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Episode 6 (Blood of My Blood) resumes where it left off last week, with Meera pulling Bran through the snow. She is looking pretty tired – she needs to pick up the pace if she expects to outrun the undead army. Bran is still in his trance, and the visions are coming fast and furious. It appears he is seeing the past (events that have happened on the show in the last 5 seasons, the Mad King preparing to burn the city, Jaime becoming the Kingslayer, Ned at the Tower of Joy) as well as the future (dragon flying over King’s Landing, possible wildfire explosion?).

Meera finally collapses, and things aren’t looking very good for them. Bran is still unconscious, and the wights are coming. Bran awakes – he seems to know what has happened, and he appears sad but not frightened. A figure on a horse appears, and he takes out the approaching wights. He pulls Bran and Meera onto the horse, and they flee from their undead pursuers.

Down south, Sam and Gilly are in a carriage headed to Horn Hill, Sam’s family home. Gilly remarks how green everything is, and Sam proceeds to make awkward conversation about trees. Gilly calls him out, saying he’s a nervous talker. Sam admits he is apprehensive about seeing his father again (understandably since the guy threatened to kill him – what an uncomfortable family reunion this will be). Sam stresses the importance of Gilly sticking to the story that little Sam is his child, and warns her against telling them she is a wildling.

They finally arrive at the castle, and Gilly is awestruck. Sam’s mother Melessa and sister Talla greet him, and they are warm and welcoming to both Sam and Gilly. The women are taken with little Sam as well, and we see now why Sam is such a kind and helpful person. Sam asks about his father and brother, and his mother says they are on a hunt but will join them for dinner (Sam looks less than thrilled at the prospect). Talla offers Gilly a bath and a dress – finally she’ll get to take off that sack she’s been wearing for five seasons.

In King’s Landing, Tommen discusses Margaery’s walk with the High Sparrow. Tommen is concerned for her safety, but the High Sparrow assures him she will be protected the entire way, and that the smallfolk love her (in contrast to their hatred of Cersei).

The High Sparrow allows Tommen to see Margaery, and she tells Tommen the High Sparrow has helped her see who she really is – a pretender who only put on the appearance of being a good person. She seems changed and relieved at the chance to repent her sins. Tommen asks about Loras, and she says she loves him, but he needs to atone – the gods have a plan for them all (I’m sure Margaery does at least – I don’t buy the repentant sinner act).

Back at Horn Hill, Gilly meets Sam for dinner. She is clean and dressed in finery – this scene reminds me of so many teen movies where the nerdy girl gets a makeover, and the guy swoons over her (she needs a little practice walking in those shoes though). As they sit at the table, we get our first look at Randyll Tarly – he seems unlikeable before he even says a word.

They discuss the meal, and Dickon (Sam’s brother) talks about the hunt. He asks about hunting at the Wall, and Sam stammers on about hunting squirrels and rabbits and admits it’s mostly his friends doing the hunting. Sam also says Gilly is a hunter, and Melessa talks about Northern lords teaching girls to hunt. Talla tells Gilly that Randyll could learn a thing or two from Gilly’s father (ugh, I would certainly hope not).

Randyll says that’s enough, and Melessa offers Sam more bread. Randyll asks if he isn’t fat enough already, and Sam declines the food. They then discuss Sam going to train as a maester, and Randyll continues making everyone uncomfortable by complaining that the Night’s Watch should have made a man out of Sam, but that he’s still soft and fat. Gilly sticks up for Sam saying he’s a greater warrior than either his brother or his father – he killed a Thenn and a White Walker. Dickon then laughs, responding that there’s no such thing (oh you sweet summer child).

Gilly slips up by saying they were on the way down to Castle Black, and Randyll gets her to admit she is a wildling. Randyll is furious to have an enemy of the realm in his hall; he had taken her for a Mole’s Town whore. He points out their ancestral sword Heartsbane and says the sword should go to his heir, but that Sam will never have it. He’s a disgrace to their house and dishonors them all by bringing a wildling whore to their table.

Melessa has had enough and leaves with Gilly and Talla, telling Randyll he disgraces himself (well done mama Tarly – please give Sam some of your backbone). Randyll continues to berate Sam, but says he will take Gilly and little Sam in to please Sam’s mother. However, Sam is never to come back to Horn Hill.

In Gilly’s chambers, she tells Sam she isn’t angry with him but at his father for treating people the way he does and getting away with it. Sam says his goodbyes, and Gilly tells him that his father doesn’t know him, that Sam isn’t what his father thinks he is. Sam leaves… but only for a few seconds before returning to take Gilly and the baby with him. He also steals Heartsbane, and something tells me Randyll won’t let his prized sword go so easily.

Over in Braavos, Arya is watching the play once again. This time it’s the Purple Wedding, which grossly distorts the actual events. Arya seems to be amused by watching “Joffrey” die, but she is also moved by Lady Crane’s portrayal of Cersei’s despair. Arya notices “Sansa” offstage mouthing “Cersei’s” lines (likely practicing to replace her).

We then see “Tyrion” kill “Tywin” as Arya makes her way backstage to put the poison in Lady Crane’s rum. As the actors come backstage, Lady Crane stops Arya, getting her to admit she’s been sneaking in to watch the play without paying. She tells Arya she used to do the same before running off to join a mummer’s troupe.

Lady Crane then complains about her final speech, and Arya suggests she change it. Arya says Cersei should be angry that her son was taken before she could say goodbye. Lady Crane compliments Arya and asks if she likes pretending to be other people. Arya seems to be considering this (something she will have to do forever if she wants to be “no one”) before saying she has to go.

As Arya walks off, the other actors praise Lady Crane’s performance. Lady Crane mentions she has some ideas for the play, but she is shot down by the troupe leader who tells her she has no right to an opinion. Lady Crane raises her glass to take a sip of her rum, and Arya runs up to smack it out of her hand. Arya points at “Sansa” and tells Lady Crane to be careful of her, because she wants her dead. As Arya leaves, we see that the Waif has witnessed the entire scene (looking quite smug – look out Arya).

Arya goes to retrieve Needle – which she had stashed away after joining the temple – while the Waif informs Jaqen of Arya’s failure. He seems disappointed but not surprised, and he tells the Waif not to let Arya suffer. The Waif looks much too pleased with this assignment for someone who is supposed to be a dispassionate assassin – perhaps Jaqen is testing her as well?

Back in King’s Landing, the Tyrell army is marching through the streets. Mace Tyrell (looking magnificently oafish in his feathered helm) gives a less than rousing speech – while Jaime looks embarrassed in the background – before they head on to the Sept to free Margaery and Loras. They arrive – along with Lady Olenna – just in time to see the High Sparrow on the steps with Margaery, recounting her crimes.

Jaime demands that the High Sparrow free Margaery and Loras by the authority of King Tommen. The High Sparrow says none of them have the authority to release them, that it’s up to the gods. Jaime says they will all die if they don’t do as ordered, and the High Sparrow responds that it’s an honor to die in the service of the gods (cut to Lancel giving Jaime the crazy eye – when is anyone going to tell Jaime that Cersei slept with that creep?).

The tension mounts, but then the High Sparrow proclaims that there is no cause for anyone to die – there will be no walk of atonement. Margaery has already atoned by converting Tommen to their cause. Jaime looks confused and angry as he watches Tommen walk out with his Kingsguard in new armor, featuring the seven pointed star of the Faith (that’s some quick work by whatever armorer is responsible).

It looks like we now have a theocracy on our hands, as the High Sparrow announces a (un?)holy alliance of the crown and the Faith. Poor Mace doesn’t have a clue what’s going on, so Olenna has to tell him they’ve lost the battle against the High Sparrow.

Back in the Red Keep, Tommen dismisses Jaime from the Kingsguard, saying he attacked the crown when he attacked the Faith. Jaime asks if he has to walk naked through the streets (I don’t think the female watchers would object) or if he will be sent to the dungeons. Tommen tells him he will continue to serve his house and his king, but not in the city.

We cut over to the Twins(!), and old Walder Frey makes a reappearance (this can’t be good). He has a new young bride it seems – poor girl – and he is berating his sons for losing Riverrun to the Blackfish, Brynden Tully. Walder blames them for losing him at the Red Wedding and not being able to capture him afterwards. He tells them to take Riverrun back; he won’t bow to the Tullys ever again. They say they don’t have enough men – the Mallisters and Blackwoods have risen against the Freys, the Brotherhood without Banners attacks their supply trains and camps, and that Riverrun could withstand a siege for a year.

Walder replies that everyone is laughing at them, and that he isn’t dead yet. He won’t die until everyone chokes on that laughter. His sons counter by saying the Blackfish won’t yield. Walder tells them to remind him what happened at the Red Wedding and who it was that got married there, as Edmure Tully is brought before them in chains.

One last visit to King’s Landing, as Jaime and Cersei discuss Riverrun. Jaime is being sent with an army to help break the siege. Jaime refuses to go – he want to pay Bronn and other sellswords to kill the High Sparrow and his minions. Cersei tells him they can’t do that, that if Jaime tries to kill him he will die in the process. She tells him to go take Riverrun back and show the world who the Lannisters are.

Jaime doesn’t want to leave before her trial, but Cersei tells him she will be fine with the Mountain at her side. She then tells him they are both stronger now, and I can’t watch anymore what with her ridiculous wig, the incest-y makeout session, and the destruction of Jaime’s character arc. Ugh. Yes Jaime, please go and remember who you are without your crazy sister around.

Back beyond the Wall, Meera and Bran’s mysterious savior is butchering a rabbit. He squeezes the blood into a cup (gross), and Meera asks why he saved them. He says the Three Eyed Raven sent for him – when Meera replies that he’s dead, the man tells her that he lives again.

Bran wakes, and the man remarks that he last saw Bran when he was a boy climbing the castle walls and frightening his mother. Bran asks who he is, and he reveals himself to be Benjen Stark. Benjen recounts that they found White Walkers on a ranging party and that he was stabbed and left to die, and then to turn. The Children of the Forest found him and stopped him from turning by using dragonglass, similarly to how they created the White Walkers in the first place.

Benjen tells Bran he is now the Three Eyed Raven. Bran replies he can’t control it, but Benjen says he must learn before the Night King comes. He then orders Bran to drink the blood, which he does (as Meera looks on disgustedly). Benjen warns that the Night King will find his way to the world of men, and they must be ready.

Over in Essos, Daario and Daenerys discuss the logistics of getting to Westeros. She needs a thousand ships which no one has (give it time – Euron is building them on the Iron Islands with their nonexistent trees). Daenerys doesn’t seem worried – she’ll get there and take what is hers. Daario tells her she wasn’t made for ruling, but for conquering. She looks off into the distance and orders him to wait as she rides off.

Daario prepares to go look for her, but then Drogon flies overheard. He lands before them with Daenerys on his back, and she gives a stirring speech in Dothraki – recalling Khal Drogo’s speech back in season one – about sailing to Westeros and killing her enemies. The khalasar is fired up, but I’m not. This scene felt a little out of place, and although I am a fan of Daenerys, I hope she realizes what she is asking them to do. Unleashing a barbarian horde to savage Westeros isn’t going to win the people to her side.

This wasn’t one of the stronger episodes this season, but I suppose we needed a break from the tension and action after last week. There were some nice (re)introductions, and they seem to be setting us up for exciting things to come. What are your thoughts?