As frustrating as it is for Game of Thrones to draw some stories out over several weeks only to rush others in the space of a single episode, Jon, Sansa and Davos’ skirmish across the smaller Northern households plays out nicely across this week’s episode, even if it likely covers several weeks’ time.
They visit Bear Island (which, thanks to the show’s plump CGI budget, looks bloody amazing) and meet Lyanna Mormont, who we last heard of in Season Five when she sent Stannis a stern letter saying her house would never support a non-Stark in the North.
This week, we meet 10-year-old Lyanna. House Mormont has been ravaged by the ongoing war – Lyanna’s mother, Maege, was killed supporting Robb, her uncle was Commander Mormont at Castle Black until he was betrayed and her cousin is none other than Jorah, currently backpacking throughout Essos looking to cure his greyscale.
Lyanna is a stern, uncompromising young lady and challenges Jon first over his bastard-born status and then Sansa for being married to two different Lords. “You’re a Lannister, or a Bolton, I forget,” she quips. The message is clear: House Mormont may be a smaller house, but they don’t want to lose loyal men for a lost cause.
Davos steps in and explains the ongoing war against the dead; Jon confirms his men have fought, and lost, against the White Walkers. Lyanna (who incidentally was named after Ned’s sister, the woman kidnapped at the Tower of Joy) eventually agrees to give them her best men – though she admits that they only have sixty-two.
House Glover, meanwhile, staunchly refuse to join the Starks, proclaiming House Stark “dead”. They occupy Moat Cailin, which was the small castle that Ramsay had to butcher his way through on his way to Winterfell in Season Four. While their reluctance to get involved is understandable, it means the Starks have far less support than they’d like, prompting Sansa to write a letter to someone imploring them for support.
Is it to her uncle, the Blackfish, or is it Baelish? Sansa and Jon’s own parlay about their best move mirrors Robb and Catelyn’s differing views on war and politics from the earlier seasons, and solidifies one of the themes of the episode; rebuilding a new country after years of neglect and war is not as easy as nailing a few planks of wood together and calling it a church.