Spoilers if you are lagging behind: beware. Or if you’ve given up on a spoiler-free existence, come right on through!
One week later and Meera (Ellie Kendrick) is still dragging Branflake (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) through the snow. Just in case you’d forgotten the trauma of last week, Bran lingered too long in a dream/memory that ultimately led the Night’s King and his entire army to the home of the Three Eyed Raven, resulting in carnage for
literally everyone bar the girl dragging the lanky, disabled teen through the snow. Hodor held his door, not that you would know that anyone is bothered by his demise given the total lack of recognition in this week’s episode. You’d think that, having subject us all to that momental heartache, the characters would at least have the decency to partake in such too.
To make matters worse, Bran is still dreaming. Literally. He’s taking this lazy teen stereotype to new levels here. It’s one thing to sleep through your mother’s calls to get your ass down for breakfast, but another entirely to sleep through a slaughter. But just as Meera is coming to terms with their fates, he wakes up. They embrace and wait to be killed and…
They are saved by a mysterious hooded figure swinging a ball of fire. He fights off the undead and drags the pair onto his horse, galloping them away to safety. But who is this hooded creature? Well, as was proved last week, nothing in Game Of Thrones is accidental and the same goes for characters. There is a reason Ned Stark has a brother, and it appears we are about to find out why (finally), for after 54 episodes Benjen Stark (Joseph Mawle) has made his return. Yes, we thought he was dead. They all thought he was dead. Actually, he was dead, yet not undead (this is becoming a theme), having been resurrected by the Children of the Forest to combat the White Walkers.
That’s all we’re given in the North this week (yes, a week minus Sansa or Jon). The closest in proximity that we get is Sam (John Bradley-West) delivering Gilly (Hannah Murray) and Little Sam to his family in the hope that they take them in for safekeeping. Except he’s failed to mention one little stickler: his father – Randyll Tarly – despises Wildlings, so despite the warm welcome from his mother and sister, it’s only a matter of time until things end badly. And they do, with Randyll screeching that Sam “dishonours” them and marvelling – furiously – that he still be alive. Despite Gilly sticking up to Randyll in Sam’s honour, he agrees to take the “Wildling Whore” in in the agreement that she work in the kitchens, to which Sam agrees. Yet when we have just given in all hope at Sam having cajones, he whisks Gilly and Little Sam away because they are a family, and families stay together. Not before he also whisks Randyll’s valyrian steel sword from the mantelpiece; it may come in handy soon after all.
Down in Kingslanding and it’s time for Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) to repent for her sins by following in Cersei’s footsteps, though if you recall, her grandmother Olenna (Diana Rigg) has a different idea. The Queen of Kingslanding will not be paraded through the streets like some common whore on her watch, and the Lannisters agree. When the Sparrows bring her out onto the steps of the Sept they find a shiny Lannister-Tyrell coalition waiting to greet them, headed by Jamie (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Margaery’s face is a picture of bewilderment (though one that could be later construed as horror) when she sees the army sent to rescue her; she has reawakened in the light of the Seven and has seen the error of her ways – and so has King Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman). The young king states the importance of the union of the faith and the crown, though we can hazard a guess it is more the importance of the retrieval of his wife for, er, less noble machinations. The smug look on the High Sparrow’s(Jonathan Pryce) face at this turn of events is a sight to behold, and one can only wonder that had quick witted Margaery been privy to her would-be saviours notions, this whole debacle could have taken a turn for the better instead of a whole lot worse.
Once again Jamie and Cersei (Lena Headey) reinstate their intention to make everyone pay for how they have suffered, which is apt, as Jamie has been stripped of his Kingsguard status by Tommen for his opposing the crown and it appears that Cersei is to be left all alone. He is being shipped to Riverrun to see the Blackfish (Catelyn Stark’s uncle – a Tully – if you recall); he has reclaimed The Twins from the sly Fray’s following their betrayal at the Red Wedding, so natually, as a Lannister and Fray ally it is Jamie’s job to sort out the mess (or try to). The prospect of Jamie leaving her on her own in Kingslanding’s pit of snakes softens Cersei for a brief moment and as he departs you can’t help but wonder what will be of her now the High Sparrow has Tommen in the palm of his hand.
Over in Braavos and Arya (Maisie Williams) is back watching am-dram (extra kudos if you spot Richard E. Grant who returns in his cameo of last week – portraying Tywin Lannister’s death on the bog), except this time its a tad more sinister with Jaqen giving her the task to assassinate Lady Crane by poisoning her wine. With her wily ways, it looks like a girl is set to succeed, until she is rumbled by her would-be victim just as she is about to leave. The two bond in the space of a three minute conversation and Arya has a change of heart; she storms back into the changing room and knocks the glass from the actress’ hand just as she is set to take a sip. It seems a girl prefers being someone after all and it’s a good job that she retrieves Needle from the docks, for her spiteful sparring partner has just been given Jaqen’s blessing to off the young Stark. He requests that she does not make Arya suffer, though the look on the Waif’s face suggests otherwise.
Finally, we are treated to a brief visit to everyone’s favourite Mother Of Dragons. Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Daario (Michiel Huisman) are traversing the desert with their new, enormously large army of Dothraki. For all her spiel at Vaes Dothrak, she has yet to prove on her claims – other than walking through fire, of course. Cue the return of Drogon. Dany literally sniffs out the beast – who has grown, exponentially. Her favourite baby seems a tad more compliant than the last time we saw him, yet if he hadn’t dumped her in the middle of nowhere at the end of last season, Daenerys would be minus one very large army. It appears everything happens for a reason, and the Dothraki appear suitably impressed by the silver haired queen on the back of a giant flying lizard. As you would be.
It’s been a quiet one this week, hasn’t it? It will be interesting to see where the return of Benjen goes. It will be interesting to see if Arya makes it out of Braavos alive. And what of Sam and Gilly now?
Onto the next!