Seeing last week’s ending again in the “Previously on…” bit made me upset all over again.
Tonight’s episode proper kept it in the family. Some take this more literally than others. (Looking at you, Jaime and Cersei.) But elsewhere in King’s Landing, family members reunited, were torn apart, fought to stay together, and were also unspeakably horrible to one another.
But no one died! This was good for everyone—except for Arya, of course.
Major episode spoilers ahead.
Spoilers for the currently published George R. R. Martin novels are discussed in the review and fair game in the comments. We highly suggest not discussing early preview chapters, but if you must, white it out. Have courtesy for the patient among us who are waiting and waiting (and waiting) for The Winds of Winter. Play nice. Thanks.
Okay, that Tower of Joy extended cut has to be coming soon, right? Bran’s role as the new Three-Eyed Raven is so fresh, he can’t control his visions. I spied: The Mad King Aerys Targaryen screaming “Burn them all!”—just as Jaime said he did– before getting killed by the Kingslayer, a flash of young Ned Stark and the older, headless version, the Red Wedding, the battle at Hardhome, and a dragon.
What Bran could not see was his uncle Benjen’s return. Benjen! I’ve been waiting for him to return since season one. Because I am the weirdo who gets TV crushes on the actors with “fictional big-nosed but still handsome brother of Sean Bean” on their IMDB pages. (Of which Benjen’s not even the first!) But he’s looking less like a Faramir-Remus Lupin hybrid and more like a wight because he kinda almost was one. So Coldhands is Benjen Stark as many fans theorized.
But which G.R.R.M denied in a note on the original manuscript.
So is this a deviation from the books or did George change his mind and this Benjen development will become canon? Guess we’ll have to wait (and wait and wait and wait) for more books.
A less heartwarming reunion was in the cards for Samwell and his father. Horn Hill is seems like a depressing home for anyone not perfect in Lord Tarly’s eyes. I’m glad Sam’s mom and sister were at least happy to see him. And meet his ridiculously cute “son” Samwell Jr. Even Gilly managed to get a warm welcome. I really thought Sam’s sister liked Gilly, but then she made her look like this:
You don’t put people you like in a fugly bod-con dress with puffy sleeves and a weird contrast panel. And big, pageant-worthy curls, too? Where is Ser Tim Gunn to yell at whoever made that outfit? Gilly walked as appropriately awkwardly as she could in that dress and managed to pull off being really adorable. And her makeover added confidence when she told Sam’s awful, carb-hating dad off. So I guess it wasn’t a total red carpet disaster.
And now Sam can go to the Citadel with Gilly, Little Sam, and a new Valyrian steel sword. Excellent. I’m really excited to find out what Sam can learn at the citadel. I think he’ll be key in providing Jon Snow with info on how to defeat the White Walkers and return spring to the world.
While we met Heartsbane for the first time, we saw a familiar sword’s return, too: Needle.
So Arya has decided that her time with the House of Black and White has reached its end. Someone with her history (and her hit list) couldn’t become no one, really. But why leave the Faceless Men to become… an actor? As much as I like Lady Crane, I tend to give theater troupes on TV some side-eye. (See: Deadwood.) The play-within-a-play thing is fun and meta and the troupe seems like an interesting lot, but Arya’s story has her so far from the main action, it’s hard to see how she could ever become a major player in Thrones‘ main story.
And I don’t like that we won’t see Jaqen much more. What did Arya learn from a man? Is she disillusioned with a religion that could so easily murder nice people for cash? Or for whatever Medieval Nomi Malone exchanged for the assassination.
I am looking forward to watching what Arya does to that bitchy Waif who’s had it out for her since the start. I wish we could’ve gotten even more Arya this week. Will Lady Crane be Arya’s newest mentor, maybe teaching this cold, dark little girl about processing her emotions in a different, more positive way? Arya’s got some of the best killing skills around, but she has so much trauma to contend with, too.
In King’s Landing, things took a major turn thanks to the Sparrow and Margaery. After last week’s encounter with Loras, Margaery’s only playing at being a Stepford queen to get her brother back, right? She hasn’t really atoned for her sins and, sure, getting Tommen to convert to get her out of jail and to bring Tommen under Margaery’s spell completely looked to be right in the short-term, but I share everyone else’s opinion that it was a horrid gamble.
So perhaps the Faith and the Crown united means less chance of civil war, but a peace brokered not by the Lannisters or the Tyrells means some bad things for those families and good news for the High Sparrow. Let’s start with Jaime getting kicked off the Kingsguard to go do something out of the king’s sight, away from the court, and tasked with restoring some of the Lannister’s (subjectively) good name.
That means Jaime’s off to Riverrun to deal with Cat Stark’s uncle, Brynden “the Blackfish” Tully. With both Cat and her sister Lysa Arryn dead, Edmure Tully is his closest living relative. Even if Edmure generally kind of sucks at battle and marriage and archery. You get the idea. But he’s family, so the Blackfish is prepared to give Jaime some hell and keep his family home away from Walder Frey. And what will happen when Brienne meets Jaime on opposite sides of the fight? Will their friendship help or hinder Jaime’s goal?
It does feel a bit strange knowing that Jaime and Cersei are one of the strongest couples on this show, both because of the obvious, but also because it’s another way the show diverts from the books. Will a wedge be driven between them in the Riverlands—maybe because of Brienne—or will they always be in (gross) love? Cersei sure seems to have gotten over her grief about Myrcella and Jaime’s Dornish mistake. Or talking about vengeance really does turn her on that much.
I think we can guess. Had she the strength and skill, you know Cersei would be her own champion in the trial by combat to come.
- Oh yeah, Dany did some more winning. Her bloodrider speech had less promise of raping and enslaving, but was a pale shadow of Drogo’s season one haka. Knew she’d have to ride her dragon instead of a horse to lead that epic khalasar as a khaleesi. So all the Dothraki, Unsullied, and Second Sons fight for Dany, giving her the world’s largest army. (Right? Maybe after the White Walkers?) All she needs now are ships, which Euron Greyjoy is building. Interesting that Daario called Dany a conqueror, not a queen for an Iron Throne. It’s true—look at how uncomfortable she was ruling Meereen. What if she’s become a bit touched by the Targaryen ambition that destroyed her brother Rhaegar and drove her father Aerys mad? Was it just a coincidence we saw the Mad King or a reminder that Dany shouldn’t play with wildfire?
- No Tyrion, no Sansa (she was busy with the X-Men I guess,) no Jon, no Ramsay, or Rickon this week. Another week without a Dornish check-in, too. I’m totally fine with that but wondering when it might rear its ugly head again.
- Will Bronn go to Riverrun with Jaime? Please, please, please. I miss his banter.
- Good call, Lady Crane—Maisie Williams really does have expressive eyebrows.
- Next week: “The Broken Man.” Sansa writes some letters, Cersei faces a very unhappy Olenna Tyrell, Davos reminds everyone of the real war to come.
Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights at 9PM E/PT on HBO.
Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com covering TV, book reviews and sometimes games. She’s also gotten enthusiastic about television for Boing Boing. Send her a raven through Twitter.