I'm pretty sure I’ve said this in an earlier recap, but now that we’re a little over halfway through this season *sad face emoji* I want to restate that this might be the best season of the show. The writing so far has been pretty solid despite a few drawbacks, and they’re doing a good job of ramping things up to the end game, whatever that may be (though I have some ideas).
While this episode doesn’t give us any Jon or Sansa, and we still have no idea what's happening with the Sand Snakes, we do get dragons and that makes up for any issues I had. Seriously, when can I befriend a dragon and use it to flame white supremacy? I NEED ANSWERS. Anyway, let’s get into the episode.
Beyond the Wall
So we start off the episode pretty close to the ending of the last, with Meera dragging Bran through the woods in an attempt to get away from the wights. Bran is still in the warg state, zooming through visions of the past including many of the events that happened during the show (WHY’D THEY HAVE TO SHOW THE RED WEDDING AGAIN) and one scene in particular that we’ve only heard about. In this scene we see the Mad King Aerys shouting “burn them all” as he works with the Pyromancer to create wildfyre. We even get a glimpse of a young Jamie Lannister with his sword drawn, presumably about to earn the name “Kingslayer.” There was a real focus on this scene that makes me wonder what bearing it will have on our characters in the near future. Obviously, King Aerys is the father of Daenerys, and as all of Bran’s visions may not necessarily have bearing on him, it could be that the events of the Sack of King’s Landing may have more bearing on her, or maybe Jamie, in the future, although that event did affect the realm as a whole.
Bran eventually wakes up, and the wights have found them. However, they are saved by a man on a horse, and he comes through and kills all of the wights. As someone who has read the books but knows that the show is going in a slightly different direction, I had a feeling it might be Benjen. No one was able to find his body, and we all know on Game of Thrones that if we don’t see the body they may not be dead. Still, I was so excited with the official reveal later on in the episode. We find out that he was killed by a whitewalker, but that the children of the forest saved him from becoming a wight by putting dragonglass through his heart. Therefore, while he is technically dead, he is still Benjen and somehow totally cool with the fact that his young, crippled nephew is just wandering around north of the Wall. That aside, it looks like not only is Bran is going to have a skilled fighter on his side, but that Benjen may be able to help him a bit with becoming the new three-eyed raven.
We then go down to the South, where Sam and Gilly are arriving at Sam’s childhood home of Horn Hill. Sam warns Gilly not to tell his family that she is a wildling because he knows his father won’t allow her to stay if he knows. We get to meet Sam’s family starting with his mother and sister, who are ridiculously sweet and are excited to meet Gilly and her son (who they are passing off as Sam’s). We later meet Sam’s brother (hey Cormac!) and father in what may be the most awkward dinner in Westeros? We get a firsthand look at Randyll Tarly’s abuse of Sam, and Gilly stands up for him, inadvertently outing herself as a wildling. This predictably angers Lord Tarly, who is ready to kick them both out of the house but his wife stops him. Lord Tarly does kick Sam out, but Gilly is allowed to stay. However, Sam decides he’s had enough and that not only are Gilly and the baby coming with him, but that he will take Heartsbane, the family sword, with them.
While most of these scenes were used to show us Sam’s family dynamic and childhood, there were a couple of things that were important to note. The first I noticed was when Gilly mentioned Sam killing a whitewalker and Sam’s brother Dickon tells her that whitewalkers don’t exist. It’s so interesting to get a direct quote from someone in the South about the whitewalkers, and just reiterates how foolish the southern kingdoms – including King’s Landing – are right now with their petty political squabbles when THERE ARE ICE ZOMBIES COMING. Also, while Sam taking Heartsbane seems petty at first, we have to remember that the sword is made of Valyrian steel, and while Sam may not know this yet (as he left for Oldtown at the same time that Jon went to Hardhome), Valyrian steel can kill whitewalkers. I’m pretty sure we’ll see Heartsbane come up again as an important piece in the war against the walkers.
We then go up to King’s Landing, where the High Sparrow finally lets Tommen see Margaery. It almost seems as if Margaery has had a change of heart concerning the High Sparrow, but given her speech to Loras a couple of episodes ago, I had a feeling that she had something else up her sleeve. We see that this is true when Jamie and the Tyrells march on the Sept, only to find that the High Sparrow and Tommen have been working together, and that they have come up with a way for the faith and the crown to work together. This is hilarious to me, as the Lannisters and the Tyrells have been so concerned with ruling that they literally forgot to loop in or to even really be concerned with the actual King. They’ve been ignoring him like he’s just a boy and as a result got beaten in the Game of Thrones by the High Sparrow. After this reveal, Jamie is relieved of his duties as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and is ordered to Riverrun to help the Freys take back the castle from Brynden Blackfish. While he tells Cersei that he would rather go to the Sept and murder the High Sparrow, she tells him to go to the riverlands and take back the castle for them. They have so many enemies it really doesn’t matter who they go after at this point.
This is an interesting turn, not only because it takes from the books, but because we know that Brienne is also headed for Riverrun to seek aid for Sansa and Jon. We can most likely expect a confrontation between Jamie and Brienne, which could be complicated especially considering Brienne is technically still carrying out his orders by protecting Sansa.
Across the Narrow Sea, we go back to Arya in Braavos, who is back at the play to assassinate Lady Crane. In the play, we get to see a reenactment of Joffrey’s death, which makes Arya laugh, proving that she is all of us. However, she seems moved by Lady Crane-as-Cersei’s monologue, which isn’t good seeing as she’s supposed to kill her. Initially, it looks like she’s going to carry out her mission, poisoning the rum the actress drinks. However, after a conversation with Lady Crane, Arya ends up saving her from drinking the poison, warns her about the younger actress who wants to kill her, and is now on the run from the House of Black and White. We find out that the waif was there to make sure she carried out the mission, and that she is way too happy when she sees that she doesn’t. The waif goes back to “Jaqen” to report what happened and basically begs to be the one to kill Arya. While Arya really is in danger – as anyone around her could be one of the faceless men – I’m sure we’re going to get a showdown between Arya and the waif, and while the waif seems overly confident I’m sure Arya, who is now reunited with Needle, will end up killing her. The question though is where Arya will go once she’s gotten away? I would love for her to go back to the North to meet up with her siblings, but given the upcoming battle between the Starks and the Boltons, and then the battle with the whitewalkers, things might get a bit tricky. Another option would be for her to meet up with Dany, though I don’t know what the point of that would be since the last thing Arya seems concerned with is the Iron Throne. I think my main hope is for her to meet back up with her siblings, but only after she heads to the Twins and murders Walder Frey.
Somebody kill this bruh.
While it’s not totally clear where Daenerys and the dothraki are in Essos, we do know that they are somewhere between Vaes Dothrak and Meereen. We now know that she’s headed back to Meereen, where she will gather her army to head for Westeros. However, Daario tells her she will need 1000 ships AND I WONDER WHERE SHE'LL FIND THOSE? It looks like we really will be getting a Targaryen/Greyjoy alliance but not the one Euron wanted. However, that’s not the best part about this episode. While Dany leads the dothraki towards Meereen, she seems to sense that her dragon is near, and leaves them to stand there while she goes to look for him. Suddenly, Drogon appears with Dany on his back and she gives a dope speech asking the dothraki if they will help her take Westeros. Despite all my misgivings about Dany being a conqueror, this speech was really good and was also bolstered by the fact that she was riding a dragon. I felt like this ending was much better than the one where she’s unburnt again. I’m also excited because this seems like it might be a turning point for Dany’s storyline. It looks like she finally committed to go to Westeros, and while she seems to think she’s just going to go and flame all of her enemies and sit the Iron Throne, I’m pretty sure the whitewalkers will put a wrench in that plan, leading to her alliance with the Starks and Jon and Tyrion on dragons.
While so far I still stand by “Hardhome” as the best episode of this show, season 6 so far has been the best overall season, and I’m so sad we only have four episodes left until it’s over.