Subtitle: Return of the _____________
No, but, do you think we could get Gendry? I feel like everyone everywhere believed Jon Snow’s return was a given. But now we’ve gotten Benjen Stark! And someone who is not me remembered Edmure Tully exists!! I now fully expect the Hound to show up at Cersei’s trial by combat, which is being heavily hinted as going badly for her. So the Gendry question becomes . . . closer to plausible? (I’m not going to include Lady Stoneheart in that closer to avoid heartbreak but I did think of that, too).
Anyway, we start in the far North with Rockstar Who Deserves Better Meera Reed dragging Bran through the snow and ice while he suffers through visions of death and destruction. I’m sure the make up of Bran’s visual cacophony is Meaningful and Important and Full of Clues just like all his previous visions. But the tldr; version is “Burn them all” which seems pretty straightforward, especially as that’s what happens. An “unknown” figure in black appears just in time to save Bran and Meera from their undead pursuers with fire.
On the road to Tarlyland, Gilly quotes Rey
And Sam is going over the plan one more time: Gilly shouldn’t let on she’s a wildling because Papa Tarly is a bigot who hoped his son would kill them, and her baby must be introduced as Sam’s son so the Tarlys take them in. When they arrive the meet up with Papa and the Golden Son who became heir when Sam was forced to leave the family, is put off until dinner. Mama Tarly and Sam’s little sister are as welcoming as he promised, they take to Gilly and the baby right away.
In King’s Landing The High Sparrow lures Tommen to his side by allowing him to meet with Margaery who spouts Sparrow Rhetoric like she was born to it. This scene reveals exactly how smart Margaery is and Tommen is not. But the hyena religion seriously puts me to sleep.
Back in Tarlyland, Little Sister Tarly has dressed Gilly up for the most awkward dinner since Ramsay and Sansa and Roose and Walda sat down to supper. Papa Tarly fat shames Sam and slut shames Gilly and is all around terrible — in comparison the rest of the family are kind and compassionate and their only fault is an inability to stand up to their horrible head of house, which I now realize is a theme of the entire saga.
Gilly is left to stand up to him herself — praising Sam and calling him a hero who killed a White Walker and saved their lives more than once. Unfortunately, she lets it slip she’s a wildling, but it turns out Papa Tarly already hated her so much it doesn’t matter. Sam is told to leave at first light but he instead decides to leave in the night taking Gilly, Little Sam, and the family heirloom sword made of Valerian steel. So, what I’m getting is this entire subplot existed simply to get another magic Walker-killing sword.
In Braavos, Arya is watching the next day of the players’ show which has now caught up to Joffrey’s wedding and death. She really enjoys it, and uses her observation skills to confirm her suspicion that the younger actress playing Sansa is the one who hired the Faceless Men to kill the older actress playing Cersei. I think 1000+ words could be written about the meta beats in this play.
Arya slips backstage to poison the actress’s rum and almost makes it out but Lady Crane is also observant. She’s seen Arya watching each day and guesses Arya is drawn to the drama of the theater, and playing pretend, and she’s not wrong. They have an interesting conversation about Cersei’s motivations that, again, I really want to dig into sometime, which prompts Crane to take Arya’s suggestions for scene revision to the director/star/man in charge. He’s a pig who hates feminism and probably women and — seriously there is so much to unpack with these players, why couldn’t Arya have joined up with them instead of the terrible assassin league?
Anyway, in easily my favourite part of the episode Arya knocks the poison out of Lady Crane’s hand, tells her the Sansa actress wants her dead — in front of all the players, which is badass — and heads to retrieve Needle from the rocks because she has FINALLY realized she will never be No One. The Waif witnesses her failure to murder Lady Crane — aka the one person who has shown any interest in Arya as an actual person since possibly season one — and heads to tattle to Not Jaquen with glee. Not Jaquen gives the green light for the Waif to take care of Arya and I cannot wait for Arya to stab her through the heart and say “My name is Arya Stark, bitch.”
Back in King’s Landing Jaime meets Papa Tyrell and his army. Lord Tyrell attempts to make a stirring speech, which is cute, and Jaime successfully avoids laughing. They all march on over to the steps of the palace where Margaery is being prepped for her Walk of Shame. The Tyrells party crash with their army and their Grandame and Margaery’s eyes light up, but the spectacle is for nought because the High Sparrow introduces his latest convert, King Tommen. Jaime is kicked out of the Kingsguard and sent to mop up the mess in the Riverlands.
In the Riverlands there’s a mess. Tldr; Walder Frey is somehow still alive, still super gross, still terrorizing his family, and most importantly — still holding Edmure Tully.
Jaime has no interest in going to the Riverlands but Cersei tells him it’s his destiny and then they make out. But friendly reminder that now Jaime and Brienne are headed to the same place!
Up in the Way North the unknown figure in black is revealed to be Uncle Benjen Stark. He explains to Bran and Meera the Children of the Forest saved him from turning into a Walker the same way they created Walkers in the first place — dragonglass through the heart. This is useful information.
Finally, on the Road to Mereen, Daario exposits it will take thousands of ships to cart all the Dothraki, their horses, the Unsullied, and the Second Sons to Westeros and since they have zero ships, that’s a problem. But Dany is barely listening to him (which, fair, Daario is so boring) because she’s caught a glimpse of her baby.
Daenerys may not know how to get her giant army across the sea, or have any real semblance of a plan at all, but she is great at speeches and making people care about her and her fight.
So. I have a lot of expectations now. An interesting contingent of people are moving toward the Riverlands. Yara is leading a fleet of ships to catch up with Dany who we know is now looking for ships. Cersei is heading toward doom in the capitol but I don’t think they’d kill her off while she’s separated from Jaime (we’d riot) so that leaves interesting options for rescue (I vote Margaery). There is going to be a big battle for power over the North and magic items will be involved. And, most importantly, Arya has finally abandoned her Plot of Doom. I’m seriously scared how excited I am right now.
Winning: The High Sparrow, House Stark, Team Dragon
Dead: . . . Did no one die this episode?!