***Spoiler Warning: This post contains Game of Thrones discussion through Season 6, Episode 6. Spoilers***
As mentioned last week, it’s becoming all too obvious that this series that once made us feel as if we were racing through every jam-packed hour, barely able to catch each important moment, is slowing down and spreading its story a little thinly. Perhaps because the stage was so, set we’ve fallen into a pattern of spoiled children, expecting more than our benevolent parents could possibly deliver — our two dads purposely slowing the rate of treats to temper our greedy gobbling. So, even as we stomp our feet frustrated over the change in pace (for any Season 5 complaints about excessive this or that, nearly every episode was full and breathtaking), this Game‘s high points continue to prove it one of television’s best series. For indulgent moments spent on the drawn out retelling we watch Arya watch, there’s a heart-pounding reveal or a cleverly played Queen’s hand. We’ll willingly trade a slow-paced carriage ride with downtrodden Sam and feisty Gilly for the reward of Coldhands‘ triumphant return and another Queen’s momentous ride.
Returning to the moment right after Hodor made his sacrifice, Meera does her best to drag still-visioning Bran…
to some kind of safety, though both we and she know it’s a feat doomed to fail. Most of us also realized this was a perfect moment for Benjen Stark (Joseph Mawle) to ride back in from his Season 3 darkness, and so he did. After the rescue and over a nourishing rabbit, Benjen explains he was killed during a First Ranger mission, and the Children of the Forest revived him just as they had created the first White Walker — with a dragonglass shard straight to the heart. As confirmed by Benioff and Weiss’ Inside the Episode, show Benjen is “Coldhands” (***Book Spoiler: who in A Dance with Dragons rescues Bran and Meera, and leads them to the Three-Eyed Raven. The showrunners’ interpretation differs from George R. R. Martin who when asked, confirmed book Coldhands was not Benjen ***End Book Spoiler). Whoever Benjen is or isn’t, his appearance now was a thrilling and a long-awaited highlight; to see the rescue play out, as exciting as knowing Bran must gain control of his warging and head into uncharted territory.
Sam and Gilly…blah, blah, blah…Sam and Gilly — and that adorable baby scene stealer — it wasn’t terrible, but let’s be honest,
that was a whole lot of drawn-outedness just to see Sam grab hold of Heartsbane, and take what is rightfully his.
Ditto the slow-mo journey of Margaery’s transformation to repentant sinner and atoner, avoiding her pennance walk as High Sparrow triumphantly revealed, by bringing another into the fold. Only, who the hell is falling for this nonsense other than Sparrow and Tommen, fools that the naive and elderly seem to be?
Surely, not Lady Olenna, and not us either, right? In the lead-up to Season 6, Natalie Dormer alluded that Margaery had hatched a plan to get herself out of jail (“She’s found an interesting way to get herself out of the situation.”), and I don’t for one second believe the young Queen has submitted to the Faith of the Seven.
Bookended by its other (literally) high point, another GoT hour closes strong. It’s difficult to understand how the showrunners can’t see — as deftly illustrated by the two huge Daenerys-centric endings in “Book of the Stranger” and Blood of My Blood” — you simply don’t need nudity to demonstrate Dany’s strength and power. Commanding a dragon and riding him, walking through fire; her natural leadership abilities all shine through Clarke’s posture, stance and speeches, just as any male commander’s skills would. Who needs boobs when you’ve got Drogon the dragon? The Dothraki and the Unsullied don’t follow Daenerys Stormborn because she showed them her naked body, and nor do we.
Though somewhere in the backs of our minds we never really forget that Cersei and Jaime are brother and sister, the squick factor always takes me by surprise when we see them embrace. On the one hand it is glorious to see both Lannisters returned to their confident, ruthless selves, threatening the outside world and recommitting to each other. “We’ve always been together; we’ll always be together. We’re the only two people in the world.”
Edmure Tully! Tobias Menzies! Walder Frey! Riverrun! Look, all signs are pointing to ***Book Spoiler
Come on with that play already! We could have seen Arya’s change of heart without a second more of that silly play. Whichever of the powers that be is so utterly fascinated with that theater production could and should have created it as an extra scene — a DVD plus — but if the budget is so utterly generous, we could have had PROPER DORNE. Complaining aside, Maisie Williams was exceptional this hour, as Arya came to her final realization: a girl must be herself. So, it looks like we can easily discern which of Williams three statements are true; Arya is heading back to Westeros…but first she must prepare.
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending upon your outlook, we’ll first be privy to one more Arry v. the Waif fight, possibly to the death. One the one hand it’s a waste of time — no one for a minute believes Arya would lose or be killed (unless that’s the way too early third holy sh*t moment) — and on the other we’ll get to see Arry in another badass fight.