Welcome to the episode where the thing happens that everyone knew would happen at some point but actually happened this time!
Warning: spoilers everywhere. Please watch the episode before reading!
My favourite thing to do before getting into a new Game of Thrones episode is looking at any potential changes in the opening title sequence. This time around I had an excitement aneurysm because Pyke and the Iron Islands are in the opening title sequence, telling me that we’ll see Greyjoys this episode! I freaking love the Greyjoy storyline in books four and five (I think) of the series so I’m hoping we get to see at least a fragment of it represented on screen. Also Jeremy Podeswa directs again, which is a good thing.
We begin our episode with Bran and the Three Eyed Raven, incapacitated in the trees beyond the Wall. Finally we get to see what Bran has been doing whilst all his friends and foes have been hogging all the screen time last season! Basically, just chilling in the trees and looking at things. It is worth noting that the Three Eyed Raven (henceforth known as TER) is played by on of my favourite actors of all time – Max Von Sydow, I absolutely love him. Bran and the TER are watching a flashback to early times in Winterfell, as a young Ned and Benjen Stark are sparring and learning how to fight. Then we see a little lady named Lyanna Stark ride in on a horse. I am so excited about this for reasons you’ll see next episode probably. Bran and the TER also tell us that Hodor used to be a guy called Willis before he became Hodor who can only speak one word. This actually makes Hodor much older than he looks, according to the timeline of the story.
This is the first of Bran’s big flashbacks we’ve seen and they don’t really explain how he’s able to do it. It’s the magic trees, you guys. Bran heads outside and has a chat to Meera (remember her?) who appears to be pondering the fact that her brother Jojen died in the last episode of season four. Bran, the TER and Meera let us know that a big war is coming. Meera doesn’t seem convinced about it. Bran leaves, and a child of the forest shows up and tells Meera that Bran needs her, as he won’t be staying in the tree cave forever. The show has really invested in good-looking CGI for the children of the forest this season.
These scenes were promising, but I do really hope that they give Max Von Sydow some more screen time.
Back at the Wall, Alliser Thorne and his Night’s Watch friends are ready to collect Davos and friends from the room where they are protecting Jon Snow’s corpse. They’re all ready to fight, but Wun Weg Dar Weg Wun, Tormund Giantsbane, and the other wildlings show up to fight for Jon Snow’s honour! Wun Wun smashes someone to death, which is a nice nod to a scene in book number five. The Night’s Watch know they’re outnumbered and overpowered, so they basically flop immediately. The wildlings subdue Alliser and stupid little Ollie who stabbed Jon Snow last. Tormund and some wildlings go in to see dead Jon. Tormund wants to burn him on a pyre as per wildling custom. Maybe wait until the end of the episode before you do that!
In King’s Landing, some random dude is telling one heck of a fake story about Cersei’s walk of shame. Poor form, given that he’s making sexual jokes about a lady going through probably one of the hugest traumas she has experienced (other than losing multiple children). He is smashed to bits by Cersei’s new protector, Ser Robert Strong. We then see Cersei, alone, wanting to go to her daughter Myrcella’s funeral, but Tommen has prevented her from leaving the Red Keep for her own protection. The knights at the exit of the Keep and Ser Robert Strong contemplate perhaps fighting to let Cersei out, but Cersei walks off, defeated. At this point I started feeling really sorry for Cersei. Not only is Lena Headey an amazing actress, portraying Cersei with such humanity at her lowest point, but for a mother to not be allowed to attend her own daughter’s funeral – it’s too rough, even for someone as ruthless as Cersei.
At the Great Sept of Baelor where Myrcella’s corpse is being shown, Jaime and Tommen discuss Tommen’s suspicion that Cersei was behind the murder of Prince Trystane last episode, which Jaime basically says is a pretty dumb idea. Tommen says he won’t see his mother because he feels weak and guilty as a result of Cersei and Margaery having to suffer at the hands of the High Sparrow and the Faith Militant, with Tommen powerless to stop them. Jaime counsels Tommen to see his mother.
The High Sparrow enters and tells Tommen that he can’t see his wife until she confesses her sins. The High Sparrow finally explains why Westerosi people put those stones with blue eyes on the corpses on display – a symbol of a dead person closing their eyes on this world and opening them on the next world. Jaime basically threatens to put the High Sparrow into the next world and discusses his sins; kingslaying, kinslaying, helping Tyrion to escape after killing their father. The High Sparrow encourages Jaime to have a go at killing him, because then Jaime will get killed by his Faith Militant army anyway. The High Sparrow basically gloats of being powerless but yet he and his followers were able to overthrow an empire. Jaime realises he can’t do anything about it for now but I do hope that the High Sparrow and his friends get dealt with soon.
Cersei looks over the city of King’s Landing to the Great Sept of Baelor. Tommen enters and explains why he didn’t want Cersei to attend Myrcella’s funeral. He says has not been strong enough in his time as king thus far, and should have had all of the Faith Militant executed for what they did to Cersei and Margaery. He wants to be strong, but he needs help – and he asks Cersei for that help. This is quite possibly a bad idea because Cersei by this point in time is not known for her rational decision-making skills, and is probably not the best person to ask for advice. I’m excited to see where this goes though, and I do hope that Cersei doesn’t cause Tommen to fail spectacularly because so far he has the potential to actually be a good king, with a sense of fairness and justice. There’s nothing better than some Lannister wrath on screen.
Back in Meereen, there’s some bad news as we (Tyrion, Varys, Grey Worm and Missandei) discuss the fact that the fleet has been burned, and we find out that the Masters have retaken both cities of Yunkai and Astapor – Slaver’s Bay has returned to the slavers, and all Daenerys’ good work at liberating the cities has been undone. Tyrion knows that the dragons are key to keeping their power in the city of Meereen. He goes down to where Daenerys’ dragons Viserion and Rhaegal are chained up, and sets them free. But they look pretty emaciated and haven’t been eating. Luckily, Tyrion doesn’t get eaten. Instead of escaping, the dragons retreat further in to their dungeon where they’ve been since season four.
Meereen is a bit of a ‘meh’ so far this season. For two great characters being stuck there (Tyrion and Varys), it’s sitting low on my list of priorities in the face of a whole bunch of other exciting things. This dragon scene was fun, but it also felt like a bit of filler. Add this to the fact that the executive producers have probably concocted all this stuff up out of a summary provided by almighty author George R. R. Martin for the general gist of how the rest of the story will go, my excitement is just not that high for the Meereen storyline. It feels aimless, but maybe the next episode will prove me wrong.
In Braavos, Arya is still blind, and the waif returns to fight her. They do fight, but this time Arya seems more ready, taking some more swings with her weapon and landing some blows (but not most). Jaqen H’ghar shows up and says that if Arya says her name, she will have shelter, food, and her sight back. Arya continues to state that she is no one, determined to be a Faceless Man (Woman?). Jaqen appears pleased with this, taking Arya with him – she is no longer a beggar on the street. But what is she now? I can’t wait to find out.
Now comes the story that probably freaked me out the most this episode. Ramsay and Roose Bolton are sitting about discussing the fact that someone (Brienne and Pod) killed off some of their best hunters last episode. Ramsay knows Sansa is heading off to Castle Black to see her brother, and proposes killing off Jon Snow in order to further secure their hold on Winterfell and the North. Roose is understandably annoyed that Ramsay would propose such a thing, killing off the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. They mention some important family names – the Umbers, Manderleys and Karstarks – which is exciting as they may crop up later in the season. Roose tells Ramsay to be careful, as if he gets the reputation of being like a mad dog he will be treated like one. In exciting news, it is revealed that Roose’s wife Lady Walda has given birth to a boy! Long story short, Ramsay’s role as heir to House Bolton is threatened, and Ramsay being Ramsay, he stabs and kills his father, taking his title as Lord of House Bolton. Then he feeds Lady Walda and her newborn baby to the hounds, making this the first killing of a baby this season. Congratulations Ramsay, you’re crazy.
I am totally convinced that this doesn’t happen in GRRM’s books. I actually really enjoyed watching Roose Bolton on screen because he was the undercover villain that I loved to hate, the mastermind of some of the worst things ever. Ramsay’s unpredictability actually makes him very open to being defeated. He’s too unstable, he’s not as smart and calculating as his father. Fingers crossed he gets his comeuppance at some point this season, or maybe next season. The scene where Lady Walda and her newborn baby are fed to the hounds was a masterclass in direction, cinematography and music, all in combination to create one of the more disturbing moments of the past couple of seasons.
We then see Brienne, Sansa, Pod and Theon, heading to the Wall. Brienne tells Sansa that she saw Arya and the Hound together, telling Sansa that Arya has disappeared even though she tried very hard to find her. Sansa wants to know how Arya was, in a sweet moment that makes you realise that these sisters seriously haven’t seen each other since season one. Upsetting. Brienne wants to know what happened at Winterfell and Sansa looks down, clearly traumatised. Sansa says she should have gone with Brienne when she had the chance, but Brienne acknowledges that they’ve all had to make difficult choices. Sansa goes to Theon who tells her he feels guilty for all he’s done. He doesn’t want to go to the Wall with Brienne, Sansa and Pod, even though his crimes will be forgiven if he joins the Night’s Watch. He asks to take one of the horses to go back to…
…Pyke and the Iron Islands! I am so excited for this storyline!
Yara Greyjoy is speaking with her father, Lord of the Iron Islands, Balon Greyjoy. We haven’t seen the Greyjoys since season four or thereabouts; like Bran, this storyline was put on ice for season five. Yara discusses that although the Greyjoys conquered some castles on the mainland, these have now been lost. Balon seems pretty convinced that he still wants to take Westeros for his own, though. Yara makes the good point that the Ironborn are best at war in their ships at sea, not on land, and refuses to apologise for attempting to rescue Theon from the Boltons. Yara absolutely rules and I love her character in the books.
Balon leaves to cross a rickety bridge between two towers, outside where the wind and rain is especially fierce. He comes face to face with a hooded character – his most hated younger brother Euron, who is back from exile, and who has been spending his time being an awesome pirate robbing people around the world. The two quarrel and after Balon tries to stab Euron, Euron pushes him over the bridge, Balon falling to his death. We then see Balon being given a funeral at sea. Yara vows revenge and expresses an interest in becoming her father’s successor. But Yara is informed that this depends on an ancient kingmaking ritual entitled the Kingsmoot in the Iron Islands, and perhaps she’ll be the first woman in history to lead the Ironborn, depending on the results. There is some great dialogue here.
During these scenes I was literally making almost non-verbal sentences such as “FFFFfffffffyesssss I love the Greyjoyssss”. I love Yara and I love Euron. Euron’s entrance was so cool – a hooded figure in the rain. I can’t wait to see this element of the story being given some actual screen time. But if D&D ruin this for me like they’ve ruined other things, I will be really upset. Sadly, I’m not too sure how they’re going to link in the Greyjoys to the rest of the story, other than in relation to Theon’s presently tenuous link to everything else.
Back to the Wall, Davos goes to see Melisandre who is looking fairly run down. She stares at the fire, her confidence ruined after all of her visions have been proven wrong. Davos asks whether Melisandre knows how to resurrect Jon and she mentions another priest (Thoros of Myr!) who was able to resurrect someone (Beric Dondarrion in season three, six times!) but shouldn’t really have been able to do so. She seems pretty down on herself, believing all of her visions to be lies, doubting her power. She says the Lord of Light never really spoke to her but Davos talks her up, and says that Melisandre showed him that miracles existed. That’s one way to look at the birth of the disgusting shadow baby from back in season two. Melisandre says she’s never tried to resurrect anyone. Maybe today will be the day?
Melisandre goes to see Jon. She washes his corpse, his stab wounds, and his hair whilst speaking presumably the Valyrian tongue. I wish this part was subtitled so we could know what she’s saying. She holds her hands to his body and her musical cue sings out, one sign of hope in a scene where people feel pretty hopeless. I note that Melisandre’s jewel is not glowing, she doesn’t appear too powerful, and Davos and friends are looking on with quite skeptical facial expressions. Melisandre says “please”, but nothing’s happening. Everyone looks defeated and leaves the room one after the other; Davos leaves last.
But guess what! Ghost wakes up from a canine slumber, and so does Jon from his death, gasping for air – he’s actually alive! Melisandre’s powers of resurrection actually work! Don’t mind me with all of these exclamation points, I’m actually super happy about this because in the face of blatant messings-up of the show by executive producers who take the source material and vomit all over it, this is one element of the show that actually provides a sense of closure to the bit in the book where Jon gets Julius Caesar’d by all his Night’s Watch friends. Welcome back, Jon Snow!
This was quite a strong episode. For me, thus far the weakest story has been Meereen, where not much is happening. But I’m really looking forward to everyone else’s storylines, apart from Dorne’s, and there appears to be some nice setting up of events that may or may not have been predicted by fans for a little while.
In the trailer for the next episode, entitled “Oathbreaker”, Jon sits up from being dead, Arya trains like a ninja at the House of Black and White, fun times with crazy Ramsay Bolton, Daenerys heads to Vaes Dothrak where she is expected to be kept away at the Temple of the Dosh Khaleen, Cersei makes some cool quotes, and Bran and the Three Eyed Raven seem to be watching a very interesting flashback that I really can’t wait to finally see!