Vinnie: Well, Ben, I do hope you dressed warmly for this recap because the FORECAST CALLS FOR SNOW.
Did you feel it? That exact moment where an entire year’s worth of speculation, theories, think pieces, anticipation and borderline invasions of an actor’s privacy all culminated in that incredible final scene in which everyone’s favorite 400-year-old witch Melisandre brought Jon Snow back from the damn dead.
Ben: First a shout-out to the most unsung hero in this entire thing. Kit Goddamn Harrington. Not because “gasping for air” is a particularly exhausting bit of scene direction, but for spending the last seven months listlessly repeating “Jon Snow is Dead” to interviewers, accosting fans, airplane passengers, airplane staff, and generally just being the show’s martyr in trying to sell this “twist” because an exec thought they might really be able to sell this as a permanent death. You enjoy your millions, you pouty-lipped sourpuss.
Vinnie: All at once now, before we can truly begin. Jon Snow, that beautiful, mopey-faced, Prince That Was Promised, curly hair having motherf*cker is back. My goodness. The moment Ghost woke up from his direwolf snooze to realize his master was waking up should sweep the entire Emmy ceremony.
Ben: Eh, not sure I’d go that far. From minute forty-six, you knew exactly how the rest of the episode was going to go, down to the last shot.
Vinnie: So time for real talk…I’m not a fan of this development. *Vinnie is pelted with fruit, rocks, and actual human feces* It’s not that I think Jon came back too soon. I kind of love that they dropped that twist in episode two, because who the hell expects anything out of episode two? And it’s not that I didn’t enjoy the scene itself. It was actually masterful in its suspense-building; the way the camera kept holding on Jon’s corpse, how Tormund, Melisandre, and Davos each left the room in their turn with different kinds of disappointment on their face. All that was 10/10, gold star, would resurrect again. But didn’t it all seem too, I don’t know, easy? I joked last week how the dumbest thing that could happen after all the “is Jon alive” buildup would be for Mel to walk in and wim wam wazzle him back no problem. And that’s…kind of exactly what happened. Agree? Disagree? Can’t think straight because of the actual sound of Tumblr exploding?
Ben: Haha, this is going to be a trying two months for you, pal, because that’s exactly what I loved about it. It was a complete trolling to all ridiculously convoluted essays and fan theories out there about how Jon comes back.
No Warging, no “The Gods Would Not Allow it For He Is Chosen” sudden resurrection. Despite its mystical nature, it really was a completely man-made outcome. Unlike Tyrion, magically having a connection with the dragons — which, urgh — it was a pretty sensible resurrection. Literally, someone just asked the magic red lady two doors down, “Hey, think you can try to bring this guy back?”
Vinnie: Sorry, remember that thing I said about Ghost winning all the Emmys? I’m actually going to need that moment to split the winning with teenage Hodor trying to fight little Ned Stark in Winterfell’s sparring floor. Man, what a great return scene for Bran Stark, who took season five off to sleep in a tree with a magical figure so powerful, he completely changed actors between seasons.
Ben: You can’t get me to like Bran’s six-year long Ayahuasca trip. Sorry, you just can’t. “Zomg, Hodor, you used to talk!” Yes, you little Warging asshole — you’ve been mind-invading a real-life human being, not an Iron Man suit.
The flashbacks itself was nice, but I really hadn’t missed Bran. As far as Stark boys go, you know my saying: Release the Rickon!
Vinnie: Bran’s trip back through time was as close to full-on fan-service Game of Thrones has ever come, and I’m sorry Ben but take my eyesight and beat me with a stick I loved every second of it. Lyanna appearing on screen for the first time as a horse-riding little rapscallion? Amazing. Baby Benjen showing up decades before the lands north of the Wall literally ate him? Loved it. Old Nan showing up as Slightly-Older-Than-Middle-Aged Nan? SURE WHY NOT.
Ben: It was nice to glimpse how time is a flat circle in the courtyard of Winterfell — literally down to the same exact dialogue, which rang a little too twee for me. But yup, our first glimpse of Lyanna in the same episode that Jon Snow comes back. We didn’t get much, but she’s like the perfect third bowl of porridge of Sansa and Arya, isn’t she?
Vinnie: Also, we should probably discuss how low-key Kristian Nairn has become an incredibly effective actor as Hodor. Dude has become the master of loading different emotions into the same word. Step aside, Vin Diesel.
Ben: That’s what I’m saying! The guy had mad rich inner-life all along and these twerps have been using him as a toboggan puller without a second thought. Sure, his mouth says “Hodor” but his eyes clearly yearn for the feel of gossamer grass under his fingertips at the height of summer.
Vinnie: Am I crazy, or is season six actively trying to just erase all this show’s lamest missteps as quickly as possible? Last week, it erased the smell of Dorne’s bad pussy with a swift spear through the face. This week, we revisited the time Daenerys had three badass, city-conquering dragons but decided to lock them in a basement because a couple measly sheep and one child got burned to death. (They’re DRAGONS, Dany. It’s WHAT THEY DO!) In one single scene, Tyrion was able to free Rhaegal and Viserion from their chain without harm because he…used his soothing elevator voice?
Ben: And as far as Dany goes, I mean, she’s failed, right? I don’t see it as course-correction, so much as confirmation of Three Seasons of Failure. If all it takes is a two-week absence for all the cities she’d freed to return to the slavers, she was never going to get the stability needed for her to be able to leave anyway. I predict she’ll come back to Meereen in time to wash her hands of the whole thing and head to Westeros at last, pretending it’s an active choice when really she’s just failed. Or, the alternative is that the men fixed it all in her absence which also isn’t great.
But, hey, on the bright side, can we take a take a moment to acknowledge Grey Worm’s dope new civil servant outfit? What is that, an embroidered leather shirt? Yeezy himself, I tell you!
Vinnie: I’m not even sure how to feel–not about Grey Worm’s outfit. I know exactly how to feel about that and that feeling is “dmn grl”–but about Tyrion. Because like Jon’s Mel-surrection, I’m not crazy about the end result but the execution was just so impressive. Peter Dinklage is a damn treasure, now and for always. It’s impressive enough how he blended fear, calm, and genuine awe in that scene with the dragons, but you also have to remember he probably did so while talking to a man wearing a green rubber suit and holding a pole with a tennis ball at the end of it.
Ben: “I’m friends with your mother.” Tyrion is a literal stranger danger to young, nubile dragons everywhere.
Alright, fine, let’s get into it. I hated this. HATED it. Why didn’t Tyrion just send Missandei to free them after acknowledging that the dragons are most likely to recognize her? That would be the logical, tactical decision in light of what he knew. This reeked of “protagonist-knows-he’s-the-protagonist” ness. That’s Tolkien shit. There, I said it. Forget last year’s Fighting Pits: You want some Atreyu and Falkor? There it is right there! In the books, the person that tries this is actually a lesser Martell brother and dude gets rightfully roasted.
If “Tyrion is (also) a secret Targaryen” turns out to be true, I swear…
Vinnie: Wait, holy shit, I actually got this far down the recap before I remembered that Ramsay Bolton straight up killed his father. That plot point is as far out of George RR Martin’s source material as a dinner scene without multiple pages of meat pie description. It’s a strange feeling, this thing you call “surprise.”
Ben: GODDAMNIT. I loved Roose Bolton, Vincenzo. Loved. Michael McElhatton’s voice was like rich honey. Over gravel. In front of a fireplace! But, yeah, I kind of saw this one coming… To quote a famous drunk and complete the analogy: “It’s hard to put a leash on a dog after you’ve put a crown on its head.” It’s the most obvious evil choice for Ramsay, so of course that’s the one the show is going to take.
Vinnie: Unfortunately, I do think Ramsay is treading dangerously close to becoming cartoonish, and that’s not just because Iwan Rheon actually resembles a particularly scary napkin doodle. It’s the writing, more than anything. Like, was this the only time in history a line like “I prefer to be an only child” was delivered sans mustache-twirling? And on the flip side, I kind of love having a character in this show full of complex, multi-layered villains that is just so…dastardly for the sake of dastardly-ness? Ramsay is just a crazy, bug-eyed goblin king, and there’s something to be said for the fact I needed three Xanax just to get through ten seconds of him holding a baby.
Ben: This was the least complex choice for the character! (We’re not agreeing on anything tonight, ha.) I am so completely bored with everything Ramsay.
Hey, know how I know Ramsay is evil? He loves to flay people alive.
Hey, know how I know Ramsay is evil? He flayed and castrated Theon.
Hey, know how I know Ramsay is evil? He enjoys hunting women with dogs.
Hey, know how I know Ramsay is evil? He raped Sansa and locked her in rape room.
Hey, know how I know Ramsay is evil? He unleashed a dogs on his stepmother and a baby and you get to hear it in full Dolby digital.
I liked him so much more as the weirdly subservient daddy’s boy who tortured Theon a little bit more than he needed to because of his innate disdain for Highborns as the bastard he was. Even in this scene, I liked the idea that he would be flailing going against his father for the first time, but NOPE. Ramsay stabs because Ramsay stabs. If there’s an interesting road for Ramsay, you can rest assured the show won’t take it. I just feel like Iwan Rheon could do so much more with the role if they stopped writing him like a Yahoo message board roleplayer’s idea of “badass eeeeevil.”
Vinnie: It’s okay. Sometimes friends disagree, but it’s caring enough to let them ride off to their freezing death that matters.
So underneath the Jon Snow reveal and Roose’s death and some good ol’ fashioned CGI dragons, we got the quiet introduction of Euron “Crow’s Eye” Greyjoy. And by quiet I mean he threw his brother Balon off a rope bridge in the middle of a maelstrom.
Ben: In the books, it’s this great, impossible sin to kill a member of your own family, let alone the Head of your Household. Something that happens once every three generation and changes the course of history, essentially. A Tywin Lannister-level extinction event. But in two episodes now, we’ve had Doran Martell, Roose Bolton, and Balon Greyjoy… It’s losing its “Woah” pretty quickly for me.
Vinnie: I’m so ready for the evil, mystical pirate portion of Game of Thrones. Euron Greyjoy is a character so damn cool, they cast an actor with a name that literally sounds like dark magic (Pilou Asbæk!). What’d you think of Asbæk’s Euron? It seems he’s going less over the top and more quietly, obviously insane, like the shabby but not quite homeless dude on the A train who has his headphones in his ears, but they’re not actually plugged into anything, and you’re more vaguely uncomfortable about it than outright terrified.
Ben: I’m… interested. I guess? He’s supposed to be “the new Oberyn,” but Oberyn Martell was just lightning in a bottle in terms of “new character you were instantly enthralled by.” The show still hasn’t reproduced that sort of magic. Maybe it was the hooded-on-a-rainy-bridge intro, but I’m not wowed yet. However, I am a fan of Pilou *mumblecoughs* from Borgen and I want to see him cut loose. A conversation with a septuagenarian about your famed insanity is still just exposition, y’know.
Vinnie: I think the real important question hasn’t been asked yet: Which of this episode’s two scenes featuring a monstrous giant smashing a man into a wall was your favorite? Was it Wun Wun crashing into Castle Black and singlehandedly pants-shitting Alliser Thorne’s posse into submission?
Or was it Cersei’s eight-foot tall zombie knight crushing that dude’s head for committing the crimes of A) Seeing Cersei naked and B) Insinuating Jaime has a tiny penis?
Ben: I don’t think it was the same actor, but I want to believe it’s the same guy who exposed himself to Cersei during her Walk of Penance, telling her to service him, who has gotten the confidence to evolve his jeering into a “tight five” at the King’s Landing Second City open mic.
Vinnie: Spoiler alert, I’m pretty sure Robert Strong is my favorite character on this show. You can all have your Jon Snows, there is just something immensely pleasing to me about the fact Cersei Lannister now has a lumbering undead puppy dog at her every beck and call. I honestly missed Jon coming back to life the first time because I was too busy picturing Cersei ordering Robert Strong to dunk a basketball for her amusement and chuckling to myself.
Ben: Now, that’s a PR team! She stays in the Red Keep and sends him out to stalk the streets of King’s Landing and clear up her good name. (Can you imagine if you could do that to eggs on twitter?)
Margery would be feeding the homeless, trying to get her Q rating back up but not our girl Cersei. Look under your chair, it’s your own brain matter, splattered for all to see. And, I love the more restrained bits of acting here. From pulling at that thread on her dress to simply noting the blood on Robert Strong’s hand with approval, they’re doing a great job of conveying how restless and anguished Cersei is under house arrest while her children keep dying. Try to arrest her again; she dares you.
Vinnie: But hey, elsewhere in King’s Landing Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Jonathan Pryce put on a damn masterclass in how to make a scene where nothing actually happens feel both weighty and badass. Both these guys have such a good handle on their characters: Jaime is outwardly ready for a fight even though you just KNOW with one golden hand, in that setting it’s all tough talk, and the High Sparrow is all humility and piousness when you just KNOW he loves throwing his righteousness into the faces of King’s Landing’s elite.
Ben: Man, the High Sparrow. Another phenomenal actor, locked into a schtick I’m getting tired of. I think this was his first actively political threat. Yes, Jaime could kill him, but he’s another nameless devouts whereas if Jaime dies, the Lannisters lose the heir to Casterly Rock. Even though Jaime would gamble with his life, he can’t gamble with his namesake and legacy anymore with his family in their current predicament.
Vinnie: So, how close was this episode to straight up confirming a couple long-standing theories? Is Jon’s resurrection proof that he’s The Prince That Was Promised, AKA the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen? (Previews for next week do show we’re headed to the Tower of Joy) Is Tyrion’s apparent ability to become insta-buddies with Dany’s dragons a sign he too is a secret Targaryen?
Vinnie: Fine, FINE, no more talk of Tyrion Targaryen (FOR NOW). We’ll end on a much more likely theory: Did Tyrion’s statement that “the last dragons were no larger than cats” confirm my long-standing suspicions that Tommen’s kitten Ser Pounce is actually, in fact, a dragon?
Ben: Dude, Ser Pounce is dead. His innards discreetly wiped against a curtain by Robert Strong while Cersei smirked. She doesn’t strike me as a pet person.
Vinnie: Yeah, probably, but if this episode taught us ANYTHING, it’s that death on Game of Thrones is never permanent.