Thoughts on Thrones: Things have gone seriously off-book

Our in-house Game of Thrones experts take an in-depth look at season six, episode two, Home.

* Warning: This story contains spoilers ...

Robert Smith: For the past five years, there has been a large and smug sub-section of Thrones viewers who have known exactly what was going to happen, because they read about it years ago. They knew that Ned Stark was losing his head, and they knew all about the Red Wedding.

But they know as much as anybody else now, because with nothing new from George RR Martin lately, the new season is going seriously off-book.

Some things are still inevitable - the dragons weren't going to eat Tyrion (because he's the third head of the dragon. It is known.) And Arya wasn't going to stay on the streets, and Jon Snow was definitely coming back to life. But there are plenty of big surprises in the new season. Some bonus giant action, Ramsay's horrific solution to family squabbles, Theon's return to the Iron Islands, and the first ever appearance of the quietly crucial Lyanna Stark are all unexpected, with brutally important consequences.

Read more: Game of Thrones star 'sorry' for lying to fans

There are still some crumbs for the scholarly types, with a number of theories proven right, such as Balon Greyjoy's death by brother, the idea that Hodor's name is Really Important for some reason, and apparent confirmation that Jon Snow used some latent warging abilities to preserve his mind and soul in his big white dog while his body was all stabbed up.

And yes, Jon Snow is alive again, after hovering between life and death since the publication of the last book in 2011, with a definitive answer to the question of Schrödinger's Snow. He was always going to come back, so that's no surprise - he is literally the song of ice and fire that the whole story is about.

But the future remains unwritten, and anything could happen from here. Next week's trailer points to the great unanswered question of what happened at the Tower of Joy, and may even reveal the grand-daddy of all theories - L+R=J. Finding out the truth behind that equation is worth losing a little smugness.

Jon Snow is resurrected on Game of Thrones.
Jon Snow is resurrected on Game of Thrones.

Cameron McMillan: He's back! Praise the old Gods and the new. The makers of the show knew all too well they couldn't just go on without him. There is no Game of Thrones without the true hero and one character we can all get behind. While some have been killing babies and burning little girls, he's been doing his duty and righting all that is wrong. You could say he's been carrying the show on his shoulders.

We've all watched him come so far since season one, so I was certain the show's creators Benioff and Weiss wouldn't just get rid of him, but there was 1 per cent of me that thought they'd end his watch. But I'm so glad they didn't. Welcome back Hodor. First of His Name, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm.

Roose and Ramsay Bolton engage in some father-son conversations on Game of Thrones. Photo/HBO
Roose and Ramsay Bolton engage in some father-son conversations on Game of Thrones. Photo/HBO

Sophie Ryan: Jon Snow's first gasping breath in his second life was the most beautiful breath taken of all time. Watching Ghost throughout that scene was so telling about the Stark/Direwolf connection. I thought it was such a brilliant way to end the episode.

I wanted to talk about the Iron Islands though, because it was really cool to get another look at that setting. The cliffs and coastline where we saw Balon Greyjoy dispatched off to his salty grave looked striking and moody, which I think foreshadows how this storyline will play out this season.

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

Watching it, I said out loud, "If I was in Game of Thrones, I think I'd be Ironborn." I'm really excited to learn more about Euron "I am the storm" Greyjoy, who looks like he could be a real loose cannon. As a side note, it's great sleeping easy knowing my girl Sansa is safe in the protection of Brienne of Tarth.

Tyrrion drinks, and knows things, in the latest episode of Game of Thrones. Photo/HBO
Tyrrion drinks, and knows things, in the latest episode of Game of Thrones. Photo/HBO

Siena Yates: Am I the only one annoyed about this Jon Snow situation? Never in the last five seasons of Thrones would I have ever associated the word "predictable" with it, but here we all are. Now it's obvious that Jon "you know nothing" Snow is pivotal to the story's ending - he's either going to win this Game of Thrones or he's going to die getting someone else there, and we're no doubt going to have to put up with some Kylo Ren-level angst about being murdered for a while too.

But on the upside, season six looks very much to be the season of girl power (yeah, I said it). Cersei's having the Mountain crush people's skulls, Asha (aka Yara) Greyjoy is out for blood in the Iron Islands, Arya's just levelled up, the Sand Snakes are running Dorne, Meera Reed is watching Bran's back, and most importantly, Sansa's got Brienne and they're heading toward Castle Black where Jon Snow is now alive just in time to help 'em all out - thanks, by the way, to my girl Melisandre who is probably the coolest character in this whole show. And to top it off, Tyrion just set Dany's dragons free so presumably the Queen will ride again soon.

After seeing the women of Thrones degraded, abused, and used for so long, I for one am so ready for them to slay.

Jon Snow and his dire wolf Ghost have some quiet time.
Jon Snow and his dire wolf Ghost have some quiet time.

Chris Schulz: I knew it. I just knew it. It was always going to happen. Who didn't see it coming? Of course this was going to be so. I knew it all along. As soon as Balon Greyjoy and his brother* Euron stepped onto that rickety old bridge, it was obvious someone was going to take a tumble into the murky depths below.

But Balon's wintry death at the hands of his rebel brother* has left me with some questions of the structural kind. Firstly, that simple rope bridge was obviously an afterthought. Why didn't architects design a better accessway between Pyke's Twin Towers? Surely they realised residents wouldn't want to climb up and down those steps to take a pee in the other building every time the toilets were broken? No one wants to risk their life every time they use the loo, surely?.

And when they did settle on the plank/rope bridge combo, had no one played them this clip from this Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom? Instant veto, right there. I demand answers, and I demand them now.

* An earlier version of this story stated incorrectly that Euron was Balon's son.

- NZ Herald

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