Tony Black reviews the third episode of Game of Thrones season 6…
Directed by Daniel Sackheim
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
He may have died and been resurrected by Melisandre’s (Carice van Houten) weird magic, but Jon Snow (Kit Harington) still knows nothing. Worryingly he seems to suggest the Gods everyone in Westeros and beyond believe in may well be false given he seemed to see nothing ‘beyond the Wall’ so to speak, certainly not Mel’s God R’hllor. That doesn’t stop her, mind you, planting the seed almost immediately that Jon may be ‘The Prince That Was Promised’, even before he’s properly had a stiff tumbler of mead and Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) has stopped exclaiming in shock all over the place. The big question is whether or not Jon *is* Jon anymore and though Eddison Tollet (Ben Crompton) suggests this in jest, there’s a hint of truth lurking beneath; could that *something* that’s gone be compassion? Old Jon may well have cut the boy Olly (Brenock O’Connor) down before he could be hung like Ser Allister “I could not give a fuck” Thorne (Owen Teale), but not this Jon – though it’s perhaps one reason why he immediately hangs up his black boots and jacks in the Lord Commander job. His watch may be ended but his story is likely just beginning.
Talking of beginnings, it seems Sam Tarly (John Bradley) is well on his way with Gilly (Hannah Murray) and the baby to Oldtown, where he of course has been dispatched to become a Maester who may well be crucial in the battle to come – that is if he finishes being sea sick of course. We get a nice reaffirmation of the quiet love between he & the Wilding girl (it’s a very sweet moment where she describes him as her babyfather) and a hint of an interesting path to come – it seems Sam may be heading home to Tarlytown where we may finally meet his old git of a father, Lord Randyll. Can’t see him having the champers on ice, somehow.
Speaking of Jon’s story, David Benioff & D.B Weiss aren’t half cockteasing us with his origin! No preamble with Bran (Issac Hempstead-Wright), we’re launched right into the legendary Tower of Joy sequence as long described by George R.R Martin’s books and if ever we wondered the need for a prequel involving a young Ned Stark (Robert Aramayo) and Robert’s Rebellion, the fight Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow) witness between Ned, Howland Reed (Leo Woodruff), their cronies and Ser Arthur Dayne (Luke Roberts) aka the Sword of the Morning, makes the case alone; it’s a battle to rival the best close quarter combat we’ve seen on the show to date, and while it infuriatingly doesn’t confirm the R+L=J theory, it nonetheless suggests to Bran that not only was Ned not quite straight with his children about quite how the past went down (which queues up the Jon parentage reveal nicely) but also the tantalising possibility Bran may actually be able to ‘influence’ the past, rather than just observe it – is this why the Raven keeps pulling him out just at the point of revelation? It’s more likely it’s Benioff & Weiss holding back their big reveals until this time is right but given the Raven wants Bran to understand “everything”, he’s going a funny way about it. Brief but badass, how cool would an entire time-jumping episode with just Bran be? We can dream.
Daenerys & Team Meereen
After a week catching up on her Dothraki tan, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) finally meets her destiny as a Khal’s Widow in what is basically the worst mother’s meeting you can imagine. This isn’t where Dany is supposed to be, yet it’s where custom decrees following Khal Drogo’s death she should go. The key point to her brief appearance is this – many of the Khal widows considered themselves made of destiny, living in the shadow of great men, until the crushing inevitability of life put them in their place. They obviously don’t know who Dany is if they think she’s taking that lying down.
Over in her yards, Lord Varys (Conleith Hill) is very much back to playing ‘the game’ in Meereen, in a way we haven’t seen him do since his days in the Lannister court; he gains crucial information on the figureheads behind the troublesome Sons of the Harpy, which suggests the siege of Meereen by Yunkai, Astapor and Volantis (as seen in A Dance of Dragons) may not be far away – with the old slave masters combining forces to destroy the troublesome Queen for good. If Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) can take some time out from playing truth or dare with Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), he may be of help! Joking aside, character points like these it’s pleasing to see Game of Thrones still finding time to do given the sheer amount of plot to service every week.
Cersei & Jaime
Lots of spiralling around back across the Narrow Sea in Kings Landing this week, as Qyburn (Anton Lesser) the weird, creepy necromancer (or should that be necroMAESTER, eh eh geddit? Narf) pops up and in his quest to become the Varys tribute act in the capital begins to deploy his own ‘little birds’, who Cersei (Lena Headey) wants out there not just in King’s Landing but across Westeros – she’s pissed and she wants to be ready. Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) isn’t happy either, and it’s fun through him and the children to play up the fear of Ser Gregor FrankenMountain (Hafbor Julius Bjornsson) for a hint of black comedy – Benioff & Weiss know the value of a lumbering, Bane from Batman & Robin-alike bodyguard stalking around, but don’t for one minute think he isn’t about to do something deplorable in the Lannister name because well, y’know, welcome to Westeros. Maybe crush Pycelle’s (Julian Glover) skull? That surely can’t be far away. First Cersei and Jaime need to regain control from the Lannister/Tyrell old guard who’ve seized the small council – long as Lady Olenna (Dame Diana Rigg) makes it out alive, fine. Just so we can have her endlessly verbally bitch slap Cersei down.
It’s nice to see Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) showing some of that Lannister steel he was asking mommy dearest to lend him last week, but it doesn’t last long in the maddening face of the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce). He really is a master psychological manipulator, his calm and passive voice flowing like a hypnotic song as he begins clouding Tommen’s mind, just like the late Tywin did – and it’s no coincidence the Sparrow mentions him. Could the Faith Militant even go so far as to convert Tommen? Force Cersei to act against her son? Don’t bet against it.
Up in the veritable Disneyland that is Winterfell, we briefly pop in on Ramsay “who shall I feed to the dogs today?” Bolton, consolidating his power base with the possible paedophile that is Lord Karstark (Paul Rattray), though it’s a delight to see the boorish Smalljon Umber (Dean S. Jagger) talk to him with the kind of frankness I don’t think anyone has had the balls to say in front of the bastard before. It proves that Ramsay now needs these Northern allies more than the other way around, and oddly enough by committing patricide he may have made his position all that more difficult. Though he does now have a trump card, a bargaining chip, and hands up who else shouted “no no NO!!” when Osha (Natalie Tena) and Rickon Stark (Art Parkinson) appeared from under those captive rags? After three seasons in the wind, this is *not* the place you want to find yourself; never have the words “welcome home” been more chilling.
Finally, over in Braavos, in possibly the coolest sequence in the entire episode, Arya (Maisie Williams) perhaps finally begins to reach the end of her Padawan learner training under Jaqen and the Waif, who don’t at all sound like a 70’s prog rock band. In a quite brilliant montage sequence, the Waif (Faye Marsay) teases out Arya’s entire backstory, catching us up on who she was, what she wanted, and why she’s here, and finally it seems Jaqen (Tom Wlaschiha) may have done it – broken her. The girl is no one, and now maybe—finally—she can get out there and get to work!
SEXINESS TALLY (in lieu of the Hodor Count):
A hint of Jon bum, but that’s about it. Tut tut.