Warning: spoilers ahead for season 6, episode 6 of Game of Thrones, entitled "Blood of My Blood." If you haven't seen the episode yet, turn back now.
This season, I'm going to try to write up some quick thoughts about each episode the day after it airs. I won't get too deep into full-on recaps (you can find those all over the internet, and you've probably already read a few today if you're into that sort of thing) and will instead focus on what I consider to be each episode's best moments. This can be as many or as few as I want, and will likely vary every episode — today, there are four. I'll also toss in some additional observations that don't fit into the "best moments" category, which you can find at the bottom of the post. For the best moments of earlier episodes this season, click here. Onward!
4. Sam Taking Heartsbane
After being treated like absolute crap by his father, Samwell Tarley mans up, steals his family's sword "Heartsbane" (made of Valyrian steel, conveniently one of the only things we know can kill a White Walker), grabs Gilly and little Sam, and bails on his plan to leave them at Horn Hill. I feel like this entire diversion was just a way to get Heartsbane in Sam's possession, but I suppose I should be thankful Sam actually took action instead of moping around any longer.
3. Bran's Visions
Last week, Max von Sydow's Three-Eyed Raven told Bran that he needed to upload as much information to him as possible in a short amount of time, but because the Hodor reveal was the emotional crux of that episode, we didn't get to see any of that. But as Meera drags Bran away from the cave, we see Bran downloading all of that information in quick bursts, including what I believe is the first time we've actually seen the Mad King Aerys (Dany's father) in the flesh. For a complete breakdown of Bran's vision and what it all might mean, check out this piece at Vanity Fair.
2. The Return of Benjen Stark
This episode begins with another Stark reunion as Bran's uncle Benjen saves him and Meera from the wights. He's been missing since very early in season one, and though many members of the Night's Watch presumed him to be dead, book readers have had theories about Benjen's fate for close to twenty years. One of the biggest theories was that Benjen is the true identity of a mysteriously shrouded, undead character named Coldhands who guides Bran, Meera, and Jojen through the Wall all the way to the Three-Eyed Raven's cave. A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin reportedly denied that Benjen and Coldhands were the same person in a conversation with his editor, so maybe this plotline goes down a little differently in the books. But in the show, Benjen and Coldhands are one and the same, and after the Watch's cruel use of the promise of seeing Benjen again to lure Jon Snow to his death at the end of last season, it was great to actually see Ned's brother in action and reunited with one of his nephews again.
1. Arya's Moment of Truth
This is what I've been waiting for ever since Arya buried Needle in the rocks outside the House of Black and White. As much as she tried to become "no one" over the course of the past two seasons, the Faceless-Man-in-training learned that she couldn't serve the Many-Faced God the way Jaqen wanted her to. Arya has undoubtedly done some disturbing things on her journey, but every time she's killed someone, it's been personal (or they were an obstacle preventing her from accomplishing something). Carrying out assassinations for questionable reasons doesn't sit well with her, especially when she actually likes and respects the target. So she foils her own plot, reclaims Needle, and embraces her true identity. The Waif has apparently sensed this betrayal would be coming all along (I guess that's why she was so mean to her?), and I'm excited to see how this plotline ramps up as Arya tries to survive with a target on her back.
Well, Tommen's royally screwed it up this time (see what I did there?). In earlier seasons of the show, the writers did a great job of pitting Margaery against Cersei and letting the audience in on their thought processes and machinations during their political battles and quests for power. But I feel like it's been a long time since we've heard a real long-term plan from either of them, which makes it really hard to care about what's happening in King's Landing. Example: Margaery probably convinced Tommen to unite the crown to the Faith Militant with the intention of making sure the Lannisters don't regain full power, but since she's been cloistered, we've never seen her announce her plans to anyone, so everything that happens in that city seems unmoored and almost random. If the show gave me an anchor, someone or something to really care about there, I'd have enjoyed my time there much more this season. I guess I'll have to wait for that trial by combat to get invested again.
It was nice (well, maybe "nice" is the wrong word) to see the odious Walder Frey again, and the show seems to be setting up a big conflict at Riverrun in the weeks to come. Hopefully that subplot turns out to be more exciting on screen than it read in the books.
This week's title, "Blood of My Blood," serves as a direct callback to the language of how the Dothraki leaders address their blood riders, the key members of their khalasars (Dany now has a whole host of them at her command). But it works on multiple levels: it also references Bran's reunion with his uncle, Sam's reunion with his father, and Tommen's relationship to Jaime (and maybe even Margaery, now that they're married).
Dany's big speech on the back of Drogon seems ripe for one of the types of "best moments" I like to write about in each episode. But instead of the inspiring call to action it was designed to be, to me the speech just felt like a clarification of intent on Dany's part. Burning the khals and emerging from the fire a few episodes ago seemed like it earned her the loyalty of the Dothraki, and this just seemed like a way for her to say, "OK guys, here's our specific plan." But since we (the audience) already knew, or at least surmised, that plan, it seemed a little anticlimactic. Dany always talks a big game, and I'm not doubting that she'll follow through with this plan, but I'll be much more excited actually seeing her put it into practice than hearing her giving a rousing speech about it.
What did you think about this episode?