It takes a great deal of confidence to do a play-within-a-play bit in modern storytelling, not to mention on something as expansive as Game of Thrones. It takes up precious screen time; but the benefits in this case are worth the investment. The kindness of the actress she was sent to kill fuels Arya’s decision, and it was funny to see past events played out in the way the common folk (whose perspective we rarely get) understand them to have been. Arya finds it amusing. This play isn’t merely a recapping of events for the viewer; it’s showing the viewer events from the perspective of your everyday Braavosian. Arya gets a great deal of joy out of watching the reenactment of Joffrey’s death. It’s easy to forget just how long it’s been since Arya was part of the other characters’ story. Most think her dead.
And the sudden motion in her storyline is refreshing. She’s basically calling bullshit on the code of the Faceless Men. They’re just another institution -like the crown, the church, etc- that’s controlling things they probably shouldn’t be allowed to control. The final straw comes via Arya being ordered to kill a seemingly decent lady. Now Arya and Needle are on their own, a target on her back. She’s on the run again but without The Hound or Jaqen or Hot Pie to protect her.
Another moment that showed off the writing team’s complete grasp of their characters was the conversation between Tommen and Margaery. The two carry an extended conversation about different things. This would be confusing if the writers didn’t understand each character’s cadences and motivations. Even when the conversation starts to fall apart it’s very telling of both characters. It reminded me an awful lot of the scene at the beginning of The Social Network where Jesse Eisenberg and Rooney Mara are carrying on multiple dialogues simultaneously.
Tommen is talking of sticking it to the church; all the while, Margaery is telling him she’s “converted”. He doesn’t get it at first. When he finally does, he proves his acquiescence by doing a one-eighty and heeding her every word. He’s young, naive, and in love. Margaery is both his first sexual relationship and non-Lannister relationship. When Jaime and the Tyrell army storm the Great Sept to free Margaery and Loras only to find that Tommen has given his proverbial stamp of approval to the ever-tight church and state relationship, it doesn’t feel shocking. Tommen is going to do whatever Margaery wants, and Margaery probably doesn’t want to walk through the streets naked as plebeians chuck feces at her.
Checking in with Bronn of the Blackwater, week 6
WE’RE SO CLOSE. Jaime mentioned getting Bronn and others to run up on Mr. Sparrow. We even got a glimpse of Bronn in the preview of next weeks episode. This cruel joke D.B. Weiss and David Benioff have been playing on us finally appears to be nearing its conclusion.
So let’s talk about Sam, who’s Dad is an asshat. “Blood of My Blood” gave us our first glimpse of Horn Hill, seat of House Tarly, and doing so helped explain Sam’s character (dating back to season one) so much. He always talked of how his father though him a coward, but we witnessed some pure hatred. During the dinner scene, you could see Randall Tarly (played perfectly by the character actor James Faulkner) waiting patiently for an opportunity to rip apart his son. Sam accepts another piece of bread and BOOM, here comes the fat shaming.
Things escalate and Randall starts prying about Gilly’s roots. She can’t take it, and eventually tells the stories of Sam’s heroic acts and despite Sam having KILLED A FUCKING WHITE WALKER all Randall can hear is that Gilly is a wildling. I’ve always found Gilly’s insistence on protecting Sam verbally to be fun. She gives him confidence and he gives her reassurance. These are two people who’ve been kicked while they’re down their whole lives rallying around each other. Mrs. Tarly’s support also helps exemplify just how much of a dick Randall is. That’s the main reason I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Horn Hill, despite Sam and Gilly (and Lil’ Sam) presumably leaving. It feels like Randall and his school of thought -the school of thought that judges a man’s worth off his latest hunting escapade- is now longer the status quo in Westeros. Wouldn’t Sam becoming the leader of this House and rallying the troops in support of the good fight be something?
Also, a nice use of sword-wielding as a motif this week to show free will. Arya grabs needle, Sam grabs Heartsbane.
Speaking of phallic imagery…
Was there any peen this week?
’twasn’t, but I’d assume what we got last week was enough to keep the PC Police at bay for at least a few episodes.
“Blood of My Blood” did the right thing and opened up right where the previous episode left off. I was relieved that Meera and Bran escaping the Walkers wasn’t as simple as them giving up after Hodor held the door for like 25 seconds. Anyways, the two were saved by our old friend Benjen Stark (aka Coldhands for the book-readers who’ve been crying about his absence for two years now). This wasn’t very surprising. Every since we got a glimpse last week the common theory has been that it would be Benjen who’d save these two. He obviously wasn’t done. Time wouldn’t have been wasted establishing him from the onset of the ultimate route was him disappearing without explanation.
Benjen was turning into a Walker until he was stabbed with Dragonglass, thus rendering him a half-walker of sorts. I thought the makeup artists did a fine job making him look grotesque yet still resemblant to the Benjen we knew form season one. I also really was taken away by the brief action sequences of Benjen killing the Walkers chasing Bran and Meera. Whenever you shoot something with a dude on horseback fighting dudes not on horseback it’s important to establish the higher-ground or the scene quickly becomes messy. Look back at it, and you’ll see that director Jack Bender and editor Yan Miles quickly cut between Benjen and Bran’s angles, with the slayings being the middle ground between both.
Fan favorite Walder Frey showed up this week, reacting negatively to the news that his men lost Riverrun to the Blackfish (aka Brynden Tully, brother of Catelyn Tully/Stark). It would appear as if we’re in for quite the skirmish at Riverrun. Jon Snow and his gang of VIP’s are heading there, and apparently Jaime Lannister is as well. I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE THINKING. A Jaime-Brienne reunion amidst the festering Tormund-Brienne chemistry. I’m here for it.
The “Daenerys Sucks Diaries”, week 6
Last week, I suggested renaming this section because Daenerys’ storyline had become interesting and not completely cyclical. WELP. This week, she hopped on her Dragon and gave a really bad St. Crispin’s Day, again. What was the point of this? We already knew the Dorthraki were behind her seeing as she walked out of a burning fucking without a scratch on her. We already know she can ride the dragons.
This was pathetic fanfare. On one hand, I get it. There are people who watch this show because of the dragons. If you don’t sneak in a B-movie CGI sequence of them every episode, you risk the fantastical elements of the show become less significant. But, man, this was dumb. We’ve heard this song a million times.
Tweet of the Week
That’s my only critique, really. While not as monumental or emotional as last week’s episode, “Blood of My Blood” was still a very solid episode that moved multiple storylines forward (most notably, Arya and Sam). Particlar scenes from this episode may not carry the dramatic heft of Hodor’s death but are still equally as mesmerizing when contextualized. This was a “set the stage” episode, and a very good one at that.
Arbitrary Ranking of the Week
shoutout theatre kids
- The Murder of Gonzago used as provocation in Hamlet
- The shit we just saw on GOT
- Chekhov’s The Seagull and how it used this technique to both build a character and pay homage to that Hamlet play by that guy.
- The Two-Character Play by Tennessee Williams. The whole damn thing uses this motif at its core and Williams cites it as his favorite of his own work.
- Also, like anything Charlie Kaufman has ever written.
Five Random Notes
- So I saw X-Men: Apocalypse. It’s not good. But Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa on this show, makes one hell of a Jean Grey. The movies hints at the infamous Dark Phoenix storyline. She’s also the first young(ish) GOT star to have a movie really land.<
- Silicon Valley, ya bish.
- Jack Bender just directed two great episodes and he should be brought back next season.
- I bet an awful lot of $ on the Oklahoma City Thunder.
- That Vice Principals show with Danny McBride and Walton Goggins looks hilarious.