Directed by Jeremy Podeswa
Written by Dave Hill
Finally showing back up after a year’s mini break on the other side of the Wall (chilly weather, sparse accommodation, but reasonable rates), Brandon Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) pops seamlessly back into the narrative as he continues his padawan learner training with Game of Thrones‘ Obi-Wan, Three-Eyed Raven, now in the legendary form of Max von Sydow (who hopefully will stick around longer here than he did in Star Wars: The Force Awakens). Last we saw Bran, at the very end of Season Four, he was told “you will never walk again, but you will fly,” which if you’re thinking sounds like quite a backhanded reassurance given Bran quite liked the idea of, y’know, walking, then don’t worry – now he can travel in time. How cool is that?! More accurately he can see through time, projecting he and Obi-Raven into in this instance a Winterfell before it was sacked about a dozen times and became the Bolton’s holiday home for sadists. We already sense frustration in Bran though, having been trained for some time–Hempstead-Wright has awkwardly gone through the ‘Walt from Lost‘ phase of suddenly looking five years older–he still doesn’t quite know what ol’ Three-Eyes is leading him toward. After seeing a young Ned Stark, and discovering the name of a young (and not mentally challenged) Hodor (Kristian Nairn), we also crucially for the first time glimpse Lyanna Stark–Ned’s sister–and if you know your lore, you’ll know how this may connect to a certain other Stark knocking around.
Either way, Bran’s new power is cool as hell, and it’s definitely leading to some pretty huge revelations – plus the brief conversation between strange Child of the Forest, Leaf (Kae Alexander) and Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick) suggests that the Raven plans to send Bran on his merry way soon and he’ll have some kind of purpose to head off with. Personally, I’d love to see flashbacks to the original Long Night thousands of years ago – you never know with this show!
Arya & Sansa
Talking of Stark’s, Arya (Maisie Williams) continues to routinely get the shit kicked out of her on the streets of Braavos by the Waif (Faye Marsay) but it’s starting to look like her Daredevil training is paying off. She’s got much more than blind luck in her fighting here and as Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) appears again (or whoever the hell he is at this point!) it appears he’s finally beginning to believe Arya when she insists she’s ‘no one’. The question is, do we believe it? They’re playing this quite ambiguously in terms of Arya right now, as to whether she’s indeed seeing through her blindness that she needs to become truly face less, or she’s playing the long game & retaining Arya in her back pocket for when she presumably completes her kill list. My money remains on the latter.
Back in charming old Westeros, her sister Sansa (Sophie Turner) gets a handy little update from Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) about Arya for the brief time Brienne clapped eyes on her and it’s great to see Sansa even outwardly talking about her sister, after seasons of being distracted by rape and murder and betrayal and all those terrible things she’s managed to survive. She remains on course for Castle Black, to seek the help of her brother Jon, but in a touching moment she tearfully bids goodbye to Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) as he can’t quite accept the continued shame of what he brought on her family & Winterfell. Poor Theon. Yes he was a right dick at the beginning, and what he did was hard to forgive, but he really has suffered enough now and the writers have done a great job in making us root for his continued redemption & bravery. The fact Sansa has grown to care for him makes it easier for us to.
Theon anyway is headed home, back to the Greyjoy’s on Pyke and it’s been so long since we popped over to the Iron Islands, you’d be forgiven for not remembering who half these people are! Balon Greyjoy (Patrick Malahide) is pretty much one of the only remaining original Kings from the War of Five Kings and as his wise daughter Yara (Gemma Whelan) reminds him, that war is long over – why still fight and get their arses kicked? Balon doesn’t last long though as, in one of the final storylines to be adapted from George R.R Martin’s books (in this case A Feast For Crows), the King heads to meet the Drowned God in less ambiguous fashion than the novel, killed by his returning brother Euron (Pilou Asbaek) aka the Crows Eye aka a raving bloody lunatic who is easily one of the best characters in Martin’s saga, and it’s great to see him finally arrive in rather badass fashion. Will Theon show up in time to challenge in the Kingsmoot to elect a new leader, given he’s the heir technically? Or will Euron already be in charge?
Popping back across the Jade Sea, to Meereen, and while we skip Dany’s story this week, her counsel back in the city are busy reacting to the pretty dispiriting news that Yunkai & Astapor, the cities Dany spent seasons freeing from slavery, have fallen back into it without her firm hand (more proof she should bugger off to Westeros and leave this lot to it, at the next opportunity!). Varys (Conleith Hill) knows this is a problem but Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) is more concerned with, outside of some pretty damn good eunuch jokes, cutting Dany’s dragons some slack. To be fair, they have been chained up far too long now so it’s great to see Tyrion continue to be a brave little bastard and face the creatures dead on, removing their chains, and giving them a sweet little story about his childhood love for dragons to boot. Dany did admittedly lock them up for a reason so she may not be happy they’re free–Daario or Jorah undoubtedly wouldn’t have let Tyrion get away with this–but putting two more dragons in the game offers up some exciting possibilities at what carnage they may wreak. Tyrion ought to have more than one drink before he faces them down again though!
Cersei & Jaime
Fun and games in King’s Landing, meanwhile, as the remaining Lannister clan continue to trade veiled threats and insults with the infuriatingly calm High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce), who may talk about being a common man who just wants to purge sin, but he does so with a pretty large, well tooled up army of Faith Militant at his back. Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is the first one with the balls to call out his hypocrisy though, making the point he’s about as sinful as they come, so why isn’t he in a cell or being paraded through the streets naked? Undoubtedly because he has a Kingsguard at his back, not to mention the wonderful Ser Robert Strong aka FrankenMountain (Hafbor Julius Bjornsson) who is literally smashing skulls in around the city with abandon, of anyone who dares to take the piss out of the Lannisters. He may be a right old shit but man, I could watch the Mountain cracking people’s heads open all day.
Cersei (Lena Headey) meanwhile struggles with the decision by King Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) to not let her traditionally grieve for her daughter Myrcella (lying in state with those terrifying stones over her eyes, like Tywin did a season ago), mainly because he can’t bear to face her for shame of not reacting when the Faith Militant seized control. We get some nice character moments here between both Tommen & both his parents individually, further proving while he’s not Joffrey, he does have a certain Lannister steel which makes him his parents child.
Back up north, in Winterfell, Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) finally does what we surely knew was in the pipeline for ages – he does indeed for father Roose (Michael McElhatton), making two of the original five Kings at war dead in the same episode. The biggest surprise is how almost literally nobody gives a shit – certain not the Karstark Lord who happily agrees that Ramsay’s Maester should cover up Roose’s demise, after Ramsay snaps. You can understand why though – Ramsay is losing. He’s lost Sansa, lost Theon, and without her especially he’s lost the support of the majority of the North. To add insult to injury, Lady Walda (Elizabeth Webster) bears Roose a son, a natural heir, and quite how Ramsay deals with that is among the worst things he’s ever done. No, actually, it probably *is* the worst thing he’s ever done. And this is a man who chopped off Theon’s dick and had it for dinner with some spuds. Seriously, it’s just brutal.
What he may not have thought of, mind, is who he will have majorly pissed off by making himself total Lord of the Bolton’s. A certain vicious old bastard called Walder Frey. Remember that guy? Loves a wedding…
Aaaaand finally, almost as north as can be, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) is dead. Yup, still. Dead. Very very dead. Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham), because he’s made of pure awesome, is prepared to die protecting his body but good job he sent a ranger out before Ser Allister Thorne (Owen Teale) surrounded them, because cue the Wildings – here they come to save the daaaaaaay! Only second place to FrankenMountain’s kill of the week (seriously, we should start a ‘kill of the week’ on this show), a Wildling giant does a Hulk-style ‘puny God’ move on a Night’s Watchman who hilariously tries to kill him and Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) puts those arseholes where they belong – in jail. This still leaves the Jon problem of course and as the mourning Wildlings prepare to give him a fiery send off, Davos appeals to Melisandre (Carice van Houten) to intervene. This struck me as odd – Davos admits himself he doesn’t believe in all this stuff and even being desperate, it seems a stretch that he would ask Melisandre to resurrect Jon. Felt like a scene or two bringing Davos to this point was missing.
Nonetheless, we get what we’ve suspected for a year, and I suggested in my recent Melisandre article: the resurrection of Jon Snow. Go home HBO, you can stop trolling us now. Kit, don’t apologise for lying, we all knew you’d be fine. Or will he be? Is this the Jon we knew or some apparition? Some zombie? Some half man? Did Melisandre get it right, as it looked like she’d failed? Is there another step to all this needed, that will further validate her faith? But rejoice anyway, our hero is back. Maybe Bran can take him time travelling. I hear Valyria used to be nice this time of year.
SEXINESS TALLY (in lieu of the Hodor Count):
No boobs or bums – must be too busy with plot!