Game of Thrones: 5 biggest moments from episode 2, season 6
Need to talk about Game of Thrones? You've come to the right place. Spoilers within, obviously.
After last week's exceedingly violent season opener, you'd be forgiven for thinking Game of Thrones might be slowing things down in its second episode of Season Six. Given how every season has a pretty game-changing episode nine (Ned's execution, the battle of Blackwater, the Red Wedding, and so on) it's not unusual for several episodes of character development, scene-setting, foreshadowing and game playing before the axes start falling.
But there's obviously plenty of time for that later, as this week saw more key characters get bumped off, some hardcore giant, dragon and zombie action, and the return of some characters we haven't seen since Season Three. Here are the key moments from the episode.
Bran finally returns… and starts visiting the past
We last saw Bran reaching the cave beneath the tree at the end of Season Four, where he met the Three-Eyed Raven, an ancient old man sitting on a throne made of weirwood roots who promised to help the young boy develop his powers. We now find Bran and the Raven are using their warging powers to connect to the past via the extensive, supernatural weirwood branches beneath the earth. Bran finds himself watching his father, Ned, and his uncle Benjan and aunt Lyanna as children, where they're training in Winterfell's courtyard. He also sees a young Hodor, known then as Wyllas, who is able to say more than just one word.
The Raven pulls Bran out of his binge-watching and warns him against living fully submerged in memories. Like warging into his wolf, it's clear that warging through trees is having an effect on Bran. Later, when his travelling companion Meera ventures out the cave, one of the Children of the Forest warns her they won't be staying long - war is coming…
Ramsay Bolton takes over Winterfell
With Sansa's escape, the Bolton's hold on the North is weakened, and although Ramsay says several houses are pledging their loyalty to them, he and his father both know they are backed into a corner. Roose's joy at learning his wife, Walda, has given birth to a boy is dashed, however, when Ramsay murders his father and takes over as Warden of the North.
After getting the maester to spin a lie that Roose was poisoned, Ramsay heads out to meet his mother-in-law and new baby brother. Given his aptitude for torture and his fondness for violence, every moment the camera focuses on Ramsay holding the baby is excruciating stuff. In the end, he marches Walda and the baby into the kennels, slowly unbolts each rusty door, and, with a simple whistle he has his dogs mutilate the two of them.
It's a harrowing moment, and one of the most tense, cold-blooded murders the show has given us. As the sole surviving member of House Bolton, Ramsay looks set to rule the North through sheer terror alone.
One detail worth noting; Ramsay mentions that several Northern Houses have backed the Boltons, including House Umber. But in Season Three, Bran sent his little brother Rickon and the wildling woman Osha to House Umber for their protection. Will Ramsay find out the Stark he's been searching for is right under his nose?
House Greyjoy returns
After being absent for a couple of years, the Greyjoy family made their return in this week's episode. Balon, Theon's father and the self-proclaimed King of the Iron Islands, met his demise when he crossed a particularly shaky rope bridge linking together the jutting towers of his home. But it was no accident; Balon's brother Euron, making his debut in the TV show, mysteriously appeared on the bridge and did the deed.
Euron says he believes he is The Drowned God reborn, and his conversation with his brother makes it sound like he was banished from the Iron Islands for his behaviour. This scene is just another example of the families in Game of Thrones destroying their own legacies from within - just like the Dornish coup last week, Ramsay's murder of his father, and the Lannister's slow and steady collapse.
Yara learns she won't inherit her father's seat - she must win a Kingsmoot, which is the Westerosi equivalent of a general election. Will she win over the old-school misogynist pirates, or will Euron have a better claim to the throne? There's also the small matter of Theon, who hints to Sansa that he might be heading home to Pyke to atone for his sins.
Cersei's starts her campaign
Remember during Cersei's walk of shame when some dude flashed his dick at the Queen Regent? Well she certainly does. After the man in question is heard dining out on his story in King's Landing, Cersei's eight-foot-something zombie bodyguard, Sir Robert Strong, casually tracks the guy down and smashes him against a wall, causing his head to burst.
It's the first step in Cersei's ascension back to the top. While she's being kept in her chambers - King Tommen won't even let her attend Myrcella's funeral - she instructs Strong to cross a few names off her own kill list. In other head-smashing news, this week we see the Wildlings overthrow the Wall and help Edd imprison Thorne, Olly and the rest of the mutineers, and one of the Wildling giants gleefully smashed apart an archer who pathetically shoots him in the shoulder. Mate.
Jon Snow opens his eyes
What else happened this week? Oh not much. Jaime and Tommen had a chat, the Sparrow did some talking, Tyrion unchained the dragons and that was cool I guess. But also, Jon Snow was resurrected, ending ten months of speculation and causing casual fans everywhere to call one of the least tantalising cliffhangers in pop culture history.
Once the mutineers are well and truly imprisoned, Davos urges Mel to perform some Lord of Light mojo to try and bring Jon back. Though reluctant at first (mainly because she's never done it) Mel ends up washing Jon, giving him a haircut and muttering an incantation. At first it seems futile. But once everyone has left the room, Jon Snow's eyes open and he lurches awake, gasping, as Ghost watches on.
So there you have it. He's back. Harrington has admitted to EW this week that now the secret's out, he's actually got more screen time than any other cast member this year. So what can we expect? Will he lead the Wildlings against the Bolton forces? Will he take on the Night's King? Or will he put his work clothes back on and get back to that stack of paperwork? Christ. It's going to be a long wait until next week.