This review came a little bit too late, but despite that, I felt it right to give you my opinion of the episode regardless. This one was good, not great, and not bad. A very bland acessment, I know, but it's really how I felt watching. There were moments that I would classify as great, but overall the episode itself was just build-up, hopefully for some great payoffs down the line.
1. We start at Castle Black, where Kit Harington shows off his acting chops, playing someone who's just come back from the dead. The scene was very good, took it's time, let the faces of the actors do the work, and I liked the conversation between Jon and Davos at the end, especially when Davos recognizes how crazy their situation is. It made me connect with their heads as this stuff is unbelievable in real life, just as it is for them. Then we also get great moments from both Tormund and Edd. I'm glad to see that even the secondary characters get to show more dimension, even when they are just playing off reactions to the main characters. With so many people dead, people latch on to characters like Tormund and Edd, who are always there, and seeing them get these small moments is always a joy.
2. Next, we get Sam and Gilly's first appearance this season, and while I did like this scene, I'm not sure I wanted it. I'll get more into this when I review episode 4 but the thing I've found is that the show has to do catch up with so many plotlines every episode, it doesn't seem like anything happens until you watch the season as a whole. This relates to Sam and Gilly as we only saw them in this episode and we didn't see them in the next one, so there is no continuity to this scene for far too long, and since nothing really happened in this scene, I wonder why we couldn't get this after they landed wherever they're going, and had this talk then, and use the time they got in this episode to progress some of the plotlines already in this episode, like King's Landing, or Dany, or Meereen. And then when you want to get back to Sam, show something that moves his plot along, but also the whole plot along, like when he finally gets to his father's home, or Oldtown. I've ranted long enough now, like I said, I did like the scene, but it felt superfluous.
3. Tower of Joy! We go back to Bran and the Raven who now journey to the final moments of Robert's Rebellion when Ned, Howland Reed and some other nameless northerners face off the remainder of the Mad King's Kingsguard in their search for Lyanna Stark. I have to say, I knew this scene was probably not going to live up to my expectations. But honestly, that's more my fault. The scene itself is quite spectacular. The location is stunning, the actors they got to play Dayne, Ned and even Howland were all good. Ned looked a little too young, I suppose he was young at the time, but it's like when we met Greyworm for the first time, he didn't have the comanding presence to be the leader of the Unsullied, but now I like him in the role. Young Ned would probably get better in my eyes with time, hopefully we'll get him for a few more flashbacks. Although, getting down to business, major props to the stunt team and doubles. Once Oswell Whent (who also remains unnamed) goes down and it's only Dayne left, the fight that ensues is incredible to watch, and the choreography is amazing. When Howland stabs Dayne in the throat and Ned finishes him, you can see the paralel with the Jaime fight in season one. Here Ned dishes out an unclean death, something that really shocks Bran. Finally, I think the show is really trying to build up to R+L=J, which is something that even show fans are starting to pick up on. I wonder if we'll get a twist when we enter the Tower or if the show will use R+L for it's simplicity. In short, I know the exposition can't get too heavy, but I felt bad that most of the characters in the scene remained unnamed, as now, it seems that our exploration of the past is incomplete. The scene was still good despite my minor complaints.
4. I'll merge my analysis of Vaes Dothrak and Meereen because the former is fairly short. Daenerys joins the Dosh Khaleen but remains who she is, not surrendering to the dothraki way of life. It seems like Dany will not ever go back to who she was in the start of the series, which is logical, but that means that she is only here to win the Dothraki back. As such, putting her here feels more plot demanded than character demanded.
Moving right along, we get to Meereen, where Varys gets one of his birds to deliver that prostitute who was working for the SotH in season 5. I was happy to see her again. The information she delivered wasn't that revealing, but then again, with Hizdahr dead, the list of suspects for who's leading the Harpies is Daario and Daario, so unless she said his name, it wouldn't come as that much of a surprise, because we don't know anyone else. Like I said, I'll be truly happy when we get Tyrion actually being the diplomat we love him to be. Until then, no matter how funny it is to hear Greyworm say "Patrol", Meereen will continue to be lacking something, as will the character of Tyrion.
5. Back in King's Landing we get a truly adorable scene with Qyburn getting along the Varys' former little birds. Their looks when they see the Mountain are priceless. Then, when Jaime and Cersei enter the room, Cersei reveals her intent to have the Mountain fight for her at the Faith's trial. I wonder whether this will still happen this season given the Tyrell army we saw in the trailer. Maybe they're setting up Cleganebowl, which I think is definitely a possibility, even if it'll take a long time until we see that since neither Ian McShane nor the Quiet Isle have been introduced. Next, we saw the small council meeting as I'm both amused and annoyed by how the characters interact. I like how the Queen of Thornes and Kevan mock Cersei, but this petty bickering annoys me because I feel like there are a lot of things the characters should be talking about, and they're not. Jaime even lists some of them during the scene. While in some places the plot is being accelerated, King's Landing remains stale, and I don't particularly like that. Someone needs to start to take action.
6. Some people complained that the Arya scenes in this episode felt too much like a training montage, but honestly, I really liked them. They've certainly managed to make me believe that Arya is more no one than she was when she got there, and that's the point, she isn't totaly no one and probably never will be. And we couldn't spend more time on that. The fact that she has also gained more of a fighting skill than just her water dance moves makes me anxious to see her in action. This segment was exciting, not a lot of dialogue, very ambience driven, and managed to advance Arya's plotline to the point where I don't think I need to see the House of Black and White again, unless it's to introduce a new concept. Arya is ready to go out there, and I'm hoping she does.
7. More Northern Houses, and I love it. Now the Umbers join the North's political game, apparently as an ally to Ramsay, as they bring him Rickon and Osha, and a dead Shaggydog. Now, the Umbers are famously loyal to the Starks, lord Karstark even states it, and in the books they are certainly not backing the Boltons. This makes me wonder whether the Umbers are playing Ramsay, which would be a cool twist. The dead direwolf makes me unsure, though, it may just be a regular wolf, but that's unlikely to fool Ramsay. No matter the outcome, this is very a cool scene, and it sets up nicely why the Wildlings eventually are going to have to fight. It does defeat the purpose of Stannis' plotline in Season 5 though, which I regret, but oh well. I do hope we get to see more of these lords, and other lords in future episodes. I know we already have a lot of characters to juggle, but honestly, the new characters have been some of the best things this season so I don't want them to stop coming.
8. Finally, the moment a lot of us have been waiting for. The death of Olly. Despite the minor inaccuracies of only hanging 4 men, this scene was very well done, and most of the props go to the dialogue and the acting. Thorne's speech reminds one last time why he's a douchebag I sympathize with. The way he sticks to his guns, not bragging, not begging, not even angry, just quietly states one last time how he would do it all again if he could, and correctly affirms that Jon will be fighting the wildling's battles forever. He goes out like a gentleman, as much of a villain as he is. And Olly, like Joffrey, makes me feel some pity for him when he dies. I really thought he was going to spit on Jon, but alas, that would've been too much drama. The makeup department is also owed major props. The dead bodies looked very good. Jon then decides he's going to leave the Night's Watch, which means we are probably going to get the battle of the Bastards. I do wonder about Edd though. For how much of the White Walkers we saw in the trailers, they might attack the Wall. He'll probably stop showing once Jon marches South and may appear in the finale. That's my prediction.
Overall, like I said, a good episode, not many plotpoints were moved along, but we certainly got some great scenes. Leave your thoughts down below, and once again, thank you for reading.