Another week, another Game of Thrones. This week sees the return of some old characters, our first meeting with a character we had only heard about, and the introduction of new characters… because if there’s anything this show needs, it’s definitely more characters.

HBO

HBO

Episode 2: Home
Written by Dave Hill
Directed by Jeremy Podeswa

Recap:

Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven are both white-eyed and dreaming about Winterfell in the past. Bran watches Ned and Benjen spar until the arrival of Lyanna disturbs them. Ned is about to challenge stable boy, Willis, to a fight until Old Nan (or maybe Young Nan) breaks it up to take Willis away. Bran is awoken and is watched by The Artist Formerly Known as Willis, or Hodor, and the tree woman. Bran and the Raven discuss the danger of staying in flashbacks and Bran is carried to see Meera, who seems to think they are wasting their (and possibly our) time with the Raven. The tree woman tells her to persevere as Bran is important.

At the Wall, Thorne’s deadline is up but Snow’s Crew choose to fight instead. As the door is broken in the Wildlings show up and there is a brief fight, but the Watch decides to surrender once they see the Giant pick up a human being and smash him against a wall. Edd confronts Thorne and has him and the rest of Snow’s killers locked up.

A man tells a filthy story about Cersei in King’s Landing and for the punchline Robert Strong smashes his head against a wall. Strong leads Cersei to Mycella’s funeral but is barred by guards who tell her that King Tommen has forbidden her from leaving her rooms. There is a moment where it seems like a bloodbath might be in the offering, but she stands down.

At the funeral, Tommen laments his weakness to Jamie and explains that he is not locking Cersei away as punishment, he’s doing it because he’s ashamed of himself and doesn’t want her seeing him. Jamie sends him to see her as the High Sparrow arrives. Jamie threatens him but the Faith Militant arrive, showing that the peaceful Sparrow’s talk of peace and religion is backed up by force.

Tommen goes to see Cersei and apologises for his weakness. She says forgiving words but is ice cold until he asks her to help him lead. And then her mood improves significantly.

Tyrion drinks and talks with his council of Varys, Missandei and Grey Worm. The Masters and Slavers have consolidated power and are taking back their previously liberated cities. Also the dragons are not eating. Tyrion has the bright idea to free the dragons and though they are still terrifying they allow him to release them, showing off a keen intelligence at the same time.

Poor blind Arya receives her daily ass whooping. Jaqen arrives and offers her comfort and food and her vision back if she can tell him her name, but Arya repeats that she has no name. Impressed, Jaqen leads her away from her begging bowl.

Roose Bolton receives the news of the deaths of the Theon/Sansa hunting party but also of the birth of his son. Ramsey congratulates him and then stabs him to death… because of course he does. He then summons Walda and the new baby to see him. He takes them to kennels and feeds them to the hounds… because of course he does. Now he is Lord of Winterfell and his first act is to attack the Wall and kill any Starks or Snows he can find.

Sansa and Brienne discuss Arya before Theon reveals that he plans to return to his home.

Where King Balon and Yara discuss their losses and failed invasions past and present. Balon storms out into a storm and begins to cross the worst rope bridge ever. He is met by a hooded figure who reveals himself to be Balon’s brother before throwing Balon to the rocks below.

At his funeral Balon is wrapped in seaweed and sent out to sea. Yara swears revenge as the new queen but is told that first the Kingsmoot must vote on who ascends to the throne.

Davos visits Melisandre (now young again). They talk about Snow and Davos asks her if she can resurrect him but she isn’t too keen to help, her faith waning as it is. Davos convinces her to try. She washes Snow’s wounds, cuts, burns, and washes his hair and lays her hands upon him while saying magic words. Nothing happens so Davos and co leave the room.

And then Jon Snow wakes up.

Review:

As discussed last week the awkward thing with these early season episodes is that a lot of material is dedicated to set up. As the show’s world has grown and its roster of characters increased, it has been forced to ration its time with each place and person quite significantly. Tonight’s episode felt like more place setting for future plots and some of the scenes, like Sansa and Theon’s, felt too slight to leave any sort of mark.

I’m thinking real meat of this season is going to come from the King’s Landing plot. Our eyes are constantly being directed at Ramsey Bolton as the main villain, but my feeling is that the High Sparrow is going to be a lot more chicanerous and outrightly villainous this season based on his appearance tonight. He understands the power he wields and he understands the shield that being weak and humble gives him. Tonight felt like the first time we saw his true face as he smirked at Jamie before leaving the sept, his army keeping watch for him.

As for Ramsey, he continues to be an awful character who does awful things, but he’s reliable. There’s no chance of him pulling a Darth Vader and repenting. Ramsey is evil for the long haul and a good, almost pantomime villain is what the show needs, giving us someone traditionally bad we can boo and hiss while the other shades of grey baddies continue to win and lose our affections.

Bran’s back and that’s either pretty good news or the worst news. His plot, which never intersects with anyone else’s, has not been a highlight of the show, but his ability to give us flashbacks of young Starks and the fact that Max Von Sydow’s with him to keep the place classy bodes well for the future of this plotline.

Finally, we knew it was coming but seeing Jon Snow back is great news. I worried that the episode would end with Melisandre’s failure meaning that Snow remained dead for another few episodes but no, he’s back and let’s see what a new man death has made him.

Body Count: 7 (though maybe I should subtract one for the fact that someone came back to life)

Nudity Count: 0

Best line: “I’m here to help. Don’t eat the help” – Tyrion.

Predictions for next week: Sex, violence, characters who are sorta like Vikings, the triumphant return of my beautiful Stannis, and the fates of Sam and Gilly.