30 May 2016

Game of Thrones "Blood of My Blood" Review

This post includes spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 6, "Blood of My Blood".

In what seems to have been the longest wait ever, we finally return to see the aftermath of the attack on Bloodraven's tree as we meet a mysterious new warrior. In King's Landing, the sparrows gain a massive advantage by finally having full control of the crown. Samwell attends a family reunion and grows some balls. As always, I shall split up my review by focusing on each location/storyline.



King's Landing

We finally manage to see the High Sparrow's plan pay off. Over the course of this season we have seen this religious fanatic twist and manipulate Tommen's mind, feeding off his concern for Margaery's wellbeing and his struggle to establish himself as king. So, when the High Sparrow revealed the king and queen together on the steps, I felt angry towards Tommen for being an idiot, being played by Margaery and all that. But now, the thought has occurred to me; at least this way he is giving the people what they want. It's rare to see a high lord caring for the smallfolk in a way that Tommen and Margaery do. 

Of course, there is the issue that the sparrows persecute whores and gay people, while the septas are starving people in the dungeons. So, I suppose we still don't really know what the long term plan for the High Sparrow is. Now that he has the King's trust and aid, there may be a new sinister plot of his coming up.


This episode also marks the first time the Iron Throne has been seen since Season 4. Possibly symbolising it's return to power, though it's interesting that it happens at the same time as Tommen becomes more useless.


Natalie Dormer's wig was really bad in this episode
Jaime stood out as one of the more interesting characters in this episode. His dismissal from the Kingsguard echoed a scene from Season 1 where Joffrey removed Barristan Selmy from the same guard. And we all know that Selmy ended up abandoning his king and found a new allegiance. Could Jaime possibly do the same in the future?

Cersei mentions she has the Mountain ready for her trial by combat. If that means what I think it means, be ready to gEt hYpe.

The Riverlands

Holy shit this is something to look forward to. A lot of major characters are being sent into this area right now. Edmure and the Freys are going to Riverrun, Jaime and Bronn will be joining them, and Brienne and Pod have been sent by Sansa to go there too (one hell of a reunion). The Blackfish is tough, he's not going to surrender the castle, even for his nephew. I foretell a siege and a battle. Lannisters and Freys vs Tullys, at the same time as Snowbowl occurs in the North. The poor smallfolk of the Riverlands, they've seen nothing but war and devastation for the entirety of these six seasons.


Beyond the Wall

Bran and Meera have been escaping the army of the Night's King on foot ever since the tragic demise of Hodor. After an unspecified amount of time, Meera gives up and apologises to Bran just as the army of the dead show up. But they're saved by a mysterious hooded figure, soon revealed to be long-lost character Benjen Stark! I'm sure the actor was really happy when he received the call to come back to the show, he was probably sitting by the phone already in costume. Apart from the revelation that Benjen is alive and was saved by the Children, there wasn't a lot of time spent on this moment. I guess they combined the characters of Coldhands and Benjen into one, or maybe Coldhands is Benjen? Possibly.

We also got to see some exciting visions during Bran's binge-watching. We see all sorts of crazy visuals, I'll list the most prominent: falling from the tower in Winterfell, Hardhome and the Night's King, the Mad King Aerys and Jaime's kingslaying, the Red Wedding, a dragon, Daenerys, White Walkers, wildfire, Ned's execution, the Tower of Joy, the Children of the Forest, and Bran getting marked by the Night's King.

Okay, so there's a lot to process from a scene that lasted only about half a minute. Firstly, Bran didn't know about the deaths of Catelyn and Robb, so that's a big mindfuck of a way to learn about that. Now to get more analytical: there's a big emphasis being played on Targaryens and White Walkers from these visions, and also the Starks. I think this highlights the three important factors that will decide the end of Game of Thrones. There will be a White Walker invasion, Daenerys will return with her dragons, and Jon will become a Stark and rule the North. It's interesting that these visions show things only from the past and yet seem to predict future events.

The Reach

Sam receives a warm welcome at his fancy home in Hornhill. I was really impressed by how grandiose and beautiful the place is. The Reach is described as "a fertile land" featuring "fields of golden roses that stretch away as far as the eye can see." It's a place where medieval chivalry is romanticised; a place tender and compassionate enough that it managed to breed one of the most honest characters in the whole story. So it's interesting that a man such as Randyll Tarly even comes from a castle like this.

Sam says goodbye to Gilly, and I was prepared to admit this would be the end of her story. She would receive a happily ever after, raising her child in Hornhill with the family of the man she loved. But then Sam grew some balls and stole his father's sword. He knows that his father loves Heartsbane more than his own children. It's entirely possible that he could have taken it to get the prestiged Lord Tarly to chase him back to the Wall. Once they both got there, the best general in Westeros would see the threat of the white walkers for himself. And when the other lords of the land see him going to the Wall, they may realise something bad is going down and follow along. This is just a very loose theory that I've seen thrown around in various communities, but it's not entirely out of the question. Another reason could be that Sam wants to take Heartsbane to the Wall as it is Valyrian steel, and would therefore be able to kill a White Walker. It's too early to tell what his plan is, so as far as we know he could still be going to Oldtown to study as a maester. Will he succeed, in whatever he's doing? We'll have to wait and see.

Essos

Daenerys reunites with Drogon and asks her khalasar to ride with her across the Narrow Sea to take Westeros. Of course, we know that her fleet was burned down by the Sons of the Harpy back at the start of this season. So, I guess this is the right time for Yara and Theon to show up with the Greyjoy fleet. They offer Dany ships to get to Westeros in return for help taking back the Iron Islands. I doubt she'd let them become independent rulers, though.



I guess no-one isn't no-one after all. Arya decides that a place within the Faceless Men is not for her. She can't kill innocent people for pay, it's not her. Her cause is vengeance; the people she has targeted in the past have been those who wronged her or a member of her family. She tells the actress: "The queen loves her son more than anything. And he was taken from her before she could say good-bye. She wouldn’t just cry. She would be angry. She would want to kill the person who did this to her." This quote not only applies to Cersei, but it's also an introspective statement Arya is making about herself.

But funnily enough, I don't know if Arya will embark on the path of vengeance. When she was watching the play, she felt a huge degree of empathy towards her enemies when she watched Cersei mourn Joffrey. It's the same kind of grief she herself experienced when watching her father get executed. I don't think the plot serves to have Arya go back to being hellbent on revenge against the Lannisters and those others who wronged her. This wasn't just a test to see if she could become a Faceless (Wo)Man, it was a test for her to work out what kind of person she wanted to be. She's a new character now, an almost blank slate. It's a change that many of us have wanted from her.


Summary

As has been pointed out, this episode was a big compilation of people making fatal decisions. Tommen aligning the crown with the High Sparrow, Arya leaving the Faceless Men and Sam stealing his father's sword all have consequences that could prove dire for them. Game of Thrones has always been a show about dealing with consequences, from Theon's betrayal of Robb to Eddard trying to take Joffrey away from the throne. It reminds the viewer that despite the zombies, dragons, necromancy, shadow demons, direwolves, warging and divination, these are still very human stories.

Overall I'd give this episode a 7/10.

In Memoriam

Oh wow, no-one died this week. Awesome!

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