‘Game Of Thrones’ Recap: You Have My Sword
This week's episode was more interesting than it seemed.
This is a recap of the latest episode of Game of Thrones. Spoilers!
Compared to last week’s upheaval, this was a fairly uneventful episode which followed the Game of Thrones B-list. (Sorry — no Brienne and Tormund this week.) There were fascinating things going on nonetheless as we saw people make fateful decisions about which side they’re on. Old loyalties are being reaffirmed, and new allegiances forged.
In the northern wastes, Meera is dragging the unconscious Bran through the snow as quickly as she can (not nearly quickly enough). Notice that Bran’s vision of the oncoming wights is intercut with mad King Aerys saying, “Burn them all!” This seems to fall in line well with a fan theory that Aerys went mad in the first place because Bran — or the Three-Eyed Raven before him — tried to greenwarg back in time to warn Aerys about the ascendancy of the White Walkers, only to scramble the king’s brain the way he did Hodor’s. Greenwarging: not even once.
Just when they think all is lost, a new player enters the game. “Coldhands!” I hissed with a righteous fist-pump. I was disappointed not to see this mysterious man with cold, black fingers in season four. But now I’m especially excited that the show has confirmed the longtime fan theory that he’s Bran’s uncle, Benjen — the First Ranger of the Night’s Watch who was lost beyond the Wall back in season one.
I’m still not sure quite how the Children of the Forest’s cardiac obsidian magic works, but the short version is that Benjen’s watch has ended, and he’s now Bran’s protector, picking up where the Raven left off. Ready or not, Bran is now the Raven.
Samwell Tarly must also ready himself for a fight that requires a stalwart heart. While it was delightful to meet Sam’s lovely mum and sister, and see how well Gilly scrubs up, we all knew their trip to Horn Hill wouldn’t end well. It was terrible to see Sam retreat into the meekness that must have been his childhood coping strategy under Lord Randyll Tarly’s constant abuse.
More than any Tarly, Sam deserves to wield Heartsbane, the family sword. He’s one of the bravest characters in this series because violence is so foreign to his kind, scholarly nature. Also, Heartsbane is one of the few remaining Valyrian steel swords, and Sam is one of the few people in Game of Thrones who knows that both dragonglass and Valyrian steel can defeat White Walkers. Perhaps it’s pragmatism, as well as rage at his father, that leads Sam to steal the sword as he sweeps Gilly and Little Sam to… who knows where now?
By the way… do you think Margaery Tyrell has had a genuine religious epiphany? Gods, I hope not. I prefer to believe she’s doing and saying whatever she needed to escape captivity. Regardless, it looks like the High Sparrow’s plot to make a zealot of King Tommen has borne fruit. The Queen of Thorns is 100 percent accurate in her assessment of the clusterfuck: “He’s beaten us. That’s what’s happening.”
Having acted so dramatically to forestall a Walk of Atonement that was never going to happen, Jaime now looks like a prize dickhead, and has to suffer his own son stripping him of his Kingsguard cloak. Cersei lets Jaime rant about revenge to bolster his dignity, but soon reassures him with some twincestuous pashing that everyone else in the world can get fucked.
Jaime now has to leap out of the King’s Landing frying pan and into the cauldron of unrest currently bubbling away in the Riverlands, where the odious Walder Frey has been holding Lord Edmure Tully hostage after the Red Wedding.
However, it seems Littlefinger was not lying about Edmure’s uncle, the Blackfish, having retaken the Tully stronghold of Riverrun. Walder is hopping mad that his gaggle of gormless sons let it happen, but he’s got two trump cards: using Edmure himself as bait; and appealing for aid from Jaime, at the head of a Lannister army. But guess who else is heading for Riverrun?
I can’t wait for this clash. On one side, the Freys and Lannisters. On the other, the Blackfish, aided by the Mallisters and the Blackwoods. And, most intriguingly, the Brotherhood without Banners rallying the smallfolk. We already know their enigmatic revenant leader Beric Dondarrion, and resident Red Priest Thoros of Myr, but readers of the novels may wonder if perhaps a ruthless woman named Lady Stoneheart (book spoilers!) now leads the Brotherhood too.
Speaking of ruthless women, Daenerys decides to wow the Dothraki with another stump speech this week — this time while mounted on Drogon, the dragon named for her dead husband. Man, I’m sick of Dany’s rousing speeches. But perhaps these repetitive scenes are meant to show us what Daario Naharis grasps, but Dany doesn’t yet: “You weren’t made to sit on a chair in a palace,” he tells her. “You’re a conquerer, Daenerys Stormborn.” Like her ancestor, Aegon.
Daenerys is emerging as a villain: a destroyer, not a liberator. When her diverse army finally make it to Westeros, it will be a terrible day. She may not (yet) be ‘mad’ like her father Aerys, but her promise to the Dothraki that they can sack Westeros like some Lhazareen village is not likely to go down well with Tyrion and Varys, the moderate politicians currently running her caretaker government in Meereen.
Meanwhile, in Braavos, there are some very pretty speeches onstage where Arya has now seen Joffrey die thrice and enjoyed it more and more each time.
Backstage, she sneaks her poison into Lady Crane’s booze bottle, but nonetheless empathises with her performance of Cersei’s grief and anguish – which doesn’t escape the notice of the stage veteran herself, who believes ‘Mercy’ is an aspiring actress.
Was it Arya’s respect for Lady Crane’s talent that leads her to slap the poison away and ruin her last chance with the Faceless Men? Or has drama done for Arya what it has always done: awakened her emotions and given her fresh purpose? Either way, I was fist-pumping again as Arya fetched Needle from its hiding place.
When you think about it, the Faceless Men are insanely dedicated method actors. One way or another, Arya’s face is going to end up as a BAFTA (Braavosi Assassination, Fighting and Terrorism Association) statuette in the Hall of Faces, and Needle may not be enough when the Waif comes for her. But then again, swords are a crucial symbol of where a warrior’s true loyalties lie.