After last week’s heartbreaking death of Hodor (which isn’t even acknowledged!) Bran and Meera struggle to escape while Bran is still stuck in the Three-Eyed Ravens download. To be honest I think this brief sequence may have been the best in the episode, because not only did Bran see many of the events from the show (seeing both his father’s and brother’s deaths among them) he also got flashes of older important moments from before the series: including what appears to be the siege on King’s Landing and Jamie’s assassination of the Mad King. These glimpses really made me want to see a prequel to the events of Game of Thrones! Bran and Meera are rescued by a stranger who’s later revealed to be Benjen Stark, someone we haven’t seen since the earliest episodes and except for that moment when the Night’s Watch used his name to trick Jon into getting killed, most of us forgot who he was. His reappearance is good for Bran, giving him a new guiding figure, but it’s not some kind of shocking twist.
What’s astonishingly much more interesting is seeing former residents of the North Sam and Gilly return to Sam’s home at Horn Hill. Though his mother and sister welcome him with open arms, he has the misfortune of having another of Westeros’ asshole fathers. This episode had more focus on Sam’s storyline than any other I can remember and it was fascinating to see where he came from. John Bradley and Hannah Murray perform very well, particularly the awkward dinner scene where Sam’s father verbally abuses his son for deciding to become a maester rather than a knight of the Watch. James Faulkner is also very good at playing this intolerant and imposing figure. Despite Sam telling her to lie about being a wildling and her baby not being Sam’s, Gilly confesses the truth and though it’d be nicer if Sam stood up for himself, it was wonderful seeing Gilly defend him with such vigour. Though unintentional on Sam’s part, it is kind of him getting back at his father by bringing a wildling to his table. At the last minute Sam decides not to leave Gilly and the baby at Horn Hill and takes them with him as well as his father’s sword. It’s a triumphant moment but you know something’s going to backfire, especially given Gilly would probably have been safe with Sam’s mother, and we weren’t shown Horn Hill for no reason.
At King’s Landing, the Tyrell forces join with Jamie to stop Margery’s walk of atonement, and I love how both Jamie and the High Sparrow seem to call each other’s bluff until the Sparrow seemingly has to back down. But he has an ace up his sleeve in terms of the king and queen. Prior to this, Margery seemed to convince Tommen of the importance of the Faith and now both are declaring a permanent unity between the faith and the crown. I’m wondering what Margery’s plan is because I have a hard time believing she’s really been put under the Sparrow’s seemingly hypnotic spell. Nevertheless for the time being, the High Sparrow has won and though I appreciate how unexpected it is, we are deprived a great siege we were promised. You can’t help but feel a little let down. Jamie is subsequently ordered away from King’s Landing to help the Freys retake the Riverlands, but not after one final reassuring conversation with Cersei. Also his mention of Bronn taking out the Sparrows reminded me that Bronn has yet to appear this season! What’s up with that?
In the Riverlands we see the Freys for the first time since the Red Wedding (they appear to have gotten all of the blood out of their hall). It’s interesting to see David Bradley once again even if it is mainly to give exposition as to what’s taken place in this part of the world in the years since the slaughter of the Starks. Even with the odds against him, he orders his sons to take back Riverrun and blames them for not killing Blackfish at the wedding. He also has the advantage of still having Edmure Tully (a returning Tobias Menzies despite now being a bigger star on another show) who’s apparently been kept imprisoned ever since his honeymoon. I want to see what happens with the Tullys (the closest thing to the Starks we’ve got left) but I’d appreciate it if it moved a little more quickly. I’ve been saying that for a number of storylines and now after a lot of meandering, Arya’s is picking up. She winds up liking Lady Crane (Richard E. Grant is almost playing a satire of himself) and prevents her poisoning. It seems Arya finally realizes it’s not fun to be a Faceless Man, hell it looks like she’d even rather be an actor; she digs up Needle, and resumes her identity. Jaqen is displeased to hear this and sends the other girl to kill her. And I look forward to Arya winning that battle, as will surely happen. There’s a lot of promise in this but it does feel like everything we’ve seen with Arya and the Faceless Men over the past seasons has been a waste if she’s now right back on the same track she was before she joined them. But perhaps they’ll still serve a use. Maybe Arya will take over? The ending to this episode I actually found for the first time this season, underwhelming. Dany and Daario are riding with their army and it seems she’s back on track to take over Westeros. We then see her reunite with her dragon and deliver a stirring speech to the Dothraki. I don’t know, it doesn’t seem like we’re any closer to her invading and we’ve seen her ride her dragon and give speeches before, so it didn’t leave the biggest incentive to return next week.
But of course we will be returning next week. There maybe wasn’t a lot in this episode of consequence and a minor disappointment in the King’s Landing story after a pretty cool build-up. We saw nothing of the Wall, and surprisingly no Tyrion. They’ve worked hard to insert him into every episode the past few years despite how unnecessary it may be, so it was nice to see them put story first. “Blood of Our Blood” was fine but nothing special. I liked where it took Sam, Gilly, and Arya, Bran’s visions were very fascinating, and the possibility of seeing the Tullys exact vengeance on the Freys for the Red Wedding keeps me invested. But this is one episode no one’s going to be thinking on for a while.