Let's talk about that Jon Snow shock

May 01, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT

HE’S ALIVE! Jon Snow is back, it’s true. We can all say it now for certain. For nearly a year everybody asked: “Is Jon Snow dead?” And he was, very much so, he just didn’t stay dead.

And we’re going to dive deep into that huge reveal and tackle Ramsay Bolton’s gruesome family kill-off, and everything else in “Home.” But first, we at EW have been working on the story of Jon Snow’s death and resurrection for months. We have an exclusive interview with Kit Harington in this week’s issue. What Harington went through to keep this all quiet is incredible, and this is a story I think you’re really going to enjoy. Go here for a brief preview of the story.

Tree-cave: Welcome back to the land of Thrones, Bran Stark. He’s grown up plenty and has a super intriguing Inception-ish story line this season. We first see Bran snugly wrapped in his branch fort, his eyes warging out. He’s tripping under the soothing authoritative guidance of the Three-Eyed Raven. Bran goes to…

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A long, long time ago in a kingdom far, far away, entering an amazing flashback to Winterfell when the Stark family was whole. For The Godfather Saga fans, this is like that poignant ending of Part II where Michael recalled the Corleone family dinner long before he whacked everybody.

We see a young Ned Stark and Bran’s uncle Benjen. They’re sparring in the courtyard. “They were all so happy,” says Bran, and of course they were — this was back before George R.R. Martin started writing about their lives.

Arriving on horseback is a character we’ve never seen, but have heard about — Lyanna Stark. This is Ned’s sister, who was abducted by Prince Rhaegar Targaryen in a kidnapping that sparked the rebellion against the Mad King Aerys and eventually put Robert Baratheon on the Iron Throne (we haven’t necessarily needed to understand this kind of detailed backstory to follow and enjoy Thrones in the past, but it’s going to be important this season). Can’t this flashback just be the start of an implanted Game of Thrones spin-off?

There’s also a large boy named Wylis, who we recognize as young Hodor. But he can talk. I mean, Hodor can talk too, of course, but Wylis apparently has a whole bunch of non-Hodor-ian vocabulary.

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The Three-Eyed Raven interrupts, pulling us out of this scene, and tries and convince Bran to stop watching. “You finally show me something I care about and then you drag me away,” complains Bran (and critics of his story line in previous seasons). We want to tell the Raven to shut up — spying on Flashback Winterfell is way more fun than looking at tree roots.

Bran asks Hodor whatever happened to him, anyway. Hodor says “Hodor,” and I love that he seems to infuse this with some kind of cryptic meaning.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if this entire time Hodor was totally f—ing with everybody?

Outside, Meera is getting cave-claustrophobic and tired of watching Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven trip out without her. Suddenly Leaf pops up (a member of that mysterious race known as the Children of the Forest) and reminds her that Bran needs her.

Castle Black: We get the scene that’s been teased for a while: Ser Alliser vs. Davos. “Nobody needs to die tonight,” Thorne says, but viewers of this show know better. Swords are drawn. Thorne’s ax swings into the door. Ghost looks hungry for man-flesh. Between the ax-door attack and last week’s Melisandre ravages-of-time reveal, snowbound Castle Black is starting to feel like some alternate universe version of the Overlook Hotel (“Heeeeere’s Alliser!”).

Just when it seems like all hope is lost, the Dolorous Edd returns with the Wildlings. The giant Wun Wun crashes through the door. “Fight you cowards!” cries Thorne, but even he doesn’t seem too eager to take on Wun-Wun, especially after he plays Hulk-smash with an archer. The real traitors are arrested. Tormund Giantsbane says he’s going to get wood for a fire to burn Jon Snow’s body. You’re such a tease Thrones.

NEXT: The Mountain that smashes; Arya’s blind ambition

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