Game of Thrones fans beware! The night is dark and full of terrors, and this review will have spoilers. Which could be a scarier prospect. If you're reading this before you've seen the episode, you're about as sane as Ramsay Bolton.
If you're in need of a catch up, you can read this to get you up to speed. This week: the family that slays together doesn't necessarily stay together. What we're saying is there's a lot of death in the family.
Bran Takes A Trip
Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) wargs back in time with the help of the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow); Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick) worries about battles to come.
Game Of Thrones doesn't often do flashbacks, but we suppose when you have Bran's particular set of skills, you can glimpse the past. Though there's a certain amount of fun in seeing young Ned Stark (Sebastian Croft), the best part of this chunk of the show is the revelation that A) Hodor has a name other than "Hodor" and that he used to be able to talk! Huge revelation, that whole Wyllis thing, which really makes us hope Bran says, "what you talkin' about, Wyllis?" in the future. And yes, in the books, Hodor's name is stated as Walder, but we suppose that could cause confusion with Frey... Plus: he has giant's blood? Makes sense.
An intriguing interlude, albeit one that has to sketch in a lot of information about what Bran has been up to. And we don't really get much from von Sydow, but it's early days. Wonder if he worries about Dutch Elm disease?
Wildlings At Heart
Davos and the Jon Snow sympathisers get some help
Honestly, this feels like a scene we could have had last week and the tension would still be present. But yes, Davos and his team are saved by Eddison Tollett, who dashed off to ask the Wildlings for help against Alliser Thorne. There's a nice little moment when one of the Night's Watch foolishly shoots a crossbow bolt into the Wildling giant and ends up smeared across a wall.
Jon Snow status: still dead.
A drunken idiot makes jokes about his time flashing Cersei during her walk of shame, and pays the price; Cersei is annoyed she can't attend Myrcella's funeral. Jaime counsels King Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) in the Sept and confronts the High Sparrow; Tommen apologies to Cersei.
Gregor Clegane (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) taking out the drunk early on is clearly meant to signify that things won't go well for the enemies of the Lannisters. Especially as every moment with Jaime and Cersei reveals them acting like a coiled spring, ready to strike back at any time. It's best exemplified by Jaime standing up to the High Sparrow in the face of seemingly impossible odds. Nice to see that the trauma he's suffered in the last couple of seasons hasn't doused that fire he can find when he needs it. And the Sparrow remains the sort of character that would be insufferable were it not for the measured tones and twinkling eyes of Jonathan Pryce.
Unleash The Kraken... Sorry, Dragons!
Tyrion decides that Rhaegal and Viserion, Dany's dragons, should be freed from their shackles.
Yes, Tyrion and Varys are once again called upon to do little other than be comic relief, but Tyrion's freeing – and seeming ability to befriend (or at least not get immediately fried by) – the dragons should make for an interesting story down the line. Will we see Tyrion flying aboard one of them? And beyond the usual top notch banter, Peter Dinklage enjoys a nice moment for Tyrion to open up about his childhood and his lifelong love of dragons. Oh, and while the darkness helps, great work as ever from the dragon VFX team.
Arya Ready To Rumble?
Arya is attacked again by the Waif, but receives an offer.
Much like the scene at Castle Black, we check in very quickly on Arya and while it's always good to see more of Maisie Williams making Arya sympathetic and strong with one glance, it's much more connecting tissue than satisfying story this week. Along toddles Jaqen H'ghar (Tom Wlaschiha), third-person lingo and all, and asks her to follow him. And... that's it. Still, with so many stories to tell at once, some buildup is always necessary.
Ramsay's Death Tour Of Winterfell
Ramsay, upon hearing that his father's wife Walda (Elizabeth Webster) has given birth to a male heir, kills daddy dearest, takes over his position, then introduces Walda and the new little 'un to his favourite dog chums.
Hey! Did you know Ramsay Bolton is an unutterable little psychopath? If the mounting evidence of pretty much everything he's ever done, said or thought wasn't enough for you, he added to the tally in a big way tonight. He goes full Kylo Ren on Lord Roose Bolton before turning his attention to his step mother and throne-threatening newborn step brother. Anyone else screaming, "Nooo! Don't let him hold the baby!!" when Ramsay had the kid cradled in his arms? Turns out we needn't have worried. For a minute, at least. And then Walda and the baby gave new terrible meaning to "going to the dogs". Can anyone possibly be rooting for this monster now? While Iwan Rheon plays him with all the gusto it requires, the character has long since strayed into one-note territory. And conquered it. And set it on fire.
Theon And Off
Theon tells Sansa that he won't go with them to the Wall; he's going home instead.
The Starks got the short end of the stick this episode, as we check in with Sansa (who Brienne informs about seeing Arya), Pod and Theon. It's mostly played quietly between Gwendoline Christie and Sophie Turner, who know how to do this sort of moment perfectly. Ditto the swift goodbye between Theon and Sansa as the man formerly known as Reek admits his fear about vengeance for his crimes against the Starks. Yet what the scene really feels like is a feed in to the next...
Balon Greyjoy (Patrick Malahide) chastises Yara (Gemma Whelan); he meets his brother Euron (Pilou Asbæk) on a rickety bridge.
It's been a while since we checked in on the Greyjoys, but it's always a pleasure to see Yara stand up to the men in her life. And Balon really should learn the lesson from movies and TV - when someone challenges you on a rickety bridge (in the middle of a bloody great rainstorm, no less), it never ends well. So it's bye bye Balon, hello Euron, who is played to full mad-eyed ability by Pilou Asbæk after the character, thought either mad, dead or both, finally appears.
Euron could be a problem for Yara, too: she clearly wants to rule the Iron Islands in the wake of her father's death, yet will have competition from A) sexism and B) her uncle. Did anyone else think Balon's burial at sea looked like he was joining James Cameron on some submersible expedition?
Back In Black
Davos pleads with Melisandre to try to bring Jon Snow back to life.
We finish this episode as we did last week, with Melisandre. But she's reluctant to try to resurrect Jon, no longer confident in her powers even as Davos rattles off her dark accomplishments. Still, she agrees to try and... Whaddya know! When everyone has left the room, old good-hair suddenly gasps back to life. Yes, Jon Snow lives. But as what? Will he be the same moaning nincompoop and occasionally sound tactician we all knew and sort of loved? Or will he be Zombie Snow?
In all honesty, we wondered if the producers were going to have someone try and resurrect Jon every week, knocking down fan theory after fan theory. But no... It's Snow 2.0 and we're well and truly out of the books on that front now.
So then... Ramsay aside, still more a pieces-in-motion episode, getting people to where they need to be both emotionally and geographically, which perhaps doesn't always make for the most satisfying instalments of this show. But it has its pleasures, especially for the blood-thirsty among you and fans of Tyrion being funny, brave and mind-bogglingly stupid all at once. And how do you feel about Jon Snow coming back? Cheated? Delighted? Nonplussed? Be sure to let us know by sending a raven. Or just tweet us.
Highlight: HODOR! HODOR! HODOR! HODOR! (Rough translation: "Bloomin' heck! Young Hodor! Young Ned! Lyanna!")
Lowlight: Shut up, Tommen.
Kill of the week: Tough call, but Ramsay taking out his father and then the next of kin competition in two foul swoops clinches it.
Quote of the week: “Next time I have an idea like that, punch me in the face..." Tyrion, post-dragon-charming.
MVP: Gregor Clegane: strong stance on public urination (plus anyone insulting Cersei, we suppose.)
Random thought: Tyrion remarks that the Targaryens penning dragons eventually bred them down to the size of cats. Now we really, really want a dragon. Can it look and act like Toothless, please?
Season 6, Episode review guide