This week’s episode was frustrating, because it appeared that the people we have been rooting against kept winning. Even Arya’s in some real trouble, which is very upsetting. Certainly, some things are going to go very wrong, but I think that, in at least two cases, those that appear weak have actually put themselves in a position of strength. In fact, strength that appears weak seems to be the connective tissue among all the story lines covered this week.
I’m pretty sure I’ve never uttered the phrase, “Oh, good, they’re starting with Bran” before this episode. Few people appear weaker than a paraplegic boy from a disgraced house with no army living in a frozen wilderness. Add to that a girl-warrior who does not know the terrain and one mostly dead warrior with necrotic hands, and their death should be certain. And yet, Uncle Benjen is still himself enough to have retained his ranger skills for killing wights and hunting rabbits. Plus, he knows what Bran needs to know. It’s certainly an interesting twist on the Cold Hands character to have him join them now instead of leading them to the Raven (man, I wish he was still riding an elk), but his knowledge and ability fills the same necessary need. He is their guide and protector, giving them a measure of strength and security while Bran does his necessary work. He is their Strider (also a ranger, I might add), with Bran as Frodo and Meera as Samwise. If they can avoid capture and detection, they can stop the Night King, but their “quest stands upon the edge of a knife.”
I’m just gonna say it: I want Sam to kill his father. Damn, that gravel-voiced dude is an unwashed asshole. I’ve always liked Gilly, and she stood up for her man. But, when she says, “I’m not angry at you. I’m angry that horrible people can treat good people that way and get away with it,” it feels unbelievably naive for a woman who grew up in Craster’s keep. Of course horrible people get away with this shit. Where have you been? She wants a just world, and we would all wish that, but she seems incredibly unworldly. Except, that’s what motivates Sam. So, perhaps she was not expressing naive surprise, but, rather, was motivating her champion to act. Man, I hope he’s got a plan. If they’re heading for the Citadel, one can only hope that will afford him some protection. If not, he better figure out how to use Heartsbane, and fast. It is, of course, worth noting that Valyrian steel swords, like Dragon Glass, can kill White Walkers, so, perhaps that will come in handy.
Speaking of taking swords you’re not supposed to, Arya has given up on being no one. This is a big problem for her. The House of Black and White is more than just a temple to the God of Death. The Faceless Men are, essentially, organized assassins for hire. She’s supposed to kill Lady Crane because “the price was paid,” but Arya sees this as unjust. Like all organized groups promising violence for hire, breaking a contract is, to put it mildly, frowned upon. The Waif is there, watching, testing Arya, and she is given the task of killing her quickly. The Faceless Men are, here, revealed to be, not seekers of justice and the deliverance of mercy, but, basically as hit men protecting their business. Arya reclaims Needle and blows out her light, but she is in a precarious position. Hopefully, she knows what’s coming. If she doesn’t, the Waif could be wearing Arya’s face to kill people in King’s Landing, or anywhere else. If she does, she is now Arya + assassin skills, but she will be hunted by the Faceless Men.
King’s Landing is, of course, a hotbed of douchebaggery. It would appear that the High Sparrow has won. Jaime is banished to go retake Riverrun. The Sparrow seems to have Margery all locked up which means he also has the King, since Tommen is a man and, therefore, follows the person who will let him dip his wick. But I say “nay.” The person in command is Margery. Two weeks ago, she told her brother to be strong. She is playing the long game. When she can get her brother free, she may shake herself free of the Sparrow. Or not. She can use her reputation with the small folk as a bulwark against Lannister machinations. There is power in being viewed as honest and forthright, whether or not it is true. In her case, I think not. But, what she has learned from the Sparrow is the power of a unified populace. If she can win their trust, she can use them against her enemies.
Which leads us to Daenerys. By the title alone, we all knew that she would be in this episode, but they certainly made us wait for it. She has always recognized the benefit of harnessing the power of the people. But Daario makes clear the weakness of her position. They need at least a week to get to Mereen, and then, they don’t have nearly enough ships for her conquering desires. All of that is true. But, she’s got fucking dragons. Drogon finds his mother, who rides him to rally her people behind her. They are all her blood riders now, and they will win blood for her. I, for one, cannot wait for her to kill the shit out of some slavers.
Fire and blood, indeed