Four Letter Nerd

Category - TV

Game of Thrones Season Six, Episode 9: The Battle of the Bastards Review

Episode-9-Jons-Forces

While preparing for last night’s episode, I debated in my mind how “Battle of the Bastards” would rate. Would it surpass the other great battle scenes on the show or would it be a poor imitation of “Blackwater” from Season 2 or “Watchers on the Wall” from Season 4?

And while I think “Blackwater” was the most unpredictable (I mean, come on, we all knew Jon was winning last night) and “Watchers on the Wall” had more dramatic moments (such as a giant scythe cutting through people, Ygritte and important men of the Nights Watch dying, and great moments for Jon, Sam, and Ghost), the “Battle of the Bastards” was the most brutal of any of these.

Never has “Game of Thrones” featured that kind of hand to hand combat. The previously mentioned battles were about territory (Stannis getting the Throne and The Wildlings crossing the Wall). But “Bastards” was a grudge match centered around pure hate. Jon and Sansa’s hatred for all the pain the Bolton’s had caused versus Ramsey’s hatred for human decency.

And I know there’s been a lot of criticism for how the show felt this constant need to remind us just how sick a freak Ramsey is. But Ramsey was the heel that poured the emotion into Jon and Sansa’s return to Winterfell. He’s like that dastardly wrestling villain that kept escaping what was coming to him until that satisfying moment when the good guy finally finishes him off.

With “Blackwater,” there were no real good guys or bad guys. And while that is a classic Martin tactic, it gave viewers very mixed emotions on who they should want to secure the Iron Throne. “Watchers” did put that good guy moniker on the men of the Night’s Watch, but we still felt sympathetic for the Wildlings, who only fought because it was the only way to escape the Whitewalkers.

What made “Battle of the Bastards” different was Ramsey was that true villain. He “earned” Winterfell by killing his father, who earned it having Starks stabbed at the red wedding. He was brutal to Sansa and fed numerous others to his dogs for sport. And maybe the show went over board displaying his brutality the last four seasons. But that brutality is what made his defeat last night so satisfying.

But there were two battles in last night’s episode 9. And I’ll start with that first one, and it was a little more lopsided than Jon vs Ramsey.

Meereen

Daenarys has returned to Meereen and someone has some explaining to do. Well, at least I thought someone would. I mean, seriously, Tyrion really got off easy here. Daenarys, as it turns out, only wants to exact vengeance on the slavers for what’s happening outside her city’s walls.

Now, many folks on the forums have pointed out that while Dany’s been doing some cool stuff in season six, she’s also been talking a lot like a crazy Targaryen (a “Mad Queen” quite possibly?). Tyrion notices this too when Dany says she intends to hang every slaver and burn their cities to the ground (the very thing her father, the Mad King, was willing to do to keep from losing his city). He talks her out of it, and they formulate a new plan before meeting with the slavers to discuss terms.

The slavers are first with theirs, arrogantly telling the Dragon Queen to leave Slaver’s Bay, sell the Unsullied and Missandei back to them, and kill her dragons in the dungeons. Its clear the slavers haven’t been watching Game of Thrones this season.

Episode 9 Dany and Drogon

Dany and Drogon appear before the Slavers, causing them to s**t their pants.

Drogon flies up behind Dany, changing the tone of “negotiations” and shocking the slavers as she flies off to burn the slaver ships. The Harpys have also returned for the first time this season and they are butchering people once again. But the Dothraki, led by Daario, ride up on their horses and handle them easily (so that’s all it took to take out season five’s biggest threat to Daenarys?).

As Dany flies Drogon, her other two dragons burst out of the walls (they were unchained earlier this season many weeks ago). The three dragons fly in formation and, at Dany’s command, burn a number (though it didn’t sound like all of them were burned) of slaver ships.

Grey Worm (who hasn’t done anything cool in a long time) speaks up in that tough military voice we’ve missed leading the Unsullied. He tells the guards of the Slavers to leave. Tyrion and Missandei then tell the slavers that punishment for their crimes is that one of them must die. Two of the slavers push the guy in the middle forward. But he’s the one spared as Grey Worm walks up and slices the other two’s throats (good to have you back Grey Worm). The one survivor is sent to the slaver cities and is instructed to tell them all he’s seen here today.

With the slavers defeated, Dany can turn her focus on securing all the ships she needs. And wouldn’t you know it, Theon and Yara Greyjoy have just arrived. My oh my, how things are working out for the Breaker of Chains. The Greyjoy siblings tell her of Euron and his impending arrival and offer her their own terms: the Iron Islands for Yara to lead. Dany agrees only if they will respect the lands of the seven kingdoms and stop plundering and raping. The two women shake elbows and Dany has her first Westerosi alliance.

Episode 9 Dany and the Greyjoys

Tyrion and Dany meet with the Greyjoys.

The North

Before the Battle

Now it’s time for the main event, as the terms for the Battle of the Bastards are set. The two sides meet the day before to parlay as Ramsey wants Jon and crew to declare him Warden of the North. Jon wants to avoid bloodshed and have him and Ramsey fight one on one for Winterfell. Of course, nobody accepts anybody’s terms. Ramsey does point out that his dogs have not eaten in seven days, but I’m sure that won’t come into play sometime later.

episode 9 negotiations before the battle

The two sides meet to discuss terms as Jon and Ramsey speak for the first time.

Jon and crew return to camp and discuss battle plans, something Tormund is hilariously unfamiliar with. But Sansa sees a problem. She knows Ramsey and suspects strongly that he will set a trap. Her advice to Jon: “Don’t do what he expects you to do.” At this point, we all know Sansa’s warnings are correct. But could she have given advice that was any more vague?

Well, it turns out she could have. Jon goes to meet with Melisandre, who continues her season of sulking in a tent by herself. Her advice to Jon straight from the John Madden book of Military Strategy: “Don’t lose.” But Jon is not here for military council. He tells Mel to let him die if he falls on the battlefield. The red priestess, however, can’t make any promises. She says she can only do what the Lord of Light tells her. And this season, I think she believes that. I definitely think her experience with Stannis has humbled her to a point where she no longer considers herself to have any power at all that’s not granted to her by her deity. I don’t know if that was the case before.

Now let’s see if she survives to continue with this new philosophy on life. Davos, while walking around the night before the battle, discovers the peer. Remember, this is the same camp Stannis was in last season preparing for his northern invasion. Looking through that peer, Davos finds the stag he gave Shireen the last time he saw her. So now we have Davos’s next meeting with Melisandre to look forward to.

Episode 9 Davos and Shireen 2

Davos holding Shireen’s stag.

Day of the Battle

Ramsey wastes little time before playing his first game. He brings out Rickon, cuts the ropes tying him up, and tells the young Stark to run. Jon sees this, and while the rest of us go Admiral Ackbar screaming “It’s a trap, you fool,” Jon jumps on his horse and races to save his doomed brother.

Sansa has no battlefield experience, but she was clearly right about two things. The first of those was that Rickon was not going to survive. Ramsey would not let him survive with the boy’s possible claim to Winterfell. And without a line spoken all season, Rickon dies as he was finally struck down by one of the many arrows Ramsey was firing.

While watching Jon’s actions throughout the battle, I wondered if he didn’t have a death wish regarding the whole affair. First, he asks Mel not to revive him. Then, after Rickon is killed, he rides his horse alone into the entire Bolton line. I mean, he had to know he wasn’t going to survive that didn’t he? His horse is shot down, but Jon persists, this time with the Bolton army making its first charge straight at him.

Episode 9 Jon and the Boltons

Jon staring down the charging Bolton forces.

Fortunately for Jon (or maybe not so fortunately if he really wanted to die), Ser Davos had already sent men to begin their charge and they arrive just before a Bolton sword can strike him down. And as it turns out, nothing from the Bolton’s can strike Jon down as some bizarre “Jon Snow Force Field” allows him to dodge every arrow and blow from a Bolton soldier.

The fighting is just brutal. Piles of dead bodies begin to emerge with men fighting each other on top of those piles. Game of Thrones has never featured this type of close quarters fighting and it was something to behold. Now, I don’t know how Ramsey pulled this off, but somehow those stacks of dead bodies were by design. Because that proved to be the wall that set the trap (the second thing she was right about) Sansa warned Jon about.

Episode 9 Ramsey's Battle strategy

Jon and his men trapped between Bolton men and a wall of dead bodies.

The Smalljon lead another group of Bolton men into the fight. One part of the force comes with shields, trapping Jon and his men. The other part climbs the wall of dead bodies and keeps anybody from escaping. The Bolton shields march forward a few steps at a time, forcing their spears into Wildlings one line at a time. That is, until Wun Wun realizes he’s a giant and starts picking up shields one by one, slowing down the charge just slightly.

A really cool scene happens here where Jon finds himself crushed underneath men trying to get out of the trap. He finally emerges only to find that he and his men have no more room to move at all.

Then a horn sounds. We all suspected two weeks ago that Sansa was sending a letter to Littlefinger, asking for aid. And here, doing their best Gandalf impression, are Littlefinger and Sansa arriving with the Knights of the Vale, all on horseback. It’s important to remember here that, while most of the armies of Westeros lost men in the War of Five Kings, the Vale lost none. The fresh force plows into the Bolton lines, freeing Jon and his men as Tormund finishes off the Smalljon following a little biting action.

Jon eyes Ramsey and it’s like reaching the Bowser level of Super Mario Brothers. Ramsey flees back to the castle, closing the door saying, “They have no army, or anything else that could single-handedly break down that gate.” And then Wun Wun starts punching through and Ramsey says “Oh dammit, I forgot they had one of those.” Wun Wun heroically breaks through the gates of Winterfell, taking countless arrows and giving his life so Jon and his remaining men can enter. Jon fights off a couple of Ramsey arrows with his shield before knocking him down and beating his face bloody. Jon doesn’t kill him, however, and a bloody Ramsey is tied up and put into a cell.

Episode 9 Wun Wun dying

Wun Wun breaking down the gates of Winterfell and dying a heroic death.

After the Battle

The Bolton banners fall and the Stark banners have returned, hanging from the walls of Winterfell. But Sansa only wants to know where Jon is keeping Ramsey. She finds him in his cell and Ramsey remains just as arrogant even in his final breathing moments. Someone’s opened the cages keeping his hounds (you know, those beasts Ramsey pointed out hadn’t eaten in seven days). He doesn’t think his beasts would eat their master. But as they get a good sniff of him, they proceed in the most ironic death in the history of Game of Thrones: Ramsey eaten by the very hounds he’s feed so many to.

As Ramsey is dying, screaming as his dogs make him their meal, Sansa gives her own little sadistic smile as the episode ends.

Episode 9 Sansa evil smirk

Sansa walks away from Ramsey smirking as his hounds devour him.

Of Note

-A nice touch tonight showing Tormund discussing war strategy and having no idea what some basic terms meant. That is very consistent with the very unorganized way in which Wildlings fight.

-I also enjoyed the conversation between Davos and Tormund as the two men discussed how their whole purpose was built around following a failed leader, leading them to follow an unlikely leader in Jon.

-I am curious if we are going to see House Manderly appear next week, now that Jon and Sansa have taken back Winterfell. They were mentioned by both sides as a possible house that could join the fight, but decided to join neither.

-Last night’s episode really showcased why Dany and Tyrion need each other. Without Tryion to handle political negotiations, Dany has struggled to secure peace in Slaver’s Bay. But Tyrion’s deal failed when he didn’t have Daenarys and the kind of force she brings when deals aren’t followed through. It did not take long for them to secure peace once they were reunited.

-Once again, the show has done a poor job developing a new character introduced in a later season. Last season’s example was everybody new from Dorne. This season, it’s Euron Greyjoy. This guy is supposed to be a reaving, plundering pirate who motivates men to do unspeakable things. But as he sails toward Meereen, does anybody else see him as a threat at all to the alliance Daenarys has made with his niece and nephew?

Questions

-Will the North quickly unite behind the Starks now that they are back in Winterfell?

-How will Jon handle Melisandre when he hears of what she did to Shireen? And if he doesn’t take care of it, will Davos take matters into his own hands?

-Is Euron coming to Meereen next week, or must we delay his arrival until season 7?

-What is going to happen at Cersei’s trial? I mean I seriously don’t have the slightest idea what the result of that is going to be.

-Will Sam make it to OldTown next week? And will he be running into anybody else we know?

-How will that Frey/Lannister alliance function at Riverrun?

-Will Dorne be returning to the fold for the season finale? And if so, can we end it as soon as possible so we can forget that story line ever happened?

Well, great news bookreaders!!! “The Winds of Winter” comes out next week!!! Not the long anticipated next book of the series, that’s just the title of next week’s record long season finale. And there should be plenty to talk about right here this time next Monday.

Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 8 Review: No One

One episode left. That’s effectively all that’s left for Game of Thrones this season. I know technically there’s two to go, but next week will be entirely devoted to “THE BATTLE OF THE BASTARDS (Imagine horns blowing after reading that, please)!!!”

Everybody else (Cersei and the High Sparrow, Dany’s return to Meereen, The Returning Brotherhood, The Lannister’s rule in Riverrun, the Greyjoy chase to Meereen, Sam’s journey to Old Town) has just one episode remaining to move towards their season six conclusions. And as that reality set in last night while watching the preview for next week’s BATTLE OF THE BASTARDS (don’t forget to sound the horns),  I seriously questioned whether things have really progressed far enough at this point to give season six a satisfying conclusion.

Are Cersei and Loras’s trials really all that’s left in King’s Landing (other than maybe that rumor or a Jamie return to help)? At least Dany’s back in Meereen. But will episode 10 be enough time to chastise Tyrion (because you know it’s coming) for his deal with the slavers, fight off those same masters attacking the city, have Greyjoys appear to help the queen (if that even happens in season six), and reintroduce the two dragons Tyrion unchained earlier in the season? What other dramatic happenings are even left at Riverrun and the with Brotherhood? What will happen when Sam and Gilly get to Old Town? Are we done with Jorah this season, or will we see him making any progress in his search for a cure for greyscale? And surely Bran’s not sitting out episode 10. There’s at least one critical flashback (and possibly more) we need to see.

Though Game of Thrones is a show with many different threads and story lines, it’s at its brilliant best when the various story arcs are given time to breath. But the show is at its absolute worst when it rushes through key developments because it’s trying to accomplish too much.

So season six is at a very dangerous point. While the finale will be a GoT record 69 minutes long, that may still not be enough time to bring dramatic and satisfying conclusions to all the story lines mentioned above that set us up for season seven without feeling rushed. And while it’s likely not every single question we have or story arc introduced this season will be included in the finale (they could always be carried over to season seven), enough needs to happen in that one hour plus to prepare us for the ten long months between seasons that is only two weeks away.

So let us set the table for those final two hours starting in Meereen, where Tyrion’s diplomatic efforts have yielded both positive and negative consequences.

Meereen

The once empty streets of Meereen are teeming with life once again as Tyrion’s plan to have Red Priestesses praise Dany to the people is working. But before he can spend too much time praising his efforts, he must say goodbye to Varys, who is heading to Westeros to assist Queen Dany’s cause there. Before parting, Varys calls Tyrion “The most famous dwarf in Meereen.” Tyrion corrects him, declaring himself “The Most Famous Dwarf in the World.”

Episode 8 Varys and Tyrion

The Halfman doesn’t make many friends. But when he does make one, that friend’s a bald eunuch with “little birds”constantly whispering to him.

“The most famous dwarf in the world” wants to play a drinking game in celebration with “the worst drinking buddies in the world.” He tried this earlier in the season, but was unsuccessful in getting Missandei and Grey Worm to join in. But in what maybe Tyrion’s greatest diplomatic success to date, he gets both to sip some wine. They even tell a few jokes and Grey Worm cracks a smile before an alarm sounds. The masters have come with ships and they mean to take their property back.

Episode 8 Slaver Ships

The Slaver Ships arrive in Meereen to take back their former slaves.

Grey Worm means to keep the Unsullied around the pyramid since it’s the only area of the city they can defend. But their’s a disturbance on the balcony outside the pyramid. The Unsullied bow as Daenarys enters. The Mother of Dragons has returned to Meereen and someone (cough Tyrion cough) has some explaining to do.

Episode 8 Dany returns

Daenarys returns to Meereen to find a city under siege.

Riverrun

Speaking of sieges, the Lannister siege of Riverrun continues and the Blackfish is no less stubborn in his willingness to wait Jamie out. But some new players have arrived in the form of Brienne and Pod. To Jamie’s surprise, Brienne has lived up to her vow of finding Sansa alive. But she needs the Tully men to help Lady Stark. To which Jamie replies, “Have you met the Blackfish?”

The two agree that if Brienne can convince the Blackfish to help Sansa, the Lannister army will be allowed to take the castle freely, while the Tully army will have safe passage to the North. But the Blackfish will have none of it. He understands Sansa’s desire to get back her home, but Riverrun is his home, and he’s not letting it go. Brienne painfully must send a Raven telling Sansa she’s failed.

Episode 8 Blackfish and Brienne

Brienne unsuccessfully negotiating with the Blackfish.

So Jamie must go another route. And that avenue is walking Edmure Tully through the most shrewd “negotiating” we’ve seen from a Lannister not named Tywin. And his speech could easily sum up the principal themes of Game of Thrones. Every one in the game has their own interests, particularly the interests of their family. And every time Edmure tries to bring the subject back around to morality, Jamie quickly brings it back to family. And Jamie only cares about his and whatever it takes to get back to where he can help Cersei.

Episode 8 Edmure and Jamie

Jamie presenting his demands to Edmure, threatening the life of the Tully lord’s son if he does not comply.

The key here is the son Edmure conceived the night of his wedding. Jamie means to have the boy killed if Edmure does not comply because he cares nothing for the child. So Edmure complies, requesting entrance into Riverrun. And because he’s the Lord of Riverrun (I’ll explain that later), the men in the castle mean to obey his commands despite the Blackfish’s objections.

Edmure commands the men of Riverrun to open the gates for the Lannister soldiers. The Blackfish helps Brienne and Pod escape, but won’t go himself. Like a captain going down with his ship, the stubborn Blackfish dies (though rather anti-climatically off screen) fighting his capture. After Jamie hears the news of the Blackfish, he sees Brienne and Pod, floating away. Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” plays in the background as the two kindred spirits say goodbye once again.

Episode 8 Brienne waves

Brienne turns and says goodbye to Jamie as she and Pod float away.

King’s Landing

The Faith Militant have arrived to take the woman Jamie is so desperately trying to get back to. But she’s not going. And the reason is that giant undead monster always walking around behind her. Frankenmountain lives up to all the hype when he rips the head off one of the members of the Faith Militant who was dumb enough to fight him.

So to deal with the complication the undead Gregor Clegane presents the faith, enter puppet king Tommen Baratheon. He announces the trials for Cersei and Loras will happen at the Holy Sept on the first day of the Feast of the Mother. But more importantly, Tommen outlaws trial by combat as a means for defendants to settle their legal issues. Cersei is crushed not only by the announcement, but by the fact that she had to stand in the crowd with the rest of the commoners as her son refuses to acknowledge her.

Episode 8 Tommen, Kevin, and Pycelle

Tommen outlaws trial by combat as Kevan and Pycelle look on.

As the king walks out, Qyburn mentions something to Cersei about a rumor she asked him to look into. And whatever that rumor is, there’s apparently more than she expected to it. We’ll see if Cersei’s knowledge of this rumor (whatever it is) will play any part in her upcoming trial.

The Riverlands

The other Clegane gave peace a chance last week and witnessed an entire village killed because of it. So the Hound means to hunt down the men responsible. He butchers four of them who were playing some weird, “Your going to learn how to kiss a girl while I shove a finger up your butt” game. He finds three more, including their leader in the yellow cloak, about to be hung by the Brotherhood Without Banners. Thoros of Myr and Beric Donadarion have returned and as it turns out, the actions of these men was misrepresenting the Brotherhood. I don’t know if this means they were Brotherhood members who went their own way or if they represent a different group entirely. Beric agrees to let the Hound kill two of them. But much like the men last week, their preferred method of execution is hanging.  The Hound gets his revenge and seems ready to move on, but Beric (the Lightning Lord) thinks the Hound has a greater purpose. He mentions the cold winds developing in the north, a vague reference to the approaching Whitewalkers. It seems the Brotherhood could play a key role in getting the Riverlands (and maybe Westeros in general) to prepare for the coming army of the night.

Episode 8 The Hound and the Brotherhood

Thoros (far left) and Beric (middle with the eye patch) greet the hound as they prepare to execute former members.

Braavos

It’s the final performance for Lady Crane as Cersei in “Game of Thrones: The Lannister Side of Things” and the crowd is in tears once again at her stirring eulogy over a dying Joffrey. After she heads back to have her usual post performance drink (apparently she didn’t take the not so subtle hint from Arya two episodes ago), she finds Arya on the ground bleeding.

It makes sense for Arya to see Lady Crane considering she really knows no one (“A girl knows no one”) and she seemed like a motherly type from Arya’s interactions with her. Lady Crane stitches Arya’s wounds and feeds her some milk of the poppy so she can sleep through the pain.

Episode 8 Arya and Lady Crane

Lady Crane nurses Arya’s wounds.

But when Arya wakes up, she finds Lady Crane dead and a vengeful Waif wants Arya’s face next. A thrilling chase through the city of Braavos ensues. Arya is struggling to get away, dripping blood everywhere she goes and taking drastic actions, including jumping off a rooftop and rolling down some steps on the street.

Arya finally makes it back to her hideout she established in “Blood of My Blood,” and needle is waiting. The Waif exudes overconfidence convinced the wounded Arya has no chance against her.

This final scene was some of the best continuity we’ve seen on the show. If these two fought in the streets in broad daylight with Arya’s condition as it was, the Waif would win easily. So it would not be believable for wounded Arya to win that fight. But Arya spent the first two episodes of this season learning to fight blind and got pretty good at it. So when Arya slices that candle, turning the lights out, we know the advantage in this fight has shifted. It would have been nice to see have actually seen the Waif meet her end. But having Arya kill her in the dark was a more satisfying payoff because it incorporated her training from earlier in the season.

Episode 8 Arya slicing into the candle

Arya turns out the lights in the cave where the Waif met her doom.

But we didn’t know for sure it was the Waif who lost until we see her face sitting in the House of Black and White. Jaqen was lead to it by that same trail of blood Arya left throughout the city of Braavos. Jaqen says “A girl is finally no one” to which Arya replies “A girl is Arya Stark, and I am going home.”

Of Note

-I did find the ending to Arya’s time in Braavos pleasing. But I do hope the training she received will be evident when she returns to Westeros to justify two seasons spent there.

-There were several great character moments tonight (Brienne and Jamie, Bronn and Pod, Tryion and Varys) that played off the great chemistry these pairs have shared in previous seasons of the show. I especially appreciated Bronn and Pod getting screen time together to acknowledge their previous relationship in King’s Landing.

Character Callback: Beric Donadarion- The Lightning Lord was featured briefly in season one and throughout season three. He was sent on a mission by Ned Stark to capture the mountain for his crimes in the Riverlands. But he became an outlaw when Joffrey became king. So he and the men that went out with him formed the Brotherhood Without Banners and went around defending the many citizens of Westeros affected by the War of Five Kings. Beric has been killed six times, but was brought back to life by Thoros of Myr each time. He fought the Hound in a Trial by Combat and spent a lot of time with Arya in season three.

Character Callback: Thoros of Myr- Thoros of Myr was a red priest sent to Westeros to bring religion to Robert Baratheon. Instead, he drank just as much and partied just as hard as the king. But Thoros found himself with the ability to bring men back to life when Beric Donadarion died the first time. It’s an ability he’s used frequently bringing the Lightning Lord back to life while serving the Brotherhood Without Banners.

-Edmure Tully was the son of Hoster Tully, the late Lord of Riverrun. Because he’s Hoster’s son, he is the natural heir to Riverrun, explaining why the Tully men chose to obey him instead of the Blackfish.

-I would have loved to see the Blackfish command men in THE BATTLE OF THE BASTARDS (anybody else hear horns playing when they read that?). But the Blackfish is known for being stubborn (he refused to marry despite the pleadings of his brother Hoster, earning the name Blackfish), and dying defending his ancestral home may be a more fitting end for him.

-I’ve noticed the show has done a very subtle job placing Kevan Lannister and Pycelle near the king, emphasizing their influence on young Tommen even if we haven’t heard the advice they are giving.

-I give my wife credit for this one: That joke that Tyrion was telling (“I once walked into a brothel with a honeycomb and a jackass…) before the attack by the masters cut him off was the same joke he was telling in the Vale before Lysa Arryn interrupted him all the way back in season one.

Questions

-What is Arya’s role going to be when she returns to Westeros?

-If they weren’t working for the Brotherhood, who were those men that butchered the Hound’s people representing?

-Will the Hound join the Brotherhood in their future quests?

-How are the Freys and the Lannisters going to coexist in Riverrun now that Lion banners, not Frey banners, are up in the castle?

-What will the verdict be in Cersei and Loras’s trial? And what is this rumor Qyburn’s been checking into?

-How will Daenarys respond to Tyrion’s deal with the Slavers? Will her forces be able to defend Meereen?

-Do Jon and Sansa have a fighting chance at winning THE BATTLE OF THE BASTARDS????

The North takes center stage next week as Jon and his undermanned force square off against Ramsey for the rights to Winterfell. And considering GoT’s track record with battles, I expect it to be a great episode.

 

Game of Thrones Season 6; Episode 7 Review: “The Broken Man”

The title of last night’s Game of Thrones, “The Broken Man,” seemed like a clear cut reference to the returning character in the opening scene. The Hound was back Sunday Night, working for a priest of the seven named Ray. When Ray found him, The Hound was as broken as a man could be (well maybe except Theon) without succumbing to death. But as the episode progressed, it was clear Sandor Clegane was not the only thing “broken” in episode 7.

Jon and Sansa found that the North is far more splintered than they originally thought. Cersei is faced with the harsh reality of how her decisions in season five have left her broken down and with few allies. Arya dealt with the immediate consequences of her decision last week in the form of a vengeful Waif. And the Hound saw another poor decision (the unwillingness of Ray to take arms to defend his people against the Brotherhood) lead to disastrous consequences.

“Broken Man” was like a psychological evaluation of Westeros, with characters taking inventory of just how poor the mental state of Westeros currently is. And with the threat of the Whitewalkers looming, that is an unfortunate state to be in.

I’m going to start my recap in King’s Landing, where Margaery is suddenly the High Sparrow’s prized pupil.

King’s Landing

Margaery has been impressing the High Sparrow of late with her willingness to memorize the books of the seven. She quotes a verse from the book of the mother, which leads to some more psycho babble from his holiness before he gets down to business.

The High Sparrow wants Margaery to get back in bed with Tommen. An heir is essential to the strength of their alliance. But Margaery says her desires have changed since turning over a new leaf. I’ll discuss later some theories for why Margaery might actually be withholding from the King.

The Sparrow also wants Olenna Tyrell to “atone” for her sins. Ha!!! Good one High Sparrow. Look at you telling jokes. Of course the man was serious. And I say, “Good luck with that.”

Margaery then meets with her grandmother to discuss said aton…(sorry but I just can’t say that with a straight face), but Septa Unella oversees the proceedings. So while the High Sparrow is thrilled with his new “convert,” the presence of the tall Septa indicates he doesn’t trust her completely. Margaery informs her grandmother that Loras must confess his sins to be released. Of course, he will lose all titles and holdings he held previously after confessing, but what good are titles at this point in the game anyway? I mean, seriously, will that even matter when the Ice Zombies and dragons get to Westeros?

Episode 7 Margaery

Grandmother and Granddaughter embrace as the amazon in the nun outfit in the background looks on.

Olenna is appalled at what her granddaughter, the one she’s been training so carefully for so long, is saying to her. But Margaery keeps pleading with grandma to leave while slipping a note to her before she goes. The note is a picture of a rose, and Lady Olenna smiles. That note seems to be in line with my suspicions from last week: that Margaery isn’t truly reformed in the light of the seven, but is instead playing the High Sparrow for a fool. We’ll see if she can be the first to succeed in that mission.

Before she prepares to leave (we’ll see if she actually does) King’s Landing, Olenna is approached by Cersei. And the Queen of Thrones doesn’t mince words with the former queen. Of course, when has the elder Tyrell ever minced words with anyone?

Episode 7 Cersei

Cersei receiving quite the rebuke from the Queen of Thorns.

Now, nothing that Lady Olenna says is anything we didn’t already knew. We all thought Cersei would regret destroying the Lannister/Tyrell alliance and arming the men loyal to the High Sparrow. But it just seems to have more affect when The Queen of Thorns utters the words. And Cersei looks as if she sincerely regrets her actions. That is a first for the former queen, but I guess walking naked through the streets while peasants beat you can have that affect on a person. The Queen of Thorns also correctly points out that Cersei truly is alone (well other than that large Frankenstein that walks around behind her). So how exactly does Cersei, whose been pleading revenge all season, plan on exacting that payback with hardly anyone to assist her?

Riverrun

One of those allies Cersei is currently without is Jamie, who was sent to take care of the conflict in the Riverlands by Tommen last week. And Bronn is back!!! The knight is complaining about his lack of pay to Jamie. To which Jamie replies, “Dude, this is the first time you’ve appeared all season. What exactly should we be paying you for?”

Recall last week that Walder Frey informed us that Riverrun was back in Tully hands thanks to Brendan “Blackfish” Tully. The Freys are there with Edmure Tully when Jamie arrives, going about threatening to kill Edmure if the Blackfish doesn’t return Riverrun to them. Now, you have to forgive the Freys (these two are named Lother and Black Walder by the way) for lacking competence in their skills as negotiators. All they learned at the Twins was how to sit in a perfectly placed castle and collect tolls while giving birth to lots of offspring. That’s how the Freys stay in power!!!

Episode 7 Lothar

Lothar Frey, who appeared with Black Walder in their feeble attempts to take back Riverrun.

Jamie takes control of the operation from the Freys, but doesn’t have any more success. The Blackfish (which should also be a synonym for “bad ass”) means to keep his siege over Riverrun, knowing that it will mean thousands of deaths to the Lannister forces if they try to attack. He also knows Edmure is likely dead anyway at some point, which is the reason why he didn’t budge at the threat to his nephew’s life. So we’ve got a stalemate in the Riverlands. I’m sure this will end with nobody dying.

Episode 7 Blackfish and Jamie

The Blackfish and Jamie “negotiate” at the former Tully seat in Riverrun.

The North

So with the Blackfish stubbornly holding the castle at Riverrun, would that make him unwilling to assist Sansa and Jon in the North? If so, then that would be another blow to an already faltering military alliance.

Though she’s come a long way in her understanding of the world, Sansa let some of that old idealism misguide her when she encouraged Jon to take back Winterfell. Sansa assumed that just holding the name Stark would mean Northmen would run arms wide open in embracing the wolf’s head banner.

But what Sansa didn’t understand was that there were two sides to that relationship.  The people didn’t just call out to support the name Stark for the hell of it. They expected the Starks to protect them in return for their allegiance. So when Robb took many men to their deaths for what turned out to be a vain cause and left the North susceptible to attacks from the Iron Born, it left a bitterness for the name Stark that Sansa wasn’t prepared for.

Episode 7 Jon at House Glover

Jon pleading with Robett Glover, who to help Jon because they were left unprotected during the War of Five Kings.

The first visit was to House Mormont on Bear Island, a house that, thanks in part to Robb’s war, is led by 10 year old Lyanna Mormont. And Lyanna doesn’t allow fiery words to persuade her. Her mother died fighting for Robb, and she doesn’t mean to rush her fighting men off to another battle. It takes Ser Davos turning the argument towards the Whitewalkers and the need for the North to unify to defeat them to get Lyanna to pledge her 62 men. That’s right, only 62.

Episode 7 Leanne Mormont

Lyanna Mormont, grilling Jon and crew about why she should give them the men on Bear Island.

But it’s not like Jon and Sansa can be selective with what numbers they are receiving. The Wildlings are on board to fight. But after that, no major house is backing their cause. They haven’t heard from the Umberlys (who have yet to appear in the show) and the Glovers turned them down at Deepwood Motte. The Glover’s were left defenseless from the Iron Born when Robb took Glover men to avenge the death of Ned Stark, and they are still bitter.

So Sansa has no choice but to send a raven for aid. I am assuming she means to ask Lord Littlefinger, the man whose help she so confidently rejected a few weeks ago, for the men of the Vale. Now, we can’t say for certain that’s who she’s sending the raven to. But I think it’s a pretty safe bet. We’ll see if anyone else emerges to aid the struggling Northern cause next week.

Episode 7 Sansa's letter

Sansa sends a letter requesting aid.

Volantis???

Speaking of the Iron Born, it looks like Yara and Theon have docked in Volantis, they city Jorah captured Tyrion in last season. And cruelly enough for Theon, they are in a brothel, where even Yara is able to appreciate the female form.

Theon is sulking, which is mostly what he’s done since season four. But Yara is tired of it. It’s a tough love approach that would not be recommended by any psychiatric association, but it seems to work. She tells Theon that he should just end it now if it doesn’t want to fight anymore. But if he means to fight, she wants to see that fiery brother of hers again.

Episode 7 Yara and Theon

Yara giving Theon a pep talk before they make their way to Meereen.

The plan is to make a pact with the Dragon Queen. Once again, the  deal makes just as much since as it did a few episodes ago. But how far behind are Euron and his 1,000 ships they had yet to make? Logic says Daenarys should be back in Westeros by the time they’ve finished building all those ships. But something tells me that timeline will be pushed up just slightly.

Braavos

When Arya was standing on the bridge and that old nun appeared walking up behind her, did anybody else scream “danger” or hear the Jaws theme going on in the background? It was pretty clear that was the Waif in disguise. Before the attack, Arya had secured passage (with a cabin no less) for a ship departing at dawn the next day.

But the Waif cut her stomach up pretty good. I’m not actually sure how she’s living with the solid scrap and repeated stab wounds she received. But she was able to fight her way out and jump into the water, escaping the Waif. Now, is there anybody who could and would be willing to heal that stomach so Arya has a chance to escape Braavos?

Episode 7 Ayra

Arya walking through the streets of Braavos covering up the giant would she has on her stomach.

Between the Vale/Riverlands

The last we saw of the Hound, Arya had left him for dead at the end of Season Four. But someone named Ray, a reformed soldier whose now a priest for the seven, found him. He tells the Hound he was ready to bury the large man, who had bugs all around him and was starting to stink when he suddenly breathed. According to the Hound, it was hate that kept him alive. Now he’s here, working with this peaceful commune out in the middle of nowhere as they build a church.

Episode 7 Ray and the Hound

Ray and the Hound shooting the breeze.

As Ray is telling a story of a child he killed so the boy wouldn’t become a soldier one day, three men ride up on horseback. They ask if Ray and his crew have any horses or food, things his men need to “protect the people.” The Hound recognizes them as the Brotherhood Without Banners (remember them?) and tells Ray after they’ve left that he needs to protect his own people.

Of course, Ray doesn’t listen. And one afternoon while the Hound is off chopping wood, he notices silence. He walks back towards the camp and sees the entire commune has been slaughtered. I guess the near death experience must have left the Hound hard of hearing because I can’t see any other way that he completely missed all these people getting slaughtered. Ray spoke a lot about purpose to the Hound and now, after having looked at the former soldier’s dead body hanging from the unfinished church, the Hound grabs his ax and heads off seeking that purpose.

Episode 7 The Hound and Ray Hanging

The Hound finds Ray hanging there, before grabbing his ax and heading off to kick ass.

Of Note

A quick breakdown of the Northern Houses featured last night:

-House Mormont- Jorah Mormont and the “Old Bear” Jeor Mormont (the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch Seasons 1-3) both come from this house on Bear Island (in case you didn’t recognize the name) But Jeor gave up any right to holdings by joining the Night’s Watch and Jorah has been banished from Westeros since the show started. So, Maege Mormont was leading the house until she was killed fighting in the War of Five Kings, leaving her daugher, young Lyanna Mormont, as the current head of House Mormont. Stannis mentioned the “young girl of 10” leading House Mormont last season when he received a note from them.

-House Glover-Only mentioned in the show to this point, House Glover had their home, Deepwood Motte, overtaken by Yara Greyjoy. But with the help of House Bolton (and I assume because Yara just kind of left her men there), the Glovers were able to take their home back.

-House Manderly-They keep getting mentioned, but never appear. They are the wealthiest house in the North and make their home at White Harbor, a major northern port. They still have yet to align themselves with either side in the North.

-So Jon and crew have made their camp in the same place Stannis did? Something tells me some evidence of Shireen’s death is laying around their somewhere for Ser Davos to find.

Character Callback: The Brotherhood Without Banners– In Season Three, Arya was captured by and then traveled with this crew of outlaws led by Beric Dondarrion (the man who kept coming back to life) and the red priest, Thoros of Myr. They had been sent out by Ned Stark back in Season One to hunt down the Mountain when Robert was king. But while out on their mission, Joffrey became king and they became outlaws. So they started traveling around the Riverlands, defending and aiding innocent civilians who had been made victims by the War of Five Kings.

-Though we don’t know for certain, it’s strongly implied that the Brotherhood is behind the slaughter of Ray and his people. If that turns out to be true, then this is a much different group than the crew we saw in Season Three.

-Ray appears to be similar to a book character named Elder Brother. He’s the one in the text that finds the Hound and claims to bury him, except that there’s this large guy walking around with a limp who uses the Hound’s horse. The man was named Gravedigger and many book readers think this is the Hound. Also, Elder Brother has healing powers, explaining the possible reappearance of the Hound in the text.

-So is Margaery holding out on Tommen because she’s still upset with how ineffective he was preventing her and her brother’s catpure? Was she using him all along and now, with Cersei powerless, she no longer needs to sleep with him to place that wedge between the boy and his mother? Or is this part of another plan we aren’t privy to yet?

-“Does it ever move or talk?” Another great line, one of many by Olenna Tyrell. I also have to give props to the Blackfish and Lyanna Mormont for their firm stances for their people when everybody else is, well, so broken.

Questions

-Who will the hound track down in order to gain vengeance for the deaths of Ray and his people?

-And if the Brotherhood butchered them, what has happened to make the Brotherhood a more militant faction than they were before?

-Will Sansa get help from Littlefinger or the Blackfish?

-Who will come out on top of the stalemate at Riverrun?

-What exactly is Margaery up to?

-Will Theon and Yara get to Meereen before Euron does?

-How is Arya going to heal the wound she received from the Waif?

-How does Cersei mean to exact revenge with few allies to assist her?

-And are they ever going to introduce House Manderly?

With three more episodes left this season, I really expect things to pick up next week. At least they better. Did I mention there are just three episodes left this season?!?

Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 6 Review: Blood of My Blood

Tragedy. Brilliant and beautiful tragedy. Last week’s “Hold the Door/Hodor” moment was one of many of these Game of Thrones has created for us over the last six seasons. But I never envy the episode that must follow a classic episode like last week.

And “Blood of My Blood” was another example of an episode that never had a chance of living up to the hour preceding it. Instead, it simply served the purpose of revisiting locations last week’s episode neglected, opening up new battlefronts in the reemerging tensions of Westeros, and the reappearing of several minor characters after long absences. And by no means was “Blood…” lacking in key moments, either. Arya retrieving needle, the return of the Riverlands to the narrative, Tommen turning on his family, “uniting” the Crown with the Holy Sept, and Drogon’s return are all pivotal to the direction the story is heading.

I’m going to get right to things this week, as we begin where last week’s episode ended: Meera dragging Bran through the North in a hopeless attempt at getting them to safety.

North of the Wall

Seriously HBO? You needed to include last week’s final scene in the “previously on” segment to remind us of that? I mean, don’t you think we all remember it well enough where it wasn’t necessary to reopen that wound? Not cool guys. Not cool.

Meera is bravely dragging Bran through the cold North and what is Bran doing? Binge watching Game of Thrones. Every major event on the show so far is playing in Bran’s mind. But he’s also took in the special features, as we see our first look at the Mad King and some other moments that happened before the time period covered by the show (more on those later).

It looks as if the Wights have caught up to the pair, but a hooded character on a horse wielding a fiery flail (or at least it appears to be some sort of ball and chain) takes down several wights before retreating with Bran and Meera on his horse.

Later, Meera confronts the mysterious man, asking who he was and why he helped them. As he pulls back the cloth around his face, we discover this man is Benjin Stark!!! The younger brother of Ned lost sometime during the first season is back to aid his nephew in his quest to become the Three Eyed Raven.

Episode 6 Benjin

Benjin Stark returns to aid Bran in his hour of need.

So while he’s been away, Benjin has been stabbed by a Whitewalker, rescued by the Children (who apparently can reverse the process they started by simply reinserting Obsidian), and been in regular contact with the previous Three Eyed Raven monitoring Bran’s journey. So what did this guy do to entertain himself while he waited for Bran to make his massive mistake? There’s not a lot of leisure activities that far north. Well, it doesn’t really matter now, because Bran and Meera needed protection for the rest of their journey and Benjin fills that vacancy.

Horn Hill

It’s time for an awkward family reunion for Sam, who is returning to Horn Hill (a really nice piece of property in the Reach) and must reunite with the man who disowned and shipped him off to the Night’s Watch. Gilly picks up on his “nervous talking” right away as Sam admits to being afraid to see his father again. He’s also lied about Gilly’s origins, claiming she was simply “from the North.” And technically, that’s true. Sam just decided to leave out the whole “by North I mean a Wildling beyond the wall whose baby is the son of her father.” And since Lord Tarly cares nothing for Wildlings, is best just to leave out those clarifying details.

Maya Rudolph…I mean Samwell’s mom greets Gilly and her baby with the utmost affection. She seems like a wonderful woman, which will be all the more amazing after meet dad.

And Randyll Tarly met every expectation I had for him. He was only on screen a short time, but that was all that was necessary to rank him up there in the top five all around assholes of Westeros. He insults Sam’s weight and bemoans the Night’s Watch failure not making Sam a great warrior. It’s interesting to see Sam’s lack of courage here considering how much we know he’s gained from his time at the Wall.

Episode 6 Randyll Tarly

Randyll Tarly, played brilliantly by James Faulkner

Gilly, however, is willing to stand up for her man. She talks of all the beings he’s killed, including Thenn’s and Whitewalkers. But she let’s slip their geography during some of these adventures, and Lord Tarly pounces. He is appalled that a Wildling is eating under his roof. He will accept the girl and her son, but Sam must never return to Horn Hill again. Good to see you too, dad.

Sam is about ready to say his goodbyes before rushing back in and telling Gilly to “pack her things.” He means to leave, but he’s not leaving without her. That’s major character development for the man who left Gilly at a brothel back in season four to”keep her safe.”

But before he leaves, Sam is going to take his own little going away present: Heartsbane. It’s the sword of House Tarly that Lord Randyll thought, “Hey let me randomly bring this up to really emphasize how my oldest son will never wield it for no good reason at all.” Not exactly the most subtle of foreshadowing. Sam takes the sword and is now off to Oldtown, except now Gilly and little Sam are going with him.

Episode 6 Sam Taking Heartsbane

Sam taking Heartsbane before sneaking off to Oldtown.

King’s Landing

I have officially lost all hope for Tommen. After this week, I’m convinced the boy king will never be anything more than a pawn. He’s in the Holy Sept speaking with the High Sparrow, who continues to “council” the king on matters of state. The Sparrow mentions Margaery and how she’s changed since being in captivity, and the Sparrow wants  Tommen to see for himself.

Now I am skeptical of this “change” in Margaery. We know right up until she saw her brother that she was still playing the game. But now, she’s a devout convert of the seven? We’ll see if she’s really turned over a new leaf or if she just found the best way to get out of her cell and improve her brother’s situation. She says that all her work up to this point has been a show to keep herself in power and for appearances and that while she loves her brother, “he needs to atone for his sins.”

Meanwhile, on the outside, Jamie and Mace Tyrell are preparing their forces to take back the Tyrell children or else!!! They interrupt Margaery’s atonement ceremony and Jamie makes his demands, but the High Sparrow will have none of it. He says “I don’t have the authority to give them to you. And you don’t have the authority to take them.” (yes you do have the authority to give them up you maniacal cult leader!!!!)

But has it turns out, the walk is not happening. Tommen walks out to announce an alliance between the Crown and the Church, and that is enough atonement for Queen Margaery. Jamie and Olenna Tyrell are appalled while Mace has no idea what’s going on. But the Queen of Thorns makes it crystal clear to Lord Oaf: “He’s beaten us. That’s what’s happenning.” The crowd initially seems disappointed because they all came to see Natalie Dormer naked. But after the alliance is announced, they cheer. The peasants are on board with this new alliance, leaving some very powerful players on the outside looking in.

Episode 6 Crown and Sept together

The Crown and Holy Sept, working together as one.

Jamie is later removed from his position as Lord Commander of the King’s Guard and for the second time this season, he asks someone very powerful if he’s to be punished. And for the second time, he will not be. Instead, he’ll be sent off to the Riverlands, where a conflict is brewing between the old and new lords of that region.

The Twins

Lord Walder Frey has returned and he’s not happy. Of course, this grouchy old fart is never happy, so nothing’s really changed here other than the fact that the his sons lost Riverrun. He also takes this time to remind us about the Blackfish, who also escaped the Red Wedding before they could kill him. Now, Catelyn Stark’s uncle has taken back the castle and Lord Frey wants it back. It looks like they will have help from Jamie Lannister. But they also still have Edmure Tully (more on him later), a prisoner Lord Walder believes could be of use in gaining back Riverrun.

Episode 6 Walder Frey

Lord Walder Frey returned last night with a new young bride by his side as he chastises his sons for their failures.

Braavos

So Arya just spent a season and a half listening to vague ramblings from people “who have no names” and completing training exercises that were either boring, confusing, or both, just to have her 100% abandon it last night? I was really hoping for a payoff somewhere with Arya becoming the assassin for the House of Black and White. And maybe her training will still play a part in whatever shape her character takes going forward. At least, it better come back into play. Otherwise, we’ve just wasted a season and a half with one of the best characters on the show doing nothing that really mattered.

It’s time for the rest of, “Game of Thrones, as told by a Lannister apologist.” This week’s it’s the death of Joffrey and Tywin, where Tyrion is the dastardly villian who killed them both out of hatred. And “sweet Cersei” (I can’t type that with out laughing) eulogizes her son’s passing while the young actress who wants her killed practices her lines off stage.

Arya witnesses all of this, but still intends to go through with the mission of poisoning Mrs. Crane. However, after putting the poison in the actresses’s cup, Mrs. Crane sees her backstage and gives her a really encouraging message. Once again, Arya questions why Mrs. Crane is the one to die here when she is clearly a wonderful person, while the young actress wanting her dead is clearly not.

The crew talks backstage and have a fairly interesting interaction (I’d be on board with a “Making of…special that goes behind the scenes with the creators of this play) before Arya knocks the cup Mrs. Crane was about to drink out of her hands. She warns her to be weary of the young actress that wants her dead, then retrieves needle (I did cheer when she went to get needle back!!!) and goes into hiding underneath the city.

Episode 6 Arya and Needle

Arya and Needle reunited.

The Waif, the Hall Monitor for the Faceless Men was watching. Of course she was watching. She’s always watching Arya. She’s kind of obsessed with her. And that tattle telling Waif runs quickly to Jaqen to inform him of Arya’s failure in completing her mission. She was promised she would get to kill Arya if she ever abandoned the faceless men, and Jaqen reluctantly agrees. At what point will these two rivals meet in the long anticipated Battle of Braavos?

Vaes Dothrak

“Blood of My Blood” closes this week with Danearys doing what she’s been doing for roughly have the time she’s been on the show: marching through desert. The subject of ships comes up and Daario says it will take 1,000 ships to get to Westeros (you mean, the exact same number Euron is building right now on the Iron Islands? I’m sure those numbers being exact are just coincidental).

Now I admit that sometimes I go easier on the execution of Dany’s all conquering scenes because, despite a few minor plot holes, they are just awesome. And here, we have Daenarys leave the Dothraki for a bit because of something she smells? Did she see something? Smell burning flesh somewhere that no one else in that large group could? But as I am trying to figure out how she just magically knew he was there, Drogon flies up and I forget all those critical notions I usually bring to my writing. Because did I mention that these “Dany is going to conquer the world” scenes are just awesome! I mean, this was not the most awesome of Dany scenes, but Drogon has returned and the Mother of Dragons is on his back speaking Dothraki (and Emilia Clark speaking a made up fantasy language is just fantastic). It really doesn’t matter how we got there, it was just great to see.

Dany claims all of the Dothraki to be her bloodriders, (meaning that once Dany dies, they avenge her death and then give their lives as well). Now Dany and her crew of Dothraki are one week out of Meereen. How will she and they respond to her return?

Episode 6 Dany and Drogon

Dany on the back of Drogon looking over her Dothraki bloodriders.

Of Note:

-Character Callback: Benjin Stark-This is why Benjin kept showing up in all of Bran’s flashbacks. The youngest Stark brother was a member of the Night’s Watch who was lost beyond the Wall way back in Season One. The show gave us a young Benjin to remind us of his existence before bringing him back tonight in Bran’s time of need.

-It appears the show is going to combine Benjin Stark with a book character named Coldhands. Coldhands directs Bran and crew to the Three-Eyed Raven in “A Dance with Dragons.” Though the timing of his appearance in the show is different, his condition is very similar to that of the mysterious man that leads the warging Stark to that mystical cave.

-Benjin gave Bran a glass of animal blood at the end of their scene. I’m curious if that will come into play as a help to Bran in his visions or if it was just to keep him warm (as someone who doesn’t drink animal blood from a glass, I’m completely unaware of it’s benefits).

-Two of the more prominent flashbacks were the Mad King and the Wildfire (that green liquid that keep showing up in Bran’s visions and was used in Season 2’s Blackwater battle). We saw the Mad King say “burn them all” right before seeing him stabbed in the back. Jamie Lannister killed the Mad King right before he was about to burn of all King’s Landing to the ground with all that Wildfire.

Character Callback: Walder Frey- Not sure why I’m even bothering considering everyone remembers this guy. Walder Frey is Lord of the Twins and arranged to have the Starks killed at the Red Wedding. He’s had numerous wives, children, grandchildren, and bastard children. And he was the Lord of the Riverlands until The Blackfish reemerged. And speaking of the Blackfish:

-Character Callback: Brendon “Blackfish” Tully- No, he’s not appearing until next week. But since he was mentioned, the “Blackfish” was the brother of Hoster Tully, Catelyn Stark’s father. He gets his name from his unwillingness to marry and certify alliances for his brother. He was helping Robb in the War of Five Kings when at the Red Wedding, he went to take the best timed piss in the history of Westeros. He escaped the slaughter at the Twins and has now reemerged, taking back Riverrun for the Tullys.

-Character Callback: Edmure Tully-You may have forgotten the man who was actually getting married at the Red Wedding. That was Edmure Tully, Catelyn’s brother, who agreed to marry a Frey to make amends for his poor tactical decisions in the War of Five Kings. We last saw Edmure heading to his bedding ceremony right before the carnage of the Red Wedding occurred. He’s been a captive of Lord Walder ever since.

Episode 6 Edmure

Edmure Tully returned to the narrative tonight after spending the last two plus seasons in captivity.

-I’m curious if the Blackfish will care at all to his nephew as a prisoner. He didn’t exactly have a high opinion of him when we saw them last.

-It’s good to see another Valyrian steel sword enter the game. And even better to see it in the hands of a character who knows of the Whitewalkers and could use it to help that cause.

-A nice reinforcement tonight of the southern attitude towards Whitewalkers. Sam’s brother laughed at Gilly’s claim that Samwell killed a Whitewalker, saying “There’s no such thing.” That’s an attitude that will have to change as the Whitewalkers draw closer.

-I also was amused and a little creeped out when Sam’s sister thought her father could learn a thing or two from Gilly’s dad. Now Randyll Tarly maybe an asshole, but no one holds a lower position has a father than the daughter loving Craster.

-I always thought the House of Black and White were killing people who needed to end their suffering or were the scum of the earth. But it seems at the moment like they are just hired assassins who will kill just to get the possession of another face. This could change before the season ends, but it’s not a good perception right now for the Faceless Men.

-I really liked Arya’s note to Mrs. Crane, adding the essential anger needed from Cersei’s response to Joffrey’s death that the writer of the play didn’t include.

Questions

-Where is Benjin taking Bran and Meera?

-How are Sam and Gilly getting to Old Town? And at what point will they be getting there?

-When will Cersei make her big move? And what is the High Sparrow planning now that he has the crown on his side?

-Where is Arya’s story left now that she’s abandoned the Faceless Men?

-How long will the Blackfish hold out in Riverrun? And will his willingness to hold onto the castle there keep him from assisting Sansa and Jon in the North?

-Will we get to see the Red Priestess in action before Dany gets back to Meereen?

The key battles that will define the rest of season six are in place. Let’s see which ones play out next week.

 

Bran’s Flashbacks and What They Mean

For most of Game of Throne’s first four seasons, producers David Benoiff and D.B. Weiss stayed away from flashbacks. Both men are on record stating they considered peeks back in time to mostly be lazy storytelling. And a poorly made original pilot that included flashbacks probably didn’t help their opinions of the storytelling device, either.

But two very important events were approaching in Season Five and Six that required them to rethink their stance: Cersei’s essential flashback from “A Feast for Crows” and the warging abilities of Bran developing so that he could see the past. The flashback to young Cersei last year was, in my opinion, one of the best sequences the show has produced to date. And it explained why Cersei is always so tough on the women that enter her life in the name of becoming queen (because of the “one more beautiful” who will come along and replace her).

So how would the show follow up season five’s opening with more flashbacks, this time from Bran’s perspective mostly seeing his father’s younger days and seeing the development of the Whitewalkers.  But with all the history available for Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire,” why have the producers chosen these moments from the past for Bran to see?

Let’s take a look back at the scenes we’ve seen so far, why they are important, and what scenes could be left for Bran to see in the second half of season six.

Episode 2; Home

Location: Winterfell

Quick Summary: Ned Stark as a boy with his siblings in Winterfell.

Flashbacks Young Starks

Young Ned, Lyanna, and Benjin talking as Bran and the Three Eyed Raven look on

The first of Bran’s visions sent the Stark boy back to a much happier time in Winterfell. Before all the tragedy we’ve seen the Starks endure over six seasons, there was a young Ned teaching a young Benjin (remember him from season one???) how to fight. In the middle of their play, their fiery young sister, Lyanna, rides up on a horse. She’s been mentioned several times over the course of the show’s run, but this is the first time we’ve seen her portrayed.

Why was this important: 

Establishing Lyanna as a fiery, independent, young lady who played by her own rules was an important foundation that needed to be set before delving more into the life of Ned’s sister. I don’t think Lyanna was portrayed as well as young Cersei was back in Season Five’s premiere, but the scene was still effective. Also, the reintroduction of Benjin could prove important to Season Six.

The Big Reveal:

Hodor saying something that wasn’t Hodor!!!! Though this was a fun reveal for viewers when it happened, we now know that this was simply setting up a more significant (and more tragic) reveal later on.

Flashbacks Young Hodor

Young, speaking Hodor appearing in Bran’s vision with the young Starks.

Episode 3; Oathbreaker

Location: The Tower of Joy (in the mountains of Dorne)

Quick Summary: Ned Stark and Howland Reed “defeat” Ser Arthur Dayne, who was guarding the tower holding Lyanna Stark.

Flashbacks Tower of Joy

Ned Stark and his men preparing to fight at the Tower of Joy

Ned Stark and five other men arrive at this tower in the mountains of Dorne where two knights of the kingsguard stand in there way. Ned wanted to find his sister, Lyanna, but Ser Arthur Dayne and the other man had orders to guard that tower. A fight ensues, and everything the many characters of Game of Thrones (including Jamie Lannister, Ned Stark, and Barristen Selmy) have said about “The Sword of the Morning” proves true. He takes out all five of the men with Ned and disarms Lord Stark. But before he can finish off Ned, Howland Reed (who was taken out but not killed earlier) shoves a knife into his back. Ned hears screams coming from the tower and races up the steps of the tower, but something temporarily stops him (Was it the wind? Or was it Bran’s voice that he heard?) before racing back up the stairs.

Why Was This Important

Because it was the Tower of Freaking Joy!!!! That’s why!!!! A scene book readers have read and theorized about for over 20 years (the first book came out in 1994) was finally taking place before our eyes.

But as far as specific reveals, there were plenty. The first was seeing Arthur Dayne as the bad ass he truly was. There was also the relationship between Howland Reed and Ned Stark, which would be one of the main reasons Howland’s children (Jojen and Meera) would come to Bran’s aid on his journey to find the Three-Eyed raven.

Episode 3 Arthur Dayne

Ser Arthur Dayne before defending the Tower of Joy

And lastly, it was seeing Bran’s ability to interact with a flashback. As we know now, young Ned was not hearing the wind when he turned to face Bran. He heard Bran’s voice, an important element for two of three flashbacks we saw in “The Door.”

The Big Reveal

Bran finds out that the story of his father defeating “The Sword of the Morning” in single combat was a lie. We also learn Lyanna was screaming in the tower when Ned finds her.

Episode 5; The Door

Location: Somewhere in Westeros, probably North of the Wall before it became frozen (or was separated from Westeros by a Wall).

Quick Summary: The Children of the Forest turn a man into a Whitewalker.

Brans Visions Children

Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven walk up to a scene very familiar to GoT viewers. The shape surrounding the Weirwood Tree is the same shape the Whitewalkers have made with various mutilated body parts throughout the whole entire region north of the wall. But there are no Whitewalkers or snow present here. Instead, it’s a group of the Children of the Forest and they are desperate. One of them takes a piece of Obsidian and shoves it into the chest of a man tied to a rock. His skin starts freezing about the time Bran wakes up.

Bran's Visions First Whitewalker

One of the Children preparing to stab Obsidian into a captive, turning him into a Whitewalker.

Why Was This Important/The Big Reveal

No reason to separate the two categories with this one, since they are the same: The Children of the Forest are responsible for creating the White Walkers to protect themselves from men. But other, more subtle reveals with this scene include:

  1. The lands north of the wall have not always been covered in ice.
  2. The White Walkers motivation to destroy men was programmed into them by the Children.
  3. Somewhere, the Children lost control of the White Walkers.

Episode 5; The Door

Location: North of the Wall

Quick Summary: Bran is touched by the Night’s King.

Episode 5 Bran and the Whitewalker

Bran’s ill-fated solo journey into dream world puts him right in the middle of group of Wights. They don’t see him until he approaches the four generals of this undead army. But once the Night’s King sees him, everyone in formation becomes aware of Bran. Before he can wake up, Bran is touched by the Night’s King, giving him the ability to get to bran in the Three-Eyed Raven’s cave.

Episode 5 Bran sees the Whitewalkers

Bran amongst the Wight Army as he discovers the Whitewalkers on their horses.

Why Was it Important

The Night’s King knowledge of where Bran is forced the weary travelers to leave the cave of the Three Eyed Raven before Bran’s training was finished. It was also the event that triggered the tragic events at the end of the same episode.

The Big Reveal

The confirmation that Bran could interact with those he sees in visions was essential information for this episode’s final vision. There’s also the knowledge that Bran’s journey means replacing the Three-Eyed Raven at some point. And finally (and maybe most important), there’s that connection the Night’s King now has with Bran.

Episode 5; The Door

Location: Winterfell

Quick Summary: Bran wargs into Wyllis, turning him into Hodor while his father is being sent off to the Vale.

Bran is given one final vision before exiting the cave and it’s the one the Three Eyed Raven new one day would be the last he would be guiding Bran through. We are back at Winterfell, where young Ned Stark is saying his goodbyes to his family before heading off to the Vale, where he will serve as Jon Arryn’s ward with Robert Baratheon. But all the pleasant (though what would prove to be bittersweet) fairwells were overshadowed by the events involving Hodor. Needing to escape Wights in the present, Bran wargs into Hodor and holds the door so Bran and Meera can escape. But because Bran is in both present and past, his actions affect the young Hodor, who falls to the ground shaking, while he says “Hold the Door” over and over again. Eventually, “Hold the Door” becomes “Hodor.”

Bran's Visions Hodor

Hodor in that fateful moment when he saved Bran and Meera’s life.

Why Was it Important

Discovering that how Wyllis became Hodor was also how he met his end was the obvious reason for this tragic scene.

The Big Reveal

Also, discovering just what kind of impact Bran has (or is it what impact he has had?) when he’s seeing visions of the past will likely be significant somewhere in later episodes.

Lost in all the focus on Hodor is this is likely the last time Ned and his father spoke. The next time Ned returns to Winterfell will be after Robert’s Rebellion, long after his dad, Rickard, and oldest brother (who is not portrayed for some reason), Brandon, have been killed by the Mad King Aerys Targaryen.

Visions to Come???

I am assuming (thought I admit it’s a pretty big assumption considering the dire consequences of episode 5) that Bran will have more visions of the past to see. Why was Lyanna Stark screaming in that tower? Can Bran’s visions of Whitewalkers be of assistance to those south of the Wall (if he ever gets there)? Will the Night’s King’s connection with Bran prove costly if he moves south of the Wall with those warnings? And is there any other part of the History of Westeros? Or are his visions limited to just his family’s past and activities concerning the Whitewalkers?

With everything that happened at the end of “The Door,” Bran has a lot to atone for.  We’ll see if he’s successful in that endeavor in the second half of season six. What are your theories about Bran’s future visions? Share those in the comments below.

 

 

Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 5 Review; The Door

The next time I ride an elevator is not a time I look forward to. I expect that I’ll be on board,waiting patiently for the car to begin its ascension when someone in a rush calls from outside the car to, “Hold the Door.”

I’m not sure how I will explain the tears that will fill my eyes following the uttering of that phrase. That is, unless I’m with other Game of Thrones viewers, who will be crying as well. We will have to comfort each other in that moment when we are reminded of the event that cost our beloved Hodor both his ability to speak and his life. And the young man responsible for both of these moments was(emphasis here on was) one of the few remaining blameless characters left on the show.

Bran has been a victim at every turn his story has taken. This was a kid who was pushed out of a window the very first episode. He’s been the underdog cripple whose found a way to overcome every circumstance forced upon him. But for the first time, Bran got selfish. And it cost him and those around him dearly.

Outside of the tragic loss of Hodor, the theme for the rest of the show was how everything is really coming together. Jon and Sansa are on the move gathering alliances so they can take back Winterfell. The Greyjoys appear on their way to meet with Daenarys; a partnership that, if Dany ever decides to finally make her way to Westeros, makes so much sense. And even something small like the alliance Tyrion makes with a red priestess could prove an important similarity if the world of Meereen should ever connect with those in the North.

Let’s start with Ary…I mean “A Girl Who Has No Name” and a satirical play that proved itself to be strangely accurate. (I’ll also have some important background information in the “Of Note” section regarding the pixie looking characters known as the “Children of the Forest” and the importance of their actions, both from the past and the present, tonight).

Braavos

It’s sparring time with Arya and the Waif (the Queen Bee of the House of Black and White) and even though Arya can see now, she still gets handled rather easily. The Waif even puts down her weapon and still has no problem knocking down”Lady Stark.”

Jaqen feels the Waif’s insult is the perfect time to tell Arya the history of the vague temple she now calls home. And the story of the people who started The House of Black and White sounds an awful lot like Arya’s (Lords and Ladies who became servants who then came to Braavos). He gives her a new assignment and one last chance to complete the task she’s given.

Episode 5 Arya House of Black and White

Arya discussing the Faceless Men with Jaqen.

The target is an actress named Mrs. Crane. Her role: Cersei Lannister. It’s a Braavosi edition of “Drunk History” explaining the beginning of the War of Five Kings in a humorous tone. And Arya laughs hysterically at the portrayal of the Lannisters and King Robert. But when her father walks out on stage as a bumbling oaf, her amusement ceases. Ned Stark never carried himself the way the actor portraying him on stage did, but the thought process is not that far off from the one that cost Lord Stark his head.

Arya has to relive her father’s beheading, but this time as a comical moment. This does not keep her from her job, however,which is spying out Mrs. Crane and finding a way to kill her. But she finds Mrs. Crane to be a good person who is married to the actor playing Tyrion (oh the irony!!!) She’s also the only person who drinks rum backstage, information she tells Jaqen along with many questions as to who wants her killed and why. To which Jaqen responds, “A girl does not need to ask questions.” I wonder if Ned, Catelyn, and Sansa would ever get jealous at how easily Jaqen gets Arya to shut up.

Vaes Dothrak

In the aftermath of the “Great Burning of the Khals,” Daenarys discovers Jorah, who she’s sent away twice yet he still comes back to safe her, has greyscale. And because of his condition, Jorah means to go away again and die alone. But Dany will have none of that. She tells Jorah to go and find a cure, then come back to her. Now keep in mind, Jorah’s condition is one that’s existed for thousands of years and no maester or physician from any culture has found a cure. So we’ll see how a knight with zero medical training can magically discover it.

Meereen

It seems Tyrion’s deal struck last week as worked. No one has died and the Sons of the Harpy are absent in the lives of those in Meereen. But Tyrion says it’s not enough. Though the Halfman is the one behind the recent political maneuverings in Meereen, he understands that Daenarys must receive credit for it if the peace is to hold.

Enter Kinvara, another attractive red priestess. I think someone needs to file a lawsuit against the Red Temple for discriminating against ugly women, because it sure seems like every red priestess is an attractive female with a nice figure. She’s the High Priestess of the Red Temple in Volantis (a city Tyrion visited last season).

Episode 5 Meereen red priest

Kinvara, who will be speaking on Dany’s behalf in Meereen.

If you recall last season, Tyrion noticed a red priestess preaching that Daenarys was Azor Ahai, the one that was promised. And after seeing the crowds these servants of the Lord of Light draw, Tyrion wisely calls upon one to come and proclaim Dany’s name in her absence.

But Varys is skeptical. Because after all, Stannis was also proclaimed Azor Ahai by another attractive red priestess and he’s now dead. “Humans make mistakes” is the response from Kinvara, who then goes about recalling Varys past and how he heard some voice in the fire the night he became a Eunuch. She even goes so far as to say that low point in Varys’s life was a blessing because it put him on a path to serve Daenarys. Both Tyrion and Varys seem uncomfortable through this entire exchange. Because that’s the job of a good red priestess: to leave you in complete discomfort with whatever you’ve just seen and heard.

So Kinvera is going to be in the streets of Meereen, praising Daenarys name until she makes it back, hopefully with Drogon in tow. She even has a bunch of titles that take 15 minutes to speak in succession just like the Mother of Dragons. A couple of kindred spirits, those two are.

The Iron Islands

I was worried going into season six that the Iron Islands would be this season’s Dorne. And in some ways, this has proven true. I wasn’t impressed with any of the dialogue given to Euron Greyjoy, the prodigal Greyjoy brother who returned home to take the Iron Chair. And much like Dorne last season, Euron has very little development. We saw this guy on a shaking bridge for five minutes and we are now supposed to believe him to be a potential suitor for Daenarys?

But at least the Iron Islands, unlike Dorne, fits into the end game narrative. And the connection seems so obvious now: ships. Of course, Daenarys needs ships. It’s as if the whole creation of the Iron Born was so they could provide a critical need to the Mother of Dragons. And while I don’t take Euron’s claim that he’s a potential suitor for Dany, his presence did get those ships moving towards Meereen.

It’s Kingsmoot time!!! Funny how the Iron Born are the closest to our modern democracies than any body else in Westeros. Yara steps forward and makes her case for why she should be queen. But the Iron Born have never had a queen, a point the men attending the Pyke Caucus quickly point out to her. But Theon holds true to his word, stumping for her and giving a really great speech that gets everyone chanting “Yara, Yara.” We have our first queen of the Iron…

Wait!!! It’s Euron!!! Euron Greyjoy has returned!!! The Crows Eye!!! The Crows Eye is back!!! (that’s his nickname in the books, one that I hate that it doesn’t appear the show intends to use) For all the old school wrestling fans, just imagine Jim Ross saying that last line with Stone Cold theme music playing in the background. Euron makes his case that he wants to “Make the Iron Islands Great Again” by tying themselves to Daenarys. He will provide ships and she will agree to marry him. Its just that simple. But Euron, while he’s being drowned (more on that later), forgets to secure those ships and the niece and nephew he means to murder. Because I guess he figured they’d just hang around while the crazy uncle who came back and murdered their father and whom they threatened to kill was being inaugurated.

Episode 5 Euron

Euron making his case at the Kingsmoot

Theon and Yara sneak off and take the ships with them. Now we are never told directly where they intend to go, but I think we can safely assume that these ships are heading to Meereen in attempt to beat Euron to Slaver’s Bay. But Euron instructs the Iron Born to build new ships from whatever materials they can find, as he means to run down Theon and Yara. The race to Meereen is on!!!

The Wall

Sansa is knitting when she receives a letter. Petyr Baelish wants to speak with her at Mole’s Town. You’ll recall Mole’s Town was the brothel where Gilly was hiding out when the Wildlings came and killed every one (but her and little Sam) there. I like the consistency here as the place is in ruins with no one residing there anymore.

And I was really glad to see Sansa stand up for herself here. Lord Littlefinger needed to be held accountable for the situation he put Sansa in. And she definitely does that, making him inquire how Ramsey hurt her. But while Sansa has come a long way, she loses a sense of that political maneuvering she’s developed over the last couple of seasons when she refuses Littlefinger’s help. This would have been a great opportunity to use Littlefinger’s regret to aid her cause in retaking Winterfell. She thinks the North will all rally to her because she’s a former Stark and she doesn’t want Baelish or his army around.

Episode 5 Sansa and Littlefinger

Sansa and Littlefinger discuss how his actions have affected her.

But Sansa’s thinking is quickly taken to task by Davos, who points out that the Stark name must prove it can win before people will blindly follow it. Sansa did receive one piece of valuable information from Littlefinger: Brendan “The Blackfish” Tully has retaken Riverrun and has an army that can be of assistance (though Sansa doesn’t reveal her source). With other, smaller families in the North still undeclared (two of three big families are committed to Ramsey), there’s men to be brought together that could give Jon and Sansa the formidable force they need.

Episode 5 North Map

The map of the North as Jon and company find the families who will fight for them.

So Jon, Sansa, Davos, Melisandre, and Tormund are on their way to tour the North to align families to their cause while Brienne and Pod will head to the Riverlands to try and get the Blackfish on their side.

Beyond the Wall

This one’s going to be tough. And not just for the emotional ending, but also for all the information the three visions Bran saw contained. The first vision may have been the most important. I’ll save my “Children of the Forest” background for the bottom, but it is revealed here that the Whitewalkers were a creation of the children to protect themselves against men.

Episode 5 Children of the Forest

The Children of the Forest right before they turn a man into a Whitewalker.

The second vision is Bran going out on his own. Without the guidance of the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran sees an army of Wights, who don’t notice him until the Night’s King and the rest of the ruling council of Whitewalkers notice him. One touch from the Night’s King is all it takes and now he can penetrate the cave where Bran and crew have been residing all season. They must leave, even though Bran is not ready to become whatever it is the Three-Eyed Raven wants him to become.

Episode 5 Bran sees the Whitewalkers

Bran sees the Whitewalkers in his rogue vision.

Bran gets one final vision before he goes. It’s his father being sent off to the Vale (exclusive book knowledge for you their folks). But that is mostly in the background as Bran notices Hodor and is distracted by the voices in his head from the present. You’ll remember in episode 3 how Bran was able to speak to his father and his father heard something before going up into the Tower of Joy. Well, as it turns out, that wasn’t just the wind. Bran can be heard (and in some cases seen) by the people in his visions.

Meanwhile, in the present, all hell has broken loose. The Whitewalkers have come for Bran and all the power of the Children cannot stop them. They enter the cave and kill the Three-Eyed Raven (though was he actually alive? I still have so many questions about this guy). Bran, in his vision, sees the Three Eyed Raven vanish before he wargs into Hodor.

Hodor drags Bran out of the cave with Meera close behind. A couple of heroic sacrifices are made to help them escape, the most tragic being that of Summer (Bran’s direwolf) He takes on the Wights and dies, leaving us with two remaining direwolves. The Children of the Forest are next, shooting whatever they can before the last remaining plays the part of Kamikazi fighter, blowing up a fireball that kills her and a number of Wights. Meera was also able to take out one of the Whitewalkers with a spear that had a point of Dragonglass at the end of it.

Episode 5 Meera and Hodor

Hodor and Meera attempting to escape the cave.

Bran, Meera, and Hodor get out of the cave. But the door doesn’t have any way to be locked. So Bran keeps Hodor on the door. Meera yells “Hold the Door” numerous times. But because Bran is in the past and the present (this whole time travel thing could get confusing over the coming weeks) the warging affects both young and present Hodor. The young Hodor wargs out shaking on the ground, saying “Hold the Door” over and over again. In one of the shows best scenes, we flip back and forth between Hodor making the ultimate sacrifice holding those Wights in while Bran and Meera escape and the young Hodor, whose “Hold the Door” eventually becomes “Hodor.” Now, I will have a new perspective everytime I rewatch scenes where Hodor is freaking out because of all the noise knowing what he’s having to relive. RIP Hodor.

Of Note:

-The show has done a particularly poor job explaining the Children of the Forest. Their importance has been alluded to in brief moments, but I doubt anyone who hasn’t read the texts would have a clear understanding of them. The Children were the original inhabitants of Westeros when the first men came on a land bridge. They warred with the first men, but eventually came to a peace agreement, an agreement that was ratified by the faces carved into Weirwood trees. Another group of men, known as the Andals, came later on and wanting nothing to do with the Children. So the Children disappeared to the far reaches of the North. It was to protect themselves against the Andal invasion that the children created the Whitewalkers. And it is likely that mission programmed into the Whitewalkers  is the reason they want to destroy men so badly.

-We also saw our most accurate portrayal of baptism for those who worship the drowned god. And it is a literal drowning. A person is held underneath the water until he stops breathing. He’s then brought up to see if he breathes again. Rarely is a person held down long enough where they aren’t able to recover. But some have died during this baptism ceremony.

-Jaqen briefly mentioned the history of Braavos tonight, a city created by former slaves who were escaping Valyrian conquerers. Much like Arya, they were men and women who ruled various territories but were captured and forced into slavery by the Valyrians.

-“Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains…all that.” I’m really glad to see the show poke fun at all the names Daenarys has received through all these seasons. They’ve done this several times during season six.

-How many people are left for Dolorous Edd to lead at the Wall? It seemed like he was commanding about fifteen men when he was reminded that he is indeed Lord Commander. I fear the next time we see the Wall (which could be a while), it will be a very tragic occasion.

-Another guy I don’t think we’ll be seeing much of for awhile is Littlefinger. The question is will he provide aid to Sansa despite her rejection? Or will he turn to another side fighting against her?

-And Game of Thrones didn’t leave out the men tonight in it’s nude scenes. The actor playing the part of Joffrey in the Braavosi version of Game of Thrones showed his man parts. That makes it the scorecard something like 5,000 to 3, with boobs still comfortably in the lead.

Questions

-Will Bran and Meera be able to escape the Whitewalkers?

-Who else will join Jon and Sansa in their attempt to take back Winterfell? And is Littlefinger’s information about the Blackfish accurate?

-Will Kinvara be effective in keeping the people of Meereen solidly on the side of the queen?

-Will Jorah find a cure for Greyscale? How long before Dany returns to Meereen? And is Drogon planning on showing back up anytime soon?

-Which of the Iron Born fleets will get to Meereen first?

-What’s the reason for Arya having to kill someone portraying a person on her kill list? That can’t just be a coincidence can it?

We didn’t get many scenes for next week in the preview, but it does look like we’ve got battle at the Holy Sept to look forward to. Also, I will be launching an article on Thursday reviewing Bran’s visions up to this point and all the symbolism contained within them.

 

 

 

 

Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 4 Recap; Book of the Stranger

For a show that frequently leaves its viewers in anguish with all the pain it puts us through, last night’s episode (“Book of the Stranger”) was a refreshing reward. Sometimes, we have to sit through a painful, shocking death that leaves us speechless. Other times, it’s a slow moving character arc where all a character has done is sit and talk for extensive lengths of time (cough Daenarys cough) David Benoiff and DB Weiss (the show’s producers) make their viewers earn the great moments. And last night’s episode was sandwiched around two of those.

The first was the show’s first Stark reunion. The honorable family that’s been splintered in every direction since the series premiere finally had two of its members reunite. And no, they were not the closest of kin while growing up in Winterfell. But both Jon and Sansa recognized quickly how special of a moment this is and how much (particularly Sansa) both have grown since that first episode.

The other was the return of bad ass Daenarys Targaryen. Ever since she burned that slave master in the third season, Dany has been absurdly lame. First, she sat in a tent while her men took down the city of Astapor. Then, she took the third city (Meereen, her most recent home) off screen. The rest of the last two seasons were spent inside a pyramid talking (and not in one of those cool, commanding languages she uses when she has someone burned). Every once in awhile, we visit a dragon and think, “It’s going to get cool again.” But then we go back to the pyramid where Queen Dany was the Game of Thrones edition of C-SPAN, discussing Slaver’s Bay politics while we yawned and sought our smart phones for entertainment.

But tonight, we returned to the queen everyone (well most everyone) rallied behind when the series started. Dany’s coup of the Dothraki, killing the Khal’s while she walked out burn free, breathes life back into a character who was really struggling to keep our attention. And with the way things are starting to boil in Meereen, she’s needed now more than ever.

So let’s start tonight’s recap at the Wall, where that Stark reunion was only a frozen North away.

The Wall

The Wall continues its season six role as the leadoff hitter, picking up with Jon Snow gathering his things for a march south. Edd pleads with Jon to stay and live up to his vows, but Jon is having none of it. Now, this plan by Jon to march “south” by himself really doesn’t seem that well thought out. But I’ve never been stabbed by the men who I was leading and brought back to life. So who am I to judge?

Then, the horn blows one time (remember, one blow means a member of the Night’s Watch or at least a friend) and Jon walks out to see Sansa. His sister has arrived at the Wall with Brienne and Pod. I should scrutinize the timeline of how they were able to span the North so quickly. But I just don’t care about that. Starks are reuniting!!!! And I don’t think another family in Westeros deserved this more than the Stark clan.

Episode 6 Jon and Sansa

Jon and Sansa reunite at the Wall, starting in motion their plans for a fight for Winterfell.

It also seems her ordeal in the frozen northern woods has strengthened Sansa’s resolve. She wants the North back and thinks Jon should lead the charge. But Jon is hesitant because he’s tired of fighting. Once again, I try not to judge because of the whole “I’ve never been brought back from the dead issue,” but I’m not sure how Jon can be hesitant here. He knows what’s coming (Umm…Whitewalkers) and more bloodshed’s inevitable, but he’s struggles to agree to this nonetheless. I guess it wouldn’t be dramatic if it was easy to convince him.

A letter from Ramsey arrives at the Wall and it reveals to them that they have Rickon. Ramsey wants his bride back or he intends to ride North and attack. Then he will allow his army to each take turns with Sansa. With Tormund providing 2000 men, it looks like the Battle of the Bastards is on!!! Let preparations begin.

Another really good scene (though it was short) tonight was the conversation where Melisandre and Davos begin discussing (before being so rudely interrupted) what happened to Stannis. Davos has been a little distracted with the whole “Jon Snow’s dead, but I know this crazy hot red head I don’t really care for that might be able to revive him” situation, so he hasn’t had time to ask what happened to Stannis and Shireen. He gets the answer on one of those this evening as Brienne walks over and tells the two of them she struck him down. Melisandre, however, withholds that she had Shireen burned at the stake; information I don’t think Ser Davos is going to take too kindly to once he finds out.

Episode 6 Brienne, Davos, and Melisandre

Davos, Brienne, and Melisandre just shooting the breeze, discussing casual topics like black magic and why no one named Baratheon is hanging out at Castle Black right now.

The Vale

Petyr Baelish is back folks, and he wastes no time manipulating the key players in the Vale. Also wasting no time playing the part of the useless Lord of the Vale is Ser Robyn, whose training under Bronze Yohn as apparently not improved is archery skills at all.

Baelish arrives and is confronted by Bronze Yohn Royce for taking Sansa to Winterfell instead of to the Fingers (Baelish’s home). Baelish quickly turns the tables on Bronze Yohn, getting Robyn to casually suggest dropping Ser Royce through the moon door if he doesn’t fall in line. All Lord Littlefinger needed was a falcon to get Robyn to fall in line with his commands. Bronze Yohn is allowed to live as long as he leads the armies of the Vale in the battles to come. And Baelish means for them to join Sansa and the attack on Winterfell (which Baelish has been predicting would happen all along).

Episode 4, Bronze Yohn and Petyr

Baelish manipulating Bronze Yohn into leading the men of the Vale into battle.

Meereen

The Meereen plot this season is taking on a similar dynamic to the Wall in Season Five. Much like the men of the Night’s Watch had been conditioned to hate Wildlings, the people of Meereen were conditioned to hate slavers. Both hates were justifiable. But the long term survival of both of these areas required a change in thinking.

Enter Tyrion playing the part of Meereen’s Jon Snow, who decides to make a deal with the enemy. And just like the men of the Night’s Watch, the people of Slaver’s Bay do not approve. Let’s hope Tyrion’s efforts yield a better result than Jon’s did.

Comparing Daenarys and Tyrion in their respective diplomatic abilities is like comparing US Congress and British Parliament on C-SPAN. The former is so boring and dull when they do business, while the latter is entertaining and full of brilliant one liners. Tyrion makes a deal with the slave masters, giving them 7 years to end slavery and adjust their economies properly. In return, they will stop funding the Sons of the Harpy. This way, if the Harpys continue to kill, Tyrion will know the slavers aren’t living up to their end of the deal.

Episode 4 Varys, Tyrion and Missandei

Tyrion negotiating with the slave masters of Slavers Bay

Of course, Grey Worm and Missandei do not trust the slavers or Tyrion’s diplomatic abilities. Tyrion’s response: “Slavery is an abomination that should be ended immediately. War is also an abomination that should be ended immediately. I can’t end both today.” We’ll see if the people of Meereen will get on board with Tyrion’s way of thinking. But I expect things will get worse before they get better (if they get better) in Meereen.

King’s Landing

Another political game this week involved the High Sparrow and his persistent attempts to get Margaery to confess. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe the Sparrow genuinely believes in what he’s doing. But he’s not above a little mind manipulation to get what he wants. First, he tells Margaery his story of how he came to be where he is. He was a shoemaker (ironic, considering he never wears shoes) for some of the wealthiest families in Westeros. But one day, after he had spent that money on women and getting drunk, he woke up and saw what everyone looked like when the giant orgy (or something like that) was over. He walked away to join the peasants in the streets, becoming the religious fanatic we see today.

Episode 4 Margaery and the High Sparrow

The High Sparrow tells his story to Margaery.

Margaery, however, knows what he’s doing. She says as much when she’s allowed to see her brother for the first time since their captivity. But they’ve treated Loras much harsher than they have Margaery. He’s been beaten and just wants it to stop. His sister pleads with him to stay strong. But Loras just wants it to end.

Margeary may have to make a choice to confess just to see mercy brought to her brother. But the Lannisters and Tyrells do not mean to let that happen. Cersei seems to have realized how her beef with the Tyrells allowed the High Sparrow to rise to power. She wants an alliance again and Jamie recommends taking the Tyrell army to the Holy Sept to rescue the Queen. Apparently, the Sparrow told Tommen in their discussion last week that he means to send the Queen before the people to confess her crimes. Cersei and Olenna agree that cannot happen, creating this uneasy, but necessary truce between the two of them.

Episode 4 Small Council sort of

A hybrid small council meets to discuss what to do about the High Sparrow and Margaery.

The Iron Islands

You thought the Stark reunion was touching? Let’s not forget the Greyjoys reunited as well this week. Ok, so it wasn’t the same, but it did continue the redemption arc the former man named Reek is on. Theon is back in the Iron Islands, just lacking the confidence he had last time he was sent there by Robb. Remember when Yara (Theon’s sister) went to Winterfell to save her brother only to have him refuse to go with her? Well she sure didn’t forget. And she thinks Theon is only here to claim the Iron Chair for himself. But this weakened Theon wants no part of the Iron Chair. Instead, he wants to help his sister claim it. The Kingsmoot is coming next week!!!!

Episode 4 Yara and Theon

Yara and Theon’s reunion did not produce the same warm fuzzies the Stark version did. But it did produce an alliance nonetheless.

Winterfell

Ramsey is sadistic and twisted, but he’s not stupid. And tonight’s another example of this. When Osha first returned to Winterfell last week, I assumed she would be a major threat to Ramsey from the inside much like she was to Theon. But Ramsey understood this as well. As Osha reached for a knife, Ramsey stabbed her in the throat. I hated to see it happen, but this absolutely was the best strategic move for the Bolton bastard.

We also get another week of “Have we mentioned Ramsey’s a sick, demented freak?” as he eats his apple, cutting it with the same knife that he just stabbed Osha with (and no, the blood was not cleaned off). Yes, Ramsey literally just drank the blood of his fallen enemy.

Vaes Dothrak

Daario and Jorah arrive at the home city of the Dothraki. Using his extensive knowledge of their customs, Jorah tells Daario to leave their weapons here (because that would be some insult to the savages that have sex in the middle of the streets and kill each other at weddings).

The two men take advantage of the darkness (and the Dothraki are partaking in the first of those rituals I mentioned in the previous paragraph). But they do run into opposition that Daario takes out with a knife he snuck in. They find Dany going for a walk and are ready to try and sneak her out of here. But she believes they would never get out of Vaes Dothrak alive and the Mother of Dragons has another plan.

Episode 4 Jorah and Daario

Daario and Jorah looking out over Vaes Dothrak

She’s brought before the Khal’s, where they discuss what to do with Daenarys. Khal Mogo (who seems to be the leader of this bunch) says her place is in that temple (Dosh Khaleen or something like that. As we know now, that name’s really not important anymore) with the other former Khals. But the slavers in Slaver’s Bay are willing to trade 10,000 horses to have the Breaker of Chains (look at me using all Dany’s names) in their possession.

Dany before the Khal's before she burns them alive

Dany before the Khals before she burned them alive.

Dany changes the subject, lecturing the Khal’s on how her man Drogo wanted to conquer the world and everything they want is small potatoes in comparison. Khal Mogo doesn’t take kindly to this insult of their manhood and says they’re all going to take turns sexually with her now. But then, Dany puts her hand on a pot of fire and feels nothing. Remember back in Season one all the signs that Daenarys was immune to fire? That is brought back into focus here as Dany shoves over the pots of fire that were lighting the room. The Khals run to the doors to avoid the flames and try to escape. But the doors have been locked, leaving them no way out.

The burning temple gets the attention of the Dothraki, who come over to see a nude Daenarys, untouched by the fire stepping out as the Khal’s burn alive. The Dothraki, Daario, and Jorah all bow to the queen. No character needed a moment like this more than Daenarys. Now, lets see how she follows up on it.

Of Note

-I think tonight showed how a Daenarys/Tryion alliance could be the perfect partnership to succeed in Westeros. Dany is the one people will follow, while Tyrion is the diplomat who could work on deals when burning an entire room of Khals is not appropriate

Character Callback/Bronze Yohn Royce: Bronze Yohn is one of the main nobles in the Vale. His family fought with the Arryns for control of the Vale centuries before. His son was one of the members of the Night’s Watch who was killed by Whitewalkers in the show’s very first scene.

Character Callback/Robyn Arryn: He sucked on his mom’s tits for most of his adolescence. But now, the young Lord of the Vale is a pawn in Baelish’s game in Westeros. We last left him in the training of Bronze Yohn. But what we saw this week seems to show that training has done little for the Lord of the Vale.

-“A knife wound would raise suspicion you say? Let’s just beat him over the head with a stone so they don’t notice the knife wound.” A nice touch by Daario the completely worked in keeping his crime of bringing a knife into Vaes Dothrak secret.

-When Tywin told Tommen “A good king listens to his advisors,” I don’t think he realized how literal Tommen would take it. This week, Pycelle and Cersei both took turns telling the king what to do. Add their names to the long list of people who lecture the king from week to week.

-Did anybody else have a bad feeling when Osha reached for that knife? It was way too soon for a potential Ramsey assassination to happen, sealing the former Wildlings fate.

-Daario now knows Jorah has greyscale. I’m curious how his knowledge of this in the future will be used by the show.

-Nice touch at the awkward dinner at the Wall with Tormund checking out Brienne. Of course a man who brags about having sex with a bear would be interested in Brienne of Tarth.

Episode 4 Tormund eyeing Brienne

“Hey good looking. I made love to a bear once.”

-So here’s the current sides that we have for the battle in the North:

Jon Snow                                                    Ramsey Bolton                                                                                                                   Wildlings                                                      Karstarks                                                                                                                              The Vale                                                        Umbers

Questions

-How will the show get Daenarys back to Meereen with the Dothraki and keep it interesting? What will her response be to Tyrion’s deal? And is Drogon returning to the Mother of Dragons anytime soon?

-Who else will be joining the Battle of the Bastards in the North?

-Will the Lannisters and Tyrells successfully get Margaery out of the Holy Sept? Or will she be made to confess?

-How will Ser Davos respond once he finds out Melisandre had Shireen burned?

Next week, we’ve got a Kingsmoot, a new red priestess, Sansa confronting Baelish, a potentially awesome vision seen by Bran, and the return of the Whitewalkers!!! See you next week.

Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 3 Review: Oathbreaker

When I first saw that the title to episode 3 of this season was going to be “Oathbreaker,” I assumed Brienne would be a key cog in the narrative. Brienne has a sword named “Oathkeeper,” yet her allegiances (those she has been fiercely loyal to all of them) have changed more than any other character in the show (oh the irony if they would’ve spotlighted that).

But Sansa and her protector did not even make an appearance last night. Instead, we get “Oathbreakers” in every other location of the show. Jon’s killers are oathbreakers and they received their comeuppance tonight. Jon himself is an oathbreaker for ending his time as Lord Commander (well maybe not, but we’ll discuss that later) and for defying death (I would say being stabbed multiple times in the chest constitutes an oath with the flesh that you should not be walking around living anymore).

And “Oathbreakers” were not limited to the Wall. In the North, Ramsey (the ultimate “Oathbreaker”) received a pledge from the Umbers, who were breaking an oath they swore to the Starks. Sam swore he would take Gilly to Oldtowne, but he informs Gilly of his real plans to leave her with his family. Tommen vowed last week that he would get some balls, but instead he breaks that vow by getting lured into another lecture and changing nothing. Daenarys wasn’t supposed to go out into the world after her Khal died (Even though I don’t think anyone actually told her that. To which the Dothraki would just respond with “Well, it is known.”) and now must wait for the living Khals to decide what to do with her. Even Bran in his flashbacks witnesses his honorable father breaking an Oath of sorts (well, not really an oath he made, just that the story he always heard about his father was either exaggerated or a downright lie).

Season six has been about the changing of allegiances and the redrawing of lines as old familiar players in the game are replaced by those who’ve been waiting in the wings. Replacing that old guard requires some betraying of old oaths.

We can also count on (at least so far) Season Six episodes starting and ending at the Wall. So I will start on the Narrow Sea (I think), where of course, Sam is struggling with seasickness.

The Narrow Sea

Sam is like that kid in school who has an allergy to everything. I wonder how much puking he did to get to Castle Black in the first place before he gained all this courage he has now over the last five seasons.

Episode 3 Sam and Gilly

Gilly brings a bucket to help Sam deal with the open sea. I’m sure she has an epipen somewhere as well.

But Sam is also nervous about the news he must break to Gilly: she’s not going with him to Oldtown. He’s going to train to be a maester and the Citadel (where he will be training) will have no place for her and little Sam. He means to take her to Horn Hill to stay with his family while he trains. It’s a bummer Sam is leaving Gilly again, but this plan is much more sound than the one he concocted in season four when he left Gilly at a brothel for her “safety.”

Flashback: The Tower of Joy

This is a scene book readers have been anxiously anticipating. The location is in the Mountains of Dorne and it happens sometime after Robert Baratheon took the throne. The event that started the whole rebellion was Rhaegar Targaryen (Dany’s brother, whose been mentioned in the show, but never seen) “kidnapping” Lyanna Stark (Ned’s sister who we saw as a child last week) and taking her to this tower.

Ned has come to get her back but standing in his way is Arthur Dayne. He was on the King’s Guard at the time and had been instructed by Rhaegar to guard that tower. The reception to this scene from book readers has been mixed. But I think you have to give the show credit for making “The Sword of the Morning” (Dayne’s nickname that gets passed down through his house) a real bad ass. Stark and five others fight Dayne and a second knight. The other knight with Dayne gets taken out quickly leaving Dayne to fight them off himself. Wielding two swords (don’t worry book readers, we will address that later), Dayne takes out all of Starks’ men, leaving him and Ned one on one. Bran is shocked how much better Sir Arthur is than his father. He always heard the story of his father beating “The Sword of the Morning,” so this is eye-opening for him. Dayne disarms Ned and is ready to kill him. But just before he’s about to strike Ned down, Howland Reed (who was knocked down earlier and is the father of Jojen and Meera, the kids who’ve traveled and one is still traveling with Bran) gets up and stabs him in the back, killing the great knight.

Episode 3 Arthur Dayne

Sir Arthur Dayne standing guard at the Tower of Joy.

A woman screams from the tower and Ned begins to head that way. But the Three-Eyed Raven pisses us all off saying it’s time to go. Thanks, Captain Killjoy!!!! Bran is as upset as we are, and the man in the tree’s reasons don’t reassure him or us. I mean, they are ridiculously vague. And by vague, I mean the most vague answer in the history of television. Apparently, Bran has a job and that job requires learning “everything.” Whatever Captain Killjoy. But you better let us….I mean Bran see what happened in that tower next week!!!

Vaes Dothrak

Time for this week’s segment of “Killing time with Daenarys.” This time, it’s in a temple on the plains of Vaes Dothrak. Of course, the mother of dragons is familiar with this locale having spent all of season one there. But one perk to being a former Khaleesi when compared to a current one is your boobs aren’t shown on camera. They strip down Dany (though all we see is her back) and give her a generic robe to wear like the other former Khaleesi’s who live in this random temple. They discuss how they once thought they would take over the world with their Khal only to end up here. And apparently, Daenarys broke the rules by seeing the world after Drogo died. So her fate is still up in the air. Hopefully, Jorah and Daario will get there next week and get her out of there so we can get Dany out of another time wasting story line.

Episode 3 Dany

When she’s not flying on dragons, Daenarys, much like her story, is wondering around aimlessly.

Meereen

Cue the Law and Order theme music:

Varys, who has a prostitute in his interrogation room. You might recognize her from last season’s first episode, when she betrayed an Unsullied to the Sons of the Harpy. Varys wants to find out whose funding the Harpies (those guys in the gold masks from last season) and threatens to kill her, leaving her son an orphan.  The threats work as Vana (I think that’s what her name was) reveals the slave masters of Astapor, Yunkai, and Volantis are behind it. Wow, that really narrows it down.

Episode 3 Varys interrogation

Varys interrogates Vana, offering her safe passage to Pentos if she cooperates.

Varys reveals his info to Tyrion, who instructs Varys to get his little birds on the job of…well, now that we know who his little birds are, I’m not exactly sure what they are going to do.

While waiting for Varys to finish his work, Tyrion was trying to have a conversation with Grey Worm and Missandei to pass the time. I am enjoying Tyrion’s humor again this season. Seeing him try to talk with Dany’s most loyal servants was hysterical. Even though it served no point but to be funny, I am glad to see the wit from the Halfman that’s been largely missing the last two seasons.

Episode 3 Tyrion

Tyrion trying to have conversation while waiting on Varys to finish his work.

King’s Landing

Speaking of those little birds, we learn their identity this week: orphans. Peasant children who beg in the streets are what Varys uses to get his information. And it truly is brilliant. No one notices beggar children when they have conversations. They just assume the kids aren’t listening. But with Varys gone, the little birds need a new director of operations. Enter Qyburn, the creator of Frankenmountain, who offers them sweets if they will work for him.

Episode 3 Qyburn and Kids

Qyburn speaking with Varys “little birds.”

This week’s other scenes in King’s Landing show two very clear factions in the Red Keep. On one side, Jamie and Cersei are with Qyburn and Robert the Strong. On the other side are Kevan Lannister (the hand of the king), Mace Tyrell, Grand Maester Pycelle, and Olenna Tyrell. Kevan and Cersei started feuding last season when he turned down his current post when Cersei offered it. And the feud continues this week, when Kevan incorporated school cafeteria politics. “Oh you can meet with us, but we don’t have to meet with you,” says Tywin’s brother as he and his clique get up and leave. Cersei also wants the “little birds” Qyburn has enlisted to go to all corners of Westeros and get any information they can.

Episode 3 Cersei, Jamie and Robert the Strong

Jamie, Cersei, and Robert the Strong approach the Small Council chambers.

Oh, poor King Tommen. He’s going to get tough. And he really means it this time. Except, once again, he’s hesitant to use force as the High Sparrow coerces Tommen into yet another lecture for the young king. The Sparrow informs Tommen that Cersei still must face trial for her crimes and Tommen wonders how the end of last season wasn’t enough. And I have to agree with him. But walking naked through the streets while peasants beat the crap out of you isn’t enough for Cersei to atone for her sins according to the Pious Fanatic.

Episode 3 TOmmen and the High Sparrow

“I will use these armed men behind me. I promise I will. I’M SERIOUS THIS TIME OLD MAN!!!!

Braavos

Same story, new location for Arya this week as she continues to get blind beatings from the Waif, just inside the House of Black and White instead of out on the street. But as she goes over her previous life and accepts that she truly is no one, something miraculous happens. Arya starts striking back. And I was excited to see this not just for Arya, but to see that teacher’s pet get hers. The Waif is like a bully from school who was in good standing with the teachers, so it’s like sanctioned bullying. But Arya finally comes out on top, much to the displeasure of the Waif.

Episode 3 Arya

Arya learning to fight blind and earning her sight back tonight.

Jaqen is so impressed that he gives Arya the chance to earn her sight back. What kind of assassin will Arya be now that she has paid her penance for disobeying the faceless men last season and truly is “no one?”

Winterfell

Ramsey has taken his place has Warden of the North and now must gain the allegiance of other Northern houses. The Karstarks joined him last week and this week it’s the Umbers (a very loyal house to the Starks at the start of the War of Five Kings) who come to bend the knee (well not that, but they are on Ramsey’s side).

The man seeing Ramsey is The Smalljon Umber. His father, the Greatjon, was in season one, but has apparently died, leaving the Smalljon head of the house. He hated Roose Bolton for the Red Wedding. But he also doesn’t like Jon Snow for letting Wildlings past the Wall. So here he is pledging allegiance to Ramsey. But he won’t bend the knee. Instead, he offers a gift: Rickon Stark!!!! Missing since season three when Bran sent Rickon to stay with the Stark’s “loyal” bannermen, Rickon reappears here as a prisoner and key piece to Ramsey’s hold on the North. Also reappearing is Osha, the Wildling traveling with Rickon. When Ramsey request proof this is Rickon, the Smalljon drops a severed direwolf head. That would be Shaggydog, Rickon’s direwolf. Ramsey is growing his alliances at a very fast rate. Who will be left to oppose his growing stronghold in the North?

The Wall

We conclude where the show (once again) started and ended this week. Jon is awake and alive, but he’s not happy. Even though he’s back in the land of the living, Jon must deal with the failure that death allowed him to ignore. Davos and Melisandre give him some encouraging words (including an acknowledgement by Mel that she was wrong about Stannis, but that Jon was the one that was promised). That’s at least enough to get Jon to walk outside to see the shocked faces of the Night’s Watch and the Wildlings. Tormund is the only one who can get a smile out of Jon this week, joking about the size of his pecker being proof that he’s not a god.

Episode 3 Thromund and Jon

“You always know how to cheer a guy up when he comes back from the dead, Tormund.”

But Jon does not stay happy long. Clearly, Jon doesn’t feel like he deserves to return. He’s so upset with his “failure” and his current state that Jon only commits one more act as Lord Commmader: execute his betrayers.

Episode 3 executions

Jon’s betrayers await their fate.

One of the strengths of this show is it’s ability to draw sympathy for characters we otherwise hate. We gain this sympathy from the final words of Jon’s betrayers. Allister Thorne says he still thinks what he did was right. And while we’ve been conditioned to hate Thorne, he does have a point. He’s never seen the Whitewalkers, so the Wildlings are the primary threat to Westeros in his eyes. It doesn’t make what he did to Jon right, but his thinking is understandable.

Even more justifiable is Olly. Olly watched these people looking on at his execution raid his village and kill everyone in it. He also doesn’t know of a greater threat and Jon can’t look at his one time steward and the boy who saved his life without shedding tears. But Jon does his duty and cuts the rope, hanging all four men (not sure what happened to all the other guys that stabbed him, but this was more thematic than getting fifteen sets of last words would’ve been).

After the job is done, Jon hands Edd his coat, saying his watch has ended and walks away. Now, the Nights Watch vows are until death. And technically, Jon has died. So he may be justified here. But where does he, the Nights Watch, and the Wildlings go from here if Jon means to leave his post?

Of Note:

Character Callback: The Umbers/ The Greatjon was one of Robb’s most loyal followers back in season one. He threatened boy king in Winterfell only to have his fingers cut off by Robb’s wolf, Grey Wind. After that, he apparently followed Robb until the end. Even though we haven’t seen him since that first season, we are left to assume he died with Robb’s other forces fighting the War of Five Kings or at the Red Wedding.

-In the text, The Greatjon is currently held captive at the Twins while the Smalljon was killed at the Red Wedding.

Character Callback: Osha and Rickon/Rickon is the youngest and quietest of the Starks. He escaped Winterfell with his brother, Osha, the Reeds, and Hodor, back in Season 2. As I said earlier, Bran sent Rickon and Osha to the Umbers to keep them safe while he continued his track to the Three-Eyed Raven.

-I know Ramsey thinks he has a new girl to play games with in Osha. But something tells me Osha will be more than he is bargaining for (too bad for him Theon’s not around to warn him about the Wildling).

Location Callback: Astapor, Yunkai, and Volantis/ The first two are the first two cities Daenarys conquered, both in season three. She left ruling councils in charge to maintain the former slave cities as free. But both are back under control of the slave masters, who’ve reinstituted slavery. Varys and Tyrion walked through Volantis last season and Tyrion was captured by Jorah there. Dany never freed it, but business was hurt for the city with more slaves than any other in the world by Dany’s previous conquerings.

-“You’re not the queen. You have to be married to the king to be queen. But given your family situation, I can see why it’s confusing.”

Olenna Tyrell, given only one line, steals the show yet again. I’m so glad we have the Queen of Thorns back.

-In the books, Arthur Dayne was also famous for fighting with Dawn, the famous sword of House Dayne. I was a little disappointed that was not the sword he used here. But it was still impressive seeing him handle the duel swords and it makes more sense for him to be using two swords if he’s going to fight through six guys by himself (yes, there was another guy, but he was out pretty quickly).

Questions

-What is next for Jon and the men at the Wall? What will it take to get Jon’s heart back in the game?

-Whose next to join Ramsey in in his alliance to keep control of the North?

-A whole bunch of threats and words in King’s Landing with little to no action. When is the powder keg that is King’s Landing going to finally blow up?

-Whose Arya’s first kill going to be now that she’s back in the good graces of The Faceless Men?

-What door are Sansa and Brienne walking into next week? And what is Baelish up to now that he’s returning next week?

-How does Cersei and Olenna plan on getting Margaery out of the Holy Sept? And is Cersei really going to work with the Tyrells?

-Will Tyrion try more conversation with Dany’s boring allies next week?

-I think I can guess, but what is Lyanna screaming about in that tower?

Not as good as last week, but “Oathbreaker” did keep  most of last week’s big reveals moving forward in a (mostly) positive direction. See you next week.

 

 

Game of Thrones Season Six, Episode 2 Recap: Home

The worst kept secret in the history of television is now confirmed. The deader than dead Jon Snow is alive again, thanks to whatever the hell it was Melisandre did to bring him back. We all knew it was going to happen. You don’t center your marketing around a character whose “deader than dead.” You also don’t center the narrative around the dead body for two whole episodes if you don’t intend on bringing him back. I mean, you don’t see the body of Stannis lying around anywhere.

But because of all the leaks and all the sad attempts to proclaim that “No, he’s not coming back,” the moment of resurrection was a bit anti-climatic. I know Melisandre was going through a crisis of confidence (a major theme throughout the episode), but could she not have done something with more theatrics other than burning hair? They tried to build suspense with everyone leaving the room dejected before the eyes opened. But it just seemed like something was missing from the moment. And what was missing was the suspense: we all knew he was coming back. The only question was how.

Despite my problems with some of the presentation, I still cheered when Jon’s eyes opened and am glad the story at the Wall will go on with him back in the fold. Because without him, there’s just not much there.

And Jon’s resurrection was not the only major moment in this jam packed second episode. Ramsey just took over the North with the killing of his family. Tyrion unchained the dragons. Hodor talked!!!! So what if it was just a flashback Hodor. He actually knew more than one word!!! And Euron Greyjoy appeared on the scene taking out his big brother, leaving the Iron Chair (not to be confused with the Iron Throne) up for debate in the Iron Islands Caucus.

Let’s get things started beyond the Wall, where Bran is seeing a vision of a happier time in Winterfell.

Beyond the Wall

After taking a season five hiatus, Bran is back!!! And our first scene tonight gives us a chance to see just what the suddenly 6’8 crippled Stark has been up to.

The Three-Eyed Raven (the old man that hangs out in that tree) has been showing Bran visions of the past. Tonight’s vision goes back to Winterfell, when his father was a young boy training a younger Benjin (remember him disappearing all the way back in the first season).

But the two most important parts of this dream are the appearances of Lyanna Stark and a young stable boy named Willis. Lyanna is Ned’s sister and she’s been mentioned many times before during the series. She was a critical character to the events preceding Game of Thrones and I suspect we will be seeing many more visions involving Lyanna over the course of the season.

bran and the three eyed raven

The Three Eyed Raven awakening Bran from his vision of Winterfell from long ago.

And Willis is a young, fluent Hodor. He actually says more than one word as the young Starks try to get him to join their sword play. But Old Nan (more on her later) will have none of it, dragging him back inside to the stables.

Bran is not happy when we he is awoken from this dream. But the old treehanger warns him of the danger of spending too much time in visions.

We also see Meera for the first time since her brother died back in Season Four and she’s bored. It’s pretty understandable. I imagine her day is a lot of sitting in a cave while Bran gets all the attention. But the rebellious teen version of a child of the forest tells Meera that Bran really needs her, for a war is coming.

Meera Reed

Meera Reed needs something to do as Bran lives in vision world.

King’s Landing

Remember that guy who stepped out in front of Cersei during her Walk of Shame? Well, of course a guy willing to do that would be bragging about it. And Robert the Strong (that’s the zombie version of the Mountain now protecting Cersei) found him and shoved his face up against a wall, killing him instantly. I do hope we get many more brutal deaths from Robert the Strong later this season.

As it turns out, today is the funeral of Myrcella Baratheon. Mild King Tommen and Jamie are standing over the body.  Tommen still has a major crisis of confidence going, but at least his fath…I mean uncle Jamie is there to help. As they are discussing Tommen’s self-esteem, the High Sparrow walks in and interacts with Jamie for the first time. I expect these two to go back and forth for much of this season as Jamie threatens to shed blood in the Holy Sept. The Sparrow responds with a veiled threat as large numbers of faith militant come out the shadows, declaring that all these lowborn who’ve joined his cause could “overthrow an empire.”

Jamie and the High Sparrow

Jamie and the High Sparrow shooting the breeze as they discuss how they can destroy each other.

Cersei was not allowed to be at the funeral. I’m not certain of Tommen’s reasons for that. Maybe he was ashamed at what his inaction allowed to happen to her. But Tommen later sees his mother and apologizes, saying he should’ve done something to prevent it all. As it all turns out, Cersei got what she wanted. I doubt she expected a nude walk through the streets of King’s Landing would be necessary, but Tommen wants her to help him take back control of the kingdom. Did Joffrey ever once ask anybody for help in regards to anything?

Meereen

Little did we know that Game of Thrones was connected to the Dreamworks Universe as “How to Train Your Dragon 3” will be taking place during Season Six. The cities Dany had previously taken over have gone back to slavers and we saw the fleet of ships burning last week.  So Tyrion is left with a very desperate measure, though he doesn’t present it as such.

He goes down into the dungeons to see the two remaining chained up dragons. Neither has eaten since their mother left and Tyrion knows the reign of a “Dragon Queen” cannot continue without dragons. He tells Missandei that dragons are smart and they know the difference between friend and foe. He talks to them kindly before unchaining them, and the two fly away (though not outside, but within the pit they are being held). Tyrion tells Varys “Next time I have an idea like that, punch me in the face.” I wonder what Tyrion’s second lesson will be for his new dragon friends.

Tyrion Dragons 3

Tyrion becoming friends with the dragons.

Braavos

Now, I really thought this would go on longer. I expected at least 3 or 4 episodes of Arya fighting blind in the streets and learning to listen to conversations from people who don’t know she’s there. But apparently, after just two short fighting segments, Arya has earned he way back into the House of Black and White. And according to Jaqen, she’s getting her sight back and everything else as he tells Arya, “A girl isn’t a beggar anymore.” So from now on, Arya is “A girl who has no name.” We will see how long she can stay in the good graces of The Faceless Men.

Arya fighting blind episode 2

Arya fighting blind, unaware the Waif is no longer fighting her.

 

Winterfell

We have a new Warden of the North!!! Not that I’m excited about Ramsey and his sadistic urges having nothing to keep him in check, but I was truly shocked when he plunged that knife into his father’s heart. From all appearances, this seems to have been the plan all along. The other major figure in the room, Harald Karstark, did not bat an eye when Ramsey plunged the knife in. Perfect build up led to a near perfect execution as the moment Roose’s son (an event that had been foreshadowed for awhile now) is born, Ramsey’s plan goes into motion.

Ramsey Kills Roose

Ramsey stands over the body of his dying father as Harald Karstark looks on.

But killing Roose was not the sickest act Ramsey committed this evening. That would be the feeding of Walda Frey and her child to the dogs. Ramsey is like a monster heel wrestler doing everything he possibly can to get the crowd to just despise him so they really cheer on the hero when he or she appears to stop him. What heroes could be coming to take the North back from Ramsey?

The North

One possibility (and I don’t think it’s an accident that this scene followed the changing of the guard in Winterfell) is Sansa. Though at the moment, she doesn’t have her sights on Winterfell. She wants to go to the Wall where her brother Jon can help her. But Theon worries that Jon will punish him for all he’s done. I think this is a wise move by Theon and Brienne doesn’t need his help protecting Sansa. The oldest Stark embraces Theon, thanking him for how he helped her, completing a big part of Theon’s redemption arc. Now, Theon means to go home.

Theon and Sansa

Sansa thanking Theon for his help in getting her out of Winterfell.

The Iron Islands

And speaking of Theon’s home (loved how the scenes connected in last night’s episode), we head to the Iron Islands where Balon (who we haven’t seen since season 3) is having a heated discussion with Yara, who wants him to stop the invasions because the Ironborn can’t hold any of the places they’ve conquered. But Balon is stubborn and insists she and everyone else will do what he says.

What’s the first thing you do after having a heated argument with your daughter? Take a walk across a rickety bridge in the middle of a storm, of course. But to Balon’s surprise, a hooded figure greets him on the other side. The hooded figure is Euron Greyjoy, Balon’s brother, and he’s come to take Balon’s place on the Iron Chair. It can be inferred from their conversation that Euron has been living the lifestyle of a pirate, but has now come home. And when Balon tries to stab him, Euron shakes the bridge, causing Balon to plunge to his death.

The next day, Yara swears she will seek out the man who did this. She also thinks she should sit on the Iron Chair in place of her father. But the drowned man (a priest for the drowned god) presiding over Balon’s funeral says there must be a Kingsmoot to determine who will sit the Iron Chair. Yara will be a candidate of course. But I suspect the Greyjoy we met tonight will be appearing there as well.

The Wall

For the second straight week, the Wall features our signature moment. And ironically, Allister Thorne (whose lack of honor started this whole mess) allowed honor to trip up his plans. If Thorne and his men would’ve just knocked down the door last week, they might’ve taken out all the Snow sympathizers. But instead, he gave them the chance to surrender and walk away, giving Dolorous Edd the chance to arrive with the Wildlings (and most importantly, the giant Wun Wun!!!). Thorne demands the men of the Night’s Watch attack, but they are hesitant. Then a random archer shoots Wun Wun with an arrow. That arrow to Wun Wun would be like a mosquito bite to us normal sized folks. The giant grabs the man and pounds him brutally into a wall (that’s two brutal smash deaths in one episode!!!). The rest of the men of the Night’s Watch quickly and smartly put down their swords. Thorne and the rest of Jon’s stabbers are put into cells and Thormund says he’ll get the fire ready to burn Jon’s body.

Allister Season 6

Allister Thorne, along with Olly and the rest of Jon’s betrayers, are thrown into cells.

But Davos hasn’t given up on the Lord Commander just yet. He goes to see Melisandre, who for the first time, appears cold as she sits curled up in a blanket around the fire. Melisandre is another character whose confidence has been shaken recently. It’s interesting to see how everyone responds to that crisis. Tommen goes to his mommy, Ramsey (whose lack of confidence came from his concern that he would be usurped by his new baby brother) has his family killed, and Melisandre sits and mopes. Davos, however, goes over everything he’s seen Melisandre do and is insistent she can do something to help.

So Melisandre gives it a shot. I’m not really sure how all these different things she’s doing actually helped Jon. And initially, it didn’t appear like they did. After everyone walks out of the room and the door is closed, Ghost stirs. And of course, Ghost wouldn’t wake up from his direwolf slumber for just anything. Jon’s eyes open an he’s breathing heavily. Jon Snow is alive again!!!!

Jon Snow awakes

Jon Snow awakening from his death bed at the end of last night’s episode.

Of Note

-I liked that Olly, when everyone else of the Night’s Watch put down their swords, was still willing to charge at the Wildlings for what they did to his family. Hate him for betraying Jon all you want, but Olly’s hatred of the Wildlings is more than understandable.

Character Callback/The Greyjoys: Balon Greyjoy had not been a major part of the story since season 2. That’s when Balon sent Theon to raid fishing villages in the North (invading Winterfell was Theon’s, not Balon’s, idea) And the Lord of the Iron Islands had only made one appearance outside of Season 2: discussing with Yara his unwillingness to help his son.

-Now, Balon’s death completes the “leach prophecy” from back in Season 3, when Stannis said three names (Joffrey, Robb, Balon) as he threw leaches into a bowl.

-The Kingsmoot referenced in this episode is how the Iron Born determine who will rule the Iron Islands. They all meet in one room and candidates make their case. The meeting goes until one candidate can get the entire room ( or a very large majority of it) to stand behind him (or her if it’s Yara, though a female has never led the Iron Born).

-The rickety bridge Balon fell from was a nice reference to how he died in the books. The only difference is in the text, we don’t know if it was an accident or if he had assistance.

Character Callback/The Karstarks: Rikard Karstark was one of the main northern lords who joined up with Rob back in Season 2. He wanted revenge on Jamie Lannister for killing two of his sons. So when Catelyn Stark freed the Kingslayer, Lord Karstark got desperate and killed two Lannister cousins in Robb’s custody. Robb had him beheaded for treason. As a result, the Karstark men abandoned Robb, forcing him to go back to Walder Frey for help. And we all know how that turned out…

-Harald Karstark makes a very natural ally to Ramsey for holding the North considering the Karstark’s previous issues with the Stark’s.

Harald Karstark

Harald Karstark, the main ally of Ramsey Bolton, making his first appearance tonight.

-Ramsey also mentioned the Umbers and Manderlys (two more northern houses) as allies to the Bolton’s. I’ll discuss these family names in the future if/when they come up again.

-The woman who dragged Willis/Hodor away in the vision was Old Nan. She appeared in Season One. She was a nurse at Winterfell and also told the Stark children many stories. The actress who played her, Margaret John, died before season two, and her character was not recast.

-Good to see some witty quotes from Tyrion again: “That’s what I do. I drink and I know things.”

Questions

-What does it all mean for the wall now that Jon Snow is back from the dead?

-Will Sam and Gilly be appearing for the first time next week?

-Who will strike the next blow in the impending battle between the Lannisters and the High Sparrow?

-What vision will we be seeing next from Bran?

-What will happen to those who betrayed Jon Snow at the Wall?

-What role will Theon play in the politics of the Iron Islands when he arrives home?

-And can we get the Sand Snakes and Ellaria in a boat and sink it so they don’t show up and wreck all the great story lines going right now?

Wow, that was a lot to write about. Though numerous locations were visited, everything that happened in those places was significant. Let’s hope season six can keep the standard going that episode 2 has set for it.

Game of Thrones Season Six, Episode 1: The Red Woman

While watching the scenes from the wall on last night’s season premiere episode of Game of Thrones, I thought of this “Weekend Update” bit from the early days of Saturday Night Live:

Just replace “Francisco Franco” with “Jon Snow,” and you have the premiere’s message to its viewers: Jon Snow is still dead. He’s “deader than dead” as show creators insisted and after the first hour of season six, he’s still a corpse, though he does have some very protective pall bearers for a guy who supposedly isn’t coming back.

But alas, we all must wait at least one more week to find out if that body breaths again while Dolorous Edd plays Lassie and gets help or the suddenly saggy red priestess decides if she can intervene.

The Night’s Watch wasn’t the only group coping with loss of life. Jamie returned with Myrcella’s body and Ramsey looked over the dead Myranda, who he lovingly fed to the dogs when he was done mourning.

In fact, the general theme of tonight’s episode seemed to be dealing with “loss” in many ways, not just the loss of life. We got our first glimpse of Arya dealing with the loss of sight. Ramsey and Roose are dealing with the loss of their two most valuable captives. Tyrion and Varys are dealing with the loss of Daenarys and the control she had on a city that is in serious turmoil.

And how about our first deaths of the season coming from that disaster of narrative storytelling that is Dorne (I’ll be shaking my head and groaning as I write about that entire sad section of the show).

I will start my recap of “The Red Woman” in the North (I know everything started at the Wall, but I’m going to save that for last), where Ramsey is receiving more “father of the year” type motivation from Roose.

Winterfell/The North

For one brief moment, did anybody else feel sympathy for Ramsey Bolton? I may be the only one, but he seemed to have a real connection (even though it was a sadistic connection, they seemed to genuinely care for each other) with Myranda, the girl Theon shoved off the wall last year and killed to save Sansa. I want to emphasize “brief” describing that moment as Ramsey told the Maester responsible for the body to “feed it to the dogs.” Now there’s the callous, cold-blooded bastard we all love to hate.

Speaking of cold-blooded, the soft spoken Roose Bolton “praises” his son for having defeated Stannis at the end of last season. But every compliment is back handed when Roose addresses Ramsey as he turns the conversation to the escape of Sansa and Theon. Daddy blames Ramsey for the loss of two prisoners that gave the Bolton’s a claim to the Iron Islands and the North.

Roose addressing Ramsey revised

Roose Bolton addressing his son Ramsey about the importance of Sansa Stark.

Roose is right, of course. But father Bolton plays his own games with Ramsey. He’s been doing this with his son ever since we first saw them interact in season four. If Roose needs his ruthless bastard to get in line, he drops a passive aggressive hint that he hopes Walda Frey (Roose’s wife) has a boy so he can be done with Ramsey, replacing him with a legitimate son.

Meanwhile, Theon (I won’t be calling him Reek anymore) and Sansa are running from a Bolton search party, walking through frigid rivers and snowy forests. Though they are eventually run down, Brienne and Pod appear and kill the Bolton men, with Theon killing the last one. Brienne offers her services once again to Sansa, and this time she wisely accepts (though she needs Pod’s help remembering the proper words for accepting Brienne’s service. So Brienne has gone from serving Renly to Catelyn Stark to Jamie to Sansa. How many episodes of service will she give the oldest remaining Stark?

Brienne pledges her service to Sansa

Brienne pledging her services to Sansa.

King’s Landing

We didn’t spend a lot of time in the capital this week. But it was very important for Cersei, the recent participant in a “Walk of Shame” you might remember, to deal with the death of her daughter, Myrcella. I wondered when that happened if Jamie would take any blame from Cersei for their daughter’s death. But for at least one episode, they seemed unified in purpose. Cersei recalls the words the witch told her when she was a girl (you might remember the first scene of season five) and how Myrcella’s death further validates their accuracy. But Jamie vows to fight, regardless of what fortune tellers say.

Cersei sees Myrcella

Cersei seeing the lifeless body of Myrcella for the first time.

Back at the Holy Sept, Queen Margaery is still in her sack cloth receiving a “good cop, bad cop” routine from Septa Unella and the High Sparrow. They want her to confess so she can return to being queen, but Margaery insists she did nothing wrong and just wants to see her brother.

The Queen and the High Sparrow

The Queen and the High Sparrow

Meereen

I really hope for stronger work for the rest of the season from Tyrion and Varys, but tonight’s scene did not give me high hopes. Their conversation seemed to only serve one purpose: to show how terrible things are in Meereen after Dany’s departure last season. Varys does speak the language better and does have his “little birds” trying to find the man who is behind the “Sons of the Harpy.” But mostly, this scene is just to show the city Tyrion is now responsible for is burning (literally). I expect better from Tyrion in the coming weeks.

Tyrion and Varys

Tyrion and Varys discussing their situation in Meereen

Meanwhile, Daenary’s friend with benefits and forever friend zone are seeking out her trail. Jorah and Daario spot the giant circle of tracks where Dany was taken captive at the end of last season. Jorah discovers Dany’s ring laying in the middle, and knows she’s been taken by the Dothraki. And being that he spent the entire first season with them, he knows that could be a bad thing.

The Mother of Dragons begins this season as a captive, coming full circle from where she started the series as a prisoner to the Dothraki. Though as we will find out, this is a different Dothraki horde than the one Khal Drogo led. If they had known who she was (and that she could speak their language), they wouldn’t have openly talked about all the dirty things they wanted to do with her (or maybe they would have anyway, I mean these are Dothraki savages after all).

Dany before Moro

Daenarys before Khal Moro.

And it looks as if Khal Moro, the man leading this particular Khalasar, planned on making some “white haired, pale skinned” babies with Dany. But the “Mother of Dragons” tells him who she is, quoting her 3,000 names, changing Moro’s attitude when she says she was the wife of Khal Drogo. He cuts the ropes that were holding her captive, but says something about a temple where she must go because she’s the wife of a former Khal. So it only took Dany one five minute scene of the season premiere to get in the good graces of a Dothraki horde.

Dorne

I had really high hopes that last year’s disaster that was Dorne would rebound this season. The reason for my optimism was because I thought Doran Martell, the Prince of Dorne, would respond to Ellaria Sand’s betrayal poisoning of Myrcella and bring the Sand Snakes to heel.

Well, the disaster continues. We are only in Dorne for two minutes when Ellaria and Tyene (the third Sand Snake) stab Doran and Areo Hotah (Doran’s personal guard) to death after he receives word of Myrcella’s death. Ellaria tells Doran “you did nothing” when Elia and Oberyn (his siblings) died. Later, Doran’s son Trystane is on a boat when Obara stabs him in the back of the head. Now, why was Trystane on a different boat than his betrothed? And are Obara and Nymeria heading to King’s Landing or do they plan on turning that boat around?

Dorne

Doran talking to Ellaria before his death as Areo Hotah and Tyene Sand look on.

I don’t often get upset when the show makes changes from the book, but the Prince of Dorne (who in the text is pragmatic and calculating, only acting when he has the resources he needs to) is reduced to a weak cripple who made no impact on the series at all. It’s as if the show saw how bad Dorne was last season and wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. We’ll see if anything useful can be made of Ellaria and the Sand Snakes this season, but I have serious doubts about that.

Braavos

Arya has taken on new role for the faceless men, playing the part of a blind beggar. The goal of this is teach her to listen, since people don’t notice blind beggar’s, they are likely to have conversations around them that otherwise would be kept quiet. The Waif arrives and throws a stick at Arya, telling her to fight. Of course, Arya is brutally bad fighting blind with a stick (at least she is in episode one). She receives a bloody lip from the Waif as it looks like it’s going to be a very humbling season for our favorite little assassin.

Arya fighting blind

Arya and the Waif fighting in the streets.

The Wall

Our feature presentation of the evening begins right where season five left off: with Jon Snow’s body laying in the middle of the snow. Daavos and a number of men who were still loyal to Jon in the Night’s Watch approach the body and secure it, taking it to a room and locking the door. Dolorous Edd wants revenge and doesn’t care if he dies to get it, but Daavos has a more practical solution. He sends Edd to seek help (I have a pretty good guess as to who, but will have to wait to find that out).

Jon Snow's Pall Bearers Two

Daavos and men loyal to Jon Snow looking over his body.

Alister Thorne calls a meeting of all the men of the Night’s Watch to inform them of the murder of their Lord Commander. And though the hall is greatly divided, Thorne does take full responsibility. He says all they’ve been fighting for would’ve been destroyed and Jon been allowed to continue his practice of catering to the Wildlings. Keep in mind, Thorne has yet to see the Whitewalkers in all their glory.

Thorne later goes knocking on the door where the body of Jon Snow is being kept. He gives terms to Daavos, telling him they have until nightfall to surrender. Daavos doesn’t believe for a second any of them will survive if that door opens. But he does think Melisandre could be of service (talk about coming around to appreciating someone you previously despised), telling the men of the Night’s Watch guarding Snow’s body, “I’ve seen what she can do.”

ALlister Thorne

Thorne gives until nightfall to see the body turned over.

As for the Red Woman, it’s a real contrast now to see her having so many doubts. Melisandre has always been one of the most confident characters in the show, never appearing to doubt her action for even a second. But knowing she was wrong about Stannis has Melisandre showing self-doubt for the first time. And add Jon Snow’s death, a man she saw in the flames fighting at Winterfell, and the red priestess may want to find another career.

Of course, none of that was the center of Melisandre’s story this night. In the final scene, Melisandre disrobes for about the 100th time. She’s got a hot body and the producers are willing to find any excuse to show it on screen. But then Melisandre removes her necklace and those curves start to sag as an old woman who is likely hundreds of years old appears on screen and looks in the mirror, ready for bed. Feel free to keep that necklace on in the future, Melisandre.

Melisandre without the necklace

Melisandre without the necklace

Of Note

-I wondered at the end of last season why Ghost did not come to the aid of Jon Snow as he was being stabbed to death. We see him tonight locked up in his kennel, a nice job by the show tying up what would’ve been a really perplexing loose end. Yes, Ghost is a beast with some mystical power to sense danger, but he doesn’t have hands that can open locked doors.

-The decision to have Grynn and Pip die at the Wall Battle in season four created an issue tonight. With Sam off to be a Maester, Dolorous Edd was the only loyalist left to defend the body of the Lord Commander. They had to pull a couple of random bodies(men who I think of like the red shirts from Star Trek) from out of nowhere to give a sense that anybody at the Wall liked Jon. I understand the Wall battle needed some loss, but it hurt the narrative just a bit here.

-Allister Thorne mentioned that Bowen Marsh and Othell Yarwyck were the men who helped him mastermind Jon Snow’s murder. They are the first steward and first builder of the Night’s Watch. Marsh is the one who leads the attack in the books, but I think Thorne was the better choice for the show.

-Remember during the prophecy Cersei received as a girl that she was told she would become queen and have three kids, but her king would have 16. She was also told all three of her kids would die. Will Tommen make it through alive this season?

-A refresher on Doran’s siblings: I don’t think much is needed to remember Oberyn. But Elia was raped and murdered by the Mountain when the Lannisters sacked King’s Landing before Robert became king (“You raped her, you murdered her, you killed her children!!!”)

-Some may be surprised that the Dothraki did not recognize Daenarys right away being she was Khaleesi over a large hoard not that long ago. But there are numerous Dothraki hoards, not just one, that roam around led by Khal’s who showed the strength to lead. It was a better choice to have her run into one who didn’t see her use black magic that led to their Khal’s death.

-Is Daavos really so quick to forgive Melisandre? This is a woman whose decisions led the man he called king to ride to his death. Now, I don’t think Daavos knows about Shireen’s death yet. But he may just see the need at the moment as far greater than past grievences.

Questions

-Will Jon Snow come back to life next week or stay dead?

-Will Dolorious Edd return with the help he was sent to get?

-What’s in store for Dany in that temple?

-Can we please give Tyrion some witty banter next week?

-Will the remaining characters of Dorne be of any use the rest of this season?

Next week’s episode title is “Home.” We’ll see what that’s all about next week.