Game of Thrones – “Blood of My Blood”: Guess who’s coming to dinner

This week’s episode may not have had the insanity and heartbreak of last week’s affair, but I thought they did a good job serving up a quieter affair that caught us up on a few important regions and set the stage for things to come.

I loved everything with Sam and Gilly. Even before it all inevitably went to hell, it was nice to see the female members of Sam’s family give him a warm reception. There was a distinct “high school prom” vibe to Sam seeing Gilly in his sister’s dress before dinner. It was all so adorably awkward.

Then, of course, it all went sour. The show has hinted at what a horrible human being Sam’s father is, but this week we finally got to see it in action. It was really touching to have Gilly attempt to defend Sam, even as her doing caused her to slip up and reveal that she’s a wildling. Sam looked so defeated and unwilling to stand up to his father that I thought he would indeed leave Gilly and little Sam behind and head off in the middle of the night. (Lots of credit to John Bradley for all of the subtle things he did in that scene, like waving off the bread and eventually pushing his plate away as his dad attacked his weight.)

It was such a joyous moment to see Sam come back into Gilly’s room to take her with him. And I love that he took the family sword, Heart’s Bane, with him. In addition to being a great way to stick it to his dad, Sam also knows how important a Valyrian steel sword is in the battle against White Walkers.

It was the right amount of time to spend with House Tarly. We got to meet Sam’s family without dwelling in the misery. Leaving Gilly there to be mistreated for weeks to come would have been awful to watch. Instead, they get to leave on a triumphant note.

Speaking of the right amount of time, I was glad the show acknowledged that Bran and Meera were still in danger after Hodor’s sacrifice, but didn’t spend too long on the escape from the undead. We got a big reveal (one that fans have long speculated about) that Uncle Benjen Stark is Coldhands. Benjen, who went missing in season one while north of the Wall on a Night’s Watch run, revealed that he was almost turned into a wight, but was saved by the Children of the Forest. He seems to now be somewhere between man and wight.

This also adds fuel to my theory last week that the Three-Eyed Raven willfully turned Wylis into Hodor in order to protect Bran. It seems like that was the first part of a plan that also involved Bran being trapped in the vision, which caused him to become unstuck in time, presumably absorbing a lot of Westeros’ history all at once. Also, the Three-Eyed Raven seems to have ensured Benjen was there to make the save once Hodor got them out of the cave. I’m excited to see what freeze frames people pull from that awesome opening sequence. I’m also excited to see what’s next for Bran.

Bran’s sister Arya also seems to have major changes ahead. She allows herself to get too attached to Lady Crane, which keeps her from completing her mission. Making matters worse, the Waif sees her botched assassination attempt and gets permission to end her life. So we seem to be headed for a confrontation between the two – one where Arya will presumably be using her recently-recovered Needle.

I’m a bit baffled by this end to her Faceless Men story. It seems like a lot of time and energy devoted to something that is now fizzling out. Plus, Arya is so far removed from the rest of the story (and is mostly unaware of what’s happening in Westeros), that it seems hard to imagine how she’d get back there, where she’d go and what she’d do. She doesn’t know Jon and Sansa are together at the Wall and has no resources to get there. I suppose she could try to leave with the traveling actors like Lady Crane did, but that would involve having some awkward conversations with the cast.

Meanwhile, in King’s Landing, the High Sparrow out-manuevers Houses Lannister and Tyrell. Jaime and Mace Tyrell are ready for bloodshed, but instead they discover that Margaery brokered her own deal by getting Tommen to throw his support behind the Sparrows. I enjoy that Tommen is so easily manipulated that he basically just listens to whatever the most recent person to talk to him tells him to do. But Margaery seemed to regret her move once she realized her family was there to save her. And their alliance gives the High Sparrow a lot of power, making it even harder to take him out.

Jaime ultimately gets sent to win back Riverrun, which has suddenly become a very important piece of property. Brienne is already on her way there to find the Blackfish and get his help in the Starks’ battle to take back Winterfell. So she’s about to be reunited with Jaime, though they’ll be on opposite sides of the war. This is set to be an important battle, particularly for the Starks, who are basically screwed if they lose Riverrun’s army. (Though, I suppose, they may then have no choice but to seek Littlefinger’s help.)

We also got a cool scene with Danny riding a dragon while delivering an inspiration speech. It was perhaps a little derivative of things we’ve seen before, but … dragons!

Big changes seem to be on the horizon. The battle for Riverrun may decide who wins the battle for Winterfell. Tommen throws his support behind the Sparrows, while Danny and Jon are both being back by the Lord of Light. Arya and Bran may both soon be heading back to Westeros. It’s going to be fun to see what happens next.

And another thing …

  • With Rickon already at Winterfell and Bran and Arya on the move, we are the closest we’ve been since season one to having all of the Starks back together again. If Jon and Sansa retake Winterfell, we may finally get an overdue family reunion.
  • Bran’s vision gave us our first glimpse of the Mad King.
  • The fart sound effect guy may be the hardest working man in those plays.

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Written by Joel Murphy. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact Joel at murphyslaw@hobotrashcan.com

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