Thoughts below the cut, as per usual, to avoid spoilers:
Beyond the Wall:
- Bran’s visions went by very fast, so I had to go to another site to find a frame-by-frame:
- Bran sees the shadow of the dragon over King’s Landing again – pointing to Dany’s arrival at King’s Landing (which, c’mon, no way she’s going to Oldtown or some bollocks like that) being a big deal, since he’ll be needing her dragons sharpish.
- Bran sees Aerys II, the wildfire, and Jaime killing him – what with Jaime bringing up killing the kinslayer earlier this season, his likely intersection with Lady Stoneheart, and the need for something to shake up King’s Landing, I’m guessing they’re setting us up the wildfire bomb.
- Bran sees Ned dying, Robb dying, Catelyn dying, and a blood-covered hand which I’m guessing is young Ned at the bloody bed. So more foreshadowing for R+L=J and maybe a bit of a reminder for LSH?
- Bran sees lots of White Walkers, emphasizing the present threat.
- Bran sees himself falling. Just the catalyst for his awakening, or are we getting more weird time-travel?
- Benjen turning up with a meteor hammer with a fire damage enchantment was pretty damn cool. On the other hand, this is probably the most blatant example of the show contradicting the books there has been yet: GRRM says Benjen is not Coldhands; Benioff and Weiss say he is. Death of the author be damned, I’m going to take GRRM’s word for it and say that Benioff and Weiss just merged the characters for a bit of cool imagery (although still no elk…) and a handy source of magical exposition, since they’d just killed the only other one.
- Benjen says at one point that “the three-eyed raven is dead and now he lives again,” and Bran basically confirms he’s acquired the power of Brynden Rivers without any of the control. What wasn’t as clear, and what the showrunners explained afterwards, is that the Three-Eyed Raven essentially warged into Bran and is now a voice in his head. Which is as handy a way to do the whole Obi-Wan ghost thing as any, I suppose.
- According to Benjen, you can reverse wighting by introducing dragonglass to the chest – which, given the show’s origin story of the White Walkers, makes sense. So why didn’t we have accounts of this happening before, given that the Children gave dragonglass to the Night’s Watch? Something to keep an eye on.
- Bran’s going to face the Night’s King at the Wall, eh? Calling it now, this is going to be his Belly of the Whale/second act setback moment, where the Night’s King brings the Wall down at the end of Season 6 and sets up the final battle at Winterfell.
- I liked most of this – Sam’s mom and sister being the kind of genteel ladies who don’t let class make them a bad person; Rickon being his father’s son but not fundamentally a bad person; Randyll Tarly having a face like a slapped arse and being a giant proponent of the patriarchy.
- Gratuitous mention of the Umbers for some reason.
- On the other hand, Sam changing his mind about Gilly and child kind of undercuts this whole scene. And stealing Heartsbane is just a weird WTF moment.
- Very interesting political machinations here, but it’s impressive to see how carefully the High Sparrow played it by making Tommen desperate enough to do anything to settle the crisis, and then using Margaery as his way into the vulnerable boy-king. Again, kudos to Jonathan Pryce for just acting rings and rings around people.
- I thought it was very ambiguous whether Margaery has become a true believer, is just acting like it, or somewhere in the middle. Certainly her speech about having been “good at seeming good” seems like something of a genuine sentiment. On the other hand, she’s still working Tommen throughout and it’s still not clear whether out of conviction or quid-pro-quo.
- I suppose it all comes down to how you interpret “a new age of harmony, a holy alliance.” Is the seven-pointed star on the breastplates of the Kingsguard merely symbolic, is Tommen taking orders from the High Septon, or is the High Septon moderating his radical sentiments? The symbolism of the agreement seems like a very Margaery role – very focused on public opinion, doing good by doing well – but does it represent a real change of heart, or Margaery doing the best she can in the moment so she has an opportunity to shift when she (and Loras?) are no longer in custody?
- Cersei’s going to have a trial by combat, which gets us closer to the death-by-Frankengregor I’ve been predicting.
- Jaime’s going to Riverrun! Telling you folks, LSH in the house!
- A bit like the play – which is becoming more and more a meta-commentary on the play, complete with the troupe master telling critics to shut up – I didn’t have a problem with the content of what I was seeing here, just the execution.
- Arya’s spilling the rum and the appearance of the Waif behind the scenes were really poorly blocked and framed, and I have to say this has been a running problem for the House of Black and White plot since Arya got to Braavos. Neither the writers nor the directors seem capable of showing how a Faceless Man would infiltrate anywhere in an unobtrusive and subtle fashion. A case of underestimating the intelligence of the audience there.
- Arya getting Needle back was a nice visual, but the BUILDUP TO DRAMATIC MUSIC AND THEN…nothing smacked of clumsy editing.
- Great to see David Bradley back as Walder Frey, doing what he does best: berating his relatives, being old and gross, having a huge inferiority complex.
- So not only has the Blackfish retaken Riverrun, but the Mallisters and the Blackwoods have risen up against the Freys as well! Sounds like the Riverlands rebellion I’ve been predicting got started a bit earlier than anticipated.
- This whole bit with Dany winning over the Dothraki on the back of a giant damn Drogon dragon is exactly what I wanted out of Episode 4.
- So did she just go as a slave voluntarily and could have called Drogon at any time, or what?