[For Game of Thrones “Blood of My Blood” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]
Blood of My Blood. Gilly meets Sam’s family; Arya mulls a difficult decision; Jaime confronts the High Sparrow.
After the greatest episode of Game of Thrones ever in “The Door” almost anything would have been a come down, and “Blood of My Blood” was… But it was also the vehicle to some key reveals, and gave us many important looks — past and present — and glimpses into future violence from everywhere from King’s Landing to the Riverlands to Braavos and the Dothraki Sea. Here are my Top 8 R’s for “Blood of My Blood”:
“Is it too late now to say sorry?”
In last week’s recap of “The Door” I claimed in the Secret Origin of the White Walkers I claimed “Bran wargs into the past multiple times in ‘The Door’ … An early interlude reveals how the Children of the Forest (!!!) created the first White Walkers using magic. A human is shown bound to one of their sacred trees as a wild-eyed Child of the Forest plunges a wooden stake into his chest as his eyes turn blue.”
Multiple friends / readers / even co-contributors pointed out that it was not wood but obsidian that the Children of the Forest used to create the aforementioned Others. This was confirmed in “Blood of My Blood” with one of the most anticipated revelations in show history.
— Brian David-Marshall (@Top8Games) May 23, 2016
Uncle Benjen Stark, kid brother to Ned, and onetime First Ranger of the Night’s Watch has been missing since Season One! He basically brought his bastard nephew up to the Wall and then left him there to fend for himself among all the thieves / murderers / rapers / disgraced nobles (you know, to eventually become the big boss, and then more eventually to get killed by his own men)… And went out for cigarettes.
At the end of “The Door” Meera and Bran abandon the Three-Eyed Raven’s cave, leaving him, the Children of the Forest, Summer, and poor Hodor to sacrifice themselves to ensure their escape. But Meera is just one girl — even if she is a badass White Walker-killing girl — and they are being chased by innumerable undead.
Dead themselves, right?
A rider appears wielding a sickle and a flaming morningstar. He beats up many a wight, facilitating the escape of our two remaining young Northern nobles. It is, of course, Uncle Benjen.
There are three key reveals here:
- Benjen Stark is alive, and was saved by the Children of the Forest. Benjen was stabbed by a White Walker’s sword of ice and left to turn; the Children saved him before becoming undead could take entirely.
- A similar process used to create the White Walkers was used to save Benjen: a shard of obsidian to the heart (that’s how I know to retract my comment about wood, in the previous bullet). Benjen doesn’t seem at 100%; at least 100% human (though maybe he’s better in some way); his face is covered when Meera and Bran first encounter him (which is why Bran doesn’t immediately recognize him) and when he pulls down his mask, his face looks rotten. Benjen is half-turned, but seems to retain his personality and heroism.
- Burn them all! Bran wargs all the way back to the last Targaryen King, mingling images of the pyromaniac madness that precipitated Robert’s Rebellion with Bran’s own [present-day] flight from the wights. Burn them all? We know Bran’s voice can affect the past; at both the Tower of Joy and “Hold the door.” Does Bran’s current conflict with highly flammable undead have anything to do with the inexplicable turn of the Mad King decades ago?
Sam brings Gilly and her / their son to Horn Hill. The Citadel doesn’t admit women, and Sam’s plan is to leave Gilly and (supposedly) his father’s grandson to the Tarly castle to live. Sam’s mother and sister seem lovely. His brother is a bit brusque but doesn’t seem that bad a guy. His father though… Jeepers! Jerk. You’d almost think this were a man who could force his firstborn son to renounce his title and inheritance, and pledge himself to a lifetime of celibate service at the edge of civilization; you know, for being a bookish fatty.
Lady Tarly tries to point out that being the Master of the Night’s Watch is a position of great honor, but dad won’t have it. He only cares for a son who can swing a sword; you know, like Heartsbane.
Gilly can’t take Lord Tarly’s verbal abuse of Sam, and reveals that — far from being a soft nerd — Sam killed not only a Thenn but a White Walker. He is the greatest hero at the dinner table, at least.
It’s hard to tell who prejudiced papa hates more: his son (heavy set disappointment) or Gilly (wildling). Sam has the last laugh, though. He won’t leave his family at Horn Hill, and won’t leave his inheritance, either. Sam takes Heartsbane! When Gilly says that Lord Tarly will come for it, we see a glimpse of the badass hero that sometimes comes out of Sam:
“He can bloody well try.”
Margaery and Tommen reunite in an almost surreal scene orchestrated by the High Sparrow. Margaery’s defiance seems erased. It is a difficult scene to parse; Tommen sees Margaery as the best person he knows. Margaery thinks herself a fraud and liar. The King and Queen agree that the High Sparrow is not what either of them thought.
This is one of those scenes that asks us to think hard about the perspectives that come with so many different points of view on Game of Thrones. Who is right? Is Margaery’s turn from proud princess to penitent good or bad? Is the High Sparrow sinister or genuine? Will this ever be ironed out? Can it?
The Rose army, under the command of Lord Tyrell himself, marches on the Sept. Jaime and Lord Tyrell declare that they will slaughter every last Sparrow before Queen Margaery is forced to do a Cersei-esque walk of shame.
The High Sparrow says that each and every one of his people would gladly die in service to the gods… But they don’t have to. Margaery has already atoned, by bringing someone else into the faith… Tommen!
Tommen has gone full faithful. The Queen of Thorns herself says that the nobles are beaten. As an official “holy alliance between the Crown and the Faith” is announced, Jaime is kicked out of the Kingsguard by his own son, stripped of being Lord Commander for speaking out against his beloved High Sparrow.
Reversal after reversal after reversal…
Across the Narrow Sea in Braavos, Arya attends what should be the last performance of Lady Crane. The performance is very deliberately staged by director Jack Bender. We can see the foppish over-the-top performances by all the other players; cheesy rhyming couplets, comically stylized props, and fart jokes… But Lady Crane is good. Unbelievably good despite weak material. Her jealous understudy is seen mouthing her lines in the background. And Lady Crane is kind to Arya herself.
Arya has a change of heart, dashes the poisoned cup from her hand, and warns her of the treachery of the younger actress.
Waiting in the wings is the waif. She obtains permission from Jaquen to kill the traitorous Arya!
The waif might get more than she bargained for, though; as Arya recovers Needle from its hiding place.
Lord Frey and his family spent 300 years licking Tully boots, but now they are the lords of the Riverlands. Except they’re not. As we learned last week the Blackfish has raised an army and retaken Riverrun. “But Dad, Riverrun can hold out against us for a year!” Except it can’t (at least according to Lord Frey); he has kept Lord Edmure — heir to House Tully — in his dungeon for the past several seasons, and hopes to trade the Tully for the Tully castle.
Drogon is back, and seems bigger than ever. Dany delivers an impassioned speech (in Dothraki of course) astride her largest dragon. She will raise a thousand ships, loaded with Dothraki, their horses, Unsullied, and Second Sons to retake the Seven Kingdoms. All the Dothraki think this is a great idea; or at least I think they do (not sure, as I don’t speak Dothraki).
Of course no one has a fleet of one thousand ships; no one “yet” quips Dany… And we know from up in the Iron Islands that there is someone with exactly the agenda of delivering the greatest fleet in history to exactly this Queen.