Every character in Game of Thrones truly acts like they believe the circumstance of tradition affects their eventual lot in life. They spout rhetoric based on ancient texts and familial history but stab their friends, fathers and loved ones in the throat right when it serves their story the best. That is the actual Game of Thrones and, for the most part, our heroes have been the blissfully ignorant fools who forget that history doesn’t reward the penitent. ‘Blood of My Blood’ gives our heroes the chance to reclaim their legacies as people who learn from past mistakes and are grateful to still have their heads.
Coming hot off the heels of Game of Thrones‘ latest chestburster, we catch up with Bran and Meera just as the wights catch up to them in the woods. I questioned Hodor’s ultimate sacrifice last week for its ability to give the duo enough time to escape the undead horde. There still needs to be more justification but we’re granted our first steps toward that when Bran and Meera are saved by Coldhands himself*, Benjen Stark. During this rescue, Bran is downloading the entire history of the world from the consciousness of the Three-Eyed Raven, which Bran now is. We see glimpses of the “Mad” King Aerys Targaryen and are given hints as to what will come from that past plot line. Having learned all of this family history in such a quick fashion and while still being relatively immature, Bran will likely make brash decisions that will probably forsake the history and the future of the Three-Eyed Raven. The questionable time warping nature of an old know-it-all in a tree could be what saves the world from the Whitewalkers. We should welcome it.
In Braavos, Arya is left with her last opportunity to prove herself just A Girl and kill an actress with whom she has no personal history. Arya is a character who has come to The House of Black and White with a deeply personal kill list and has been forced to leave these desires behind in order to become something greater. Or is it actually greater? Arya did come to this city an immature girl with hate in her heart and much to learn. Jaqen H’gar was there for her when she was in need and also the tough teacher necessary in pushing Arya past the ignorant, vengeful girl she was. Much to the chagrin of The Many-Faced-God, Arya isn’t actually meant for this life as she learns from another person of many faces, an actress, that she doesn’t need to follow the path set in front of her. Arya chooses to save her particular target and is now a marked girl in the eyes of H’gar. He clearly laments this loss but there is something underneath that suggests Arya won’t let tradition drag her into an early grave.
Another character beholden to a broken and ridiculous family standard is Samwell Tarly. He was sent to The Wall by his father, Randyll Tarly, because of his absolute ineptitude to be anything remotely manly or Tarly-esque as a first-born. We’ve seen that Sam and we’ve said goodbye to that Sam as he’s become more of a man than his father and family could possibly comprehend. Sam bringing wilding Gilly under the guise of basically a Northern whore with baby Sam is a direct move against his father. Sam’s brother, sister and mother are very much ignorant but well-meaning people who enjoy Sam being back in their great hall. His father, however, is able to break Sam down like only disapproving parents are capable of and Gilly is forced to out herself as a loathed wildling in his defense. Even though Gilly’s strength is showcased, it looks as if we are getting back our cowardly lion, Samwell Tarly…
…Except, just as Gilly’s confidence in her new, strange attire lead us to believe, Sam hasn’t forgotten the actual evils he has defeated that are much worse than his father. Taking his rightful heirloom, “Heartsbane”, a Valyrian steel sword meant for Sam but guaranteed to not go to him because of his father’s wishes, Sam steals Gilly and Sam Jr. away to continue making it on their own. Because f#*$ a silver spoon.
Back at King’s Landing, Margaery seems as if she’s turned the corner and is prepared to atone for her sins. As an audience, we’re left wondering just what Margaery’s end game is here and if we’ve truly lost her powerful spirit to the weight of pressure from the High Sparrow. She even convinces Tommen that what he did for her was necessary for she had become too deceitful and arrogant. Margaery isn’t wrong! I believed every word of her contrition because she hasn’t been a genuine person in all of her kindness. She’s good so that people can see her being good. Now, the foundation is there for Margaery to be a truly good person but her doubt is a logical step that we buy outright.
She should also sign up for that theater troupe in Braavos because she’s still playing the Game of Thrones.
Jaime gathers Lord Tyrell, who would never allow his daughter to perform the walk of atonement, and takes their army to the steps of the High Sept. They will fight the Sparrows to the last man and they will win that battle. Except there won’t be a battle because King Tommen accepts the Faith as an equal companion to the Crown and walks out to stand next to Margaery and the High Sparrow. Margaery’s acting was a little too good, forcing Tommen to become the High Sparrow’s most powerful ally yet and delaying the moment of Jaime’s sweet revenge. Jaime’s sent to deal with our long, lost friend, The Blackfish aka Brynden Tully, as a punishment, forcing us to open up those old Red Wedding wounds after all.
All of these characters have the power to change their destinies on a dime and ‘Blood of My Blood’ gives us that. What once was no longer needs to be. Though they might want to be careful in how far they stretch their truths because overreaching tends to find a way to bite back; right down through the heart.
“He can bloody well try.” – Sam
- The budget of this show! We weren’t treated with any huge battles in this episode but it’s the little things from vista views of Sam’s home at Horn Hill to the gorgeous statues of the Seven Gods in the High Sept that prove we’ve come a long way since season one.
- I’m starting to wonder if Game of Thrones biggest accomplishment is going to be getting audiences to root for an incestuous, murderous and sexually abusive relationship in Jaime and Cersei. Because I’m starting to do that.
- That speech at the end of the play given by Lady Crane (the great, Essie Davis) was a truly moving and poignant touch and completely redirects Arya’s view on her life. It was lovely.
Check out my reviews of previous episodes of ‘Game of Thrones’:
*Book readers are finally validated in their long assumptions as to the identity of this character.