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Monday, 30 May 2016

Game of Thrones S6E6: Blood Of My Blood


I'm not a fan of humidity. Just getting that out there now.


Game of Thrones
Series 6, Episode 6
Blood Of My Blood.



So, we're in the latter half of the series now, which is the point where I pretty much always expect any series of a show, but especially Game of Thrones, which purports to be very plot heavy (although how true that is varies from series to series), to step up its game and start giving us more plot developments, greater momentum, and faster pacing. Thus far, this series has actually been pretty good for that: Every episode has had at least one plot development, and usually more, so going forward I'm basically expecting all plot all the time.

The action this episode is split between Bran, Jaime, Arya, Samwell, and Daenerys. Beyond the Wall, Bran and Meera are rescued by a mysterious man who is soon revealed to be Benjen Stark (remember Benjen from the first series?), nearly killed by the White Walkers but sustained by the Childrens' magic. As Bran experiences flashbacks of events in the past, Benjen explains that he is the Three-Eyed Raven now, destined to lead the charge against the Walkers. Meanwhile, at Horn Hill, Sam and Gilly arrive at Sam's family home to a warm welcome from Sam's mother and sister. When his father arrives, though, things quickly go sour, as he realises that Gilly is a wildling. In King's Landing, Jaime and Olenna attempt to enact Cersei's plan to free Margaery, but find themselves outfoxed by the High Sparrow, who now controls Tommen, resulting in Jaime being sent to retake Riverrun. On the road between Vaes Dothrak and Meereen, Daenerys reunites with Drogo. In Braavos, Arya attempts to assassinate the actress Lady Crane, but finds herself conflicted over it.

It bothers me when people compare the Sparrows to Occupy Wall Street, because
Occupy Wall Street never made bankers walk naked through the streets while chanting
'Shame.'

Let's start with Daenerys, since she only really has one scene: So, Drogo's back! That's a thing. He seems tame now, or tame-ish, in that he's not murdering everyone he encounters, so that's definitely a plus. Also, in a slightly amusing turn, we get Daario remarking that Daenerys would need a thousand ships, in a wink-wink-nudge-nudge callback to Euron saying he was going to build a thousand ships the previous episode. You know, on Pyke, an island with no trees whatsoever, so good luck with that.

Daenerys' scene really is just connecting tissue, and I imagine we're not going to see all that much of her until she gets back to Meereen and finds out what Tyrion's done. I don't foresee her being over the moon about that.

Bran's scenes - all two of them - are much the same: Benjen is brought back into the fold, and Bran wakes up from his visions, but since he doesn't understand them just yet, those scenes are really only there to give him a way (other than Meera dragging him along) to get back to Castle Black, and to establish that before long he's going to be our delivery system for Even More Crucial Backstory Details. But it's fine, because we get some glimpses of interesting stuff from it: Drogo's shadow over King's Landing, wildfire flooding the tunnels beneath the city, King Aerys demanding that everyone be burned and being killed by Jaime, and what seems to be Lyanna Stark's death? So it's teasing some very interesting things to come.

Arya, you know the Faceless Men will just send someone else.

In contrast, I honestly couldn't tell you what the point of Sam's plotline is. It gives us some details about what his home situation is like, but apart from Sam nabbing a Valyrian steel sword, nothing is really achieved. Also, my god, Gilly, it took you all of ten minutes to just tell them all that you're a wildling, for god's sake.

Which leaves Jaime and Arya, honestly the two meatiest stories of the bunch. I had fully expected Cersei's plan with Margaery to end horribly, but I had expected, you know, blood and stabbing and Margaery dying, and quite possibly Tommen dying as well, not the High Sparrow to reveal that his next magic trick will be brainwashing. I'm not sure why I didn't expect that, that's basically the raison d'etre of fanatical religious leaders.

So now Tommen's basically in the pocket of the High Sparrow, and it looks like Margaery may be in on it, given how quickly she went from 'give them nothing' to 'we all have to atone.' It seems likely that the High Sparrow is holding clemency for Loras over her head. I do like being surprised, so long as the surprise makes sense, so I'm okay with this particular plot twist. Also, Jaime's now being sent to Riverrun, there to reunite with Brienne, albeit with the two of them on opposite sides of the conflict.

Maybe Jaime will defect? Or just die. I'd be happy if he just died. I've never liked Jaime and I don't intend to start now. 

I think Daario's role in this show is just to stare awestruck at things Daenerys does.

Arya, meanwhile, gets to have a nice, human moment with Lady Crane, telling her that if she doesn't like the script she should change it to make Cersei more angry - which is both good acting advice, since that's how Cersei was, and relevant to Arya's own storyline involving the rising Stark death toll. I admit, I was a bit irritated when she didn't go through with killing Crane, though - not because I don't like Crane, she's actually a refreshing breath of warmth and normality and general niceness in a show where most characters are either huffy and brooding or scheming and malevolent, but because it feels like Arya not going through with it is the less interesting course of action.

Seeing Arya get closer to becoming a Faceless Man raises the stakes, as we see her desire for revenge move her closer to discarding all the things that made her want revenge in the first place, and if the show is going to have her back out of it, then it'd make more sense to do that at the critical moment where she's just about to finish her training - as it is, it feels like she's only halfway through her training.

I'm also a little confused by the Waif. We find out that she's been asking Jaqen if she can kill Arya, but why? I know that it's been established that the Waif hates Arya and sees her as a rival, except, you know, we know she doesn't. Arya's not actually a rival to the Waif, because the Waif isn't actually another apprentice - we've seen at least two different people wearing the Waif's face (and three different people wearing Jaqen's, one of which was the Waif previously), so she isn't an apprentice, she's a fully fledged Faceless Man pretending to be an apprentice for training purposes. Does she hate Arya because that's how the role of the Waif would feel? Surely the performances of their characters that the Faceless Men put on can't go that deep, because we've seen different men wearing Jaqen's face and fulfilling drastically different roles.

I would be okay with Jaime dying.

(I've also seen it suggested that Jaqen's trying to get revenge on Arya for naming him, except this Jaqen isn't the Jaqen she named, and the man originally called Jaqen has been dead for a very long time. The role of Jaqen might be angry and bitter, but the person playing him wouldn't be.)

Essentially, I'm very confused by the Faceless Men.

Next week, it looks like our main focus will be on Jaime's siege of Riverrun, while Sansa and Jon attempt to gather an army to retake Winterfell. At this point, I'm fully expecting Winterfell to be back in Stark hands by the end of series six - Ramsay has, to be honest, kind of run his course as a villain, and there's nothing he can do any more to shock any of us. But on the bright side, the Blackfish is back! We've barely seen him prior to this, but never mind.


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