Game of Thrones fans are getting a payoff for our slavish devotion to the HBO series. And our currency is information. After 6 seasons, some questions that have been hanging over our heads like Ilyn Payne’s axe are finally getting answers, while other questions are only now being asked. There are spoilers ahead, glorious spoilers we’ve been waiting for since the first season. You know how this works.
WHAT HAPPENED TO BENJEN STARK?
Benjen Stark is the younger brother of Eddard, the former Hand of the King, whose beheading set both characters and fans into a permanent tailspin. Benjen had been a member of the Night’s Watch. Only a short time after Jon Snow joined and took his vows in season 1, Benjen disappeared, never to be seen again. Until now.
Benjen reappears five seasons later, when the White Walkers are moments away from turning Meera and Bran into Meera Cubes and Bran-cicles. Benjen arrives, flays a bunch of White Walkers with an awesome flaming morningstar, and rescues them.
However, the man in front of Bran isn’t completely Benjen: His uncle had actually been killed by the White Walkers, only to be revived by a shred of dragon glass plunged into his heart.
But he is human enough to warn Bran that the Night’s King is waiting for him.
[That can’t be good.]
WHAT DID BRAN SEE IN THOSE FLASHBACKS?
Bran Stark is a greenseer, which means he receives visions of all sorts, particularly visions of the past.
In one amazing moment that flashes by, we see something that readers of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels have only dreamed of seeing: “Burn them all.”
That’s what King Aerys the Mad—a.k.a. Daenery’s father—shouted as he ordered his pyromancer to destroy King’s Landing with green dragonfire. (We saw it at work in season 2.)
[It was neat.]
In other words, Bran is having flashbacks to one of the most important events in the entire series. More on that in a later article.
WHO IS ARYA STARK?
For the last two seasons, Arya has tried to convince the House of Black and White that she is “no one.” And to be “no one,” she would have to not be Arya. In season 5’s episode “High Sparrow,” she relinquished her possessions to a river in Braavos. Everything except her precious sword, Needle, given to her in season 1 by her half-brother Jon Snow. She hid Needle away, because, as we learn in the novel A Storm of Swords, it was her one connection to home.
Needle was Robb and Bran and Rickon, her mother and her father, even Sansa. Needle was Winterfell’s grey walls, and the laughter of its people. Needle was the summer snows, Old Nan’s stories, the heart tree with its red leaves and scary face, the warm earthy smell of the glass gardens, the sound of the north wind rattling the shutters of her room. Needle was Jon Snow’s smile.
[It’s the best sword, ever.]
In the previous episode “The Door,” Arya had been given the identity of Mercy and sent to kill an actress, Lady Crane. (In the books, however, “Mercedene” was sent to Izembaro’s troupe in order to learn the skill of acting.) In “Blood of My Blood,” Arya manages to poison Crane’s drink, plus learn the identity of the actress who hired her for her assassin-y skills. But after a conversation with Crane, who was kind and encouraging to Mercy, Arya knocks the glass out of her hand.
Now we know who Arya is—and more importantly, so does she. She’s someone who can’t kill indiscriminately.
Because Arya is clever as all hell, she knows there will be consequences to not fulfilling her contract. She finds her beloved Needle and hides away. Of course, the Waif asks, without asking, to kill Arya.
Jaqen H’ghar agrees. “Don’t let her suffer,” he says.
WHAT IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY HAPPENED TO MARGAERY?
Margaery Tyrell is the queen of the Seven Kingdoms. But her time in the dungeons of the High Sparrow has led to what looks like a brainwash, complete with rinse. Now, she needs to take her Walk of Shame, with the Shame Septa leading the way.
Jaime and an army arrive to rescue her. But Margaery has had a chat with King Tommen, and he now declares that the Faith and the Crown “are the twin pillars open which the world rests.” The High Sparrow says that Margaery no longer has to do her Shame Walk; Tommen tells his uncle Jaime that his service as a Kingsguard is no longer required.
I can only hope that Margery has a cunning plan, because this is some serious b^!!$#!t.
IS THERE STILL FALLOUT FROM THE RED WEDDING?
Besides the death of King Robb, his wife Talisa, their unborn child, and Catelyn Stark?
[Pictured: The real Red Wedding planner.]
Yeah, you could say that.
As Walder Frey (played with cantankerous evil by the fabulous David Bradley) notes to two of his many sons, Catelyn’s uncle Brynden Tully has taken the castle of Riverrun. He orders Frey One and Frey Two to besiege the castle—this time, with Catelyn’s brother Edmure Tully (the one who was married at the Red Wedding) in tow as a hostage.
Meanwhile, Jaime, banished from King’s Landing, tells Cersei he’s been ordered to the siege of Riverrun. He offers to stay, to help her in the upcoming trial against the Faith, but she says she has the Mountain to defend her. You know, the reanimated corpse of Gregor Clegane, a.k.a. the Mountain.
I have no idea why King’s Landing hasn’t been stormed by peasants with pitchforks.
Before Jaime departs, he tells Cersei, “We’ll always be together. We’re the only two people in the world.” That would have been crazy romantic had he not been, ya know, her brother.
WHY IS THE PHRASE “BLOOD OF MY BLOOD” IMPORTANT?
“Blood of my blood” is the phrase the Dothraki khals and their three bloodriders (bodyguards and companions) use when referring to each other. “Blood of my blood” is a sentimental phrase for a people who don’t have a word for “thank you.”
In “Blood of My Blood,” we see Daenerys and her lover Daario leading the Dothraki back to Meereen, where she rules. Soon, she spots something and rides off alone. She returns later, astride her own dragon (and seriously, how awesome is that?), and echoes the words that Khal Drogo promised back in season 1:
“I will take my Khalasar [kingdom of the Dothraki] west to where the world ends and ride wooden horses across the black salt water as no Khal has done before! I will kill the men in iron suits and tear down their stone houses! I will rape their women, take their children as slaves, and bring their broken gods back to Vaes Dothrak! This, I vow, I, Drogo, son of Bharbo. I swear before the Mother of Mountains as the stars look down in witness!”
Typically, Khals have three blood riders. Here, Dany asks the entire Khalasar to become her blood riders, the “blood of her blood,” her own personal army to take back the Seven Kingdoms.
[Dany rode off on a horse but returned with a dragon. Gee, I wonder what happened to the horse?]
Sam takes Gilly and her son to his father’s castle, where she will be safe. Randyll Tarly is a skilled warrior, but a horrible father. After realizing he can’t leave Gilly there, particularly after Randyll makes his hatred of Wildings known, Sam decides to take her and the baby away. But not before “liberating” the family Valyrian sword, Heartsbane.
Also: Gilly cleans up good.
Before Arya poisons Lady Crane’s drink, she watches the play again, the one from “The Door,” where we get a Shakespearean retelling of the death of King Joffrey. When Joffrey dies on stage, Arya is the only person in the audience who’s smiling. That’s my girl.
ZOMG! The Brotherhood Without Banners, led by Thoros of Myr and seen in season 3, gets a shout-out. Fans of the book will know what happens next. (It’s pure awesome.)
Featured Image Credits: HBO