Last night’s episode gave us a few interesting moments, but it essentially served to set the stage for the next four episodes of the season.
The episode picks up right where the previous one left off, with Bran and Meera are making their escape. Meera slows down under the strain of carrying Bran. Bran comes out of his trance, having apparently received the entire history of Westeros in a handful of disparate visions, something that he can’t process.
Wights begin to close in on them and all seems lost when, out of nowhere, Coldhands arrives and saves the day. Later on we learn that Coldhands is in fact Benjen Stark, who was slain by a white walker but revived by the magic of the Children of the Forrest.
Sam and Gilly make their way to his father’s castle, where they are greeted and accepted by everyone in the family… except his dad. Daddy Tarley is a jerk to both Sam and Gilly, but after insulting the both of them promises to raise little Sam as his own grandson and give Gilly a job in the kitchen. Sam decides that Gilly and the baby should be with him and he leaves in the middle of the night, while also absconding with his father’s family sword, Heartsbane, a Valyrian steel blade which Sam was told he would never have.
Tommen is allowed to see Margaery who appears to have been swayed by the High Sparrow. She tells him that she was a sinner and that she is ready for her atonement. Later Mace Tyrell marches his army into King’s Landing in order to rescue Margaery from the High Sparrow. The two forces confront each other but we learn that there will be no walk of atonement for Margaery because she has brought Tommen into the fold. He exits the Grand Sept and the two hold hands while the High Sparrow watches. Mace asks his mother what’s happening and she replies “we’ve lost” before calling him a fool.
Later Tommen removes Jamie from the Kingsguard for daring to defy the gods. He is no longer Kingsguard and is instead tasked with helping Walder Frey retake Riverrun. He and Cersei mull this over before embracing in, uh, sibling love.
Walder Frey is none too happy that his sons have lost Riverrun. He berates them before telling them take Edmure Tully, who is still alive, to Riverrun and use him as a bargaining chip.
Arya continues to observe the play. While the players are performing she slips the poison into the flask that her target, Lady Crane, drinks from. As she is leaving she is caught by Lady Crane, who engages her in conversation, where Arya decides that she likes Lady Crane. As Crane is about to take a sip Arya smacks the glass from her hands and warns her that the young actress playing Sansa wants her dead. The camera pans and we see The Waif observing the entire scene.
Arya recovers Needle and goes to a room, presumably hers, and blows out a candle, letting darkness engulf the room. The Waif returns to Jaqen and informs him of Arya’s actions. Jaqen tells The Waif not to het Arya suffer when she kills her.
The Dothraki, all of them, presumably, have left Vaes Dothrak and are travelling toward Meereen. Daario and Daenerys are discussing their plans. Suddenly Dany stops the march and rides forth, alone. After a brief period Daario grows restless and decides to go after her, but suddenly they are engulfed in shadow. A dragon’s shadow. Dany sits atop Drogon and flies over them, landing at the head of her new army. She asks the Dothraki if they will follow her to Westeros and give her her kingdom, which they all agree to.
This episode was a little bland, but considering the power house episode we had last week that’s understandable.
What surprised me, and what might have been the center of the episode, was the non-confrontation at King’s Landing. I was expecting one of two things, either for Cersei to have some plan to betray the Tyrells in some way, or for there to be a bloodbath in King’s Landing that would turn public tide against the Lannisters (or perhaps more so, since they’ve never been very popular). Instead we had a confrontation that ended in Tommen being apparently completely taken over by the High Sparrow, something that had been set up in previous episodes but has not been very clear. We know the High Sparrow is a very manipulative man, far better than Cersei, but we’ve also seen Tommen be remorseful and attempt to repair his broken relationship with his mother.
None of this occurs in the books, mind you. In the books Tommen is about 5 or so and Jamie is elsewhere, having already re-taken Riverrun from The Blackfish. This episode helped set Jamie back on course.
One interesting thing to note, speaking of Riverrun, is when the Frey brothers are complaining to their father they mention The Brotherhood Without Banners. The last time we saw them was back in Season 3 when they had planned to ransom Arya back to her family. We saw Beric Dondarrion at that time, and learned that red priests are capable of resurrection. What sparks my interest here is that later on in the books, Lady Catelyn Stark’s corpse is found by Dondarrion, who gives his life to resurrect her as Lady Stoneheart. Stoneheart comes back as a vengeful woman, the new leader of The Brotherhood who eventually captures Brienne of Tarth, who at this point in the books is still searching for Sansa. Brienne is nearly hanged by Stoneheart until she promises to, well, essentially kill Jamie for not honoring their bargain. Brienne later meets up with Jamie after having retaken Riverrun and the two set off for, well, what I suspect is a trap. It may be that things will return to the books at the end of this season as we know Brienne is heading to Riverrun which is pretty near where the Brotherhood is…
Sadly, Arya may be next to meet the headman, so to speak. We get why she can’t kill the actress; she appears to be a good person and Arya has, thus far, only killed bad people. Arya had one chance, a second chance, and Jaqen told her there would not be a third. It makes me worry for her in the books because frankly, this episode left off about where she leaves off in the last preview chapter George R. R. Martin has released, except instead of not killing someone she kills the wrong person, Raff the Sweetling, who died in season 4 of the show (sort of, that character was a mishmash of Raff and Polliver).
One of the most interesting events was the introduction of Coldhands, a character who helped lead Bran to the Three Eyed Raven in the books. One fan theory has suggested for a long time that Coldhands is in fact Benjen Stark, but we’ve known this to be false for a while now… or have we?
In the link we see the manuscript for George R. R. Martin’s A Dance with Dragons, and his editor clearly asks Martin if Coldhands is Benjen. George replies with a single word:
Now, of course George could have been lying. Or he could have changed his mind in the interim. Or he could have been pulling an Obi Wan Kenobi: he’s not Benjen because he’s Coldhands. It’s the truth, from a certain point of view…
Or it could be that the writers of the show felt they needed to throw the audience a bone and decided to insert Benjen as Coldhands instead of giving us an entirely new mystery to puzzle over.
Is Coldhands Benjen in the books? I don’t know. It’s a minor mystery and one that is far less compelling than the upcoming Clegane Bowl which should be coming either next episode or the one after.