'Game of Thrones': Danaerys' bloodlust entertaining; Bran's 'Back to the Future' games significant
Spoiler alert: Do not read further if you have not watched Season 6, episode 6 of Game of Thrones.
Blood Of My Blood was not underwhelming, but it wasn't overwhelming either. It had the right amount of whelm in there. The various plots come together, but they don't advance enough for you to be baffled, amazed and excited for the next episode. Maybe, that is what you need in the middle of the season — things need to simmer before they get to boil.
In King's Landing, the powerful are not all that influential anymore. And they certainly aren't formidable. This season has built up the frustration of the puissant folks who inhabit the palace are feeling — their own are rotting in prison, the people of the city don't fear their rulers so much. Power in King's Landing is like sand — the harder you try to hold it, the more it gets out of your grip.
Jamie Lannister along with the Tyrells sets to stop the High Sparrow from issuing the 'Walk of Atonement' (remember Cersei's horrific experience?), but the High Sparrow bests him. In addition to this, Jamie is no longer the hand or a member of the council. Tommen banished Jamie from the city (and he must now re-take a Castle from Walder Frey - the chap responsible for The Red Wedding).
Sidebar: Tommen — my hatred for this chap keeps brewing every week. Right now, he is the most annoying character on this show; if Joffrey was vile, Tommen is just a soft goofy mess — an utter disappointment. I really wouldn't mind if the show-runners decide to get off with his head.
When Margaery Tyrell in episode four had a long conversation with the High Sparrow, it did signal that she might be giving into God's word; episode six confirms those fears. Now, a believer in the Church of the Seven, she atoned for her sins by converting Tommen.
The faith militancy is growing bigger and stronger — they have the power of the people with them and that can be dangerous i.e. dangerous to the establishment. Many empires have lost their power to the common folk. However, Margaery's move felt like a departure from what I thought she would do, a dampener as it maybe, it is entirely possible that Margaery is using this pretence as her 'get out of jail free' card. This will also help her control Tommen and by keeping up appearances of her full faith, she might get what she actually wants: Power — true and absolute. Think about it, freedom from her cell and acceptance of the faith not only gives her independence, she can also free herself from her mother-in-law, Cersei. It could be a long shot for Margaery, it could put her in an unfavourable condition.
In Braavos, Arya is bungling her chances of becoming one of the Faceless Men/Women. We have always known that Arya is noble, like her father. She is earnest, like her father. And this never bodes well for her. Given the task of murdering the actress, Arya's hesitation from the previous episode takes form. She doesn't kill the woman, instead rushes back to her hiding spot to procure 'Needle' — a sword gifted to her by her beloved half-brother Jon Snow.
Arya the assassin cannot truly detach herself from the Stark identity. When J'aqen insists that "the girl has no name" he is insisting that she let go of her past, her identity. A professional assassin must kill, without question, without the earthly restraints of morality. Arya's decision to not kill that woman stems from her nobility — a quality she values highly in humans, especially because she believes that her father (also her role model) Ned Stark was a noble man.
It has become clear now that Arya cannot forget her roots or her name. She cannot be the girl with no name. This is both exciting and disappointing: I was never really rooting for Arya to become a professional assassin, her vengeance is valuable and it shouldn't be contained by absurd rules of the House of Black and White. However, it was disappointing because clearly Arya spent an entire season (that's a few years in Game of Thrones standard time) trying to learn the art of changing faces, she was beaten black and blue and lost her eyesight — very harsh prices to pay for a skill. What happens to the skill now? Was that all a colossal waste of time? Or did Arya learn something? If she did, what are those skills?
Sidebar: If she hasn't learnt a thing, then she's an absolute idiot. Also, it's really not done to let J'aqen down.
Samwell finally gets to his parent's home in Horn Hill with Gilly and baby Sam. It is obvious that Sam's father hates him and then hates on Gilly for being a Wildling. Perhaps, one of the most pointless portion of the episode, the only good thing that came out of it was getting to see Gilly in something clean. The show runners dedicated quite a bit of screen-time to Gilly's validation of Sam's self-worth. Yawn. When will Sam kill another White Walker? Because till then, his screen-time should be slotted under 'absolutely unnecessary, use only if footage is lost'. And at the end of all that, all he does is steal his family's Valyrian sword. If I remember correctly, the old Game of Thrones would have gotten Sam to murder his father while he was pooping or some such.
One of the most interesting portions of the episode was the the Bran Stark arc, it began from where they had left off in the last (really heartbreaking) episode. As he is being dragged out of the cave, Bran is still seeing visions and this jump-cut heavy sequence is full of significant vignettes from the past — The Mad King (Aerys Targaeryn) is screaming, "Burn them all!" with a certain obsession in the intonation.
You also see Jamie Lannister stabbing Aerys in the back (an act which earned him disrepute as the betrayer and 'Kingslayer') but we also see that he does this to save the city (probably from Wildfire - the potent chemical weapon even Tyrion uses in the war). And then there is a shot of Jamie sitting on the Iron Throne (this is something Jamie told Brienne during their intimate bathing session in the previous season).
These visions are haphazard, mixed with visions of his father's bloody hands at the Tower of Joy and Bran's meeting with the Night's King. The timeline of these visions is confusing, there is no clear way to tell the future from the past, at one point, Bran sees White Walkers in the forest, when he wakes up and tells Meera that the Whitewalkers have found them and in fact they do. That's when a man covered in black (resembles a dementor and the grim reaper, complete with a scythe) rescues them. And insert drumroll, it's Benjen Stark. Turns out Benjen was not "lost beyond the wall" — he was stabbed by a White Walker but the Children of the Forest saved him through dragon glass (Aha! moment: Remember the last episode where Bran sees Leaf stabbing dragon glass into a man's chest?). Benjen says something odd: "The dead never rest" — I wouldn't be surprised if Benjen is both dead and alive — in the sense that he was killed by the White Walkers and was reanimated by the Children of The Forest through dragon glass
Sidebar: At this point, Benjen seems like Mr Nice Guy. But you never know, this is Game of Thrones. I've learnt not to love anybody. Who's still crying for Robb Stark?
There is just a mother-load of information in this plot-line alone, but it is information that evokes questions. Whom did Ned Stark see at the Tower of Joy? When did King's Landing explode or will it burn down in the future? What made the Mad King mad? And I take a little bit of that curiosity when I see Danaerys — she is getting increasingly ambitious and increasingly powerful.
Even her aide and lover, Daario Naharis tells her she's not meant for the Iron Throne, because she is a conqueror. Drogon returns to her and once again, perched on top of a Dragon, she screams in Dothrak — "Will you give me the seven kingdoms?" — it's hard to miss her blood thirst and her ferocity, reminding you of how she burnt the Khals earlier this season. Danaerys' altruism is fading, her ambition and quest for power is coming to the fore. I cannot help but wonder, because she's got her blinders on, she is losing perspective. Danaerys has often voiced her concern if she might become crazy like her father and a tiny part of me wonders the same — is this going the Mad King way?
P.S. I didn't forget Edmure Tully's appearance. Walder Frey is the worst so it is too early to speculate anything.