SPOILERS, DEFINITELY.

Blood of my blood. Thankfully no blood was spilled this episode, after the Hodor trauma. The episode though sets the stage for what the characters play in light of the wars of their families.

 

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[1] The Starks

Uncle Benjen!!! Now we have a proper protector for Bran. Fans have long speculated from where books ended that Cold Hands, who is half-walker half-Children-saved-human is Uncle Benjen, now with blue pimples. So GRRM lost the race to that reveal again.

What the Uncle Benjen storyline teases though is the power wielded by the Children through the dragon glass – since, (a) they made Night’s King via the dragon glass, but (b) they can apparently reverse the walker-effect with the same dragon glass. So what does dragon glass really do? Does it have such power to create and reverse white-walking only when in the hands of the Children? I do not know where answers to that will come from. Bran, I suppose, since apparently, when the Night’s King and his army of ice reaches the kingdom of men, as Benjen said, Bran’s supposed to give him hell.

Now Bran, as I discussed in my notes from the previous episode, has revealed himself to be the door to the secret histories. Benjen’s statements on Bran being the Third-Eye Raven has imploded fan sites on the theory that Bran was the man-in-the-tree all along, given the craziness of Warg+Greensight time travel mystery. But if Benjen now is implying that Bran is the counterpart of the Night’s King, how does that put everyone else into play?

For sure Jon will lead the actual battle, given Azor Ahai. Bran now will be the brains to the battle? It is by Westerosi history that the House of Stark led the fight against the Night’s King army before and drove them north of the Wall; that is the history of the Wall itself (Brandon the Builder made the Wall; insert fan theory explosion here). Bran’s role then has become more intriguing than ever.

And some snaps for the appearance of the Mad King and some wildfire flashbacks (CGI budget!). That was cool. And of course, it raises the theory again that Bran might have something to do with the Mad King’s descent to madness, since his visions are leading him now to that direction. Why all of a sudden show the Mad King, right? So this matter is now tagged under “wait-and-see-and-speculate”.

Jump to Arya. This storyline with Arya is beyond the extent of the books as well. As per last book, Arya’s warging through cats and other animals to see through her blindness from her assassin’s training. Perhaps that is why that particular storyline has dragged on for so long. Finally it’s here, what we know all along, that Arya will always be her father’s daughter. You don’t remind her of her father’s beheading and expect her to forget who she is. (Sidenote: how come the theater group has that amount of insight into the story until Tyrion’s self-exile? Especially that point in the play, when Tyrion murdered Tywin, Tywin made mention about Tyrion killing his mother, and regretting he called Tyrion his own. Again, this might be the way that we are reminded of the three-headed Targaryen dragon theory; or you know, the Lannisters had a great media team that the play reflects their press releases. But as far as I remember, everyone Tyrion left in Tywin’s room that night was dead.)

Anyway back to Arya. While the Many-faced God has been set-up to be one of the coolest of all the gods (remember the swordsman teacher? The “Not today” guy? Whom fans speculate is also the Man?), this god is pretty much the highest b*tch of them all. I remember the backstory that the Many-faced God emerged as a response to the call of the powerless – so that they will have access to vengeance against their masters and oppressors. The powerless would go to the Many-faced God and ask for death upon their enemy. I do not think Jaqen played it faithfully to the principle from thereon. So I assume Lady Crane’s co-actors just pooled in money to get rid of her, just because she acts better? Where is the godly justice in that? I am a believer of hard work and using “what you have been given”, paraphrasing Lady Crane. There is no honor in the house of the Many-faced God. I will not vouch for him in the war of the gods. He is death. But the Lord of Light defeats death. #TheNightIsDarkAndFullOfTerrors

Arya’s going to beat the shat out of the other girl. Arya with Needle. That is a Stark with the rage of a direworf. Her return to her Stark roots is character development, finally, but not enough to situate Arya in the big Stark comeback. [But who knows, maybe Arya killing the other girl is another test under her training. But that sounds inconsistent for now.]

 

 

[2] The Lannisters (and the Tyrells)

What a sad, sad day for the lions and the roses.

To dispense with the necessary, I do not think Margaery is fooled by the High Sparrow; a woman of that political caliber just cannot. From what I understand in her scenes – her talks with the Sparrow, with Loras in the cell, and with Tommen – she is reading through where her political location is. Loras is a lost cause. Her family and the Lannisters do not have the money (apparently) and the public perception backing to oust the Faith Militant. And Tommen is just played exceptionally well by the High Sparrow. Margaery’s only chance to survive politically is to take the side of the current victor; or at least pretend to, so she can situate herself in a strategic position to re-control the king and get back at her enemies. And a good outcome is, she effectively drives Cersei further away from Tommen. All Margaery now has to do is to produce heirs to secure her position, and continue for the meantime at least, to play the part of the faithful as a disguise.

This episode drew much from Jaime’s feelings towards the events. When the Sparrow threw Jaime the up-yours look upon Tommen’s reveal, and Jaime’s face – that was well-played. The Jaime-Cersei scene though is rather out of the mood of the entire episode; it felt like something out of Romeo and Juliet incest version. But the Lannister siblings is just out of their thinking league. Jaime’s idea of funding Bronn was ungrounded – dude, where do you get all the gold you want to pay Bronn? You’re bankrupt. Cersei’s whining about getting back at their enemies – gurl, we’ve been hearing that from you since Tywin died, but the plan isn’t moving, is it? Kevan Lannister just does not speak beyond two sentences the most. So I have no hopes for the Lannisters for now… except for the one who seems not to be a Lannister at all, running another kingdom beyond the sea.

I am impressed with the character development work with the High Sparrow. If he thinks about all his schemes on his own, if he is indeed incorruptible (unlike how we all felt when Master Pycell suddenly walked right, remember?), if he has built the money and the army and the public perception work in his mind, my, my. The Lannisters would have a need for the Many-faced God.

The Lannister-Tyrell alliance is at a strange status at this point. Sure, Kevan and Olenna would be less inspired to work with the Lannister siblings because the Tommen and Margaery are safe and out and enjoying power; you quite deduce that from the Kevan-Tommen-Jaime throne room scene. But I do not discount the aching for some payback. But Jaime’s leaving for the Riverlands. Cersei alone is never good. (Though probably we’d see her again with her famous words, “More wine!”; which will always be immensely entertaining.)

P.S. Since I mentioned Riverrun, special shout-out to Lord Frey. “YOU LOST A CASTLE???” Hilarious.

P.P.S. Edmure Tully, you’re alive? Huh. Nice.

 

[3] Dany, the only confirmed Targaryen for now

I love Daenerys. It is known. But I do not think she deserved that special speech EVEN IF she were riding Drogon (CGI budget!!) because nothing significant has happened since the last time she was walking with her khalasar.

And what the hell was that all about? I have been vocal about the need for Dany to learn to control and relate to at least Drogon because a Targaryen is more than a dragon-rider. Was this scene meant to suddenly change that part of the narrative, and imply that Dany can now call and command Drogon at will? What a cheap narrative cheat. I genuinely feel cheated. #TooMuchEmotionalInvestmentIKnow

But the words that mattered is Daario’s. Given the three-headed Targaryen dragon theory, the three Targaryens should rule complementing each other. So there; it’s a cheap narrative trick as well, but at least it’s useful: Dany is the conquerer, a.k.a., “I take what is mine”. She gets rid of the Targaryen enemies. Tyrion is the strategist. And Jon is the great and wise king. It makes sense to me. Though again, Dany is no threat until she reaches King’s Landing (but you got options for the thousand ships for that – either the Greyjoy siblings or the new king).

Plus I dunno, can the Faith Militant’s charm compete with the public persona of Daenerys Stormborn, first of her name, the Unburnt, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Queen of Meereen, the Andals, the First Men, and I think seven more titles that I missed; and that she goes nude publicly everytime she burns something? She has a PR story. Though gurl can’t lead to save her life, she is still a viable political contender even if she never set foot in King’s Landing before.

P.S. “Will you give me the Seven Kingdoms, the gift that Khal Drogo promised me before the Mother of Mountains?” The feelz. Drogo and Danaerys forever.

 

[4] The Tarlys

Minor player this house. But I adore the mom and the sister. You see where Sam gets his manners. The dad is every bit as horrible as Sam mentioned before. No story there.

What the story is however, is how refreshing Sam and Gilly are as a couple in GRRM’s world of gloom and sadness. That’s an actual functional couple. With a child whose blueness of eyes can compete with a White Walker’s. And significantly, they’re a couple who now holds Heartsbane the Valyrian steel.

But I still dig Brienne and Tormund more. There’s genuine happiness there.

 

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Not a lot of emotional baggage to bear until next episode. That is good news. Since GOT manages to break my heart every so often. It is known.

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