A bastard prunes away his family tree. Another bastard comes back from the dead. Monsters are unleashed. And a dwarf becomes a dragon master. This second episode of Game of Thrones Season 6 packs so much punch we’re knocked out and seeing stars.
Here’s my take…
The Lord Commander Who Lived
In Game of Thrones, when major characters die, they often stay dead. No matter our wish that they’d return and redeem their storylines, GRR Martin and Benioff and Weiss seem hell-bent on killing all the interesting characters—Tywin Lannister, Oberyn Martell, Khal Drogo, Eddard Stark, Robb Stark, Ser Barristan Selmy, Syrio Forel, and a host of other fan favorite characters. Granted, the demise of their characters was necessary to push several storylines forward, but as fans, we can’t help but grieve deeply for these fictional people who we’ve developed a fondness for.
Back in season 5, Jon Snow was on the inevitable path towards being betrayed by his Brothers of the Nights Watch. It was just a matter of time before all of his unconventional decisions triggered the ire of his sworn brothers. When he rescued the Wildlings from Hardhome and brought them past The Wall, that must have been the last straw. When season 5 ended with Jon’s deathly pallor lingering on our screens, we are in anguish. Is he truly dead? Book readers don’t even know because this is the last point of A Dance with Dragons.
Showrunners Benioff and Weiss are clever enough to have dealt with this early on in the season, instead of dragging out his resurrection for another season-ender.
Melisandre gets her mojo back
A key player in Jon Snow’s resurrection is the Red Priestess of R’hllor, Melisandre. We last saw her in “The Red Woman” as a centuries-old crone who has lost faith in herself and in her supposed visions in the flames. Its important to remember that she’s not the only servant of R’hllor who has gone through this journey. Do you remember Thoros of Myr? He himself did not initially believe he could bring back the dead, but his miraculous resurrections of Lord Beric Dondarrion have put those doubts to rest. Melisandre was amazed, in fact, when she first learned of Thoros’ abilities.
He himself did not initially believe he could bring back the dead, but his miraculous resurrections of Lord Beric Dondarrion have put those doubts to rest. Melisandre was amazed, in fact, when she first learned of Thoros’ abilities. Now, she is her own miracle.
Bastards be crazy
Speaking of another bastard, Ramsay Bolton continues his trajectory towards making more idiotic decisions that could lead to House Bolton losing the North. Roose Bolton never passes up the opportunity to chastise him repeatedly, which has me confused. Does Roose think his son will never stand up to him? Roose is making the same mistake Robb Stark did back in season 3.
Of course, once Fat Walda’s pink and normal little baby is out, and a boy at that, it was only a matter of seconds before Ramsay made up his mind to take Winterfell for his own by cutting off the remaining branches of his family tree. I just think the whole scene with Fat Walda, baby Bolton, and Ramsay’s bitches was a tad overkill, no pun intended. We already know Ramsay is a twisted bastard, there’s no need for additional exposition showing him as a really sadistic bastard. We get it!
Dwarves and dragons
With an absent Daenerys Targaryen, it is up to Tyrion and Varys to keep the peace in Meereen or at least maintain some semblance of Dany’s rule with the Meereenese. It soon becomes problematic that the remaining dragons, Viserion and Rhaegal, are no longer eating and in danger of withering out. Tyrion is concerned, of course. After all, Dany’s dragons make her formidable and fearsome to her opponents.
I still refuse to jump on the bandwagon that Tyrion is actually a Targaryen, sired by Aerys the Mad King on Joanna Lannister. On numerous accounts, POVs have implied that Tyrion is very much like Tywin Lannister in character if not in looks. Also, everybody can’t be Targaryens.
Moving on, I’m glad the show is allocating a bigger budget for the dragons. Bigger more badass dragons mean more money, obvs. As for Tyrion’s interaction with them, it seemed more organic and visceral. It showed that the dragons are intelligent and highly sentient, instead of just the mindless beasts other fiction usually portrays them. I’m excited to see them wreaking havoc on Dany’s enemies while their mother is absent.
Myrcella has returned to Kingslanding, though unfortunately she returns in a body bag. It’s somehow silly how Cersei almost jumped up and down like a little schoolgirl when her servant tells her a ship has arrived from Dorne. As the seasons of Game of Thrones progresses, Lannisters get fewer by the numbers. And instead of uniting with other powerful houses, they’re digging a deeper grave for themselves by alienating almost everyone with some semblance of power.
There are fewer lions in Kingslanding and they’re still desperate in their bid for the Iron Throne. Sure, Tommen is currently crowned King of Westeros and Protector of the Realm, but how long before the inevitable happens and Lannister enemies unite against them to bring the richest house in Westeros down. Sorry, Tywin. Your kids are jerks.
World Wide Weirwood
Absent all throughout season 5, we finally see a comeback of Bran Stark in the company of the Three Eyed Raven, also known as Bloodraven, who will help the young Stark hone his gift as a ‘greenseer’. We see both Master and apprentice in the past with a young Eddard Stark, Benjen Stark, and finally a living Lyanna Stark. Its a sad moment for Bran because he’s seeing Winterfell as it once was, a formidable fort ruled by House Stark.
Meanwhile, I’m excited that they’re finally using flashbacks as a way to tell stories, rather than just character dialogue. I love that they’re showing Hodor’s backstory, back when he was Wylas and obviously before he was traumatized and became a one-word giant. And is it just me or is everybody hoping for a reveal at the Tower of Joy? Are we finally going to get answers in the show even before The Winds of Winter is published? I’m convinced Jon Snow IS Rhaegar’s son, which is why Jon will ride Rhaegal and be the second dragon. 😀
What Is Dead May Never Die
In what turns out to be such a shortlived comeback, we see Balon Greyjoy in the always gloomy and bleak, Pyke. He and Yara are discussing succession and invasion of neighboring shores to increase the stronghold of the Greyjoys, but of course Balon doesn’t listen to Yara. In a stunning reveal, paired with a cleverly shot scene of Pyke ravaged by a storm, Balon Greyjoy crosses a rope bridge to another tower but is stopped by Euron Greyjoy. We meet the long-lost brother (one of two, the other is Victarion Greyjoy) and he is apparently insane and thirsty for the rule of the Iron Islands, prompting him to push Balon overboard the rope bridge and unto the stormy sea. How appropriate.
It’s a major turning point for House Greyjoy, hopefully this time their story will push forward. Maybe we’ll see Euron sailing away to Meereen bringing the dragonhorn called Dragonbinder? At this point, I don’t think the show will include Victarion Greyjoy, which is understandable especially if his story is as shortlived as Balon’s.
The first two episodes of this season have so far been juicy, kicking the gear to have this 6th season in full throttle by the time episode 5 airs. I’m so hoping we’ll see a Tower of Joy flashback by then, or see Jon as the new King of the North and a rotting Ramsay Bolton outside the gates of Winterfell. Is that too much to hope for? 😀