Relatively early in this episode, The Mountain crushes a man’s head like it’s a grape in a hydraulic press. Perhaps it wouldn’t be fair to compare the audience’s experience to that, but 55 high octane minutes of murder, resurrection and revelations certainly made for a dizzying affair. Thankfully, ‘Home’ was a great deal more impressive than the premiere, and was littered with series defining moments.
A re-introduction to Brandon Stark was a welcome reminder of his continued existence in the story. The flashback to Winterfell gave Bran a temporary antidote to his homesickness, and viewers an insight into the relationship between Lyanna and Eddard that may well be a key point in the show. We were also introduced to Hodor as a boy (whose name is Willis), a fully functioning young stable half-giant. Kristian Nairn must be begging for his character to rediscover his voice, if only to put himself in the shop window for more roles. Isaac Hempstead-Wright deserves credit for his continuing improvement as an actor in the series, too. There is a myriad of examples of child stars failing to blossom, so it’s pleasant to recognise one for their growth.
The ‘Just In Time’ trope is used so excessively in television that that the Wildlings arriving at Castle Black to save Ser Davos and the alienated men of the watch was to be expected. Nevertheless, nothing could sour Alliser Thorne’s demise, as he was maligned as a traitor, and thrown into the cells with his co-conspirator (and subject of popular #FuckOlly campaign) by potential Lord Commander Edd.
Action at King’s Landing focused largely on the emerging King Tommen. During an apology to Cersei, he outlined his intention to abandon his cowardice and become more decisive. If successful, we may witness the culling of second most deserving faction (you shouldn’t need reminding of the abysmal Sand Snakes) the faith militant. Of course, Tommen’s scenes may yet be identified as sinister foreshadowing, if Cersei tries to mould a King like her other son, Joffrey.
Danaerys’ absence in ‘Home’ meant that the focus shifted solely to Tyrion Lannister. Whilst short, this scene may yet be highly significant. There are growing murmurs among fans that Tyrion may in fact be of Targaryen ancestry, and the scene in which he appeared, to some degree, to tame the dragons can only have fanned the flames of that particular theory.
A return to Braavos sees Arya graduate from the school of beggars. Whilst this promises to be an interesting storyline, very little happened, beyond her being allowed back to the temple by Jaqan H’Ghar.
Arguably the basest character in the history of television, Ramsay Bolton did not disappoint in a marriage of regicide, patricide, infanticide, fratricide, step-matricide and just general familicide. In stabbing his father and feeding his step-mother and half-brother to his (extraordinarily well-fed) hounds, Ramsay became the only remaining Bolton, and self-appointed Lord of the North. Roose’s earlier warning – ‘If you acquire a reputation as a mad dog you’ll be treated as one’ – fell on deaf ears, and with few recognisable, powerful allies, it appears lack of wisdom and tactical nous may well be attached to his family inevitable downfall.
If not the worst, the Greyjoy plotline is arguably the least entertaining (particularly in Theon’s absence). It was a welcome moment, then, which introduced us to Euron, self-proclaimed deity and immediately more engaging character than Balon. If you’ll indulge a slight tangent, it should be noted that rope bridges need to be eliminated from film and TV. If you can build huge towers, build a proper bridge. Living by/in the sea makes you susceptible to storms, which test the tensile strength of rope bridges. All that the scene lacked was Balon falling through a damp piece of wood, and holding onto his brother for dear life with Euron saying ‘long live the King’.
Who knows what significance the event will have in the Iron Islands, but, more immediately, there are certain connotations relevant to this episode, specifically with regards to Jon Snow.
In the most predictable turn of events for a largely unpredictable show, Jon Snow was resurrected by Melisandre. If ever you need a representation of Chekov’s Gun, you should still be able to find one smoking at Castle Black. Despite appearing ‘unassuming’, the dire wolf so clearly had a role to play, from the moment it first growled angrily at the door. In fact, everybody, save for Ghost, left the room, out of disappointment or sheer boredom. Talk about a necessary plot element. With the infinite camera switching between Jon and Ghost it felt just a matter of time before both woke-up and high-fived over their shared body-clocks.
However, one of the things drummed into us throughout Game of Thrones is that life comes at a cost. This is where the resurrection becomes interesting. Thoros’s resurrections of Beric were at the expense of parts of the latter’s soul. To preserve the life of Khal Drogo, a sacrifice was necessary. Thus, we may reasonably expect Jon to make some kind of sacrifice. Unless of course, the sacrifice has already been made. During the leech scene in season 3 episode 8, Stannis requested the death of the usurper Joffrey Baratheon, the usurper Robb Stark and the usurper Balon Greyjoy. In general, the timeline of the television show has been meticulously calculated, and it is hard to believe that this is a coincidence. Given that Melisandre saw Jon Snow in the fire, it could be suggested that this final death accounted for Jon’s life.
Barring a couple of loose moments, this was a strong episode; the writers managed to cover a lot of ground, and the season continues to move forward at terrific pace. It may leave us questioning why more wasn’t covered in parts of other seasons, where the pacing was slow. However, having us on the edge of our seats, feeding our fascination for the abomination is exactly where Game of Thrones should be, and this episode will hopefully reflect the rest of the season on that front.
Dir: Jeremy Bodeswa
Scr: David Benioff, George R.R. Martin, D.B. Weiss
Cast: Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harrington, Liam Cunningham, Carice Van Houten, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams.
Prd: David Benioff, George R.R. Martin, D.B. Weiss, Duncan Muggoch, Peter Welter-Soler
Music: Ramin Jawadi
Episode Number: 2 of 10