Open with Jon rising and Ser Davos Seaworth and Melisandre speaking with him about death. Davos’ concern is how it occurred while Melisandre’s concern focuses on what happened after he got stabbed. The experience for Jon is shocking as he tries to understand an impossible scenario, examining his torso where he was stabbed. He’s obviously very scared from the encounter because he now knows that in death there is nothing. It’s final just blackness.
Jon poignantly talks about Olly of everyone “putting a knife through his heart.” This isn’t just a physical reference but an emotional and symbolic one for Jon Snow as well. It’s important to him because Olly was someone he personally had squire for him and probably feels the most responsible for in failing to aid. In many ways, the way Jon Snow states that reminds me of the scene from The Godfather 2 where Michael Corleone gives Fredo the kiss of death and tells him, “Fredo, you bwoke my heart. You bwoke me heart.”
Yet he was allowed to be brought back and he questions why fate provided him with a second chance. Melisandre admits that she saw Stannis as their savior but Jon’s rising means that he could be the prince that was promised as in the prophecy. He doesn’t dwell over that as Ser Davos asks for some time with him privately. Melisandre respects the request and leaves the two.
Here, Davos and Jon have a conversation about leadership and how despite doing what he believed in, he still was murdered for his efforts. Davos’ practical mind tells him that failure is part of leadership and that you have to keep going as failure is part of life. But the main thing is that Jon is alive and he needs to do what he can to clean up the situation.
The whole scene was metaphysical for me as it calls into question whether or not there are gods in the world. Most people believe that there is an afterlife. The fact that a miracle happened with Jon to come back yet not having any cognizance in death demonstrate this odd reality that even begs whether magic exists and how it works.
In addition, one thing that struck me was how Ser Davos looked at Jon in the opening scene. Obviously, Ser Davos is quite in awe and cannot explain it through any sane logic. But you get the feeling that Jon’s resurrection turns Ser Davos into a believer in Jon at the same time. As a result, he might begin following Jon as he did Stannis but this time having a better leader who might be able to fulfill Melisandre’s phophecy. On top of that the speech about failing was not just for Jon, I suspect, but for Ser Davos as well. It was his way of admitting in his failing of supporting Stannis’ cause. Yet his efforts did lead to Jon Snow which seems to offer Ser Davos some renewed hope in a larger, more noble cause.
My last thought on the scene concerns Ghost where it does not outwardly seem that Jon warged into his wolf. No one knows for certain if Ghost did somehow save Jon but at least for now in the TV show, Jon does not exhibit warg abilities at the moment. Still, there is a clear connection with his wolf as Ghost lifts his head as Jon arises. So we’ll have to wait to see where that goes.
Once Jon goes outside, the wildlings and other Brothers of the Nights Watch stare in awe at Jon Snow. Tormund tells Jon that the men believe him as some kind of god because he has risen. Jon denies being a god to which Tormund humorously replies having seen Jon’s pecker. But the two hug which in all honesty probably does not bode well for Tormund as we have seen what happens to those who hug Jon.
Similarly, Jon greets with a hug Ed who questions whether Jon remains as the Jon he once knew. Ed is a little suspicious but Jon restores Ed’s confidence in remaining Jon Snow. Despite the friendly exchange, one has to question how much Jon is revealing at this point. He might be putting up a front for now or that his memory has been blanked. At any rate, I doubt that Jon’s issues of being dead and risen are over this quickly. He has to psychologically come to terms with what happened which adds more complexity to his decisions.
From there, we get our first shot of Sam, Gilly and Little Sam heading towards Old Town. Sam is quite ill on the boat and hurls a few times. But the main issue is that Sam tells Gilly that he intends to send her to his family because the Citadel does not allow women inside. Sam tries to lift Gilly’s confidence in telling her that his mother and sister are kindly people. While Gilly does not feel that’s the best decision, she ends up trusting Sam as he feels that would be the best for them. Of course, because of his damaged relationship with his father, it’s uncertain whether Gilly and Little Sam will be treated fairly.
Next comes a flashback to the infamous Tower of Joy scene. Bran witnesses his father along with Howland Reed fight off Ser Arthur Dayne and another Targaryen loyalist protecting presumably Ned’s sister. Dayne easily handles the Stark men, injuring Reed in the process. Soon it boils down to ned and Dayne, who gets stabbed through the throat by Reed. Bran is shocked because of how he heard a different version of the outcome that made it seem that Ned was able to take out the men. Worse yet Bran picks up on the backstabbing of Dayne by Reed with Ned adding a slice of his own. That brings up the question of Ned’s honor since the stories obviously have been falsified.
There’s a crying from the Tower where Ned goes to seek out the inhabitant. Bran speaks Ned’s name aloud to which Ned thinks he hears something. We see through Ned’s eyes briefly that he cannot see Bran. At that moment, Bran wants to go up with Ned to find out more but the Three Eyed Raven halts him and takes him back to reality in the cave.
Bran is quite frustrated by not finding out more and feels that he is useless. He does not want to end up like the Three Eyed Raven. But the Three Eyed Raven says that Bran will be able to leave eventually, first needing to learn “Everything.” Another important note is that the Three Eyed Raven points out that the history has already been written. Still this points out to the possibility that Bran might be able to influence the past. Yet Bran traveling to the past without comprehending the full picture might make him alter it in some destructive manner. So Bran has to spend more time being patient before making a move.
Daenerys arrives at Vaes Dothrak where she meets with Dosh Khaleen. The old widow explains to Daenerys that she knows whom Daenerys is and sympathizes a little with the young girl. Daenerys iterates all her long titles which gives you the impression that she thinks she’s more important than she is. However, Khaleen expatiates that she was once like Daenerys, married to a Khal who promised to conquer the world. Instead, the Khal passed and she was brought to the temple.
I felt this is a very humbling experience for Daenerys. In her mind, she sees herself as someone who will some day free people and rule justly. But a lot of these ideas are planted in her head by followers and others who try to manipulate her. In the books, Daenerys’ true personality is far from what we see here. Instead, she’s just a teenage girl who in all honesty wants to go back to a simpler life.
At the same time, I think Daenerys has to become more self-aware of her situation. In some ways, she sounds a bit like her brother where titles and entitlement allow her power. But her true power mostly was through her three dragons. At the moment, without her dragons by her side nor armies and advisors, she must bear the situation on her own using her wits. Also, she’s a bit of hypocrite in the way she wants to run her life. For instance, she understands Dothraki customs but does not obey them. Instead, Dosh Khaleen’s description of Daenerys’ situation reminds me of a young starlet in the entertainment industry who, because of their beauty, rises to the top possibly because of their relationship with another famous person. But once that person falls, then the starlet really is no one.
Back at Meereen, Varys talks to one of the spies from Season 5 who betrayed one of the soldiers. He’s similar to the CIA/NSA here, but plays the good cop role in trying to obtain information form the woman. It’s an interesting character building scene where we see that Varys appears outwardly nice, a trait not truly displayed throughout the series. At the same time, he proves to be someone who could be equally ruthless as he reminds the woman the penalty for aiding in the assassination of the Unsullied.
Another important aspect in this conversation is how Varys talks about perspectives. He tries to see things through her perspective and wishes that she could do the same with him. This is critical as we’ll see later on how this theme is brought up again. For the overall story though, this scene I think exhibits not just how one gets information but how one can lead/manipulate in being able to figure out one’s core belief system. The way Varys deconstructs the woman shows that he can figure things out and determine what motivates a person into making a decision. But he shows he can move them in a direction too by providing the person more options than they believe.
After that we have Tyrion with his own small council of Greyworm and Missendei. Once again Tyrion gets the best line in the show. I’m personally waiting for both Greyworm and Missendei, who seem like patient and good people, to eventually complain, “Does he talk this much?” To which everyone simultaneously nods. At any rate, Varys appears and reveals that he managed to ascertain the people behind the Sons of the Harpy, which turns out to be Yunkai and Astapor. They conclude that they will have to hunt down the Sons of the Harpy so that Meereen won’t be defenseless.
We travel back to Westeros in King’s Landing where we see Qyburn rebuilding Varys’ network of Little Birds. This time he’s claiming them for his own. He bribes kids with sweets and acts kind similar to Varys. That little bit is an interesting affirmation on the supposedly compassionate nature of Varys. Still, Qyburn acts creepy, almost like a child molester. Cersei, Jamie and Ser Gregor/Robert Strong make an entrance. Jamie discusses whether Ser Gregor still can understand commands to which the zombie Ser Gregor turns his head showing some recognition. He suggests having Ser Gregor splatter the head of the High Sparrow but for once it is Cersei who recognizes the foolish nature where even Ser Gregor could not survive those odds. Yet they do mention that he could be used for an upcoming trial (Cleganebowl anyone???)
Also, Cersei orders to not just place spies in the city but everywhere. She emphasizes knowing everything, especially in what they say about her. There’s a moment of hesitation from Qyburn which may suggest that the task is a bit overwhelming for him. It’s the first time where Qyburn appears taken aback. It could be the enormity of such a task but there’s also a theory that Qyburn is a Dornish spy. If not a spy from Dorne then he may have alternative motives. Either way, we have to watch Qyburn closely as his position does not seem as strong as before.
The trio enter into a Small Council meeting where Pycelle in particular rambles on about Ser Gregor’s Frankenstein-like disposition and calls Qyburn someone they should not regard highly as he had been cast out of the citadel for good reason. The trio attempt to appeal about the situation surrounding both Myrcella and the removal of House Martell at the hands of Ellaria and the Sand Snakes. Kevan dismisses himself as he does not agree with their schemes. But the key thing to note here is that Jamie is taking a bigger role in King’s Landing and trying to use his position as a King’s Guard for that. However, so far he seems ineffectual.
Next Tommen confronts the High Sparrow. But the High Sparrow takes away Tommen’s conviction about Cersei’s treatment. Instead, the High Sparrow talks about kindness and how her Walk of Shame was done out of love in trying to get to Tommen. The High Sparrow admits that he did not have the same love from his mother and his sin is envy. At the end of the day, the High Sparrow points out that the real judgment is not from himself but from the nebulous gods. It’s an odd statement because he never reveals just how the gods communicate directly with him. Also, Tommen here buys everything the High Sparrow says as his demeanor as a lion shrinks. But the thing to recognize is just how easy Tommen is manipulated in all of this.
Over in Braavos, Arya continues to receive her training in learning to fight with a staff. Throughout these scenes Arya maintains that her name is No One. She talks more in depth about herself, specifically her heritage. Eventually, the Waif gets her to discuss the Hound and how she feels about him. Arya is ambivalent towards him at the end and she says she took him off her list. That makes her sound confused.
Eventually, the Wait wants Arya to announce the remaining names on her funny, little list. At the moment, she only names Cersei, The Mountain and Walder Frey. It’s a shortened list and Arya asks if they want her to name another, that they should just ask. The one name that’s missing and the person who is still alive (supposedly) is Ser Ilyn Payne. We haven’t seen him for a while but he ought to be around still.
Once Arya proves she can defend herself, Jaqen brings her to the water and has her drink. With that her eyesight is restored. The thing is that at first she is hesitant but he tells her that if a girl is truly no one, she has nothing to fear. Thereafter, she maintains she is no one, which may imply she will get revenge against Ser Ilyn or another on her list.
Back at Winterfell, we see Smalljon Umber approach Ramsay. The new Karstark head sits with Ramsay. Ramsay wants Smalljon to swear fealty to Ramsay but Smalljon, being an Umber, refuses telling Ramsay that his father was a cunt, which is why Ramsay killed him. On top of that Ramsay continues to maintain that the original story was that Roose was poisoned but Smalljon does not believe him. He does admit that his purpose for traveling to Winterfell and aligning with Ramsay is that Jon Snow has let wildlings into the North. The Umbers are far north and take the brunt of the assaults. But the only way they can ensure not to be overrun by a Jon Snow led wildling invasion would be to team up.
In turn, Smalljon Umber offers the long lost Rickon Stark and Osha as gifts rather than swearing fealty. Ramsay questions Rickon’s identity and Smalljon proves it by showing Shaggy Dog’s head.
Pretty much all of this is simply setting the stage for Sansa and Jon to take revenge and reclaim Winterfell. At the moment, there’s some conspiracy theories such as the Umbers faking Shaggy Dog’s beheading. Also, that there’s a giant Northern conspiracy to rid the North of the Boltons. Because Smalljon Umber does not outwardly swear fealty, it’s possible that he may eventually betray Ramsay since the Umbers were very loyal to the Starks. However, that was the Greatjon who persished at the Red Wedding. That in itself may be the tipping point for the Umbers to get their slice of revenge against the Freys and Boltons.
Finally, we see the result of Jon Snow’s decision at Castle Black where the four traitors who murdered him are shown tied to nooses. He provides them the opportunity to give their last words. Two are outright scared. But Ser Alliser Throne stays defiant in his decisions. He says that he fought and lost for what he believes in. But he will rest whereas Jon will keep on fighting. When Jon comes to Olly, Olly does not even look at him at first but you can see the burning hatred towards Jon.
Jon cuts the ropes and the platform for which the traitors were standing drops. The four dangle and die. Unlike before, their ferocity is gone. Instead, their last remaining expressions is one of desperation, even sad, especially Olly. Jon seems to understand more than anyone since he was brought back. He understands the truly finality of death now and seeing their faces must remind him of everyone’s mortality not just his own.
Jon gives Edd his cloak and tells everyone that his watch has ended, meaning that he no longer owes the Nights Watch anything and resigns. At this point, he can focus on the things tugging at his heart such as revenge for his family and finding his sisters.
Overall, the last scene was very intense as we see Jon Snow once again making a very difficult choice. Even though the four were traitors, they still were people. And Jon probably felt that it was his fault in part for leading him to this fate because of poor decisions. His hesitation before cutting the rope reminds me of the moment he hesitated in beheading Janos Slynt. Janos begged for mercy, opening up and showing himself a coward. There might have been some mercy in Jon’s heart but he was forced to swing the sword out of duty and revenge.
But that leaves us to the way Ser Alliser Thorne talks about Jon Snow continuing this abstract fight. Is it like karma or rebirth where one continues in this endless drama of wars, never being able to earn that finality of peace. Ser Alliser can rest but Jon Snow must contend with the difficult decisions and future decisions and possible failures. And we have to go back to season 4 where Ser Alliser talked about what real leadership is. Will Jon Snow finally understand? It seems at this juncture the people who were mentors in one fashion or another to him are all dead and that he must use their experience to figure out what is right rather than making brash decisions as he might have once done.