Family is the great, ever-churning undercurrent of Game of Thrones. The great houses of Westeros stake so much pride and importance to their family names that it informs every move made in the great game for the throne.
Robb Stark went to war for his father. Viserys sold Daenerys for a chance to reclaim his family’s crown. Cersei would do anything to protect her only remaining child and keep him on the throne. Heck, even Tywin Lannister went to war for his son Tyrion, despite thinking nearly nothing of him. That Tyrion ended up slaying Tywin was a cruel turnabout, but hey, nobody said this family thing only cuts one way.
“Blood of My Blood” is a lesson in all sorts of family dynamics. From Walder Frey bristling at losing control of Riverrun (where the Tully family has lorded over his for generations) to Daenerys slowly patching together her own (very large) sort of family, the imprint of that familial pull is all over the episode.
The episode picks up right where “The Door” left off last week. Hodor, Summer, and the Three-Eyed Raven are all gone. Meera is pulling a still-unconscious Bran on his sled, but all the sacrifices made last week didn’t buy quite enough time. Enter some long-lost family!
We find out later that the mysterious rider with the flaming chain-and-scythe is none other than Benjen Stark, Bran’s uncle who disappeared in season one. Coldhands Benjen tells them he was saved by the Children of the Forest after being stabbed in the gut by a White Walker’s ice sword. His rescue came in the form of what created the Walkers in the first place, a shard of dragonglass to the heart.
Further south, where the trees are different and the weather is much nicer, the family welcome is far frostier. Sam and Gilly arrive at Horn Hill to a warm welcome from his mother and sister, but Randyll Tarly is a much different piece of work. He never expected to see his disinherited son again, and finding him still fat, timid, and coupled with a wildling doesn’t please him, to say the least. Sam summons whatever courage he has left and takes off with Gilly, little Sam, and his family’s ancestral Valyrian sword, Heartsbane.
We get our first glimpse of Walder Frey in a few seasons and, like Randyll, his progeny aren’t exactly living up to his standards. Lothar and “Black” Walder bear the brunt of his ire at allowing the Blackfish, Brynden Tully, to retake Riverrun. Their family has been and will continue to be laughed at if they can’t hold the castle, so he orders his sons to take it back, simple as that. But in the event the Blackfish needs convincing, we see the return of yet another uncle to the Stark children, Edmure Tully, to be used as a bargaining chip.
Margaery has found some courage of her own, though I’m at a loss as to whether it’s the right move. She’s either taken two steps back, or she’s tossed the pieces off the game board and is blazing forward two steps ahead of everyone else. Based on what she told Loras, her newfound piety with the compliance of King Tommen seems like a ploy to start making her own moves. But could it be sincere? Mmm … nah. Let’s just hope she doesn’t leave Grandma Olenna out of the loop. I want to see those two conspiring against both faith and crown.
Tommen’s power move doesn’t sit well with his uncle/father Jaime, who gets stripped of his title as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, and gets sent to the Riverlands to deal with the same mess the Freys have on their hands. Cersei takes his demotion surprisingly in stride, sending him on his way with some vengeful promises and incentuous hanky panky. Families, man. We got some weird ones on this show.
Daenerys finds herself once again tromping across Essos, contemplating how she’s going to get her growing “family” — the Dothraki, Stormcrows, Unsullied, and a whole lot of freedmen — to Westeros. She doesn’t quite solve that dilemma, but she sure solidifies the support of the Dothraki (as if they needed more after watching her burn their khals). Sensing that Drogon is near, she disappears momentarily only to turn up flying over the horde on her dragon’s back. She says that instead of choosing three bloodriders — who traditionally get the title “blood of my blood” — she’s choosing all of them. One big, bad, (happy?) family, off to conquer the world.
Just the usual family business in the world of Game of Thrones.
– The music while Benjen is doing his wight-killing thing was excellent. Haunting, almost.
– Quite the vision mashup Bran gets while he’s still in his warging state. Here’s a super slowed-down video of his vision:
– Seems safe to say that Bran still has a part to play when it comes to the Mad King and his plan to burn King’s Landing to the ground with wildfire. Something he has to stop through some more time travel? Other things he glimpsed include Jon fighting the White Walkers at Hardhome, his father’s and brother’s deaths, Jaime killing the Mad King, and Daenerys and her dragons.
– With all his newfound knowledge, it seems like Bran should have known it was Benjen instead of asking him directly. Would have been a testament to his power, but whatever. Gotta have the dramatic reveal, I suppose.
– “You must learn to control it.” Benjen Stark, channeling what he learned from Yoda.
– Sam has to know he won’t be safe at the Citadel, so does he still go through with forging his chain as a maester? Maybe it’s back north for him and Gilly, to add one more Valyrian-steel sword to Jon’s fight against the White Walkers?
– Randyll, why you got so much hate for the wildlings? Your castle is so far south, I’m guessing Gilly is the first one you’ve ever seen. Oh, and did we mention your son slew a White Walker! You’re missing the key details here.
– Our one cliffhanger came from Arya, who recovers Needle from its hiding place. The Waif has apparently been promised that she could kill Arya if she didn’t come through. This is the first real urgency Arya’s storyline has had in quite a while.
– Mace Tyrell just cracks me up. Needs a dude to walk his horse and gives his “madness” speech in a narrow alley, just like all great military leaders do.
– I’m interested to see who comprises Tommen’s new Starguard. Or maybe Godsguard? Probably sparrows, since you’d think Jaime should know if his Kingsguard were up to something like that.
– Bronn might not be killing sparrows soon, but please tell me he’ll be accompanying Jaime to the Riverlands. The dynamic duo, back together! We need this!
– A mention of the Brotherhood Without Banners has me very excited to see what they bring to the table in the coming weeks.
– Daenerys needs 1,000 ships. Wonder where those will come from?
– What do you think happened to Daenerys’ horse? A snack to distract Drogon as she hops on his back, perhaps?
– I simply could not get Kanye’s “Family Business” out of my head while writing this. You tell me you ain’t did it, then you ain’t did it. But if you did, then that’s family business.
Episode 607 Preview: “The Broken Man”
Synopsis: “The High Sparrow eyes another target. Jaime confronts a hero. Arya makes a plan. The North is reminded.
Thanks for reading. See you back here next week for “The Broken Man.” Valar dohaeris.