Television

Game of Thrones: Season 6, Episodes 2 and 3 - "Home" and "Oathbreaker"

Mark W. Pleiss

Seconds chances -- resurrection and return -- abound in the early machinations of the sixth season.


Game of Thrones

Airtime: Sundays, 9pm
Cast: Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Sophie Turner, Iain Glen, Maisie Williams
Subtitle: Season 6, Episodes 2 and 3 - "Home" and "Oathbreaker"
Network: HBO
Air date: 2016-05-01 and 2016-05-08
Amazon

Resurrection and return became the prevailing topics in episodes two and three of the sixth season of HBO's Game of Thrones.

The most important being resurrected -- Jon Snow (Kit Harington) -- evinced a second mortality in the final throes of episode two, which he and the audience are still trying to understand. Not unlike the death of Joffrey (Jack Gleeson), the much-anticipated resurrection of Snow was surrounded by a sense of confusion and even disappointment.

Even though his allies hailed his return, Snow seems uncertain about what his resurrection means, and he seems significantly concerned about the possible consequences for breaking the rules of the natural order, especially at the hands of Melisandre (Carice van Houten).

There’s no better example than at the end of episode three, when he lines up his assailants to be hung for betrayal. Snow stands bewildered before his murderers, but it isn't clear who’s more surprised. The hero's face recognizes that he shouldn't be alive, and that he shouldn’t be doing what he's doing. The others share a similar feeling of confusion toward Snow, like he has somehow cheated and has only continued to break the rules.

By consequence, it seems like he might not carry on with the hanging. However, in an act that could be considered courage, vengeance, or justice, he cuts the chord and brings an end to Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale) and his astonished cohorts.

Snow's resurrection ultimately adds to his image not only as a hero but as a savior who has been chosen -- whether he likes it or not -- to carry out a defense against the White Walkers. Nevertheless, one can't deny the curious symmetry between his resurrection and those carried out by his enemies from the other side of the wall. The White Walkers, who ultimately represent the annihilation of human-life in the program, practice a similar art of resurrection in their tactics of invasion.

The difference, of course, is that Snow's resurrection is a heroic one, a return to being reserved for a specific and worthy figure. The White Walker's resurrection of their dead enemies is more like the return of the dead from a zombie movie, because there's nothing singular, heroic, or specific about it. Instead, it's the appropriation of a mass of bodies incapable of thought or independent action.

Another resurrection, although somewhat more figurative, takes place in the visions of Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow) and Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright). The flashbacks represent a fresh addition to Bran's otherwise exhausting storyline of travel and toil, but they also present new images of a young Ned Stark (Sean Bean).

Ned's reappearance as a young man has already begun to demystify and desacralize his identity. In episode three, for example, Ned and his men attack the Tower of Joy, and it quickly becomes clear that he's not the most skilled fighter in the battle. Ned eventually wins when one of his soldiers attacks the defending guard from behind, a move that Bran finds cowardly, but it nevertheless allows Ned to approach the tower, which may contain the future mother of Jon Snow.

The appearance of young Ned resurrects his character from the first season, but it's only led to more questions than answers about what preceded his eventual arrival to power, as well as his unfortunate death. Perhaps he was a character with a more dubious sense of morality than what we’d originally thought, or perhaps something that happened in the tower will make us rethink the significance of his death.

Meanwhile, his daughter, Ayra Stark (Maisie Williams), enjoyed a simple but no less important return to a previous state. In a scene reminiscent of Jean-Claude Van Damme in Bloodsport, the young girl, without the ability to see, becomes proficient in fighting an opponent. She consequently impresses her master, and he agrees to return her vision. It would appear that her training is back on track, but one does wonder if she’ll stay disciplined, or continue murdering the people on her personal hit list.

The narrative lines of Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon), the Lannisters, and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clark) also develop in both episodes, but there are still plots that seem far from climaxing. Violence and bloodshed will eventually explode in all three stories in the episodes to come, but for now, we’ll have to wait.

In the meantime, at least Snow is alive. Hopefully, he'll do something soon.

Game of Thrones is available on HBO Go and HBO Now.

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