Game Of Thrones Season 6, Episode 6 Recap: “Blood Of My Blood”

Photo: Macall B. Polay/HBO
This week, Game of Thrones opened with a reprieve of sorts after last week’s heartbreaking ending, where it was revealed that Hodor’s ultimate purpose in life was to accomplish the same thing as a chair wedged under a doorknob. This episode introduces a character that book-readers know as Coldhands, a dark rider who rescues Meera and Bran by smashing skeletons apart with a flaming mace. He may not have quite the firepower of the Children of the Forest’s magic grenades, but he gets the job done, allowing us to spend a bit more time inside the head of tranced-out Bran, who adds a vision of the Mad King and vivid green wildfire to his mental mixtape of Westeros’ greatest hits. After last week's episode, fans surmised that Coldhands — whose sole function in the book is to escort Bran and company to the Three-Eyed Raven’s tree — might be used as the cavalry to escort the survivors back to the Wall. And indeed he does, pulling the pair onto his horse for a speedy escape. Once they're safe, he unbundles his face to reveal that he’s actually Benjen Stark (another correct prediction), the Night’s Watch ranger seen in the pilot and referred to on numerous occasions. Thought dead, Benjen actually encountered white walkers while on a mission. He was stabbed by one of their ice swords, but before he could turn, he was healed by the Children of the Forest in the same way they made the Night King — by sticking dragonglass into his heart. Benjen (whose name coincidentally autocorrects as “benign”) tells them that Bran is now the Three-Eyed Raven, the Chosen One, the Big Cheese, and even though he's not nearly ready, Bran will just have to fake it till he makes it because the Night King is coming to the Wall. “You will be there waiting for him and you will be ready,” Benjen says. No pressure. Meanwhile, Sam and Gilly are on a much more comfortable journey as they head to the Tarly estate to meet the parents. As they roll up to Horn Hill, it’s clear that Gilly’s never seen a building so nice. She's then treated to a surprise makeover thanks to Sam's kind mother and sister; the wildling reemerges in a stately dress with perfect TV hair. Sam tells her she’s beautiful, because I guess we’re doing ‘90s teen movie cliches in Game of Thrones now. At dinner, Gilly is tentative with cutlery as Sam tells his fam about life on the Wall. When talk of food turns to hunting, Gilly chimes in, which surprises Sam’s belittling father. “She’s a hunter…huntress,” Sam — ever the woke bae — corrects himself. His dickhead dad then body-shames Sam: “I thought the Night’s Watch might make a man out of you but you’ve stayed soft and fat.” Gilly stands up for Sam in turn and gives away her wildling heritage and we’ve gone from Pretty Woman to Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner in record time. Dad’s position on immigration seems to come straight from right-leaning news ravens. He goes off on a racist rant against Gilly and points out a Clearly Important Piece Of Magical Do-Goodery, the household sword called Heartsbane (cool name), made of — fruit cup with lunch if you guessed it — Valyrian steel. Those tend to come in handy. And it does, as a no-longer-welcome Sam steals it before the couple and baby depart into the night. In a hey-remember-me scene that serves mostly to set up context for next episode, we’re with Walder Frey, instigator of the Red Wedding, who is upset that his forces no longer control Riverrun, which as we know from last episode, is in the hands of the Stark-loyalist Tullys. We’re reminded that Edmure Tully a) exists, and b) is a hostage, married to Frey's daughter. Back in Braavos, Arya watches last week’s play once again — it’s the purple wedding scene, and Arya is clearly delighted by the actor’s portrayal of Joffrey’s death throes. It’s the first time we’ve seen Arya smiling in forever, standing in stark contrast (pun intended) with her reaction to the re-enactment of her father’s beheading last week. After sneaking backstage to poison the older actress’s rum, she’s spotted by her intended victim, who noticed Arya’s stalking in the crowd and pegs her as a nutty fangirl. “What’s your name?” she asks, as Jaqen’s voice echoes in our ears. “Mercy,” the girl-who-has-no-name replies, letting us know where this is going. They share a moment during which Arya relocates her moral compass and we discover that she's as honorable as Ned. Arya slaps the drink from the actress’s hand and warns the older actress about her young rival, who wants her dead. From the shadows, the Faceless Mean Girl watches Arya bail out on her mission. Arya retrieves Needle from its hiding spot and reclaims her Stark identity, just as the Faceless Mean Girl tattles on her to Jaqen and asks permission to kill Arya. “Don’t let her suffer,” he says. Don't worry, Jaqen — we suspect Arya won't be the one to suffer. Back in King’s Landing, the High Sparrow bonds with young King Tommen, who demonstrates the effect inbreeding has had on his intelligence. Tommen is concerned about Margaery’s safety during her upcoming Walk of Shame and wants some reassurances. The High Sparrow assures Tommen it’s all good and lets him visit Margaery, who has seemingly developed Stockholm Syndrome. But Cersei’s plan goes forward anyway, as Jamie and the Tyrell forces assemble outside the sept and demand the release of Margaery and Ser Loras. For a second, the High Sparrow seems to be caving when he agrees that there will be no Walk of Shame for Margery…but it’s because TOMMEN HAS CONVERTED TO SPARROWISM. The young king emerges with a dopey look on his face and stands next to Margaery and the High Sparrow; the commoners cheer while the Lannisters and Tyrells balk. The High Sparrow declares it “a holy alliance between the crown and the faith.” Because that always turns out well for everyone. The crowd eats it up. Jamie is fired from the Kingsguard and takes solace by furiously making out with Cersei, who was clearly outmaneuvered once again. Jaime is headed to take back Riverrun, putting him on a collision course with Jon, Sansa, and — crucially — Brienne. Safe bet to say that there will be some drama there, but Jamie is going to need an army if he’s going to take control of King’s Landing. And the Stark loyalists are probably going to want revenge for Robb and Catelyn. Expect an uneasy alliance next week as the War of However Many Kings Are Left continues. And Walder Frey’s head on a platter. Finally, we head east, where Dany and her khalasar are marching toward Meereen. She and Dario discuss her next move: “You're a conqueror, Daenerys Stormborn,” he says, lending some credence to the theory that Dany might in fact turn out to be the power-hungry villain of our story. And just to underline her strength, Drogon returns with Dany on his back. It’s a maximally epic scene — has he grown even larger? — with Dany giving a pep talk to her troops. As Drogon roars, we get a close look into his fearsome mouth — are those fire glands? — and we’re out. Westeros, here she comes.

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