Valar Morghulis my friends and welcome to Season Six of Game of Thrones. Every week, I will recap Sunday’s episode and answer any questions that readers may have in a midweek mailbag that I will update as questions come in right up to when the new episode airs. Send all questions to @FawkesCulture, @Matwellsays, FawkesDotCom@gmail.com (awful email, I know), or post them in the comments section below. You could also catch up with all of Fawkes’ GAME OF THRONES coverage here.
“Home” is a term that carries both figurative and literal meaning. As the title of the second episode of HBO’s sixth season of Game of Thrones, it can be seen that each character is returning home in one way or another, whether that be in mind, body, or spirit.
As the episode opens, we are reunited with Bran for the first time since Season Four, who has been under the tutelage of the Three Eyed Raven, honing his ability to Warg and Greensee (as well as growing about a foot). We first encounter the duo walking around Bran’s old home of Winterfell, granted well before his time there. In the vision, Bran sees his father, the late Ned Stark, training with his still-missing uncle, Benjen. Then, his Aunt Lyanna, who Bran never had the pleasure to meet, rides into the yard on her horse.
For those not as up on your Game of Thrones history as full-blown nerds like myself, Lyanna is a pivotal character to the history of the world. It was her kidnapping by Prince Rhaegar Targaryen that set off Robert’s (Lyanna’s betrothed) Rebellion and eventually led to the toppling of the Targaryen Dynasty. As the war concluded, Ned and his companions found Lyanna dying in the Tower of Joy, a meeting that many believe was much more significant than Ned ever let on. It is hard to know exactly what went on there, since after Ned’s death, there is only one survivor from that fateful moment. Does Bran’s Greensight hold the key to figuring out exactly what went on there? By the looks of the trailer, the answer is yes.
Theon Greyjoy decides that Brienne and Podrick Payne will keep Lady Sansa safer than he ever could, and now that he is no longer needed he will return back home to the Iron Islands. However, after this week’s events at his home of Pyke, will his return be as welcome as he currently believes? The events I’m speaking about of course, is the murder of King Balon Greyjoy by his brother, Euron. Euron has been alluded to before but never seen on screen due to the fact that he was banished from the Iron Islands, supposedly never to return home again. As the only storyline in the book’s still ahead of the show, I can go on here but I will not in the interest of spoilers. The Iron Islanders, one of the few diplomatic (perhaps only) Kingdoms in Westeros will hold a King’s Moot to elect Balon’s replacement. A “King’s Moot” for all intents and purposes is basically the Westerosi version of a caucus, with a little more violence and about the same amount of gaudy promises as January’s Iowa caucuses.
Under the pyramids of Mereen, Tyrion reminisced on a past Name Day Celebration back in his old home of Casterly Rock, as he freed the dragons that remain. The dragons appear to at least have some affinity for Tyrion, as they allow him to touch them and remove the chains from their necks without burning him and eating him as an evening snack.
In Braavos, it appears that Jaqen H’ghar is set to allow Blind Arya to return to the House of Black and White, where she will continue her training. My bet is that the Waif sneaks in another beating or two, as well.
“Home” has also been used as a euphemism for death. In this sense, a lot of people returned home this week, back to whichever god they worship, whether he have seven faces or be drowned.
There was the funeral of Myrcella Lannister, which was followed by a tense confrontation between Jaime and the High Sparrow, who boldly declares he and his followers, although poor and powerless, have the ability to “overthrow an empire.” Meanwhile, Cersei reunites with Tommen, her only surviving child.
Back up North, Winterfell saw plenty of death in some terrifyingly gruesome fashion, even for a television show that has featured men getting their skulls crushed on multiple occasions (Ser Robert Strong’s apparent preferred method of killing). As Roose is informed he has a newborn sun, Ramsey forcefully takes his place as head of the Bolton household by way of the knife, stabbing his father in the presence of Harald Karstark, who hasn’t quite gotten over Robb beheading his father.
Finally, it is also said that “home is where the heart is” and while I know that the phrase is not meant in the literal sense to signifies a person’s body, this week it did for Jon Snow. Just as all hope appeared to be lost after Melisandre’s said the last prayer of R’hollor and a plea of her own, Jon’s eyes popped open and he gasped the first breathe of his second life. This may have been the least surprising character revival in the history of character revivals but that does make it any less significant.
While Jon’s revival answered the biggest question of “Is Jon Snow Alive?” it leaves several others in its wake. Will Jon come back at full strength or will be a step slower due to the new holes in his chest? If he and Beric Dondarion are able to be brought back, are other people as well? If not, why are some able to be given a second life while others are not? And there’s also the questions that I don’t think will be answered like why was Davos so intent on bringing Jon back and why did so many people risk their lives on a dead body and the prayer of a woman who has been wrong about almost everything other than the deaths of Balon Greyjoy, Joffrey, and Robb? Questions for another time I suppose.
For now, let’s be content that Jon Snow is back home in his body and hope that can only mean more good things are going to come. It seems everyone in the Seven Kingdoms could use a bit more of that.
By Matt Atwell