Welcome back, Game Of Thrones. Ever since last year’s epic Season 5 finale, we’ve been waiting, us Watchers on the (metaphorical Wall), for it to return in all its glory. Yet one question has remained a constant presence on everyone’s lips: is Jon Snow actually dead?
In short, the answer is yes. Dead as a doornail. Of course, the real question is how long he’ll stay that way, but this seems like something the show seems determined to drag out – at least for now. For some, this will recall some of last season’s worst excesses, of things moving just too damn slowly, before everything explodes in an epic finale.
Judging by the opening episode, the same thing seems to be happening. While there are some explosive highlights (Brienne’s clinical takedown of Sansa and Theon’s pursuers, and Ellaria and the Sand Snakes’ surprisingly abrupt murder of Doran and Trystane) and some great instances of forboding (Cersei and Jaime’s exchange indicates that the Lannisters will be returning to their dastardly deed-making of old, and Ramsay’s mourning of Myranda manages the feat of both showing his human side while leaving us in no doubt as to how much of a psychopath he is), there are weak points too.
The opening episode seems too determined to fit everything in, the result being scenes that might as well have not been there: Arya’s given short shrift in terms of screen time, Tyrion and Varys’s wandering through Meereen feels like it could have been saved for another episode, and Margaery’s jail chat with the High Sparrow is similarly moot. As a result, everything feels just that bit disjointed.
As is customary, there is still plenty to enjoy – Liam Cunningham finally getting pushed to the fore is a joy, with Davos gleefully grabbing the best dialogue, and there’s a genuinely shocking revelation about the broken Melisandre – but there’s also plenty of room for improvement.
Still, it’s good to have it back.