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the verge.com

“Home”, the second episode of the sixth season of “Game of Thrones”, was definitely a crowd-pleaser. It was an incredibly busy episode filled with three or four great moments, and I have to say that I enjoyed it a lot. Interesting characters were introduced and reintroduced, two massive players in the game were killed by their kin, and the moment that everyone has been talking about over the past year finally happened.

However, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of frustration at the fact that this episode was significantly less structured than the season premiere. Scenes in which Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) talked about his intended pursuit of Sansa (Sophie Turner) were followed by the latter character appearing on screen, and scenes in which Theon (Alfie Allen) spoke about going home were juxtaposed by the appearance of the Iron Islands, but it still had a disjointed feel about it as a whole. Personally, I prefer episodes which centre on a specific storyline and have other characters appear to complement it, which was the norm in earlier seasons, so episodes like this one test my patience. Nevertheless, the plethora of exciting scenes in “Home” went some way to making up for the lack of focus, and it was a very entertaining hour of television.

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via screenrant.com

As predicted, the episode began with everyone’s least favourite character, Bran, as Isaac Hempstead-Wright did his best Undertaker impression by rolling his eyes into the back of his head and pretending to have a vision – this scene was incredibly awkward and I couldn’t take the young actor seriously. Moreover, the fact that we are going to learn more about Jon Snow’s (Kit Harington) parentage through Bran is something that I find extremely worrying, because his presence in this important moment could very well ruin it for everyone.

After this excruciatingly average opening scene the episode got back on track as Wun Wun (Ian Whyte) charged through the gates of Castle Black, allowing his fellow wildlings to capture Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale) and seize control of The Night’s Watch. This was a cool but very convenient scene, and I think that most people will have been internally cheering as they saw the mutinous men of The Night’s Watch become prisoners. Nevertheless, I felt that the execution of the scene was slightly clumsy, especially when Olly (Brenock O’Connor) charged at Tormund (Kristofer Hivju).

The episode then took a trip away from the snow to King’s Landing, where Robert Strong (The Mountain, played by Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) killed a man by bashing his head against a wall, much like Wun Wun had done in the previous scene. I enjoyed watching this moment play out, but I’m not really sure what its purpose in the episode was other than to reintroduce the character. We already know that a man of that size can kill another man with his bare hands – we saw him do it back in season four (R.I.P. Oberyn (Pedro Pascal)) – so it didn’t really need to happen.

This was followed by a scene in which Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) expressed his guilt at allowing his mother to be paraded in the streets like a common whore, which was interesting. I think we’d all like to see Tommen become more assertive in upcoming episodes, particularly because he’s probably going to die at some point (he might as well go out with a bang), so I’m glad that he’s voicing his frustration at being powerless in his position – hopefully he does something about it and doesn’t just get Cersei to do it for him.

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via dnaindia.com

We then saw Jaime’s (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) altercation with The High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce), a moment which I’d been looking forward to ever since the season six trailer was released. I thought this was a great scene; the dialogue was sharp, the performances were strong, and we were afforded an insight into The High Sparrow’s end game. Whilst he pretends to be a godly man with righteous intentions, he wants to play the game – perhaps more so than most characters in the “Game of Thrones” universe – which is apparent when he says ‘together we can overthrow an empire’.

Next, after a brief scene in which Tommen asked his mother for help, the episode turned its attention to Meereen. Here another moment from the trailer appeared, as Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) explained that drinking and knowing things are his two best attributes, and because of his prowess in the latter he thought that freeing Daenerys’ (Emilia Clarke) caged dragons was a good idea.

The logic here wasn’t completely convincing, because although it was great to see the show’s best character interacting with dragons, he never should’ve gone down there without Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) or Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson). It was established in the scene that the dragons saw Missandei as a friend, and Tyrion used this as an argument for setting the dragons free, but then surely the best course of action would’ve been to bring Missandei along as a show of good faith. Instead, Tyrion brought Varys (Conleth Heath), a man who an intelligent creature would never trust.

The scene might’ve still worked had the writers painted it in such a way that Tyrion was still down on life and had a death wish, because then it would seem as though he was willing to die if it meant interacting with dragons at least once in his life, but this wasn’t established and the moment therefore felt unearned.

I’m aware that we don’t know everything about dragons, and it does seem as though they are pretty intelligent, but that didn’t stop Drogon from burning an innocent girl alive in season four did it? The reason that the dragons were chained up in the first place was that they were dangerous and had the potential to kill innocent people, so it seems a bit ridiculous to then say that they are smart enough to only kill their enemies.

Still, the CGI in this scene was brilliant, as was Peter Dinklage’s performance. I loved his story about wanting a dragon for his Name Day when he was a child, and I thought it was very cool that the dragons seemed to be listening to him. I liked the scene, (which might seem strange given the two paragraphs of criticism that you’ve just read), I just didn’t like the set-up and thought it could’ve easily been improved. Even if Tyrion is a Targaryen, a theory which this scene gave more weight to, it doesn’t change the fact that the thought process behind his going to set the dragons free (without Missandei or Grey Worm) was idiotic, and would never have been condoned by Varys.

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via moviepilot.com

When Tyrion set the dragons free and made another bad joke, the stage was set for a brief Arya (Maisie Williams) cameo. Just like last week, I thought that Maisie Williams did an admirable job of playing a blind character, and I thought that she made Arya seem both vulnerable and dangerous. Of course, right now she isn’t very scary because she hasn’t mastered the art of fighting without the ability to see, but Williams portrayed the rage that is bubbling beneath the surface in Arya and it’s only a matter of time before she releases it. It was a short scene, but it was still one of my favourite moments of the episode – plus, it wasn’t flawed in any way which made it stand out for me.

Next we found Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) and Roose (Michael McElhatton) discussing tactics, in a scene which saw Ramsay turn from antagonist to protagonist for all of five seconds. After being called a mad dog by his father, Ramsay stood motionless with hatred in his eyes and calculated his next move. Still, as crazy as he is I don’t think that he was going to kill his father right then and there, that is, until it was revealed that his brother had been born.

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via screenrant.com

From that moment it was pretty obvious what Ramsay was going to do. It was nice that Roose died by getting stabbed in the belly, because it was very reminiscent of the way that he killed Robb Stark (Richard Madden) back in season three, but I would’ve liked to have been able to savour the moment for a little while longer. To see such an evil character die in such an abrupt way was a little disappointing from my perspective, as was the way in which ‘Fat Walda’ Frey (Elizabeth Webster) died with her new born child in her arms. I know a lot of people found that scene shocking and horrible, and maybe it would’ve been if we actually saw it happen, but all that we saw was Iwan Rheon’s blank expression as clearly artificial sound effects got progressively louder. As far as I’m concerned, this was a pretty underwhelming moment and a merciful death as opposed to being flayed alive.

Once this nastiness passed, we as an audience were afforded a brief moment of joy. Sansa (Sophie Turner) forgave Theon (Alfie Allen) for the crimes he committed in season two, and for a moment the world was a brighter place. It was a lovely scene on a show which is filled with pain, and both actors sold me on what was happening on screen. Theon leaving the group is a shame because he doesn’t have anywhere safe to go, but I think he did what he did because he thought it was what was best for Sansa, which made the moment all the more heart-warming. I just hope that he doesn’t end up with Ramsay again, although after Euron’s (Pilou Asbæk) awesome introduction I don’t think that the Iron Islands are that much safer than Winterfell.

Finally, the episode ended at The Wall, just as it did in episode one. Here, the worst kept secret in television history finally happened, much to the excitement of fans around the world. Jon Snow came back in a scene that was reminiscent of the moment when Bran woke up from his coma in season one. I loved how the scene was drawn out to make audience members wonder whether or not he was really going to wake up, because after a year of speculation it would’ve been fitting for a show like “Game of Thrones” to parade the possibility in its fans’ faces just to say ‘nope’. In my opinion, that would’ve been one of the greatest moments in the history of television, especially if the episode then ended with Jon’s body burning, but alas it wasn’t to be.

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via inverse.com

Like most people, I’m glad that Jon is back – he’s clearly integral to the story and he’ll have a huge part to play in the war to come. Additionally, the Tower of Joy flashback is going to appear in episode three and Sansa is on her way to The Wall, so his presence is going to be vital for other storylines. However, I wasn’t very enamoured by the way that the showrunners handled his resurrection and I feel that he’s been brought back far too soon. I’m aware that there are only so many episodes left for the showrunners to tell the story that they are planning to tell, and perhaps Jon had to be brought back so that they had enough time to get through their material, but this is a bigger problem rather than an accentuating circumstance. They’ve been rushing their story along ever since the end of season four, and it’s getting really annoying.

When I watch the whole series back from start to finish, as I do every year before the start of a new season, Jon Snow will only be dead for one episode. One episode. As a collective audience we’ve had to wait for a year for Jon’s resurrection so of course it seems natural that he should be back now, but in reality it’s pretty ridiculous. The least that the showrunners could’ve done was left Jon’s storyline out of episode two completely, perhaps replacing his scenes with Daenerys’ from episode three, so that we all had to bite our nails for another week.

Overall, I thought that this was an enjoyable episode of “Game of Thrones”. For most people it will have been amazing simply because a lot of significant things happened, and of course, because Jon Snow was resurrected. However, it fell short in a few areas for me because whilst I agree that Tyrion speaking with the dragons, Roose dying, and Jon coming back, were massive moments, they were also imperfect. My favourite scenes in the episode were actually those of Arya, Euron, and Jaime because they were well-executed and the performances were solid. I’m glad that the majority of fans loved “Home”, and I liked it, but I felt that it could have easily been better.

7.5/10

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