The second episode of the sixth season of Game of Thrones got right down to business and didn’t let up for 60 minutes. At the risk of sounding too much like an old Weekend Update character, this episode had everything:
- Baby Hodors
- A castle with an old ropes course
- Teenage dragons aligning with their cool substitute teacher
While we are technically beyond all written content, showrunners Benioff and Weiss are still using lots of book material to tell this version of the story while weaving in bandied about fan theories, and show-exclusive plot lines. They are using all of that content very wisely. Two episodes in and so far we’re all killer no filler.
Let’s get into it.
THIS POST IS DARK AND FULL OF SPOILERS
Episode Synopsis via The Telegraph: Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) trains with the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow). In King’s Landing, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) advises Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman). Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) demands good news, but has to make his own. At Castle Black, the Night’s Watch stands behind Thorne (Owen Teale). Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) proposes a plan, and Balon Greyjoy (Patrick Malahide) entertains other proposals.
Very appropriately entitled Home, episode two explored the complex feelings of returning home all angles and gave the audience many feelings to chop through.
As an idea, ‘home’ is nebulous, difficult, and seemingly impossible to reach. Is it your parents’ house, where you grew up, or where your most formative memories were made? Is it your first apartment, the house built or bought with your own money, or the place where your kids were born? Is your hometown where you feel where you became the person you were destined to become, or the place you struggled the hardest to escape?
Is it the cocoon or the open sky?
‘Home’ is something you push so hard against when you have it and constantly chase after once you leave it. While perhaps it is maybe the most over used phrase in all of the written word, there is a something to the title of Thomas Wolfe’s posthumous novel, You Can’t Go Home Again. It’s true. You just can’t.
Such thoughts and many more permeate every minute of tonight episode, but really take hold in the following:
ANGLE 1: Memories of Home, and How It Used To Be
After a full season away from our screens, Bran Stark is back and he is exploring the idea of home when only viewed through the rose colored glasses of home sickness. Blood Raven aka Old Man in the Tree Fort said it best,
“Under the ocean is beautiful, but if you stay too long, you’ll drown.”
Bran will play one of the most significant roles in the TV show for the viewer as he’s essentially the audience’s passport into spoilertowner. His storyline in season six is going to answer all of the nagging questions we’ve been asking as book readers, show watchers, and fan theory devourers.
What Bran saw was the first installment of what will connect all the dots and show just how cosmically linked all of our characters truly are. In this first flashback we saw young versions of all the Starks– Ned, Brandon, Benjen, and Lyanna– all of whom play crucial roles in the connective tissue of what is important this season. Big questions are going to be answered, but I’ll let the show bring them to us… you’ll thank me later. Don’t even get me started on the three-eyed raven.
ANGLE 2: What Home Is, and What It Could Be
Over at the Wall, Ser Davos, Edd, Ghost, and the Knights of Jon Snow’s Rectangular Table prepared for war against the majority of the Night’s Watch led by Alliser Thorne. Davos grabbed Longclaw (Jon’s sword) and was ready to throw down until the Westerosi version of Stone Cold’ Steve Austin’s music hit, and the Wildings (complete with a GIANT) smash down the door to wreck shop.
Was anyone else surprised that the Night’s Watch all dropped their swords at the first sign of things getting tough? Roughly two months ago (in show time), they defended the Wall from an invading army of tens of thousands of Wildings, giants riding mammoths, and cannibals scaling the walls. Now, all it took was one archer getting Hulk Smashed and they dropped their swords immediately. Why?
Because the Wall isn’t their home– it is no one’s home. For the most part, it is a place that people banished to live out their days. It’s Westerosi juvenile hall.
Jon Snow as leader was able to inspire something more from the men of the Night’s Watch. He inspired them to defend what the Wall COULD be. Alliser Thorne doesn’t strike me as that kind of guy, so I’m not surprised his boys opted not to defend a cold prison at the end of the world. This part of the story is just getting started and I can’t wait to see where it goes.
ANGLE 3: You Can Never Go Home Again, but You’ll Try Constantly
‘Home’ isn’t always a place. Often times, ‘home’ is a feeling closely associated with feeling safe, which can translate into many things. In the world of Game of Thrones, the journey home is almost always the journey to reconnect with family as physical homes are destroyed like Jenga towers on the regular.
For Sansa, journeying to the Wall to reconnect with Jon– the only family she believes to be alive at this point– is the only thing she can do for her own safety. For Theon, after being finally free of Ramsey and the Boltons, he plans to travel home to Pike, despite it being a place where everything went wrong for him. For Cersei, she’s only home when she’s with the last of her children, holding out hope that she’s suffered enough and the prophecy that took her first two children somehow avoids taking a third.
In all of these instances, the physical home is maybe the worst place on earth. Sansa was tortured in her old bedroom, Theon was banished from the Iron Islands for being made a captive after his father lost a war against the crown 10 years prior, and Cersei is a prisoner in her own castle for crimes she has already paid for.
No holiday break home from school could ever hold a candle to a semester abroad in Westeros.
In each example, all our characters can do is hope that once reconnected with family they can together rebuild and restore their homes to what they once were.
But they can’t. And they know it.
You can’t go home again– you just can’t.
- The Mountain/FrankenGregor/Robert Strong overhears some cocky, cockney street urchin running his mouth about Queen Regent Cersei and smashes his head into the wall like a super malicious Andre the Giant from The Princess Bride. Lots of jokes this season, huh? Much needed levity is good… but am I supposed to be cheering something done by the most vile character in the show?
- Cersai not allowed to grieve. Tommen making bad decisions. Jamie showing hints of his former self. I’m having a variety of mixed feelings about actual rooting for the Lannisters.
- Tyrion making friends with the dragon is foreshadowing. Read the books, people. And maybe check out some theories about the Imp’s destiny.
- Arya’s semester abroad in Braavos continues to suck, but things are looking up at her internship with The House of Black and White! I was pretty pumped to see she doesn’t have to be a beggar anymore… but not as pumped as she was.
- Ramsey Bolton killing Roose Bolton is a HUGE departure from the books. While each act of vengeance Ramsey takes in this episode is horrifying, I LOVED how the camera stayed focused on Ramsey as opposed to cutting to what is maybe the cruelest event of the show (AND THAT IS SAYING SOMETHING). There is nothing scarier than guided imagination. Ramsey’s comeuppance is going to be appointment viewing.
- What was up with Sansa hugging Theon? Did she really forgive him for all of his trespasses against the Starks? Is she just so happy someone is being nice to her after years and years of abuse at the hands of the Lannisters, Little Finger, and the Boltons?
- Welcome to the show, Euron ‘Crow’s Eye’ Greyjoy. Things are about to get really interesting as a new Anti-Hero enters the fray. The death of Balon Greyjoy is only eluded to in the books, so seeing it played out here was very interesting and fun to watch.
- And oh yea… JON SNOW JUST GOT BROUGHT BACK TO THE DEAD AND GHOST WAS THE ONLY ONE THERE TO SEE IT! THAT’S BECAUSE DOGS ARE THE BEST!
This show just doesn’t quit.