[Warning: This story contains spoilers from episode two, season six of HBO’s Game of Thrones.]
When Jon Snow (Kit Harington) died at the end of Game of Thrones‘ fifth season, it caused one of the most tumultuous combinations of grief, skepticism and optimism ever experienced within the Emmy-winning HBO show’s fandom.
Despite all appearances to the contrary, many viewers simply refused to believe that the 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch would stay dead forever. That patience and hope was rewarded at the end of “Home,” the second episode of the show’s sixth season: Jon Snow is no longer dead, resurrected in a move best described as a Game changer.
Here are all the major highlights of the episode:
1. Jon Snow’s Back
It’s such an important moment that it deserves a second mention. Jon’s return from the dead was long in the making, and finally manifested after Davos (Liam Cunningham) and Melisandre (Carice van Houten) reenacted several months of Internet speculation about the red priestess’ full restorative potential.
2. Wun Wun Wins
Another huge Castle Black moment involved the Wildling giant smashing an archer into a wall. In the books, in the moments leading up to Jon’s death, Wun Wun similarly lashes out against soldiers at Castle Black; it’s a memorable bit of detail that didn’t make the cut in Jon Snow’s death episode, but paid off here in the lead-up to the hero’s resurrection.
3. Bran Stark Returns
After an entire season on the bench, Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) returns to Game of Thrones in episode two. Immediately, viewers see the little Lord of Winterfell’s newfound abilities to witness the past. As a result, Ned Stark returns to the show for the first time since his death, albeit as a young lad. In less pressing news, but still exciting, Uncle Benjen also returns to the show since his disappearance in season one.
4. Meet Lyanna
Perhaps the most important Stark reveal — outside of Jon Snow’s resurrection, of course — is the first appearance of Lyanna, Bran’s aunt. Eddard Stark’s sister is a crucial character in the mythos of Thrones, as her abduction at the hands of Rhaegar Targaryen was the inciting incident behind Robert’s Rebellion and the end of the Targaryen regime. Expect to see more of Lyanna and even deeper insight into her story as the season progresses.
As if the Winterfell flashback needed any further gold, in comes a young version of Bran Stark’s bodyguard … Willas? It turns out, Hodor (Kristian Nairn) was not always Hodor. He was once Willas, the stable boy at Winterfell, fully capable of speaking in full sentences well into his adolescence. How did he gain his iconic nickname and catchphrase? Perhaps that’s a reveal for another flashback.
6. Farewell, Roose
The commonalities between Roose (Michael McElhatton) and Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) and the late Tywin and Joffrey Lannister continue, complete with a parallel patricide story. Just as Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) killed his own father, Roose also died at the hands of his loathed offspring. With Roose gone, the Bastard of Bolton now becomes Lord Bolton — a terrifying prospect for anyone who likes to keep their flesh intact.
7. The Dogs of Hell
With his first act as Lord of Winterfell, Ramsay commits one of the most horrific atrocities ever seen on Game of Thrones: feeding Walda Frey and her newborn son (and Ramsay’s half-brother) to the hungry hounds of Bolton. It’s a nauseating sequence, made all the worse by its drawn-out inevitability and sickening sound design, gruesome even by Game of Thrones standards.
8. Meet Euron
Finally, Game of Thrones returns to the Iron Islands just in time to kill off yet another patriarch: Balon Greyjoy (Patrick Malahide), murdered by his own brother. (What a night for inter-family violence.) For those wondering about the killer’s identity, his name is Euron Crow’s Eye (Pilou Asbaek), and as he mentions, he’s a black sheep in House Greyjoy, best known for pillaging on the open seas. In the books, it’s strongly implied that Euron kills Balon, but as far as most Iron Islanders know, it’s a fluke accident; turns out the only fluke in the equation are the fish Balon’s swimming with at the end of the episode.
9. The Kingsmoot Begins
Balon’s daughter Yara (Gemma Whelan) swears on the Seastone Chair to avenge her father’s death, but not so fast. Before she can become ruler of the Iron Islands, she must first win what her uncle refers to as a “Kingsmoot,” an ancient tradition where the people of Pyke anoint their new leader. The Kingsmoot takes up a significant chunk of A Feast for Crows, the fourth book in George R.R. Martin’s novel, and looks slated for a prominent role on the show as well.
10. Tyrion Tames the Dragon
Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) isn’t the only person who knows how to whisper to dragons. Tyrion finally puts years of book knowledge into practice, as he frees the fire-breathing Rhaegal and Viserion from their chains… and somehow escapes unscathed. While it looks like another instance of Tyrion’s incredible intelligence at work, fan theories persist that the Imp has even stronger ties to dragons than he realizes.
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