After a slow-burn opening episode, Sinead Brennan says things are picking up speed now in episode two. Contains a lot of spoilers!
First things first - JON SNOW LIVES
I feel so vindicated right now in my constant belief that Kit Harington has been lying to us all for the guts of a year. None of us wanted to believe that he would be dead forever, and thanks to Melisandre, he has once again opened his eyes.
As I expected, Davos turns to Melisandre in the hope that she could bring Jon back to life, but the Red Priestess is having a bit of a crisis of faith and seems ready to turn her back on the Lord of Light. Despite her waning belief in herself and her god, she gives it the old college try, bathing, cutting his hair and chanting some spells in another language.
Of course, the process isn't instantaneous, and as soon as this all began I hoped the final scenes would see Jon open his eyes, and that is exactly how it played out. Naked and alone, he wakes up with a start, and who could blame him? Roll credits, the end. The rest of the episode is an enjoyable watch, but this is the one moment we will all remember, and the part that will make the next seven days drag by at snail's pace.
Will he remember being killed? Will he still be the same Jon Snow we all know and love? So many questions, and only eight more episodes in the season to answer them all.
Now that my heart rate has returned to normal, it's time to reflect on the other occurrences in Westeros.
We finally catch up with Bran north of The Wall and we see him and the Three-Eyed Raven taking a step back in time to the days when Ned Stark, Benjen, Lyanna and Hodor are all young and carefree in Winterfell. This opening sequence gives us a good indication of what Bran has been up to for that whole season when we heard nothing of him - training. Disappointed that he had to drop back to reality so soon, the Three-Eyed Raven tells him: "It is beautiful beneath the sea, but if you stay too long you'll drown." Has he mentored others that have lost themselves in the past? What exactly is the point of this exercise? What past events must he learn about to be able to fulfill his destiny? Will the Tower of Joy flashbacks come as part of Bran's time-hopping? What is the Three-Eyed Raven preparing Bran for? Again, more questions were raised than answered.
Bran - More questions than answers
Over in Braavos, Arya is still blind and begging on the streets and we see her reunited with Jaqen H'ghar, who appears to be very much alive - nothing is ever as it seems with the Faceless Men. When Arya is offered her sight, food and shelter if she will tell him what her name is, she repeatedly replies: "A girl has no name." She's a strong one is our Arya and, clearly pleased with her response, he leads her away to, hopefully, give her back her sight and continue her training.
What will happen next to Arya?
Elsewhere in Keeping Up with the Starks, Sansa is Castle Black-bound with Brienne in the hopes of reuniting with her brother Jon. It's the thought of coming face to face with Jon that makes Theon decide to part ways with Sansa, fearing that Jon will kill him for all he has done. Having seen him tortured by Ramsay for so long you'd almost forget all of the terrible things he has actually done throughout the show. But alas, Theon wants to go home to the Iron Islands where things are starting to really heat up.
The Ironborn have remained on the periphery of the series for the most part, showing up only when it is relevant to other plot points, but if the events of this episode are anything to go by we'll be seeing a lot of them this season and learning more about their ways, motivations and culture.
Aside from Theon, the only characters we really know from the islands are his sister Yara and his father Balon. Only one of them makes it through the episode alive as Balon's mysterious brother returns from the seas to push him off a bridge on a cold, rainy night as he declares "I am the storm" which, I have to say, was pretty badass.
Bye, bye Balon
As Yara and the Ironborn mourn the loss of Balon and send his body out to sea, she mentions her intent to rule, only to be told that she won't necessarily inherit power. Succession isn't the order of the day in the Iron Islands, with a Kingsmoot held to decide who will take charge. If, and it's a big if, she is chosen, Yara will be the first woman to lead the Ironborn. But with her uncle showing up and killing her father, we can only assume this is a job he has set his sights on and will stop at nothing to obtain. Of course, she doesn't know he's home yet so there's still that family reunion to look forward to.
Can Yara take over?
Family drama is huge in this episode with Ramsay deciding to pretty much wipe his out. It was obvious that he was going to be a danger to any baby that Roose and his wife would have together, because, you know, he's a psychopath and all, but the way in which he disposed of them was really horrific. What was surprising was that he actually turned on Roose. Always looking for his approval, validation and respect, I was unsure if Ramsay would actually go so far as to kill him but all it took was one more dig about being a bastard to tip him over the edge. So it was bye, bye Roose Bolton. Now Ramsay is in charge, which is a terrifying thought.
Roose got his comeuppance
In one of the best scenes in the episode Tyrion comes face to face with the dragons, who he unleashes because he is afraid that they will become weak and die. And Tyrion loves dragons. For me, any scene with Tyrion is a joy to watch and this is just brilliant television.
More great Tyrion telly
While in Meereen, we learn that Daenerys' hold over Slaver's Bay is quickly being lost as the masters in Yunkai and Astapor regain control over their cities. We didn't actually see the Mother of Dragons in this episode but hopefully now, what with her hanging with the Dothraki and her empire falling asunder, we can finally get away from Slaver's Bay altogether. Let's face it: it has become quite stale.
Finally, in King's Landing Cersei reconnects with her only remaining child, King Tommen. Aware of his own powerlessness, and feeling guilty for not protecting his mother and his wife from the High Sparrow, Tommen gets some fatherly advice from his uncle Jaime who tells him "we all fail sometimes" and urges him to visit Cersei. Apologising to her for failing her, Tommen asks his mother for help, and it is clear that this will be her first step back towards real power. Now there's just the matter of the Faith Militant to deal with. Absolutely loved the intense face-off between Jaime and the High Sparrow which, I'm sure, serves as just a teaser of what is to come.
King Tommen for how long?
This episode, like the one before it, continued to set things up for the rest of the season, but there was an intensity and urgency to proceedings that was really exciting. The show is known for its violence and action, but the writing was really allowed to shine here and the restraint made it all the more powerful. It's going to be a long, long week as we wait for episode three.