This week’s episode of Game of Thrones was so traumatic that my appendix literally burst, so please excuse the delay in the recap. You know who else’s organs exploded during this episode? Probably Ramsey’s stepmother and little brother’s. Don’t worry, we’ll get there.
The episode opens on a Stark that’s been gone almost as long as Robb: our boy Bran the Warg. If you recall, the last time we saw him was when he, Hodor, and Meera arrived safely (sans Jojen) at the cave of the Three Eyed Raven. It seems like they’ve been hanging there ever since with the Children of the Forest, Bran spending the days seeing visions while Meera broods and Hodor…Hodors?
This specific flashback takes us to a Winterfell many years ago, before dads were beheaded and daughters were kidnapped and raped and everyone’s hopes and dreams were slaughtered during one of the worst weddings television has ever seen. So you know, before being a Stark meant dying a gruesome death on principle.
The Winterfell that Bran gets to see is eerily reminiscent of the joyous one we witnessed for .6 seconds all the way back in episode 1 season 1. A young Ned and Benjyn are practicing dueling while Lyanna rides around upstaging them and everyone looks on, blissfully unaware of the absolute hell they’re all bound to suffer over the next 30 years or so.
Possibly the most interesting part is the introduction of Wylis, AKA Young Hodor. Wylis was a stable boy with a vocabulary that exceeded repeating “Hodor” in varying states of distress, so clearly something fairly unfortunate happened to result in the Hodor we know and love today.
Buzzfeed already outlined some fan theories that you should totally check out if you’re the kind of nerd (like me) who spends their free time reading Game of Thrones fan theories.
Bran gets pulled out of the vision by the Three Eyed Raven and is understandably upset, because that was the first time the kid experienced real joy in about five years. But instead of arguing his case with an old man who lives in a tree, he hops on old Hodor and goes out to find Meera instead.
Bran: Hodor, why can’t you speak anymore?
Bran: I see
Meera does not seem excited to see Bran or to even be hiding out with the Children of the Forest at all, but probably because her brother is dead and some people on this show don’t suffer a family tragedy every other episode and aren’t as equipped to deal as the rest of us. One of the Children of the Forest reminds Meera that Bran needs her and this cryptic message appears to be enough to keep her put for the time being.
In Braavos, Arya’s situation has changed zero since last week, except that it appears she’s found an alley to beg in rather than a corner. Sometimes a change of scenery can do wonders for your outlook on life.
The awful waif returns and continues to beat the shit out of this blind girl, and while I realize that this is Game of Thrones and people are used to seeing, like, babies on pikes as a daily occurrence, you would think someone would have stepped in by now.
After the waif has had her fun, Jaqen shows up for a turn on the “harass a blind girl” game. Instead of physically abusing Arya though, he goes straight for her mental state by dangling things like food, shelter and her fucking eyes back if she just tells him her name.
Having learned her lesson, Arya keeps telling Jaqen that she is “no one” and thus passes his test. He presumably takes her back to The House of Black and White where I’m hoping she gets her vision back and then just fucking murders everyone.
Back in King’s Landing, Cersei’s life is also showing minimal improvement. Peasants are talking shit on her in the streets, her son has exiled her to the Red Keep, and now she can’t even attend the funeral of the daughter that she loved more than anything else. Sure, she has her new Frankenguard to deal with her enemies, but he doesn’t seem like much of a conversationalist.
A quick shoutout to the peasant who got his brains painted on a wall for telling everyone that Cersei Lannister licked her lips after seeing his dick. Clearly this man had never actually witnessed a woman looking at a dick before because spoiler alert: NONE OF US ARE IMPRESSED.
Down in the Sept, Myrcella’s funeral is a bumping affair attended only by her brother/cousin Tommen and father/uncle Jaime.
Tommen: So have we figured out who killed Trystane? It was mom right?
Jaime: Your mother would never do something like that.
Tommen: * Looks into camera like he’s on the office *
It turns out that Tommen has locked Cersei in a tower because he’s worried for her safety and ashamed by being unable to protect either her or Margaery from the Sparrows. Before Jaime can impart any fatherly advice, the High Sparrow comes in to spew his self-righteousness all over the funeral of the one pure member of the Lannister family.
Tommen: I want to see my wife.
High Sparrow: Well I want a functioning prostate and a pair of shoes, but I’m afraid that’s just not how things work around here, my friend.
Jaime sends Tommen off to see Cersei so the adults can “talk.” It’s worth remembering for a minute here that this kid is the fucking king of Westeros and still just does what any adult tells him. After he prances off to apologize to his mom, Jaime puts on his “I’d like to speak to the manager” face and has some words for the High Sparrow.
I know the comparison has already been made, but the likeness between the High Sparrow and Bernie Sanders has never been more real than when he sat there, surrounded by his henchmen, and calmly explained to Jaime that the while they all may be poor and powerless, together they can overthrow an empire. It’s like George R.R. Martin perfectly timed this season to make the 2016 presidential election more of a joke than it already is.
Up in the Red Keep, Tommen finally comes face to face with his mother. He apologizes for keeping her locked away and promises that it was because he didn’t want to lose her again. Cersei seems pretty numb to this logic, either because she’s already accepted that Tommen is going to die a grisly death or is in a wine-induced stupor. Probably both, tbh.
Tommen: I should have executed all of them before I let them do that to you.
Cersei: DAMN FUCKING STRAIGHT YOU TINY CREAM PUFF.
Tommen appears to grow a spine during this interaction and decides it’s time to turn on his inner Joffrey if he ever wants to get Westeros (and his hot ass wife) back.
Tommen: Will you teach me how to become a soulless murder machine?
Cersei: Honestly this is the proudest day of my life.
The remaining small council of Meereen gets together for a recap of what’s happening in the city that they are just barely maintaining a rule on. Shockingly enough, things aren’t going well. Their fleet of ships has been burned, the Sons of Harpy are still running amok, every other city in Slaver’s Bay has been retaken by their masters, and to top it all off: the dragons aren’t eating.
Tyrion decides that the dragons are a priority above all else, because let’s be real, without them the whole Mother of Dragons thing isn’t all that impressive of a title. He knows that captivity is what killed the dragons a thousand years ago, and that their survival would be greatly improved if they were simply let out of their stone prison. This leap of logic is just a little too much for Missandei, who wants to know how Tyrion has such a vast knowledge of shit that seems like common sense.
“That is what I do. I drink and I know things.” –Tyrion Lannister. Put it on my gravestone.
His plan: teaching the dragons, which are apparently smarter than most men, that he is their friend. So, in other words:
Honestly, all I want out of this is a solid reaction from Cersei as Tyrion majestically rides into King’s Landing on the back of a fucking dragon.
Accompanied by his best pal Varys, Tyrion heads down to the dragon den to kindle some friendships. His little monologue about dreaming of dragons as a child was touching, but what was most impressive about the entire encounter was that he gets to both pet and release both of them without getting charbroiled.
You know that Dany will be mad impressed when she returns and finds Tyrion all cuddled up with her babies, but more importantly, you know that the jealousy over her approval will probably be the death of Jorah. You know, if the Grayscale hasn’t taken care of that yet.
It’s never a good day to be a Bolton, but this was an especially shitty one all things considered.
While Ramsay tries to explain away the possible disappearance of Sansa and Theon and plan an attack on The Wall, Lord Bolton receives momentous news: His wife has given birth to a son.
Roose: * Through barely suppressed laughter * You’ll always be my firstborn, Ramsay.
Ramsay: * Also through barely suppressed laughter * Thanks, pops.
AND THEN HE STABS HIS FATHER IN THE HEART. Just like that, the Boltons take back the crown for most dysfunctional family in Westeros. The War of the Five Kings, more like the War of the Worst Fucking Fathers in History.
The only two witnesses to this brutal murder are the messenger who delivered the baby news and Lord Karstark, bannerman to the Boltons. The former is instantly dispatched to let all the Northern families know that Roose was poisoned by his enemies and the latter has been firmly anti-Stark even since Robb beheaded his father back in season three. Oh, the tangled web these Northerners weave.
Ramsay: Send for Lady Walda and the baby
Every Viewer Across the World: Oh no. Oh. No.
Ramsay meets his stepmother and stepbrother down on the grounds of Winterfell. How the fuck is this woman walking around in subzero weather ten minutes after birthing a child in a world with no modern medicine? I would say it’s the most brutal thing to happen this episode, but that would be a downright lie.
If we’re all being honest here, no one does cold-blooded murder quite like Ramsay Bolton. There’s no lengthy monologue about his motives, no furtive glances to hint at his intentions. Instead, he just leads an innocent woman and her 15 minute old baby into the bowels of Winterfell and with one quick “I prefer being an only child,” RELEASES THE HOUNDS ON THEM. This death is neither quick, nor painless, but it is haunting and therefore intrinsically Ramsey. Quick reminder that these hounds just ate his dead girlfriend like three hours before and are probably better fed than all of the peasants in Westeros combined.
Lady Walda: Please Ramsay, he’s your brother.
Ramsay: You literally couldn’t have picked a worse argument.
Outside Winterfell, just past the echoes of a woman being torn apart by bloodthirsty hounds, Brienne and Sansa are catching up on everything that’s happened since their last interaction. Brienne lets her know that Arya is presumably alive and well, which prompts Sansa’s first smile in five years.
Brienne: So what happened at Winterfell?
Sansa: Some, uh, not very chill stuff.
It’s at this point, before the crew begins their trek to the wall to seek shelter with Jon (lol), that Theon decides it’s time to part ways. He tells Sansa that there’s no way the can ever make up for the laundry list of terrible things he did to her family, but he would have died trying. A for effort, Theon. F- for singlehandedly destroying Winterfell and leaving it open for the Boltons to swoop in and wreck shit.
In an entire show made up of terrible fucking places to exist, the Iron Islands looks like the absolute worst. It is always raining, you know everything is covered in mildew, and the people are just generally awful. Case in point: Lord Greyjoy is shitting all over his last remaining child while she very logically explains to him that an army built for the sea has no chance in a land battle against any noble family in Westeros. Silly women and their tactical strategies.
Balon storms out of his argument with Yara onto the middle of an Indiana Jones-looking rope bridge in the middle of a hurricane where he come across his long lost brother Euron. While being a Greyjoy alone is reason enough to assume that Euron is a giant asshole, I kind of like him and his Jack Sparrow-esque attitude. In what appears to be a trend this episode, he decides to expedite the inheritance process by throwing Balon off the bridge to his death on the rocky shores below. Honestly, good riddance; I didn’t even wince at this one. There’s only so much emotional reaction I can reserve for these the many deaths that occur on this show, and a baby being torn limb from limb ten minutes ago used up just about all of it.
At Balon’s funeral the next day, which as you can imagine was a very gruff, no-nonsense affair, we learn that the Irons Islands aren’t like a normal monarchy where the crown is passed down in the family. Apparently if Yara wants to rule Pyke, she’ll have to compete in something called the Kingsmoot, which I’m sure will be chockfull of violence and hatred. If she wins, she’ll be the first female leader of the Iron Island and I am ALL for it. All men must die, right?
We all knew it was coming, but that didn’t make Jon’s return to the pit of doom that is Westeros any less sweet. I imagine his resurrection will parallel that of Buffy Summers, and hopefully he lets everyone know throughout a series of musical numbers that he was way fucking happier dead because his life has never been anything but constant suffering. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
To backtrack just a bit, the showdown between Team Thorne and Team Davos is at its breaking point. Even with Ghost on their side, Team Davos is not looking confident. Davos, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters, doesn’t let these odds dampen his bravado at all.
Thorne: This doesn’t have to come to a fight.
Davos: Well I came here to do two things: eat mutton and die in a blaze of glory. And I’m all out of fucking mutton.
Luckily, this hopeless battle is cut short by the return of Jon’s friend (Edd?) with the entire wildling army in tow. The men of the Night’s Watch seems wary to fight at the start, and then just completely surrender once the giant Wun-Wun goes full Hulk on one of Thorne’s men. Tormund, looking angry as ever, is visibly shaken by the sight of dead Jon. He claims he’s going to collect wood to burn his body, but we all know he won’t need it.
Instead, Davos goes to see a still sulking Melisandre, hoping she’ll get the hint and bring Jon back to life already.
Davos: So you know why I’m here right…
Davos: Oh my God don’t make me fucking ask.
Melisandre’s total loss of faith could not come at a worse time. Davos, the guy who spent two years trying to convince Stannis that the crazy lady and her fire magic were all a farce, now has the job of rallying her to her craziest act of fire magic yet. What this show lacks in humor it makes up for in bitter irony.
Melisandre: You’ve been right all along. There is no Lord of Light.
Davos: Jesus Christ woman, I watched you birth a smoke demon. Go bring Jon back to life already.
Clearly Melisandre (or Davos) were in charge of prepping Jon for the resurrection ceremony because they physically could not have found a tinier washcloth to cover his junk if they tried.
After rubbing his abs for a prolonged period of time (same), cutting off pieces of his perfect hair, and a bunch of anticlimactic chanting…nothing happens. Even Ghost is asleep for this clearly half-assed bout of witchcraft. Everyone leaves the room dejectedly, which is a clear sign that the real shit is about to go down.
Like the drama-craving bitch that he is, Jon waits until the room is empty to make his grand return to life. You thought Thorne hated him before? Just wait until pretty boy Jon Snow walks his perfect naked ass into the mess hall like “Sup fuckers, I’ve got a few questions.” Ugh, next Sunday can’t come soon enough.
Episodes Since Daario: One. But he is presumably alive, and that’s honestly all that we can ask for.
“Next time I have an idea like that, punch me in the face.” Tyrion Lannister echoing every Saturday morning sentiment I’ve had for the past five years of my life.