As always, if you haven’t watched Episode 5 of Game of Thrones yet, don’t read any further. There are plenty of spoilers ahead.
We are now past the half way point of Season Six of Game of Thrones, and on reflection this has been one of the strongest, most enjoyable seasons to date.
It’s not just all the amazing storytelling and visual treats we are getting to feast upon, it’s also due to the fact that we are well and truly now in to the unknown. Book or Wiki readers have nothing but theories to go on now. And while the next book will contain more detail, and differ from the TV show, it is the lack of source material that is making for a much more overall enjoyable viewer experience.
We start this week’s episode following on from last week’s White Walker attack (RIP Hodor), with Meera dragging Bran though the snow. Bran is still ‘green seeing’ and we are shown a range of images, many taken from previous seasons, Bran falling from the tower for example.
We also go to see brand new footage of past events, some of which fans of the books have been longing to see on the small screen.
Without naming every scene, the stand out moments were Jaime killing Aerys Targaryen (The Mad King), a dragon’s shadow flying across the rooftops of the Red Keep, wildfire and a bloody hand (Young Ned’s) over a bloody female body. We can only assume this is in fact the body of Lyanna Stark. Does this mean we will be seeing a little baby Jon Snow soon in a flashback?
With Meera struggling to carry the cart in the heavy snow, the Wights soon catch up with them.
Just as it looked like all hope was lost, a cloaked figure on horseback with a fiery mace fought off the Wights and saved Meera and Bran. While the rider’s face is concealed, you could tell from the eyes that it was Benjen Stark!!
We would later find out that it was indeed Benjen, and that he had been attacked by the White Walkers. The Children of the Forest saved him, by impaling dragon glass in to his body. The White Walker’s transformation magic was unable to turn him completely. While he has been left psychically marked by the attack, he has been working with the Three-Eyed Raven ever since.
It’s great that Benjen Stark is finally back on our screens. He was such a popular character, especially when you consider how little the TV audience have gotten to see him. It is also nice to see that Joseph Mawle has reprised the role. The Game of Thrones producers have no issues with recasting a role, so it was pleasing to see a familiar face return.
While last seen throwing up his lunch on a boat, we catch up with Sam and Gilly as they finally arrive at Horn Hill, the home of House Tarly. Sam warns Gilly not to mention her past, as his father has a hatred towards wildlings.
On arrival they meet Sam’s mother and sister, both who are welcoming and happy to see Sam, Gilly and the baby. This would all change as later on, when sitting down to dinner, Sam’s father arrives and boy do we hate him already.
It wasn’t just the insults towards Sam, it was his reaction when Gilly let slip where she was from. Before things got out of hand, Sam’s mother left with the girls and berated her husband for acting in such a horrid way.
One key moment in this scene was when Sam’s father, Randyll Tarly, pointed out their ancestral sword Heartsbane, made from Valyrian steel. Sam would later take the sword as he sneaks away with Gilly and the baby. The question now is where are they heading? Is Sam going to return to Castle Black and to Jon? Whatever happens, he now holds a very useful weapon, and we are intrigued to see who will wield it when the White Walkers finally arrive.
Back in Braavos, Arya is once again watching her assassination target Lady Crane in the play. This time the actors are depicting Joffrey’s demise at his wedding. While Arya shows delight at seeing Joffrey ‘die’ in front of her, it was Lady Crane’s performance as Cersei that removed her from her moment of glee. There seemed to be a hint of doubt and reluctance on her face.
Back stage, Arya puts the poison in to Crane’s drink but before she can leave, Crane spots her and asks her what she is doing. Arya does her best to avoid suspicion but during this interaction, any doubts she had surfaced and as Crane went to drink, Ayra knocked the glass out of her hand. She pointed out that Bianca wanted her dead. As she fled, we see that the Waif had witnessed the whole event.
As the Waif reports back to Jaqen H’ghar, that she had failed in her mission, she pleads with him to take Arya out. He reluctantly agrees, but asks that she is not made to suffer, the Waif’s smile said it all. She will make Ayra suffer and she is going to enjoy it.
Ayra has a surprise for the Waif though, as she has now retrieved Needle from its hiding place and is ready to defend herself. There is plenty of blood on that blade, and Arya may soon be adding the Waif’s to it. This is going to be a highly anticipated and potentially satisfying showdown.
In King’s Landing, Jaime and the Tyrell army march on the Great Sept to free Queen Margaery and her brother. With the High Sparrow surrounded by his Faith Militant, the anticipation for a great battle builds, but never arrives.
It seems the High Sparrow is holding all the cards, as he reveals that Margaery will not need to take the walk of atonement, because someone has made up for her ‘sins’. To Jaime’s horror he sees Tommen arrive with his, new look, Kingsguard in a show of unity with the High Sparrow. Margaery is spared the ‘shame’ because the faith and the crown are now one.
While Margaery is clearly putting on a front that she believes in the High Sparrow’s words, Tommen has clearly fell under his influence. It will be interesting to see how Margaery’s end game plays out.
Back in the throne room, Tommen relieves Jaime of his Kingsguard duties and banishes him from the city. Cersei tells Jaime to return to the battlefield, and lead the Lannister army one again. Despite Jaime not wanting to go, the couple embrace and he departs for Riverrun.
In an episode full of character returns, David Bradley returned to our screens as Walder Frey. We find out that Brynden Tully has retaken Riverrun from the Freys, and Walder demands that his sons take it back. While the sons argue with their father that their enemies now outnumber them, Walder brings out his trump card Edmure Tully. Last seen at The Red Wedding, Edmure has been held captive all this time, and they plan to use him as a bargaining chip to take back Riverrun.
While this short scene may not seem that important in the grand scheme of things, there is a lot to look forward to. If you Remember, Sansa has sent Brienne to recruit House Tully to join the fight against Ramsay Bolton. Jaime is also riding up there with Lannister soldiers to help the Frey’s take it back. Are we going to see a Brienne and Jaime reunion? Are we going to see some Stark revenge on Walder Frey? So much promise!
The show ended on a high, as in the Dothraki Sea, Daenerys marched on with her newly acquired Dothraki army.
In discussion with Daario, she asks how many ships she will need to cross the Narrow Sea. His answer, 1,000 ships, matches the number of ships that Euron Greyjoy wants to build. Coincidence? Or does Daario know more than he is letting on?
Daenerys notices a gust of wind further down the trail and rides off. She returns to Daario and the Dothraki not on horseback, but on Drogon. He seems to get bigger every time we see him!
Daenerys gives a powerful speech to rally her troops, and while the idea of her marching to take the Iron Throne is getting tedious, hopefully by the end of the season we finally get to see her flying across the sea with her army sailing behind her.
While the action was lacking, there was plenty of story to get our teeth in to. It started on a high, and then had its exciting moments scattered throughout the episode. The pacing and storytelling has been so good up until now. This episode felt like the series taking a breath, hence the focus on setting up the next lot of stories for the final run in.
There were moments when the episode dragged a little, but on the whole it was another enjoyable outing.
We just want next week to arrive sooner!
What did you think about the episode? Any theories you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below!