PLEASE NOTE: THIS POST CONTAINS THE MOTHER OF ALL SPOILERS! (Yes, really.)
Well, ladies and gents, there we have it; after almost a year of fervent speculation, the speculation that we speculated has become an actuality. Jon Snow is risen from the dead, and Kit Harington is relieved to finally be able to talk about it. He’s sorry about lying to everyone for a year (he really is) and for a series whose basis is in lies and deceit, in “Home” we find a surprisingly honest and upfront episode.
This instalment opens with everyone’s favourite Branflake (Isaac Hempstead-Wright). Remember him? It’s only been more than a season since you saw him last. He’s no longer a fragile “flake” it seems, he’s cut his hair and he’s grown some – oh, and he’s taking a leisurely stroll down memory lane with a man who appears to be the Three-Eyed Raven. But if it is a memory, then who’s memory is it? It’s certainly not Bran’s, as it is clearly from far before he was a twinkle in his father’s eye. A young Ned and Benjen spar in the yard before their sister Lyanna gallops in on horseback. They invite a young Hodor – one who can talk and whose real name is Willas (what happened?) – to practise with them. Bran is visibly excited at being showed these happier times, but like anything pleasant in this show, it doesn’t last for long. He opens his eyes to find himself back on the floor, the Raven in his nest and Hodor sitting in the corner. Meera is getting restless with all of the waiting (let’s assume its been at least a year, given Bran’s growing like a weed), but the Child of the Forest assures her that Bran will need her .
His sister, Sansa (Sophie Turner) is also in the snow with her own limited company, and as she and Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) discuss what happened to her at Winterfell, it is apparent the shadow of Ramsay’s cruelty is shallowly buried in her mind. Theon (Alfie Allen) is also agitated (and so would we be, if we were watching Pod try to start a fire
bad taste joke central), so much so that he decides to leave for the Iron Islands, breaking Sansa’s heart in the process. He believes that, should he go to Castle Black, that Jon will kill him for treason and for “murdering” Bran and Rickon, and even though Sansa reassures him that she would convince Jon otherwise, Theon cannot stay.
As it transpires, there is tension in the Iron Islands; his sister Yara and his father Balon Greyjoy argue over Balon’s desire to invade the mainland. The Greyjoy’s are sea folk with no strength onshore, but like a blinkered steed Balon cannot accept sense. Yara reminds her father that the last time they tried such, two of his sons died and Theon was taken as Ned Stark’s ward. In a rage, he exits the tower – only to find a shadowy figure blocking the exit to the ricketiest bridge to ever exist. It’s Balon’s younger brother, Euron, and he’s decided its time for him to try his hand at ruling the Isles – but not before he tries his hand at throwing Balon off the bridge. It’s wobbly and there’s a vicious storm. It looks like an accident: it’s fine. Euron evaporates into the mist and the Iron Born release their dead king to the waves to be reclaimed as fish food. Yara states her intention to be crowned the first Queen of the Iron Islands but it is to be determined by kings-moot, and of course, Euron will have other ideas.
Down in Kingslanding, and we’ve another funeral and Jamie (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) throw threats around Myrcella’s body. On her way to say goodbye to her daughter, Cersei (Lena Headley) finds her way blocked by a sheepish looking Kingsguard (suitably so, given the size of her zombie bodyguard, formerly known as The Mountain). Apparently the King want to keep her safe by cooping her up in her tower, but Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) later reveals to Jamie that Cersei won’t be allowed to enter the Sept due to her sins. He expresses guilt over not doing enough to protect both his mother and his wife Margery from the will of the High Sparrow, and asks for Cersei’s forgiveness and guidance. The Cersei of a few seasons past would have relished this opportunity to use her son as a puppet, but is she the same woman now?
Over in Meereen and the talk is of dragons. The freer the dragon, the happier and healthier (who would’ve guessed), and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) reminds Varys (Conleth Hill) that the last Targaryen dragons were no bigger than cats due to their years in captivity. So naturally they head downstairs to unshackle the beasts; Tyrion is greeted by a lovely view into a dragon’s maw but reasons that their intelligence will prevent them from making him into a barbecued snack. His hunch proves true and Viserion and Rhaegel are free – but to what end?
There’s a lot of savage beasts doing the rounds at the moment and none more so than Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon). As always, Ramsay’s bloodlust is at the front of his brain when declares he wants to attack Castle Black, but Roose (Michael McElhatton) shoots him down stating that “If you act like a mad dog, then you will be treated like one: taken out back and slaughtered for pig feed”. Ramsay handles the burn seemingly well; with the Karstark’s on board they’d have a large enough army, he claims, but before Roose can respond the Maester dashes in to declare that Lady Walda has given birth – to a boy. “Don’t worry,” says Roose to Ramsay, “You’ll always be my first born.” They embrace…
And then Ramsay stabs Roose in the gut.
That afternoon Ramsay finds Walda and his half-brother in the yard; he offers to escort her to Roose, and leads her to the kennels. She begs for him to let she and her newborn go to her homeland, but this is Ramsay, and Ramsay doesn’t like loose ends. The fear in her screams leave you feeling sick.
It’s death and brash decisions all around, it seems.
Following a stand off with the power hungry Alliser Thorne and his cronies that is dissolved quickly thanks to help from the Wildlings, Davos (Liam Cunningham) asks Melisandre (necklace back in place) if there is any way of resurrecting Jon. He admits that he is not a religious man, but that she is the one who made him believe in miracles. His words seems to shake Melisandre (Carice Van Houten) from her crises of faith and she agrees to try; after all, she knows it is possible thanks to her witnessing Thoros of Myr reviving Beric Dondarrion. She cleans his wounds, cuts his hair (what!?) and chants – to no avail. One by one they leave the room, with only Ghost staying by Jon’s side. Silence. Ghost’s nose twitches. The camera zooms in and –
Jon Snow opens his eyes, and yes, he’s alive.
It is claimed that this is to be Jon’s biggest season yet, but to what extent? Will his parentage be revealed? Will he have a claim to the Iron Throne? If he is released from his Night’s Watch vows, will he go to reclaim the North and Winterfell (and finish off Ramsay, the spiteful turd)?
Who can say, we can only wait. If only we could see it in the flames, eh?