The wars to come….
Game of Thrones provided another strong episode this week with “Blood of my Blood”. We see the return of some old characters, battlegrounds starting to form, a powerful speech from the back of a dragon, and, of course, some much needed setup.
Last week’s episode, “The Door”, was a tremendously emotional episode, and left us all with big Hodor shaped hole in our hearts. If you haven’t yet, please read Sam’s poignant review here.
This review is as spoilery as the dinner with the Tarly’s was uncomfortable. So yeah, spoilers ahead!
Never Fear, Cold Hands is Here
Poor Meera Reed. This episode starts off right where the previous had left off, following the two remaining survivors, Bran and Meera, running from massacre in the cave below the massive Weirwood Tree. Meera finally collapses of exhaustion and throws herself over Bran, knowing the army of the undead Wrights is after closing in. We are again treated to Bran’s visions, this time he is scrubbing through the history of Westeros. The images appear in rapid succession but make a special mention of the Mad King and his Wildfire.
Aerys II Targaryen, was the King of Westeros before Robert Baratheon. Aerys was known for being particularly brutal and killed Ned Stark’s father and brother with Wildfire. He is eventually killed by Jamie Lannister, a member of the King’s Guard, earning Jamie the title King’s Slayer. No doubt we will see the Mad King again, there is a lot of speculation that Bran may play a part in making the Targaryen King lose his mind.
Bran wakes up from his vision after seeing the Wrights closing on him and Meera. “They have found us” he says. Meera prepares herself to fight as long as she can, but just before the Wrights reach Bran and Meera, Beera for short, a rider with a particularly effective fire mace, swoops in, fights back the Wrights, and takes Beera on to his horse. While lifting Bran on to his horse, the mysterious rider, known only as Cold Hands in the books, tells Beera that “the dead never rest.” His identity is revealed later to be Benjen Stark, an elusive character seen in season one, but more on the far north later.
Meet the Tarly’s
The show goes next to Sam Tarly, Gilly the Wildling, and baby Sam, who is now more of a toddler. This group has been mostly seen traveling in the past episodes but they have finally reached one of their destinations, Sam’s birthplace Horn Hill. The intention was to have Gilly and little Sam stay here while Sam went to Old Town to become the Maester of the Night’s Watch.
For context, the Tarly’s of Horn Hill live in the Reach or the area that the Tyrells control and are their strongest banner-men. The Reach is far more civilized than the other cities we have seen in the series so far. Lord Randyll Tarly is a jerk, through and through, and he lives up to Sam’s descriptions of him. Sam warns Gilly not to mention that she is a Wildling, someone born north of the wall, because as much as his father has contempt for his son, that goes double for Wildlings. Sam, Gilly and the baby are greeted by Sam’s mother and sister, who are kind to them. Gilly is given one of Sam’s sister’s dresses and there is a bit about how she cannot walk in the heels. Then it is dinner time.
The dinner is tough to watch, as Sam’s father berates Sam for not being a good hunter, for his inability to get his nose out of a book, and being fat. Gilly, having seen Sam’s bravery tested, stands up for him and lets slip that she is a Wildling. This sends Lord Tarly over the edge and he does some more name calling, but it is Lady Tarly who speaks up this time and escorts Gilly and Sam’s sister out of the hall. The south is far more civilized than the north so we do not have a lot of violence or some gruesome turn. In fact Lord Tarly agrees to let the baby and Gilly stay, to work in the kitchens. To contrast, if this were Ramsay Bolton in Winterfell they would have been eating little Sam.
Side note here: I think it speaks to the quality of the writing and character development to see these strong female characters outshine the men in the majority of this season. #SansakillRamsay
After the dinner Sam goes to Gilly’s room and decides, enough is enough, he won’t be pushed around by his father. He takes Gilly, baby Sam, and his birthright, a Valyrian steel sword, Heartsbane, similar to Jon’s sword Longclaw. This storyline seems to be setting up for a bigger conflict, but at least Sam is well armed.
Speaking of plotlines that are ramping up to a larger conflict, the episode takes us to the Sept in King’s Landing, where the High Sparrow is telling King Tommen about his wife Margaery Tyrell, and her imminent walk of atonement. The High Sparrow assures Tommen that the people would be easier on her than his mother, and then offers to let Tommen see his wife.
When Margaery and Tommen meet, Margaery tells Tommen what the High Sparrow has been doing has helped her. When Tommen confronts her in regards to her brother, she seems to stand strong and say that he too must seek atonement. Margaery is either switching sides here, or has a bigger plan. Hopefully, for this storyline it is the latter. The bigger question that this episode answers is what happens when it comes time for Margaery’s walk of atonement, more on that later. Time to jump across the Narrow Sea and check on Arya, who has recently been bit by the theater bug.
Braavos Act 2: Arya Breaks
The Braavos players have a second act of their play, this time they retell the purple wedding for their audience, and more importantly, Arya. As she watched King Joffery die she couldn’t contain herself, she began to laugh, and drew attention to herself, not very appropriate for a wannabe assassin. She also sees that her target, the leading lady of the players portraying Cersei, is being targeted by a younger actress. Arya makes her way backstage and in a tense sequence manages to put the poison in the leading lady’s exclusive wine bottle and attempts to flee, not before being caught by the leading lady. In a weird turn, Arya, who the leading lady saw laughing during the death scene, is asked for a line-read for Cersei’s final monologue.
Her and Arya part ways, and the leading lady joins her fellow player’s snide conversation. Right before the leading lady takes a swig of her death rum, Arya steps in and breaks the jug. She then proceeds to give up the younger actress as murderess understudy. This whole conversation is heard by the Waif, who reports it to Jaqen H’ghar, who is in the middle of claiming another face for the Hall of Faces, and then is instructed by Jaqen to kill Arya.
Arya goes back for needle, and gets out of Braavos. Hopefully adding that stick wielding, blind person beating, overall distasteful Waif’s face to the hall. Back across the narrow sea, and also :20 minutes left in the episode. The episodes this season really have been filled to the brink.
Jamie and the Tyrells’ Buzzkill
Margaery is scheduled to walk naked through King’s Landing in the nude, but Lord Daddy Tyrell brought his shotgun, I mean, his Knights of the Reach to stop it. Jamie meets the Tyrell army and is ready to cut down the High Sparrow and as many as the faith militant as he can, in order to make up for Cersei’s shame. They reach the stairs of the Sept, and the High Sparrow and his faith militant squares off with the Tyrell’s and Jamie, who is claiming to free the Tyrell children under the authority of King Tommen, and right before it was about to get bloody the High Sparrow called off the walk of atonement. According to the High Sparrow Margaery had already atoned for her sins by “bringing another to the Faith.” Enter King Tommen and his King’s Guard, of whom Jamie is supposedly the leader, and the High Sparrow announces a new religious pact between the crown and the Faith. Jamie is dumbstruck.
The Tyrell army is prompted to stand down by Lord Tyrell, really Lady Olenna Tyrell tells them to stand down with her fan, at which point Lord Tyrell asks her “what’s happening?”
Jamie is stripped of his King’s Guard armor and after some snide remarks about having to make his own walk of atonement, he is commanded by Tommen, his son to lead his army and help the Frey’s to recapture Riverrun and the Riverlands.
Skipping ahead here for continuity sake. Jamie doesn’t want to go to the Riverlands and really wants to kill the High Sparrow, and makes his case to Cersei, who tells him he must go to the Riverlands, because the High Sparrow and his faith militant will more than likely kill him if he stays here. She has the mountain and plans to have a trial by combat, when she is put on trial for her incest. Jamie agrees, then more incest. This plan may not work out.
Next up is the Riverlands, home of the Tully’s, Frey’s and the need for more context for seasons gone by.
Riverlands Featuring Filch as Walder Frey
One of the most prominent episodes of season 3, which aired three years ago for those of you keeping count at home was, episode 9, The Rains of Castamere. This is the episode where the infamous Red Wedding occurred. Now, three years later, we find the Walder Frey is still an incestious pig, and has no regard for anyone but himself. He is told by his sons that they have lost Riverrun to the Blackfish, or Brynden Tully, which was one of the only survivors of the Red Wedding. He is also the uncle of Lady Catelyn Stark (formerly Tully), who didn’t do as well at the Red Wedding. It is also revealed that Walder Frey has a captive, Edmure Tully, Catelyn’s brother, and son-in-law to Walder Frey. Edmure married Walder’s daughter Roslin who was intended for Robb Stark.
This should be a promising plot, with Jamie and the army of the King coming up from the South and Jon, Sansa, and the Wildlings coming from the North. Yes, that means Brianne, Jamie, and Tormund will all be in the same place, which probably does not bode well for the Bear crossed lovers. This is the beginning of a big battle, season ending battle possibly, unless they make their way to Winterfell.
This scene also saw the mention of the Brother’s without Banners. Which in the books help bring Lady Stoneheart into being. I would not mind seeing a resurrected Catelyn Stark bringing some much needed vengeance to her enemies.
The Return of a Stark
Benjen Stark’s return to the series by way of the Three Eyed Raven and the Children of the forest is a great turn for the series. Not only did Beera gain some much needed protection, not unlike Sansa has now with Brianne, but Bran has also regained a mentor.
Benjen assures Bran that he will be ready to face the Night King, and will have to someday soon to guard the realms of men.
One last trip across the narrow sea to wrap up this, evidently very dense episode.
Everything Sounds Better from the Back of a Dragon
The Khaleesi is leading her Khalasar to Mareen, on horseback, to prepare for the conquering of Westeros, or as Dany puts it “to claim what is mine.” She hears a familiar roar and ditches the horse for a better ride.
She comes back to her Khalasar on the back of Drogon, who much like baby Sam, has seemingly grown into a giant, awesome, beautifully CGI’d dragon. From Drogon, Dany addresses her khalasar, stealing most of the lines from Khal Drogo’s “Blood of my blood” speech season one, but, hey you tell her she is plagiarizing when she is riding a dragon. It was a great scene, though it was dulled a bit by Dany’s final scene two episodes ago, it is going to be hard to top that. Unless they are going to tell us who will ride the other dragons. Also, the Dothraki do not look as menacing as previously seen.
Blood of my Blood was a breath of fresh air from the emotional intensity of the previous episode. The only on-air death was that bunny that Benjen decapitated. If you made it through this recap/review you must be a diehard fan like myself. I would love to hear your thoughts on the episode as a whole and where the series is going. Look below for how to reach me on SM, also check out the Geekiverse for all things geek and verse related!
Final Score: 8.6/10
Blood of my Blood, S6 Ep6, was a great chance for the story to regain some momentum from the previous episodes, and is clearly building to possibly the biggest season finale yet. It did rely heavily on old story lines and though it was nice to see old faces again, it asked a lot of the watchers.
- Cold Hands/ Benjen Stark
- Great world building
- Chance to breathe between intense episode
- Very dense/relying on previous seasons
- Dany & King’s Landing story-lines are starting to drag
Jeff “Beta” Dugan is the Geekiverse Game of Thrones Lore-Apprentice, First of his name, follower of the Andles and the Freemen. You can find him on twitter @JeffD_Beta