Published on May 9th, 2016 | by Bean0
Game of Throne Review – Season 6 Episode 2 “Home”
After a catch-up-marathon of a season premiere, Game of Thrones really kicks things into gear in “Home”. All the themes we are used to swimming in – bravery, betrayal, forgiveness, loyalty, honour – surface in this episode, but the main focus is that of family; both by blood and by bond. We open on the sight of a tripping Max Von Sydow – always worth the price of admission – peering into the shades of history with Bran. We have waited a long, cold season to watch Bran warg with his mentor, who he met at the very close of Thrones’ fourth year. The three-eyed raven, the cave, the warging tree, the fairy lady who looks to be one of The Children of the Forest – all augur well for an interesting accrual of powers for the Stark son.
Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven find themselves back at Bran’s former home, but in his father’s youth. Fans have been speculating that we might go back in time, and sure enough we finally get to meet the infamous Lyanna Stark, who has the spirit of Arya. More poignantly, we see Hodor as a boy, when he was Lewis, a stable boy with all his faculties and his life ahead of him. Given what we see of Winterfell shortly after under the rule of the Bolton’s, it is a beautiful dream to witness happier times before Rhaegar Targaryen kicked off a war by kidnapping Lyanna. Hopefully we’ll see more of this mystery, and more, though I’ll keep any further speculations to myself.
In King’s Landing, the Mountain is making good his promise to avenge every Lannister enemy, even minor pisspot’s drunkenly besmirching Cersei’s name. There follows a tussle for supremacy between Jaime and the High Sparrow, who seem to be at an impasse for now, but the real machinations occur behind closed doors. Tommen the boy-king professes his sorrow at having failed both his wife and mother by not protecting them from the Faith Militant, and ‘Uncle’ Jaime’s request, visits the Queen Regent to apologise. Having proven his repentance, Tommen in once more enfolded in the poisonous embrace of his loving mother. As the prophecy has already proven, he will come to no good trying to live up to his mother’s example of power, a sad truth Cersei seems to acknowledge as she reels him back into her thrall.
Her younger brother shows more hope and spirit in Meereen, as he attempts to housekeep in Daenerys’ absence. After the depressing news that the cities recently liberated by the Storm-born have now fallen back into the hands of the ‘masters’, Tyrion chooses a more immediately solvable issue; the dragons are not eating. For once his drinking has a purpose; dutch courage. The animation of the dragons is exquisitely crafted, their intelligence and subtleties of personality apparent from every frame. As Tyrion earns his way into the trust of Rhaegal and Viserion, we hear of his enchantment with the creatures in his youth. Peter Dinklage sells the awe and unexpected emotion of the scene with a quiet reverence.
Arya’s fortunes also take an upturn as she learns her lesson in Braavos. Following another hefty beating from The Waif, she loses her rag and Jaqen H’Gar chooses this moment to test her will, offering her shelter, food and her sight back if she will but speak her name. Arya passes the test, finally becoming the ‘no-one’ she has been asked to assume, and leaves behind her beggardom for the mysteries that now once more lay before her.
Each pivotal character in ‘Home’ makes a decisive move or progresses in some significant way. None quite so appallingly as Ramsey Bolton, whose sociopathic tendencies lurch him into a rash, emotional choice regarding his father. Roose should have known better than to threaten his cock-eyed son with being overthrown by a baby, but then the father’s ambitions have long over-reached his abilities. Raise your offspring haphazardly and without affection, in calculated manners and to meet your own needs and they will rise up against you. Ramsay’s decision to gut his father seems last-minute, headstrong, an emotional lashing out – like the ‘feed her to the hounds’ comment about Miranda in the previous episode – to mask his vulnerability.
As the most villainous character remaining on the show, Ramsey’s instability is his most interesting quality; we have seen him do so many horrendous things at this stage, and yet each new atrocity unveils another facet to his madness. He reacts to the precarious situation regarding his power by exerting his will, destroying wantonly and eradicating any threat to his identity as Bolton heir, even be they a babe in arms. Ramsey’s karmic reincarnation is somewhere near volcanic mould by now.
His erstwhile bride is thankfully far enough from Winterfell for Podrick to be lighting fires, much to Theon’s distress. Whilst Brienne relays news of her sister and Sansa silently shares the trauma of her recent abuse, the two exchange supportive words and genuine kindness. Sansa and Theon share a moving scene where the latter once again confesses his many crimes, the transformation back to his true and sorry self complete; Reek no more. Admitting he doesn’t wish to be forgiven or take the Black, he chooses home; the Iron Islands, where all is not well.
In the storm-tossed keep of the Greyjoy’s, Yara argues with her father Balon as he continues to rule mercilessly and ineffectually. The arrival of his brother Euron is a welcome surprise, bringing some fresh blood to the bitterest family in the realm. The cinematography at their meeting is gorgeous, the majesty of nature heightening the standoff between a man unseated and a man unhinged.
And we finish back at the Wall, where Alliser Thorn and his fellow traitors are incarcerated thanks to the timely arrival of the giant, Tormund and the Wildlings. Davos takes his opportunity to attempt a resurrection of the late Lord Commander by soliciting the powers of a decidedly brooding Melissandre. It is refreshing to see the Red Woman so thrown, her arrogance quite shifted off-balance from all the disappointments and confusion. Her loss of faith ultimately has no bearing on the success of the spell, though the show runners get as much mileage out of the misdirect as they can. By this point there is only one way the narrative could run though, and with a heaving gasp from the corpse on the table and a crowing bark of joy from my sofa, Jon Snow is back in the land of the living!
Review by Nina Clark
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