Having picked up the pieces from the end of season five over the last few episodes, season six - and the new Game of Thrones, that belongs almost as much to Dan Benioff and D. B. Weiss as it does to George R. R. Martin - is really kicked off in this episode.
Well, this was much more like it. The first couple of episodes of this season were all about moving people into place and getting through the inevitable resurrection of Jon Snow, and even last week's was still primarily picking up the pieces and shifting them around. This week, though, things really started to happen.
I have to admit, I was weeping when Sansa and Jon hugged at the beginning of this episode, having almost cheered when Sansa, Brienne and Pod appeared at the door just in time to catch Jon before he could run off somewhere else. It was nice to see Sansa and Theon reunited last season, but the circumstances were so horrible, they rather detracted from it, plus although Theon regretted betraying Robb, he had rather firmly declared himself not a Stark in season two. This is the first time two Stark siblings (to conspiracy theorists - yes, I know, just go with me here) have been in the same place since Bran and Rickon split up in season three's generally traumatic 'The Rains of Castamere', the first time Sansa has seen one of her siblings since season one's also traumatic 'Baelor', and the first time Jon has seen any of them since episode two. The scene that followed, as they talked about their childhood and acknowledged their formerly prickly relationship while celebrating the love and fondness they share anyway was really beautiful.
Not only have two of our six young heroes finally been reunited, they are moving forward as well, though their hand has been slightly forced by Ramsey Bolton. I'm not quite sure why Sansa is so sure that Ramsey has Rickon, other than plot convenience, but the audience knows it's true, so fine, whatever, let's go with it. Even if Edd - who should totally be the new Lord Commander - isn't convinced, Tormund and the people with him have been directly threatened as well, and Brienne and Pod will go where Sansa does. I'm guessing the answer to the problem will involve Melisandre as well, as long as Davos doesn't find out what really happened to Shireen, cause I think if he did he'd finish her off then and there.
Other stories took similar forward steps - things may not actually be happening in all of them quite yet, but people are starting to form more specific plans, rather than just sitting around despairing of their lot. Tyrion is getting the chance to practice politics and play the game again for the first time since season two, and Cersei and Olenna have a plan to save Margaery - a bit of a mad plan, but they have one. Theon hasn't explained exactly how he plans to make Yara queen of the Iron Islands, but it's more direction than he's had in years, and Littlefinger, the master planner, is working out how to deal with one of his plans taking an unexpected direction.
The big scene of the episode, though, is of course the triumphant return of The Unburnt at the episode's climax. We were reminded throughout the episode of Danaerys' commitment to freeing people from slavery, and while the women of the Dothraki may not have been chattel slaves, they had no more control over their lives or their bodies than if they were. The idea of Dany being spirited away by two men in the night seemed completely off, but it was hard to imagine another option. that, however, was because I had forgotten one of her titles.
Presumably with some help from Jorah and Daario, Dany steps into the fire once again and repeats her actions from the first season finale, except this time, despite the absence of baby dragons, on a much larger scale. The scene clearly mirrored that earlier scene down to the detail of Jorah kneeling before her, and acted as a statement of intent - once again, Danaerys has been re-energised and her inner fire rekindled. It was wonderful to see the Khaleesi back again (and long overdue). Now, hopefully, she'll be reunited with Drogon and things can really start to happen...
Bits and pieces
- I was really disappointed to see how quickly Osha was dispatched, having only just returned. I loved Osha, and Natalia Tena's performance. It seemed such a waste for both her and Shaggydog to be gone for so long and then killed almost immediately on their return.
- Robyn Arryn is really tall now, but just as irritating.
- Margaery's still awesome, and I'm glad poor Loras is still alive, even if he's looking distinctly worse for wear.
- The looks passing between Brienne, Tormund and Edd at the dinner table were the best awkward glances since Community's brilliant "there's no reason any of us couldn't get romantic with each other" scene.
Jon (to Sansa): If I don't watch over you, your father's ghost will come back and murder me.
Danaerys: You are small men. None of you are fit to lead the Dothraki. But I am. So I will.
Three out of four long-awaited reunions.
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Juliette Harrisson is a freelance writer, classicist and ancient historian who blogs about Greek and Roman Things in Stuff at Pop Classics.
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