There’s a deal more coming back this week than Game of Thrones. Surely the internet, or bad friends on the internet, have spoiled the ending of this week’s “Home,” so be warned that if you didn’t see the episode, this review will have quite a few shockers in it.
on Dagobah North of the Wall: First off, it feels so good to have Bran Stark back in the picture. He and the Three-Eyed Raven are just chillin, reminiscing of when Ned was a boy. There’s a lot to take in with these scenes; we see little Ned with his brother Benjen as they spar in a thriving Winterfell, and they are joined by their sister Lyanna. Getting to see visions of the past for the first time is huge, and will likely lead into the rest of the flashbacks this season and taking us all the way to Lyanna’s death years later. We also find out that not only is Hodor older than Ned Stark, but once possessed a fully capable mind. Giving depth to Hodor (who we learn was once “Willis”) is worthy of reflection.
No more dragging out the coup: It felt so validating to see Alliser “Drumpf” Thorne’s coup of the Night’s Watch come to an abrupt end. It felt even better to see Wun Wun dispatch a trigger-happy archer with the quickness. Not a whole lot of blood and violence in this episode – no spears through the eyeballs, at least – but the violence that was there was fitting of the situation. It would have been painful to see the situation continue to play out in a stalemate, so this is a good way to let the story play out, but still save the consequences for later.
Tommen’s meta moment: While this is ultimately a great move for Cersei – to have her son Tommen practically beg her for her counsel – it’s a big step in the right direction for Tommen. While Cersei is detached and manipulative about how she handles situations, seeing Tommen recognize his weaknesses and try to atone for them gives about a much more valiant impression than the “burn everything to the ground” glare that Cersei gave.
No redemption for Theon: Theon has come a long, painful way from the arrogant little shit that sold out Robb Stark and claimed Winterfell. He finally built up the courage to run away from Ramsay, and take Ramsay’s wife with him in the process. Theon’s sobered up a bit, and realizes that there is no amount of atoning he can do for the lives he’s ruined (although, saving Bran and Rickon from Ramsay Bolton is a gift in itself). His decision to head back to the Iron Islands will start a whole new kind of retribution that Theon must seek if he would like to regain favor with his family.
The conscience choice to not drag out Arya’s plight: Watching Arya begging on the streets and repeatedly get the snot beaten out of her by the Game of Thrones child version of Biff has been one of saddest, lamest things to happen to a character. Book readers can start with the “oh wait, you’ll see crap,” but I think it’s about high time for an action sequence montage to show us how she becomes a Nobody. There’s really no reason to drag this out all season, so I’m glad they didn’t.
Tyrion’s gigantic balls: Just by studying the look on Varys’ face, I think he’s about one dickless joke away from snapping on Tyrion. It’s hard to believe that any amount of alcohol would convince a man that unchaining two giant dragons was a good idea. His interaction with Rhaegal and Viserion was touching (and goddamn terrifying!). The revelation that he has always been obsessed with dragons is new to the show, but it’s done in a way that viewers connect with his story. Damn. Can you imagine Tyrion riding a dragon? Better start!
I’m becoming a bad person for liking Ramsay: Does this guy even have a ceiling for how appalling he can get? Probably not. This episode has probably rid myself of whatever amount of humanity I had left. I found myself thinking “of course he’s going to feed the baby to the dogs. There’s a meat shortage!”
No more Jon Snow theories: The only thing that sucked about Jon Snow’s return was the end of all the crazy would-be that friends and coworkers would share: the necklace stayed with Melisandre, no warging was performed, there would be no rebirthing of Jon Targaryen, and there would be no Jon Snow, Night’s King. The path chosen seemed like such an obvious and straight-forward approach that fans were expecting something more grandiose.
Where did Edd go?: I’m scraping for negatives here. I was a little confused about how Edd made it out of the room to go get the Wildlings. I mean, it would be pretty stupid of them to not guard all the entrances to the room they were holding Jon in, right? Anyway, it’s great to see Tormund Giantsbane – everybody’s favorite Muppet – again.
Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things (Odds and Ends)
FrankenMountain: Ser Robert Strong’s appearance is chilling here. The former Gregor Clegane is basically Cersei’s new bodyguard, even though he downs a gold cloak of the King’s Guard. While the small folk are becoming more and more bold in the way they show their disdain for the crown. Was this Ser Robert Strong’s way of looking out for Cersei? Or, more likely, was this Cersei’s first of many bodies that she will leave in her wake?
Dany’s plight is too real: Daenerys is gone for five minutes and all the progression that she’s accomplished has been undone. The slavers have reclaimed Astapor and Yunkai. This is the saddest shit ever, matched only by the sorrow felt in the finale of The Wire. Maybe she’ll finally get her ass to Westeros… if she can even find her way back to Meereen.
Even less adults!: Last week we talked about how there are no adults left in Dorne or King’s Landing capable of making rational decisions. Well, we can add Roose Bolton to that list. In an ambitious move, Ramsay murders his dad, leaving him in control of the whole North. That’s gonna go badly for a lot of people. Meanwhile, the crotchety old Balon Greyjoy got thrown off a bridge, Mortal Kombat style. At least the Ironborn have the common sense to hold a democratic election for their next leader. Surely it will be completely civil…
Hodor Hodors (Best Quotes)
“Hodor.” – Willis
“But who are we, hm? We have no names, no family. Every one of us is poor and powerless. And yet together, we can overthrow an empire. ” High Sparrow Man
“That’s what I do; I drink and I know things.” – Tyrion
“I prefer being an only child” – Ramsay
Who won the Game of Thrones this episode?
It’s a clear win this episode – Ramsay, with just a few decisive moves, has become Lord Bolton, Warden of the North. He’s a bastard, a crazy bastard with a lot of charisma and a lot of friends. One thing Ramsay will have going for him is that he is the brazen leader the North wanted. He may not be as strategically diplomatic as his father, or as honorable as Robb Stark, but he’s a proven warrior who can get his hands dirty, and he’s one wife away from being able to continue Robb’s campaign as King in the North. Of course, that’s being optimistic. He’ll likely exhaust his resources storming Castle Black.
Hush Comics gives “Home” an A for continuing to change the game. Game of Thrones is succeeding in making every character interaction dynamic. The show never feels like characters are just physically moving, but rather the progression of each storyline feels like a new step in character and plot development.
All media belong to HBO, and are credited to Helen Sloan and Macall B. Polay