ramsay’s willingness to go there . The way it goes down, with tender words and a dagger to the heart, is a well-deserved callback to how Roose killed Robb Stark at The Red Wedding. Early graves go to Fat Walda and Ramsay’s unnamed baby brother, as well. Ramsay now has sole power in the North — but we know a newly resurrected Lord Commander who might be able to change that.
Uneasy is the head that wears the crown
Tyrion and Varys continue to wade in the Land of Stagnat Plots that is Meereen, but it’s brightened by their two-man comedy show. First they make dwarf and eunuch jokes at each others’ expense (“I do not,” says Varys. “You think them,” says Tyrion”) and then Varys chides Tyrion about his laissez-faire attitude about dragons (“I am their friend,” says Tyrion. “Do they know that?” says Varys). So long as they continue these delightful zingers, it doesn’t matter that Meereen continues to be an uphill trudge.
Spare coins from the Iron Bank
- Tyrion on his aborted plan to free the dragons: “Next time I have an idea like that, punch me in the face.”
- Roose Bolton: “Murder the Lord Commander of the Nights Watch?! You’d unite every house in the North against us!”
- Shouldn’t everyone in the world know not to follow Ramsay into the kennels by now? That said, he does have some good sinister murder lines (Walda: “He’s your brother!” Ramsay: “I preferred being an only child.”)
- The Iron Islands touching eulogy: “Feed the creatures of your kingdom of his flesh.”
- Davos speaking for every viewer: “Do you know of any magic that can bring him back? Can it be done?” Fuck yes it can be, Davos.