Welcome back Game of Thrones! I was beginning to fear that the sixth series would end up being really boring and faff about, leading up to one big climax and that the halcyon days of seeing good episodes at were over. Luckily this episode could not have proved me more wrong. With the exception of ‘Hardhome’, this episode was better than any episode in Series 5. It truly made the most of every scene and actually understood that we do not need to see every character every episode. Furthermore, we got into what Game of Thrones does best: sudden deaths and plot twists.
By far the best part of the episode was the truly remarkable ending. Having Melissandre bring Jon Snow back to life was not unexpected, but it did not make it any less awesome. We have seen Melissandre be brought pretty low, with Stannis being killed and all, believing the Lord of Light had forsaken her. Rather than dressing lightly as she usually had done due to the magic of R’hllor keeping her warm, she is now in furs and slumped by the fireplace, not knowing what she could do. Of all of the people to shake her out of it, it had to be Davos Seaworth: the man who hated her, tried to kill her, who doubts her God. He had to be the one to tell her to pull herself together. This works all the more when you understand Davos’s character. It was not the magic that scared Davos, it was the extremism, the burning of the Seven and her penchant for burning people alive, that made him upset. Now that her magic could be used for good, Davos was happy to use it and it was great for him to show that depth of his character. He understood that this was something she could do, that it was not governed by some higher power. The best part was that this all worked. The Red Woman was willing to heal Jon, she carried out the ritual and he came back to life. It also leaves a lot of questions. Is the magic something that is within Melissandre as Davos thinks it is, or was this the actions of R’hllor? Was this even her own magic, it could well be that Jon had warged into Ghost and just found a way back at the same time? However, there is no doubt that the ending was great to see and it is good they got on with bringing Jon back and getting Melissandre to be a formidable character again.
I also really enjoyed the flashback we saw of Winterfell, of a young Ned, Benjen and Lyana alongside a talking Hodor. Given that the peaceful Winterfell was something that was seen at the start of the show, it was great to see how it looked so many years ago. Back when Ned was not the Lord, but rather a child. The fact that we are seeing flashbacks makes me wonder what else we will see in the past. Maybe we will see who is Jon’s mother? We can see also why Bran wants to stay there, after all the horror he has seen he would prefer to see the realm and his life when it was at peace.
As usual, Tyrion is on point in his scene in Mereen. He knows that he does not have many options and therefore chooses to release the dragons. What is very interesting is that none of the characters who have been near the dragons know the first thing about dragonlore. Daenerys may be a Targaryen but she had no one to tell her about what the dragons of old were like. Neither Jorah, Barristan, Daario, Missandei, or Grey Worm could really help her out either. However, Tyrion is a very well read person and has understood dragonlore, realising that chaining the dragons was a bad idea and would hurt their growth. Furthermore, he understood that the dragons were intelligent creatures and was willing to bet that they would not kill him immediately. If he is able to recruit the dragons then he will have a lot more power and that was a gamble he was willing to take. Furthermore, I really enjoyed his discussion of how much he loved dragons in his youth. In the books he in fact dreamt of dragons (which has led people to believe he is part Targaryen but I am not getting into that right now) and he might even get to ride one, which would be awesome (even non-Valryians can ride dragons according to booklore).
Finally, I really enjoyed the retaking of the wall and particularly Wun Wun’s actions in regard to that. The moment where he got hit by a crossbow bolt and then smashed that ranger against the wall was great as it immediately killed any need for battle. Everyone saw that they would be utterly hopeless against Wun Wun. Unlike the fight against Mag, where he was constrained by the cave and finally taken out by 4 rangers (who also died), this was open quarters where a giant’s size could make him almost unbeatable. It allowed for a speedy resolution of the mutiny and for our favourite giant to show what a badass he was (as if we needed any more reminding after ‘Hardhome’).