While it wasn’t quite as good as the two episodes that preceded it, “Blood of my Blood” did an excellent job of keeping Game of Thrones’ hot streak alive, delivering another solid hour in what is shaping up to be the show’s best season since the third. This episode’s tighter overall focus means that there isn’t as much to chew on as there has been over the last few weeks, but there were still some exciting moments to ponder over. The most notable development of course was the return of Benjen Stark, but we also got to see a surprisingly lengthy (and cringe-inducing) family reunion on Samwell Tarly’s side, as well as one of Daenerys’s most dramatic speeches to date (it helped that she said the whole thing while mounted atop a dragon). Game of Thrones is setting up some big moments in the coming weeks, and here are the 10 most pressing questions about what’s to come.
As usual, full SPOILERS for the show and books to follow.
10. Did Bran Somehow Influence The Mad King?
“Blood of my Blood” begins with Bran experiencing another one of his visions, which, among other things, briefly shows the Mad King Aerys Targaryen ordering his men to burn King’s Landing. Most of the other flashes we see are of people and events that are more personally significant to Bran, such as his parents and the Tower of Joy, so it’s curious that a vision of the Mad King is thrown into the mix. As we just learned in the previous episode, Bran has the ability to directly influence the past, as he was responsible for Hodor’s mental lapse as a young boy, so it’s possible that Bran’s time travelling could also have had an impact on the Mad King’s own mental instability. It’s definitely a longshot as far as theories go, but we still don’t know the full extent of Bran’s abilities, so it would be wrong to rule out the possibility that Bran is inadvertently responsible for a number of past events.
9. What Has Benjen Been Up To All This Time?
We finally got an answer to one of Game of Thrones’ biggest mysteries this week, as Benjen Stark turned out to be Coldhands, a.k.a. the one wight who doesn’t want to kill everyone. It was a pretty dramatic revelation, especially considering George R.R. Martin had previously denied the popular theory that Benjen was Coldhands, but now that Benjen is back in the picture, I have to wonder just what the heck has taken him so long to resurface. Benjen went missing early on in the first season and as he tells Bran and Meera here, he had a pretty ugly encounter with the White Walkers before the Children revived him with a dragonglass dagger to the heart.
That situation probably kept him busy for a bit, but what’s his excuse for not turning up earlier? The Night’s Watch made an ill-fated march north of the Wall a few seasons ago and could have used some timely assists from an undead ranger who wields a goddamn fire mace. Regardless, I’m happy he’s back in the picture, but it sure would be nice to get some clarification on what a servant of the Three-Eyed Raven gets up to when he’s not rescuing a crippled boy and his companion from a pack of feral ice zombies.
8. Why Did Arya Decide To Betray The Faceless Men?
Arya’s decision to abandon the Faceless Men and their bizarre, yet surprisingly boring code of ethics isn’t exactly surprising. Arya is too tenacious a character to be stripped of her personality, so it was only a matter of time before she picked up Needle again and started looking for her next adventure. Still, it’s a bit difficult to gauge why Arya’s sudden change is spurred on by seeing Lady Crane’s performance as a grieving Cersei Lannister. Perhaps the raw emotion of Lady Crane’s monologue helped Arya realize that being “no one” isn’t going to help her find justice for her family, or maybe it’s just because she’s disgusted by the thought of such a talented actress being targeted for assassination by her jealous, younger castmate? Whatever the reason, I’m glad Arya’s finally ready to start acting like Arya again because the Braavos story has long overstayed its welcome. Plus, I can’t wait to see the Waif get Needled in the throat.
7. Is Margaery’s New-Found Piety For Real?
Margaery pulled a major 180 this week, seemingly becoming a devout follower of the Faith and making strides to atone for her sins. She even manages to convince Tommen to ally himself with the Sparrows (to be fair, Tommen would do anything Margaery asks), leading to a super awkward moment on the stairs leading up to the High Sept when Tommen announces the renewed alliance of the Faith and the Crown. But is Margaery’s religious zeal for real? We know that Margaery is willing to do anything to save her brother, so she could only be playing nice with the High Sparrow for now until her brother is safely returned to the Tyrells. Then again, it did sound like Margaery had a lot of conviction behind her words, so it’s definitely possible that she is legitimately trying to please the Gods. We probably won’t have to wait long to find out which is the case.
6. How Will Jaime Deal With The Blackfish?
Jaime is perhaps the biggest loser of “Blood of my Blood,” what with his own son embarrassing him on two separate occasions, most notably by removing Jaime’s title as Captain of the Kingsguard. We now know that Jaime is being sent to Riverrun to try and take the castle back from Brynden “Blackfish” Tully, but considering that Brienne of Tarth is on her way there as well, it’s difficult to gauge how Jaime will end up dealing with the situation. The Blackfish is Jaime’s enemy and the Freys are Lannister allies, so Jaime is obligated to try and lay siege to the castle.
On the other hand, Brienne is headed to Riverrun as Sansa Stark’s envoy, which places her in opposition to Jaime. In the books, Jaime successfully takes the castle without resorting to bloodshed, but the Blackfish ends up escaping yet again. Given the show’s penchant for dramatically altering how stories play out, it’s almost a given that Jaime’s trip to Riverrun is going to be much more eventful than how it played out in Martin’s source material; the only question now is how?
5. What is Sam’s Plan, Exactly?
Samwell Tarly made an ill-advised trip home this week to see his shockingly-sweet mother and terrible human being of a father, and it went about as poorly as you’d expect. Sam, not wishing to force Gilly and little Sam to stay under the same roof as his racist, violent father decides to make a break for it, but not before he takes the Tarly family sword, Heartsbane, with him. As refreshing as it is to see Sam stick it to his old man, especially after being insulted repeatedly over dinner, I can’t help but think that this was an ill-advised decision on Sam’s part.
What is Sam planning on doing? His father commands a sizable army, so he definitely has the resources at his disposal to hunt his son down. And as much as I love Sam and am always rooting for him, I highly doubt that he’ll be able to wield that sword very well against Randall Tarly if the time comes, despite his claim that his father “can bloody well try” to take the sword from him. Ideally, Sam is keenly aware of the need for Valyrian steel in the war to come with the White Walkers and is hightailing it back to the Wall, but I’m still pretty worried about his chances right now.
4. What is the High Sparrow’s Next Move?
The High Sparrow leveled a major blow against both the Lannisters and the Tyrells this week by having the king and queen of Westeros publicly announce their support for the Faith Militant’s continued presence in King’s Landing. Now that he has the support of the Crown, what will the High Sparrow’s next move be? It feels like we’re still building to some sort of bloody conflict, with Cersei in particular planning some kind of vicious retaliation for her son being swayed by the High Sparrow’s oratory skills, but right now, he has pretty sizable edge over his enemies. I expected this episode to end with the Tyrell army storming the High Sept and the High Sparrow proceeded to throw those expectations out the window and then some, so look forward to more surprises down the road from Jonathan Pryce’s character (who is killing it in this role, by the way).
3. Did Dorne Just Sink Into The Sea Or Something?
Hey, remember Dorne? I try not to, but the fact of the matter is that the last time we saw the southern kingdom of Westeros, things weren’t going so well. Even though it was a bit silly, Ellaria Sand’s successful coup d’état at the start of the season actually livened up that storyline dramatically, but since then, we haven’t heard a peep from Dorne. Are Ellaria and her Sand Snakes still planning to go to war with the Lannisters or did the whole kingdom sink into the Narrow Sea? I’m sure we’ll be seeing Dorne again very soon, but it’s still odd that we’ve seen so little of it so far this season, especially given the events that transpired there last time out. At the same time, Game of Thrones has so many storylines on the go, that I’m totally fine with seeing as little of its worst one as possible.
2. Where Did Bronn Go?
Everyone’s favorite mercenary was actually a topic of discussion on this week’s episode, but unfortunately, we’ve yet to see him at all this season. As much as I’d like to see Bronn and a bunch of his mercenary friends lay waste to the Faith Militant as Jaime suggests, it would also just be nice to see Bronn reintegrated into the story somehow. Something tells me that we may see him as early as next week’s episode, as Bronn is essentially Jaime’s BFF these days and he’ll be needed on Jaime’s trip to Riverrun. As good as this season has been so far, Peter Dinklage can only count so much for the snappy, hilarious dialogue quotient, which is a long way of saying that Bronn just needs to come back.
1. Why Exactly Does Dany Want The Iron Throne?
After several false starts and multiple seasons of relative inaction, Daenerys Targaryen is finally on her way to wage war on the Seven Kingdoms. Sitting atop her dragon Drogon while making an inspirational speech about how her khalasar will level the castles of Westeros to the ground was certainly dramatic, but it also felt more than a little forced. Look, everyone wants to see Daenerys take the Iron Throne and she has the best claim of anyone for being the ruler of Westeros, but is she even sure anymore why she wants to conquer King’s Landing and the rest of the Seven Kingdoms? It feels more like an obligation than destiny at this point, as Dany has had little to no interaction with the majority of the characters who inhabit Westeros, so there’s just not much in the way of dramatic stakes any more.
Additionally, Dany has proven herself to be a morally-conscious ruler; sure, she’s willing to get her hands dirty, but he also cares deeply for the poor and innocent. It remains to be seen how setting an army of men renowned for raping and pillaging loose on thousands, potentially millions, of people will gel with Dany’s moral code. Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for Dany waging war on Westeros (especially since it will inject some much-needed excitement into her storyline), I just want it to make sense.