Game of Thrones experienced a bit of a homecoming this week, both literally in the form of its characters and figuratively in form of a classic GoT feeling.

We’re Coming Home (Again)

Game of Thrones is back! And I don’t mean that in the literal “the show has returned from a hiatus” or whatever. I mean that in a more emotional way. This is the show I really fell in love with five years ago, and after two seasons of somewhat lackluster storytelling, I feel like the series has truly returned to form.

This is interesting, too, because seven episodes in, the show is completely off-book. It’s almost as if telling the story via its own medium, rather than being beholden to a different style of storytelling, has improved the quality of the show. I won’t open the “adaptation” can of worms, but it’s worth thinking about.

Anyway, we saw the return of another formerly “dead” character…Sandor Clegane. I won’t hide my momentary disappointment at the turn of events; the return of dead characters always feels cheap, but I guess we never really did see him die, and if one man in Westeros would survive a licking from Brienne, it would be The Hound.

The show seems to be getting back to basics in more ways than one. The Hound had a tiny little character arc this episode, but it seems to be a miniature representation of what’s going on with all of our favorite characters this season…a form of homecoming. Jon Snow and Sansa are preparing for a journey back to Winterfell, Arya is heading back to Westeros (and Winterfell, by extension?), Dany appears back on track for the first time in years, and many of the ancillary characters, like The Hound, are settling back into familiar roles with a bit more perspective. You could call it backtracking, but when all points seem to converge at either Winterfell or King’s Landing, its rather apparent that this was where the show would head regardless. What the characters learn on their excursions is the real story.

Jon Snow and Sansa are clearly prepping for their homecoming, rounding up as many troops as they can muster. If Internet memes are an accurate sampling of viewers, it would appear that Lyanna Mormont was the real winner this episode, sacrificing a hearty 62 soldiers in exchange for the fans’s undying affection. While not all the Houses are loyal to Jon Snow at this point, he’s got Mormont and the Wildlings, and that’s not nothing.

The most enjoyable portion of the show was shockingly the interplay between the Black Fish and Jamie Lannister. Like most people, I’d completely forgot about the Tullys, and Lord Tully’s lack of sh*ts given about Edmuire hits home just how ready to play ball he isn’t. Jamie has his 15 minutes of cocky fame with Walder Frey’s men, but he is no more adept at dealing with the Black Fish than they are, so I’m really interested in seeing how this all plays out.

Arya, meanwhile, was gotten the better of in Braavos, but I can’t say I blame her to be honest. We all knew that a faceless assassin was on her way to kill her, but she didn’t. I would have liked a few fake-outs, that way the official stabbing didn’t appear so telegraphed, but with the show rocketing towards its season finale (remember, there are only three episodes left), I can’t fault the showrunners too much. The final shot of Arya wandering through the streets of Braavos while, literally, spilling her guts over the pavement really illustrates just how alone she really is. Nobody cares about her in this city and he’s got to muster up some of that famous Arya pluck if she’s to survive. I’m not too worried, but I hope the payoff to this plot line makes it all worthwhile.

We get a brief reminder that Margaery is playing a long con, and its good to see that Grandma Tyrrell got the message, even if it had be written out for her. There’s not too much movement here, but it’s not out of place at all. Moving on….

So let’s start this where we began: The Hound. If there was ever a portion of the show that proudly waxed philosophical, this was it. Human beings can change! Learn to love! It’s never too late to take a step forward! The scenes served their purpose, mainly to tee up the Hound for a bloodlust-y return. I won’t lie and say I was sad to see that entire group of people murdered (I won’t even lie and say I was surprised), but with an episode packed to the brim with characters moving towards their roots, this was a thematic fit. Establish a hopefully alternative, taketh away said hope, and let loose the brute. It’s a classic set up that would be stale if not for the fact the ongoing story surrounding the situation is so interesting.

Will the Hound seek out Arya? Who were the men who slaughtered the village? All these answers and more on the next episode of Game of Thrones! Until next week…

Odds and Ends

  • That visual of Arya disappearing into the water while her blood rose to the surface was incredibly well done, especially since the surrounding water was so dirty. I’m glad it wasn’t a sterile, clear pool.
  • Yara being straight cruel to Theon.
  • I would like to have one little scene with Edmuire in all this. He was painted a dunce in season three, so I’d be interested to see what his understanding of these events is.
  • Sir Davos saves the day again.

    Alex Russo likes to talk about television. You can read more of his insane ramblings on Twitter.

Alex Russo

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