Game of Thrones “Blood of My Blood”

After last week’s somewhat lackluster showing, it was hard to predict what direction this week’s Game of Thrones was headed. I hesitate to call it filler, but rather, “Blood of My Blood” abandoned emotional beats, like those heavily relied on in “The Door,” to instead serve as a set-up for the final leg of this season.

Photo Credit: HBO

Photo Credit: HBO

In the most unexpected turn of the episode, the coup in King’s Landing failed in the oddest of fashions. Margaery’s shift to the side of the High Sparrow feels incredibly planned; for all the adjectives that could describe Margaery, suggestible is not one of them. She’s much too smart to fall under anyone’s spell, cultish religious leader or not. If anything, this is a cunning move on her part to guarantee her safety, as well as Loris’s. So now the Iron Throne is held by a king who is supporting an apparent theocracy. I’m starting to look forward to when Daenerys rolls in to take this mess over.

Photo Credit: Macall B. Polay/HBO

Photo Credit: Macall B. Polay/HBO

Speaking of Daenerys, for all the grief I give her, by the time she was done with that speech, I was nodding along like the Daenerys fangirl I apparently am at heart. Giving a rousing speech is exactly the kind of thing a politician like Daenerys would do. She’s yet to prove herself a great leader, but talking the talk can go a long way. And as frustrating as she can be, is anyone else nearly as passionate or convincing as the true heir to the Iron Throne than Daenerys? I’d love for there to be a real competition, but can you imagine how insane it’ll be if Dany rolls into Westeros with her dragons and her thousand ships and her zillion Dothraki warriors? At this point, can anyone compete? My answer is a quick “no.”

Photo Credit: Macall B. Polay/HBO

Photo Credit: Macall B. Polay/HBO

The audience finally gets to breathe a sigh of relief as Arya’s storyline in Bravos seems to be coming to a close. At the beginning of the episode, I was expecting both the drama in King’s Landing and Arya’s dealings in Bravos to meet their twilight phase, but only Arya’s has done so. I don’t want to say it’s been tedious. There’s been a lot of fun in this plot, most with creepy face slicing and well-choreographed fight scenes. But otherwise, it’s been sort of pointless, hasn’t it? It’s certainly done something for Arya’s character development, but as a plot, was there any point to Arya becoming one of the Faceless Men? I’ve said it before—why would we care about a random person, a no one, running around as an assassin? We wouldn’t! We care about Arya, a girl we’ve been with since the beginning. We care about her killing her foes. Not about “no one” killing other people’s foes. This was the only way for this to end. So although there is a chance she’ll be in some trouble with the Waif in short order, I’m weirdly confident she’ll get out. On second thought, I probably shouldn’t be. What if the Waif kills Arya?

And in what feels like a backdoor pilot for a new CW show, we also got to see some reality-television level drama when Sam and Gilly met Sam’s family in Horn Hill. As expected, Sam’s father is terrible, and reacts almost as poorly as possible when he finds out that Gilly is a Wildling. Absurdly, Sam decides they’re better off running away from Horn Hill together to who knows where, stolen Valyrian steel sword in hand. I suppose no one in Horn Hill understands the importance of such a sword, since they scoff as the suggestion of Sam killing a White Walker. It’s a good reminder that much of the world still doesn’t realize that White Walkers are anything other than a myth. In fact, in the series premiere, Ned executes a deserter from the Night’s Watch who claims to have run from a White Walker. No one believes him, really. But Benjen Stark is the only one to not dismiss his story outright.

And naturally. it was Benjen who saved Bran and Meera from the Dead. After he disappeared during his ranging expedition North of the Wall back in season one, we knew we would eventually see him again. Benjen’s had a less than fun time in the time he’s been presumed dead. He’s ghoulish looking, his skin pale and mottled, and one of his hands appears blackened. It’s unclear if he’s actually alive in the traditional sense, since plunging something into someone’s heart doesn’t usually save someone from death. He claims the Three-Eyed Raven summoned him to help, further solidifying the notion that Bran is the new Three-Eyed Raven. But it also raises a lot of questions about what Benjen has been doing this whole time. He could have attempted to return to Castle Black, but instead he’s been wandering North of the Wall (where did he get the horse?) and taking orders from the now deceased Three-Eyed Raven. In an otherwise middling episode, Benjen Stark’s reintroduction works well to deepen and broaden Bran’s storyline this season, as well as forcefully tie this season to bigger, series wide plot points. If Game of Thrones can keep pushing to focus on the bigger picture, we could be heading to a promising end to the season.

Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.

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