Scott: Well that was much better.
Matt: Hear hear. Big sigh of relief
Scott: I really think we got a little bit too nit-picky last episode. I have a pretty high expectation level for Game of Thrones, so I’m especially harsh when it doesn’t meet it.
Matt: Perhaps. I feel like the nitpicking originates from a lack of emotional connection in the first place.
Either way, this episode put to rest my concerns that the show was going downhill as we got off-book. In fact, I’m now reconciled to the idea that there are two completely different things now: A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series; and A Game of Thrones, the TV show. The renaming can be viewed not just as branding, but as an intentional effort to distinguish the show as something new and different and separate from the books.
Scott: New, different, separate, and in many ways better!
Gentry: Now THIS is GoT at its best. Yes, the last few episodes have been impactful from a big reveal/losing characters we love perspective, but when you get right down to it this episode was close to flawless for me. Last week’s episode was wonderful in moments. The way we lost Hodor will go down as one of the saddest, most tragic moments in series history, but as a whole it just wasn’t a good episode.
Scott: The most surprising thing to me this week was that Sam’s dramatic return to his home and confrontation with his father was the most enthralling point of the episode for me. We spoke last week about B plot characters and how they overtook the episode. I think Sam definitely falls under that type of character, and yet his scenes were all absolutely wonderful. This got me thinking about your comment Matt, that nitpicking only comes from a lack of emotional connection. It’s true that when we feel emotionally tethered to a scene, we’re much less likely to notice all the small insignificant failures of it.
But here: We love Sam and Gilly. There’s no confusing, nebulous “Green Seeing” mumbo jumbo here. It’s simple character moments. An old grouchy asshole, a man scared of his dick of a father, and the woman that sees him for what he really. They all come to blows in one really intense dinner scene. It’s all clear, relatable, and very affecting.
This week’s episode is titled “Blood of my Blood” and it all deals with people’s interactions with their families. The sacrifices and decisions they make to protect the people they love. To Sam, his family is Gilly and little Sam, not the old crotchety man talking of honor, bravery, and being a real man – things he doesn’t actually understand.
Sam’s decision to take his father’s Valyrian steel sword with him when they flee, cements all of this.The sword belongs to him by right, and he is the only one that would actually use it to defend the people he loves.
Gentry: Best Sam episode in forever! I can’t recall being so entertained and moved by these characters.Guys, you may think sometimes I’m in this just for the fantastical and supernatural elements, or for the theories or predictions of book plots and sub-plots, but these are just the cherries on top. What actually pulled at my heart strings the first time I picked up Game of Thrones is reading scenes like this, and knowing that any adaptation can be successful if they (for the most part) know what makes these characters tick. Remember Tyrion’s scenes in Season 4 when he gives a great monologue at his trial and then quietly hears a childhood story from the Red Viper before the duel? Or the empathy you felt during Jaime and Brienne’s hot tub scene? Or Dany rising freeing Astapor? THESE are the moments that drive it home. THESE are the moments that allow us to reflect how rough the world really is, and how lucky most of us are to live the lives we do and have the families we have. Sam continues to remind me of why I love this story so Goddamn much.
Matt: Really well said, Gentry. The Sam scenes were amazing. Whether we knew it or not, we have wanted Sam to confront his horrible dad ever since Sam told us the tale of why he joined the Watch. And this “confrontation”, if you can call it that, feels very organic and true to the character of Sam. He takes the verbal beating because Sam truly standing up to his father still isn’t something he would do. Maybe he never will. But he is a man of the Night’s Watch, and he knows he has more use for Valyrian Steel than anybody else.
Scott: Can we do a Valyrian Inventory check? These swords are going to become more and more important in the coming episodes.
Matt: Go for it.
Scott: Ned Stark’s Ice was split into two – One of which Brienne has, the other, I’m assuming is with Tommen
Matt: Widow’s Wail, Oathkeeper
Scott: Right. Jon has Longclaw.
Matt: Heartsbane was in this episode
Scott: Yep! Sam has it now
Matt: I’m sure Gentry can remind us of the Dayne’s sword.
Scott: I completely forgot about that one. The Lannister sword was lost in Valyria, right?
Scott: I think that’s all of them?
Matt: Speaking vaguely of oaths, can I mention how happy I am that we’re doing the Jaime Goes to Riverrun plot?
Scott: Yes! that was something that was in the earlier books, but completely cut out. I’m glad they’re circling around back to it again. Jaime has been desperately needing something to do in the series for a while and this is a great place to take it.
Matt: Yeah. That storyline is full of important character development for Jaime. No spoilers intended, but, I’m really looking forward to it.
Gentry: I got nothing else, other than I’m on the same page in seeing Jaime have something to do and yes! It is a great time for his character’s development. I’m curious to see the exchange between him and Blackfish, because in the book it depicts the current state of things post War of the Five Kings rather nicely.
I also now think, because of this change in the timeline and giving us the Riverlands back, it’s no longer out of the question that HBO inserts Lady Stoneheart at the end of the season… maybe…
Scott: Ehh I dunno, I guess it’s possible. We don’t want to spoil that one for our non-book readers though.
Matt: And speaking of Jaime, we got to see the Kingslaying in this episode, albeit buried in a confusing vision.
Scott: Yeah I’m wondering if we’ll get to see that whole scene in real time. It would be funny if they shot and cut an entire scene just to show us split second flashbacks. Did you catch anything new revealed in any of those?
Matt: A weird focus on fire, dragons, wildfire, fire-obsessed kings. But other than that, no.
Scott: I read this theory online that said that it’s possible the Mad King’s desire to “burn them all” was referring to the wights/White Walkers and not actually the residents of King’s Landing. Something to do with Green Seeing meddling driving him insane. During those flashes I caught an unusual cut from the “burn them all” line to a shot of The Night’s King that might lend credence to that theory, but I might be reading too much into that…
Matt: I am fond of theories that all the “mad” characters are not so much mad as tormented by prophetic visions, so maybe.
I feel that there was much more movement on the character and plot level than we’ve seen in several episodes. Arya finally, finally, finally makes an actual decision, rather than hovering around the House of Black and White equivocating about her commitment. And ultimately this is also an authentically Arya decision. Speaking of which, her inappropriate laughter at play-Joffrey’s death was another perfect touch in a great episode.
Scott: I agree. For the first time in maybe 2 years, I found Arya’s storyline engaging and I think like you said it’s probably because the character is finally actively making decisions for herself.
Gentry: It was a bit of a grind, but I agree it all paid off in JUST THIS EPISODE. Right? Less rhetorical Faceless Men talk and confusion, more Arya being Arya Stark and putting us on the veritable morality ledge. I’m starting to realize just how shitty it would have been to see Arya actually make this her vocation. Am I alone here?
Scott: Not at all. That would have been terrible. I also didn’t mind the scene showing the play nearly as much in this episode, and I think it was because of Arya’s really inappropriate laughing. Arya didn’t get to be there for Joffery’s death, so I’m glad that she got to see it in a certain fashion.
Matt: I think the play elements were just cinematically better integrated into the episode this time.
Scott: Her decision to spare the actress was quintessentially Arya. She is not, nor ever has been a murderer of innocents. She kills those who have harmed her or are in her way.
Gentry: It’s true, folks. Arya Stark is, in her heart of hearts, a good person. The show made a good decision, and it was a relief to watch it play out. Great scene too. I miss the days where her actions kept me on the edge of my couch on the constant. I’m just kind of glad they made the decision to move on.
Matt: So my current theory is that this is actually her final test. If she defeats the Waif, then Jaqen is going to morph in out of the shadows and be all “A girl is ready.” Which doesn’t really make sense if we take the Faceless mission at face value, but is totally a dramatic twist that would work.
Scott: That’s possible, I guess. I will enjoy seeing Arya beat her up regardless.
Gentry: Soooo how many fans predicted THAT to happen in King’s Landing. By “that” I mean nothing. The potential of a major Kings Landing bloodbath between these three parties was almost too juicy. But it does raise many questions. Why? I guess these talks between Tommen and the High Septon were just that…?
Matt: So, is Margaery really a devout Sparrow now, or is this more Margaery being Margaery?
Scott: No, I think Margaery is just playing the long con, though to what aim I’m not sure. Perhaps she’s realized that the High Sparrow is the most powerful person in the Kingdom right now and if she has any hope of retaining her power, she’ll need to play his with his game (of thrones) instead of playing against it.
Matt: Yeah. Her change of heart came suspiciously quickly after Loras begged her to make the torture stop.
Gentry: There’s clearly some ploy happening between Margaery and someone, but whether it’s some clever “be good and we will leave you be” agreement made between her, Tommen and the High Septon (doubtlful) or some ruse it’s hard to tell.
Scott: I really think things are positioning themselves to really blow up in King’s Landing over the next few episodes. I don’t think Tommen gets out of this decision alive.
Matt: I agree. Tommen is now taking more of an active role in things, making his own decisions, but he has no idea what he’s doing. This won’t go well for him.
Gentry: This won’t end well for Tommen. Sadly after what befell Myrcella in Dorne his fate is inevitable.
Scott: I‘m really interested to see how all this plays out though. If they manage to topple the Faith from power, especially if Tommen loses his head, there’s only one house powerful enough to fill that vacuum…and they happen to have a very large army conveniently nearby. I know we don’t like the Lannisters (or at least aren’t supposed to), but do we think the Tyrells would be any better?
Matt: I mean, I think they would be better than Cersei, because she’s completely insane, but not necessarily better than Tywin was. They’re just another Great House trying to consolidate power.
Scott: Fair. I guess it doesn’t really matter who is in power when Dany arrives. Which, with four episodes to go, is looking more and more like it will not happen this season
Her part in this episode was short but impactful, But it felt weird for it to come several days after her big “walk through the fire” moment.
I have a theory that the original script had Drogon coming to burn down the tent instead of Dany doing it herself. She survives the burning, hops on her dragon and then gives her inspiring speech. But since the scene took place at night it ended up being too expensive to shoot and integrate the CG. So they split the difference, moved Drogon (and the speech) to another, day-lit portion of the storyline, and gave Dany the triumphant moment on her own.
Gentry: Very interesting take on Dany, Scott. It felt a little “too soon” after her most recent rebirth in Vaes Dothrak, but to see the beauty that is Drogon in all its CGI glory was enough to warrant another speech.
I want want want to see this type of speech from dragon back on top of Visenyas Hill next, with a look of shock and awe on EVERY face. A wonder and terror that hasn’t been seen over over a century. Get ready...
Scott: Bran’s storyline was once again the weakest of the episode for me. The show finally brought us Coldhands who was revealed to be the long missing Uncle Benjen (So long missing that nobody but us crazy book people even remember who he is), but all he does is save Bran from a suspiciously small amount of Wights and then give him some vague talks about how he’ll be ready to face The Night’s King when it’s time. Face him how? With what? How does Bran’s powers help at all in the coming war?
Matt: Yeah. I remain worried about the Bran plotline. You can have your wizards mysterious, or you can have your wizards powerful, but if your wizards are both powerful and mysterious, they will break the plot.
Scott: I know I sound with a broken record, but this episode once again reminded me of Lost. The high points are always the intimate, beautifully written character interactions. The lows are nebulous sci-fi nonsense that comes off as being mysterious but is really just characters refusing to take 30 seconds to explain things.
Overall though, I really did love this episode and I can’t believe that we’re almost done with the season already. Only 4 hours to go! Thanks to both of you as always for taking some of your vacation time to chat Game of Thrones with me!
Check back with us next week when we all get together to discuss episode 7: “The Broken Man”