“It is beautiful beneath the sea; but if you stay too long, you’ll drown.”
I always like to begin my television episodes reviews with a quote in an attempt to encapsulate the chapter of the story and the theme of the episode. If any other reviewer does the same, it will be hard to avoid utilising the above quote from the Three-Eyed Raven because apart from the episode title, ‘Home’ leaves all the journey and destination talk that is the core of Game of Thrones and focuses on the place its characters (and it’s audience) want to be.
Tyrion wanted to escape his home for years and now he finds himself in a position of power he thought was only a fantasy. The sequence between him and the dragons establishes his transformation from the intelligent drunkard to the man who wants to help however he can (while still also drinking, let’s be fair). While Daenerys does not appear in the episode, her decisions are still heavily impacting Meereen, and Tyrion takes his first steps into remedying the situation. While it is clear that the audience (including me) wants to see the Meereen crew fly over to Westeros and kick some ass, they are still in need of some lessons in ruling. Tyrion not only places his trust in the dragons to not burn him and then eat him, in that order, but he also starts to trust himself as he releases them from the captivity placed on them by their mother. The ramifications might be drastic, but they also might be very beneficial. Either way, it will be another lesson in ruling.
I have read all the books that make up A Song of Ice and Fire and being in this uncharted territory of season six of Game of Thrones makes one thing very clear, the show is setting up its endgame. Last week’s premier began moving the pieces into position and this week continues to do that by establishing the people who will move these pieces around the board. Roose Bolton’s death surprised me but it really shouldn’t have because it has been made obvious that Ramsay Bolton is the man who will incite action in the North. His treatment of Theon and Sansa, the latter (in my humble opinion) straying unnecessarily from the books, cemented his place firmly on the villain side raising him above the man who helped to ensure the Red Wedding. The North will be the first place the army of the dead will reach and placing it in turmoil will awaken the rest of Westeros to the real threat outside of their petty squabbles for the Iron Throne.
The Lannisters have had that position since season two and it has not brought them any peace, especially Cersei who is down to her last child and attempting to regain her footing at King’s Landing after her shame walk. Having a mountainous zombie for a bodyguard is a step in the right direction but with Margery still in captivity and Tommen humbling himself to his mother, Cersei is slowly but surely recovering her standings to fend off The High Sparrow. The Faith Militant are a group who do not have a home, they wander the city and help where needed but as The High Sparrow faces off against Jamie over his daughter’s body, it is clear that is their advantage. Serving under the Seven Gods has injected a sense of righteousness to their coup and as they revel in their control, they do not see the bigger picture.
Not many people know of the bigger picture, but that will be the titular song of ice and fire and Bran, Meera and Hodor return to let us know how the past will affect the future. While finding out Hodor’s real name is Willis (AND HE TALKS!) is all that I needed from the return of Bran, as a book reader, I have been the most excited for his return because the mythos of George R. R. Martin’s world is the basis for most speculations for fans. The Winterfell flashback that opens this episode is only the second flashback the TV series has done, Cersei’s childhood prophecy from episode one of last season being the first. While that memory immediately informed Cersei of her future, Bran’s journey with The Three-Eyed Raven will use this season to inform the audience of the future of Westeros, and for non-book readers out there, it is some really awesome stuff.
Speaking of awesome stuff, I should probably get to the reason you are here and why the internet is having a field day. KINGSMOOT BABY!!! Ah, the politics of the Iron Islands, filled with pirates and brothers and water, it will never not be fascinating. (This is actually only half sarcasm) The death of Balon Greyjoy occurs during this episode for a few important reasons. One being to remind the audience that the Iron Islands are still a thing and that they will play a role in things to come. The second is to set up the Kingsmoot, a term that fans of the show will have no idea what it means but, sets up the politics of the Iron Islands.
But the third reason is arguably the most important and ties itself into last week’s reveal of old lady Melisandre. Jon Snow is too important to the story to be dead, which is one of the reasons his death in the books never felt final and with the arrival of Melisandre moments before his death last season, it was set up that she may play a part in his revival. What David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have done in this season so far is establish the forces that would help bring Jon back to life. Balon Greyjoy’s death was set up early on in the series in order to tie up some interesting loose ends. Remember Gendry? Bastard son of Robert Baratheon who was taken to Melisandre so she could use his blood to kill the three kings standing in Stannis’ way to take the Iron Throne. Well, just as Melisandre is facing a crisis of faith, the last of her victims finally meets his fate as he falls off the bridge at the hands of his brother. Her magic and faith in the Lord of Light is confirmed for the audience a mere few minutes before she brings back Jon Snow to the realm of the living.
Jon Snow wakes up in Castle Black, the place he has called his home for over five seasons now, and the end game has now truly begun.