Our second episode of the season, and let me say, it's a definite improvement. Going like this, we might be in for pleasant surprises down the road, but for now we have a solid, entertaining episode.
1. Starting the episode we have the much awaited return of Bran alongside the three eyed raven, now played by Max Von Sydow. And right off the bat we enter a flashback within Winterfell of a young Ned and Benjen sparring, with a surprising appearance of Lyanna and a talking Hodor. I quite liked this scene, although I think it's sad we won't get to see these young actors for very long. We'll be skipping between versions of characters like Ned and possibly Lyanna, and therefore the actors will keep changing. It doesn't allow us to form a connection with them. Thankfully Bran and the Raven (I'll call him that for short) are within the flashbacks and they're our connection to this past, being characters we know very well. The mystery of how Hodor became unable to speak is established and I hope they follow through on that. Something that kind of bugged me is how the prosthetics for Leaf and the Raven were upgraded and downgraded, respectively. Leaf looks more cat-like than humanoid, and the Raven looks like a normal dude. Sydow is definitely good in the role, but I think he may have demanded minimal make-up, which is sad, as the look is so intrinsic to this character and the season 4 version looked so good, I kind of wished they kept it.
2. Back in King's Landing, things get more interesting, but not by much, unfortunately. The Mountain scene starts out and it's very, very amusing. Then Cersei is denied permission to attend Myrcella's funeral by Tommen, because he fears the Sparrow's reaction if she enters the Sept. The verbal spar between Jaime and the High Sparrow is entertaining to watch but if feels like an encore to the Olenna conversation in Season Five. I enjoyed conversations where the plot doesn't move along in the past, because they were entertaining and interesting, but here I've heard that talk before so while the acting is great, it's not that compelling. Also, love that line about Trystane. At least they recognized it. Once again, please don't close the Dorne plotline this early. Finally Tommen's apology is a really good scene, and the moment I loved was when he literally asked Cersei for her to help him be strong. I wonder if Tommen's development will put him at odds with his mother. I do hope they do give him more to do this season.
3. In Meereen while the politics are still on a low level, my hunger was appeased by Tyrion actually taking action and freeing the dragons. I'm not sure what the repercussions of this will be, be they good or bad, I'm just happy we now have three dragons loose, and not just one. The actual scene where Tyrion frees the dragons is definitely a highlight, and I felt more tense in that scene, than in others I'll get to later. While one knows Tyrion is surely not going to die, they make the dragons really scary! They look amazing, vicious, kill-if-you-move-the-wrong-way beasts and I loved it. Although they didn't seem to leave the dungeon after Tyrion unchained them. I expect they will have left but off-screen. Overall we had short but sweet Meereen in this episode.
4. Back in Braavos, things are also kept short and to the point, which I enjoyed. Arya is given another beating, but then Jaqen appears, and after Arya shows her commitment to being no one, he allows her to leave the streets. I think he saw that she will now stick to the training and lose her emotional side, becoming more cold and action-driven. I liked the scene itself, but I'm more interested in what's to come. They did well by not putting her in the streets for too long, but I'm hoping they follow through on that by allowing us to see more of Braavos and it's people, having Arya talk to different characters. In short, I hope they don't have her sparring with the Waif for the rest of the season.
5. In Winterfell, we have, thankfully, more of the North than just the Boltons. A Lord Karstark was a welcome addtion to the politics of the North as Roose and Ramsay talk about the dangers of a runaway Sansa. Ramsay suggests attacking Castle Black, to kill a Jon that is dead, but he doesn't know that, and Sansa if that were her destination, but Roose shuts him down, saying that such an act would turn the northern houses even more against them. Then they receive news that Walda has had a baby boy aaaaaannnnnddddd........Ramsay stabs his dad and kills both Walda and the baby, with apparent consent from Lord Karstark. I have to say, I was only surprised by how early this came, because it's been quite obvious ever since we found out Walda was pregnant, and even before when Ramsay was made a Bolton by Roose, that this would happen eventually. I would have liked for Roose to have a dying line to his son, so that it didn't seem so stupid how he didn't see this coming. It doesn't fit Roose's character for him to go out like this I think. However, I must say that I'm quite excited to see what happens when you let Ramsay off his leash. And with the name drops of other houses in this episode, I get more excited by the minute.
6. I think the Greyjoy scenes were my favourite in this episode. Yara and Balon have a scene together that really brought out how Yara is more of a pragmatist than an Ironborn purist, which hopefully will contrast with Euron's ambition. She knows that with the relative state of stability in the realm, given that the war is over, their ability to strike and take what they want is mostly gone. Which brings us to the rope bridge. Euron, like Oberyn before him, comes in, a total wildcard, and exudes mysterious, not as charismatic, yes, but oh so menacing. This is my biggest hope for the season, and more than any other plot, I want to see this one fulfilled to it's potential. I'd say that for now, we're off to a good start. But I want them back in the next episode, so that we don't get Dorne again. If the show keeps fleshing them out and making them more relevant, we may get great changes in how we perceive the future of our characters and story.
7. Finally, we get to Castle Black. I have to say, I really wanted to see Davos fight, but I knew it would lead to massacre if it happened, so this keeps him alive. The Wildlings come in and the Night's Watch surrenders with only two deaths, one of them being quite spectacular from Wun-Wun. Alliser, Olly, and the other traitors are arrested, and I can't believe I yelled out loud while watching: "Kill the kid!!! Kill him now!!!". I really hate Olly, so I'm probably a douchebag, but I digress.
Then Davos approaches Melisandre trying to convince her to try her magic on Jon. Some people find this to be out of character for Davos, but honestly, I gave it a pass. Like Yara, Davos is a pragmatist, and not that much of a believer in any religion. As such, as long as he's doing the right thing, I don't think he cares much about the means, be they black magic, rituals or whatever. I do still think he's angry with her, or at least I hope he is, and that he doesn't forget about Shireen, but for now, I think he let that go, because he knew what had to be done.
The resurrection was to be honest, anticlimactic. Seeing as how Melisandre to our knowledge has only seen this act having been performed by Thoros, I hoped the ritual would be the same for both. It wasn't nearly the same. She washed Jon's body Arya style, then cut hair from his head and beard, for whatever reason, then said some Valyrian stuff that wasn't even subtitled so we don't know if that matched Thoros' speech, and voilá! It seemed totally random. Then, after everyone gives up and leaves, Jon wakes up. Ghost gets a lot of screen time here, so I wonder how big of a role did he had in the process, but despite Kit's great gasp at the end, I wanted more "Wow!". Mance's death last year felt more important, I think.
Overall, there was nothing in this I didn't outright like. Even the more predictable, or less exciting scenes were still very entertaining. Like last week, the season is still young, and the plot needs to mature, and so far, big things have already happened. Genuinly liking the improvement, I'm hoping the season keeps getting better. Leave your thoughts down below on how you felt. Thanks for reading.