Recapping the Realm: Arya Makes a Choice and Margaery Makes a Move on ‘Game of Thrones’ ‘Blood of My Blood’
Welcome to “Recapping the Realm,” where each week ScreenCrush senior editor Erin Whitney is joined by Tyler McCarthy and Kelly Lawler for a SPOILER-filled discussion of the latest Game of Thrones. This week, Erin, Tyler, and Kelly discuss “Blood of My Blood” (full episode review here). Tyler is an Assistant Managing Editor at Odyssey. You can tweet at him at @TylerMcCarthy. Kelly is an Entertainment Writer and Social Media Editor at USA Today. You can tweet at her at @klawls.
Erin: As much as Episode 6 could be considered one of the slower hours from this season, especially following last week’s climax, it was still full of some exciting reveals and brilliant character moments. Arya finally renounced all the “no one” business, deciding to use her skills on the real Cersei rather than the lovely actress playing her. (Also, can Essie Davis and Richard E. Grant’s troupe characters get their own meta Game of Thrones spin-off please?) As frustrated as I am that it took one and a half seasons to get Arya to this place, seemingly with little gain, I’m thrilled to see her back in her Stark state of mind wielding Needle.
This week also had some other major reveals, mainly the return of Benjen Stark as Coldhands (a twist we know likely won’t happen in the books), plus a flurry of visions from Bran’s Three-Eyed Raven 2.0. And if you haven’t rewatched those flashbacks shot-by-shot yet, I highly recommend it, or look through them here. Beyond a fantastically shot flashback of Jaime king-slaying the Mad King, there’s also a quick glimpse at a bloody Lyanna Stark. Overall, the flashbacks tell of a sequence of births and deaths, both of good and evil rising and falling (quite literally). It’s a great piece of editing that went by too quickly to fully appreciate.
Tyler: I’m with you Erin, while this wasn’t my favorite episode of the season, or even the most interesting, it set the stage for quite a lot. The main thing I took away from last night’s episode is that it should have ended with Arya blowing out that candle. Obviously we don’t need another scene wherein Daenerys wins over the Dothraki or proves she has dragons.
I suppose we knew Arya wouldn’t become “no one,” but to go full Arya Stark about it and not only rat out the person who hired her, but essentially decide to take on the Faceless Men was something I truly didn’t see coming. The fact that she’s not on the run, but presumably lying in wait for her attacker is going to have me biting my nails all week!
As for the flashbacks, how small but major was it to actually see the Mad King shouting “Burn them all!” We’ve been patient with this show and its history, but now in Season 6 I’m ready to see it all play out on screen. Why did the Mad King keep saying that? I haven’t seen someone repeat words so much since Hodor (hint, hint).
Kelly: The flashback montage was really well done. Bran’s arc this episode was not about those moments, but the show is promising us that we will get there. That was enough for me this week. Among the more exciting things about Benjen as Coldhands (which makes me wonder if George R.R. Martin was lying, but that’s another story altogether) is the possibility that he could answer some questions for us and for, you know, Jon and the rest of the Starks. Hopefully he spent the past five seasons truly learning something about the White Walkers. We could use all the knowledge we can get.
I also love how the show gave us a great sequence for Sam at his father’s house, and managed to get him and Gilly a really effective weapon against the White Walkers. The show is pivoting more of the periphery characters towards this all-important battle, and some of the power struggles are starting to feel less important.
Erin: I also wasn’t too thrilled about that Dany ending, Tyler. It was almost laughable how predictable it was as she trotted away on her horse only to return on ... the back of a dragon! Didn’t see that one coming.
I’m glad you mentioned that Benjen could be the key to some major questions, Kelly. Now that the Children of the Forest are all dead (RIP) the only known ways to fight the Walkers are with dragonglass (aka obsidian), fire, and Valyrian steel (props to Sam for snagging Heartsbane!). But perhaps Benjen has learned a few tricks we don’t know about, or at least serves as proof that good ice zombies do exist.
The plot that has me most stumped this week was Margaery’s. I was expecting her to fake a religious realization to get out of her cell and save Loras, but I definitely didn’t think she’d turn on her own family and army when they came to the rescue. It seems like a power move to make sure she has the upper hand against the Lannisters, especially now that Tommen is even more wrapped around her finger. But what do y’all think she’s planning?
Tyler: I’ve always been perplexed by Margaery’s motivations in general. Obviously we know that she wants very desperately to be the queen, but to what end? However, I think you’re wrong when you say that she turned on her family. Presumably, doesn’t this move rescue the ailing Loras? I’m going to wait until Margaery gets a moment alone with her grandmother before I start calling her a turncoat. Technically this is what the Tyrells were scheming for this whole time. She’s queen, the people love her. Frankly, I think this is the final stage of her plan, whether it’s how she thought she’d get there or not.
As for what this means for what’s left of the Lannister family, I think they deck is more stacked against Jaime and Cersei then ever before, pep talks be damned. I don’t see a reasonable way that they move forward without finding a way to undo what the High Sparrow has done to Tommen. Also, not to be “that guy,” but some of history’s greatest kingdoms started when the crown united with the faith. Just because we’re aware how bonkers that can be in a post-religious-awareness society doesn’t mean that Tommen (really the High Sparrow) didn’t just become one of the most powerful players on the board. So I’m not so sure that Cersei and Jaime’s game should be to undo anything ... thus I’m stumped.
Kelly: Margaery’s motivations and characteristics had always been kind of offered to us by this show as “Cersei Light” — she wants to be queen and to protect her family but not quite as badly. For a moment I really did believe she sold out Loras and her family to get out of the Sept, especially just noticing how much more well-kept she was when we see her with Tommen, as opposed to when we had visited her in episodes past.
But thinking about it, I don’t believe it was ever made clear that Margaery was in on Jaime’s plan with the Tyrells, so Margaery didn’t have any reason to believe that anyone was coming to save her from the Walk of Atonement; she had to come up with a plan on her own. I thought I saw a flicker of regret on her face when she realized Jaime and her father were there to rescue her, but inevitably, this gives her more power than she would have had if she had been a damsel rescued by her family.
And I agree, Tyler. Despite their renewed relationship, Cersei and Jaime are in a very shaky spot. The more confident Cersei is that the zombified Mountain can win her trial by combat the more I feel like something is bound to go very, very wrong (can we really trust Qyburn and his weird science/magic?). But I am excited that the show has sent both Jaime and Brienne to Riverrun. In addition to being a reunion I very much want to see, it gives some true stakes to that location as the show tries to make the Tullys relevant again. And speaking of those Tullys, it was nice, I guess, to see Edmure again. I wonder where his wife’s been this whole time?
Erin: I was surprised at how unaffected Cersei seemed by Margaery’s big move, and how insistent she was about Jaime leading the army instead of getting revenge. It either makes me think Cersei has another plan up her sleeve (she has to, right?), or as you say Kelly, she’s far too confident in the Mountain’s ability to protect her. I can foresee the trial by combat going badly and have a feeling Margaery may be scheming with the High Sparrow about whomever the Mountain will fight. But if Cleganebowl dreams don’t come true, who could it be?
I too am exited that Jaime and Brienne will both be in Riverrun, but I’m also incredibly worried keeping book spoilers in mind (warning: more literary spoilers follow). Not to stoke the LSH fires too much since it seems like sheer wishful thinking at this point, but I have a tiny glimmer of hope it may happen, especially following this week’s mention of the Brotherhood without Banners. (This season, after all, has turned a ton of major fan spoilers into reality.) I swear Melisandre also name-dropped Thoros of Myr earlier this season, which seems like a classic way for the show to slowly remind viewers of past characters before a big reveal. But who knows, maybe I’m wrong and Brienne and Jaime will actually proclaim their love for one another and escape from Westeros to live happily ever after. Now I’m just writing fanfic, but who else knows what’s happening next at this point, and that’s what I’m truly loving about this season. I feel more in the dark than in any previous year, which forces you to look a bit closer at everyone and really dissect their moves.
Tyler: While we’re on the subject of theories and possible fan fiction, a good friend (and fellow Game of Thrones fanatic) brought up the theory that the High Sparrow will somehow scheme so that Tommen must personally answer the trial by combat on behalf of the crown/The Seven. As a result, Cersei would be responsible for Tommen’s death and her prophecy would be coming true.
I’m very worried about Jamie and Brienne being on opposite sides of a battle. Brienne’s guiding star has been honor and paying debts, so she’d have to throw out her normal M.O. for that particular moral choice. If it comes to it though, I’d rather see her chop Jamie in half than do anything that could hurt Jon and Sansa’s plan to stop Ramsay. #controversial.
Kelly: The High Sparrow putting Tommen directly in Cersei’s path is so interesting! Honestly with Myrcella gone I’m trying to figure out who Tomnen’s heir is. No one is left on the Baratheon side of the family so would it actually be cousin Lancel Lannister? If so, the High Sparrow would be even more in control of the Seven Kingdoms than he already is. Just the guy you want on the throne during an impending apocalypse, the one who reps the religion with no proven miracles.
Either way, someone big has to die soon. There wasn’t a single character death this episode (the only actual deaths were the wights Benjen killed), and although Hodor was a big deal we can’t get out this season with all of these kids alive and well. I’m worried about Tommen and Cersei, but also all the Stark kids, who’ve had just too much good fortune recently. Well, not Jon. They can never kill Jon now.
Erin: Lancel sitting on the Iron Throne, oh my gosh, I didn’t even consider that! It’s a brilliant plan (for the High Sparrow) if it happens, although poor Margaery would have much less influence over Lancel than wimpy little Tommen.
My bets for upcoming deaths this season are Tommen and Cersei, in that order if Maggy the Frog prophesied correctly. And if a Starks gotta go it’s probably going to be Rickon. Then hopefully Ramsay will be axed quickly and smoothly and everyone can set their sights on the real enemies to come. I will say though, I’m worried about that Walker Craster baby. I imagine he’ll stay an infant once becoming zombified, unless White Walkers can somehow age. Regardless, after no deaths this week we should definitely start preparing for a mass slaughter to come.
Tyler: I’m still holding out hope that the Umbers are really just trying to trick Ramsay and the Boltons into leaving Winterfell so that they can appoint a proper Stark to lead it. However, I also held out hope that Stannis would be redeemed ... so, on to next week!
Kelly: I just hope the most unappreciated woman in the entire show, aka Meera Reed, makes it.