“Game of Thrones” Season 6 Episode 6: “Blood of My Blood”

This week’s “Game of Thrones” episode focused primarily on familial relations, staying true to its name, “Blood of My Blood.” It brought new developments to continuing, albeit slow, plot lines and shed light on characters and storylines fans have been deprived of.

The episode began in the North, with Bran and Meera attempting to escape the ravenous wights following Hodor’s death. As Meera pulls Bran through the snow, we see Bran’s vision passing through moment in history, the most intriguing of which is glimpses of the Mad King, Aerys Targaryen repeatedly yelling “Burn them all.” While the series has incrementally provided more backstory to the Mad King, they are only small tidbits of information at best, leaving viewers yearning for more. These visions into history only beg to ask if fans will learn the full and true story behind Aerys Targaryen’s spiral into madness.

Just as it seems all is lost for Meera and Bran, a hooded figure on a horse arrives in the nick of time to save the two and escape from the wights. Later in the episode, it is revealed that this hero of the moment is Benjen Stark, Ned Stark’s younger brother and former First Ranger of the Night’s Watch who disappeared beyond the Wall in Season 1. Benjen tells Bran of his experience being stabbed by a White Walker, and the resurrection he had at the hands of the Children of the Forest. While last weekend showed the story of how the White Walkers were made — at the hands of the Children — Benjen’s story reflects the way the Children are trying to make up for the grave mistakes they made. Benjen then tells Bran he must master his powers as the Three Eyed Crow so he can defeat the Night King, setting Bran up to either defeat or be defeated in the episodes to come.

Next, we see Gilly, Sam and Little Sam on their way to Horn Hill, where Sam is about to be reunited with his family of House Tarly, including his no-nonsense father who sent Sam to the Knight’s Watch in the first place. The entire dinner scene between the Tarlys and Gilly was a riveting one, as the dynamics of House Tarly were laid bare. We saw Sam berated by his father, which only escalated into his father’s even more vile derision of Gilly as a Wildling, a monologue that sounded eerily colonialist in context. All the while, Sam remained uncomfortably silent, taken hostage by his father’s words and control. The dynamics between Sam and his father only provided more context to Sam’s personality, explaining his reluctance and sheepishness during his first introduction to the show. Yet, Sam’s decision that night to leaving Horn Hill along with Gilly, Little Sam and his father’s Valyrian steel sword also captured his growth in confidence and independence as a result of his time in the Knight’s Watch. While father Tarly still thinks Sam is the weak boy he was when he left for the Wall, Sam’s actions that night display quite the opposite.

Then in King’s Landing, the scene is set for Margaery’s Walk of Atonement, only to be interrupted by an army led by Mace Tyrell and Jaime Lannister. But although Jaime thinks simply killing the High Sparrow will solve their problems with the Faith Militant, the High Sparrow reveals that a newfound alliance has been formed between Tommen and Margaery, following her conversion to the faith. This new connection between religion and the state is a smart move on the part of the High Sparrow, Tommen and Margaery, who seem to only gain from this new alliance, while giving Cersei and Jaime only more problems of their own. The pair has dealt with a mounting number of losses over the seasons, dealing with the deaths of their children and what seems to be a constant loss of power and prestige in King’s Landing. Given this new development, it will be intriguing to see what plans they have to maintain their power in the capital.

Viewers got a quick scene from the Twins, where Walder Frey demanded that his sons retake Riverrun from the Blackfish, and use Blackfish’s nephew, Edmure Tuly, to bargain with the Tullys. While this scene may have seemed a bit out of place, it further kicked into a gear another storyline to take place in the coming episodes.

In Braavos, as Arya watches a rendition of the Purple Wedding, we’re prepared for her to poison the lead actress, as instructed by Jaqen H’ghar. But, after speaking with her and encouraging her to follow her instincts and change the script as she sees fit, Arya decides against following through with her orders, a choice that goes fully noticed by the Waif. Perhaps the choice not to kill showcases Arya’s humanity in being merciful to those who do not deserve to die, and conveys how her current identity is not suiting to her. Later, we see Arya taking back her trusted sword, Needle, an act that seems to foreshadow a nearing duel between her and the Waif and/or Jaqen — or both.

Finally, the episode ends with Daenerys Targaryen’s reuniting with one of her dragons — which seems to be one of the only family she has left — and a call for the entire khalasar to help her take back Westeros and her rightful throne. Here we see the concept of family embedded in Daenerys’ relationship with the khalasar, as she calls on them to both protect and fight alongside her.

While “Blood of My Blood” did not deliver any devastating deaths or bloody battles, it was satisfying in moving the story forward at a reasonable pace and opening up new developments for characters whose storylines have remained stagnant for a good part of this season. With new alliances forming and new paths being forged, viewers can only wait and see who succeeds and who fails as “Game of Thrones ” continues.