This blog is published after the ‘Game of Thrones’ simulcast. Do not read ahead unless you have seen season six, episode three, or want to find out what happens. It contains lots of spoilers etc.
We’re all talking about
The Tower of Joy flashback. It’s long been thought of as a pivotal event in the whole ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ universe, and this week we got a little closer to finding out what really happened there.
As we knew, Ned, Jojen and Meera’s dad Howland Reed and a handful of other Baratheon rebels went to the Tower of Joy to rescue Lyanna, kidnapped by Prince Rhaegar Targaryen. Waiting for them was Arthur Dayne, widely believed to be the best swordsman ever seen in the Seven Kingdoms.
As he whipped those two blades around, it was easy to see why he’d won such a reputation, just as it was clear why honourable Ned Stark had never come clean about exactly how he beat The Sword of the Morning in a fight. Perhaps “my mate crept up behind him and stabbed in the back before I cut his throat” doesn’t sound so great?
Interesting that Bran looked as if he could talk to his dad in the flashback, or was the Raven right when he said Young Ned was just reacting to a noise he’d heard? Does that mean Bran can change time? Or communicate with the past, not just observe it?
What else happened
There was more Jon Snow in Castle Black. Melisandre finally realised Stannis was not the prince that was promised, and wanted to know what Jon saw when he was dead. “Nothing,” came his disappointing response.
A better line came from Davos: “You were dead, now you’re not, it’s completely fucking mad to me,” he said, further cementing himself as the series’ best character. There were some good lines shared with Edd too, who joked Jon is funnier than he used to be before his death.
If that’s the only difference, then Jon’s death, already looking like something of a pointless exercise as he only remained dead when the series was off-air and was resurrected with so little consequence, will have all been in vain.
Good to see Samwell Tarly and Gilly back, even if she can’t join him at the citadel. Less interesting, Daenerys without her dragons. It’s getting harder to care for her and the other Real Housewives of the Doth Khaleen.
Varys got closer to working out who was funding the Sons of the Harpy, and has narrowed it down to all the rich people in three massive cities. I fear his little birds are going to have to be more specific if he and Tyrion are going to do anything about it.
Qyburn looked like the world’s most sinister man as he offered sweets out to Varys’ little birds, while Cersei, Jaime and Gregor Clegane terrified Olenna Tyrell, Mace Tyrell, Kevan Lannister and Grand Maester Pycelle as they barged in on their meeting.
Tommen grew some backbone, taking his Kingsguard to tackle the High Sparrow, although he was quickly charmed by the silver-tongued church leader. Is he going to recruit Tommen to the faith?
Arya got a break this week, finally smacking the Waif back. As a result, Jaqen H’ghar gave a girl her eyes back, but I just don’t believe her when she says she’s No One, rather than Arya Stark.
Finally Ramsay, after his gratuitous violence last week, managed to talk to someone without killing them. Something tells me kidnapping Rickon Stark is not going to work out well for him and the treacherous Umber.
What does it all mean
Game of Thrones has, since its beginning, suffered from pacing problems, and this series looks no different. We get five minutes of one storyline, then off somewhere else. That can be great, of course, wide storytelling that gives a sense of the realms size and complexity. Only Jon Snow and related issues seem to be getting a look in, however, and this was never a show about him. Daenerys has been relegated to a bit-part player, her story, told in tiny chunks, is just not cutting it.
As storylines converge, we’re seeing a culling of characters that have no place. Just as Dorne was wiped out, the Night’s Watch now look slightly redundant as Jon walked out on them and Olly and Alliser Thorne, two of the only Night’s Watch with notable parts, were killed. That leaves Edd in charge, possibly because he’s the only brother up there with a name.
The Tower of Joy scene, by a length. The swordfighting was great, but it was the actor playing Young Ned totally nailing Sean Bean’s accent that did it.
Predictions for next week
Sansa and Jon will reunite and hatch a plan to get Rickon back. No more flashbacks, and Gregor will start smashing Faith Militant heads.