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GAME OF THRONES Recap: Head Full of Heartsbane

Hello, fair citizens of the Realm! It’s that time of year again—the most wonderful of them all—Game of Thrones season. And, in addition to winter: spoilers are coming! As this is a recap, it goes over everything in crazy detail, so proceed at your own risk and don’t say we didn’t warn you in the comments below.

It was a series of returns and new arrivals to the Realm during season sixth’s six episode, “Blood of My Blood.” After years away, two major folks came back into our world: chill uncle Benjen “Coldhands” Stark and weaselly li’l Frank Randall Edmure “Woopsies!” Tully. We also got our first-ever look at THE Mad King himself, Mad King Aerys Targaryen (y’know, the guy Jaime Lannister killed in the Baratheon Rebellion?) and a few interesting, smaller tidbits we think are going to come into play in a major way over the next four episodes—especially in regards to the Lannister incestuals and the powers-that-be. Because the episode was admittedly a little boring for our tastes, we’re breaking it down a bit differently this go-around.


The Returns

Ahh, Walder Frey—we’ve missed your sneaky ways. Ever since the Red Wedding, the most fairweather allies on all the Realm have remained uncharacteristically silent in the game of thrones, until Sunday night’s episode saw them pull out their last Edmure Tully and the Freys. A refresher for all that may have forgotten in the years since the Red Wedding: Edmure Tully was the one getting married to a Frey girl to solidify the pact between House Stark and House Frey so that the Northern soldiers could pass. Only…Walder Frey’s the worst of the worst (more fickle than maybe any other character on this show, which is a feat), and he teamed up with the Boltons and the Lannisters to take ’em all out. In the time since, Edmure’s remained locked up as a prisoner, with the castle at Riverrun becoming theirs.

…Only it looks like ol’ Brynden “The Blackfish” Tully isn’t going to let his brother Holster’s castle go without a fight. So he managed to evade those nincompoopish Freys and take back the castle (which is why Jaime has to go there and try and get it back for the Freys: Brynden ain’t no friend of the lions).

We also saw the return of a character gone far longer than the Freys or Tullys though…


The New Insights

And by that, of course, we mean ol’ Uncle Benjen! That’s right: the series brought back everyone’s favorite chill uncle in his latest iteration: an almost undead soldier of the Children in the war against the Night King and the White Walkers, better known by book readers as Coldhands. (And in another “outpacing the books” move, the show revealed how Coldhands/Benjen was alive at all.) Though it’s his first appearance on the show, Coldhands has loomed large on the page, with his true identity only hinted at rather than confirmed. Now that Bran’s the new Three-Eyed Raven, he was able to call upon his uncle to save him and Meera from the Wights who’d found them and were trying to kill them for the White Walkers.

With a bunch of knowledge—thanks to the Children and the whole “being undead” thing—under his belt, Benjen explained to Bran his next move: to get to the Wall and stop the Night King dead in his undead tracks.


Of course we cannot talk about Bran without talking about that series of flashbacks/forwards/what-have-you visions. Because we got our first-ever look at Mad King Aerys Targaryen, which was huuuuge. As was his use of that oh-so-ominous line “burn them all,” which has somehow become even more ominous since last week’s episode. Littered with shots of Wildfire (which we’re fairly certain’s going to come into play in a big way this season—but more on that in the next section below), Bran’s visions of the Night King and the White Walkers and Wights bumbling towards the Wall lead us to believe that, even though we know the Battle of the North (between Jon Snow/Sansa and Ramsay Bolton) will be major, we may be left with a majorly epic cliffhanger battle with the dead and the living at the end of this season, too.

But, as luck would have it, there’s Heartsbane. What: did you think we weren’t going to talk about the most glorious homecoming to end all homecomings thus far this season? Samwell Tarly showed up at the luxe palace otherwise known as his homestead, Horn Hill, with Gilly and her bouncing blonde baby (which: c’mon—ain’t no one believing that baby’s yours and hers, Sam, let’s be real here. The blue of his eyes had us a little bit worried, though, not gonna lie). The family reunion was about as shitty as you’d expect, considering the veritable smorgasbord of shitty dads that punctuate the Realm, and Randyll Tarly’s Wildling-hating, fat-shaming ways put him at the near top of the heap!

Thankfully, Gilly—who was channeling our inner selves when she could barely walk in Talla Tarly’s dressy get-up—was there to give Sam the confidence he needed to steal his family’s Valyrian steel sword, Heartsbane, and get the heck out of dodge with her and the baby in tow. No doubt that’ll come in handy very soon, since Valyrian steel is one of the few things that can kill the undead. All that magic put into the blade and whatnot.


“You’re not what he thinks you are, Samwell,” Gilly said. “I’m angry that horrible people can treat good people that way and get away with it.” Yeah, well, isn’t that just Game of Thrones in a nutshell, Gill? Here’s hoping she somehow ends up on the Iron Throne. Then maybe good people would actually have a chance.

The Probably-to-Come

Of course there were also those storylines that pointed far more at whats to come than what was happening in them. Like Dany’s speech on the back of Drogon, which admittedly came across far too white savior-y for us to get down on. (We were all Daario’s face in that moment, right?), or Arya’s lying in wait for the Waif to come kill her after protecting TroupeCersei, whom she was sent to kill. We’re not worried about Mercy—the name Arya gave herself—with Needle at her arm. Our serial murderperson has learned well from that persnickety bitch, so it’ll be nice to see Arya trounce her later on.

But we have to end on the Lannister note. Because—hoo boy—are those brothersisterlovers getting ready to burn it all down to the ground or what? Remember when I mentioned those Wildfire visions (that glowing green stuff) up there before? Right, well: King’s Landing has an insane stockpile of Wildfire underneath the castle; Tyrion tapped into some of Cersei’s 7,811+ commissioned casks of the stuff to take down Stannis back in season two. And now that Tommen’s gone full-on religious zealot in the name of gettin’ some from Margaery—once a manipulator, always a manipulator, that one—things are not looking so good for the Tyrells OR the Lannisters hanging out in King’s Landing. The High Sparrow has bested them all. Though it’s clear that everyone in King’s Landing—like, literally every single last one—is a nutter with little-to-no understanding of anything at all. “I have to answer to the gods,” Tommen bleated, little lamb king that he is. “Not when you’re sitting in that chair!” his uncledad bellowed back. Which: c’mon, Jaime, you of all people know that’s not true coughcough kingslayer cough.


That’s not even the scariest bit, though: given the rampage-y warpath Cersei’s been on—and Jaime’s willingness to leave her side to go to the Riverlands probably when she needs someone to help her make good decisions more than ever—we’re fairly certain Cersei’s going to set fire to the sept, killing the Sparrows, High Sparrow—which: whoa what freakin’ power moves this guy has up his sleeve, eh?—Tommen, Margaery, and Septa RatchedUnella.

Because like, honestly: why else would they show us all that Wildfire in the first place, right? Everything has a reason on this show—they’ve made a point of reexplaining that to us more often than is normal on this show—so something tells me that’s how this season’s going to end. And then she’d finally have the throne all to herself—maybe even possibly becoming the stand-in for Lady Stoneheart I’m kinda/sorta starting to think the show may make her either this season or next. Which would be crazy because then it would probably fall on Jaime to murder her. Which is just the sort of messed-up Game of Thrones likes to deal in best.

Now—if you’re ready—check out all the totally real, not-at-all-fake spoilers we got from the cast about the rest of the season:

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It was a slow episode with little action but not an unworthy one in the slightest. Let’s discuss all its dealings and doings in the comments below, shall we?

Images: HBO

Alicia Lutes is the Managing Editor, co-host of Fangirling, and resident Khaleesi of House Nerdist. Find her on Twitter (@alicialutes).

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