*Spoilers, naturally, follow for those who have yet to watch Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 2 ‘Home’*
“Jon Snow is deader than dead”, Thrones director David Nutter told the President of the United States, Barack Obama, last year. It illustrates the lengths the showrunners went through to convince anyone listening that the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch was indeed, dead- nobody listened anyway.
And for good reason, it turns out. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a viewing public be so sure that a certain character was not going to remain dead, so powerful is the character of Jon Snow. But the certainty over his fate was not just a sort of wishful thinking, but the logical endpoint for the carefully laid down clues the showrunners, and George R.R Martin, left for the audience.
So finally, towards the end of ‘Home’, Melisandre of Asshai did what everyone has been expecting since the finale of season 5 aired a year ago, resurrect Jon Snow.
‘Home’ was a fascinating episode of Thrones, and carefully built on the groundwork laid in the season premiere. Brienne of Tarth, now Sansa’s sworn sword, is gradually guiding her to the wall. Jaime continues his descent into the vengeful knight he was at the beginning of the series, having lost his recently found sense of moderation after the murder of his daughter, Ramsay has to face the sceptre of another heir to Roose, and Arya’s training continued in Braavos.
Game of Thrones is famous for making a thematic link between all the stories in an episode, and this week’s episode featured characters getting back ‘Home’, so to speak. Jon Snow returned from the land of the dead to the living, Theon Greyjoy is literally going back home to the Iron Islands, Arya is going back to the ‘House of Black and White’, Euron Greyjoy returns home to murder his brother, the dragons were freed to roam in the skies, which is their natural ‘home’, and even Bran Stark went back to Winterfell in his visions to see the young Eddard, Benjen and Lyanna Stark.
Home set the stage for the consequential wars to come, with characters manoeuvring into positions to gain them the best advantage they can hope for. Ser Davos fought so hard to lobby the Red Woman for Jon’s resurrection because he was aware the war for the kingdom cannot be won without Jon Snow marshalling the forces of man against the Others. Ramsay killed his father and all other rivals to the title of ‘Warden of the North’, and Tyrion forced himself to free the dragons because the war with the Harpy cannot be won with dragons cooped up in a hole.
Speaking of that scene, Tyrion’s slow descent into the pit and coaxing the dragons to trust him was an incredibly well written and well acted scene, especially when one takes into effect the dragon CGI. Tyrion explained his fascination with dragons whilst talking to them, but readers of the book know his affection for the species runs much deeper, and for him it was a sort of homecoming as well.
The dragons are now free, although whether they would roam Meereen or fly out to search for their Mhysa remains to be seen. We did not see Daenerys this episode, but the preview for the next episode shows her arriving at the Dothraki capital of Vaes Dothrak, where she is fated to spend the rest of her days with the widows of the ‘Dosh Khaleen’.
The show also returned to the Iron Islands for the first time since season 4, and it was to see the only surviving King from the ‘War of the Five Kings’, Balon Greyjoy, bite the dust, or in this case, the bottom of a ravine. His brother, Euron, returned from his pirating ways to kill his brother, and he would be making a play for the throne, to take it from Yara Greyjoy, Balon’s daughter. Perhaps after six seasons they can make the Iron Islands interesting again.
Arya, savvy as she is, knows that the only thing the House wants from her is for her to be ‘no one’, and she stuck to that during her interrogation by Jaqen. A girl is going back to the House to continue her training, but one gets the distinct impression she fully recognises where her allegiances lie, and it is not with the assassins guild.
In King’s Landing, Myrcella’s funeral is held sans Cersei, on the orders of the king, who was acting on the orders of the High Sparrow. Jaime, as mentioned earlier, is in full out vengeance mode now, and he made it clear to the High Sparrow that he’s gunning for him. The Faith Militant, who Cersei empowered, have now become her bitterest enemies, and to take back their kingdom they would have to decimate this army of zealots.
Tommen, meanwhile, scurries back to mother to beg for forgiveness, for generally being a spineless coward. In another nod towards the ‘Home’ theme, it seems Cersei would guide her son on the road to becoming a mean Lannister, which she has pretty down pat and which Jaime is returning to. Let the Joffrey-isation of Tommen begin.
‘Home’ furthered the story as commenced in ‘The Red Woman’, and introduced new players who are likely to play huge roles going forward. Ramsay is now Lord Bolton and the undisputed warden of the North, and Euron Greyjoy is coming for the ‘Salt Throne’ and presumably to much greater things. Sansa’s trek to the Wall seemed like folly only a week ago, but with Jon alive and kicking and with the full force of the wildlings behind him, we hopefully would get a proper Stark reunion for the first time since the family scattered in Season 3.
*And God, somebody please kill Olly and Aliser Thorne already! Jon’s too noble to do it but Dolorous Edd can slip and have his sword slide into them accidentally.*