Despite its title, “Blood of My Blood,” the sixth episode of Game of Thrones’ sixth season, was decisively unbloody. Instead, we were treated to a hearty dose of plot progression in an episode that began with ice and ended with fire.
I’ll get to the reveal that was 20 years in the making in a bit, but for the most part, we stuck to the south — the very green south, as Gilly (Hannah Murray) observed. We caught our first ever glimpse of Horn Hill, the Tarly family’s stronghold, where Sam and Gilly starred in the latest sequel of Meet the Parents. Elsewhere, we watched a girl revert back into Arya Stark, but not before sparing the life of an innocent woman. We reunited with our old pal Walder Frey as he sat incredulous that his inept kinfolk could somehow lose an entire castle. Edmure Tully was then dragged out to serve as a glaring reminder that the Frey’s have yet to play their trump card against the Blackfish. It’ll be interesting to see how the Blackfish responds next week.
And finally, the episode ended with yet another middling Daenerys scene that must only have been shot because the producers stumbled upon some unused CGI money and figured we could always use some more dragon scenes. It’s either that, or the writers have a bet where they see how many seasons in a row they can end an episode with the same scene without anyone realizing. We get it, Daenerys has dragons. She conquered some people. She’s “going” to Westeros. I’m sorry, I can’t do this anymore. Wake me up when she gets there.
Riser of the Week: The High Sparrow
A few weeks ago, I wrote that the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) was tiptoeing his way up chaos’s ladder and was close to being discussed in the same breath as the game’s two other masters: Varys (Conleth Hill) and Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen). The High Sparrow wants you to believe he is wholly pious, and to the commonfolk, that is every bit the truth. But there’s more to the man than his tattered robes, and it’s made clear by the blind eye he’s turned towards Tommen’s parentage. The High Sparrow is a smart man, and he undoubtedly knows that Tommen is a product of incest, and thus, a bastard who is unfit to be the rightful king (at the very least, he’s heard the rumors). But Tommen is on the High Sparrow’s side, a fact that proves this holy man is ignoring a grave injustice in order to personally benefit from the situation. Does this make the High Sparrow an evil person? Hardly. But what it does is uncover a clear agenda — one not sanctioned by the gods, but by man. After “Blood of My Blood,” it’s official — the High Sparrow has joined Varys and Littlefinger at the top. One question remains: is there room at the top for three?
Honorable Mention: Sam, for honoring every person who’s thought up the perfect comeback…hours after it was needed.
Faller of the Week: Jaime Lannister
Jaime Lannister’s status as this week’s faller is the result of a two-pronged problem. The first part refers to last night’s episode in which Jaime was dismissed from the Kingsguard — a position he’s held longer than his King’s been alive. That, in and of itself, would be grounds for making him this week’s faller, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t comment on the whitewashed, neutered version of Jaime that the show has created. This isn’t the fault of the actor, as Nikolaj Coster-Waldau absolutely killed it in Season 3 when he was presented with strong material from which to act. Rather, it’s the result of bad writing, where TV Jaime has had prolonged difficulty ridding himself of the stink he absorbed while in Dorne. This season, Jaime’s been relegated to serving as a prop for other characters to monologue at. Luckily for us, it seems that Jaime’s story is finally progressing towards his storyline from A Feast for Crows, and if it’s written properly, should re-cement him as one of the strongest and most exciting characters on the show.
Honorable Mention: Olenna Tyrell, who for the first time was force-fed a big slice of humble pie, courtesy of the High Sparrow.
Backstory of the Week: Benjen Stark
Oh what a wonderful time it is to be alive! Benjen Stark first went missing in George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones back when it first published in 1996. And now, 20 years later, the missing Stark has returned. And, just in the nick of time! For those who don’t remember, we last saw Benjen back in Season 1 when he embarked on a ranging mission north of The Wall. Later that season, Benjen’s horse returns to Castle Black, but he was nowhere to be found. Since then, we’ve only heard scarce references to the lost brother in black, including last season’s finale where Jon Snow is tricked by his would-be assassins after they tell him that his uncle has finally returned.
Luckily for us, and for Bran and Meera, Benjen was instead shacking up with the Children of the Forest, and as a result, is now infused with the same magic that’s running through the White Walkers. We don’t yet know the extent to which Benjen has changed, but between his skin’s blueish hue and his blackened hands, it’s clear that he is different in some ways, and I can’t wait to learn more about him over the next few weeks. There’s a lot of catching up to be done.
Item of Power: Heartsbane
Thanks to Jon Snow, we already know how important Valyrian Steel will be in the inevitable battle against the White Walkers, so I must agree with Sam in that an ornamental display is no place for a Valyrian Steel sword. We don’t know too much about Randyl Tarly, but last night’s dinner made it clear that he’s a hard-nosed, vengeful man, so it stands to reason that he’ll be quite pissed off when he learns of Sam’s theft. But, will he chase down his son? Doing so would mean he must admit his oaf of a son bested him, and that’s something I’m willing to bet he doesn’t want his liege lords knowing. Either way, whether he hunts down Sam or not, I’m fully confident that he won’t succeed. Sam is headed to the Citadel for his maester training, and I believe he’s destined to discover the secret to making Valyrian Steel, especially now that he has a physical sample to study.
- Did anyone else catch the name dropping of The Brotherhood without Banners?! Perhaps that’s where Gendry has been all this time.
- I loved seeing Gilly sum up the way we’ve all felt at different times with this show: “I’m angry that horrible people can treat good people that way and get away with it.”
- I said this last week, and I’ll say it again. Meera has been fantastic. The hug she gives Bran when she’s given up was superb.
- I have a feeling Arya turned the lights off in her room knowing full well that the Waif will be coming to kill her. Arya knows what it’s like to fight when blinded by darkness, but the Waif might not. The Waif is going down.
- It looks like we’ll finally be seeing Bronn next week, and thank god. We’ve been severely lacking in the one-liners department this season.
- So Jaime and Brienne are on a crash course to Riverrun, only now they’re on opposite sides of the war. I wonder how all that will play out.
- I think I am in love with Mace Tyrell. His gaudy armor was perfect, and his Braveheart-like speech was great. He might not be the sharpest, but compared to all the terrible fathers we’ve seen over the course of the show, he definitely falls on the good side.
- And finally: HOLY SHIT WE SAW THE MAD KING! AND JAIME’S ASSASSINATION. AND DRAGONS FLYING OVER KING’S LANDING. AND WILDFIRE EXPLOSIONS. Things are about to go down, folks.
See also: Game of Thrones 6.05: “The Door”
Joe Brosnan works at St. Martin's Press and manages Criminal Element. He’s a New York Giants fan, a Petyr Baelish supporter, and is only now realizing how weird it is to write in the third person. You can follow him on Twitter @joebro33.
Read all of Joe Brosnan’s posts for Criminal Element.