I thought I might as well write a weekly Game of Thrones review, seeing as I watch the show religiously. Be warned, this review is dark and filled with spoilers, so I’d advise you to read it only if you’ve been subjected to the mind-meltingly fast-paced and eventful storytelling that was last night’s episode.
In many ways, this show has screwed itself over. It’s set a new standard for episode endings that can’t possibly be matched every time. But that’s a problem for future D and D to deal with. For now, they’ve outdone themselves. Finally, something has happened! Scratch that, MANY things have happened! And we weren’t even able to touch on every single storyline currently still running, despite us hopping around all of Westeros and Essos in an almost dizzying whirlwind of violence and bloodlust. I’ll be honest, last season was bogged down by exposition and a dull lack of movement. It was essentially this show’s version of getting all its affairs in order, all its ducks in a row. It was slowly pushing a momentous boulder up a small hill, until it sat at the edge of a precipice at season’s end. The potential energy was there, but the kinetic wasn’t.
This episode gave that boulder the thunderous kick it needed, sending it down the cliff side in a decidedly bloody manner. Some main players were killed, one was saved, and the world this show inhabits will never be the same for it.
Before we get to the most obviously mind-blowing portion of the show, let’s knock off some of the smaller players.
Ramsay Bolton has pretty clearly taken Joffrey’s stead as the lightning rod for all hate in Game of Thrones. That much was clear almost as soon as he came onto screen, so brilliantly detestable was the performance given by Iwan Rheon, but it’s never been more baldly the intent of the showrunners than it is now. I mean, it doesn’t get much worse than stabbing your father, the man that gave you all your power (also unfortunately my favorite of the GoT baddies), before feeding his wife and newborn son alive to your dogs. It’s inevitable that he’ll get his comeuppance at some point down the line, but how many more truly vile things the showrunners will make him do (and therefore how satisfying that eventual comeuppance will be), remains to be seen.
Over in Mereen, everyone’s favorite dwarf decides – in a not unusual fit of drunken genius/stupidity – to unchain Dany’s remaining dragons himself, thereby proving to them that he is their friend, and not just another human who thinks he can use them as a tool. I’ll confess, I wasn’t nearly as on my toes as I probably should have been for this part of the episode, as I thought it pretty obvious that the showrunners weren’t going to kill off the most well-liked character in the entire series (at least, not for long, as what happens later in this show so aptly demonstrates). Regardless, it was a touching and effective scene. Tyrion’s reverence for dragons has been well-documented, so this was an understated but massively important and cathartic moment in the beloved character’s journey.
Next we go to King’s Landing, where everything seems to be in motion, and beautifully so. Tommen is questioning his mantra of peace and deferment that he so steadfastly stuck to all of last season, while Cersei is torn between anger at her son for keeping her from her daughter’s funeral and fear and near-surety that, like her other two children, he will be taken away from her. Also, it would seem that, for the first time in a while, the king of Westeros is again under Cersei’s control. Also, Jaime’s faceoff with the Sparrow in the sept is just another resounding instance of this show’s mastery of tense and augured storytelling.
In Bravos, Arya remains both blind and the resident punching bag for the Waif. Even those who were rubbed the wrong way by her in the early goings of the show must feel a deep-seeded pity for her now. Her heartbreaking hesitance after Jaqen Hagaar tells her that he will give back her eyesight if she only says her name is a wonderful and powerful moment, one that acts a narrative benchmark stating unequivocally that the Arya Stark we once knew is truly long gone.
And for the first time in what feels like forever, we see Bran Stark. Now, it would seem, he is a nearly fully-realized Warg. He’s already able to, with a bit of the Three-Eyed Raven’s guidance, see into and explore the past. It’s an undeniably touching moment when he sees his father teaching his namesake (uncle Brandon) how to duel in the very same place and in the very same manner that Jon Snow taught him in the first episode in the series. We also see him walking on his own two legs (albeit in a dream world of sorts) for the first time since said episode.
From what we were shown in that sequence, it seems pretty clear that Lyanna Stark, whose name has been mentioned many, many times in previous seasons, will continue to play a larger and larger role in the series as it progresses, which is something many of us expected, and is something that acts as the perfect segue into the last section of this review:
Finally. Yes. The moment we’ve all been waiting for. The one we knew was coming – just not exactly when. Again, this is spoiler territory, so tread cautiously. I’m going to dive in deep with all of the possibilities this moment implies, and how they work into what many believe is George R..R. Martin’s vision for the book series and D and D’s vision for the TV series as a whole.
Jon Snow lives. They made us wait until the very last second of the episode to know for sure, but let’s be honest, we knew the second that Davos implored Melisandre to work her devilish magic on Snow’s corpse that that Chekhov’s gun was going to be fired by episode’s end. And boy, was it ever. In a delectably torturous silent few seconds, it seems that Melisandre, Davos and company were justified in their disappointment. But then he opens his eyes, and good Lord (of Light) are they terrified. Who knows what they’ve seen? We’ll have to wait an equally torturous week to find out, but for now, let’s do some delicious speculating.
In my and most of those who’ve read the book series’ view, Jon is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, who were wed in secret and harbored a forbidden love for each other. He is the eponymous “Song of Ice and Fire,” being a child of ice (the Stark bloodline) and fire (he Targaryen bloodline), and as such is the heir apparent, in truth, to both the throne of Winterfell and King’s Landing.
Being the true main character of the series, Jon remaining dead wasn’t really an option. Doesn’t mean that him waking up all zombified wasn’t any less satisfying, though. It remains to be seen just how is resurrection will be taken by both his devoted friends and those who betrayed him, and whether or not he will even remain with the Night’s Watch (as technically, his oath has been fulfilled – he remained with the Night’s Watch until death), but I think it’s safe to say that some more revelations will be coming down the pipeline, and quickly. Jon’s ancestry, and the implications therein (like, when will he ride a dragon in the series?) will pretty clearly provide the propulsive force that sends the final eight episodes along in a season that’s already covered more ground than its predecessor did entirely.