Game of Thrones (Episode 6x06) Debrief: Dany gives us another subtle reminder
Valar Morghulis, dear readers, and welcome back to our Game of Thrones debrief series, where two of our tv writers recap, analyse and discuss the latest goings on in Westeros and help you make sense of this crazy, wintery, world. But mostly we fawn over about Jon Snow's glorious locks.
Filling in for our regular book-reading Maester Angie is dear friend and book-reader Ellen Snow, who loves a good fantasy narrative. Her current non-GoT obsessions include Silicon Valley, Jane the Virgin and (reluctantly) Daredevil. Her favourite book-character is Jon Snow and her favourite show-character is Jon Snow.
!SPOILERS FOR SEASON 6 EPISODE 6 of GAME of THRONES BEYOND THIS POINT!
HOWIE: So Ellen, let’s start by doing some book-reader therapy - What do you think about the season so far, now that things are starting to diverge (even further) from the books? Follow up: How does it feel to have you heart ripped out in real time with the rest of us?
ELLEN: Well it is strange for us to all be in the same boat; book readers and non-book readers alike, we can’t google what happens, and together we are forced to wait a full week before plot satiation. Is that even a word? I do miss being able to explain to everyone what is happening in the show. Now I am like "Benjen is the opposite of a Whitewalker now? What's going on here?"
HOWIE: As my home girl Melissandre would say, the night is dark and full of terrors…for us all. “Plot Satiation” perfectly sums up how people feel about waiting for the next episode! I think you should trademark that phrase. Yes! The Return of Uncle Benjen is a good place to start this recap. So this episode, aptly titled “Blood of My Blood”, the ol’ Dothraki saying, picks up where we left off last week: with Hodor’s heartbreaking/mind-bending sacrifice giving Meera and still-downloading Bran a 5-minute head start. They then get saved by a kick-ass hooded figure swingin’ a bomb-mace, who quite dramatically revealed himself to be the long lost Benjen Stark, brother of Ned Stark, whom viewers last saw in Episode ONE of the series. His return was teased in the finale of last season, when Human Garbage Olly (RIP) tricked Jon Snow into think that his uncle has returned, but instead it was just ALL OF THE NIGHT’S WATCH waiting to bitchstab Jon #neverforgiveneverforget. And yes - he turns out to be dead-but-not-dead in a “totally not white walker way”, apparently, even though the process of keeping him alive sounds like the process The Children of The Forest used to make White Walkers. I suspect that this reveal is one of those scenes in the show that clearly panders to the book readers than the show fans, which has been a prominent occurrence on the show this season, like the introduction of Douche Trump Greyjoy. What did you think of this reveal?
ELLEN: Well it is weird, it looks like the show replaced a book character Coldhands with uncle Benjen Stark. In the books, Coldhands helps out Meera, Jojen, Bran and Hodor (RIP) to the location of the three-eyed raven, his identity is not really made clear so it could be - but the mysterious, hospitable, half-dead character description in the book fits the shows portrayal of non-whitewalker Benjen. So either this could be another one of the show’s shortcuts, rather than introducing a new character ***cough*** lil Aegon.
HOWIE: Interesting. Has Benjen returned in the books?
ELLEN: In the books Uncle Ben is still MIA north of the wall.
HOWIE: Also, what did you think about Bran’s visions? We (like most of the internet) theorised last week that Bran could be the one responsible for the Mad King Aerys Targaryen’s insanity, and we actually get a glimpse of him in Bran’s vision, complete with the “burn them all” refrain. Could this possibly be confirmation of that theory?
ELLEN: Yeah it looks like that Reddit theory has been given a bit of legitimacy. The show made a clear connection between Bran’s greenseeing abilities and the Mad King Aerys. Sounds like it really is going to be All Brans fault.
HOWIE: (I see what you did there!) I wish we were given more information from Bran’s storyline in this episode. Just like Sansa’s non-reaction to Jon’s resurrection, it seems like Bran is pretty chill about his uncle’s undead-ness. The Stark children are just so over it at this point. “Magic? Who cares, our lives suck and our family is in shambles.” But for me, Benjen’s reveal didn’t hold much dramatic weight other than “oh okay, it’s that guy”, because I feel like the show is really relying on book-knowledge to build up his return. In contrast, the show has been really good at building up Samwell Tarly’s family - especially his dad - throughout the season, so seeing his hometown (which, holy crap, nice crib bro), and his timid interactions with his Daddy Tarly evokes a genuine dramatic gratification from the audience that the show actually earns.
ELLEN: Yeah, considering Sam’s development from quivering to almost confident over the course of the series, seeing him all choked up in front of his dad was uncomfortable. But of course, the Sam the Slayer we know and love makes a triumphant return to steal his sword, (and confidence and happiness) back from his dad. Speaking of dads and inheritance…. Jamie is fired from the Kingsguard in this episode. Like Jon, he is now no longer bound by oath and free to own land and have a wife and father some offspring. It’s an interesting contrast between Sam who was forcibly removed from his birthright by Randyll to Jamie’s choice to join the Kingsguard which was absolutely ridiculous to his dad Tywin, as Jamie was to inherit Casterly Rock and bulk gold. Of course he did this to remain at Kings Landing with Cersei and avoid marrying, but it’s an interesting development. I’m excited.
HOWIE: Yeah, stealing his dad’s sword is going to turn out so well for Sam. I am also very excited that Jaime is free to do whatever he wants not, only for the sole prospect that he would cross paths with Brienne again. They are essentially on opposite sides of the war now, so it would be interesting to see how their relationship would change if/when they do finally see each other again. Or maybe we’ll get a Jaime-Brienne-Tormund threesome? As Jaqen H'ghar would probably say, “A man can dream”. Interesting point and Jon and Jaime both being free from their oaths now. Much unlike Brienne’s sword, there seems to be quite a number of Oath-breaking this season. Speaking of which, while I am beyond relieved that Arya is finally ditching Faceless Men and their “we’re totally not just hired assassins!” bullshit, I nearly laughed out loud at how abrupt her change of mind was, after so much time the show has us invest in this vague cult. I still cannot tell if that was clumsy storytelling or genius comedic timing. But I would happily forgive them for wasting our time watching Arya doing basic kung fu montages if she straight up murders that Waif who has been giving her the stinkeye for no reason ever since they met.
ELLEN: So I’m just going to jump onto the Brienne and Tormund thing here if that’s okay. I’m praying that this is a book thing as well as a show thing. That kind of male attention is absolutely foreign to her, most of the flirting she has ever encountered has been a joke or a bet, or in Renly’s case just pure politeness misinterpreted. Warms my heart for her to come across the real thing. Tormund is going to have a hard time stealing her. And there is no way Arya is going to lose the Waif battle, she’s obviously George R R Martin’s favourite, and i suspect the stinkeye is because she is Jaqen H’ghar’s too. I feel like her, Jon, Tyrion and Danaerys simply cannot die. Everyone else is fair game. Tbh Danaerys is really cool I love love the Dragons but I am sick of the repetition in her storyline.
HOWIE: Don’t even get me started on that mandatory “Yo I’m Awesome” Khaleesi scene. The show has been using the same exact scene as a storytelling crutch for several seasons now, and I admit to be real sucker for them every time, because dragons and Dany’s badassery etc. But it’s just so annoying now, because based on past experience, we know that it won’t really go anywhere, and it is especially jarring and superfluous this episode, since we already had the more effective “Burning Man” scene literally one episode before. Why do we need another “Bow Down to Khaleesi” moment? If they’ve got nothing meaningful to say about Dany’s storyline, why not just cut that scene out and spend more time on giving us answers about Bran? Or better yet, give us more Tormund-Brienne flirting?? They really dropped the ball there, and throwing in this perfunctory Khaleesi scene made this episode feel very much like a “filler”, or table-setting episode than is actually is.
Let’s end this discussion with our version of “greenseeing”, i.e. barely-informed predictions of what’s to come. I’m gonna go all-in here and bet you that Arya will not only kill the Bitch-Waif, but she would most likely have to face-off with Jaqen H’ghar himself as well, that just seems like much more dramatically rewarding confrontation in my mind, and if you’re right, things do not bode well for A Man. What are your predictions based on this episode?
ELLEN: I think that maybe certain Targaeryans from the books are still going to make an appearance, and offer all the things that Daenerys lacks in leadership, although I suspect that in the show it is kind of Tyrion's purpose of being in Mereen. Dany needs an advantageous marriage like Euron Greyjoy. She has a tonne of suitors in the book with is only really alluded to in the show. Other stray predictions: Arya will win her battle and say 'My name is Arya of house Stark". Ramsay will die. And probably Rickon too.
HOWIE: I don't know if my fragile heart can handle another Stark death. Thanks for joining me in this scintillating Thrones Talk, Ellen! And breaking the (fourth) Wall again to thank the readers for reading through our drivel as we make sense of this episode! What did you think of this episode? Let us know in the comments below!