The latest instalment of Game of Thrones wrestled with complex themes including resurrection and rebirth. As has generally been the case throughout this season, ‘Blood of My Blood’ was revelatory in the extreme, full of catharsis.
We opened as Meera dutifully transported Bran, a direct continuation from the end of the previous episode. It was never likely that they would escape without help. It’s been a long time since this week’s hero Benjen appeared onscreen (though he was mentioned in last week’s review); Joseph Mawle, who plays Uncle Benjen ‘Coldhands’ Stark, must be relieved he can finally pay his bills again, and broaden his diet beyond Irn Bru and beans on toast – indeed, he was treated to a rabbit in ‘Blood of my Blood’. This was a significant moment for Joe Dempsey, too, whose character Gendry is apparently on the longest rowing marathon known to man, which he started in season three. He will surely have renewed hope that the writers have not forgotten about him.
As Bran downloaded what memories he could from the Matrix, viewers got to see a fascinating slideshow. If we look at it frame-by-frame (credit to Reddit user /u/ggman3), we can infer a few things. The Mad King Rhaegar appears for the first time (and he really nailed his only line), and we see Jaime commit the legendary kingslaying. There is something to be said for a particular theory on Rhaegar; many believe that Bran’s intervention via his greenseeing is what drove Rhaegar insane, and his appearance in these visions lends credibility to that.
Next, Bran sees himself falling, having been pushed from the tower by Jaime in the throes of incestuous lovemaking (remember that unbearable line, ‘the things I do for love’?). Jaime’s attendance in multiple shots suggests he may become even more significant. Some have theorised that he will be revealed as the resurrected Azor Ahai, The Prince that was promised. Azor Ahai famously stabbed his wife, Nissa Nissa in the heart in order to unleash the true powers of the Lightbringer. If any wife/partner was deserving of a stab to the heart, it would surely be Cersei. It’s quite a stretch, even for a conspiracy, but who knows anymore with Game of Thrones.
The more personally nightmarish elements for Bran included seeing the Red Wedding for the first time, along with his father’s beheading. We shall have to wait to see whether or not this drives any personal vector of vengeance.
Though it is still to be confirmed, one shot reinforced the R+L=J theory. A bloodied hand was shot alongside a woman’s hand. The significance lies in the fact that the man’s hand was Ned’s, as he was wearing the same brace as he was pictured with in the Tower of Joy memory. The implication, then, is that further along in Bran’s previous flashback, Ned found his sister dying during/post-childbirth.
So with our collective heads spinning, we’ll have to wait and see how things shake out.
We also revisited Gillie and Samwell. There’s a lot to get to so we’ll have to paraphrase: Sam’s father was as awful as we were led to believe, and worse. Samwell got fat-shamed and Gillie got identity-shamed before they both decided to vacate with the family sword in hand – one of the only remaining Valyrian steel swords (i.e one of the only things capable of vanquishing a Wight). Samwell remains the biggest coward in Westeros, but the pen is mightier than the sword et cetera et cetera.
The battle of King’s Landing ended before it began in a sumptuous anti-climax. Jaime and the Tyrell’s appeared to try to prevent Margaery’s walk of shame through the streets, threatening the High Sparrow’s life. Once again, it was predicted in a previous review that Margaery would be turned, despite herself. The High Sparrow, leader of the
Jehova’s Witnesses Faith Militant has succeeded in marrying the crown to his religion, an ominous sign for anyone rooting for the Lannisters. The glib old man stood with a butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-his-mouth smirk, asserting himself in front of his people.
The most satisfying part of the episode, which is some accolade, was Arya’s. Finally, she chose to stop letting the Waif make pizza dough with her face. It seems that a third viewing of the play helped her properly embrace her identity once again, and she shirked her duties for the Faceless Men. A line spoken by the player (‘Do you like pretending to be other people?’) stirred something in her, and she retrieved Needle from the harbour. Jaqen and the Waif agreed she needed to die, but something worth commenting on was the Waif’s thirst for Arya’s blood (she said to Jaqen ‘You promised me’). It suggests that the Waif is not no one, her jealousy and hatred for Arya are representative of her personal emotions and agendas. Perhaps it is this desire that will give Arya an advantage over the Waif. This change on Arya’s part opens up exciting opportunities in her quest for vengeance, and the possibility of reuniting with any of her siblings.
In line with Bran’s visualisation of the Red Wedding, we were saw Lord Walder Frey again in ‘Blood of My Blood’. It turned out he kept Edmure alive, and will offer him to his father the Blackfish, or use him as bait in an attack. Jaime was exiled from King’s Landing to help Frey, and with ‘Bastardbowl’ on the horizon, this is likely to be a significant factor.
The episode’s finale featured Danaerys and her newly acquired Dothraki army. Khaleesi reconvened with one of her dragons (who were freed by Tyrion in Home). The scene, and her speech, were atmospheric and conveyed Danaerys at her strongest, a believable conqueror with swathes of loyal disciples. She asked for a thousand ships – it will be interesting to discover whether these are donated by Euron, who tasked his people with building, coincidentally, exactly one thousand ships (on an island with no trees).
Sky Germany have released the names of the final three episodes of this season: ‘Noone’, ‘Battle of the Bastards’, and ‘The Winds of Winter’. There’s usually some duality to these names, particularly with the benefit of hindsight. However, it is probably reasonable to infer that, respectively, they will focus on Arya, Jon and Bran. This was the strongest episode of a season which has generally followed an upward trajectory throughout – the remaining episodes promise to be instrumental in determining who is to win the game of thrones.
Dir: Jack Bender
Scr: David Benioff, George R.R. Martin, D.B. Weiss
Cast: Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harrington, Liam Cunningham, Carice Van Houten, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, John Bradley, Hannah Murray, Art Parkinson, Natalia Tena.
Prd: David Benioff, George R.R. Martin, D.B. Weiss, Duncan Muggoch, Peter Welter-Soler
Music: Ramin Jawadi
Episode Number: 6 of 10