Heroes are reborn, truths are revealed, we start seeing everyone as an oath breaker of sorts, and “Game of Thrones” teases the hell out of us at the Tower of Joy (which is exactly what you’d expect at a place called “The Tower of Joy.” Let’s talk about what happened and what it might mean after the break! (And yes, lots and lots of spoilers)
The Mopey Bastard is back, and he doesn’t seem to happy about it. Really, no one does; not even the ones who wanted to bring him back in the first place. The reactions to Jon’s resurrection were awesome, maybe none more so then Melisandre, whose wide-eyes made her look almost child-like. “What did you see,” she asks the possible Prince that was Promised. “Nothing,” Jon replies. Chills!
Davos once again proves he’d be a hell of a football coach, with another impassioned speech. I may play when I get my next rejection. “I tried to do the right thing, and I failed,” Jon laments. The Onion Knight agrees. “Now go fail again.” Chills. Makes me wonder how Stannis messed up when he had this guy to advise him for so many years.
Everything about the first Castle Black scenes worked perfectly. The Wildlings backing away, except for Tormund, who of course strides forward and embraces the guy he had hated only two seasons before. Dolorous Ed’s happiness. “Are you sure that’s you in there,” he jokes. And then asks it again when Jon replies with a small joke of his own. And finally Jon’s raw emotion and confusion. How often in literature do you get a savior who arises with all the answers, or some newfound understanding. It’s refreshing to see one who has no idea, that is still going to have to go out into the world and make mistakes… maybe starting with the execution of the men who killed him, breaking his oath to the Nights Watch, and setting out alone into a world that’s is growing colder and darker by the moment.
It was also nice to get a quick glance at Sam and Gilly. Not a lot of information, only that they’re still sweetly in love – which pretty much marks one of them for certain death. It will be interesting to see what the Tarley’s think of Sam’s (sort of) Wildling bride and son. Will the honorable Lord Tarley be compelled to execute his son as an oath breaker for leaving the watch and ‘fathering’ a child?
The conventional wisdom going into this week was that we would visit the Tower of Joy and finally get proof of R+L = J. Well, we sure listed the Tower, saw a the baby Muppet version of Ned Stark, and found out absolutely nothing, thanks to Max Von Sydow.
Instead Bran gets a lesson on how stories can change based upon the teller, and how the reality behind a story can never measure up to the story itself. Bran’s slow realization at how much better Ser Arthur Dane was than his father, that there was no way his father’s tales of an honorable outcome could be true, was really a moment of epiphany. As was the moment when Bran found he could actually impact the things he was seeing when he called for his father and Ned reacted. This has got to be vital to the outcome of the series, as is the Raven stating he’d been waiting for Bran for 1000 years, and that Bran would not grow old in that cave?
Lot’s of stuff happening in a little bit of time out East. We find out that Dany might not be entirely safe, her admission into the sorority of widows is not guaranteed, and it doesn’t look like missing acceptance means you try your safety school. Based upon the disrespectful way some of the Dothraki treated her, things could get ugly. Where are those dragons when you need them?
Over in Meereen we get Varys at his finest. We never really saw Varys at work before, using velvet-covered steel to get information from Vala, the courtesan we last found setting up Unsullied for a Harpy attacks back in season five. Unfortunately, I’m not sure the information she provided was especially worth the bag her silver was carried in. Of course the leaders of the other cities around Slaver Bay are funding the Harpies! Who else would it be? I guess this at least gives them a point of action. I wonder what message Varys’ birds are going to carry from Tyrion.
From Meereen, we move onto perhaps the most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen on “Game of Thrones.” “Qyburn hanging out with kids in the basement” is a sentence that should never be typed or uttered, so I was more than a little nervous, especially when he started handing out candy. Maybe he’ll turn them into an army of zombie urchins to fight alongside Frankenmountain. Still some excellent exposition, learning that Varys’ “birds” are actually children. (Did we know this already… I feel like maybe we already knew this!). Really, you can’t beat street kids as a resource… no one really sees them and their loyalty can be bought with candied plums.
It’s a little harder to find that level of loyalty in adults however, and the scene with the small council was awesomely uncomfortable. Good to see Jaime asserting his place, not so good to see old Cersei back. Her edict to essentially kill everyone does not bode well. It looks like the animosity shared by those in the room is going to mean none of them will work together, and I think that’s going to be bad for all the houses.
And it’s going be especially bad for King Tommen. Every time this kid gets on screen I feel terrible. Dean-Charles Chapman is doing a wonderful job as a frightened boy-king who doesn’t know what to do. Makes you wish Tywin were around, but really the blame goes back to Cersei and her manipulations. The kid literally is advisor-less! All I know is I don’t understand how Jaime ever leaves his nephew-son’s side knowing how many knives are out for him. Wow, Kings Landing really is a mess.
Arya’s Daredevil training continues, both with the Waif and Jaqen. Really interesting exposition choices here, from having Arya recount her family, admitting her confusion about her feelings for the Hound, and how short her list had become (thanks to Westeros’ extraordinarily high death by murder rate). The whole extended montage was excellent, coupling physical training with the mental, Arya finally understanding what it means to be no one, her acceptance of the death water and the scales falling from her eyes. It looks like Jon Snow isn’t the only hero to be reborn.
Damn, the North apparently doesn’t remember very well, as the Umbers – perhaps the most loyal of Stark Bannermen – come to join an alliance with Ramsay. Really a great reference back to Jon’s earlier ‘failings’, and how sometimes doing the ‘right’ thing can have terrible downstream consequences. Rob’s execution of the Karstark back in season three led to him losing the war (and his life). Jon’s decision to bring the Wildlings through the wall costs him the Umbers, and ultimately Rickon. We haven’t had a Stark die in almost three seasons, but I think that streak is going to end soon. There is literally no reason for Ramsay to leave a male Stark alive (unless he’s going to dress him in gowns and call him Arya).
We heard Lyanna’s screams from the Tower of Joy, but was that all? Was there, perhaps, a baby crying as well? I think (hope) so!
How has Pycelle managed to live as long as he has? He has to be the stupidest maester in the entire kingdom.
I’ve got to think that mentioning the Sparrow’s champion in the Kings Landing scenes, and then bringing up the Hound while we were in Braavos has to be some sort of foreshadowing that we’re going to see the goodish Clegane this season, and this means Cleganebowl will be on. Or it could just be the writers punking us… after all they all read the same boards!
So next week, it looks like Sansa arrives at Castle Black just past the nick of time, Asha and Theon have a family reunion, Little Finger is back, apparently plotting with his creepy, surprised-he’s-still-alive stepson Robin Arryn, and Cersei and Olenna Tyrell appear to agree on something, (either that or the trailer editors are really messing with us.) All that in more when we read “The Book of the Stranger!”