(Yes, there are spoilers ahead.)
The last two episodes of Game of Thrones were, to say the least, epic. The episodes were everything we want and expect in an episode. The episodes were fast paced, exciting, at times touching, and moved the overall story forward. “Blood of my Blood” dialed everything back a notch or three to the point where the episode was more filler than anything else.
Unlike most episodes, “Blood of My Blood” continued where the last episode ended. Meera is still running from the wights and Bran is still in the middle of his vision. Unlike past visions, Bran is seeing the past and future in a stream of images coming to him at breakneck speed. The majority of these images were edited from episodes as far back as the very first episode. What viewers had never seen though was the mad king, Aerys Targaryen, on his throne or the mad king being killed. We had only heard stories.
Interesting as it was, what does it mean? Bran has seen the past. Episodes leading up to and including “Hold the Door” made a big production of Bran seeing his father and other Starks as children and during Robert’s Rebellion. Current theories, which I’m not convinced of, even have Bran changing the past. It’s a believable theory as a storytelling device only because it gives writers an easy out in the future if they write themselves into a corner. Game of Thrones’s showrunners and writers are infallible and have made some questionable choices in the past.
Does Bran’s vision of the mad king mean he will go back in time to meet the king? It may mean nothing at all. However, showrunners haven’t dropped images and information as blatant as this and not returned to it later. Good odds are we haven’t seen the last of the Aerys Tarygaryn.
While Bran is time traveling, Meera has given up any hope of out running the wights. Again, this week, the cut scenes between Meera and Bran and the wights catching up to them were scarier than anything that has come out of The Walking Dead. Those scenes were the best in “Blood of My Blood.” Luckily for Meera, a masked rider comes in and saves the day. Lucky for them.
It may have seemed it was the end for them, but did anyone really think they were going to be killed? In the past, there was talk of how your favorite Game of Thrones character wasn’t safe and talk about how George R.R. Martin had no issue with killing off characters. At this point in the series the only danger of your favorite character being killed is if your favorite character is a secondary character. Showrunners aren’t going to kill off a major character like Bran. So, as exciting as the scene was in a way it was anticlimactic, too.
By the end of “Blood of My Blood” we learn the identity of the masked rider. We only heard of Benjen Stark’s death. Unlike Jon Snow, who came back from the dead, we never saw his body. However, one could say Benjen did die and still be correct. Remember he said the Children plunged Dragon’s Glass into his heart to stop the process of being turned into a wight. A wight is a reanimated corpse, a zombie. Benjen died and may still be dead but he’s not the mindless wight we’ve come to know. Maybe there is still hope Hodor will come back in another episode.
We haven’t seen much of Arya Stark in season six. What we have seen has turned out to be misdirection. For all of season six, Arya has been trying to get back into the good graces of Jaqen H’gahr. It seemed she was was on the path to becoming a true Faceless Man. She survived the poisoned waters of the House of Black and White. She held back her emotions when training with the Waif. She even held things in check while watching a play depicting Ned’s death. She even accepted the assignment of assassinating the lead actress. So, what changed her mind?
It would be easy to say she had everything planned from the start. However, Arya couldn’t have known she would survive the poisonous water. She couldn’t have known her sight would be restored. She couldn’t even be sure Jaqen would take her back for her plan to start. So what changed?
Arya hadn’t been able to work on her hit list for awhile and it had been even longer since she had left King’s Landing. Her original plan was to learn the ways of the Faceless Men in order to whittle down her hit list. Perhaps the play rekindled her thirst for revenge. It was only after talking to the lead actress she changed her mind about being one of the Faceless Men.
The result of her betrayal is she now has a price on her head. For the viewer, it’s more about the time dedicated to a storyline that was going nowhere. All the other characters are heading towards an eventual clash somewhere at sometime. Arya is so far from the center of the story if she were to die next episode it wouldn’t affect whatever outcome showrunners have planned. If, as reported, Game of Thrones only has two seasons left showrunners need to move her story along fast in order to make her relevant. An abrupt change of heart that would force Arya to leave Braavos and a plot writers couldn’t work out is what was needed to move Arya’s story along. For now, it’s just filler in a grander, better story.
“Blood of My Blood” introduced us to Sam Taryl’s father, Randyll Tarly. Since we first met Sam, we’ve had to hear how Sam’s father disinherited him, ridiculed him his whole life, and sent him off to the Knight’s Watch to become a man. Randyll Tyrell proved to be the douchebag Sam made him out to be. Yet, there was no reason to introduce another vile person into a series full of vile characters.
Sam is, by definition, a supporting character. As a supporting character Sam serves his purpose and has been better developed than many of the other supporting characters. He was Jon Snow’s voice or reason when Jon wanted to do something crazy and foolish. He proved himself brave in a time of need. In the past week writers have made it point to mention both Meera and Jon have killed a White Walker. They forget Sam killed a White Walker before Jon even knew they could be killed.
Now it seems the showrunners want to make Sam a pivotal character. In the past two seasons showrunners have started at least three new story lines in the series. The most recent was last week when we saw Theon and Yara leave the Iron Islands. At this point in time another storyline involving a minor character is not what the series needs. What showrunners need to do is end some storylines and connect other story lines that can be connected. If not we will be getting a lot more filler episodes before everything has been said and done.
While showrunners started new storylines in “Blood of My Blood” they extended another storyline. Last episode it seemed the Lannisters and Tyrells wold remove the High Sparrow from power. True to form showrunners opted not to do so and continued the religious narrative of the story. It would have made sense to end the High Sparrow’s reign. The Lannisters would have kept some of their power, but would have been a little weaker because of the deal with the Tyrells. A clash between the two houses would have been inevitable. It would have also meant the end of a storyline that is only getting worse as the series continues.
Now Jamie is headed back to Casterly Rock. It can be assumed, based on trailers for the next episode, he will be leading the Lannister army back to King’s Landing. It will be interesting to see what will happen if, and that’s a big if, the Lannister army clashes with the King’s army. It would be precious time spent on another battle that will probably end with the Lannisters remaining in power. If written right we could see all this come to fruition as Daenerys descends on Westeros to claim her throne.
“Blood of My Blood” was yet another episode ending with a long speech by Daenerys. It should have been a powerful ending to an otherwise filler episode. Except, we’ve heard all of this from Daenerys before. She’s told us how she’s going to go back to Westeros almost as many times as people have said, “Winter is coming.” I don’t believe winter is coming and I’m finding it difficult to believe Daenerys will get any closer to King’s Landing than Meereen.
First, she has to deal with what has happened in Meereen since she left. Then she has to find or build a fleet capable of carrying thousands of troops across a sea. Even crossing a narrow sea is going to take a lot of time. Showrunners are going to have to speed things up or give the storyline more time to develop if we are to see a war for the Iron Throne.
“Blood of My Blood” showed there was a lot more story left in Game of Thrones. The episode also proved showrunners weren’t done introducing more storylines into the mix. After “Blood of My Blood” though it’ll be a miracle if we get any sort of fulfilling ending to what was once an outstanding series.