We open on Ser Davos ogling Kit Harington’s naked body. Cut to the (magnificent) back view as Jon Snow literally rises from the dead.
Kit Harington does a really lovely job conveying Jon Snow’s shock and how he even has to get the hang of breathing again. Then he looks at his chest wounds and remembers being murdered, which sends him into meltdown. Ser Davos wraps him in a blankie while Melisandre comes in wanting to know all about the afterlife: ‘Where did you go? What did you see?’ Jon informs her of the yawning maw of eternal oblivion that awaits us all. Cheery.
Melisandre’s all ‘Whatevs, Prince that was Promised! WOOP!’ until Ser Davos kicks her out, pulls up a stool and – motivational speech time! – gets to work on Jon’s existential angst. Jon’s grappling with the realization that being honorable does nothing but getting you scored like a pork roast by your own men. Ser Davos tells him to get back on the horse and make it dance like no one’s watching.
So Jon emerges into the yard, where all the men have gathered to see the Lord Commander resurrected. In a hilariously intimate exchange, Tormund comes in to whisper that he saw Jon’s pecker at the Dead Lord Commander Pecker Viewing ceremony, and it was way too small for Jon to be a God. They cuddle and a brand new stream of GOT erotic fan fiction is born.
Jon sees Edd and hugs him too. Edd’s happy to see Jon’s eyes are still brown, proving that those theories he read in the forums about Jon coming back as a Wight were bollocks. Jon makes a joke about not burning his body just yet. It’s a nice moment.
Now we’re on a ship with Sam, Gilly and Little Sam, on their way to Oldtown. Sam’s puking. For the sake of unnecessary exposition, they converse about Oldtown. Sam tells Gilly that he’s sending her and Little Sam to Horn Hill. This scene is the script version of gap filler, and I’m not recapping it anymore.
TOWER OF JOY! It’s so a euphemism. Bran and 3-Eyes watch on as young Eddard Stark and his men (including Howland Reed) arrive for Ned’s sister Lyanna.
Legendary Ser Arthur Dayne – the Sword of the Morning – isn’t having a bar of that, and throws his greatsword Dawn into the sand. There’s some small talk before Ser Dayne wishes Ned good fortune in the wars to come, and draws double swords; he’s going Darth Maul on their arses.
Epic showdown ensues, and the Sword of the Morning picks off Ned’s men until only Ned himself remains. Despite being reasonably badarse, Ned is clearly outclassed. Bran looks on and wonders aloud how his father ended up winning.
Dishonorably, as it turns out; Howland Reed stabs Arthur Dayne from behind. Ned finishes the job. Shame…I already liked Darth Dayne more than 70% of the other characters on this show.
Nevermind. Ned rushes off to find Lyanna! Bran goes after him! We brace ourselves to finally confirm Jon Snow’s heritage!
And then we don’t! 3-Eyes shuts this shit down. Even Bran is pissed, and demands to go back. 3-Eyes channels Yoda and tells Bran he has to stay on Dagobah a while longer in order to ‘learn everything…at a time that is optimal for ratings’.
So instead of the (presumably) extremely satisfying resolve the promos hinted at, we end up in Vaes Dothrak, where Daenerys is being dropped off to join the Dosh Khaleen.
Dany enters Khal-widow headquarters and is promptly stripped of her clothes. As usual, she responds by listing off her C.V; breaker of chains, mother of dragons, GQ Sexiest Woman Alive etc etc. The Head-Khaleesi cries bullshit and tells Daenerys that joining the Dosh Khaleen is the best possible scenario for her now; the Dothraki Khals are convening for the Khalar Vezhven – the Dothraki comic convention – and will be deciding whether she gets to stay with the Dosh Khaleen or…not. I’m guessing that if they run with the latter, she’s not headed for a Cat Café for cuddles and crepes.
To Meereen, where Varys is going through menopause. In an exchange that we really needn’t have witnessed, he convinces a bit-part actor from last season to tell him who is funding the Sons of the Harpy. I would have much preferred more time on Olly’s face at the very end of the episode.
Tyrion, Missandei and Greyworm are in the great pyramid, awaiting Varys. Tyrion tries to create conversation. Hilarity ensues, or at least it would have if this scene wasn’t written by the work experience kid. Not even Peter Dinklage can resuscitate it. Thank God Varys arrives and surprises no one by announcing that the Sons of the Harpy are funded by the Wise Masters in Astapor, Yunkai and Meereen. Um…this is a surprise? Aren’t you guys like, cunning and strategic and stuff? Sigh. Anyhow, Varys is getting his little birds on it, and this scene ends up being yet another filler that’s on par with watching the Flying Toaster screensaver.
Speaking of little birds, Qyburn has adopted the ones Varys left behind when he fled King’s Landing. They’re being bribed to work for the queen now, and she wants them everywhere so she can find out who her enemies are. Then Jaime, Cersei and Zombie-Mountain crash the high council meeting, where Kevan Lannister and Olenna Tyrell are upsetting everything by being highly competent.
This episode’s best quote goes to Olenna, who kapows Cersei with: ‘You are not the queen, because you are not married to the king. I do appreciate that these things can get a bit confusing in your family.’ Maybe we could have an episode where Tyrion and Olenna just sit in a room and trade barbs all day while the dragons set fire to everyone else in the background?
Jaime and Cersei want in on the council action, but they’re shot down by Kevan. Cersei is all ‘You can’t make me leave, so there!’, prompting Uncle Kevan to stage a walkout instead. This scene is a bit flaccid but clearly demonstrates the shift in the power dynamic. How long it will last is anyone’s guess.
Oh, Tommen. Can’t you just stay home and play with your kittens and practise colouring inside the lines? Fuck. Tommen confronts the High Sparrow about letting Cersei see Myrcella’s crypt or something. The High Sparrow dusts off his best telemarketing salesman skillz and serves Tommen up a pile of suggestive religious horseshit mixed with some Jedi mind trickery. Tommen happily gulps it down like a foie gras goose.
To the House of Black and White, where I’m appalled that this is one of the more enjoyable scenes this week. Probably because it’s a training montage…you can’t remain cynical in the face of a training montage (or baby dragons singing). We start with Arya’s usual weekly arse-kicking, but we see her begin to make some progress. Meanwhile the Waif quizzes her on her kill list, and we learn that Arya removed the Hound because she both did and didn’t want him dead in the end.
Is it me, or are is the Waif right and we’re missing a few names? Or is this one of those things my baby brain has turfed overboard in the last 12 months in favour of remembering stuff like all 1,000 verses of ‘The Wheels on the Bus’? Anyhow, Arya finally manages to serve the Waif a decent stick in the face, and thus Jaquen H’ghar gives her one final test; a nice cup of death fresh from the House waterhole. But she doesn’t die. In fact, she gets her eyesight back. Yay! Now go kill someone.
Winterfell, where surely things can’t get any more ghastly. Right? RIGHT??
House Umber has arrived. In a setup that resembles a job interview, Ramsay and his Karstark colleague are seated behind desks, screening Lord Umber. On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your ability to skin a human being? Would you consider yourself a team player when it comes to maiming? Have you had any experience with patricide?
Umber tells Ramsay his dad was a c*#! Ramsay smiles as if someone complimented him on his new tie. Then they to-and fro a bit about Umber refusing to bend the knee, until Umber presents Ramsay with a gift; Tonks and Rickon Stark, who’s hit the awkies-Kevin-Arnold stage of puberty mid-series.
Ramsay: How do I know this is actually Rickon Stark? He’s a lot bigger than the kid from Season 3.
Umber: I knew you’d ask, so here’s a little something I prepared earlier…
Me, fingers in mouth: NOTTHEWOLFNOTTHEWOLFNOTTHEWOLFNOTTHEWOLF NOTTHEWOLFNOTTHEWOLFNOTTHEWOLF-
Umber: HEAD ALA SHAGGYDOG!!!
Clearly Umber knows how to flirt with a Bolton. Ramsay gets his psychopath-on-heat face on and looks at Rickon like he doesn’t know whether he wants to carve off a wing or a leg.
Despite Shaggydog’s apparent demise (I choose to grasp at the it-could-have-been-a-decoy-wolf-head straw), I can feel an Umber double-cross coming on. Could this have been a ploy to get a male Stark back inside Winterfell? If so, it’s not without massive risk and probable Rickon-flaying…we all know Ramsay’s that kid who likes to rip the limbs off his new toys before using a magnifying glass to set them on fire.
Castle Black – and grab the popcorn, because it’s retribution time! Jon Snow is brooding in his office when there’s a knock at the door: it’s time. Jon symbolically throws his neatly-folded blacks on the table. If leading a wildling army doesn’t work out, he’ll easily get a job folding t-shirts at Topshop.
Cut to the yard, where we see the murderers standing on the gallows. Hey Olly! Good to see your pinched little face up there. Jon’s got Longclaw and his good Lord Commander fur on, so clearly he means business.
Like the good Stark he is, he gives each of his killer’s a chance to say their last words. Alliser Thorne in particular remains defiant and tells Jon he’d do it all again, for the sake of the Watch. Kudos to GOT for making Thorne’s character more than a 2D villain; he acknowledges his betrayal and thus comes across as complex and even admirable in a way. Olly, however, is still a sullen, spiteful little shit; he doesn’t bother with last words and simply glares at Jon as if he’s being grounded. You are, kid. For like…ever.
Jon draws Longclaw and – after a few tense seconds of deliberation – cuts the rope, hanging the four of them. Even then he watches Olly struggle against the noose and seems to be fighting an impulse to cut him down. I guess now that he knows firsthand about the void that awaits, it’s harder to condemn men to it. Not me, Jon! I’m still inappropriately fine with this.
Job done, Jon hands over his fur to Edd, announces his watch has ended, and storms out. Best. Resignation. Ever.