Tuesday, May 31, 2016


"Blood Of My Blood," episode six of this season's Game Of Thrones, was written by Bryan Cogman.  Most episodes are by showrunners Benioff and Weiss, so I sometimes wonder if they don't give Cogman the weaker material.  The hour was enjoyable, but didn't reach the heights of the last couple episodes.  It did feature a lot of people leaving places where they thought they were supposed to be.

We start with Bran and Meera where we left them--forced out of the cave, with her dragging him through the snow after they've escaped from the wights.  It's pretty hopeless. Even if they had Hodor to carry Bran, they'd be in trouble.  Poor Meera.  We just lost Osha, hate to lose another spunky girl from the North.

As she drags Bran along, he has visions, mostly highlights from past seasons, as well as some moments with the Mad King. Meera breaks down.  She can go no further.  The best Bran can manage when he awakes is to say "they've found us"--can't he at least try a little warging or something?  Just then, a guy on a horse (have we met him before?) starts attacking the wights and saves the two. (Why let them escape from last week's slaughter if they're to be killed here?) He gives them the Come With Me If You Want To Live sort of speech and they're off.

Meanwhile, Sam, Gilly and Junior approach Horn Hill--Sammy's home.  He's going to drop her off so he can go study at the Citadel without worrying about his old lady.  She may not be thrilled with the set-up, but I think it sounds pretty good for a girl who started out in Craster's Keep.  Samwell notes his dad Randyll hates Wildlings, so ixnay on the ildingWay origin.  You think he'd have mentioned that earlier, but I guess it's not an easy subject to bring up.

They meet Sam's mom and sis, who are happy to see him, but dad and bro are out hunting.  You get the feeling Randy isn't that thrilled.  Sister Talla offers Gilly a dress (who's not exactly used to nice clothes), something in silver or blue.  Is Talla a Detroit Lions fan?

In King's Landing, Tommen--probably the most boring character--talks with the High Sparrow about Margaery. The Sparrow let's the king see her. (I still don't get all the power this faith has against the king.) It's a new Margaery. She been a bad person, but has seen the light.  Considering she's as big a schemer as this show has, it's hard to take this at face value--though we don't find out what she really thinks this episode. (We're left hanging a lot this hour.)  They've been building up the persuasiveness of the High Sparrow, but does anyone buy this conversion?

Horn Hill again. Gilly's wearing that new dress and goes to dinner with Sam. It's like something from O'Neill--this family does not get along. In particular, Randy is hard on Samwell.  He sent his first-born to Castle Black to become a man, and now he's going to go read more books?  After a while, Gilly can't stand the abuse and says Sam has fought valiantly, killing a Thenn and even a White Walker (brother Dickon doesn't believe in White Walkers--what a Dickon).  As she speaks, she gives away she's from north of the Wall. Guess who's coming to dinner?  That's it. Randy will allow her to work in the kitchen and raise his grandchild (if he only knew it's not even his), but his son is banished.

In Gilly's chambers, she and Sam talk.  He'll be leaving in the morning.  That's when he decides to be a man and take his wife and kid with him.  And also the family's Valyrian sword. (To be fair, as first born, he should inherit it.) This plot isn't bad, but there's a problem--the whole idea of leaving Gilly at Horn Hill while he was getting his chain never made any sense, so deciding not to do it just leaves us where we should have been to start with. The only real difference is now he has a sword that maybe can kill White Walkers. (And perhaps his dad or brother will come after him, though I hope not).  I might add this show has so many bad fathers it's beginning to feel like Lost.

Across the Narrow Sea in Braavos, Arya attends another performance of the play we saw last week.  This time we watch the part where Joffrey is poisoned by the villain in the play, the Imp, who afterwards kills dad Tywin (at least he actually did that). Lady Crane, the actress Arya has been sent to kill, has her big speech as Cersei.  She's clearly the class of this act.

Arya goes backstage to put real poison in Crane's drink.  Don't they have anyone to protect the props while the show is on?  Arya runs into the actress as she's leaving.  Crane thinks it's a stage-door Jill, and they have a talk about show biz.  Arya has some insight on how to improve the role of Cersei. But when Crane complains to the writer/manager, he gives her grief.  Then she's about to have her drink and Arya comes back to slap it out of her hand. She even warns the woman the younger actress is out to kill her.  And, downstage left, the Waif has been watching the whole thing.

Arya recovers Needle, which she hid so long ago. She's a Stark princess, not a nameless girl.  Meanwhile, the Waif tattles on Arya.  Jaqen feels bad, but gives the go-ahead for the Waif to take out Arya.  This is good stuff.  We've been stuck in the House of Black and White for a season and a half while Arya was spinning her wheels.  Leaving it is a good thing, and having her chased by someone who's bested her at every turn--and who has a grudge--is even better.  I assume Arya knows what she's in for, but does she have a plan, or is she playing it by ear?  Unfortunately, we'll have to wait till at least next week to find out.

One word here about the faceless men.  For all their high-minded talk, they're not that impressive (or numerous, it would seem). When Arya met Jaqen, he seemed at least to have some sort of code.  Now they just appear to be paid assassins, killing for the highest bidder.  Arya is well rid of them.  (I'm guessing Arya will make it.  At least they're not going to kill her off right away, the fans wouldn't stand for it.  But will we see Jaqen again?--he's pretty sticky about getting the necessary number of deaths done.)

Back at King's Landing, the Tyrell army has come, and they march to the Sept along with the King's Guard. Jaime tells the Sparrow we've come to take the Tyrells back (he's a one-armed bandit--okay, one-handed).  We've been waiting all season for this showdown.  On the steps, Margaery seems ready for her Walk of Atonement, and there's a big crowd waiting.  (Wouldn't you be?)  It looks like it might be a bloodbath, though who'll win is far from certain.

But it doesn't go that far.  Jaime makes threats, but then the High Sparrow says no walk today.  Turns out Margaery has convinced Tommen to join the faith, and religion and crown are now allied.  A bit of an anti-climax, but a smart move on Margaery's part (assuming she's scheming, and not an honest convert).  Without any violence, or shame, she's back in charge with her easily-led king, and they might take back the Seven Kingdoms now.  Olenna and Jaime realize they've been defeated without a bolt being fired. (By the way, the Sparrow seems to be playing fast and loose with the rules--how ambitious is he?)

The King now sits on the Iron Throne, with the Sparrow at his side. Jaime is stripped of his position for attacking the Faith, and banished from King's Landing.  Plot-wise, it's just as well.  Jaime has always been more entertaining out on some quest.  I'm not thrilled if Jaime gets involved in some land dispute, but if it's in service of the bigger war for everything, or better, if he gets to see Brienne again, then we're moving in the right direction.

We cut directly to where Jaime is supposed to go, the Riverlands.  Walder Frey is dressing down his people (which is pretty much all he does), complaining about losing Riverrun to the Blackfish (so it really happened, if completely offscreen).  He commands his people take it back, and notes they have a hostage, Edmure Tully--if you don't remember him (and I didn't), he was the actual guy who got married at the Red Wedding.

Jaime complains to Cersei about the pointless job he's been handed.  He wants to go to Bronn (yes!--we haven't seen Bronn all season) and get a bunch of paid killers to take out the High Sparrow.  Cersei--for once--urges caution.  Do what you're supposed to do, heading the army and getting that castle back, building up your name, and we'll eventually get our revenge.  Meanwhile, I'll be having my trial by combat with the Mountain to fight for me.  Beat that, five-fingers.

Back to Bran and Meera.  The guy who saved them was called to their defense by the Three-Eyed Raven.  He reveals himself, and to the surprise of very few, it's Uncle Benjen.  We've been looking for Benjen since season one, and we've recently seen him as a youngster in Bran's visions.  Benjen was almost killed by White Walkers but was saved by the Children Of The Forest--though it's not clear to me if they turned him into some sort of good Walker or not. In any case, he knows Bran has a big future ahead of him, saving the world and stuff like that.

In the Dothraki Sea, Dany and Daario ride toward Meereen, leading her new horde.  They talk about time schedules, what she'll need to get to King's Landing and take it.  She seems to be in a bit of a funk--what's it all for?  Wait here, she says, and, before you know it, is flying back on Drogon.  So that's what it's all about.  I guess she's learned how to control her child. I'm guessing it's because the week's journey to Meereen sounded pretty boring. She'll fly ahead, save her people, get her ships, and wait for the horde to catch up.  She makes a big speech in Dothraki about how they're going to conquer the world, and everyone cheers.  Then, as so often happens on the show, the episode ends on her moment of triumph.

So that's it. Plenty of table setting. (Dany's story was little but that, though the unannounced return of Drogon added a bit to it).  Arya's story seems pretty exciting, and seems to be back on track, and maybe Jaime's is too.  Not sure how it's all going to play out in King's Landing, though I can't see Cersei sitting back for too long--but now that she seems to have lost her son, what will she do? Bran also has major stuff to deal with, though how long that'll take no one knows--he's still got a lot to learn, and we've got to see more of the Lyanna vision first.

A lot of people were MIA--many favorites that have been here all season, which may have made this episode seem tamer than most.  Above all, nothing at Castle Black.  For many seasons, it wasn't my favorite spot, but now that you've got Sansa, Brienne, re-Jon, Davos, Melisandre, Tormund and a bunch of others, we want to know what they're doing.

Also, no Winterfell, which means no Ramsay. No Iron Islands, so no Euron or the recently-escaped Theon and Yara (and just where are they going with those ships?  Dany could sure use them).  No Littlefinger.  No Dorne or Sand Snakes, which bothers no one.  No Meereen--nothing great happening there, but it would be nice to check in with Tyrion, Varys, Missandei, Grey Worm and now Kinvara. Also, no following Jorah on his quest for a cure. And no Bronn, who apparently just wants to be left alone.

I believe for the first time this season, there were no major deaths (even if the episode aired on Memorial Day weekend).


Blogger New England Guy said...

I was thinking if we could have a Game of Thrones "Bad Dad" contest, who would win? Randyll Tarley is only a bit cartoonishly unpleasant (oh yeah he did previously banish and threaten to kill his fat soft son so there is that too) but I think he is only in the middling range. Actually I'm finding it hard to think of a good dad here. Even the ones with good intentions have made their kids lives miserable (Ned, lately Jaime, Robert to both his bastards and his presumed children)

Tywin was killed on the crapper by his heir (after having condemned him to death and taken his true love into his bed). Dany's dad was nuts and burned people. Mace Tyrell is a buffoon. Balon Greyjoy was no great joy. Roose pushed his homicidal son way too far. Walder just insults his dimwits. Even Dr. Bashir in Dorne got his son killed through his ineffective politicking. Also Craster- ick.

Jorah's dad (the old Lord Commander of the Night's Watch) might have been nicer, but things didn't exactly end up peachy for him or Jorah

7:02 AM, May 31, 2016  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Father's Day episode should be entertaining

7:36 AM, May 31, 2016  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't leave out Stannis.

Just wait till Ramsay becomes a dad. If he lives that long.

11:39 AM, May 31, 2016  

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