First, let’s deal with the boring stuff, of which there’s a fair bit this week, although at least it doesn’t involve the utterly tedious Iron Born.
What it does involve, however, is a return to the Black and White Day Spa for the Dead, where A Girl With No Name gets whacked about some more, measures out some condiments, and gets her eyesight back. All the better to assassinate folk with, I’m sure, and it does suddenly seem that A Plotline With No Point might get off its ass and actually start moving, but it’s gone nowhere for so long, I’m past caring. And don’t go thinking teasing everybody with talk of the Hound will impress me, either, show. Bringing back Jon Snow is one thing (of which, more later), but everybody else – especially the tall, angry dude last seen bleeding out on a hillside some years ago – really needs to STAY dead or the whole thing will just descend into anarchy.
As A Girl With No Name looks to the future, meanwhile, A Girl With More Names than Everyone Else Put Together is imprisoned by her past, with the Dothraki locking her up with all the other Khals’ widows till they decide what to do with her. Princess Pouty is irate but her usual “I am Daenerys Stormborn, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains… ” chat gets her nowhere; a round of applause, please, for the no-nonsense “been there, done that” Other Khaleesi who points out, far more kindly than I would have, that Dany’s neither all that, nor a bag of chips.
Enough with the huffy teenagers, though, and onto the more interesting stuff, as, back in Meereen, the completely brilliant Varys is finding out who’s behind all the recent unrest while Tyrion is trying to make small talk with Grey Worm and Missandei. Unsurprisingly, Varys’s job turns out to be the easier one.
In Kings Landing, meanwhile, the equally clever but infinitely crueller Qyburn is also gathering info but, as usual, Cersei’s too worked up to wait around for it. So off she and Jaime go to crash a Small Council meeting, a tactic which fails both spectacularly and hilariously, thanks to the return of Grumpy Uncle Kevan and – HURRAH! – the magnificent Lady Olenna Tyrell, who should just be made queen of everywhere right now, never mind all these other losers. (Losers including Tiny Tommen whom I genuinely thought was going to die this week, but instead ended up going to High Sparrow Sunday School. *shrugs* If it puts off the poor wee fella’s grisly murder for another week, fair enough.)
Small Council fun aside, though, the North is still where all the REALLY big stuff’s happening. Up in that cosy cave of theirs, Bran and the Three Eyed Raven are teasing the audience with just enough Tower of Joy talk to get us excited about R + L possibly equalling J, without actually telling us very much at all. Having said that, this is the most useful in plot advancement terms that Bran’s been since Jaime Lannister pushimg him out of the window in episode 1 season 1 kickstarted the entire war, so the promise that “we’ll visit again another time” is much more intriguing than frustrating, for once, and the Young Ned Stark looks and sounds so like Sean Bean it’s almost scary.
Once again, however, the week belongs to the Lord Commander who makes a – more dazed than triumphant – return to, er, Lord Commanding, with terrific support from Davos, Edd, Tormund and a large throng of star-struck Wildlings, all of whom seem significantly calmer than I would be if a dead guy got up and started walking about again, quite the thing. But then, I don’t live in a world where dead people get up and turn into murderous ice zombies, so maybe they’re just glad he’s back on Team Breathing instead of Team Freezing, if you know what I mean.
After an entirely understandable bit of freaking the hell out, meanwhile, Jon himself seems much the same – apart from the shorter hair, hurrumph, THANKS FOR THAT, MELISANDRE – but, once he’s despatched Ser Alliser (who I actually felt a bit sorry for), Ollie (who I didn’t) and a couple of randoms (who I’ve never seen before in my life), it becomes clear that he’s different in one very big respect at least. Which means, amongst other things, that little brother Rickon – aka The Stark Even the North Doesn’t Remember – need not fret. His time at the mercy of the Warden of the North is unlikely to be a long-term arrangement, since Jon Snow is now not only Not Dead but also Not Watching, which means he’s free to a) come find him and b) forcibly remove Ramsay Bolton’s head from his shoulders. Oh, yes. Bring. It. On.