Game of Thrones, Season 6, Episode 2 – “Home”
Remember back in the day when the show runners packed the majority of the game-changing deaths into the tail end of the season? Pepperidge Farm remembers. It was a simpler time; it was summer time. But times, they are a-changin’ and winter is here. Seriously, this episode was like the darkest version of “Duck, Duck, Goose” ever: “murder, murder, murder, murder, murder, resurrection!”
I’m not even sure where to start. So. Much. Happened. My internal monologue as I sit down to write this is a whirlwind of OMGs and WTFs and Nelson-style Ha-Has.
I mean, the show opens with Bran (yay! We haven’t seen you in forever!) and the Merlin of the warging world, Mr. Three-Eyed Raven, warging through time to observe Winterfell when Ned was a kid. That’s just how we start! During this visit to Winterfell’s past we see Ned and Benjen as kids, we see Lyana Stark for the first time ever, and—and—we find out that Hodor’s real name is Willas and he used to have a comparatively extensive vocabulary! When warging Gandalf cuts the visit shorter than Bran would like, he issues a warning reminiscent of Dumbledore’s regarding the Mirror of Erised: “It’s beautiful beneath the sea; but if you stay too long, you drown.”
Then we jump south to the Wall, where Ser Alliser Thorne is about to make good on his ultimatum to Ser Davos and the Brothers loyal to Jon Snow. Just as the Night’s Watch starts to break through the chamber door—BAM!—Dolorous Edd and the Free Folk bust through the gate at Castle Black. And they brought Wun Wun with them! Wun Wun’s presence pretty much puts an end to Ser Alliser’s takeover of the castle; Edd and Tormund make sure that all the conspirators in Lord Commander Snow’s assassination are locked up in the cells.
Down in King’s Landing, tensions are so thick, you’d need Long Claw to cut through them. Cersei’s basically sending The Mountain out to murder anyone and everyone talking smack about her. Tommen’s so ashamed of himself for not doing something to rescue Cersei and Margaery that he has yet to see his mother since her walk of atonement. Though they eventually make up and the young king asks his mother for help, he basically bans her from attending Myrcella’s funeral for fear that the High Sparrow would lock her up again. Meanwhile, Jaime’s ready to take the High Sparrow’s head and the High Sparrow is threatening to overthrow the empire. Good times.
In Mireen, we see a meeting of the members of Team Daenerys that are left in the pyramid: Tyrion, Varys, Missandei, and Grey Worm. (I totally admit that I squee-d when I saw Missandei and Grey Worm; I missed them so much!) The meeting minutes are basically as follows: the entire fleet is destroyed and the Unsullied are searching for the culprit. All of Slaver’s Bay, except Mereen, has returned to the rule of the slavers, and Tyrion shows us one of the ways in which he is my patronus.
Oh! And he resolves to free Viserion and Rhaegal in Dany’s absence. Then he does it. He tells them a story about how he asked for a dragon on his nameday when he was a child—it could even be a little one, like him—and the dragons let him close enough to touch them, unchain them. Y’all, if anyone ever doubted Tyrion’s badassery: first, shame on you; second, so there!
We get to make a quick visit to Braavos where we find Arya confronted by the Waif again. After taking more than her fair share of wallops, Arya loses her patience and just starts wildly swinging at nothing—the Waif has vanished. Suddenly a hand reaches out and catches Arya’s staff; it’s Jaqen H’gar! He offers her a bed, a meal, and then her vision if just says her name; each time, she refuses: “A girl has no name.” Apparently, she passed that test because he tells her to follow him and to leave her begging bowl where it sits, because “a girl is no longer a beggar.”
Then we visit the far less idyllic, current-day Winterfell, where we get to witness Roose Bolton being told that Sansa and Theon have eluded capture. While Ramsay starts trying to sell dear ol’ dad on the idea that they’ll just attack Castle Black and get Sansa back that way, the maester informs everyone the good news: Lady Bolton has given birth to a baby boy. Then Ramsay extends a very special, very stabby congratulations to his father (not gonna lie: I definitely stage whispered, “yeah, the Lannisters send their regards, asshole!” at the TV—I’m not still bitter). He then summons Lady and baby Bolton, escorts them to the kennel, and — *shudders*. That’s going to haunt me for a while.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the North, Sansa, Brienne, Pod, and Theon have made camp. Sansa learns from Brienne that Arya is still alive—or, at least, she was last Brienne saw. When Brienne asks Sansa what happened at Winterfell, she laments having not having gone with Brienne the first time. Brienne tells her that it was a hard choice and—pointedly looking to Theon as she continues—that everyone has had to make hard choices. Sansa makes her way over to Theon and tries to soothe him, telling him that once they make it to Castle Black, they’ll be safe. Theon insists that Jon will have him killed and, though Sansa says that his crimes will be forgiven once he takes the black, he declares that he doesn’t want to be forgiven — that he can never atone for what he did to her family. Once he says that Brienne and Pod will keep her safer than he ever could, Sansa finally puts the pieces together: Theon is not going with them. He’s going home.
Then we cut away to Theon’s home: the Iron Islands. And Yara’s there! Yay! Yara is awesome! Unfortunately, her decidedly less awesome dad is there too. We come in as she reads to Balon news of the fall of their occupation of Deepwood Motte. Cantankerous jerk that he is, Balon insists that they’ll just mount another invasion of the mainland, while Yara tries to convince him of the foolishness of that idea: their most recent incursion started while everyone was off at war and now everyone is back home. Balon basically counters with, “my house, my rules.” Then, as he’s crossing the rickety bridge from one tower to another, Balon encounters his long-assumed-to-be-dead brother, Euron. After some taunting, we get down to the good ol’ fashioned fratricide and Balon is gone. At her father’s funeral, Yara swears upon the Salt Throne to make whoever murdered her father pay and her uncle, Aeron the priest, reminds her that the Salt Throne is not hers to swear upon. She can make an appeal to the ironborn and, hopefully, be appointed by the Kingsmoot (a ceremony by which a new king is elected by the island’s longship captains; apparently, the ironborn—despite all the piracy and pillaging and rape—are the only folks in Westeros with some semblance of an appreciation for democratic election).
We find ourselves back at Castle Black, where Ser Davos interrupts Melisandre’s moping to ask if she knows if there is any magic that can bring Jon Snow back. Mopey McMopeyface says that she’s seen someone who has done it, but it shouldn’t have been possible. Further, she insists she’s never had that power, to which Ser Davos responds by being a motivational poster: “have you even tried?” So, she gives it a shot. Clearly really uncomfortable with all those men in the room watching her try something she’s never done before (like, really guys, performance anxiety is a thing. Maybe go catch up on a podcast or something), she begins by ritually cleaning Jon’s body. Then she cuts his hair (which made me whimper a little because OMG I wish I had hair like that) and throws it in the fire. She begins an incantation as she washes his hair and lays hands over his torso.
After repeating the final phrase of the incantation several times and, then, pleading under her breath, she leaves the room, resigned to the failure of her faith once again. Defeated, everyone files out of the room, leaving Ghost sleeping next to the table where Jon’s body rests. Then Ghost wakes up. And then Jon wakes up too! Awwww yissss!
Relatedly, Kit Harington says that he’s sorry. It’s okay, Kit; I forgive you.