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Monday, 2 May 2016

Game of Thrones S6E2: Home.

Game of Thrones
Series 6, Episode 2

You know, for all of the many, many, many flaws Game of Thrones I has, I am actually quite glad to have it back. It'll never be my favourite show on television, or my fifth favourite, or even really one that I'm overly likely to remember once it's finished, but for about twelve weeks every year (because there's a fortnight's cooldown period afterwards) it does manage to make me indulge in a bit of an obsession with it, and that can only be more true now that we actually have plot movement.

Which wasn't just a thing in the first episode, either. This episode gives us sweeping, massive plot movement on a bunch of different fronts: Winterfell, Castle Black, Braavos, and the Iron Islands; along with smaller plot developments in Meereen and King's Landing.

Beyond the Wall, Bran trains with the Three-Eyed Raven, seeing a vision of Winterfell when his father was just a child. At Castle Black, as the wildlings come and save Davos and the others, taking control of Castle Black, Davos appeals to Melisandre to use her magic to revive Jon Snow, something she says she cannot do. Meanwhile, as Sansa, Theon, Brienne and Pod make their way up towards the Wall, Ramsay is berated by Roose and, when Roose's new child turns out to be a son, takes drastic measures. On the Iron Islands, Balon Greyjoy encounters an old face who he never expected to see again. In King's Landing, Jaime clashes with the High Sparrow, and Tommen reconciles with his mother. In Essos, Tyrion, faced with disaster in Daenerys' absence, hatches a daring and potentially foolhardy plan to ensure the dragons' survival. Arya, meanwhile, continues to be tormented by the Waif.

Tyrion, you may have an alcohol problem.

So, the big take-away I took from Bran's scenes was that he rather abruptly grew up. When did that happen? I mean - incrementally over the course of the past six years, obviously, but I don't recall him ever actually growing. This is very alarming. Beyond that, I imagine that we might, through him, get to see everything that happened regarding the war with the Targaryens, or at least Ned's point of view on it, so that'll be interesting.

The rest of the North stuff is a bit more interesting. I wasn't remotely expecting Ramsay to stab his father to death quite so soon, and all told, I'm not entirely sure it's a logical place to take his character, at least right now. A few more episodes of Ramsay getting more and more paranoid would have been nice, as right now, while I can see why he did it, it seems like an extreme action even for Ramsay (and it says something odd about a character when 'stabbing his father once' seems like an extreme action for them but 'letting his mother-in-law and brother get torn apart by dogs' seems more or less par for the course). Nevertheless, with Ramsay now ruling the North, we're likely to see another siege of Castle Black before too long, as well as a new and much more brutal regime.

Castle Black, meanwhile, gives us the expected 'wildlings taking over the castle' scene that I think everybody knew was coming, and the similarly expected 'Melisandre revives Jon' scene that everybody predicted literally the moment that Jon died, so there's nothing even slightly unexpected there. That said, seeing Melisandre struggle with her faith and confidence was nice to see, and Candice van Houten pulled it off pretty well, I thought. Jon returning moves his plot along nicely as well, and it's better to get it out of the way quickly, since otherwise we're just spending episodes and episodes waiting for the inevitable.

This is objectively not as horrible as most of the things Ramsay does, but is
still surprising.

The North stuff also gives us Theon deciding to leave Sansa to go 'home', although at this point I don't know if that means the Iron Islands or if he's going to return to Winterfell and Ramsay. Neither of those options will end especially well for him, but I think at this point there's not much hope of Theon's life improving any.

Speaking of the Iron Islands, we have Balon Greyjoy being killed by his brother Euron, who spends a lot of time ranting about how he's the Drowned God and also a storm and also the best goshdarn pirate captain on the seas. It's a thing, it happens, the Greyjoys and Iron Islanders have never been that interesting and I don't expect them to start now.

That leaves Meereen and Braavos (and King's Landing, but to be honest that's all minor stuff), and while they each only have one scene, they're important ones that move the plot along. 

Meera, who I'd totally forgotten about.

Meereen sees Tyrion learning that Yunkai and Astapor have been retaken by the Masters, and has him releasing the dragons - remember, Daenerys locked them up for a reason, and that reason was mostly 'they killed livestock and also people', so I don't foresee this being a hugely popular choice. To be honest, while I do like Tyrion, all of his stuff in Meereen feels like a holding pattern, just having the plot circle until Daenerys gets back from a pointless detour. 

Braavos, meanwhile, has Arya apparently passing her test (that was quick) and following Jaqen to some unknown destination - presumably the next part of her training. While that's awfully quick, I understand why: Having Arya be a blind beggar who sometimes gets hit by a stick isn't tremendously interesting fare for her. They probably could have strung it out for another episode if they wanted to, but why bother?

I did actually really enjoy this episode, and so far, this series seems to be off to a good start. Now if they could just get Daenerys back to Meereen or, even better, to Westeros, I would be just peachy.

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