Game of Thrones S06E02 “Home”
Well, the good news is we finally got to see our favourite Kraken Lord appear on Game of Thrones for the first time since 2013’s series finale “Mhysa”. The bad news is….well, you’ll find out if you keep reading, but I’m pretty sure everyone knows exactly how it all went down (not a pun) by now.
So, a few things have happened since 2013. Theon has been brutally tortured both physically and psychologically by Ramsay Bolton (ugh — words cannot convey how much I hate that Ramsay character). Ramsay married Lady Sansa Stark who grew up knowing Theon as her father’s ward. They were never close growing up, but “Reek” (Theon’s identity under Ramsay) feels protective of Sansa while she is in Ramsay’s abusive clutches. He reasserts himself as Theon throwing away the Reek identity and Ramsay’s hold over him and escaping the Boltons with Sansa.
Aided later by Brienne of Tarth, a lady knight who had sworn allegiance to Sansa’s mother, they defeat Ramsay’s men. Sansa will go to the Wall where she hopes to be reunited with her half-brother Jon Snow. Hopefully she’ll get there, but I’m sure you already know what has happened to Jon. Theon has no intention of going to the Wall because he is so deeply ashamed of his past deeds. Instead, he plans to go home. Presumably that means to Pyke where his father Lord Balon Greyjoy and sister Yara are.
So What is Going on at Pyke?
Balon and Yara (Gemma Whelan) receive word that the Ironborn have lost Deepwood Motte their last stronghold on the mainland. Balon being the most stubborn man in A Song of Ice and Fire is unfazed saying they’ll just take more. Yara is dubious. “Why? For more pine cones and rocks?” Balon turns around growling very dangerously, “Because I order it.” His fingers are twitching slightly as he says that. That makes me think of a gunslinger type maneuver. It is very evocative.
Yara tries to explain to him that while they are unbeatable at sea they can’t take on mainland armies. She’s being very reasonable, but that never works with Balon. He makes a very pointed comment about captains who abandon their posts to take on foolish missions.
Yara will not apologize for trying to rescue Theon. She almost makes a dent by reminding Balon of his own failed rebellion. But then she goes too far and says she remembers the day she lost two brothers. Balon, suddenly a lot more aggressive, reminds her right back that he lost three sons. He’s counting Theon who is still alive. Ouch! Then it gets great with his next speech:
“The War of the Five Kings they call it. Well, the other four are dead. When you rule the Iron Islands you can wage all the peace you want but for now shut your mouth and obey, or I will make another heir who will.”
Fantastic! I love on that so many levels. First he reminds us that all those kings, including Stannis, are now dead. Then he shows how he sees Yara as his heir. That attitude goes against Ironborn tradition, and Balon is usually quite the traditionalist. But with Yara he sees things a little differently. Finally, I love how intense he is with those lines. You really see how completely unswayable he is. It fits in with his being made of iron and rock and all that sort of hard stuff. The little reminder he might decide to make another heir is the seaweed on the iron cake. He can’t leave without one last sharp dig.
Move Aside for Your King
With that riposte he goes outside. Oh my gosh, it is blowing a gale out there and he is on a swaying bridge. The creaking sounds are very unsettling and creepy. On the other end of the bridge he sees a hooded figure. “Let me pass. You fool, move aside for your king.” The figure reveals himself to be Balon’s brother Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk).
Balon is not impressed. “I thought you’d be rotting under some foreign sea by now,” he sneers with contempt. Euron wants to rule the Iron Islands now.
Balon goes in for a more personal attack. “I heard you lost your mind during a storm on the Jade Sea. They tied you to the mast to keep you from jumping overboard. And when the storm passed, you cut out their tongues.” Euron confirms it. Balon sneers again, “What kind of an Ironborn loses his senses during a storm.” All the while he continues to approach Euron. I have to say that is very impressive of Balon. He knows perfectly well that Euron is there as usurper, but Balon’s not going to yield to him nor will he run away or go back for help. All the while he’s talking he just keeps steadily moving closer and closer to Euron.
Euron gets all poetic and says he is the storm. Balon suddenly pulls out a knife and quickly slashes Euron’s face. But Euron is able to throw Balon over the bridge. Nooooo! And with that the King of the Ironborn is no more. Euron is very shook up though. He is bleeding near his eye where he was cut and seems to be in shock. I hope Balon slashed him good!
What is Dead May Never Die
Balon’s body is recovered and the Ironborn wrap him in seaweed onto a raft and release his body to the sea. Balon’s other brother Aeron (Michael Feast) delivers the service. “Lord take your servant Balon back beneath the waves. Feed the creatures of your kingdom on his flesh. Pull his bones down to your depths to rest beside his ancestors and his children. What is dead may never die.”
Yara vows to find Balon’s killer and feed him alive to the sharks. She swears it by the Salt Throne. Aeron points out that the Salt Throne is not hers to swear by, though he at least acknowledges that Balon wished it be that she would lead. So, Yara has to contend with The Kingsmoot if she wishes to be ruler.
What a great send off! It is really a shame that we won’t be able to see Balon Greyjoy anymore. He was a fantastic character and Patrick Malahide truly gave him a depth that he didn’t have in the books. Actually, he was barely in the books, the series gave him quite a bit extra really. Probably because they recognized just how excellent Mr. Malahide is for the part.
Balon’s courage in facing the much younger Euron was epic. His stubborn intensity and contempt for Euron were on display with absolutely no hesitancy or fear. We know *exactly* what Balon thought of his younger brother. Go on, Yara, do your thing and feed that fratricidal king slayer to the sharks!