Title: Game of Thrones – “Blood of My Blood”
Air Date: May 29, 2016
Before we begin – Yes, there are TV spoilers ahead. I will not celebrate every twist and turn, but if we are going to talk about what we like, we have to discuss the great scenes. Stop reading if you do not like spoilers. You have been warned!
Every episode of Game of Thrones, especially this season, seems to link a lot of the characters within one major theme. In “Blood of My Blood,” that theme seemed to be making a decision towards a new beginning. Nearly everyone on screen this week hit the reset button on where they are headed. Therefore, we did not get a ton of action, but we also did not get a week that just felt like filler. Instead, we got a lot of resolved storylines and a slew of new ones to follow.
We began almost immediately where we left off last week, with Meera dragging Bran through the snow, wights in hot pursuit. After last week’s gutshot of a finale, everyone had the same question: “How are they going to get away?” The answer was a character that many book readers have been hoping for – Coldhands, and his Fire Flail of Wight Killing +2. We were also immediately treated with the information that Coldhands is Benjen Stark, the long lost Stark uncle who essentially launched Jon Snow into the circumstances he is currently in. This family reunion was fascinating to watch, and it signifies a new chapter in the overall story, as we now know that the magic of the White Walkers can be stopped (at least if all the Children of the Forest were not killed in the raid from the last episode). Bran’s montage of information lingered an awful lot on “Burn them all!” quotes from the Aegon Targaryen. Maybe the Mad King wasn’t so mad after all? Maybe he was just giving Bran ideas…
What “Blood of My Blood” did so well with was focusing on just a few stories. Besides the Bran/Coldhands story, Game of Thrones really only focused on three main areas this week. It touched on a few other things, but this week focused on Bran, Arya, Sam/Gilly, and the drama in King’s Landing. No Ramsay, Sansa, Jon, Tyrion, Brienne, Davos, Dorne, etc. The “moving the chess pieces” episodes are much more tolerable when Game of Thrones focuses on story development, which is why this episode succeeded.
The Sam and Gilly story was a highlight of the week. Hannah Murray, the actress who plays Gilly, had some great scenes as she reacted to the opulence of Horn Hill. Seeing her awkwardly walk in the dress, respond to the kindness of Sam’s female family members, and struggle to eat with silverware were some great bits of the light comedy that Game of Thrones does so well. I practically expected her to start combing her hair with the dinglehopper the Tarlys gave her.
She may as well have; it would have broken the tension. The dinner in the Tarly great hall was fabulously awkward, as Gilly outed herself immediately as a wildling and Sam’s father went ballistic. It was great to see how Sam’s family all responded to Randyll being a priggish tyrant, and it was oh-so-satisfying for Sam to finally take charge. The repercussions of him stealing his father’s sword will be great to watch, and watching him pick a hiding spot for him and Gilly will be interesting as well. It seems they were headed back to the Wall, but things have changed dramatically since they left. Either way, the Night’s Watch has another Valyrian sword in Heartsbane.
Arya’s story this week finally brought her back around, as she will remain a Stark with a sense of honor, and she will not become a faceless “no one.” At least until the Waif hunts her down and kills her. Arya interacting with Lady Crane was another great piece of individual storytelling this week; Arya truly laid her soul for a true actress and realized that her plan did not align with her goals. Watching her dig out Needle was a powerful moment, and hopefully, she hasn’t made too powerful an enemy in the House of Black and White. After all, they are only a cadre of the most powerful assassins in the known world. Nothing Arya cannot handle.
Before we get to “the big one” this week, a few other stories we got to see: Walder Frey is still Walder Frey, and Daenerys can still give good speeches. She wondered who could give her the thousand ships she needed, oddly parroting Euron Greyjoy from last week, and gave a rousing call to arms where she essentially named everyone as her bloodrider. All while atop her mighty winged steed, Drogon. Meanwhile, Walder Frey is still alive, still an asshole to his children, and has Edmure Tully captive. He is also sending Edmure back to Riverrun to negotiate with the Blackfish, which brings us to tonight’s biggest storyline: Jaime, Tommen, Margaery, and the High Sparrow.
The King’s Landing storyline has a lot of questions attached – the main one being: “What is Cersei’s plan?” Cersei obviously knew this was what Tommen was going to do, as he surely told her when he last spoke with her. What is Cersei’s endgame in calling the Tyrell army to King’s Landing? Why is she absolutely fine with Jaime leaving? Is she planning an attack on the Tyrell’s? Does it have to do with her upcoming trial by combat? CERSEI DOESN’T USUALLY THINK AHEAD, WHAT IS HAPPENING?
Meanwhile, it does appear that the High Sparrow is winning. Did you see the smug look on his face when he announced the merging of the crown and the faith? And now that Jaime has been dismissed from the Kingsguard, what will he do? Who will be the new Commander? What new member will the bring in? There are so many questions going forward with this alliance. Judging by how this season has run so far, we will probably find out next week how this storyline resolves. However, it would not be too upsetting if Game of Thrones dragged this one out a bit more.
Overall, “Blood of My Blood” meant new beginnings for many. Dany has new bloodriders. Sam and Gilly are starting a new life. Bran has a new hope, as does Arya. And the Seven Kingdoms have a new alliance. Many of these may be fast tracked to resolve, but hopefully, the King’s Landing drama stays a bit longer. Game of Thrones can throw dragons, ice zombies, and naked fire walkers at us all it wants, but it is ultimately still a quest for the Iron Throne that drives the action.
- Characters: Very focused on a few people this week, and very strong because of it. Arya, Sam, and Gilly had great development, and Daenerys had a great speech.
- Story: Again, strong due to focus. A moving pieces episode that felt like it moved those pieces quite a bit.
- Cinematography: Not as impressive as many episodes of Game of Thrones, but the battle with Coldhands and the standoff on the Sept were both well done.
- Acting: Gilly stole the show with her Little Mermaid impression this week. Tommen, Margaery, and Arya also nailed it.
- Everything about Gilly
- Benjen's return
- Arya choosing to be a Stark
- The standoff in King's Landing
- Ramsay is still alive
- Tommen dismisses Jaime