Welcome home Lady Stark. The North remembers.
Much like Lady Sansa, I found our return trip to Winterfell to be oddly disturbing. It doesn’t feel like the same place anymore. Not with the treacherous Boltons installed as the leaders and especially without the presence of a single Stark when she entered through the gate. Unbeknownst to any of them, Stannis had planned on marching on Winterfell with the newly christened Jon Stark to rectify that very problem. But that wasn’t Jon’s destiny. He’s where he belongs, settling matters at the Wall between the Night’s Watch and the Wildlings while the White Walkers continue plotting and planning on the other side. Sansa, on the other hand, isn’t part of the Night’s Watch. She will likely never swing a sword or be a heroine in some great battle, but it is still very much her burden now to help reclaim the land that was stolen from her family.
If the North remembers, then Sansa surely hasn’t forgotten who is to blame for the downfall of the Starks. And there she is now, set to be married to the son of the man who plunged a knife into her brother’s heart. As Littlefinger once told her, “Given the opportunity, what do we do to those who hurt the ones we love?”
We’re about to find out just how much Sansa has been taking Littlefinger’s lessons to heart, and just what she’s willing to do to those who killed the ones that she loves.
We already know how far Jon will go, or rather how little disobedience he will tolerate as the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Janos Slynt was always going to be a problem for Jon. He doesn’t follow orders and we’ve already seen his lack of courage and valor on full display, so sentencing him to be executed wasn’t an overly taxing decision. It was actually going through with it that was the hard part, as we’ve seen Jon falter in this situation before when he couldn’t bring himself to take a life that he needed to take. Time and hardship changes people, however, and now it comes back to that old adage that Ned Stark always believed in: the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword. Had chosen Alliser Thorne to helm the honorable post of Master Latrine Digger, it’s likely that Janos wouldn’t have been the only one to defy Jon that day. I loved the buildup throughout all of this. You can see the look of pure bemusement on Alliser’s face when Jon appoints him as the new First Ranger, and it was a shrewd decision on Jon’s part. Unlike Cersei, who filled her small council with sycophants rather than give power to those who are actually deserving, Jon knew that he had to do something to kill the tension between himself and Alliser. It keeps a potential enemy close, but it also removed Alliser from Janos’ side and that’s what Jon really needed.
If nothing else, this felt like a small measure of justice for Ned, as I’m sure Jon was aware that Janos was one of the people who betrayed his father.
Again, the story in the North is just far more appealing than everything else going on right now, particularly more so than the events taking place in King’s landing. I was happy for King Tommen, who married his absurdly hot queen, consummated the marriage and now has no desire to do anything else for the rest of his life. Other than that though, it just feels like more of the same. Cersei and Margaery dealing in fake pleasantries while secretly plotting to destroy each other, Qyburn performing odd experiments in his Frankstein workshop and new figures emerging on the scene who pose as a threat to the Lannisters. In this case, it’s the High Sparrow, a shoeless, charitable old man who seems to want nothing but peace, which of course means that his true intentions are for anything but peace.
Things were a bit more lively across the Narrow Sea, as Tyrion couldn’t take being trapped in the stuffy wheelhouse any longer and left in search of his favorite extracurricular activity. Only a funny thing happened. Remember talk about time and hardships and the toll they take. The same rings true for Tyrion, only he found that he’s now incapable of partaking in his favorite hobby. Just like Tyrion may not be able to fully let go of Shae, Jorah can’t let go of Daenerys, and is willing to do anything to get back in her good graces. It’s probably not how either of them thought they’d be traveling down the road to Meereen, but Jorah wasn’t about to let this opportunity to pass him by. This bodes well for upcoming episodes this season and is a sure sign that business is about to pick up. Encounters and interactions between major characters whose paths haven’t crossed until now almost always have an extremely satisfying payoff, and this should be no different.
Arya’s payoff at the House of Black and White doesn’t even appear on the horizon yet, and again that makes it hard to get invested in this storyline. Especially when Jaqen wants to strip her away of everything that has made her who she is, because we’ve already lost enough Starks over the course of this series. She was able to let go of everything, but just couldn’t part ways with needle. This was a poignant moment that showed that Arya still has a very strong sense of self, and she isn’t going to completely forget who she is and why she’s in Bravos in the first place. It’s what we’ll have to hold on to while she’s sweeping floors and cleaning dead bodies, because all of that serving is simply to enable her to take the revenge she so desperately wants.
Until the dragons and the White Walkers finally show up in Westeros, that’s all any of us really desire at this point. We want to see all of those dastardly people receive their comeuppance for what they’ve done to the characters we love, and if we’ve waited this long to see that, I think we can all hold out a little longer. We’ve become quite accustomed to that at this point.