WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Game of Thrones.
Aaand we’re already a third of the way through Game of Thrones season six. That’s crazy. With that in mind, it’s pretty important that the story be moving forwards in a significant way, and I’m not sure that it is. The problem of having too many characters that has plagued the show since season four is still its main flaw, and I don’t see that changing any time soon unless some bodies start hitting the floor.
Still, Game of Thrones is making the most of its freedom from the books, with some very cool story changes. As we saw last week, Jon Snow is back, and wastes no time in doling out justice to the men that betrayed him and the Night’s Watch. To be honest, I was always disappointed that Sir Allister contributed and potentially masterminded the murder of Jon. The two always disagreed on how to run things, but Sir Allister seemed to slowly grow to respect Jon after he led the Night’s Watch in the defense of Castle Black from the Wildlings, and didn’t defend Janos Slynt when he was being insubordinate. Unfortunately, it seems like Jon’s acceptance of the Wildlings was the final straw, and you can’t really blame the guy for sticking to his guns. Most people in Westeros would agree that the Wildlings are dangerous, and plenty of people have lost family members to Wildling raids. Despite everything, you have to respect that, at least a little bit. As he says before being hanged, he fought and lost. On the other hand, fuck Olly. Fuck that kid, I’m glad he’s dead.
To close the episode, Jon made the decision that I’d been hoping and predicting he’d make. He’s back, but not as the same dutiful Jon. He’s done with the Night’s Watch. It’s hard to know exactly where he’ll head, especially because he’s been out of the loop on the happenings in Westeros, but it’ll be hard for him not to seek retribution against the Boltons. What shape that will take, we’ll have to see, but a Ramsay/Jon fight is something I think every viewer would love to see.
Across the Narrow Sea, I’d be lying if I said that I was interested in what’s going on with Dany and Tyrion. I mean, that Tyrion scene was a complete waste of time. When you only have ten hours per season to tell a story, every minute counts. And in this episode, six of those minutes were spent with Tyrion literally wasting time until Varys came in. It was a cute conversation, and Tyrion was witty as always, but we learned nothing new about the characters or relationships in that scene. I get that you don’t want to leave everyone’s favorite character out of the show for an entire episode, but then you should find something for interesting for him to do. The same can be said for Dany. I just couldn’t care less about her interacting with yet another Khal. The Dothraki are interesting people, but none of this feels new or fresh. Maybe the story will go in an interesting direction, and Sir Jorah and Daario are surely close behind, but as of now, I’d be fine with Dany being benched for a few episodes until Drogon comes back.
Arya, on the other hand, continues to be completely badass. She’s fully committed to becoming a faceless man now, and I couldn’t be happier. Her stuff was mostly boiled down to a training montage here, but it was cool to see her embrace her inner Daredevil, even if it was undermined by her sight being returned after passing the final test. I have a feeling that her little training partner is going to try and do something in the coming episodes; her jealousy is clearly reaching critical mass. I’m just left wondering how Arya’s plotline will end up affecting the larger story. She’s so isolated right now, with no real means of returning to Westeros. But she’s clearly being prepped to do some damage.
The whole re-integration of Rickon Stark didn’t go exactly how I planned. I had theorized in the premiere episode that maybe Sansa would end up heading to The Last Hearth, home of the Umbers, in hopes that they’d help protect Sansa. Since Osha and Rickon had gone there after leaving Bran, the two could be reunited. Well, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen, as the old Lord Umber is dead and his son is an asshole. Shocker, I know. Poor Shaggydog is dead and Rickon and Osha are now prisoners of Ramsay. That’s not exactly the best place to be. There’s been some theorizing that this is all a ploy, that the Umbers are helping Rickon take down Ramsay in order to stake his own claim on the North. It is hard to believe that someone as crafty as Osha would let Rickon and herself be captured. However, though this would be awesome, it’s never safe to assume that good things will happen on this show. More than likely, Rickon is going to be Reek 2.0. Poor kid.
Before talking about the biggest scene in the episode, let’s touch on King’s Landing really quickly. I was left wondering after the last episode whether or not it was possible that Cersei really was changed by her experience in captivity. It seems like that’s been answered, and it’s a resounding “No.” Cersei is gonna wipe everyone out, or at least she thinks that she’s going to. Qybern clearly has some machinations, too, as he’s trying to turn Varys’ little birds to serve Cersei. Even though Kevan Lannister and Lady Olenna don’t seem too keen on it, I doubt they can keep Cersei out of the loop for long. I find it weird that the writers are postponing the eventual war with Dorne, as it’s barely been brought up until this episode, and then was quickly dismissed. That has to be a major storyline in the future. I’m also concerned for Jaime. It took so long to take him from one of the most characters on the show to one of the favorites, and now he’s letting Cersei turn him back into a jerk. Obviously, his daughter is dead and he wants revenge, but I’m finding it harder and harder to root for him.
Finally, let’s talk about that flashback with Bran. I predicted back in my premiere review that we’d see this scene through Bran’s dreams, and that turned out to be true. It was cool seeing young Ned Stark fighting alongside Jojen and Meera’s father, and it was also interesting to learn that the story of his victory over Sir Arthur Dayne wasn’t quite true. Everyone and their mother was pissed when the dream was cut short before revealing what was happening up in the Tower of Joy, but the writers can’t give everything away just yet. It’s becoming more and more obvious that the R+L=J theory is true, and I just want them to get that part over already so we can move forward with more interesting theories.
All in all, this was a successful, interesting episode. I’m curious to see where Sam and Gilly end up, as their path seems to be deviating from the books, but I’m also disappointed that it’ll take another episode to get them there. Things seem to be moving at a snail’s pace thus far in season six, which either means the writers are struggling with where to take the show, or that they have huge things in store and are just setting the stage and getting everyone in the right place. Hopefully it’s the latter.