It was always going to be tough following last week’s barnstorming episode of Game of Thrones, where Hodor nobly sacrificed his life to save Bran and Meera. And this show - while it does have some significant moments - feels incredibly flat by comparison, as the series starts to set the scene for its final few weeks. So, what’s the big new thing?
Bran’s uncle Benjen is back! To the surprise of few, and the relief of Bran and Meera, Ned’s brother rescues the pair from a shambling group of wights. The scene is a necessary transition from the last episode to this, and it’s deeply anticlimactic. Benjen faces down a small group of stragglers with his fiery mace, then does a budget-Jon Snow impersonation (seriously, were we meant to think he was Jon, or is his accent just weirdly similar?) and leads the pair to safety. It’s the only slice of violence in Blood of My Blood, and it’s hugely tame.
What’s more interesting about the scene is how Bran gets flashbacks to the Mad King, as he screams to his subjects to “burn them all”. This lends real weight to internet theories that Bran is responsible for the Mad King’s madness, because Bran is warging into his world during an attack on The Wall, and the King (then sane) starts to hear echoes of the Night’s Watch screaming through Bran. You know, in the same way Hodor heard “Hold the door”. Sniff - it still hurts.
Potentially more interesting, right now, is what’s happening in King’s Landing. Jaime and Cersei continue down their road to attempted Lannister glory, but it’s easy to see the wheels coming off that wagon very, very quickly. The traditional #teamlannister show of force against the Sparrows has back-fired, and now Tommen is in the pocket of the High Sparrow. Whether or not Margaery is remains to be seen - for what it’s worth, I think she definitely playing the game to extricate herself from prison - but what’s certain is that the battle for King’s Landing is slowly starting to heat up. Can we please see zombie Clegane hacking up some religious zealots, asap. Thanks.
Either way, it doesn’t seem like Jaime will be a part of it, because he has been dispatched to the Riverlands to take back Riverrun. Cersei wants a spectacular show of force (did she not learn ANYTHING from this current debacle with the High Sparrow?), but what she’s likely to get in return is… well, the best she can hope for is that Jaime is nobly defeated. What’s more likely is that her brother will lose his faith in his family and either reunite with Brienne at Riverrun or (and this is something fans have been clamouring for) witness the ‘return’ of Lady Stoneheart. To whom he owes a favour or two… Oh, you don’t know who Lady Stoneheart is? Follow the link to spoil it for yourself. The Fray vs Tully fight could potentially yield some amazing new plotlines, so let’s hope the writers have taken note of these particular fan requests and theories. It’s fun to see Walder Frey and Edmure Tully back in the show (and this episode is notable for its call-backs to early Thrones), although neither are fan faves.
The other big plot from this week is Sam’s return to Hornhill, and what I’m calling ‘the most awkward dinner party ever’. We get to see first-hand what a total shit Randall Tarly is, and how Sam’s brother Dickon has been positioned as the Golden Boy of the family. Seeing Sam so cowed in front of his family is painful, and while it’s great to see Gilly stick up for him, and Sam finally discover his courage at the end of the scene, it all feels a little pointless. They arrive, Sam steals Heartsbane, they leave - this plotline hasn’t really gone anywhere all season. Where do they go now? Sure, they were bound for Old Town, but that Valyrian steel sword might be VERY handy up on The Wall when the Whitewalkers come knocking.
Speaking of plots that are going nowhere fast… Daenerys continues to prove she’s a badass without really doing anything at all. Horses, dragons, rousing speeches blah blah blah. The sooner she can hook up with the delightfully mad Euron Greyjoy and get herself to Westeros the better - it’ll save both their plot threads from flat-lining.
At least Arya seems to be on the move. After treading water for what seems like an eternity in Braavos, she’s picking up Needle and getting back to her list. Unlike the actor she was sent to murder, Arya wants to mete out death to those she considers ‘worth killing’. How far will she get? Well, I think she’ll survive. Arya is a major character, and the Waif is… a bit of a non-event. Perhaps if she’d been positioned as more of a villain, I’d worry that she can actually kill off a major character. But, in my opinion, that won’t happen.
It’s pretty telling that this whole review is full of theories about what might happen next, but that’s just the kind of episode Blood of My Blood is. This sets the scene for what’s to come, and while pregnant with potential, it’s the weakest of season 6 so far.