“What Is Dead May Never Die”

Courtesy of HBO

Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 2 recap and ramifications (SPOILERS ABOUND).

Last warning, if you did not watch last night’s episode of Game of Thrones do not continue reading.

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OK, well, that was something.  Where to begin.  Roose Bolton and Balon Greyjoy were murdered by family members in symmetrical coups, Arya’s beggar days seem to be behind her, Tyrion drank, knew things and charmed dragons, Ser Robert Strong SMASHED! Wun Wun really SMASHED!! Tommen’s a momma’s boy once again, Sansa is right where we left her -sans Theon-, and Melisandre got her groove back: Jon Snow is breathing the harsh northern air once again.

Bran, Lyanna and Hodor (Wyllis)

It’s been a minute since we’ve spent any time with our warging, green-seeing, tree-dwelling friend Bran, and it seems his skills, under the tutelage of the Three-Eyed Raven, have increased dramatically.  In yet another scene that significantly bolsters the validity of the L+R=J theory, through one of Bran’s green-seeing expeditions we are introduced to Ned Stark’s little sister Lyanna.  The Lyanna sighting is huge; it opens the door for a Tower of Joy flashback, which, if the trailer is to be believed, will be happening next episode and could finally cement a long-held theory regarding Jon Snow’s parentage.  Moreover, Hodor, the stable-boy formerly known as Wyllis, had a complete vocabulary a few decades prior, which leads us to the following questions:  What event sparked his one-word vocabulary?  And more importantly, what does the word Hodor mean? Lastly, Meera Reed is still understandably upset and also, it seems, bored, by her current locale.  In her conversation with Bran the inevitability of war is once again mentioned.  It seems the winter is (still) coming—eventually.

Ramsey, Roose and Some Baby-Eating Dogs

Now on to the perpetual, comic relief of the story: the Boltons.  Ramsey Bolton, fresh upon learning that his new baby brother is a boy (and thus a legitimate heir,) murders his Father and seizes power of his house.  With a young Lord Harald Karstark standing behind him, Ramsey rather emotionlessly shivs his father in a beautifully karmic moment.  Roose Bolton, for those who forgot, played a key role at the Red Wedding.  And the movement itself, the half-hug/stab perfectly mirrors the way Roose finished off the Young Wolf Robb Stark, as The Rains of Castamere echoed through halls of House Frey.  Sure, it would’ve been great to see Jon or Arya take out Roose, but this’ll do. The flayed-man patriarch led a life all but defined by violent overthrow.  It’s fitting that the way Roose Bolton led his life, and the methods he imparted to his son, was the direct cause of his death.  Betrayal begets betrayal; the student has become the teacher, the Padawan, the Jedi.

Roose never cared for the rules, he was incredibly self-centered and his spawn, even more so.  Ramsey, much like Ellaria and the Sand Snakes in episode 1,  saw an opening and took it.  But, for all of the horrific things that Roose did, he was not a pure-blood sociopath like his son – he understood the game.  Ramsey is phenomenal at murder, but his skills as an army commander have yet to be seen.  He has the Karstarks and their sizable force, and apparently, he thinks he also has a chance at rallying the Manderlys and the Umbers – two families who have been steadfast Stark loyalists for decades upon decades.  It seems young Ramsey may have overestimated the popularity of House Bolton. A house with a growing list of serious enemies, including the Lannisters, Starks, Tullys and many other northern families, as well as, very shortly, the Freys, due to the whole feding Walda and her bouncing baby boy to his very well-trained dogs.  Game of Thrones has never shied away from child murder, but still, every time they do it it surprises me a bit.  This move by Ramsey is a brutal one, but a smart one; and it’s another move that serves to foreshadow the L+R=J theory.  IE. Ramsey kills a child with a legitimate claim to the thrown, a tactic Robert Baratheon was known to be a fan of.  Parallels galore.  Could this be the beginning of the end for the Boltons? We all hope so.  Although, Ramsey is one of the only truly vile, human villains left in the story; in an odd way, I’d kinda miss him.

A Girl is No One

From there we move south-east to the Free City of Braavos, where Arya Stark, still sightless, continues to be harshly Miyagi’d by Jaqen Haqar.  It’s clear this is all part of the training to be a faceless assassin, but much of what she is learning is entirely antithetical to what Arya wants to achieve.  This is all by design.  There is a clear conflict within her training.  To succeed as a faceless assassin, she must lose herself entirely and no longer be Arya Stark of Winterfell.  But to enact the revenge she seeks, to right the wrongs perpetrated upon her family, she must still hold on to her identity and her pain.  The hope is that she learns all she can from this training, but still, somehow keeps Arya Stark hidden somewhere.  At this point she’s still blind, but no longer homeless, so, she’s moving in the right direction.

Theon’s Going Home Just in Time for a Kingsmoot!

In a touching scene, Theon Greyjoy leaves Sansa, Brienne and Pod to venture back to the Pyke.  Theon claims he’s unworthy of forgiveness.  He believes that no matter the level to repentance, the damage has been done.  It’s hard to really disagree with that; he’s made some truly horrible decisions.  But damn, that boy has been through a lot.  All the best Reek.

When Theon returns to the Iron Islands he will find himself right in the center of a Kingsmoot.  Theon’s father, Balon Greyjoy -the King of the Iron Isles- was thrown off a rather shoddy bridge by his brother Euron.  It’s the third violent overthrow we’ve seen this season, and definitely the most literal interpretation of the phrase.  It remains to be seen weather or not the show’s Euron Greyjoy is a direct version of the Euron (AKA Crow’s Eye) from the books, or a composite character encompassing Euron and his younger brother Victarion.  Either way, Euron or Euron/Victarion is a venerable bad-ass. He may be a relatable warrior with a troubled past, or a calculating lunatic on par with Ramsey Bolton.  We’ll have to wait and see which direction they go—I’d put money on the latter.

As Balon is sent out to sea in his seaweed cocoon, Yara is all set to take her seat on the throne when her uncle Aeron informs her that a Kingsmoot will determine who is to run the Iron Isles henceforth.  Now a Kingsmoot is essentially a contested convention for the Iron Born.  It’s a wild affair in which every candidate for the crown will make his/her claim to the throne and the people of the Iron Isles will decide upon the next ruler.  Theon has the most legitimate claim, but he is a broken man, with only 1/1000th the charisma and drive of Euron.  Yara also has claim, but being a woman in Pyke puts her at a significant disadvantage.  Get ready for the Moot!

Tyrion’s Wine-Induced Leap of Faith

Lending more credence to the whole, Tyrion is a Targaryen theory, the former Hand of the King was somehow not burnt to ash while freeing Rhaegal and Viserion from their chains.  It was an intense scene and one that surely keeps the Tyrion/dragon blood connection on everyone’s mind.  Prophecy speaks of the three heads of the dragon, which most believe to signify three riders.  It’s looking more and more like, Daenerys, Jon Snow and Tyrion will fulfill these roles.  One other thing to ponder—could Bran potentially warg into a dragon?

He’s Back

We’ve been hoping and speculating for months—years for us book readers.  We were 98% convinced he’d be back, but with Game of Thrones you never really know until it happens.  Well…it happened.  I, for one, was absolutely stunned.  I was not stunned in the least that it occurred, but that it occurred so early on.  I was certain they would drag this out for most, if not all, of the season.  But, in the end we were only without our lustrous-haired Lord Commander for one episode.  When Jon suddenly gasped and his eyes shot open, I was thrilled.  It was like watching the Red Wedding in reverse; my jaw hit the floor with hope this time rather than horror.  This show has consistently crushed the dreams of its viewers, so it was really nice to get a win.  I’m not, however, going to let them lull me into false complacency.

Valar morghulis.

The seeds for Jon’s resurrection were planted when we saw the Red Priest, Thoros of Myr resurrect Beric Dondarrion in season three.  Melisandre had never performed a resurrection herself, but it was clear that worshipers of the Lord of Light possessed this power.  So the question is, what now?  Is Jon just back, strong as ever, free of his Night’s Watch vows and ready to ride to victory at Winterfell?  Is he ready to be the Ice in the Song of Ice and Fire and lead the ground forces against the ever-growing army of the dead?  Will his strength be decreased as it was for Beric Dondarrion?  Will Sansa reach the Wall and reunite with her current half-brother and likely future cousin?

A huge answer leads only to more questions.

Still though, it’s good to have you back Jon.

A stellar episode through-and-through – top five overall.

Satellite Thoughts:

  • Jaime is turning out to be a solid FatherUncle
  • Cersei has another child-puppet at her disposal.
  • Ser Robert Strong is, well, strong.
  • Still no Sam or Littlefinger.
  • Davos.  The MVP of every episode.  The Onion Knight >.
  • All praise Max Von Sydow and Jonathan Pryce.

 

by Jesse Mechanic

 

 

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