‘Recapping the Realm’: Talking ‘Game of Thrones’ and That Jon Snow Twist in ‘Home’
Welcome to the inaugural edition of “Recapping the Realm.” Each week, ScreenCrush senior editor Erin Whitney is joined by Tyler McCarthy and Kelly Lawler for a SPOILER-filled discussion of the latest Game of Thrones. This week, Erin, Tyler, and Kelly discuss “Home” (full episode review here), and that big twist. Tyler is an Entertainment Writer for International Business Times. You can tweet at him at @TylerMcCarthy. Kelly is an Entertainment Writer and Social Media Editor at USA Today. You can tweet at her at @klawls.
Erin: It’s only the second week of Season 6 and so much happened last night. I’ve got to say “Home” was one of the most impressive uses of the full hour-length episode in a while. We caught up with every major storyline (except Daenerys), saw the death of two dads, we met little (speaking!) Hodor, Bran finally returned and the show took us back to the Iron Islands for the first time since Season 3. Oh and that guy Jon Snow came back to life. As much as we expected it, I still found myself screaming at the TV in pure excitement. We waited so long for this!
Tyler: It’s true. They made a meal of that moment and it was delicious. I’ve been complaining for about a year now that Jon Snow is going to come back, that it would be exactly how we all expected it would be and it would be boring. I’d say I got 2/3 right because that ending scene was so well done. The fact that, presumably, Jon’s funeral pyre was waiting for him made it feel like the grand Lord of Light plan could have failed and we would have had to watch as he burned and his fate was sealed. I mean, thank the Seven that’s not how it happened, but the suspense was there when it shouldn’t have been.
Kelly: Yeah some of us (read: book readers) have actually been waiting five years for this, so it was pretty satisfying, even if telegraphed a little because of the big deal we as viewers all made it. The fact that the moment wasn’t just about Jon, but also about how low Melisandre had been brought by recent events (Jon, Stannis, her visions) and how she was doubting her powers and the Lord of Light himself. She may have brought Jon back to life, but certainly this will do wonders for her self-esteem.
Tyler: My question now is: How stoked should we all be that the same deity that created a smoke demon to kill Renley, told Stannis to burn his daughter, and gave someone like Thoros of Myr the power to bring back his bandit friend is now the one we have to thank for the return of Jon Snow?
Kelly: That is a really good point because I’m still not entirely convinced that the Lord of Light is real or who his faithful think he is. What is his plan, exactly, if he is responsible for what we think he’s responsible for?
Erin: I honestly was expecting Melisandre to fail and that we’d have to wait even longer for Jon’s return. But I love the connections between Melisandre have self-doubt right before she experiences the Lord of Light’s resurrection power, just as Thoros of Myr did before he brought back Beric Dondarrian for the first time. That’s a good question though Tyler, and I hope they explore it more on the show. But I don’t think the Lord of Light and Melly were 100 percent responsible for Jon’s return ... there was definitely something going on there with Ghost at the end of the episode as the camera lingered on him. I have a theory that Jon initially warged into Ghost when he died and Melisandre just brought him back into his resurrected body at the end. Thoughts?
Tyler: That’s so interesting. I remember thinking that the cutaways to Ghost were a red herring given that all the fans were assuming he’d warg into the wolf based on (Kelly you’ll need to correct me if I’m wrong) Jon’s “last words” in the books. It didn’t occur to me that it could be some kind of plot point.
Kelly: His “last word” in the book as he’s being stabbed is “Ghost,” it’s true. That combined with the fact that warging is more emphasized in the books, that was always a popular theory about how he survived (it was also my theory). I didn’t expect the show to really go there though, as it has oftentimes waffled about how much into the magic — especially the weird, hard-to visualize magic — it was willing to do. And it’s a valid adaptation choice, as oftentimes things just work better on the written page than they do onscreen. I honestly thought that if they weren’t willing to go full Lady Stoneheart, a warg Jon wasn’t a possibility. I’d be very happy to be wrong.
Erin: I agree it might be trickier to visualize it on the show, plus they’d have to explain Jon’s warging ability to viewers and non-book readers. But the emphasis on Ghost, for me, felt a little too much to just be playing into fan expectations. Perhaps it was just a nod towards direwolves’ deep connections to their owners. But how cool would it be to see Jon and Bran reunited and warging together?! And speaking of Bran, the opening scene was my favorite part of last night’s episode hands down. I didn’t realize how much I missed him last season and am loving Max von Sydow’s recasting as the Three-Eyed Raven so far.
Tyler: I’m with you. It’s always refreshing to catch up with characters after they’ve been gone a while and Bran’s storyline just has this weight to it that makes me feel like I need to “Shhh” everyone in the room when he’s on screen. The show walks a line between realistic medieval politics and magic and fantasy and I think that line can be labeled “Bran Stark” at this point because he’s our only Trojan horse into that world. So when we see him casually hanging out with the Three-Eyed Raven, and when we see Meera getting a pep talk from ... whatever that girl is, it just feels like we’re getting a peak behind the wizard’s curtain that Game of Thrones doesn’t serve up often. We know he’ll be significant, but we don’t yet know how and I think the show does a good job of giving us just enough clues to keep us wanting more. In this episode alone we establish the concept of living flashbacks. I don’t need to tell R+L=J theorists how significant that could end up being.
Kelly: It was so refreshing to see that flashback. The show can be so unrelentingly dark we need a breather every once in awhile, and this one served the duel purpose of lightening the episode and also, as you said Tyler, reminding us just enough why we need to care about Bran. And that girl is a Child of the Forest, which are OG Westerosi creatures, but even I can’t remember how much the show focused on them the last time we met them. Bringing back a character that’s been gone that long does have some inherent issues. Besides the whole aging thing.
Tyler: Eh, if the Mountain can be three different people, Bran can hit puberty.
Kelly: God he was such a baby in the “previously on” section. Time is fleeting.
Erin: Despite so much darkness, I was glad to see some sentimental moments. I loved that the episode was titled “Home” and showed Bran really mourning and longing for Winterfell. And I really almost got teary at Hodor’s three inflections of “Hodor” at hearing about his younger self. But jumping to the other end of the spectrum, things were incredible brutal this week (as usual). That Walda and baby killing was nearly Shireen-level horrific. I am incredibly grateful to (director) Jeremy Podeswa for not showing it, or elongating Walda’s screams as happened with Shireen.
Kelly: Yes the episode didn’t show it outright, but I felt the entire scene was much too dragged out. The entire bit where Ramsay takes Walda and the baby into the kennel could have been cut out. That scene gave us nothing we didn’t know. We knew he would kill Walda and the baby after he killed his father. We knew he was a monster. We knew he was particularly monstrous with his dogs in hand. All that scene served was disgust, and I was not interested.
Erin: I’m still not sure why Dan Weiss and David Benioff still feel the need to convince us Ramsay = evil. WE GET IT!
Tyler: I agree with you, Kelly. I have to confess it didn’t affect me half as much as Shireen did. Not because I was raised on violent TV and movies and don’t grasp the horror of killing a baby. But after all Ramsay has done, his acts of evil have kind of reached a point of diminishing returns. We knew as early as Season 3 that this dude is probably capable of killing a baby. The real line that Ramsay crossed this episode, which I thought he never would, was killing Roose.
Kelly: Yes! That was the more interesting moment in this plot line, and the episode rushed over it in favor of the gratuitous baby-eating scene. But the moment where he flexes his power to the Maester was exceedingly well done. We’ve always known he was a psychopath, but we didn’t know he could plan and make allies and truly take power. That was what I was interested from him. Not more gruesome violence.
Tyler: If you had asked me as early as Saturday what the most important thing to Ramsey is, I’d have said “his father’s respect.” However, now we learned that his true motivation, like everyone else, is just power. That colored Ramsey a lot more to me than killing his baby brother. He’s a player on the chess board now and I hope he marches toward Castle Black because it’s ... Well, it’s just time for him to go.
Erin: I definitely didn’t see Roose’s killing coming either, and now that no one remains to pull back the reigns on Ramsay, we’re fast-tracked for his death sooner or later. As much as I want Sansa to slowly torture and murder him (hell, they could dedicate a whole episode to it!), I can’t help but think that he’d love it. So what would be the ideal way to get revenge on a man like that? How do you truly make Ramsay suffer?
Kelly: If his true goal is power and respect, as has been pretty well-established, I hope he dies in the most insignificant way possible. And he’s left on some battlefield to rot and no one even remembers how or when he died. He’s just an afterthought.
Tyler: Maybe we don’t kill him? Maybe we lock him up with nothing to do, no one to hurt and no world’s to conquer until he gets so skinny and weak you could play the xylophone on his bony little body? Poetic justice would dictate that Ghost plays a role in his death. Bad things happen to people whose weapon of choice is dogs.
Erin: Now that I think about it more, you’re right Kelly. I don’t think there should be much time dedicated to his end. He doesn’t deserve it. If the show truly wants to celebrate its heroes, it’ll be done with him and move on.
Before we close this out, what are you guys looking forward to most next week? I may not be a book reader, but as a spoileraholic I’m pretty excited to see Tower of Joy.
Tyler: All that’s going on in my world right now is the wait to see Ramsay make his march on the Wall. In one corner, we have Jon and the Wildling army, in the other we have a completely snapped Ramsay and the resources commanded by the Warden of the North. It’s as close as this show gets to a “Good Guys vs. Bad Guys” showdown. Given all the characters and circumstances surrounding it, it’s impossible for this to not be climactic and irrevocably change the show forever.
Kelly: Honestly I think the most interesting storyline is Bran, of all things. The show didn’t always know what to do with him and they still might not be sure, but the possibilities of the flashbacks, plus the unending joy I get in seeing Max von Sydow onscreen, makes me think this is the place with the most potential.