Game of Thrones’ latest episode took the lob pass from its predecessor and threw it down with authority. We’ll touch on the big moment shortly, but a quality fiftyish minutes brought us to the two seconds everyone is talking about. I don’t usually like flashbacks in Game of Thrones, and felt Cersei’s flashback from last season was an odd choice that could’ve just as easily been served by her telling the story. One of the many things I love about this series is the fact that there is an endless pot of history that occurred before the first ever episode begins, but we don’t actually need to see any of it in order to understand the significance of these events. The show lives in the moment, despite the obvious temptation to constantly look back or beat us over the head with prequel episodes. Bran’s newfound abilities could lead to some long awaited answers and valuable info from his family’s past. But I hope this feature isn’t overused, which would dull the impact of Thrones’ in-the-moment storytelling. Either way, it’ll be nice to see something more interesting come from that point of view, as opposed to another lengthy trek through the northern woods. The Three Eyed Raven recast wasn't subtle, but we owed Max von Sydow a break after the whole Kylo Ren incident.
Despite an all around strong episode, about 99% of the fun came from Castle Black. Davos and company’s seemingly inescapable predicament was quickly resolved in just about the coolest way possible. Melisandre treated us to a nicer and more relatable episode than we’ve gotten from her for four years now. The mysterious act was getting old, but this vulnerable side adds a few layers to her character. I suppose we now believe her visions of a glorious victory at Winterfell were accurate; she just backed the wrong horse for a while. Alongside her new champion, pieces of that puzzle may finally start falling into place. The treacherous Night’s Watchmen were taken care of about as easily and anticlimactically as the cowardly group deserved. We can only hope the once and future Lord Commander comes back half as angry with them as we are. I’d like to see more of an edge in my Jon Snow 2.0. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Daredevil Season 3 continues to plod along, as Arya is served another beating. A girl has now taken two hours to travel ten feet. I think Jon Snow’s corpse has covered a greater distance this season. I’ll dedicate as much effort to that storyline as it dedicated to us. The Greyjoys certainly had a happening weekend. I feel like I was supposed to care more, but a mysterious bridge encounter and overall out of place scene took a little bit of the sting out of those few minutes. From what I’ve gathered, every remaining house in the North is despicable and we shouldn’t care all that much about them until Jon Snow and his wildling armies stampede the entire region. Speaking of despicable northerners, Ramsay’s moustache twiddling continues as the plot runs out of horrible things to try and surprise us with. I’d say he peaked at Sansa rape, and the show has all but numbed whatever part of my brain is supposed to be appalled by things. I’m amazed by the fact that the most gifted show on television in terms of multifaceted characters has delivered two of the most one-dimensional antagonists on television. Even Joffrey had some depth if you tried to understand the root of his issues. Ramsay is a Joffrey Lite that relies on gory deeds to make up for what he lacks in character development. Killing his father and usurping the northern throne seems to be the greedy act that’ll lead to the sadistic bastard’s long-awaited demise. Rape someone or hurt animals on this show, and you walk out unscathed. But usurp a throne and your life becomes an irreversible countdown to death.
How to Train Your Dragon 3, starring Tyrion Lannister, provided one of the episode’s highlights. Not only was the plot moment epic and brave; the acting moment was beautiful. No one does anecdotes quite like Game of Thrones. The news of the masters retaking Slaver’s Bay was about as close as possible to the show literally saying, “this story has been pointless.” Tyrion will definitively be the bridge that, whether or not he physically brings Daenerys to Westeros, links the Essos storyline to a position of relevance. Maybe we’ll finally see three fully-grown dragons in the same place for an extended period of time. Only the smallest character on this show could look two beasts of legend in the eyes and calmly deliver a childhood story. I can assure you it took more bravery to stare down Tywin. Tyrion marched into the Sitting and Doing Nothing Capital of the Game of Thrones universe and almost immediately turned it into one of the most interesting locations.
Last but certainly not least, we arrive at the scene that made every Game of Thrones fan hold their breath. If “watching TV harder” was a phrase that made any sense, it would apply to this second episode’s conclusion. Some skeptics took note of the “predictable” nature of Jon Snow’s return. And they’re very correct. We all knew how he would come back. But the idea behind this non-twist was not to surprise anyone. That wasn’t what the show was going for. In fact, any legitimately shocking result would’ve ultimately been viewed as a foolish one. If he stayed dead, why couldn’t she bring him back? If he came back another way or much later, why couldn’t this have been done sooner? The idea of this epic moment was not to surprise, but to deliver some much-needed joy to the Game of Thrones faithful. We’ve withstood a lot of nonsense and misery for the sake of misery. We’ve experienced the unlikeliest of downfalls suffered by some of our favorite characters. All of that, whether or not those moments tie directly to this storyline, contribute to the exhilarated sigh of relief let out by living rooms across the world. For once, we got a win. And despite the fact that we knew it was coming, the sequence was still brilliantly shot and delivered.
The show could just as easily kill him off again in two episodes. But until someone takes out the Red Woman, he could die every week and still conquer the seven kingdoms. This show is well overdue for a satisfying tale of revenge or triumph that not only pleases the audience, but also nudges us in the direction of the White Walkers vs. dragons showdown that all this talk of Ice and Fire must be about. If our undead hero can retake his home, he seizes a northern army that dwarfs that of the crippled crown. That’s one surprisingly small leap into this saga’s climax. Jon Snow can finally move south of the Wall. After all, his vows ended at his death right? Of course, this journey is going to take a long time and would be balanced out by the many other moving pieces on Game of Thrones. But if that’s the direction we’re finally moving in, winter may actually be coming.