Lenika Cruz: I agree, Chris—there’s been a surprising amount of blood spilled by kin on Game of Thrones recently, even by Game of Thrones standards. So far, we’ve seen grisly endings for Balon Greyjoy, Roose Bolton and his family, Prince Doran and his son, and, at the very end of last season, Jon Snow at the hands of metaphorical relatives. I can’t tell if there’s a bigger lesson to be learned here—that loyalty should never be taken for granted, that power can be seized by anyone at any moment—but if there is, I’m not sure it’s one the show hasn’t already taught with the likes of the Red Wedding or Tywin’s toilet-murder.
I was less upset than you were about Benioff and Weiss’s increasingly strident (and decreasingly believable) declarations of how Jon was for-real dead and not coming back. From the moment Jon crumpled onto the snow last June, I was one of the viewers who was 100 percent convinced he’d be returning with the help of Melisandre’s magic, and no one, not even the Game of Thrones showrunners, was going to convince me otherwise. The Red Woman may have lost her faith, but I had enough for both of us.
On that note, I’m certain that if you’d asked 50 Game of Thrones fans to sit down and write a hypothetical Jon Snow resurrection scene, the vast majority would’ve come up with something along the lines of what we saw at the end of “Home.” (From how many miles away did you see those life-gasps coming?) I liked the way Davos served as the audience surrogate, prompting a deflated (or, re-inflated, if you prefer) Melisandre to rummage in her bag of ghastly tricks and pull out something that could bring Jon Snow back. Poor Melisandre could be the poster girl for imposter syndrome: She birthed a demon baby, foresaw the death of three kings in the aforementioned leech barbecue, survived poison, can conceal her octogenarian status, and still she doesn’t believe her resume qualifies her to take a stab at Jon—bringing him back, I mean.
In seriousness, Melisandre losing her faith served a broader narrative purpose. When the Red Priest Thoros of Myr told the story of bringing Beric Dondarrion back from the dead a few seasons ago, he mentioned how the Lord of Light only acted through him once he’d lost his faith entirely: “I knelt beside his cold body, and said the old words. Not because I believed in them, but ... he was my friend. And he was dead. And they were the only words I knew.” Jon Snow’s resurrection may help illuminate some of the internal logic of R’hllorian magic, but at the very least, it’ll give Alliser Thorne and Olly one less thing to smile about next week.
Speaking of which, remember that time Jon was training Olly, and said to him, “Keep your shield up. Or I’ll ring your head like a bell”? Who knew that decades before that scene at the Wall, Ned Stark spoke these exact words to his younger brother Benjen? Now we do, thanks to the Three-Eyed Raven (Albus Dumbledore) taking Bran (Harry Potter) on his vision journey (into the Pensieve). This callback line was, in retrospect, a nice hint that Jon Snow would say “not today” to the God of Death by the end of the episode. It was also a lovely way to give deeper meaning to this bittersweet flashback to Winterfell, which looked almost exactly as it did in the show’s pilot, right down to Bran and the Raven standing in the exact spot where Catelyn and Ned once did. Sadly, only one person in that scene (Hagrid—I mean, Hodor) is still confirmed alive, and there haven’t been two Starks in the same place for what feels like years now. Who could blame Bran for wanting to linger awhile and drink in the past again? Beyond stoking more nostalgia, it seems this vision-journey narrative device will prove more useful this season: The next-week preview clip suggests that the history behind a long-suspected theory will finally get some screen time.