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What is dead may never die, according to the Iron Islanders — and also according to a certain Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.
The second episode of Game of Thrones‘ sixth season finally answered the question every viewer has asked since the show went dark in 2015: Jon Snow’s coming back, right? The answer: “Right.” In the closing moments of “Home,” Melisandre (Carice van Houten) performed a magic resurrection ritual that only worked after all hope was seemingly lost. Jon (Kit Harington) burst back to life, with no one but his direwolf Ghost there to witness the miracle. Expect several witnesses as Thrones moves into its next episode, “Oathbreaker.”
Here’s how the week played out in the days following Jon’s rebirth:
1. The Dead Can Talk
After months of silence on the matter, Harington finally opened up about his return from the dead. First, he apologized for the ruse against fans, and then later he elaborated on just what it means to have Lord Snow walking among the living once again.
“Jon’s never been afraid of death, and that’s made him a strong and honorable person,” he told EW. “He realizes something about his life now: He has to live it, because that’s all there is. He’s been over the line and there’s nothing there. And that changes him. It literally puts the fear of God into him. He doesn’t want to die ever again. But if he does, he doesn’t want to be brought back.”
2. The Lord of Light Compels You
The Game of Thrones viewing public, and the world of Westeros at large, owe a great deal of gratitude toward Melisandre. But how much of that credit does Melisandre actually own? Carice van Houten spoke with THR this week about her role in bringing Jon back to life, and expressed some doubt that the red priestess was solely responsible for the miracle.
“I don’t think she believes it’s her doing it,” she said. “She’s a vessel. I don’t think she per se believes she has magical powers. She believes she’s a servant, you know? It regained some of her faith in the Lord of Light, definitely, but she’s not there yet. She’s not yet back to where we met Melisandre in the first episode.”
3. Ghost Stories
Whether it’s Melisandre’s own abilities or her special relationship with R’hllor that brought Jon back, there’s the possibility of something else in play. Fans have long theorized that Jon warged into his direwolf Ghost shortly before his death. The show never made much of a meal out of Jon’s warging skills — that power is typically reserved for Bran, even though the books suggest the other Stark siblings have similar potential — but Ghost’s attention to Jon shortly before the revival certainly refueled the fires of those theories.
For his part, director Jeremy Podeswa dodged the question of Ghost’s involvement when THR asked him earlier in the week: “I cannot answer this question. I would say if you keep watching, all will be revealed. Better to leave it to the fans to discover.”
4. Every Rose Has a Thorne
Jon Snow’s supporters are doubtlessly thrilled about his revival, but not everyone’s through the roof with joy. See: Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale), the main man behind the Night’s Watch mutiny. Now the question centers on what Jon will do about the traitors who killed him. Will he show them mercy, or vengeance?
For his part, Teale teased that Thorne and Snow will come to a reconciliation of sorts — but even then, reconciliation might involve only one of the men walking away alive. “It may be brief! But they will come to an understanding of each other in saying, ‘Yes. I hear you. I hear you.'”
5. Bran From the Past
Looking past the Snow of it all, another prominent Stark returned to Game of Thrones this week: Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright), seen last in the season four finale. Since then, the young warg’s abilities have improved dramatically, to the point that he’s able to travel back in time and see great moments in Westeros history.
“I think the present state of Westeros is really dictated by the past and the future,” Hempstead Wright tells THR about the character’s importance this season. “The future being we know things are going to kick off any second now with Daenerys or the White Walkers, or something’s going to come and shake things up. But we still have a whole past element to explore. The whole story of Jon Snow’s parentage, or whatever — so many things that can be game-changers in the way the story runs. I think with Bran, that’s where he can come into it.”
6. The Roose Is Cooked
Jon Snow lives, but for other characters, it was Game over. Patrick Malahide’s Balon Greyjoy, for example, was thrown off a bridge by his traitorous brother Euron (Pilou Asbaek). Even more shocking for book readers: Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton), still alive in the novels, betrayed and killed by his own son Ramsay (Iwan Rheon). McElhatton spoke with THR about his final scene, his memories of the Red Wedding, and where he thinks Roose’s story ultimately landed.
“I think he was one of the smartest, coldest, pragmatic and political characters in Westeros,” he said. “When you have a child or you love somebody, that’s your Achilles’ heel on Game of Thrones, because your enemy will find it. They’ll use it against you. But Roose would easily dispense with Ramsay, or any of his children. He would just find another one. When you’re dealing with somebody like that, it’s a pretty formidable opponent, really.”
7. The Joyful Future
What’s next for Game of Thrones? The third episode of the season, called “Oathbreaker,” promises to pull the curtain back on the Tower of Joy, one of the most iconic moments in recent Westeros history, and one with the potential to change the show for viewers moving forward.
There’s also, of course, the question of Jon’s next move. Now that he’s alive again, it’s anyone’s guess as to where he’ll take his talents. Will he resume his war against the White Walkers? Will he seek out the truth behind his lineage? Will he remain atop the Wall, waiting for winter’s wrath?
Those questions will be answered soon. For now, it’s enough to know that Jon Snow’s story is just getting started.
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