Game of Thrones S6E6 “Blood of My Blood”
My honest opinion watching this episode as it aired last year was that it wasn’t great. Here on my rewatch, I have to feel more of the same. After “The Door”s dramatics, we were due for a fall back and probably some more table setting, but that doesn’t mean the episode has to be mediocre (by Game of Thrones standards), “Book of the Stranger” was a table setter but it was exciting, holding its own with the rest of the series’ episodes. “Blood of My Blood” on the other hand, feels like we’re just checking things off a list that need to be done. They can and probably will turn into something exciting in the near future, but it just can’t happen here while making sense at the same time. In “Blood of My Blood, Sam stands up to his father by not actually standing up to him, the High Sparrow checkmates the Lannisters, Arya makes a potentially fateful decision, an old enemy returns, and Bran is saved by a familiar face. And away we go.
The episode actually ends with Dany but I’m going to start with her. There’s nothing worse than a table setting episode that tries to go for a fancy ending when there isn’t one there, and that’s what Dany’s brief check in did. Dany, Daario, and the Dothraki are on their way back to Meereen when Dany spots a suspicious breeze in the air. She rides ahead and surprises everyone when she returns on the back of Drogon. She then delivers a speech asking the Dothraki if they will all be her blood riders (as opposed to the traditional three blood riders per khal) and they all unanimously agree. She then asks if they’ll take Westeros with her, using basically the same language that Drogo did when he promised her he would take the country for her. Again they all unanimously agree and Drogo lets out a celebratory roar to close out the episode. I’m all for Dany’s dragons, those things are cool, but they’re cool when you use them for combat of some sort, to destroy your enemies. There was no reason Dany needed Drogon with her to make that speech, and there was no actual reason for her to give that speech at all. In “Book of the Stranger” Dany became Khaleesi of the entire Dothraki people, the Dothraki were going to do whatever she asked of them anyway. Coming out of a burning hut unharmed is tough to top, but giving a speech to convince a group of people to do something for you when they already were on board with it because you came out of a burning hut earlier is not the way to top it. They were going for a grand exit to the episode, but this is probably the worst grand end episode scene in Game of Thrones so far.
We’ll move on to Horn Hill, where Gilly has the pleasure (and displeasure for a certain someone) of meeting Sam’s family. Shortly before they arrive, Sam runs Gilly through the game plan one more time. Gilly is to say that Sam is little Sam’s father and when asked where she’s from, do not say she’s from north of the wall, Sam’s father Randyll loathes wildlings. Gilly first meets much more pleasant people though, as Sam’s sister, Talla, and their mother Melessa are the ones who greet them at the entrance of Horn Hill. Melessa is taken by Gilly’s beauty and instantly takes affection to little Sam, who she thinks is her grandson. Sam asks where his brother Dickon and their father are and Melessa tells him they’re out hunting and they’ll all have dinner together tonight.
Everything Sam has ever told us about Randyll Tarly has been overwhelmingly negative and Randyll lives up to the hype in his first appearance on the show. An initially awkward dinner turns into straight out uncomfortable when Randyll insults his son for his weight, his preference of books to swords, and somehow becoming even less of a warrior by joining the Night’s Watch. Sam is at a loss for words and cannot defend himself but Gilly isn’t. Gilly stands up for Sam and mentions his violent feats, such as killing a white walker and a Thenn. Unfortunately for Gilly, she inadvertently revealed that she’s a wildling while defending Sam and the dinner turns even more uncomfortable from there. Randyll continues to insult Sam and goes as far as to call Gilly a “wildling whore”. Melessa is insulted at her husband’s harsh words and walks away with Talla and Gilly, not before telling Randyll that it is him, and not Sam that is disgracing House Tarly. With the room cleared, Randyll tells Sam that Gilly can stay and work in the kitchens while he will acknowledge his grandson as Sam’s bastard and raise him in Horn Hill. He allows this only on the condition that Sam leave Horn Hill and never come back.
Sam tells the news to Gilly and apologizes for not standing up for her at dinner. Sam assures her that this is what best for Little Sam and the couple share their goodbyes. The camera lingers on Gilly for a minute and then back to the door as Sam has changed his mind. Sam tells Gilly that they are meant to stick together and that they are all going to the Citadel. The three depart Horn Hill, but not before Sam takes his father’s Valyrian steel sword, Heartsbane. Gilly cautions Sam, saying that Randyll is going to come after him to take the sword back but Sam insists that if he tries, he’s going to fail. Sam standing up to his father by not actually confronting him seems perfectly in Sam’s character and it leaves you wondering how the eventual conflict between father and son is going to go down. Make no mistake, Gilly is right. Randyll is going to chase Sam for Heartsbane. I just hope Sam is ready.
The other key location of the episode is over at King’s Landing, where the High Sparrow lands his biggest victory yet. Tommen pays a visit to the High Sparrow, seeing if there’s any way to get Margaery out of the walk of atonement. Turns out there isn’t, but the High Sparrow allows Tommen to see his wife beforehand. This scene was a bit tough to read in regards to whether or not Margaery is now genuinely devout or not but she’s a smart woman so I read it as she “turned devout” to get out of this walk of atonement. Off screen, Margaery convinces Tommen to make an alliance with the Faith and if this sounds anticlimactic, we’re just getting started with that.
The people of King’s Landing gather for Margaery’s walk of atonement but some party crashers are on the way. Jaime, Mace, Olena, and the Tyrell army walk up to the steps of the Great Sept of Baelor and Jaime confronts the High Sparrow, telling him they’re here for Margaery and Loras. Jaime threatens the High Sparrow, saying they’ll kill all of them if he refuses them and the High Sparrow replies by saying dying in service of the gods is something he and the militant yearn for. But it won’t be necessary as the High Sparrow tells us there will be no walk of atonement today, and thus no need for violence. The High Sparrow then reveals that Margaery has already atoned for her sins by converting Tommen and forming an alliance between the crown and the faith. A dumbfounded Mace wonders what just happened while Olena tells her dimwitted son that they just lost. It sure looks that way right now but I wouldn’t put it past Margaery to fake this whole alliance so she can influence the High Sparrow to let Loras free, but this won’t be explored until later. While this anticlimactic ending could give us something down the line, it falls very flat in the confinements of this episode.
Now that the crown and the faith are one in the same, there are consequences for attacking the faith. Jaime learns this when Tommen releases Jaime from the Kingsguard and gives him what seems like busy work in helping the Freys retake Riverrun after the Blackfish took it back. Jaime voices his anger to Cersei that the High Sparrow has basically taken their last child and says he has no intention of going to Riverrun, instead saying he’ll kill all of the sparrows. Cersei tells him that his defeats the purpose, seeing as Jaime would die in what is ultimately a family restoration mission. Cersei tells Jaime to go to Riverrun and take the castle back as the Tullys are their enemies as well, and it’ll be much easier to send a message when your enemy is manageable like the Tullys. The two get their incest game back on and we’re just glad the screen cuts away before they can get too freaky.
In Braavos, Arya makes a decision that leaves her in a very vulnerable position. She’s back at the play again, now in its second act. After it’s done, Arya sneaks backstage, this time to actually poison Lady Crane. Arya successfully puts the poison in the rum (which only Lady Crane drinks) and tries to run out of there but is stopped by Lady Crane, who wonders why she snuck backstage. The two share a decent conversation and Arya starts to realize that Lady Crane is a nice person. Uncomfortable with witnessing her death, Arya leaves the scene as soon as the conversation allows her to. That’s not enough for Arya though, because she’s completely changed her mind. Arya storms back in and knocks Lady Crane’s rum to the ground before she can drink it. She tells Lady Crane to watch out for the actress that plays Sansa, as she’s correctly deduced that she was the one who put out the hit.
Jaqen implied that Arya was going to die if she didn’t go through with this, so Arya realizes she has to get out of here now. Arya hurries back to the rocks where she hid Needle and reclaims her sword. She hides out in a room with her things and blows out the candle, waiting in the dark for the faceless men’s retribution for her betrayal, which is most definitely coming. The Waif witnessed Arya’s failure while disguised, and reports the news to Jaqen. She then asks Jaqen for permission to kill Arya, reminding him that he promised her she could kill her if she failed. Jaqen reluctantly allows it, making the Waif promise not to let Arya suffer. The Waif hates Arya with a passion though, something tells me the Waif is going to try and make this a brutally painful death for Arya Stark.
Last but not least, we have Bran and Meera fresh off their escape from the three eyed raven’s cave. Meera tries her best to sprint and pull Bran and his sled through the snow, but there’s only so much that she can do. All the while Bran’s not even really there as he’s processing all of the information that the three eyed raven gave to him. There’s so many historical things he sees, including the mad king shouting “burn them all” and Jaime killing him, wildfire going off, a dragon flying over King’s Landing, his father’s execution, the Red Wedding, Craster’s final son turning into a white walker, the massacre at Hardhome, and his paralyzing fall one more time. While I’m sure there’s lessons to be had there, Meera doesn’t think Bran will have much time to learn them as she apologizes for failing him. She’s reached the point of exhaustion and can’t carry the sled anymore, and the wights are quickly approaching them. Just when all seems lost, a man covered fully in black appears on a horse and kills the wights. He then tells the two to get on which they do.
Sometime later and somewhere safe, the three of them are warming up over a fire and Bran wonders who this mysterious man is. The man reveals himself to be Benjen Stark, Bran’s long lost uncle. Benjen explains his story to Bran, he led a ranging party looking for white walkers only for the walkers to find them first. He got stabbed by one of the walkers and they just left him there, waiting to turn into a wight. Before they could do so, the children of the forest saved him by stabbing a dragon glass dagger through his chest, leaving him somewhat human but not fully human. Bran asks how he found them and Benjen says that the three eyed raven sent for him. Benjen also tells his nephew that he has to be the three eyed raven now, and when the Night King attacks the realm, he will have to be ready and waiting for him.
Seeing as you’ve read the review, you know that I’m not a big fan of forcing an epic ending when it’s not there. Dany’s speech could have easily been switched out with Arya’s scenes. Arya blowing out the candle to cut to dark would have been a much more fitting way to end the episode, and it would have been clever without really forcing the issue.
Jaime riding up the steps of the Sept on horseback may be the coolest thing that happened in the episode, and it was such a simple moment.
Got a laugh out of Mace the Ace wearing that feather thing on top of his helmet. If the rose sigil didn’t strike fear into the enemy’s heart, that feather thing will surely do the trick.
Since it seems like Bran will be going back home, one just has to wonder what’s up with that mark on his arm that the Night King gave him. If it broke the magic of the cave, might the wall have some magical properties that can be broken by this mark as well? Bran won’t be staying beyond the wall much longer, I figure end of season six or start of season seven he’ll cross back into the Seven Kingdoms and at that point we’ll find out.
Also with Bran, is there anything stopping him from going back to the very beginning of his fateful fall? He doesn’t remember Jaime was the one who pushed him, but he could probably find out now. Maybe it’s too traumatic for him to want to do that, or maybe the three eyed raven cut out that part of the vision when he uploaded it to Bran, I don’t know either way. What do you guys think?
Keep your eyes out for a Jaime and Brienne reunion! They’re both heading to Riverrun so I can’t see them not running into each other. Those two have what is quite possibly the most interesting relationship in the show so far so it’d be nice to see them get some more screen time together.
Bronn got name dropped here but it was for a plan of Jaime’s that Cersei shot down. Hopefully Jaime will bring Bronn to Riverrun as an alternative. Six episodes into the season and not a single scene with Bronn, who is a starring cast member. It’s time for that drought to end.
Jaime didn’t want to go to Riverrun mostly because he wants to be with Cersei during her trial, but Cersei isn’t worried. I wouldn’t be either considering that she’s going to call for a trial by combat and has The Mountain to fight for her. Who would the High Sparrow even use as his champion anyway?
“Blood of My Blood” is quite the untypical episode of Game of Thrones if you stop to think about it. Tyrion is a no show and it’s only his fifth miss of the series. Jon Snow is also out and it’s his tenth miss of the series. There’s no nudity, which isn’t super rare for an episode, but still uncommon. Not a big deal, but before the episode starts and you don’t see nudity in the rating thing, you know that Margaery isn’t going to have a walk of atonement. To wrap up the oddities, no one dies in this episode, making it only the third episode in the series with a death count of zero. What are the odds all of that happened in a single episode?
“Blood of My Blood” sets the table for events that can payoff in future episodes, but doesn’t really garner much excitement in the episode itself.