Families are shaken up and characters forced to face some bitter truths, in an episode with a welcome shift in pace
Spoiler alert: this blog is published after Game of Thrones airs on HBO in the US on Sunday night and on Foxtel in Australia on Monday afternoon. Do not read unless you have watched season six, episode two, which airs in the UK on Sky Atlantic on Monday at 9pm, and is repeated in Australia on Showcase on Monday, at 7.30pm AEST.
My watch is ended
Ive long argued that this show is at its best when it takes the time to slow down. So it proved with this smart, slow-burner of an episode, which advanced a number of plotlines while still thrumming with the threat of deep unpleasantness to come.
It was also an episode concerned with the gap between the stories we want to hear, and the bleak reality. Thus Jons resurrection should have been a moment of joy but instead was something darker and more complicated, with the man himself acknowledging that he shouldnt be alive. Like Olly, Jon too once dreamed of vengeance for his family, and as he gazed into the dead boys blue and swollen face it was obvious he was haunted by the parallels between them.
Those parallels were further reinforced by the episodes title, which was both a nod to season fours Oathkeeper in which Jon first taught Olly how to defend himself as a young Nights Watch recruit and a reference to the closing moments in which Jon, having hanged the men who killed him (and only in Game of Thrones would I ever get to write a sentence like that), renounced his time as Lord Commander of the Nights Watch, breaking his oath to his sworn brothers in the process.
What now for our man of the furrowed brow and minimalist way with words? Its possible that he just wants to have some time out, to come to terms with his unexpected resurrection and who would blame him but Id say a return home to Winterfell must be on the cards.
Speaking of which, poor Stannis will be spinning in whatever grave he lies in all he ever wanted was Jon Snow to quit the Nights Watch and give him legitimacy in the North.
And now it begins No, now it ends
Jon wasnt the only one learning some bitter truths. Bran headed back in time, on what is proving a hugely enjoyable vision quest: it should be the rule of all such TV moments that Max Von Sydow and his beautiful voice guide you through the past with cryptic statements like the past is already written, the ink is dry.
The story of the Tower of Joy and what happened outside it is one of the most iconic moments in the books, so powerful on the printed page that its hard to do it justice on screen. That said, the fight scene between Ser Arthur Dayne the Sword of the Morning, the finest knight in the land and Rhaegar Targaryens best friend and poor, outclassed Ned Stark was wonderfully done. Not least because of the dawning recognition on Brans face that there are the stories you learn from your family and then there is the bleak, brutish reality.
This wasnt the heroic story Bran had heard at his fathers knee, and Ned Stark didnt defeat Arthur Dayne because he was the better swordsman or even because he got lucky. Instead Howland Reed, father of Meera and Jojen, stabbed the Sword of the Morning in the throat from behind. They stabbed him in the back, said an anguished Bran, and it was hard not to imagine the last vestige of his childhood dreams crumbling to dust.
Similar issues were dogging Dany in Vaes Dothrak as she slowly realised that there are many stories of wives to great Khals and many tales of conquest, and they all seem to end the same way: with the men dead in their blood on the Dothraki plains, and the women serving out their days in the Dosh Khaleen. For Dany, even that cold fate may no longer be a possibility if I were her Id be anxiously scanning the skies for Drogon right now.
Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us