Game Of Thrones S06E02 “Home” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on Sky Atlantic, Mondays, 9pm
Writer: Dave Hill
Director: Jeremy Podeswa
Essential Plot Points:
- In the Three-Eyed Raven’s cave (nest?) Bran is sharing a vision with his crusty new mentor. He’s back at Winterfell, but years before he was born, watching young Ned Stark and his brother Benjen sparring. His aunt Lyanna rides in on the scene and the three of them invite a youthful Hodor – who can speak at this point – to join in with the training session. Old Nan stops him from doing so because he’s a stable lad.
- Bran wants to stay in this idyllic time but the Three-Eyed Raven pulls him out of the vision.
- Bran asks Hodor what happened to make him stop speaking.
- Bran gets Hodor to take him outside into the snow where a restless Meera wonders what she’s doing here. After Hodor takes Bran back inside a Tree Child tells Meera that Bran needs her support. She doesn’t look particularly impressed.
- At Castle Black Alliser Thorne’s men are just about to burst into Ser Davos’s quarters when the Wildlings arrive to save the day. The Night’s Watch tremble in fear at the might of Wun Wun the giant.
- At King’s Landing FrankenGregor (remember, Qyburn resurrected the Mountain through arcane science last season) is stalking the streets protecting Cersei’s honour by crushing the heads of anybody who’s being disrespectful of her.
- Cersei is prevented from going to Myrcella’s funeral by Tommen – he fears the High Sparrow will throw her back in a cell if she sets foot in the sept.
- Jaime convinces Tommen to speak with his mother – something he’s been avoiding because of his shame at not acting to prevent her walk of shame. When he finally does visit Cersei he asks for two things: 1) forgiveness and 2) advice on toughening up so he can deal with the Faith Militant. Prepare for Joffrey 2.0.
- The High Sparrow and Jaime have a face off in the sept and the smug old git has the upper hand because he points out that he’s just a small part of a much larger movement, in which, “every one of us is poor and powerless. And yet together, we can overthrow an empire.”
- In Mereen Tyrion releases the dragons from their dungeon under the pyramid because they’re not eating. He hopes tales of their intelligence and reacting favourably to kindness means he won’t be their first meal. Luckily, he’s right. (Let’s hope he’s warned the rest of the populace they need to be nice to dragons too…)
- In Braavos Arya suffers another beating from the Waif, then Jaqen H’ghar appears. Even though he offers her food, bed and her sight back if she will give him her name she says she is “no one”. Correct answer! He tells her to come with him but leave her bowl: “A girl is not a beggar anymore.”
- At Winterfell, Roose and Ramsay argue about strategy. Ramsay wants to storm Castle Black because he figures that’s where Sansa’s headed but Roose thinks that’s a dumb idea as it will turn the North against them. Ramsay seems to have been setting up alliances of his own – Harald Karstark is also part of the debate and is siding with Ramsay.
- Then news arrives that Lady Walda has given birth to a son. Ramsay hugs Roose in congratulations but it’s actually just a ruse to get near enough to stab him dead. Ramsay then takes Lady Walda and his new brother to the kennels where he has the dogs rip them apart. He preferred being an only child. Ramsay is now Lord Bolton, but will anybody believe his rubbish lies about how his dad, step mum and baby bro died?
- On the road to Castle Black Theon tells Sansa he will not be accompanying her any further. Instead he will head home to…
- The Iron Islands where Balon and Yara Greyjoy are having a difference of opinion over strategy. Unlike Ramsay Yara doesn’t settle the argument by killing her dad; instead long-lost mad brother Euron bumps off Balon instead, secretly throwing off a rickety bridge during a storm.
- When Balon’s body is discovered somehow everybody knows he was murdered despite the fact he could easily have been swept off the bridge in the storm.
- Anyhow, Yara pledges to avenge him now she’s in charge, but an advisor (possibly Aeron Greyjoy from the books but he isn’t named) points out that a Kingsmoot has to take place to decide who their next ruler should be, and it may not be Yara.
- Back at Castle Black Davos asks a tired-looking Melisandre to resurrect Jon. Reluctantly she agrees, but the ritual appears to fails.
- After everyone has left the room Jon’s eyes flicker open.
Oh, Ramsay, Ramsay, Ramsay, Ramsay… you are such a drama queen. Nearly a year we’ve been on tenterhooks awaiting the know the fate of Jon Snow and here comes that Bolton bastard to upstage the Stark bastard’s big moment. Snow may have got the cliffhanger but it’s Ramsay in serial killer mode that remains the episode’s lasting memory. He’s even adding a certain grisly poetry to his murderous repertoire; just before he dies, Dad tells him that if he acts like a mad dog he’ll be treated like a mad dog, so Ramsay literally feeds his step mum and new little brother to the dogs. It’s not quite in the Dexter or Hannibal league when it comes to artistry in killing, but it’s getting there.
Aside from Bolton massacre (blimey, it didn’t even happen at a wedding), Balon Greyjoy also joined the great Game Of Thrones cull list this week, thrown off a bridge by his crazy brother. That’s a lot of death before the episode ends with a rebirth. Presumably it’s just a coincidence – it’d be a hell of a twist if next week we discover that zombie-Snow is the reincarnation of Lady Walda.
But, phew, thank God we do have an answer as regards Jon’s fate. Admittedly there’s no reason to assume he’s completely back to normal just yet but at least the producers haven’t decided to drag this plot out like The Walking Dead did with Glenn’s faux death (as we worried about last week). Now the fun should really begin…
The episode as a whole was much more satisfying and consistent than the rather meandering season premiere. At least each scene here felt like it was properly moving the plot forward, even if with some it’s not entirely clear where some of them were moving forward to. So, Tyrion has freed the dragons. What now? Do they play ball and avoid barbecuing the locals? Do they go on a killing spree? Are they a symbol of hope? Or fear? Do they try to locate and tame their wayward sibling? Not that it really matters; it was a great scene to watch, edgy and tense, underpinned by a charming – but nervously delivered – anecdote from Tyrion, and ending with “punch”-line: “Next time I have an idea like that, punch me in the face.”
You also have to love an episode in which a giant breaks down a fortified gate and proceeds to use some bloke as a human fly swat. Excellent FX work in both these scenes too.
The episode opens, however, with a set of characters and a storyline that’s been on hold since season four. The first sound we hear is a raven’s caw, and next we see the glassy-eyed three-eyed Raven and Bran having a vision of pleasanter times at Winterfell. There we meet young versions of Hodor, Ned, Benjen and Lyanna and it’s a scene of aching nostalgia. Interestingly the Three-Eyed Raven looks slightly exasperated at Bran, as if thinking, “I’ve spent a whole season teaching you and you still want to use your powers for such fripperies.”
The episode’s called “Home” and various characters are heading home or come home in it. Theon says he’s returning to the Iron Islands, but Balon’s crazy brother beats him there. Jon’s spirit returns to home to its body (probably). But perhaps Bran’s spiritual journey home will prove crucial as well.
Last week was a solid but slightly underwhelming opening to the season, but “Home” is bursting with excellent set-pieces. The season may only be warming up, but already things are coming to the boil nicely.
- Okay, Ramsay is now an 18-rated Dick Dastardly who needs to grow a moustache soon just so he can twirl it, but his unfettered villainy is becoming almost hypnotic to watch; deeply uncomfortable but hypnotic. In a rare show of coyness for this series we’re not shown a baby being ripped apart by curs but to be honest, the image on Ramsay’s smirking face as it happens is just as disturbing.
- The whole dragons scene was magnificent, and genuinely edgy. The best moment was Tyrion meekly introducing himself as, “I’m friends with your mother,” like he’s just meeting his new girlfriend’s kids for the first time.
- Tyrion’s faux pas – taking the piss out of Varys for being a eunuch through force of habit, forgetting he’s not the only eunuch present – was hilarious.
- “Every one of us is poor and powerless. And yet together, we can overthrow an empire.” The High Sparrow might be loathsome git but you can’t deny the power of the moment when he makes Jaime go, “…gulp…!”. The Faith Militant is proving to be an impressively ominous force.
- You’ve got to admire Davos’s pragmatism. He and Melisandre have been at loggerheads for most of the show’s run and he clearly has no respect for her religion. But he has seen her perform miracles – horrible miracles – so when needs must he’s prepared to bury his pride and turn to Melisandre for help resurrecting Jon. There’s even respect in his voice as he convinces her to help. Hell, we wouldn’t against these two shacking up before the series ends (unless he see her on one of her dress down days).
- There’s a really sweet and understated conversation between Brienne and Sansa when they talk about Brienne having seen Arya and they don’t talk about what happened to Sansa during her time with Ramsay (a glance from the Stark girl says it all). It doesn’t advance the plot one bit but it firmly cements their new relationship.
- You have to love the way the Lannister soldiers are all visibly relieved when Cersei agrees not attend the funeral, meaning they don’t have to fight FrankenGregor. There are at least a dozen of them and they’re still scared. Can’t wait to see the scene when he’s really allowed to let loose.
- Euron’s dialogue is wonderfully Looney Tunes: “I don’t mock the Drowned God. I am the Drowned God”; “I am the storm, brother. The first storm and the last.”
- And hey, Jon Snow woke up. It was obvious he was going to as soon as Davos asked Melisandre to do her hoodoo (there was no way the cliffhanger was going to be him just rotting away) but it was still a massive relief. And Ghost looked so pleased!
- We’re not sure about the new design for the Tree Children (or at least the one Tree Child we saw). It looks something you’d see in more on-the-nose fantasy like The Shannara Chronicles or a Russell T Davies’s forthcoming version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
- We’re totally not convinced that Ramsay asking that Maester to tell everyone that Roose died of poisoning is a foolproof plan. What poison leaves big stab marks in a body? Plus, the Maester didn’t look like he was exactly on-board with all this.
- Why do CSI Iron Islands immediately assume Balon’s death is murder? He fell off a rickety bridge in a storm!
- That bloke boasting about waving his wanger at Cersei sounded like Monty Python’s Eric Idle doing a comedy skit. He was way, way too theatrical. We’re glad FrankenGregor did this to him:
And The Random:
- In the books, Hodor’s real name is Walder. On the show, they’ve changed it to Willas (or Wyllis… or something… we’ll learn the official spelling soon, no doubt) presumably so he wouldn’t be confused with Walder Frey and Lady Walda. (In a similar swap they changed Asha Greyjoy’s name to Yara Greyjoy, because Asha was too close to Osha, the wildling). Whatever the case, it gives us an excuse for a rubbish gag…
- Young Ned says to Young Bejen: “Keep your shield up, or I’ll ring your head like a bell,” which is exactly what Jon said that to Olly during a training session in the season five premiere “The Wars To Come”.
- During Cersei’s walk of shame in season five, two men are shown exposing themselves to her, but neither of them are the guy shown here. He’s just full of shit, basically.
- Yara mentions “the Salt Throne” which seems to have been renamed from the book’s “Seastone Chair”.
Review by Dave Golder
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