Ned is gone. Catelyn is gone. Robb is gone. Rickon is gone. However their ghosts positively linger all through the episode, and though Jon Snow is now a kind of main the procession to his boyhood dwelling, it doesn’t make the hazard one whit much less keenly felt or make the gathering now assembling within the North any extra comfy.
Because the reverse circulation reaches its most in “Winterfell,” and characters who haven’t seen one another for the reason that second episode of season one are as soon as once more pressed collectively, all of the requisite reunions are current … however not one in every of them offers the type of emotional satisfaction that may be anticipated. They will’t. Arya Stark is just not the scabby-kneed tomboy who left the fortress holding quick to the sword Jon had long-established for her. After they meet once more within the godswood, it’s with a great deal of trepidation and mistrust slightly than whole-hearted pleasure. They will’t have that second, as a result of they’re not these folks.
They’re dwelling once more, however you may’t go dwelling once more. That is what it means to have a personality arc by which the folks concerned genuinely evolve and develop. Arya has seen far an excessive amount of to idolize Jon, irrespective of how a lot she could need to.
Much more stark (small S) is the reunion between Sansa Stark and her one-time husband-by-force, Tyrion Lannister. As soon as upon a time, in an age that appears far longer in the past than simply the years which have handed since, Sansa was pressured to marry Tyrion as a method of demeaning them each, and Tyrion did his finest to shelter his younger, unwilling bride.
Now Sansa, who within the first season was a dreamy younger lady so in love with a romantic concept of life outdoors her dwelling that she allowed herself for use as a pawn towards her household repeatedly, is the Girl of Winterfell, not simply because she’s there, but additionally as a result of she has earned it. In between her being tortured, raped, and usually handled like property by way of season after season, far too many individuals appear to not have observed that Sansa has been studying. She’s taken the exhausting core of directions that got here from her mother and father, and overlaid that willpower with classes in technique from Littlefinger, and even tougher classes from Cersei Lannister and Ramsay Bolton.
When Sansa dismisses Tyrion’s insistence that his sister goes to ship her armies north to hitch within the battle with “I as soon as thought you the cleverest man on the planet,” it’s not only a measure of how far she’s grown; it’s a measure of how far she’s come relative to everybody else. As Tyrion acknowledges, lots of people have underestimated Sansa … and numerous them are useless. However Tyrion is amongst those that are nonetheless underestimating Sansa.
Cersei could not maintain that uncomfortable chair. However she is stylin’.
At King’s Touchdown, Cersei is most positively not sending her military north—or if she is, it should solely be to assault the host at Winterfell from the rear. As an alternative, Cersei is dealing, and dealing, with Euron Greyjoy and hiring the Golden Firm, a mercenary troop from throughout the ocean headed by Harry Strickland, to bolster her forces. Each of those offers would appear to make Cersei’s place extra tenuous slightly than stronger, as both man would fairly clearly crawl over her corpse to take the throne the second it appeared remotely attainable. However then, Cersei most likely realizes this. Lots of people who’ve spent the collection underestimating Cersei are additionally useless.
The journey down south permits Sport of Thrones to bask in one other little bit of nostalgia, with a sexposition scene like these of yore: “Hey look! We are able to nonetheless put three bare ladies in a scene for no purpose in any respect!” On this case, it’s Cersei hiring Bronn to kill her brothers, each of whom he’s saved prior to now. Irony. It’s nonetheless a factor.
Oh, and Theon returns to avoid wasting his sister and the 2 sail off. Or do they? At this level, it’s actually exhausting to be all that engaged with Theon’s arc of self-redemption. If he additionally reveals up at Winterfell, don’t count on it to go in any respect neatly.
As a result of nothing actually will. Sure, all of the surviving Starks are dwelling once more. And Dany and her dragons are there. And so they’ve introduced an enormous, apparently unstoppable (and, as Sansa rightly factors out, unfeedable) power with them. However to get that power and people dragons, Jon has surrendered the fierce independence that his countrymen worth above all else. He left Winterfell a king, and returns … a what? The queen’s consort? Regardless of Daenerys’ troops encamped outdoors the partitions, the homes of the North are already starting to peel away as they notice that even profitable this battle will seemingly imply shedding their nation to only one other Huge Deal within the South.
However for all the large reunions which are crammed into this primary episode of the dwindling closing set, it’s a dialogue between Sam and Jon that basically places the entire thing on the purpose of explosion. And that dialog is Dany’s fault. A season in the past, when Daenerys Targaryen got here to Westeros and scored her first victory over Lannister forces, she took Sam’s father and brother, Randyll and Dickon Tarly, prisoner. When advised they may hold their lands and titles in the event that they knelt and acknowledge Dany as queen, they refused. So she burned them alive with dragonfire for instance to others. Numerous kneeling adopted.
For the viewer, this may increasingly have been satisfying. Daenerys demonstrated a willingness to “get her arms soiled,” her military scored a victory over some not-all-that-likable characters, and Sam’s father had been abusive to his son in a number of methods. Seeing him die regarded a superb deal like justice.
Besides Sam doesn’t see it that means. For Sam, it’s not only a matter of Dany killing his family. It’s additionally that she killed prisoners who ought to have been underneath her safety. To Sam, this makes Daenerys unworthy of being the ruler. In a rush, Sam spills out to Jon what he has realized about Jon’s true historical past and proclaims that Daenerys should step down as a result of Jon is the actual king.
This isn’t going to go properly with Dany. It won’t go over properly even with Sansa, or Arya, or any of the northern homes. It’s, actually, exhausting to consider anybody aside from Sam who will welcome this information. Pushing Jon ahead because the rightful inheritor to the throne as a result of he’s the successor to the man we killed again earlier than the start of season one in a revolt that has since touched off one million deaths looks as if an effective way to have the Evening King arrive at Winterfell to seek out that everybody is already useless.
Bear in mind again there in season one, episode one, how everybody was collectively and united? Now everyone seems to be collectively once more, however nobody is in the identical place.
And talking of everybody, barely much less in-his-own-world than final season, Bran spends the entire episode ready for somebody’s arrival. Not Jon. Not Dany. Not Tyrion. Not even dragons. Nope, on the very finish of the episode, Jaime Lannister de-hoods in the midst of Winterfell’s courtyard underneath Bran’s oh-that-burns stare. How he presumably expects his presence to be useful is an open query.
Gendry is forging dragonglass? You’ll be able to forge dragonglass? However it’s good to see him doing one thing aside from rowing, and the assembly between Gendry and Arya might be the closest factor to a “candy” reunion we get. Gendry could also be the very best remaining hope to the touch one thing human in Arya. Don’t let that boy get damage.
Arya vs. the Hound might be the closest factor to an ideal confrontation that we get from any of the reunions. “You left me for useless.” “I robbed you first.” There was an ideal steadiness on this assembly between the ideas that they may begin both stabbing one another or hugging one another. And having it finish squarely within the center was good.
Arya’s thrill at seeing a dragon for the primary time seems to be like real surprise. Good for that dragon.
Arya was the very best in episode one. She’s nonetheless the very best. Sansa stands out as the smartest … however you would most likely survive being locked in a room together with her for greater than 10 seconds.
The waterfall that Jon and Dany go to may be very, similar to the one the place Jon and Ygritte acquired busy in Jon’s first lifetime. Absolutely not by coincidence.
Tormund Giantsbane and Dolorous Edd deserve their very own present. Thoros can come if he brings his sword.
Some open questions:
Did we get a scene of Jorah Mormont assembly the brand new Girl of Bear Island? Or of Jorah being confronted over his non-welcomeness within the North? If we did, I missed it.
The place was Brienne? She’s owed at the least two shocking reunions. Make that three.
How is it that we are able to afford a dragon-flight sequence with Jon and Dany that goes on so lengthy I used to be ready for them to interrupt into “Magic Carpet Trip” from Aladdin, however we are able to’t get a number of seconds of animation for Ghost?
Simply what’s that spiral image the Evening King retains making? It seems to be a superb deal just like the Targaryen household crest, however even whether it is, what does that imply? Or possibly it’s the Karstark image, as a result of somebody took the time to make that image very apparent. And whether it is, what does that imply?