I wasn't drowning. I was home.
Written by: Dave Hill
Directed by: Jeremy Podeswa
All those people theorizing in between seasons five and six that Jon Snow would be resurrected must have felt all smart and cocky after the airing of "Home": an episode whose final few seconds overshadow a busy, hard-working plot. It's tempting to launch into a full-on analysis of what Jon Snow's resurrection means for Game of Thrones' remaining story, but "Home" is not the time nor the episode to talk directly about Jon, one reason simply being is that he's still dead, up until his sudden, last-minute gasp, as Melisandre's revival ritual finally kicks in. I've always found it strange that these first two episodes of season six never give us an explicit reason as to why Davos thinks he should try to have Jon brought back. Of course he had no reason to think Jon was wrong for letting the wildlings pass through the Night's Watch gates, but up until he goes into Melisandre's bedroom and asks if it's possible for someone to be resurrected, it just never seemed like the thought of bringing Jon back was something he was thinking about. Isn't it also bizarre that he and Jon's followers decided to protect Jon's body from Alliser Thorne and his men? Like, we're they thinking they were going rip Jon's body into tiny, bite-sized pieces or have the body be burned? Well, whatever ideas that D&D decided to have implanted into the characters' heads at the start of the season, it's in the past now, so the important thing is that Jon is back, and all the pieces are in place for season six to kick it into high gear.
One of those pieces turns out to be someone we haven't seen for a while: Mr. Bran Stark! Yeah, we didn't completely forget about him, did we? Training with the Three-Eyed Raven must have aged him at least a couple years (yes, I know, Isaac Hempstead-Wright can't stop himself from getting older, despite not being present during season five), but Bran is in the process of acquiring the power he pretty much has been destined to acquire ever since he lost the ability to walk. Right now, Bran is taking a stroll down memory lane, er, well, kind of, sort of....not really. Let's just say it's not his own memory lane that he's taking a stroll down: he watches a young Ned Stark training in Winterfell, and also learns that Hodor's real name is Wylis. This story line is going to stay stuck in one location for a few more episodes, but I'm actually glad that D&D put off progress on Bran's journey until now, because scenes of him having visions would likely have grown boring over a long stretch of time. The only visions we'll see are those that will prove vital to information to be revealed later, as well as the answers to what caused Hodor to become the way he is.
Let me switch over to what's happening in Meereen, because Tyrion finally speaks something that I think a lot of people were hoping to eventually hear: a conversation about the dragons, particularly Rhaegal and Viserion (why do these two get no love?). One of Tyrion's underlying character features has been his lifelong fascination for dragons, which is why that scene of him seeing Drogon earlier in season five was so powerful. At this point, the Unsullied and Second Sons are having major trouble trying to control the Sons of the Harpy, as well as keep the Masters from regaining power in Slaver's Bay, which is why it's starting to look like the only solution is to unleash the full power of Daenerys' dragons. Tyrion heads down into the catacombs and releases Rhaegal and Viserion, and it's a surprisingly humorous scene in which Tyrion seems to think as long as he keeps talking, the dragons won't try to eat him. In fact, this whole sequence in Meereen is another golden opportunity for Tyrion to continue to prove why he is one of the funniest characters in the entire series ("That's what I do. I drink, and I know things."), and that despite his small stature, he has an incredible gift with words. If his talking is able to prevent giant, fire-breathing dragons from killing him, then he must be saying all the right things.
I am certainly making it sound like this episode is nothing but moments of joy, and, to some extent, that is true . "Home" also comes with not one, but two(!) shocking deaths that ought to signify D&D are still fully capable of the whole, "when you least expect it" surprises from George R.R. Martin's source material. Ramsay kills Roose upon hearing that Walda has given birth to a baby boy, and then later, Balon Greyjoy gets thrown to his death by a newly introduced character (haven't had one of those in a while): Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbaek). There had been friction developing between Ramsay and Roose for a while now, and while it certainly was to be expected that something awful was going to happen between the two, I doubt anyone could have envisioned that it would happen this early. The battle between the Boltons and Jon and the wildlings is still a ways away, so it would certainly have seemed likely that Roose would stick around at least up until that battle. Anyway, the best thing about the portrayal of Roose's death is that there's nothing too extreme nor showy about it; it's just a simple stab to the heart from Ramsay. It comes clean out of nowhere, and that's just the way you'd want it.
Balon Greyjoy's death is shocking as well, although not because of anything simplistic. The Iron Islands have largely been out of the loop ever since Yara failed to bring Theon home from the Dreadfort back in "The Laws of Gods and Men", so now having Balon and Yara bought back into the picture here in season six, you wouldn't think one of them would get axed off in the very episode that they come back in. I get that watching Balon crossing a bridge during a stormy night might have been a tad giveaway that he was going to get the axe, but not in his return episode after he's been absent for a full season and change. I bet the first draft of "Home"'s script for the Iron Island's went something like this: Welcome back, Balon Greyjoy!
So that leaves then one scene in King's Landing that doesn't get enough praise: the tense conversation between Jaime and the High Sparrow. In what starts out as a quiet, meditative scene between Jaime and Tommen quickly turns into a suspenseful exchange of words, as Jaime challenges the High Sparrow about his own sins, while the High Sparrow rebuffs with a short speech about strength in numbers. For a few seconds, it definitely seems like the Faith Militant are about to launch an attack on Jaime, and sometimes, that's all it takes for a scene to succeed. It's kind of amazing to think of how, way back in season one, we wanted Jaime and Cersei dead for the way they opposed the Starks. Now here in early season six? I think a lot of us hope that they take down the High Sparrow and the Faith Militant, because the latter are trying to pose as pious, virtuous servants of the Gods, whereas they instead come off as psychotic and controlling Jehovah's witnesses. I'll bet Ned Stark wouldn't have minded having them around while he was Hand of the King.
So this has been a recurring trend: jam-packed episode after jam-packed episode. "Home" continues the trend, yet despite how much plot-wise is squeezed into its 54 minute runtime, it's a well executed hour of Game of Thrones that gets season six's engine running, and boy, is that engine going to be running full throttle as the series gets closer and closer to its end game. Moments of joy and moments of pure shock make up the vast majority of "Home", and while Jon Snow's return is going to be the topic of discussion heading into the next episode, it shouldn't make us completely overlook everything else that came before. Tyrion finally coming face to face with living, breathing dragons? Bran making his first appearance since the end of season four? Roose Bolton and Balon Greyjoy's shocking deaths? I do hope a few seconds of Jon gasping for air doesn't blot these other important moments out of your mind.
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