Ever since David Benioff and DB Weiss decided to wrap up the nonsensical Jon Snow narrative, season six has steadily become one of the stronger seasons. This episode spent a good deal of its time on Samwell Tarley (John Bradley), Gilly (Hannah Murray), and Samwell, Jr.’s less than ideal reception at Horn Hall where the ice cold Randyll Tarley (James Faulkner) mocks Sam and threatens Gilly. Sam shows the most balls he has shown since he killed a White Walker with dragon glass by stealing the Tarley family sword and, in a rather romantic heroic gesture, takes Gilly and her baby with him as he leaves the oppressive halls of his father’s home.
Arya (Maisie Williams), in a very tense turn, sneaks backstage during the performance of a horrid play about King Joffrey’s “murder” by his “Uncle Imp” and poisons the flask of wine belonging to the actress she has been commanded to kill. The elegant actress, Lady Crane (Essie Davis), sees Arya leaving the theater and begins to consult her for performance advice. In this brief exchange, we can see that Arya’s sense of compassion is too strong to turn her into the cold-blooded killer she desires to be. Instead, when Lady Crane is in a heated debate with the fiery actor Izembaro (a wonderful Richard E. Grant) and reaches to take a calming sip of her wine, Arya slaps the cup out of her hand and it shatters on the floor. But there are spies of the Many-Faced God everywhere in Braavos and Arya’s disobedience to Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) does not go unnoticed.
Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright), now the most hated character in Westeros since he psychically sealed the fate of the gentle Hodor (Kristian Nairn), and Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick) flee across the brutal wintery wilderness and they are pursued by White Walkers. In a scene that resembles episode one of this season, a mysterious figure in a black robe swoops in and kills the White Walkers, saving Bran and Meera at the very last minute. This last-minute hero turns out to be Bran’s Uncle Benjen, Ned Stark’s younger brother who went missing at the end of the first season.
Lastly, the action heats up for the King’s Landing crowd and for the crowd following Danaerys Stormborn (Emilia Clarke). The soldiers of House Tyrell march on the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) as he prepares to make the disgraced Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) walk the Walk of Atonement that poor Cersei (Lena Headey) walked at the end of season five. Ser Jamie (Nikolai Coster-Waldau) leads the march and is dumb-founded when his son by incest, King Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) joins Margaery on the castle steps and declares that “The Crown and the Faith are the two pillars upon which our kingdom stands.” Margaery is spared the humiliation of the Walk, but, the High Sparrow smirks knowingly as a now corrupted Tommen banishes his uncle/father Jamie from King’s Landing to join the evil Walder Frey in his quest to overthrow the Black Fish. Cersei responds by making out, again, with her brother and telling him, “Make them know who Lannisters are! Show them what we do to our enemies!”
Dany, the great conqueror, leads her new army of Dothraki across the desert, with Daario Naharis (Michael Huisman) at her side. She senses a stirring around a sand dune and meets the long lost Drogon, her beloved dragon and a fan favorite. She rides him to the feet of her new army and proving that she can ALWAYS stir a crowd, she summons the aid of the Dothraki to cross the sea to Westeros and reclaim the Iron Throne in her most stirring speech yet.
Jamie may have forecast his death by claiming to Cersei that he would kill the High Sparrow and take back King’s Landing. Lannisters drop like flies almost every season. Why not this one? Bran’s psychic visions are beginning to string together the events of the entire season, beginning with his fall from the tower at Winterfell in season one episode one and ending in his present state in the woods. There are so many unanswered questions and Benioff and Weiss dangle them in front of us like carrots on strings. The real feat will be tying all of these stray pieces together. I hear there is only going to be thirteen more episodes following this season. If this is the case, our writers have some hard and convincing work to do with not much time left.
Josiah Richard Armstrong is a hospital chaplain from Western New York. He is also a playwright and amateur cartoonist. Follow him on Twitter @JosiahArmstrong and Medium, where he writes more reviews for film and television.