Game of Thrones: “Home” Season 6 Episode 2 Review

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Another busy entry for season six has the show atoning for its own sins. Characters die, kingdoms are overthrown, and yet, a moment of pure joy closes the episode, ensuring that this episode goes down as a series best. In many ways, “Home” would have worked better as a season five finale than “Mother’s Mercy,” given some restructuring of that season. But as a jumpstart to season six, it’s setting up what could end up being Game of Thrones‘ best season. This show is moving at a pace faster than it has ever before, and that only points to a better series down the road.

But then, maybe it’s just the ecstasy of those closing second of the episode. A lot of action happens at the Wall for a lot of good reasons. Davos gets some wildling help just when he needs to. The Nights Watch is in disarray now, with Alliser, Olly, and the other traitors now in wildling custody. But, as with the premiere, the camera can’t seem to stay away from the corpse of Jon Snow. A broken Melisandre, questioning her powers after the two men she prophesized to rule the North fell, sits in front of the very fire she might as well know nothing about. Carice van Houten has never been better as the Red Woman than she was in “Home.” In a last ditch effort, Davos convinces her to just try and resurrect Jon. The scene is long, yet as effective as any scene of imminent danger the show has ever produced. At first, it seems inevitable, and then it doesn’t. But the damn camera lingers on Jon’s face. Melisandre and the others all leave, abandoning hope. Finally, seemingly alone to rot, Jon awakes, providing a cheer-worthy moment in an episode that needed one. Is season six meant to be a redemptive season? For Jon, one can only hope his resurrection brings the strength a force will need to take on the show’s many enemies. But at least there’s hope now.

So as Thrones fans regain a hero, they also lost a major villain. Sure, it was really only to make another villain stronger, but Roose Bolton out of the picture puts Ramsay in a position to do some serious damage, and soon. Before murdering his father, the bastard talks of marching onto Castle Black just to get Sansa back. Then he brutally murders his new little brother and his mother by literally sending them to the dogs. We didn’t necessarily need another reminder of Ramsay’s brand of evil, but now he has power to exercise.

Hopefully Sansa and Brienne reach the Wall before long, but they’re losing a member of their party. Theon plans to redeem himself and his family name and rides off to the Iron Islands. His and Sansa’s tearful goodbye was powerful. Having also gotten a sense of where he’s headed, Theon’s life is going to remain complicated. For the first time in a long while, we returned to the Iron Islands, where Yara fights for the throne with her father. But it’s not before long that they both have competition. Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbaek) murder his brother, the king, and sends the Iron Islands into disarray as well.

Following that trend, King’s Landing is hardly in a state of peace, as the Lannisters seem incapable of fighting the High Sparrow and his followers. Even Jaime shies away from a fight when the religious extremists crash his daughter’s funeral. All these massive power struggles are the center of season six so far, while the heroes lay quietly and regain their own power.

Jon and Sansa aren’t the only examples of this new path of Stark redemption. Arya and Bran get minimal screentime in “Home,” but make good use of what they get. Bran’s time with the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow) brings on visions of young Ned Stark (and Hodor), which can only offer the kind of introspection that makes a gifted boy into a powerful man. Arya, meanwhile, hasn’t given up on her own training and is, perhaps a little too quickly, accepted back under Jaqen’s tutelage. But at least the story is moving.

But one of the most interesting plays in this episode is Tyrion’s with the dragons. Being one of the few characters who would reject the Iron Throne, what role he has to play in Thrones‘ endgame is a big mystery. Making friendly with Daenerys’ two other dragons is an interesting move, but then as a boy he was told of dragons being conquerors. Might we see Tyrion riding with Dany on dragons in the show’s final hours?

“Home” was an episode that really pushed us toward this endgame in some major ways. Jon’s alive and has an army. Sansa is on her way to him, marking the first true reunion of any Starks since, uh, season one. Ramsay is now in complete control of Winterfell. These are big plays, making season six perhaps the biggest and boldest start to a season of Thrones yet. Just imagine what a ninth episode looks like in a season where its second episode is this good. Grade: A

Some Other Notes:

  • It’s amazing just how many Starks Brienne has come across over the years. Sansa getting some tidbits of information about Arya from back in season four was a wonderful moment of both melancholy and warmth.
  • So it Tyrion also “Breaker of Chains” now?
  • I’ve always liked Yara, so having her take place in whatever this Kingsmoot thing is going to be should be fun. How the return of Theon will play into that should be interesting.
  • Has Jon’s death happened in episode nine or so of season five, his resurrection could have happened in the finale and this whole year of speculation wouldn’t have been necessary. If anything, the speedy resurrection makes me dislike last year’s finale even more. But hey, season six is off to a great start.

By Matt Dougherty


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