boltons
screenrant.com Roose Bolton, Ramsay Bolton, and Walda Bolton welcome visitors to Winterfell in their first appearance of season 5.

Finally, “Game of Thrones” delivered on some of this season’s most anticipated locations and characters.

The opening scene inside the House of Black and White was the kind of thing I had hoped for last episode, and thankfully this episode didn’t disappoint. A decent portion of the episode was spent with Arya Stark and her mission to become one of the Faceless Men, and Arya’s scenes included some of the most heart-wrenching moments of the season so far. When she was contemplating throwing Needle into the water, I found myself internally screaming that she better not do it, even though I knew the outcome from the books. Needle is one of the most important objects in the show because it is the only truly Stark sword left, Ice having been melted down last season. Furthermore, Needle has such emotional significance because of the connection between Jon Snow and Arya and the fact that Needle is the sole relic of her life in Winterfell that Arya has.

Speaking of Winterfell, the moment I saw Moat Cailin on the map at the start of the episode, I knew we were returning to the Bolton-controlled North. This episode was the first time “Thrones” has returned to Winterfell this season, and the consequences of Ramsay Bolton being legitimized have now become clear. In a large deviation from the book, Sansa and Petyr Baelish (secretly followed by Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne) are in Winterfell and Baelish is scheming with Roose Bolton for some purpose I can’t even begin to guess at. However, Sansa had a great moment this episode when she was welcomed home by a servant who realized her true identity and informed her that “the North remembers.” Also, Theon Greyjoy’s reactions to seeing Sansa make me wonder if he’ll start regaining his agency and help her in an attempt to make amends for what happened to Robb Stark.

And this episode truly was an episode of the North remembering what has happened to them. Both Arya and Sansa directly confronted remnants of their former lives, and Jon Snow did so indirectly. Now Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, Jon dealt with the traitorous Janos Slynt in a way that reminded me very much of the first ever scene with the Starks way back in season one, episode one. He was very much Ned’s son in this episode as he fully stepped into his new commanding role.

Other highlights of the episode include the introduction of the High Sparrow (whom we will be seeing more of next week), Brienne informing Podrick she’ll help him train, and Margaery Tyrell’s battle of wills with her mother-in-law, Cersei Lannister. It also appears that, next week’s episode, will finally show the long-awaited Sand Snakes. Which, I hope, will be worth enduring what looks like another Daenerys-Targaryen-heavy episode.