Welcome to the second half of season six of Game of Thrones, fellow Throne Geeks! It’s hard to believe we’re already here, but the good news is that season six has, so far, been rather outstanding, and last night’s episode, entitled “Blood of My Blood” (technically a Dothraki saying between a khal (or in Dany’s case, khaleesi) and his/her bloodriders (or warriors)) delivered another jam-packed installment.
This season has been an emotional rollercoaster, particularly over the last two episodes (a Jon/Sansa reunion? Tears of joy! The deaths of Summer and Hodor? Tears of sorrow…). Last night wasn’t quite as emotional charged, and at least one scene felt a bit anti-climactic, but there was also plenty that continued to push the story in new and interesting directions. Blood ties are a constant theme in this series, and they’ve become even stronger this season as characters reunite (Sansa/Jon, Theon/Asha, Loras/Margaery, Bran/Benjen) and bonds grow stronger (Sam/Gilly, Tommen/Margaery, Jaime/Cersei). Leaders emerge (Jon, Sansa, Jaime, Dany, etc) and their followers (warriors…bloodriders) begin to fall into place.
So, with all of that in mind, I offer to you, blood of my blood, this recap and review of episode six.
North of The Wall
Picking up right where we left off last week, Meera struggles to drag Bran away from the weirwood root cave, now overrun with wights, while Bran continues his Three Eyed Raven “download.” At some point I’ll have to go through Bran’s barrage of visions frame-by-frame, but there appeared to be quite a number of images covering everything we’ve seen concerning the White Walkers so far, as well as ones depicting what has happened to the Starks (things Bran wasn’t present for – like Ned’s beheading and The Red Wedding). There were also dragons, as well as a callback to Ned at the Tower of Joy asking for his sister. The most intriguing flashes were of the Mad King Aerys Targaryen shouting “burn them all,” as we see glimpses of wildfire (the green stuff Tyrion used to destroy Stannis’ fleet in the Battle of Blackwater in season two). We know from Jaime (who told the story to Brienne in season three) that Aerys intended to light caches of wildfire beneath the city of Kings Landing, burning it to the ground (and killing thousands of people in the process) – that is why Jaime stabbed him in the back, thus becoming the “Kingslayer.”
As Meera becomes too exhausted to continue on, Bran wakes up knowing that the wights have found them (because the Night King marked him? Or simply because they were following the tracks Meera and the sled made?). It pretty much looks like the end for them (I sort of choked up as Meera hugged Bran)…until a hooded figure shows up on a horse wielding a fire-y chain mace. The mysterious rider takes out a number of wights with his medieval weapon before pulling Bran and Meera onto his horse and escaping. This was the moment book readers around the world started yelling “Coldhands”!!!
To be clear, the character isn’t actually Coldhands from the books, but it is a great nod by the producers to include a beloved book character by combining him with a familiar face to TV watchers. Because, as it turns out, Bran and Meera’s savior is actually Bran’s Uncle Benjen (Ned’s younger brother and a ranger for the Nights Watch – it was he who brought Jon to the Wall in season one), last seen riding out beyond the wall to track down White Walkers.
Benjen, looking pretty pale and frostbite-y, tells Bran and Meera that the Walkers stabbed him with a sword of ice, but before he died (and turned into a wight, as his companions did – one of which we saw return to Castle Black and attack Lord Commander Mormont in season one), the Children of the forest saved him by performing the same ritual they did on the man who became the Night King: they stabbed Benjen in the heart with an obsidian (dragonglass) dagger. So…either the Children of the forest perfected their spell of turning men into White Walkers, allowing Benjen to maintain his human identity…or the combination of the ice sword/obsidian dagger allowed that to happen? Unclear, but at this point we’re just grateful that Bran has someone to look out for him (though by looking out, that means giving Bran a glass of rabbit blood to drink…). Benjen confirms to Bran (and us) that Bran is the new Three Eyed Raven and that he is headed for a showdown with the Night King at the Wall…will Bran be ready in time?
At Horn Hill (The Reach)
Much farther south, Gilly marvels at how much green there is in the world as she, Sam, and baby Sam travel by carriage to the Tarly family home at Horn Hill, where Sam hopes to leave Gilly and the baby while he studies to be a maester in Oldtown. Before reuniting with his family, Sam reminds Gilly of the plan: the Tarlys will be told that baby Sam is Sam’s son and Gilly must hide the fact that she is a wildling (because everyone hates wildlings, even this far south). Sam’s mother and sister are downright lovely as they greet our little family, with Sam’s sister offering to help Gilly get ready for dinner by lending her a dress, and doing her hair and makeup (actress Hannah Murray looked positively thrilled to be rid of all the dirt and grime!).
Sam’s father and brother join them at dinner and it goes about as well as you would expect it to, considering Randyll Tarly is the kind of man who would tell his eldest son to either join the Nights Watch or be killed in a hunting “accident.” Sam’s brother, Dickon (the “ideal” son who is thin, can swing a sword, and hunt), isn’t much help as Randyll goes on about how Sam isn’t man enough to inherit the estate or the family sword, Heartsbane – which is made of Valyrian steel (!) and hangs above the fireplace. Through it all Sam silently takes his father’s abuse. It’s actually quite heartbreaking and I may have given a little cheer when Gilly spoke up to defend her man (he killed a Thenn! And a White Walker!).
Unfortunately, in doing so, she also reveals that she is a wildling, which Randyll considers even worse than being a whore from Mole’s Town…another candidate for Father of the Year, am I right? Sam’s mother storms from the dinner table as Randyll declares that Gilly can stay at Horn Hill by working in the kitchens, while they raise little Sam. But Sam is never welcome back to the house.
Later, Sam and Gilly share a sorrowful goodbye after which Sam leaves, but as Gilly stands over the baby’s cradle, he bursts back into the room, declaring that he will not leave his family behind. At first this makes their entire excursion to Horn Hill seem like a waste of time, but then Sam grabs Heartsbane on their way out…one more Valyrian steel sword ready to take on the White Walkers – yessss!
In King’s Landing
After skipping over this location last week, we return to the capital of Westeros for the long awaited confrontation between the uneasy Lannister/Tyrell alliance and the High Sparrow. First, however, we see King Tommen meet with the religious leader, who then allows the King to see Margaery. Tommen remains as clueless as ever as he talks to Margaery, who has calculatingly decided to give the Faith exactly what they want in order to save Loras (and herself). She praises the High Sparrow and tells Tommen how she has seen herself for the first time, acknowledging her sins and accepting the gods’ judgment.
The effect this has on Tommen remains unseen for the moment as we watch a battalion of Tyrell soldiers, led by Lord Mace Tyrell himself, march towards Jaime in the streets of Kings Landing. Mace, resplendent in his armor and feathered helmet, gives a rousing speech you know he practiced many times in the mirror (to which his solders gave no reaction whatsoever) before they continue on to the Sept of Baelor, where a crowd has gathered to watch Margaery’s atonement.
The soldiers (along with Lady Olenna Tyrell, who tagged along in a palanquin) interrupt the High Sparrow as Jaime rides his horse up the steps of the sept, demanding the release of Margaery and Loras. He threatens violence against the Faith Militant, including Lancel Lannister (Jaime’s cousin) to which the High Sparrow counters that all of them would gladly die in service to the seven gods…but that won’t be necessary today because Margaery has already atoned and converted! Oh and they have another new convert as well: King Tommen…so, no battle…just a boy king deciding to embrace The Faith so that his wife can come home? Yeah, that’s a bit anti-climactic (question though: did The High Sparrow plan this all along? Did he mean for Tommen to tell Cersei about Margaery’s proposed Walk of Shame (a theory many fans believed) thus goading the Lannisters and Tyrells to break the law by drawing swords on the The Faith? I’m leaning towards yes…though that was rather risky on the High Sparrows part).
Regardless, poor, trusting, manipulated Tommen has agreed to rule the kingdoms hand in hand with The Faith (aka the High Sparrow). Whether he did this because he simply wished to spare Margaery walking through the streets naked or because the Sparrow (and Margaery?) talked him into it, he has made a pact with a master manipulator (if you don’t believe the High Sparrow is playing the Game of Thrones just as hard as any of them, watch the smirk he gives Jaime at the end of the scene).
As a representation of this new alliance, the members of the kingsguard now bear the seven pointed star on their armor, only Jaime is no longer their lord commander (Tywin would be rather happy about this, I think). Tommen dismisses him (with Kevan Lannister standing by his side…interesting) and we learn in the next scene that he has been commanded to lead an army against The Blackfish who took Riverrrun back from the Freys. Jaime rails against this decision as he worries about his son and being separated from Cersei with her trial coming up (love how he name drops Bronn, who hasn’t been seen yet this season), but Cersei sees this is a chance for Jaime to prove his worth. They have every intention of living up to the Lannister name and taking back what is theirs, and Riverrun is just the first step on that journey. Then they kiss…it’s still weird because of the whole incest thing, but at the same time, this is one of the few honest relationships on the show (at least on Jaime’s part…though Cersei’s declaration to him in this scene, “we’re the only two people in the world,” seemed more sincere than any she’s made since season one!).
At The Twins (Riverlands)
Well, hello Walder Frey, you despicable old man, you…we haven’t seen you since season three! In the same hall where the Red Wedding took place, Lord Frey berates two of his sons for losing Riverrun to The Blackfish (Brynden Tully, who had help from a couple of other Riverlands houses, Mallister and Blackwood). Oh and that pesky Brotherhood Without Banners is causing trouble too…(a sure sign we will be seeing this ragtag group of Robin Hood types again this season…with a new leader, perhaps? Maybe? Probably not…but a recapper can still hope, right?…moving on). The two younger Freys look very doubtful about their chances of defeating The Blackfish, but Walder has an ace up his sleeve: Edmure Tully (Catelyn Stark’s brother and The Blackfish’s nephew), true lord of Riverrun, is his prisoner. That’s going to be a useful bargaining chip.
Well, it looks like Arya has finally made a decision about becoming a faceless man: she’ll pass. Ugh. As gratifying as that is, it does make the last season and a half of her getting continuously beaten seem a bit like wheel spinning. Regardless, her task of poisoning the actress Lady Crane (who portrays Cersei in a farcical play about recent events in Kings Landing) comes to an abrupt end once Arya realizes that the person who ordered the assassination is a jealous younger actress who wants Lady Crane’s part in the play. Backstage she briefly bonds with the veteran actress over how the part of a grieving mother should be played (Arya clearly never thought of Cersei in the sympathetic light of being a mother before. I loved the detail of how she was the only audience member laughing at the depiction of Joffrey’s death in the play – it’s all about perspective). Arya poisons Lady Crane’s drink but knocks it out of the lady’s hands at the last second, calling attention to the younger actress’ actions. Unbeknownst to Arya, this is witnessed by The Waif, who reports back to Jaqen. While the Waif is clearly quite delighted that Arya failed her second chance, Jaqen seems disappointed, but not so much that he doesn’t grant the Waif her wish: to kill Arya. Though Jaqen tells her he doesn’t wish Arya to suffer, something tells me the Waif may not listen to him on that score.
But she may find Arya harder to kill than she thinks, because Arya recovers her sword, Needle, from the rock wall she hid it in at the beginning of season five. Now that she’s made her decision to be Arya Stark (and not “no one”), I suspect she’ll use both her training and her sword to, not only defeat The Waif, but, hopefully, get back into the thick of things in Westeros.
Finally, we check in with Dany and Daario as they lead her giant khalasar from Vaes Dothrak to Mereen. Daario thinks Dany makes a better conqueror than ruler (a good point, actually…) but Dany insists she is merely taking back what was stolen from her…well, her family (ie; The Iron Throne). To prove she’s willing and able to do this, Dany rides off by herself (after sensing something amiss ahead of them). After some time, during which a number of the blood riders get a bit restless, a shadow appears above the horde: it’s Drogon, the black dragon, seemingly full grown at this point. As he wheels about and lands in front of the khalasar, Dany is revealed to be riding on his back. She then does what Dany does best, gives a rousing speech (Mace should take notes) that binds the horde to her (in case her walking out of the flames two weeks wasn’t enough). Everyone is ready and willing to sail across the Narrow Sea. Now all they need is about 1000 ships to do so (paging some Greyjoys!). Say what you will about the Mother of Dragons, she knows how to make a statement, and this one might be her most impressive yet (damn that dragon looked GOOD!).
- Bran’s “download” including the Mad King Aerys.
- Sam storms back into Gilly’s room to take her and the baby with him to Oldtown after all (along with Heartsbane, of course).
- Dany rides Drogon and rallies the Dothraki to help her take back Westeros.
Most Shocking Moments:
- Benjen Stark is alive (sort of)!
- Meet Tommen and Margaery: The Faithful King and Queen of Westeros.
- Walder Frey plans to use Edmure Tully to take Riverrun back from The Blackfish.
- That’s your father’s sword. – Gilly, It’s my family’s sword. – Sam, Won’t he come for it? – Gilly, He can bloody well try. – Sam
- Do you like pretending to be other people? – Lady Crane to Mercy (Arya)
- You lost it. It’s a castle, not a bloody sheep. – Walder Frey
- I am not a khal. I will not choose three bloodriders. I choose you all. – Dany
- Burn them all. – King Aerys Targaryen
- How and when will that smirk be wiped off The High Sparrow’s face?
- What is Arya’s next move (aside from avoiding being killed by The Waif)?
- We’re finally going to see Bronn next week, right? Right??
- What did Bran’s superfast montage of visions mean/portend and how will he access them now?
Well, that’s all I’ve got for episode six, “Blood of My Blood”! The story is chugging along at full steam now, and this episode just continues to help set up what looks to be some incredible set pieces in the back half of the season. The confrontation between The High Sparrow and Jaime may not have quite panned out in a big way, but I have hope for a number of these other storylines, so be sure to tune back in here next week when we take a look at episode seven!
Latest posts by Rachel Cushing (see all)
- Winter is Here: A Season Six Wrap Up for ‘Game of Thrones’ - June 30, 2016
- TV Review: ‘Game of Thrones’ S06E10 “The Winds of Winter” - June 27, 2016
- TV Review: ‘Game of Thrones’ S06E09 “Battle of the Bastards” - June 20, 2016
- TV Review: ‘Game of Thrones’ S06E08 “No One” - June 13, 2016
- Review: ‘Game of Thrones’ S06E07 “The Broken Man” - June 6, 2016