Review: ‘Game of Thrones’ Brings ‘Home’ the Shocking Twist We All Saw Coming
Warning – FULL SPOILERS for Tonight’s “Home”:
Jon Snow lives!
Honestly, I thought we’d have another week or so of prefacing Game of Thrones reviews with “still dead,” and in the grand scheme, it perhaps doesn’t speak too well for TV’s current death crisis that Jon Snow would return to life after two total episodes. I’ll give credit to the sequence itself, the editing of which plays like a master class in suspense, and could easily have swung either way after all the buildup of Melsandre defeatedly attempting to work her magic. Perhaps it was worth stringing viewers along another week, to find some less obvious solution to Jon Snow’s resurrection, but if nothing else, there’s a tremendous catharsis in finally putting this debate to rest.
Obviously, it’s a tremendous turn for the series, literary and otherwise, bound to shape the season in ways we’ll need at least another week to learn, and one sure to annoy as many fans as elate. Game of Thrones has long proven a series willing to stick by its deaths, and one wonders if perhaps the fault lies with George R.R. Martin, that Jon simply had too much unresolved to stay dead. Either way, it’s one hell of a relief to finally look forward to Season 6’s future unencumbered.
The crazy thing is, “Home” would have been busy enough without the erstwhile Lord Commander’s return, between Ramsay’s abrupt power play for Winterfell, the return and near-immediate demise of Balon Greyjoy, or Bran’s own return offering a glimpse into the past. Certainly the fact that Tyrion survived his encounter with the dragons could be taken to mean something important as well, but where last week’s premiere seemed to ease us back into the narrative, “Home” seemed more interested in unfurling the bigger moments without necessarily lingering on their impact.
Many of the major events seemed to fly by, that the Night’s Watch conflict with Davos was quickly undone by the arrival of Tormund, Wun-Wun and the other Wildlings (however enjoyable their pathetic surrender proved), or that Balon’s first scene since Season 3 would end up literally tossed overboard for the new Kingsmoot story. Even after all the triumph inherent to Theon and Sana’s escape from Winterfell last week, so too did Theon quickly decide to abandon hope and return home, believing he’d never find forgiveness for his betrayal against the Starks.
It’s perhaps inevitable that an episode resurrecting Jon Snow, killing Roose Bolton and Balon Greyjoy would end up swallowing the smaller check-in scenes, particularly Arya’s, still blind but now seemingly welcomed back to continue her training. In a sense, Arya’s quest has always felt like an inevitable wash, bound to take her skills back to Westeros, rather than fully embrace the path of the Faceless Man, just as we’d never accept that Jon’s role in the story had truly come to an end.
Not much change in Kings’ Landing this week either, though the brief time with Cersei definitely helped to illuminate her state of mind, that for all the power seemingly at her fingertips by a zombie Mountain killing commoners in the streets for insulting her name, she seemed hesitant to oppose Tommen’s orders not to attend Myrcella’s funeral. If nothing else, Tommen’s pleas for guidance offer an interesting path going forward, another avenue for Cersei to start wielding power again, even if she seems uncertain how to embrace it.
Definitely a lot more cathartic than last week’s premiere; not solely for the long-awaited return of Jon Snow, but any one of the three or so major events pulling focus, and in that sense, “Home” didn’t spend too much time on the fallout of any. I don’t pretend to gauge the implications for literary fans necessarily, but as far as HBO goes, “game-changer” seems almost too on the nose for all the events on display tonight.
AND ANOTHER THING …
- Hodor’s name was Wyllis! Was that known? Maybe, but it’s still fun. Plus, one imagines the quick establishment of Lyanna Stark will prove important in the coming weeks.
- Was the Mountain skulking around the alleys of Fleabottom, waiting for anyone to insult Cersei?
- Careful confessing those sins around the High Sparrow, Jaime.
- I find it hard to believe Varys would have supported Tyrion’s venture in the dragon pit in the first place. Also, did the dragons actually escape? Is there a roof, or a window for their exit?
- Hey, the Karstarks! That’s probably a thing.
- What an odd sentiment, to be bored of Ramsay blithely feeding people to his dogs.
- So … raincheck on any payoff for Melisandre secretly being 400?
- Anyone else find it odd, that Davos would so readily request Jon’s resurrection, over someone like Stannis? Sure, Jon is closer, but I’m not sure in context why Davos thinks Jon would be worthy of messing with those forces.
Game of Thrones Season 6 will return May 8 with “Oathbreaker,” airing at 9:00 P.M. on HBO.