Culture

In the Latest Game of Thrones, Snow Arrives Ahead of Winter

Kit Harrington as Jon Snow (HBO)

‘What’s dead may never die.” This family credo of the Greyjoy clan of the Iron Islands took on an entirely different meaning in last night’s episode of Game of Thrones titled “Home.” (Warning: Spoilers ahead.) Playing into current events rather purposefully, the show tossed its “establishment” to the dogs (quite literally) and over the mountain bridge (so long, Balon Greyjoy) in favor of younger characters finally coming into their own. Last night’s episode felt like more of a rebirth (in more ways than one). We saw the demise of Lord Roose Bolton at the hands of Ramsay, robbing Stark lovers of a long awaited moment of vengeance. But to echo his bastard son’s most famous line, “If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.”

After leaving the heir of Winterfell behind for an entire season, we finally dropped back in on Bran who, along with learning how to communicate with animals, has begun to master the ways of the Westeros “Force” by revisiting old memories and visions of young friends (we saw a young Hodor before Hodor Hodor and Hodor). Bran has always felt like the key to the show — his being thrown from a tower window by Jamie Lannister set in motion the entire Game of Thrones series — and it finally feels like the mystical powers he has possessed since early seasons are coming into their own. Perhaps he may even possess a dragon before the season’s end.

The Lannisters have made it quite clear that they have no intention of playing nice with the High Sparrow as evinced by Jamie’s face-to-face stand-off that tests even the mettle of every Lannister-hating viewer before it. This is the brilliance of the show, the way it manages to shift viewers’ impressions of who is a hero and who is a villain as events progress. Since Jamie’s atonement for Ned Stark as well as for backstabbing the mad king, he’s become softer and more sympathetic. The question becomes whether show writers will be able to do the same with a vengeful Cercei.

The show of late has begun to focus more on the main characters’ fantastical beasts. Ramsay Bolton used a horde of hounds to rid his own bloodline of his father’s rightful-born son (and thus a threat to his inheritance. (Oddly, Representative Claire McCaskill, who loved chiming in on Twitter over how offensive an off-screen rape was, had nothing to say over the off-screen murder of a baby.) The Wildlings used a giant to bust down the walls of Castle Black in time to save Davos from the swords of the Night’s Watch. Sansa now finds herself under watch of Brienne just as Circei now finds herself flanked by the mutated Mountain. Even Tyrion seems to have made hesitant friends with Dany’s dragons.

The only character left in the dark without a protector is Arya, who we’ve finally learned may not have been blinded by Jaqen H’ghar as a form of punishment for her act of vengeance last season, but as another lesson in her training. H’ghar even tempts her with returning her sight to her. Arya refuses.

#share#Which brings us to Jon Snow’s dire wolf and predicted spoilery conclusion. Fans have speculated for months that, Jon Snow’s bloody fate at the hands of the Night’s Watch would not in fact mean the end for the show-favorite heartthrob (Kit Harrington). They were of course right, thanks once again to the predicted blood magic of Melisandre. The question now becomes: Which incarnation of Jon Snow has returned from the dead?

I was always of the opinion that what’s dead should stay dead, and Jon Snow’s resurrection would feel like a soap-opera cop-out and plot device just to satisfy fans who wept over losing another favorite. Snow’s death at the hands of his own men felt completely in line with the fates of the previous Starks, and the writers should have left it at that.

Snow’s resurrection now opens the show to more cliché plot devices.

The Starks are always tragically prone to doing what they feel is right, whatever the cost to thinking with their hearts instead of their heads. Throughout the show, they have consistently suffered the consequences for such decisions, no matter how much viewers may like them. Both Ned and Robb’s fates were tied directly to their desires to do what they felt right, consequences be damned. Jon’s olive branch to the Wildlings against the wishes of the Night’s Watch was no different.

Snow’s resurrection now opens the show to more cliché plot devices. Why not bring every character or every Stark back to life? We might as well have an entire army of undead Starks (Lady Stoneheart, anyone?) vs. undead Whitewalkers.

By leaving Snow in the snow permanently, the show could have reset the board, which is what it’s best at, and focused more on the plights of Sansa (still lost in the woods), master assassin-in-training Arya, and Bran, who has always been the key to the family. Now a coming Stark renascence seems to be on the horizon before winter ever arrives, and Jon’s revival will be the focus of the rest of the season.

— Stephen L. Miller publishes The Wilderness, where he writes on viral politics and social media. Follow him on Twitter @redsteeze.

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