This recap could be just two words: “He lives” and that would tell fans everything they’ve wanted to know since the season five finale. Jon Snow lives.
But there is much more to “Home” than resolving the ‘Jon question’ and how we get there is one of the many OMG moments of episode two.
Any concerns that it wouldn’t live up to the season premiere were quickly dispelled as we FINALLY headed north to catch up with Bran and Hodor.
Underground and nestled within the heart tree, Bran has ‘dream-walked’ to the Winterfell of his father’s childhood. In this dream, he is standing as he watches a young Ned practising his fighting skills with brother Benjen: a scene reminiscent of the very first episode of Game of Thrones.
Nikole Gunn has been a watcher of TV since the 70s. A writer of words since the 80s. A reader of the news since the 90s; mostly on Triple M, Nova and Gold.
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Their sister Lliana gallops in on her horse, her sassiness very much like that of her niece Arya. And we meet Willis, who turns out to be a young Hodor, who can say much more than just “Hodor”.
This is Hodor before he became the lumbering Hodor. It begs the question just HOW did that come about? Bran tries to get it out of him, but with little success:
“I saw you talk as a boy. What happened”?
Brandon is dragged back to the present, despite his protests that he wanted to stay where he was at “Home”. But it’s clear that this is just a training exercise by the man behind the “three-eyed raven”, who tells him that there’s a war coming.
Tipping that could replace “Winter is Coming”.
A little further south at Castle Black, Jon is still dead (for the time being anyway). Ser Alliser Thorne is losing patience. He’s a little ‘the time’s come, but we’re cool. We’ll even set the dire wolf free’.
Yeah, I wouldn’t trust him either.
But just as the Brothers begin to break in to the room where Davos and co are holed up with “Dead Jon”, who should turn up but Edd and his band of rampaging Wildlings.
The Night’s Watch pretty much throw in the towel as the Giant wreaks havoc. Tormund takes one look at “Still Dead Jon” and suggests they collect wood to burn the body (no so fast Tormund).
At King’s Landing, Jaime has a face off with the High Sparrow, who refuses to allow the Young King Tommen visit his wife Margaery, who’s still refusing to ‘confess’ her crimes to secure her release from the dungeons.
Jaime tries to assert his authority, but backs down when faced with the reality of the High Sparrow’s growing power.
“Who are we? We have no names, no families. Every one of us is poor and powerless. Yet together, we can overthrow an empire”.
As Jaime ponders Westerosi-style socialism, Tommen finally makes peace with a more subdued Cersei. He begs for her help in making him strong enough to be King. She accepts.
Mother-son love is such a beautiful thing.
In Meereen, Tyrion reveals a new skill as a “dragon whisperer”. Dany’s dragons are wasting away in the dungeons. They haven’t eaten since she disappeared and Tyrion decides they need to be unchained.
His approach is simple:
“I’m friends with your mother. I’m here to help. Please don’t eat the help”.
Peter Dinklage delivers the lines with such humour and affection; I wish he had more screen time. He really is wasted in these five-minute ‘cameos’.
By the way, they recognise he’s a friend and he survives his encounter with two very large dragons.
The HBO production budget is being well spent this season. Giants, direwolves and dragons. And all in the first two episodes.
But I digress.
Arya is still a blind beggar girl in Braavos but passes an important hurdle in her training to become one of the Faceless. After copping yet another thrashing from ‘stick girl’, Jaqen H’ghar appears on the scene to test her determination and commitment:
“If a girl says her name, a man will let her sleep under a roof tonight”.
“A girl has no name”
“If a girl says her name, a man will let her feed tonight”
“A girl has no name”
“If a girl says her name, a man will give her eyes back”.
“A girl has no name”
Whatever test it was, she’s passed and is told to leave her beggar’s bowl, as she’s no longer a beggar.
And now to Winterfell, where Ramsay Bolton proves he is the vilest character to have ever graced our screens. Because if you thought, Sansa’s wedding night rape was bad, then be prepared to despise Ramsay even more.
After learning he has a new baby brother, Ramsay kills his father. Stabs him in the guts while they hug. Part of me is shocked, but another part of me wishes the Rains of Castermere had been playing, just like the Red Wedding.
That would have been a nice touch.
Ramsay then orders his stepmother and baby be brought to him. He takes them into the barn where he keeps his hunting dogs.
She asks, “where is Lord Bolton”?
He replies, “I am Lord Bolton”.
And then he releases the dogs on mother and child.
It’s a sickening and disturbing scene and much like the infamous rape scene of season five, it was unnecessary.
We know Ramsay is a cruel sociopath; we don’t need to see it in such a graphic way. Again.
Having endured the murder of mother and child, we’re rewarded with the answer to the Jon Snow question. Is he really dead and yet to be buried?
Davos asks Melisandre to ‘do something magic’ to bring Jon Snow back to the land of the living. But, she’s having something of a crisis of faith.
Davos pushes her:
“I’m not asking the Lord of the Light for help. I’m asking the woman, who showed me that miracles exist”.
She comes to Jon’s room, washes his body, cuts his hair and throws it on the fire. Chanting her incantations, she places her hands on his body. And nothing happens. Jon is dead.
Disappointment on their faces, Melisandre, Davos and Tormund walk out, leaving a sleeping direwolf in the room with Jon. Ghost begins to whimper and suddenly, Jon gasps and sits upright. He lives.
I knew it. Even though Game of Thrones has made a habit of killing off main characters, this would be a bridge too far. George RR Martin clearly has plans for Snow!!
So, to recap episode two in a few lines:
Tyrion is a Dragon Tamer
Arya is a girl with no name
Ramsay Bolton is evil and vile
Theon is heading home to the Iron Islands.
Theon’s dad is dead and his uncle is to blame
The Red Woman can do serious magic
And JON SNOW lives
Bring on episode three.