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Game of Thrones Recap Season 6, Episode 2, "Home"

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Game of Thrones Recap: Season 6, Episode 2, “Home”

HBO

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 6, Episode 2, “Home”

Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is dreaming of better days, specifically his long-lost Winterfell, where he watches as his father, Ned, and uncle, Benjen, learn to spar. He even happens upon a slow stable boy, Willis, and realizes that this is an even more innocent version of the man who’s been protecting him in the present, Hodor (Kristian Nairn). This, of course, is an illusion, and the mysterious vision-sharing man known only as the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow) soon pulls Bran back to his crippled reality. “You finally show me something I care about, and then you drag me away,” shouts Bran, and it’s hard not to hear echoes of the most ardent yet frustrated Game of Thrones fans, because the show’s sprawling narrative has room for no more than 10 minutes an episode for each character. That makes it increasingly hard to becoming truly invested in any of them, especially with a new subplot on the Iron Islands, where the possibly insane Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk), claiming to be the Drowned God, deposes his brother, Balon (Patrick Malahide), by flinging him over a rickety bridge in the middle of a storm.

Game of Thrones Recap Season 6, Episode 1, "The Red Woman"

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Game of Thrones Recap: Season 6, Episode 1, “The Red Woman”

HBO

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 6, Episode 1, “The Red Woman”

Previous seasons of Game of Thrones have played a precarious dance between the past and present action detailed within George R.R. Martin’s series, but the season-six premiere episode, “The Red Woman,” provides viewers with their first glimpse of what the future looks like, and it’s disappointing. Melisandre (Carice van Houten), the sorceress from whom this episode takes its title, stands over the bloodless corpse of Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and remarks that “I saw him in the flames, fighting at Winterfell.” Magic may yet play a role in some sort of resurrection, but this episode focuses only on the weary, bitter state of affairs in Westeros.

Game of Thrones Recap Season 4, Episode 10, "The Children"

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Game of Thrones Recap: Season 4, Episode 10, “The Children”

HBO

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 4, Episode 10, “The Children”

Contrary to the structure of most serial television, Game of Thrones tends to peak with its penultimate episode, leaving finales open to operate as a form of self-summary. They take stock of the dead, consider the implications of arc climaxes, and anticipate how characters will move forward in the subsequent season. This structure fits with the mission statement of George R. R. Martin’s books: to dispel the orthodox narratives and tone of fantasy to consider how magic and dragons might impact something closer to medieval history and anthropology.

Game of Thrones Recap Season 4, Episode 2, "The Lion and the Rose"

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Game of Thrones Recap: Season 4, Episode 2, “The Lion and the Rose”

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Game of Thrones Recap: Season 4, Episode 2, “The Lion and the Rose”

Game of Thrones eased into its fourth season with an episode that traded the unending forward motion of the show’s previous season for a moment of ragged calm, but “The Lion and the Rose” reveals that respite as nothing more than the eye of a storm. Not only that, George R. R. Martin’s writing credit makes it clear from the start that not only does something happen in this episode, but that the cataclysmic event typically placed in a given season’s penultimate installment will likely occur almost immediately, dramatically shaking up the show’s usual structure and setting up the fourth season as its most distinctive yet.

Game of Thrones Recap Season 2, Episode 6, "The Old Gods and the New"

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Game of Thrones Recap: Season 2, Episode 6, “The Old Gods and the New”

HBO

Game of Thrones Recap: Season 2, Episode 6, “The Old Gods and the New”

After last week’s thematically spastic episode, it’s refreshing to see that a simple and direct, albeit unambitious, theme unites the various plot strands in “The Old Gods and the New.” In this episode, the truly powerful characters are the ones who are best equipped to handle a crisis; the rest are just blustery and uncertain. This becomes apparent when Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) is told, “Now you are truly lost,” by a man he executes in the episode’s first few minutes. Theon doesn’t understand that there will be consequences to his half-assed attempt at impressing his family by laying siege to Winterfell, so he kills the insubordinate prisoner and, in so doing, totally disregards the Starks’ eldest advisor, Maester Luwin (Donald Sumpter), who suggests that executing a prisoner after storming Winterfell is a bad idea. And he’s right, as is foreshadowed in the episode.