While the headline of the episode for most fans is almost certainly going to be that Jon Snow lives, that happy event is not what “Home” is about. Much of what “Home” deals with is home, or more specifically family. This week our favorite Westeros residents are thinking about family and home, and what those things will look like going forward.
Tommen, having been separated from both Cersei and Margaery, and coping with the death of Myrcella, is desperate to bring what is left of his family back together. Cersei, in full “caring mother” mode, and Jaime, who has, since the end of last season, adopted a more fatherly attitude toward his children, are happy to oblige him. Tommen may not be cut out for ruling, he is too guileless and malleable and he needs his mother, his wife, or both, guiding his decision-making. His parents, who now know that the world is just as dangerous for Lannisters as it is for anyone else, are clinging to each other, and to their son.
Bran (welcome back!) is preoccupied with memories of his family. He is introduced this episode enjoying a vision of his father’s youth, witnessing happier times before Ned left Winterfell to foster in the Eeryie, sparring with brother Benjen, and getting teased by sister Lyanna. Even Hodor, who’s actual name is revealed to be Willas, makes an appearance as a fully verbal young man (hinting at tragic circumstances). Bran is tempted to remain in the vision, as in the present, to the best of his knowledge, all are are lost to him. Poor Meera Reed is also dealing with the loss of her family but she does not have the luxury of visions to help her maintain a connection to the dearly departed Jojen. Meanwhile, Sansa is thinking fondly of Arya for the first time, and is no doubt thinking of how best to be reunited with her and her younger brothers, whom she knows were not killed. Sansa is so concerned with reconstituting her family that she is allowing herself to welcome her foster brother Theon back into the fold, but Theon gives the episode its name when tells Sansa that he is going “home,” to the Iron Islands and what is left of his own family.
Elsewhere, family structures are thrown into violent upheaval as a couple of patriarchs are dispatched. Ramsey, seeing the writing on the wall with the birth of Roose and Wanda’s baby boy, decides to make himself the patriarch of the Bolton family, necessitating the stabbing of his father and letting his hunting dogs savage his mother-in-law and half brother. It may be a bit of an understatement but Ramsey is bad news. Ramsey clearly only sees his little brother and, by extension, his father, as threats to his ascension, he does not understand the importance of loyalty to family or to anybody else. This quality will, undoubtedly, lead to his demise. For as Roose advises Ramsey prior to his murder “If you acquire a reputation as a mad dog, you’ll be treated like a mad dog, taken out back and slaughtered for pig feed.” ; sage advice that Ramsey will not likely heed. On the Iron Islands, Balon Greyjoy, like Roose, meets death at the hands of a family member. Balon dies because he does not value his family, inspiring no devotion in his murderous brother Euron, and twice abandoning Theon.
As for the finale, it could be said that Melisandre is also dealing with loss of her father in that the god she believed in is no longer real to her. It is Davos who let’s her know that she is still powerful, that it is not her religion that gives her miraculous abilities, it is whatever magic is in her. The conversation that these two have as Davos is convincing Melisandre to make an attempt at resurrecting Jon Snow, speaks pretty loudly to the shows attitude toward religion. It is people who give religion power (like the sparrows) not the other way around. While magic exists in this world, it is not chalked up to divine intervention, it is simply that some religious people, notably the followers of R’hllor, The Faceless Men and The Undying, have lucked into techniques for harnessing that magic. It will be interesting to see how Jon’s return will influence Melisandre’s thinking about her religion.
Welcome back to Jon Snow. Jon will also have family issues to work out in the coming weeks as several of his adopted family recently killed him; one imagines the fallout will not be pretty. Family and all that the word connotes are never far from the minds of the characters in Game of Thrones. Everybody is, in about equal parts, enriched and irreparably damaged by their families. Whether these characters will lash out against their kin, or cling desperately to them is what drives Game of Thrones forward.
Week 2 Power Rankings
1. Ellaria and the Sand Snakes: They were not featured this week, but we can assume that the Sands are enjoying the seat of power in Dorne.
2. The Lannister Twins: With Tommen back in hand and Robert Strong out and about in King’s Landing doing some upsetting PR work, Cersei and Jaime are gunning for the number one spot.
3. Jon Snow: Undead and surging! Newly resurrected and with his Wildling friends taking Castle Black in his name, Snow is likely to garner a great deal of respect having returned from beyond the grave.
4. Tyrion: Making moves and taming dragons, Tyrion does not yet have Mereen in control but seems to be positioning himself to start seriously “Throne-Gaming” the Sons of The Harpy.
5. Stannis’ Old Crew: After a serious pep talk from Davos, Melisandre has her mojo back and then some. Get excited for these two to make some serious movies in the coming weeks, filled with confidence at having beaten death at its own game.
6. Bran: Learning some new tricks from the three-eyed raven (Max Von Sydow!), it may be a rebuilding year for Bran but look for big things to come.
7. The Bolton Boys: Now the Bolton “Boy.” Ramsey may see the murder of his father as a savvy political move but it seems likely to have some disastrous consequences down the road.
8. Sansa and Company: This group is doing OK, but needs some direction. Hopefully they will put off plans to reach Castle Black and will get back in the game.
9. Arya: Still blind but welcomed back to the House of Black and White, things are “looking” up for Arya.
10. Dany: No appearance this week, she’s assumedly still imprisoned and on her way to Vaes Dothrock, we’ll have to take a “wait and see” attitude with the Khaleesi.
Not Ranked: Sam, Littlefinger and Bronn have yet to make appearances. Margaery remains locked up and out of the game. Yara and new player Euron Greyjoy, remain unranked until the upcoming Kingsmoot which will likely effect the situation for newly solo, at least temporarily, player Theon.