After the shock of last week’s episode, it makes sense that this week we saw more moving people around than big revelations. To be fair, there were a few shocks still in store (…or were there?) but mostly it was a night of new information, scene setting, and catching up with old a few characters that no one really missed. And some of the best looking undead butt cheeks you’ll ever see. It should go without saying but, spoilers below.
We go straight back to immediately after the last episode ended, and Davos finding zombie Jon sitting up and probing his own stab wounds in the nude. By the way, this is the FIRST TIME we’ve seen Kit Harington’s actual naked body in this show. When they shot the skinny dipping scene with Ygritte he had a broken ankle and a body double was brought in to actually jump into the pool. Truly something worth celebrating (or not, according to Giantsbane, but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt). Upon seeing the newly risen Jon Snow, Melisandre has recovered her faith and I’m amazed she doesn’t start offering to burn people for him right there and then. Davos, though, is there to be the voice of reason. Or at least a voice reassuring him that yes, this is totally weird, but let’s make the best of it. Despite his best efforts, it doesn’t look like Jon’s going to be able to assimilate back into the Night’s Watch. From the stares he gets as he walks across the courtyard of Castle Black, to the knowledge that he was killed by his own brothers, it’s unlikely that he could ever truly feel at home at the Wall again.
Then we get what everyone has been hoping for: a chance to watch Sam get really seasick and explain to Gilly that when the Citadel says “no girls” they really MEAN “no girls” unlike the fast and loose brotherhood of the Night’s Watch and their modern ways. So Gilly is going to live with Sam’s family, and intends to present Little Sam as their newest relation. Oh look, now we’re all caught up in much less time with no barfing, wasn’t that nice?
Once we all wake back up from that, it’s off to a vision with Bran and the Three Eyed Raven, now at the Tower of Joy observing a young Ned Stark as he prepares to confront Arthur Dayne and Oswell Whent. Gerold Hightower should be there as well, but that is a minor issue. Even knowing that Ned will survive, the ensuing battle is incredibly tense to watch. We see how dangerous it was, how likely it was that Ned would die there, how he must have gone knowing that. He was right, if it weren’t for Howland Reed sneaking up behind Dayne to stab him in the back, Ned would have died long before the events of the series. But that’s enough of the past for one episode, and we’re brought back as a woman’s scream brings Ned inside the tower. But not before it looks like he hears Bran yell his name.
The next two scenes are mostly about giving us information that will be handy later; that Daenerys is not necessarily safe with the Dothraki since she did not return to the Dosh Khaleen immediately after Khal Drogo’s death, and that Varys is very good at his job and has managed to tease out the true source of support for the Sons of the Harpy. None of this is surprising, but I’m assuming that it will be important later in the season. The information that Tyrion needs a new drinking buddy is probably not.
Back at King’s Landing Qyburn has taken over a flock of Varys’s “little birds” and the Lannister twins are swanning about attempting to intimidate people who mostly find them underwhelming. Fortunately, Zombie Gregor is there to keep them at least reasonably polite. Except Olenna, but that goes without saying. We also see that the Septon is working his quiet magic on Tommen, who has approximately 10 minutes of actual spine in him and the strength of it drops off sharply after about minute 5. I get that he’s young, and has been given no reason to have a strong sense of self, but he might need to start developing one and soon. If he wants to survive the season anyway.
At the House of Black and White Arya is in the final stages of training which… look exactly like all her other stages of training. Every time I think this story is moving forward, it’s just the same “hit Arya with sticks and make her lie” thing again. And at this point she’s not even lying in the Lying Game. But she gets her sight back so at least she’ll probably be slightly better at fending off the sticks in the next stage of this very important and mysterious training.
In Winterfell the young Lord Umber comes to offer his allegiance to Ramsay due to the threat of Wildlings coming down from the North. He refuses to kneels or make any other gestures of subservience, but does present Ramsay with Rickon and Osha. As well as a large head that could be a direwolf but kind of looks like a bad Halloween mask. I’ve seen people speculating that this is a ruse, and the head of a regular wolf rather than Shaggydog, but unlike the books the show isn’t a fan of those sort of cons. Think about how many we’ve speculated about before, and how few of them ever worked out. In fact, I think all the double crosses on the show came straight from the books. I’m particularly not thrilled to see either Rickon or Osha with Ramsay, because the show seems to delight a bit too much in his violence. I will understand if the characters are going to die for plot reasons. I do not want to see them (especially Rickon, who should still be younger than 10 at this point) tortured or maimed. Maybe that makes me weak, but mostly I’m just tired of watching Ramsay be a psychopath. We get it.
At Castle Black Jon undertakes his last act as a Brother of the Night’s Watch; executing his assassins. Afterwards he hands his cloak to Edd, gives him the Castle, and says “my watch is ended.” We know from previews that it’s very likely that the Battle of the Bastards is coming this season, we know that Ramsay having Rickon is a good set up for the Pink Letter, and Sansa is headed for Castle Black. I’m a little surprised that with all that going on, Jon has abandoned his post. We don’t know for sure that he’s LEAVING Castle Black yet, that place has been hosting a whole lot of people who aren’t members of the Night’s Watch lately, but it does take him out of a position of power just when it seems like the show and books are setting it up to have him use it. Will he even still feel a sense of connection to Winterfell, or Sansa and Rickon? I am curious to see where Jon Snow goes from here, and how all the Northern threads will come together.
Next week we get to see Sansa again, things are heating up for Margaery in King’s Landing, and Dany’s lovelorn duo look like they’re enacting a rescue mission.