Though I’m far from the first person to notice some of this, I think there is more to say about some of the imagery from Season 6 Episode 2, so I’d like to deliver my quick thoughts on some important symbolism from this weeks episode. Some of this you may have noticed, and some of it you may have missed. Either way there are things to be said about all of it.
So let’s dive in.
1. The Lord of Winterfell Beneath the Sea
“It is beautiful beneath the sea. But if you stay too long you’ll drown.”
– The Three Eyed Raven
There is a lot more to this parallel than people probably recognize.
The second episode of Season 6 opens on Bran Stark greendreaming that he is back home. Except in the past. And in this vision of the past Bran is standing exactly where his father stood, and exactly how his father stood, in the very first scene of the show. He is overlooking a cheerful family moment. The Three Eyed Raven even mentions that Bran was happy once too, referencing this time before Bran’s fall. A time before the story even began.
What makes this (I believe) more significant than a simple Easter egg, is that Bran isn’t merely standing where the Lord of Winterfell stood, Bran is the Lord of Winterfell. Since the death of Robb Stark, it’s not Rickon, nor Jon, and not even Sansa that is the legal Lord of Winterfell. This should be kind of obvious but hardly ever considered, and is especially indisputable on the show, where there is no chance Robb Stark’s wife had a child, and there is no mention of Robb’s will.
Furthermore on the show the fact that Brandon Stark is alive is known to Sansa, Jon, and Rickon. That kid who opened the show shooting arrows as his older brother’s advised him, and his mother and father watched, has now by all rights inherited the castle. Except he’s stuck under a tree.
Though maybe not for long…
After a year long hiatus, Bran returning and setting up the theme of the episode on a dream of ‘home’ is especially significant since we find out from Leaf in the very next scene that Bran Stark is eventually leaving that cave. Not only did we have pretty strong indication of this before from the Game of Thrones Season 6 prosthetics video, but it’s become increasingly clear that years of fan theories which mostly presumed that Bran was staying under the tree forever now need to be reconsidered. And thus so do the fan theories built around those fan theories.
Yes the show is the show and the books are the books, but we need to at least consider that this may not be a departure.
So, given the knowledge that Bran is leaving the cave, and given how it seems the Starks will take a shot at Winterfell this season, we need to consider that the Lord of Winterfell may very well be going back home too.
2. Keep Your Shield Up
This is a nice little parallel between Ned and Jon, with Benjen and Olly. It seems that either Jon learned this from Ned, or they both learned it from a common person (Rodrik?). I don’t know that there is anything here in the way of implications, but it’s a nice parallel. It’s worth noting that Ned Stark is basically Jon’s role model, and it’s nice that even though we can’t get Jon’s internal monologue on the show, we are getting a sense here that Jon really did try his best to emulate his real dad.
Also, people hate Olly way too much.
There. I said it.
3. Ser Wyllis the Unstoppable
“Ah Nan! Look at the size of him. If he ever learned to fight he’d be unstoppable!” – Young Ned
This quote is fun because it’s true. It’s unclear if Hodor ever did learn how to fight (likely not), but when he is skinchanged by Bran we get a pretty clear sense that little Ned was completely right about him being unstoppable. Hell, if Wyllis had been trained as a knight he probably could have been a match for Gregor Clegane. Will a skinchanged Hodor perhaps be the hooded man saving Meera in the trailer?
Also, it seems that the scar above Hodor’s right eye predates whatever it was that took away his speech, indicating it may not be as simple as a bonk on the head.
Did anyone else get a Samwell Tarley vibe from young Wyllis? …. maybe just my imagination. In any case, it was a fun scene.
4. Rodrik v. Rodrik: Dawn of Sideburns
Here we see a young master-at-arms Rodrick Cassel and his mutton chops when they were just starting up. This is probably hugely significant to the story, because Rodrick’s facial hair ponytail is what actually provoked the Others, likely placing the timeline of their invasion at some point after Robert’s Rebellion.
5. Ramsay Bolton Sends His Regards
Ramsay Bolton throws one Killer Baby Shower.
No big surprises here. Roose Bolton dies much like he killed Robb Stark. Stabbed, minutes after finding out that he is having a son. It was probably a bit easier than it should have been, but then again the showRoose is the showRoose, and the bookRoose is the bookRoose.
Though obviously, this seems to be the beginning of the end for Ramsay Bolton.
6. A Strangerly Familiar Ritual
There has been a lot of talk about how modest and unassuming Jon’s resurrection ritual was. Yet there is something very familiar about what Melisandre did to Jon’s body prior to resurrecting him.
The similarity is uncanny… maybe there was a reason for showing us Arya washing bodies after all..
Here we have a pretty direct callback to the scene from Season 5 in which Arya is washing bodies at the House of Black and White. When you place the two scenes together, you find that even the cinematography of the two scenes echo each other, and so this is definitely an intentional parallel.
Note: it should be noted that both of these episodes have the same director.
From washing the body, to trimming the hair, to pouring a pitcher of water over the hair and draining it into a basin, the first half of the ritual is essentially the same.
Of course, Mel’s the ritual takes a different turn when she drops Jon’s hair into a fire and then starts praying over the body. The act of putting her hands over the body and asking “fire god” for a miracle is a lot more like what Thoros does, though Thoros doesn’t do any of the ritual stuff beforehand. Also Thoros doesn’t wait over 24 hours, and Thoros’ version works faster.
In any case, same idea…
That said, it’s worth noting that this ritual performed by the House of Black and White is one that is performed on bodies before their faces are cut off and they are added to the Hall of Faces for a Faceless Man to use their identity/face in service of the Many Faced God.
But how far does this parallel go?
7. Red Star Dead Star
There is a pattern in the show where every time Melisandre is using any kind of magic, the ruby around her neck will glow. This is the case when she survives drinking poison given to her by Maester Cressen, when she births a shadow demon which murders Renly, when she is taking off the magic which makes her appear young and beautiful, and even when she is showing Stannis visions in the flames.
Yet during Jon’s resurrection sequence… the ruby doesn’t glow.
It should be noted that though Mel admits to a certain amount of trickery (potions, powders, etc.), on the show the ruby has not been associated with any form of “fake” magic. Drinking poison. Birthing a demon which goes out and kills Renly. Those are not illusions. Renly being murdered by a shadow that came out of Mel’s vagina is NOT an illusion
Was this a continuity error? Does the glow represent Mel’s confidence? Did her ruby start glowing when Mel left the room? Did Melisandre tap into something other than her usual magic? Was Mel responsible at all?
It might be a little too early to say, but I do think it’s worth noting that D&D were a bit vague about this in their post episode commentary.
credit to for this observation goes to reddit user u/_ebenezer_splooge_
8. Waking Up Gasping
“Do you know why we use these stones? to remind us not to fear death. We close our eyes on this world and open them on the next.” – the High Sparrow
Finally I’d like to talk about death, and how it’s compared by the High Sparrow to closing one’s eyes on one world, and opening them on another. This is a pretty interesting quote given how this episode ends, but also given how the episode begins.
One could fairly say that Jon opening his eyes at the very end of S6Ep2 parallels Bran opening his eyes at the end of S1Ep2. But we could also say that there is a self contained symmetry to this episode on it’s own.
Home opens on Bran, laying on his back, with his eyes glazed over as his eyes are opened to what is essentially another world, or, as the Three Eyed Raven would call it, ‘Beneath the Sea.’ Then when Bran awakens, he opens his eyes to the world around him. This mirrors the ending of the episode where Jon’s eyes are closed, and then they open. Both wake up gasping for air. So has Jon closed his eyes on one world and opened them on another? is there a next world at all? UnBeric certainly didn’t think so.
Is the High Sparrow’s quote better applied to Jon or to Bran? or perhaps both?
That’s all we’ve got folks. Feel free to sound off in the comments section with your thoughts.