Another Sunday another Game of Thrones. One word: Coldhands.
We start we were left off, with the reveal and end of Hodor. “Hold the door!”
Meera Reed is running through the woods, dragging Brandon Stark who is still doing the vision-quest thing. We’re treated to images of things Bran couldn’t have possibly seen with his own eyes: the battle at Hardhome, Daenerys Stormborn across the sea, even things we’ve never seen such as Jaime Lannister slaying a mad King Aerys. It’s not going well for Meera. She ain’t got much Hodor strength. And then the damn sled breaks. The only good news is that Bran finally wakes up. But it’s only to tell her that there’s a bunch of ravenous wights on their tail. And guess what? That’s when the wights show up, all Walking Dead, doing their ravenous thing. Meera embraces Bran because she’s sure they’re going to die, then probably get eaten, then have to come back as wight zombies.
Only, they’re saved! A masked guy shows up on a black horse, wielding some kinda flaming lamp chain mace (I can’t call it). And he’s setting wights on fire, dragging em, breaking them apart. Before you know it, a wight-massacre done taken place. He does a whole “come with me if you want to live” and extends a hand to Meera and Bran. Then they all take off.
Fast forward, and they’ve somehow managed to escape the wights and get some rest. Their mysterious savior tells them the Three-Eyed Raven sent him. And I think that’s now Bran himself. When the two ask their savior who the heck he is, he finally lowers his mask to reveal his face. It’s Bran’s uncle Benjen Stark–who we haven’t seen (as an adult) since Season 1 when he went out ranging. Only his horse returned. And the two rangers he had gone out with became our first glimpses of wights. He tells them he was stabbed by a White Walker and left for dead. But the Children saved him from Walker magic, by piercing him with dragonglass (that thing has 101 uses). And though he never says it exactly, it’s highly likely he’s none other than Coldhands–a missing character from the book, so named because he has cold hands, as he appears to be an “almost wight.”
So back South of the Wall…
Samwell Tarly is heading home! With Gilly and a baby. On the way there, he amuses Gilly with a long list of summer and autumn trees–and she points out he’s just nervous talking. And for good reason. He was pretty much banished to the Night’s Watch by his Pops. What’s more, now he’s showing up with a Wildling–who his father hates. He tells Gilly however (real last-minute) that the plan is this: he’s going to pass off the kid as his son so he’ll get an education and will be taken care of. He’s going to pass Gilly off as some common woman who is NOT a Wildling. Guess how that’s going to go?
First off, we learn that Samwell comes from money. Like forget that little hovel called Winterfell. Samwell got mansion dough! His mother and sister greet he and Gilly, and they’re pretty happy to see him and the child they think is his. Gilly even gets all dolled up (best. makeover. ever.) and joins the family for a dinner–FROM HELL. Samwell’s Pops is a dick. I mean a real grade A *dick.* He barely talks through the dinner, and when he does it’s just to insult Sam. Won’t even let the boy eat some bread in peace. Gilly’s not having it, and relates that Samwell has killed a Then, a White Walker and more. But she also let’s slip this all happened when she was coming to Castle Black down from the North. Pops puts two and two together, realizes she’s a Wildling, and lays into Sam even worse. Poor Sam just takes it though, because he’s afraid that if he speaks up his Pops will kick Gilly and the baby out. As it stands, his father says he’ll take in the Wildling girl to work the kitchens and take on the boy as a bastard. But Sam is to get gone. Like not now, but right now.
Later, we see an embarrassed Sam apologizing for not sticking up for Gilly. She says she’s more angry at people who attack him. He tries to leave, to allow them a better life. But moments later returns, saying, naaah. We belong together. He, the baby and Gilly then decide to make a break for it. But not before Sam straight up steals his family’s famous sword Heartsbane as his own–one of the few Valryian steel blades in the world. That’s right. Talk sh*t about me. I’mma take your damn sword.
In Braavos, Arya Stark is watching the play that pretty much creates a bizarro scenario of how things went down in the past seasons in King’s Landing. In the theatrical performance Joffrey is an innocent murdered by his sinister Uncle Tyrion who also murders his father for no reason other than half-man treachery. Arya is actually enjoying these scenes (these are the folk she wanted dead after all), until the actress playing Cersei actually reveals the depth of the loss of a son. And she’s kinda moved by that fine acting.
While the play is still ending, she makes her way backstage, to do the deed she was set upon by the priest with Jaqen H’ghar’s face: to kill the lead actress playing Cersei. She fills her favorite wine jug with poison then waits. The actress she’s supposed to do in however notices her moments later and strikes up conversation. The two have a “moment” and Arya leaves. The various actors and actresses then get into a tiff which delays the poisoned wine drinking. Just when the lead actress is finally set to take a skip however, someone dashes the cup from her hands. It’s Arya. She can’t bring herself to kill a woman who she doesn’t believe deserves death. She also outs the younger actress who was trying to get the lead actress killed, saying “watch that one.”
Except someone’s been watching Arya. Of course, it’s creepy girl. She goes back to the Temple of the Many Faced God and tells the priest with Jaqen H’ghar’s face that Arya done messed it all up. She also intimates that she always knew that would happen, and was promised to be the one to kill Arya if it was so. The priest with Jaqen H’ghar mulls over this request and then tells the girl, just make it swift.
Arya meanwhile is elsewhere, digging beneath some rocks to find her old sword Needle. For the first time in a long time, we see her with the blade, the old Arya we left behind since this detour to Braavos. She’s back. But now hunted by the very assassins she wanted to join. Problems.
In King’s Landing, sh*t is just crazy. The boy-king Tommen is being seduced to the zealot-y side by the Bernie Sanders-ish High Sparrow. When he asks about the still imprisoned Margaery the High Sparrow says the queen has become pious and intends to take her walk of atonement. He even allows Tommen to see her. When he does, Margaery is talking like she’s been born again in the blood of the Seven. She even calls her brother Loras a sinner! We get the feeling that Margaery is playing a long game here, above the understanding of simple Tommen. Because he’s like 5 years old.
When we next see her, it’s on the steps of the Temple ready to do her march of atonement in front of the people. But before it can happen, an armored Jaime and the Queen of Thorns Olenna Tyrell show up with a small army led by House Tyrell. They march on the High Sparrow and demand the queen and her brother be offered up, or it’s bout to be on. After a brief standoff, the High Sparrow appears to give in, saying bloodshed won’t be necessary or the march of atonement. He announces to all that’s because there’s a new convert to the cause. The doors to the temple open and out comes none other than…wait a minute, Tommen? And he’s followed by the Kingsguard? And now he’s holding hands with Margaery with the High Sparrow standing alongside as an equal partner?
WTF is going on?
Turns out, High Sparrow Bernie Sanders done outplayed them all–with the help, it seems, of a scheming Margaery. The throne has been married to the Temple of the Seven. Tommen got his throne and his queen, but it’s with the understanding that the Faith Militant are now a power tied to the king. King’s Landing has just become a theocracy.
Jaime and Lady Olenna realize they’ve been outplayed. In fact, the next time we see Jaime he’s standing before Tommen, stripped of his title and sent off to (of all things) take back Riverrun from Brynden Tully, the Blackfish. He ain’t happy. He tells as much to Cersei in private, saying he’s going to get an army and come back and kill the High Sparrow and everyone at that temple. But Cersei tells him he can’t. Their enemies are too entrenched. They going to have to play a long game as well and strike when they can. Then there’s some twin-cest…cuz we ain’t had that in a while.
Speaking of the Blackfish, remember treacherous Walder Frey? Well now that he’s no longer caretaker and custodian of Hogwarts, and since the Red Wedding, things ain’t been going well for the Freys. They’re losing castles, there’s uprisings, and more. What’s worse, his sons seem incapable to do anything about it. Frey tells them to get their sh*t together. They didn’t murder a whole wedding party for this all to be falling apart now. After a few really creepy slaps administered to the backside of his child bride, he admonishes his sons to take back Riverrun from the Blackfish. He reminds them as well they have an ace up their sleeve–they still hold Edmure Tully (who is married into the family) as a hostage.
If you’re not keeping track, here’s the amount of folk about to converge on Riverrun: the Blackfish, Jaime Lannister, the Freys and Brienne of Tarth who was sent there by Sansa. This should be fun.
And then there’s Dany. In Essos, she’s still leading her new-found army of Dothraki alongside new-faced Daario. He asks her what her plans are. She tells him they’re exactly what they been: get an army, sail home, wreck shop, take the throne. In that order. He points out however first she has to get ships and conquering won’t be easy. It’s about then that Dany notices something we can’t see in the distance, behind an outcrop of rocks. She says stay here and rides out to see.
As Daario and the Dothraki wait, the horses start getting jittery. And Dany is taking forever. Dario tells the others he’s off to get her. And that’s about when the dragon shows up. It’s Drogon, bigger and badder AF. He soars over the army then lands. On his back is none other than the Khaleesi. Riding her dragon like the Targaryen conquerors of old, she speaks to the Dothraki (who can somehow hear her from way up there). She tells them she’s a knew Khal, who will lead them to untold victory, across the sea, to tear down the stone houses of her enemies. The Sheena of the Jungle speech is met with positive acclaim, as the Dothraki cheer. Drogon tho steals the show, cheering and roaring louder than all of them.
Till next week, when we seem destined to meet up at Riverrun. I see a Lady Stoneheart cameo in the offing before the season’s done.