Game of Thrones season six’s first two episodes are easily two of the best episodes of the entire series. If season six continues on this path, it will overtake season one as the best season of the series based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books. Episode two titled ‘Home’ brought Bran back into the story, updated what’s happening in the world of the Greyjoys, provided a hint at Hodor’s backstory, found Ramsay committing multiple despicable acts, two rulers of major families were killed off, and the episode showed King Tommen isn’t ready to rule without help from his mommy. And those who thought the writers/executive producers would make viewers wait until the end of season two to confirm whether Jon Snow is truly, permanently dead were wrong. Episode two addressed the question that has been on everyone’s minds since the finale of season five, providing a partial answer while leaving many questions still to be addressed.
Before we get into the recap, can we please say three quick cheers for Melisandre? Love her or hate her, she was the hero of episode two.
Episode two finally picks up Bran Stark’s story with Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) blind and in the tree of the Three-Eyed Raven (played by Max von Sydow). Taking a page from A Christmas Carol, Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven visit Winterfell and watch as a young Ned and Benjen Stark practice learning how to handle swords. In rides Lyanna on a gorgeous horse, and Bran says his father never talked about her. The kids call for Willis to practice with them and it turns out Willis is a young Hodor! Wow, didn’t see that twist coming. Willis/Hodor is a large stable boy who can talk, but his mom drags him away before he can have fun practicing with Ned and Benjen.
Bran really doesn’t want to leave this dream but the Three-Eyed Raven forces him to return to the present time. He wakes up in the tree and is mad he was brought back to the present when he so enjoyed seeing his ‘home’ (the first time the episode’s title is referenced). Bran sees Hodor (Kristian Nairn) and calls him Willis, asking him why he can’t talk. Hodor, being Hodor, only replies, “Hodor.” Bran asks after Meera (Ellie Kendrick) and Hodor carries him outside where she’s sitting in the snow. Bran wants her to return to the cave, telling her it’s not safe outside. “It’s not safe anywhere,” she replies. Bran also happily reveals Hodor’s real name is Willis and that he could talk and fight when he was younger. And he reminds her the Three-Eyed Raven told him a war is coming. Hodor carries Bran back inside and outside a Child of the Forest tells her Brandon Stark needs her, but Meera says she’s tired of just sitting around watching him have visions. A Child of the Forest (a strange-looking woman) tells her Bran won’t stay in the cave forever and that he will definitely need her.
And now we’re off to Castle Black and time’s up for those loyal to Jon Snow (Kit Harington). Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale) tells Sir Davos (Liam Cunningham) to open the door so the men inside can join their brothers in peace, even assuring the men they’ll set Ghost free. Sir Davos responds by picking up Jon Snow’s sword, apologizing to Snow’s friends that he’s not much of a fighter. The Night’s Watch beat down the door and inside the men are armed and ready to defend Snow’s body while Ghost growls. Just then a loud bang is heard. It’s the wildlings with the giant Wun Wun breaking down the Castle’s gates. The Night’s Watch start to attack but almost immediately realize it’s useless. Thorne commands they fight but only one lone archer takes aim at Wun Wun and fires. The giant picks him up, easily killing him and tossing his body to the ground. The rest of the Night’s Watch drop their swords. Snow’s loyal followers stand with the wildlings and their leader, Tormund (Kristofer Hivju). They throw Thorne and the rest of the men into cells while Tormund checks in on Jon’s body and sees all the knife wounds. He says he’ll tell his men to get wood for a fire because they have to burn the body. No, no, and no. If Jon Snow’s body burns, that will spell the end of the #jonsnowlives campaign.
The story turns its focus to King’s Landing where a drunk is regaling his friends with rude stories about Queen Cersei (Lena Headey) and her brother whose penis is supposedly very tiny. He wanders into the alley to pee and is immediately killed by Ser Robert Strong/the reanimated corpse of The Mountain who squishes his head against the wall like an annoying insect. Blood still on his armor, Strong goes to accompany Cersei to the Sept. The King’s men stop her as she’s about to leave her room, relaying orders that she stay in the Red Keep for her own protection – meaning she can’t attend her daughter’s funeral. Cersei asks to see her son but he’s already left for Myrcella’s funeral. She gives in without a fight, which is very un-Cersei-like, and returns to her room.
Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and King Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) stand over Myrcella’s body in the Sept, and the King confesses that he believes his mother ordered Trystane Martell killed after Myrcella was murdered. Jaime really just cares about why Tommen kept Cersei from the funeral. The High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) told him she wasn’t allowed in the Sept and Jaime reminds Tommen that everything Cersei did, she did for him. King Tommen knows that and feels horrible that he, in turn, did absolutely nothing to help Margaery or his mother when they were taken away by the High Sparrow and his followers. He didn’t protect them and if he can’t do that, then what good is he? Just then in walks the High Sparrow and after Tommen requests to see his wife, the High Sparrow says not until she confesses. [Either the High Sparrow or the Lannisters are going to survive this season, and I don’t see the powers-that-be killing off the Lannisters.]
Jaime sends Tommen away to his mom and calls the High Sparrow a “bold man.” The High Sparrow acts humble, telling Jaime Cersei atoned for her sins. Jamie wonders why he hasn’t been made to atone for his actions which included stabbing his king in the back, killing his cousin, and helping his brother escape after he killed their father. What atonement does he deserve? Obviously believing a dead sparrow is better than alive one in the hand, Jaime puts his hand on his sword and the High Sparrow responds to the action by asking if he’d spill blood in that holy place. He even offers himself up…right before his well armed followers show up to encircle the two men as they continue to stand by Jaime’s dead daughter. They’re not close enough to save the High Sparrow but Jaime would obviously still be cut down before he left the Sept. The High Sparrow warns him that alone his followers are poor and powerless, yet together they can overthrow an empire. dun Dun dunnnn!
Tommen finally visits his mother and she asks about the color of Myrcella’s burial gown and is happy to hear it’s gold. “Good, that was always her color.” Tommen apologizes for keeping her locked up and away from the funeral but did it so he won’t lose her again. She says she’s glad to see him but neither her tone of voice or her eyes convey that message. He admits he was wrong not to execute all of them and should have pulled down the Sept on top of the High Sparrow. “You raised me to be strong and I wasn’t but I want to be. Help me.” Cersei finally looks like he’s said something that reached her, hugging him and answering, “Always.” Look out, High Sparrow! Cersei is back in charge.
In Meereen, Varys (Conleth Hill), Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), and Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) are catching each other up on all the gossip. The Masters have retaken all of the cities Dany freed other than Meereen, and the two dragons still underground in the city haven’t eaten since Dany left. Tyrion says they can’t let them starve and need to get them out of captivity. Tyrion, saying he drinks and knows things, believes the dragons need to be freed. “They must be unchained or they’ll waste away,” says Tyrion. He also says dragons are intelligent and have affection for their friends and fury for their enemies. So, the natural solution to their dragon problem is he’s going to feed them. Because, you know, he’s so close to Dany now that no way will the dragons touch a hair on his Lannister head.
Varys leaves Tyrion at the top of the dark stairs heading down to the dungeon where the two dragons are chained up. Tyrion inches forward and the dragons look at him, growl, but don’t attack. He stands before them and reaches out a hand, telling them he’s friends with their mother. He wants to help them and asks them not to eat the help. He wanted a dragon as child, even a little dragon like himself. They seem to be listening as he says he was told the last dragon died a century ago. Tyrion touches one and it remains still. He frees it from its collar as the other one growls from behind him, but then it turns its head to also be let loose. He unchains it and now both dragons move around, stretching out their muscles. Tyrion quickly walks away and back up the stairs. “Next time I have an idea like that, punch me in the face,” he tells Varys.
We’re off to Braavos and Arya’s story next. The Waif is back to teach blind Arya (Maisie Williams) more about fighting. Arya says her name is No One but she’s not convincing. She’s getting badly beaten once again but then swings wildly at the air not knowing the Waif is gone. In her place is Jaqen (Tom Wlaschiha) who asks her name. She says it’s No One. He says he’ll let her sleep inside, feed her, and give her sight back if she says her name. She continues to respond with, “A girl has no name.” Apparently she passed his test as she’s allowed to follow him, bending over to pick up her begging supplies before being told she’s not a beggar anymore.
Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) learns the bad news from Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) and Lord Karstark (Paul Rattray) that Sansa escaped and his men are all dead. They correctly assume Sansa is headed toward the Wall and Ramsay, always impulsive, suggests they storm Castle Black. Roose says if they murder Jon Snow – who he incorrectly believes is still the commander of the Night’s Watch – then they’ll never have the North. Karstark’s only response is to say it’s time for new blood in the North anyway. Roose tells his son that if he has a reputation as a mad dog, he’ll be treated as a mad dog. Just then news arrives that Roose’s wife has given him a baby boy. Ramsay hugs his dad and Roose says, “You’ll always be my firstborn.” Still in the middle of the embrace, Ramsay stabs his father in the stomach, killing him. Perhaps calling his firstborn a mad dog wasn’t such a wise idea, nor was thinking he could have a new offspring that would take Ramsay’s place in the line of succession. Then again, pretty much everyone wanted to see Roose die a miserable death. Ramsay wipes the blood off his knife and then tells the two witnesses that he wants word sent out that Roose Bolton is dead, poisoned by their enemies. Ramsay is now in charge and he demands Lady Walda and the baby be brought to him immediately.
Walda (Elizabeth Webster) and the baby meet Ramsay outside in the snow and he asks to hold the baby. She hands him over and Ramsay looks down at the baby, says, “Little Brother,” and then gently hands him back. Walda asks after Roose Bolton and Ramsay says, “Follow me, mother.” They head into the kennels where he quiets the barking dogs before opening up each individual kennel, and all the while his stepmother is getting more and more anxious. When she asks, “Where is Lord Bolton?” Ramsay replies, “I am Lord Bolton.” She knows the score and begs for mercy from Ramsay, saying she’ll leave Winterfell. The baby cries and she continues begging for their lives. “I prefer being an only child,” the psycho replies, whistling for the dogs to come out of their cages and attack. Off screen we hear them ripping Lady Walda and the baby to shreds.
The death of a baby leads to catching up with Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Theon (Alfie Allen) in the snow. Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) tells Sansa that she saw Arya but she doesn’t know where she is now. She wasn’t dressed like a lady but looks good, and Sansa sort of chuckles, knowing Arya never dressed as a lady before all of this happened. Then Brienne asks what happened at Winterfell. Sansa doesn’t say but she does admit she should have gone with Brienne when she had the chance. Hindsight is in fact 20/20.
Theon doesn’t think they should be making a fire and possibly attracting unwanted attention. Sansa says they’re heading to Castle Black and Theon, probably rightly, thinks he’ll be killed immediately if he ever meets up with Jon Snow. He’s done too much, including betraying Rob Stark, and he can’t make amends to the Starks. Theon’s not coming with them but he swears he would have – even dying to get her there – and Sansa hugs him. Theon asks if he can take a horse and Sansa wants to know where he’s going. He says, “Home,” the second reference to the episode’s title.
We’re now off to visit with the Greyjoys who, to this point, have not been the most entertaining family to spend time with. Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan) lets her father, Balon Greyjoy (Patrick Malahide), know they weren’t able to conquer the North but they can still beat anyone at sea. She tried to rescue Theon against her father’s orders, and they argue over his continued desire to conquer the North. He tells her to shut her mouth and obey; he wants her back out fighting for more land.
Shortly thereafter, Balon is crossing a rickety-bridge during a storm. His brother, Euron ( Pilou Asbæk), is on the opposite side across a rickety bridge in the storm. Euron wants his older brother to step aside and let him rule, saying, “You’re old, brother. You have had your time.” Brother-to-brother, they stand in the middle of the bridge in the storm, discussing who’s insane, who’s stubborn, and who should rule. Balon slashes Euron’s face and Euron tosses his brother off the bridge to his death on the rocks below.
At the funeral, Yara and the Greyjoys’ men launch Balon’s dead body out to sea, reciting their oath, “What is dead may never die.” Yara vows to find out who did it and, more importantly, she believes she should rule in his place. Unfortunately, and despite whatever her father believed should happen upon his death, Yara will have to be chosen by the Kingsmoot. If she wins, she will be the first woman to rule the Iron Throne.
And now finally we get back to what’s going on at Castle Black. Melisandre is sitting in front of a fire when Sir Davos joins her to let her know they’re going to light the lord commander’s body on fire. She corrects him, saying Jon Snow is the “former” lord commander. And now instead of just recapping the conversation, because it’s critically important to the episode here’s what was actually said next between Sir Davos and Melisandre:
Davos: “Does he have to be?”
Melisandre: “What are you asking?”
Davos: “Do you know of any magic that could help him? Bring him back?”
Melisandre: “If you want to help him, leave him be.”
Davos: “Can it be done?”
Melisandre: “There are some with this power.”
Melisandre: “I don’t know.”
Davos: “Have you seen it done?”
Melisandre: “I met a man who came back from the dead, but the priest who did it… It shouldn’t have been possible.”
Davos: “But it was. It could be, now.”
Melisandre: “Not for me.”
Davos: “Not for you? I saw you drink poison that should have killed you. I saw you give birth to a demon made of shadows.”
Melisandre: “Everything I believed…the great victory I saw in the flames…all of it was a lie. You were right all along. The Lord never spoke to me.”
Davos: “F**k him, then. F**k all of them. I’m not a devout man, obviously. Seven Gods, Drowned Gods, Tree Gods, it’s all the same. I’m not asking the Lord of Light for help. I’m asking the woman who showed me that miracles exist.”
Melisandre stands over Jon Snow’s body with a wet cloth. She wipes his wounds of blood while Sir Davos, Edd, and Tormund. As she does she looks absorbed in her work. The camera pans to Jon Snow’s face but there’s not any movement. All the blood is now gone but the wounds remain. She chants as she cuts some of his hair, tossing it in the fire. Ghost lies on the floor next to his dead master’s body. Melisandre chants some more and pours water through Jon’s hair, smoothing it down. He’s naked with only a small cloth covering his penis. She places her hands on his chest, says something and closes her eyes. She does it again, speaking more fiercely. She presses her hand over his heart and looks at his face, continuing to speak the same words. She looks near to tears and says, “Please,” very quietly but there’s no reaction from Jon Snow. Melisandre removes her hands and stares at his face. She then turns to Sir Davos, and Tormund, believing it’s all over for Jon, leaves the room. Melisandre also exits the room. Ghost sleeps on and Edd is the next to leave. Now it’s only Sir Davos with Jon. Sir Davos, defeated, leaves and Ghost opens his eyes and rises. That’s closely followed by Jon Snow gasping for air!!! Jon Snow lives. #toldyouso
Just to confirm it’s true, the preview for episode three shows him sitting up, naked.