Everyone’s favorite brother-sister loving, skin flaying, backstabbing, dragon flying, dead walking, high adventure is back for season six! Come here every Monday morning for Pressure Life’s review and recap of HBO’s Game of Thrones– season six! Make sure to let us know your favorite scenes in the comments section below!
Entitled, Blood of My Blood, episode six fittingly leaned heavy onto the family ties that run through so many of our storylines. Gone are the days of Eddard Stark, Balon Grayjoy, Tywin Lannister. There is a new generation coming into power. This episode was all about inheritance, whether willing or not, and the fallout from this paradigm shift.
I’m pleased we pick up where we left off last week, if for no other reason than I thought it was odd that Hodor’s sacrifice would have only reasonably bought them a few moments before the undead were close on their heels once more. Bran has inherited the mantle of the Three Eyed Raven, but what that really means is yet to be understood.
Through Bran’s visions, we get to see some Natural Born Killers style flash frames of critical past events, including our first glimpse of Mad King Aerys Targaryen, but if these events are trivially served to us as fleeting Easter eggs, then what’s the point?
The sheer impossibility of Meera Reed’s task to keep Bran Stark safe given their situation finally comes to a head in the middle of the haunted forest, knee deep in snow drifts, without the strength to pull the sled another inch while surrounded by encroaching frost zombies. We can feel the pitiful desperation that overtakes Meera as she throws her body over the prone Bran as a last act of selfless protection. She has lost everything in service of this obtuse, never-ending task. To lose her family, her home, her brother, Hodor, Summer, The Three Eyed Raven, only to end in failure now is a fate worse than death and Ellie Kendrick portrays the scene wonderfully.
Despite diverting from the books this season, readers still have a few surprises they were waiting for the showrunners to hatch. One of the worst kept secrets of A Song of Ice and Fire was the fact that Benjen Stark was alive (well, mostly) north of the Wall. Book readers may know him as Cold Hands and he may have come across Bran and his lot in a slightly different manner, but his return after surviving a White Walker attack has been one of the most anticipated appearances in the show’s canon. He seems plugged into the same parapsychological aether that the Three Eye Raven dabbled in so I’m interested to see if he will be the next mentor for Bran on his way, I’m assuming, to do something of significance finally. And, how cool was that swinging ball of fire on a chain that Benjen’s used to dispatch those zombies?!
I appreciate the concept behind the Samwell/Gilly storyline, but I question its purpose. Ostensibly, it’s the typical story of a meek, nebbish but good hearted underdog standing up to a stern authority figure; more of the old guard falling to the new, but to what end? At his family’s home in Tarth, Samwell passes Gilly off as his “totally not a Wildling” wife and his “totally not a bastard” son in hopes of finally winning his father’s approval. Yeah, not so much.
Through the course of the most awkward dinner since Skylar White made Jesse Pinkman sit down with her and Walter to eat steamed peas in Breaking Bad, Sam’s dad susses out that Gilly is a Wildling in short order. Ultimately, Sam sneaks off with Gilly, the child, and his father’s Valyrian steel blade in the middle of the night.
The best scene of the night is found, not for the first time, in Braavos. After tracking her kill for a few days, Arya appears to have gotten too close to her target and developed a sense of empathy for her. She still commits to poisoning the actress’s wine after her performance, but when the actress strikes up a warm conversation with Arya she has to reevaluate the merits of being a Faceless man if this is the path it takes her on. Flying back into frame, Arya smacks the glass to the ground before the actress can poison herself. In this act she has turned away from Jaqen Hagar and the guild of assassins. As hardened and badass as she may be, she is still Ned Stark’s child and she has inherited an unbreakable sense of justice that she cannot bury away. She also inherited something else from her half-brother, Jon Snow. Needle! I forgot all about that skinny sword, but the second it was back in her hands my heart skipped a beat.
I only hope now she goes back to Westeros full Kill Bill style now that she has got some hardcore training in the East. To do so, she will first have to defeat the Waif, who seems set up to prove her final challenge before progressing further along her path. She may have had the better of Arya fighting with staffs, but don’t forget, Arya is a water dancer trained by Syrio Forrel, First Sword of Braavos.
Stick her with the pointy end, Arya.
The High Sparrow’s machinations are revealed this episode as he goes full on Palpatine to King Tommen’s impressionable Anakin parallel. A day late and a dollar short are the plans of both the Lannisters and the Tyrells who thought they could simply roll deep to the steps of the sept and overtake the Sparrows by sheer force. They could have, had the High Sparrow not already won over the hearts and minds of King Tommen and Margery, effectively neutering their rescue attempt. By bringing the young king into his religious grip, the High Sparrow has effectively gained control over King’s Landing and subsequently the rest of the seven kingdoms that are still loyal to the Crown.
I’m hoping Queen Margery’s conversion is a long con she is playing out and that not everyone involved is so easily duped by the Bernie Sanders of Westeros. The house cleaning is already in effect for King’s Landing, starting with Jamie Lannister who is unceremoniously banished and dismissed from the King’s Guard, a role he has held with honor for years.
No one knows the problem of Blood of my Blood more so than Walder Frey and his dozens and dozens of children. It looks like they haven’t left the dining hall where they staged the Red Wedding massacre since it happened, like all Walder Frey does is crew on gristle and garble at his dopey kids all day long. I like seeing him back on screen if only to see his eventual comeuppance. They’re currently warring with Catelyn Stark’s uncle, the Blackfish. He’s hold up at Riverrun where Jamie is currently ordered to march on. It’s also the same place that Sansa set Brienne. Whenever there is a conflagration of a bunch of characters onto a specific location something big usually ends up popping off. Watch this space.
And for the second episode in the past three, we close on Dany making a dramatic spectacle but accomplishing little more than walking in circles in the middle of the desert, yet again. There is a serious level of diminishing returns every time Dany makes these grandiose speeches in High Valyrian only to affect very little. Her main dragon is definitely big enough to conquer kingdoms with, just checking in with them for three minutes with a sweeping background score is not enough any longer.
Blood of my Blood was not the most entertaining episode of the season to date, but it served as an interesting circuit board, plugging our characters around in order to set up more pivotal fallout to come.
Winner of the Episode: The High Sparrow (He’s effectively overthrown the Crown without spilling a drop of blood.)
Loser of the Episode: Jamie Lannister (No longer King’s Guard and forced to leave his sister/lover, his own illegitimate son being the one to strip him of his title and banish him has to sting.)
Benjen Stark: “The dead don’t rest.”