TV Review: “Game of Thrones” Season 6 Episode 6: ‘Blood of my Blood’
***WARNING!!! MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW!!!!!****
Synopsis: Meera and Bran continue their escape from the White Walkers and receive assistance from an unlikely source. Sam and Gilly arrive at Horn Hill. Jamie, Cersei, and the Tyrell’s plot to free Margaery and Ser Loras but the High Sparrow has other plans. Arya’s loyalties are tested by her latest assignment. Walder Frey commands his soldiers to retake Riverrun. Dany inspires her khalssar.
Review: After the emotional ending to last week’s episode, “Blood of my Blood” dials down the violence this week and goes more for the intrigue. What always captivates me about Game of Thrones is that nothing is ever meaningless. Every look, every gesture, every offhand comment, every seemingly insignificant character possesses the potential for harrowing consequences. If you don’t believe that just ask Hodor. If you could. (Too soon?)
Despite Hodor’s sacrifice in “The Door,” many fans speculated about how Meera and Bran were going to get out of the predicament they found themselves in. It’s not like the wights and the White Walkers didn’t eventually bust through the door. Sure enough the ghouls find our duo, but just before they descend, a mysterious horseman appears to fight the wights off. That action sequence was phenomenal. I especially liked where the guy knocks off a wight’s head with some kind of fire mace.
But who is the masked man on the horse? Why none other than Benjen Stark, who disappeared on a ranging in season one. Turns out he was attacked by a White Walker but before he could be die the Children of the Forest saved him by stabbing him through the heart with Dragonglass. This calls in to question whether or not Benjen is even fully human anymore. And did anyone else see Benjen’s face when he first took his hood off? For a second it looked like his eyes were hollow and lit with fire. Guess it could have been a trick of the light. In any case it appears as though Benjen knew the Three-Eyed Raven, who called to Bran’s uncle just before the White Walkers destroyed him. Some may consider this situation a convenient deus ex machina but I thought it worked. At this point it looks like the now trio will be heading back to the Wall and presumably Castle Black. Benjen states that Bran must be there to confront the White Walkers when they attack. Although how he will vanquish them remains to be seen. It’s amazing that one of the most boring storylines of the entire series may now potentially be the most important.
Speaking of storylines that were less than interesting, Sam’s scenes at Horn Hill actually turned out much better than I thought. Not surprisingly, Sam’s father, Randyll Tarly, turns out to be the perfect asshole Sam always said he was. (Although what else would you expect from a man who threatened to kill his son if he didn’t give up his inheritance?) It killed me to watch Sam just sit there while his father berated him and insulted Gilly at the dinner table. After all this time away, after all Sam’s been through, all the dangers he’s faced, he turns into a little boy in his father’s presence. You can imagine the shout of “Attaboy Sam!” I shouted when he took Gilly and his father’s Valyrian sword Heartsbane and left Horn Hill. Guess it’s on to Oldtown and the Citadel at this point. There has to be something of significance with Sam going to the Citadel. Right?
People have complained loudly and often this season that Arya’s tale is going nowhere. I don’t think you can say that anymore. This week’s episode was probably the best Arya stuff we’ve seen since season four. For a moment during the play it looked as if Arya was going to go through with the assassination. However, during the scene where Joffrey dies and the actress playing Cersei holds him, Arya looks up and sees her understudy mouthing the words. You could see Arya’s facial expression change, the doubt begin to creep in. Despite this Arya puts the poison in the woman’s drink only to find herself confronted by the actress. In the brief time that they talk Arya can see that the lady is a kind woman. It’s at that point that Arya realizes she can’t be a Faceless Man and saves the woman. Arya’s killed people that have wronged her, she’s killed people that were in her way, but she can’t be an assassin. She can’t kill people in cold blood. All this time Arya was trying to be No One, but the truth is she’s a Stark to the core. I think Arya realizes she ran away from her problems. I couldn’t help but feel a moment of pure joy when Arya digs up Needle. Let’s hope she can escape Bravos with her life.
Another awesome aspect of Game of Thrones is the “game” aspect of the show. The art of politics and manipulation holds sway over so many things. Moves and countermoves. Jamie, Cersei, and the Tyrells go through with their plans as Mace Tyrell and his army enter the city traveling to the Sept of Balor and demanding for Queen Margaery* and Loras Tyrell’s release. For one brief moment it looks like there is going to be bloodshed. But then the High Sparrow shockingly agrees to let Margaery go with no walk of atonement. But it’s no act of cowardice. Instead the High Sparrow has convinced King Tommen to fully join the Faith, linking both the Crown and the Faith together. A Holy Alliance is formed. It’s a brilliant maneuver and you could just see the self-satisfied look on the High Sparrow’s face.
As if losing ground wasn’t enough for the Lannister’s, Jamie is stripped of his position as King’s Guard. Reason being that a threat to the Faith is the same as a threat to the Crown. Pawn takes Knight. Check. Furthermore, Jamie is being sent far away from King’s Landing to Riverrun to deal with matters there. The High Sparrow is starting to look like goddamn Bobby Fischer, the way he’s playing the Game. In fact he’s playing it so well that I honestly can’t tell if this is a move to secure power or if he’s a true believer.
As if Benjen Stark returning wasn’t enough, Walder Frey, who’s been absent since season three, again enters the fray. (See what I did there?) Turns out Walder wasn’t as successful at holding Riverrun as he was at taking it. Brynden Stark (known as the Blackfish), Catelyn’s uncle, has retaken Riverrun and rallied multiple houses to its defense. Walder Frey does not have the manpower or the weapons to take it back. However he does have a very big fish in his cooler—Edmure Tully. It’s clear he intends to use Edmure as a bargaining chip. Whether this will play out as it did in the books with Jamie right in the thick of things remains to be seen.
Although, Dany’s scenes in this episode were small, they definitely were the most inspiring. Daario calls her a conqueror, not just someone to sit the Iron Throne. Perhaps the implication is that not only should she rule the Seven Kingdoms, but the entire world. Yet without inspiration her leadership is meaningless. Well Dany fixes that very quickly, swooping in on Drogon amidst her khalassar and doing her best William Wallace at Sterling Bridge speech in front of her people. It’s a throwback to Drogo’s speech from season one. Dany is looking to fulfill the promise he made to the Dothraki. A strong, intelligent, independent, beautiful woman atop a dragon imploring her people to follow her to glory?? Good God, I was ready to follow Dany to Hell after that speech.
For anyone who thought the second half of season six might be a letdown, check your negativity at the door. As we charge headlong through these last four episodes, I’m sure the best is yet to come.
‘Blood of my Blood’ rates: 9/10 Severed Ned Heads
*For the life of me I can’t decide whether Margaery has become a true convert or if she’s just playing the Game.
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