Hard to believe we’re at the halfway point of season six of “Game of Thrones.” Fittingly, it’s a time of transition as the great wheels of war begin rolling again. We say goodbye to old friends, perhaps make a few deals with the devil, and find out what ‘hodor’ means in the most f*cking depressing way possible. Oh dear, spoilers and such. More after the break.
We start with Sansa sewing, and I think we can take some comfort in her working this task which had always been her escape in simpler times. The comfort doesn’t last long, as a message, bearing Littlefinger’s mockingbird sigil, arrives for her. She takes one look and it’s off to Moletown, where Littlefinger awaits to tell her he has her back now. If this were old Sansa, that would have been it; she would have expressed her gratitude, maybe gone off with the slimy whoremaster. But this is new Sansa, ready to kick ass, and she delivers a tongue-lashing that leaves Baelish taken aback. “Did you know about Ramsay?” She asks, “because if you didn’t you’re an idiot, and if you did, you’re my enemy.” It was a wonder to behold, to see her anger and the recognition of her power surging forth, to watch Baelish stammer and backtrack. “I underestimated Ramsay,” he claims…but the truth is he underestimated Sansa. Maybe the rumors of Sansa Stoneheart are true. She ain’t dead, but she sure has the vengeance thing working.
Unfortunately, her decision to send Baelish and the Knights of the Vale packing might have been a case of emotion overtaking logic, because they really could use that army right about now. Baelish’s tip that the Blackfish was back was welcome news, but it’s a long way to Riverrun. We see a little more of that later, during the war council as she weighs heavily on the idea that the Stark name will win over houses. The North may remember, but a lot has happened since the Starks last ruled, and – as the always wise Davos points out – loyalty only goes so far when you’re worried about your family being flayed. Looks like plans are in motion, though, as Jon and Sansa and crew hit the road.
I’m thinking if Jaqen would just send The Waif over to Winterfell for a few weeks, the Stark crew wouldn’t really need to raise an army. I don’t know who this chick is, but I’m starting to lean towards Neo as she proceeds to Kung Fu the crap out of poor, plucky Arya, both with and without the stick. “You should go home before it’s too late,” she urges Arya. But too late for what? Not too late for her first assignment/next test sent by the many-faced god.
In a show chock full of cruelties, I think Jaqen sending Arya to watch that show may be one of the cruelest things at all. Bad enough to watch a mocking revue of her father’s death, but to see the noble Ned portrayed as an ambitious buffoon with eyes on the Iron Throne must have been torture. There’s no doubt she was sent there as another test, to see if watching this would make her angry and turn no one back into Arya. She held her cool, but seeing the look on her face I have my doubts.
As does Arya apparently, as she asks why her target must die, and who hired her, and whether this was right. And Jaqen asks right back, turning the age old question about why good people die right back at her, before cooly reminding her if she wishes to serve the many-faced god, she needs to shut her yap… because a servant does not ask questions. The actress has to die because the price was paid.
Euron Greyjoy paid the Iron Price, admitting he killed his brother and would do it again because he sucked at the whole king thing. That he’s crazy as a loon doesn’t seem to matter to the Iron Bound, who passed up a chance to elect their first female ruler in favor of a guy who makes crazy promises about building two-thousand ships and seducing dragon queens half a world away.
Then again, what can you expect from a place where their ceremonies involve drowning each other. I’m starting to understand why the Ironborn never seem to accomplish anything They’re all half- brain dead due to oxygen deprivation. Looks like Yara might have missed her dunking, since she and Theon were smart enough to get out of dodge after her failed attempt to ascend to the throne.
Looks like the detente with the slave-owners is working in the short term, as the Sons of the Harpy have apparently disappeared and an uneasy peace has settled over Meereen. Tyrion wants more though… he wants Dany to get the credit. I never thought I’d see “Game of Thrones” turn into “Mad Men,” what with all that talk about marketing and branding.
So Tyrion finds himself a Red Priestess, who work to spread the word of Dany as the Prince who was Promised. I can’t help but see the parallels between Tyrion’s cynical outreach to the followers of R’hilor and his sister’s attempt to use the Sparrows to her advantage. I just can’t see how bringing in fanatics of any stripe can do anything but lead to disaster. Varys apparently agrees, and I can’t help but think he’s having doubts about bringing Tyrion onto the team. Conleth Hill earned his paycheck this week. The look of blooming horror as the Red Priestess revealed knowledge of his past was chilling. I really don’t like where this is heading.
Dany’s got an army of 100,000 faithful added to her collection of armies, but her impending march on… well, wherever she’s going to do wasn’t important, saying goodbye to Jorah Mormont was. “I banished you twice,” she tells her oldest advisor, “and you saved my life.” I wanted to add “twice,” though I guess when you add in all the assassination attempts he thwarted we’re probably around half a dozen. This was such a touching scene, as Dany stepped forward and Jorah backed away. As he revealed his sickness and his love for her. I would have teared up a little if he had just walked away…
…but no, Dany had to ramp it up a notch. Her last, tearful command, to find a cure, to heal himself, had the old waterworks going. “But this is the last time I’m going to cry this episode,” I promised myself.
Beyond the Wall
Crap – of course it wasn’t… This is “Game of Thrones.” But first we get some history. Turns out the White Walkers were created by the Children of the Forest… a weapon of mass destruction developed to save them from the First Men that had slaughtered the Children by the dozens. Later, we find out Branovision is more than just really, really good 3D, at least not where the Night’s King involved. You know, a lot of problems would be solved in these shows if the all-knowing mentor types filled you in on things before they happened. I don’t know, something like “Hey Bran, don’t go in by yourself, because if the Night’s King touches you he can get us” would be nice. But no! Max Von Sydow fails to mention it, Bran is too stupid to not find out more (Hey Bran, why couldn’t you go back to the Tower of Joy and find out those answers, huh?) and all of a sudden they have to rush his training session because big cold, blue, and ugly is on his way.
And when he does, everyone dies. Summer sacrifices herself, another Dire Wolf gone. Max Von Sydow pulls an Obi-Wan, though I don’t think we’ll be seeing any force ghosts showing up any time soon. The Children of the Forest hacked to death beneath the unending army of wights. And Hodor… the gentle giant… showed us the biggest horror of all, learning that Bran – warged into Hodor – somehow linked the past to the present, that young Hodor saw his own final moments and Meera’s exhortations to “Hold the Door! Hold the Door!” echoed through this connection, seared into his brain, and contracted from “Hold the Door” to “Hodor” as he died. And all I could think about was whether Hodor remembered this… on dark nights did he lie awake and feel the cold fingers of death ripping though him and not understand what it meant. It certainly explains the dark looks he gave Bran whenever Bran warged into him, and somehow has made the entire story even bleaker.
So… Bran and Meera are out in a blizzard, sledding in the very environment that the White Walkers call home. No clue how the hell they’re going to get out of this. Maybe they’ll run into Benjen Stark. And what about Jon and Sansa – are they all going to Riverrun? Or are they going to follow different paths? And what path is Dany going to follow with her new army? Is she going to go back to Meereen, and what is she going to find when she gets there, a city overrun by religious fanatics just like Kings Landing?
I guess we’ll find all this and more over the next five episodes, starting next week with “Blood of My Blood.”