This article originally appeared on Den of Geek UK.
Warning: spoilers for anyone not up-to-date on Game of Thrones season six.
“Don’t you wish we could go back to the day we left?”
At this rate, Sansa, you’ll be there in a week or two. Game Of Thrones has been reversing previously major plot points at speed of late. Dead Jon Snow of the Night’s Watch is no longer dead or of the Night’s Watch. Reek is no longer Reek. Blind Arya is no longer blind. Banished Ser Jorah is no longer banished. Army-less slave Dany is no longer an army-less slave. Rewind, rewind, rewind.
The latter feat was accomplished in a spectacular scene that was less a call-back to the series one finale and more a “previously on” repeat. After delivering a ball-kicking speech about her leadership skills to a tentful of Khals, Dany set the place on fire and emerged unburnt, nude and worshipped by a desert of kneeling paeans. This time around, there was no dragon pup around to tastefully conceal her privates, but that was more or less it difference-wise. Give or take a lover and some new enemies, Daenerys Targaryen is right back where she was seasons ago.
Back where she was seasons ago is exactly where Sansa Stark wants to be. “I want to scream at myself, don’t go, you idiot,” she told her half-brother (whatever Jon Snow’s true parentage, we’ll stick with that for now) in a sweet scene in which the pair reminisced about childhood stupidity and home-cooked meals. With revenge in mind, home is where she and Jon are headed. Rickon’s already there under the highly dubious care of Ramsay Bolton, which just leaves Bran and Arya to join them.
Tyrion and Varys are also among those whose clocks have been rewound in recent episodes. Both are back in their old positions advising a monarch and attempting to negotiate their city’s survival, albeit on the other side of the Narrow Sea.
And currently attempting to avoid a replay of a previous scenario are the Tyrells, whose hands have been forced into going up against the High Sparrow by the threat of Margaery having to re-enact Cersei’s Walk of Atonement, a repetition that would be in stark tonal contrast to Dany’s exultant exit from that flaming Khal council.
This great lurch backwards is all in preparation for Game Of Thrones’ endgame, which we’re told may arrive as soon as thirteen episodes on from this season’s finale.
After Jon Arryn’s murder went off like a bomb in the pilot and its repercussions scattered characters far and wide over the Seven Kingdoms, now comes the reeling-in process. It’s as if the elastic cords attaching characters to their respective homes have reached maximum tautness, and one after another, they’re all pinging back to their family seats.
In the Starks’ case, that means Winterfell.
Should Sansa and Jon’s army succeed against the odds in ousting Ramsay Bolton from their childhood home, it will be the third incarnation of Sansa to live there. The first was spoiled and shallow, the second was abused and humiliated, and the third, should she survive that long, will be a ruler. Realizing the importance of family loyalty at the cruel hands of Joffrey, Littlefinger, and Ramsay was far too harshly learned a lesson for Sansa, but it has nonetheless moulded her into a warrior queen rather than the dainty heroines of her girlhood songs.
If the Starks retake Winterfell, Arya’s exile can at last come to an end. Now a seasoned fighter, her Braavos-honed talents will serve her well back in Westeros, though it’s hard to imagine her taking up the courtly life after an adolescence spent slitting throats and living on her wits.
Bran’s disability is one that won’t be rewound, it seems. He won’t ever walk again, but the Three-Eyed Raven promises that after he has seen and learned everything, he will fly. The smart money’s on Bran warging into one of Dany’s dragons and helping to defeat the armies of the Night’s King. If he survives that, like sister Arya, the boy seems destined for more than simple retirement by Winterfell’s Godswood, even if it his home.
When Bran tunes in to the next episode of his ongoing flashback, we should find out something about Jon Snow’s true home. Does the man the Wildlings are calling a God belong in Winterfell or further south?
Westward on the Iron Islands is where the newly rewound Theon Greyjoy has returned home. Like Sansa, this marks his second return to the place of his birth, and it sees him much changed. No longer a cocky, arrogant sex pest, Theon returns a broken man, but one ready to take his place by his capable sister’s side.
Another sister awaits Samwell Tarly at his family home of Horn Hill, where he’s planning to deposit Gilly and his stepson Little Sam before leaving to train at the Citadel, a spiritual home for the natural academic.
Dany may have sworn that she would stay in Meereen and rule as a Queen, but her journey home takes her back across the sea to reclaim the Iron Throne usurped from her mad father by Robert Baratheon. That’s where she’s headed after the eventful conclusion of Book Of The Stranger. When she and her army eventually arrive in Westeros, though, we know it’ll be an entirely different battle they face.
What though, of the characters whose homes are less fixed or less welcoming? Game Of Thrones does a great line in outsiders, from Melisandre to Shae, to self-made men like Varys, Ser Davos and Littlefinger, to those born into prominent families but made outsiders by their own actions, or others’ intolerance like Tyrion Lannister or Brienne of Tarth. Where is home for the likes of them?
Should Tyrion survive the cull that comes along with each progressive season of Game Of Thrones, the doors to his family’s home of Casterly Rock will only open to him if he’s the last Lannister left standing. Considering the number of powerful enemies Cersei and Jaime have amassed, that might not be an unlikely scenario.
Experience tells us the question of an eventual home is a moot point for most. Life expectancy in the Seven Kingdoms means that the vast majority (they’re even having to bring back long-lost characters like Osha just to ensure that there are enough throats around to be slashed each week) will fall into the nothingness Jon Snow experienced in his sojourn from breathing. As we’re continually reminded, all men must die.
At this late stage in proceedings though, it’s sport to imagine on which square of the board each of this game’s players will end up. And now that A Song Of Ice And Fire readers are no further ahead in the story than anyone else, the speculation is made all the more fun. Share your own predictions below.