Spoiler Alert: The following discusses plot points from Sunday night's Game of Thrones Season 6 episode "Blood of My Blood," written by Bryan Cogman and directed by Jack Bender.
(Check out last week's recap here if you missed it.)
In short: The episode picks right up with Meera desperately trying to get Bran away to safety in the woods, but they are quickly found by the walkers. Luckily, a missing ally returns to save them. Sam and Gilly return to his family's land and get a less than warm welcome from Randyll Tarly. The High Sparrow allows Tommen to finally see Margaery, who seems to be a woman very changed by her experience. In Braavos, Arya returns to the play to complete her assignment to kill the Lady Crane, but falters when she finds kinship with the actress. Walder Frey returns to demand that Lothar uses the long imprisoned Edmure Tully to get Riverrun back into their control. Dany seals the deal with her Dothraki soldiers when she does her rallying speech from the back of Drogon.
This episode challenges us to rattle our memories as quite a few long-forgotten faces step back into the picture. First was the reveal of Benjen "Coldhands" Stark, who hasn't been featured in the series since Season 1 when the Night's Watch First Ranger went missing from the wall not long after Jon Snow arrived. His entrance was epic. At first, I thought a Nazgul made a wrong turn on the way to Mordor and ended up in in the wrong mythology, the cloaked rider looked so familiar. But when he whipped out the flaming chains on the relentless undead, I was transfixed. After he saves Bran and Meera, we learn that the missing Stark almost got turned into a walker until he was saved by dragon glass piercing his heart and stopping the process midway, thus his worse-than-a-writer-who-never-goes-outside complexion (I know of what I speak). Benjen was summoned to help the new Three-Eyed Raven - Bran - by the freshly dead one, and there's obviously a lot to be gleaned from what he knows about the walkers and how he can help Bran sort out the images in his head.
Another surprise was nasty, old Walder Frey back to his evil machinations and perving on young brides. In a strop because Riverrun has been taken, he demands his lackey Lothar retrieves Caitlyn Tully's brother, Edmure Tully, from the dungeon and use him to regain the stronghold. Not exactly a huge moment, but we haven't seen these guys in awhile and it could be setting up a storyline that will be incredible, or just Frey's comeuppance. Either is a major thumbs up.
Just when you think Dany's had her big moment of the season at the end of "Book of the Stranger," she ups the ante with the return of her prodigal dragon, Drogon. Looking mighty healthy and a crap-ton bigger than before, Drogon reunites with momma just time to make a visual point. Yes, the conqueror with a braid that's always on point reminds Daario that there's no obstacle she can't overcome any more. They need 1,000 ships to get the Dothraki and the Unsullied over to King's Landing? She just needs to engender a little enthusiasm, and damn does she with the entire Dothraki people in a tizzy of unity for the Mother of Dragons.
Samwell Tarly basically told his fat-shaming ass of a father to stick a loaf in it when he grabbed newly glam Gilly to leave with him as a family unit, and then stole Heartsbane to boot! How great was his reply to Gilly's concern that his father would come looking for the sword? "He can bloody well try." I want to see that!
It was make a choice time for Arya and what took a looooong time in the books only takes a season here as the assassin-in-the-making decides that she would rather not murder those with whom she has no quarrel. Case in point, Lady Crane turned out to be one hell of an actress, moving young Arya to show mercy (yeah, I did it) on her House of Black and White appointed target. Watching Crane's performance of Cersei woke something within Arya and she scuttled her poisoning and ventured out to reunite with her hidden Needle. It was a satisfying moment in an accelerated storyline that never quite landed like it did in the books. Here's hoping Arya returns to her homeland to reunite with Sansa (and perhaps someone even more important) to take back Winterfell.
Man, the people of the Seven Kingdoms are pretty swayable with whatever religion du jour sweeps over the land. I get that Tommen is a gullible kid with a bad case of the lusts for his wife, Margaery, but turning on Cersei and Jamie in such a short span seems pretty head spinning even with a pro like the High Sparrow working the young King. A little tough to buy, especially when Cersei is so scary. Would Tommen really want to cross his mother?
But what did work for me was Margaery, because I don't buy her religious turnaround for a second. Margaery was groomed and taught by Lady Olenna Tyrell, the very best when it comes to political machinations and pouncing on opportunities. Where Cersei is an open book of rage and vengeance, Margaery is a poker-faced player and the new queen clearly sized up her options in that cell with Loras and worked out that piety with Tommen was her way back to power.
The whole needle scratch on Margaery's Walk of Atonement was underwhelming too. Yes, Tommen walking out was a checkmate for Jamie and the Tyrell clan via the High Sparrow but I would have preferred a more robust moment of movement in the storyline. And yes, I know The Mountain is coming but still, the Sparrow is wearing on me.
Does every head of a House have to be such a jerk? Of course no one was surprised that Randyll Tarly was such a complete one because 90% of the patriarchs in this world need attitude adjustments via a sword to the head. It's a trope that doesn't exactly make for fresh storytelling, much as I enjoyed Sam's big moment (and meeting his lovely mother and sister).
It still gives me the icks to watch Jamie and Cersei pawing on one another. After their Joffrey funeral boink, I'm never going to coo over these two. My Brienne face of disgust to them both.
Things to Ponder ...
Bran's overwhelming visions of his past, Westero's past and what looks like current events need exhaustive screencaps for us to pore over. Internet, don't fail me.
With Edmure back in the picture and the Brotherhood without Banners specifically mentioned tonight, can we perhaps hope that a storyline that was assumed scuttled for the series might actually make an appearance? Book readers know that the aftermath of the Red Wedding created a new character and a rather dark subplot that will be a major moment to see played out in the series. I'm a little giddy with hope.
The Many-Faced god is not impressed with those who find their moral compasses, so it's going to be interesting to see how Jaqen's retaliation for Arya leaving the House without a proper sacrifice is going to play out. It's too easy to just kill Arya. We have to worry she's going to have to pay with something, or someone, far more dear.
Samwell grabbing Heartsbane, one of the great Valyrian steel swords and a killer of Wights, means there's got to be a reunion with his BFF Jon Snow in the near future. It's the sword needed in the great fight against the Night's King, right?
What did you think of "Blood of My Blood"? Did all of these familial moments put you in a good place?