Russell Baillie writes about movies for the Herald

TV Review: Game of Thrones, season six, episode two

SPOILERS: This review contains details from episode two season six of Game of Thrones. Don't read if you haven't seen the show.
Roose Bolton (left) and Ramsay Bolton in their final Game of Thrones scene together (HBO)
Roose Bolton (left) and Ramsay Bolton in their final Game of Thrones scene together (HBO)

Ghost, the pet direwolf, snoozing beneath of the body of its slain master might have been read as a warning: You should let sleeping dogs lie.

But no, as many fans had predicted, Jon Snow was brought back to life in tonight's impressive second episode of Game of Thrones' sixth season.

He had bled out after a mass stabbing by the disgruntled Night Watch under his command as the climax to season five.

Treated with some hocus-pocus by Melisandre at the behest of Davos Seaworth, Snow awoke from the dead in time for the end credits.

But apart from Ghost, Snow was alone as he breathed again.

His sorceress-reviver and his loyal followers had already given up on her reanimation ritual - parts of which involved giving Snow a spongebath and a haircut so at least he'll be smelling and looking better - and left.

We can't yet tell if Snow is the same old Jon or some sort of undead manifestation.

Surely Ghost would have snarled if something was amiss.

There's been much speculation - and from those in the show, fibbing - about Snow's return. Still, his reawakening was a ripping ending to what was an exciting and grim episode coming after last week's solid if unspectacular season opener which felt like a mopping-up operation from season five.

The instalment's other great jolts came from the consistently nasty Ramsay Bolton.

That he murdered his cruel father Roose upon learning he had been disinherited as heir to Winterfell with the birth of a legitimate baby brother was extreme enough.

But then setting the castle hounds upon his stepmother and her newborn was a new entry in the top ten, well maybe twenty, of Ramsay's greatest evil deeds. It also came accompanied by possibly his best evil line: "I prefer being an only child."

Among lesser significant additions to the season fatalities were at the hands of giants.

The Frakenstein-ed colossus of a Lannister royal bodyguard, Ser Gregor, executed a bit of reputation management with a commoner saying rude things about Queen Cersei.

Then up at Castle Black, the Wildlings arrived just in time to deal to the Night Watch insurrection which had killed Snow.

Their resident ogre, pricked with a Night Watch crossbow bolt, dealt to the shooter in Hulk fashion, forcing the surrender of Snow's assassins.

While it was episode with quite a body count, it was also one which packed in multiple characters and locations without feeling it was flitting between them.

Down in Braavos, Arya Stark has finally stopped being used as daily pinata as part of her training from the Faceless Man while her big sis Sansa Stark farewelled Theon Greyjoy, her rescuer from Ramsay Bolton and set off to find Jon Snow, not knowing that's he's dead ... and now alive.

Tyrion Lannister had a touching scene with the dragon children of the absent Daenerys Targaryen, setting the chained and ailing beasties free, not something you should really do after a few drinks. The dragons possibly figured he was a small mercy.

Isaac Hempstead Wright as Bran Stark (HBO)
Isaac Hempstead Wright as Bran Stark (HBO)

The episode also reestablished some MIA characters like Bran Stark ( till undergoing some sort of mind-meld flashback enlightenment while stuck in a giant hedge in the frozen north) and revisiting one King and kingdom - Balon Greyjoy in the Iron Islands - that hasn't figured in the series for a few seasons.

Balon's return, though, was marked by his quick demise on a rope bridge at the hands of his back-from-the-dead brother Euron.

It might not have been the episode's most memorable death considering the stiff competition. But at least it offered a fratricide and a regicide to make a full house with the patricide, matricide and infanticide of earlier scenes.

Add one apparently reversed homicide and it appears that after a mild season start, Game of Thrones has got back that old black magic.

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