Davos helps Jon deal with his return as plans are made to deal with Alliser and those who murdered Jon. Bran views another flashback and watches a youthful Ned Stark and company face off against Sir Arthur Dayne who guarded the tower that kept Lyanna Stark. Jaime and Cersei with the help of Qyburn begin to make plans to face the High Sparrow through trial by combat when the charges are officially made. King Tommen receives counsel from the High Sparrow regarding the gods and love of his mother. Daenerys is taken to the places where the wives of dead Khals go and discovers she may yet be judged for having left for so long. Varys convinces a woman to tell him who has been supporting the Sons of the Haarpi and Tyrion is faced with a conundrum over facing multiple enemies outside the city. Arya trains while blind and is eventually given her sight back. Sam and Gilly continue to sail toward his old home while Ramsey is greeted by Smalljon Umber who offers him two captures for an alliance. The two are Osha and Rickon Stark. In the north, Jon executes Olly and Alliser and gives his cloak to Tollett saying his watch is over.
Just when you thought we were going to get more insight as to what Ned found in that tower with his sister, we’re denied such knowledge for another episode. That’s okay, every fan knows the code and has already settled on how the scene will go down, we’re simply going through formalities. And that’s somewhat of a troublesome game we have to play as season six pushes into it’s blurry horizon. Everyone talks about the snow, but winter has barely been a thing as of late. With the exception of Jon and Ramsey’s scenes, tonight’s episode was a bit of a bust. Young Bran seeing the truth of Ned’s fight against Arthur does shed an interesting light on his father as he commented that the story he remembered was quite different, but that goes to show how early Ned’s righteous rescue of Lyanna had already changed to keep the darkest secrets the Stark’s would ever know. The television writing is bleeding through more and more as instead of being captivated by speeches, stories, and just raw performances, we’re shuffling through scenes, re-hashing old dialogue and hitting routine beats that attempt to remind us why certain characters are where they are. It’s not necessarily lazy, it’s just they’ve been writing themselves into a corner and aren’t taking any new risks except in very specific situations.
The north continues to be the only spot in Westeros where plot is evolving. Here, we discover Ramsey now has Rickon in his possession, which is an interesting new development and puts 3 Starks within close proximity namely Sansa, Rickon, and Jon. We might actually get a small family reunion yet and quite frankly, that’s all I want this season is for these siblings to see each other again. Ramsey needs his vices and Osha and Rickon will fulfill those needs as he’ll likely torture, subdue and ravage until he gets who he truly wants, Sansa. But now that Jon is done with the north, rightly so, he can finally center on Winterfell, assuming that’s his first target. It’s a solid state of mind to put the fans in and I for one will look forward to see this particular part of the map develop.
The flashback with Ned and Arthur marks the only real fight scene in the episode, but what a great one it was. Arthur, who’s legendary swordsmanship took out every soldier and had Ned defeated before he was stabbed in the back Reed. Bran looked frustrated to see how it went down, but that goes to show that stories need epic endings and Ned was never going to make it seem like he was desperate to get to his sister. After all, how else would he want his children remembering him. I wasn’t expecting Ned to appear so young, but images in our minds play tricks on age sometime. It was a great scene that further brought us Bran’s abilities which includes his calling out with Ned looking back in wonder. Great moment.
Certain plot arcs have to continue going through the motions and Dany is one of the lowest that we have to put up with. She’s plainly in defiance over where she’s at and no amount of titles is going to win her any favors. While it’ll be interesting to see just how Jorah and Daario get her out of that mess, it’s not something I’m clamoring to see right now. If she somehow turns the tides and gets the entire dothraki horde to follow her back to Meereen that will be something to behold, but I’m not holding my breath on that happening quite yet.
At King’s landing, we discover much of what we already know, that Gregor is indeed the knight as that Cersei wants to start her process of taking out those who have wronged her, yet we also see the High Sparrow give council to Tommen which may begin to divert his ability to rule squarely through his mother’s vision. It really doesn’t matter where this thread goes, it’s so far removed from the north that it has no stock on what’s to come. I want to see Margaery get out of this alive, but she’s hardly been in any scenes which makes me think this won’t be relevant until past the halfway point in the season. This trial by combat is what we’re leading up to, but odds are something will happen and Gregor won’t come out ontop. What’s that? Clegane-bowl, get hype? Yeah yeah, moving on.
The fight scene was fun to watch. Two-handed fighters mean they’re going to rock a group of people and Arthur showed that handiwork in epic fashion. The goal was to instill in us that Rheager put his strongest soldier as a guard for the tower that held Lyanna. Why do that? Of course it’s to protect her and their child of course, little Jon Snow. And unless there’s a darker more cruel twist in the works, that’s what we’re waiting for. What? Lyanna had twins and Meera Reed is Jon’s sister? Now that’s just silly. Good fight scenes and I’ll always gravitate toward them more if they’re done with care.
I think it was important for Jon to return with nearly the same demeanor. He shouldn’t be changed so dramatically that he becomes a different character, consciously he’s done with the night’s watch and what they represent as what he needs to do requires him to lead elsewhere. And once more, he swung the sword and passed the sentence on those who killed him. He and Olly shared no words but looks that told him forgiveness is pointless, and we’re fine sailing right past this turn of events. Jon is ready to leave and so are we. He’s going to be moving this plot forward with insane momentum, and I can’t wait to see what he does next with Davos and Melisandre by his side.
Bran is witnessing moment after moment of Ned’s early life which means, by the next turn we should be seeing Sean Bean reprise his role. It makes sense and it would be a welcome reward for putting up with so much death in this show that to see Ned in his prime would be a great olive branch for us. The raven keeping Bran from going in the tower was a slap to our face as we know Bran is ready to see what happened, but apparently we’re not yet. Sour writers keeping us waiting a bit longer I see.
With Arya gaining her sight back, we’re likely to see her go through more rigorous training but this time, she’ll be more confident and able. One scene that has yet to transpire from book 5 is Sam crossing paths with Arya. While Jon is never mentioned it’s still a cool moment to witness and I hope they keep it in for the sake of continuity and fun moments where characters actually cross paths on a show like this.
In case anyone forgot, that was Shaggydog’s head that Umber brought in to convince Ramsey that Rickon is a Stark. Ghost, Nymeria, and Summer remain, but what does this mean that another direwolf is dead in the eyes of prophecy and signs? It shouldn’t mean much in terms of literal translations but if Sansa was married twice losing her Stark name to a point, Rickon could be put in a dangerous game, one that I’m hoping involves Jon. We’ll see.
Qyburn attempting to buy off Varys’s “little birds” with sweets will play out later in the season, whether they go to kill Qyburn himself or Pycelle is up in the air, but they will come back and murder someone in King’s landing of note. In the book it was Pycelle on the orders of Varys but I can see it playing out differently on the show.
Tyrion played bored rather well. He doesn’t have anyone to bounce his traits with and save for Varys even their dialogue is getting stale on their own. These guys aren’t being utilized correctly. They’re not military strategists, they can’t rule Meereen effectively in Dany’s absence which leaves the question of what’s going to happen to them if they don’t solve this problem of the Haarpi? Maybe it’s time Tyrion learned to ride a dragon after all.
7 out of 10. Jon’s return came and the first thing he did was take out Alliser and his men for what they did and now he’s ready to move on. Beyond his scenes and Bran’s flashback of Ned, GOT presented nothing crazily new or risk-worthy that will get us talking for the entire week. The excitement is wearing off and will stay that way until some truly monumental shifts are seen. New character interactions need to occur, battles need to be waged and the white-walker invasion needs to happen. It doesn’t have to be the final season, they can storm wall and bring with them the hell of winter now, that would certainly uplift this slow pace we’ve seen. It’s still early in season 6 but the truth is that’s no excuse anymore. They have us all guessing and playing on old theories that have yet to be refuted, it’s time to start paying them off. Let Jon wield that blade of fire, that’ll be a start. Thanks for reading.
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