The pieces may be moving into place for another major battle on 'Game of Thrones'

No conquest comes in “Blood of My Blood”

Another character returns
Another week on Game of Thrones, another Stark reunion — except this one comes under much more duress than the last one.

"Blood of My Blood" picks up almost immediately where the heartbreaking "The Door" left off, with Meera trudging through the snow and Bran still warging in tow. If the show’s editing is any indication, the new Three-Eyed Raven hasn’t learned to fully control his powers yet. He’s bouncing around in time and location, getting glimpses of key moments (like Daenerys meeting her baby dragons, Ned Stark’s beheading, and the Red Wedding), including some from before the show began (like the slaying of the Mad King by Jaime).

But it’s Bran’s present that is currently of most importance, when a mysterious rider on horseback saves him and Meera from the army still pursuing them. That man looks to be the arrival of long-unseen book character Coldhands, but rather than the shadowy identity of that book figure, the show’s version is a familiar face — Uncle Benjen Stark.

Ned Stark’s brother returns after a seasons-long absence to aide his nephew. He was once left for dead by the White Walkers, but the Children of the Forest found Benjen and used some dragonglass to bring him back from the brink. Though, he’s clearly seen better days.

What else Benjen has been up to other than his near-death and salvation remains a question, but he’s evidently been keeping a close enough eye on the white walkers to be nearby to help his nephew. Whether he has more to offer Bran as the boy harnesses his powers remains to be seen, but Benjen’s entrance proves the show is still finding clever ways to use characters and plot points from the books the series has seemingly passed over.

Another character returns after an extended absence from the series, as Lord Edmure Tully is brought out of captivity by Walder Frey. Last seen before the Red Wedding, Edmure took Robb’s place in the ceremony to wed one of the Frey clan, only to be captured while his relatives were slaughtered.

Walder is furious to learn that they have lost Riverrun to Blackfish, demanding his men return to take it back while using Edmure to do so. And, unexpectedly, the Frey’s are being given aide by Jaime Lannister, who is ordered to assist them after losing his spot as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard.

If Jaime does head to Riverrun, it would seem to suggest this is likely where the season’s big battle — well, possibly one of the season’s battles, given how the show’s scope increases each season — will occur. At the very least, there’s opportunity for some major meetings. Jon and Sansa are heading off to request Blackfish’s help as well, and the concentration of so many key characters in one locale feels like the pieces being pushed into place for an epic showdown.

"Blood" likely only increases Jaime’s itch for battle when a nearly climactic battle falls far short of bloodshed. Jaime arrives to the scene of Margaery’s walk of atonement with the Tyrell army alongside him. Together, they threaten the lives of the High Sparrow and all of his followers — until King Tommen appears, that is.

Yes, the young king comes out as a faithful convert to the Sparrow’s movement. An earlier conversation with Margaery, who talks up the Sparrow, pushes him over the edge of obedience to the gods. Margaery had no idea this Lannister-Tyrell agreement was in the works, and rather indulge in whatever battle would erupt, she stands alongside her husband. She does so because his decision frees her from the walk, with the Sparrow claiming she has already atoned by converting Tommen. The Faith and the Crown are one now, a fact that Jaime, now stripped of his title, finds infuriating.

Rather than let it shake her, however, Cersei remains calm and collected, cooling the flames of Jaime’s anger. She doesn’t want him doing anything to get himself killed before they take revenge, but their plans, in spite of this seeming loss at the hands of the Sparrow, remains a mystery.

Arya, meanwhile, actually has some advice for Cersei — but it’s a Cersei from several seasons ago. She’s continued stalking her newest target for the Faceless Men, an actress in a traveling circus who plays Cersei. Though she poisons the woman’s drink, the actress catches Arya shortly after. Their conversation behind the stage is enough to convince Arya not to go through the assassination, later knocking the actress' drink out of her hand.

Her treachery of the Faceless Men doesn’t end there, however, as she looks to run away from them, reclaiming her hidden blade Needle.

She’s not the only one to find their weapon of choice. Back home with Gilly and her son, Sam steals his family’s sword Heartsbane. He, Gilly, and the baby are leaving under the cover of night after Sam’s father acted like a drunk uncle on Thanksgiving, insulting Sam’s weight, besmirching Gilly’s lineage as a wildling, and demanding Sam never return home again.

Perhaps most powerfully of all, Daenerys re-discovers Drogon while on the road with the dothraki. The fierce beast looks to be back in fine health and ready to aide its mother in her planned conquest.

And though no conquest comes in “Blood of My Blood,” the season takes a much-needed breather here after a string of monumental moments and reveals to lead its many key players into place for battle.


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