We open beyond the Wall, where Meera is dragging Bran through the snow. LEAVE HIM.
Bran is still warging out. A Bran-o-vision montage shows us pyromancers pouring wildfire, the Mad King instructing Jaime Lannister to BURN THEM ALL, the attack on Hardhome and the Night King raising the dead, a young Ned Stark wanting to know where his sister is, the death of Robb Stark, and the White Walker that Jon killed. Bran is apparently warg-cramming Westerosi History For Murderous Little Shits.
Back to reality, where the wights are in hot pursuit. Bran’s litter gets stuck and Meera cries. Bran wakes up and helpfully informs her that the wights have found them.
Believing they’re about to die, Meera tells Bran she’s sorry. Like, actually apologises TO Bran, the person responsible for them being in this position in the first place.
Just as the wights catch up with them, Uncle-Benjen-Coldhands a mysterious figure on a horse arrives, wielding a flaming mace….thingy.
He takes out a few wights, then tells Meera that they have to come with him right now. Meera hesitates, but given it’s this guy or death by snow-zombies, she doesn’t really have a choice. They haul arse out of there.
Sam, Gilly and Little Sam on their way to Horn Hill. Sam starts rambling about autumn foliage, which tips Gilly off to the fact that he’s nervous. Sam tells her that he never expected to come back here after his father threatened to kill him if he didn’t relinquish his birthright and take the black. Definitely a valid reason for skipping family Christmas. Sam also tells Gilly not to mention the wildling thing, because his Dad hates her kind.
Upon arriving at Horn Hill, they’re greeted by Sam’s mum and sister, who turn out to be lovely. Like, caramel-slice-making, school-fete organizing, blind-dog-adopting lovely. The nicest characters we’ve ever seen on this show. They’ll die soon.
Family dinner, Tarly-style. Lord Randyll Tarly looks like the BFG, but there’s nothing friendly about him. The ensuing awkwardness reminds me of the time 16-year-old me went to my boyfriend’s house for dinner and asked his mother why there were two kinds of meat in her casserole. Seriously – there was chicken and beef in there. As it turned out, that was her ‘specialty’ dish; she’d mix the leftovers from the previous two nights together and add a can of Campbells vegetable soup concentrate. Traumatic.
Anyhow, Lord Tarly is a douche. He belittles Sam, who visibly regresses as the scene plays out, and he disrespects Gilly. Gilly, meanwhile, is awesome and sticks it to Sam’s dad the way you wish Sam would.
In the end, Lord Tarly announces that Gilly and Little Sam can stay, but Sam is banished from Horn Hill forever. Sam seems to accept these terms and even says his goodbyes to Gilly and Little Sam, but thankfully sense – and a spine – prevails. Sam helps himself to Lord Tarly’s Valyrian steel sword and the three of them steal away in the night instead. Suck it, Randyll.
Ah, crap. The Sept of Baelor, where Tommen’s hanging out with the High Sparrow like it’s Tuesdays with Morrie. Jesus Christ, does anyone keep an eye on this kid? For all Cersei’s agonising over her children, she’s no helicopter parent when the only one that’s still alive is ducking out for tea and some fundamentalist brainwashing. Seriously, buy him one of those child harnesses with a leash or start knitting his golden shroud.
The High Sparrow and Tommen discuss Margaery’s impending walk of atonement,and Sparrow asks if Tommen would like to see her. Would he ever!
Cut to the High Sparrow’s altar room, where Margaery is looking demure and reading The Seven Pointed Star. This is the woman who pretended to find Joffrey’s compulsive sadism arousing for months, so I’m sure she can convincingly keep up the born-again charade for as long as she needs to.
Tommen enters. She rushes to his side and they hug. Tommen gushes that his penis has missed her – more than she could know. Margaery smiles with the polite tolerance of someone whose leg is being humped by their boss’s Labrador puppy.
She then starts gushing about the High Sparrow and how he’s led her to see the error of her ways – I think she knows the walls have ears and is toeing the line accordingly. Tommen, however, is genuinely subscribing to the High Sparrow’s newsletter. I’m calling it: Tommen won’t live to see season 7.
Bravos, where Arya is watching Joffrey’s death play out on stage and laughing inappropriately. So meta, but not quite accurate; in reality everyone pumped fists in the air and hugged in relief when that little shit died. My husband and I cracked a bottle of wine and hit replay about 40 times.
Arya sneaks backstage and empties poison into Lady Crane’s flask. Job done. But then Lady Crane catches her on her way out, and sparks up a conversation. Arya tells her she’s very good, and Lady Crane asks her what she’d change about her performance as grieving Cersei.
Arya answers based on her reaction to watching her own father die; she’d be angry and want to kill whoever did this to her. Then, in a moment that made my throat all lumpy, she tells the actress that she has to go – her father is waiting for her.
Lady Crane heads off to smash some rum. Arya runs back in at the last second, smacks it from her hands, and tells her to watch out for the younger actress who wants her dead. Then she heads to the rock wall to retrieve Needle. Woohoo! Welcome back, Arya Stark! Goodbye, No One! Better yet, goodbye House of Black and Boring. It’s been real.
The Waif sees everything and reports back to Jaquen H’ghar. He gives her the go ahead to take Arya out. Next week, if the Gods are good: the Waif meets the pointy end.
Back to King’s Landing, where Jaime and Mace Tyrell lead the Tyrell army to the Sept just as the High Sparrow is kicking off Margaery’s walk of atonement – or so it would seem. Jaime tells the High Sparrow that they’re there to collect Margaery and Loras.
The High Sparrow’s computer says no. Jaime assures him he means business, and the Tyrell army point their spears towards the Sept. The Sparrow Gestapo – Lancel included – stand at the ready. Shit gets tense.
Then, just when you think it’ll be the glorious, bloody slaughter on the streets that the promos all but promised, the High Sparrow is all ‘KIDDING! Here’s a moron I prepared earlier!’.
The doors of the Sept open. Tommen walks out. For fuck’s sake: CHILD HARNESS.
The last of Tommen’s brain cells, which were down to single digits anyhow, have been drowned in the Faith’s Kool Aid. He and Margaery have formed an alliance with the High Sparrow.
Tommen turns to the crowd and rehashes that crap about the Crown and the Faith being twin pillars upon which the world rests, blah blah blah. Dear God. This Faith Militant rubbish almost makes me miss Meereen. To think I could be watching Tyrion mansplain something to Missandei right now.
The High Sparrow looks on with approval as Tommen and Margaery clasp hands in a display of unity. But Margaery gives the High Sparrow a sideways glance, and you know it’s just a matter of time – and Loras being released – before she’s out to get hers. My guess is she’ll use the Faith to get her revenge on Cersei first, get her brother released, then unleash some Tyrell fury. Or at least I hope so…something interesting has to happen in King’s Landing at some point this season, right?
The crowd cheers. Jaime looks at Tommen with disbelief. That’s right, Jaime. Your only remaining son makes beetle-smashing cousin Orson look like a Grand Maester.
Cut to the Throne Room, where Jaime shrugs off his armor. Tommen informs him that when he attacked the Faith he also attacked the Crown, and as such he’s no longer fit to lead the Kingsguard. Oh, and he’s to leave King’s Landing. Forever.
What? Fucking what? Jaime’s being relieved as Lord Commander of the Kingshuard ala Barristan Selmy and exiled from the city, but Olenna and Mace and Mace’s army get a free pass? Are we just bypassing any attempt at having this convoluted, boring-as-fuck plotline make sense now?
To the Twins, where Walder Frey is reiterating the fact that the Blackfish has retaken Riverun. He also recounts the events of the Red Wedding for those of us who are no longer in therapy over it. He tells his inept sons to get Riverrun back by using Edmure Tully as leverage. Edmure Tully still looks like the guy from Little Britain.
Back to King’s Landing, where Jaime’s freaking out about being sent away. Cersei wangs on about showing the world what Lannisters do to their enemies and how they’re the only two people in the world, blah blah blah, twincest pashing. Something tells me these two are never going to see each other again.
Beyond the Wall, where Meera is watching Uncle-Benjen-Coldhands her mystery rescuer pour a nice hot cup of rabbit’s blood. Bran wakes up and is immediately overcome with grief at the thought of all the people that died because of him.
Except he isn’t. He doesn’t even mention them. He’s far more interested in the true identity of their rescuer. It’s Uncle Benjen, moron. Benjen’s got a dragonglass pacemaker that stops him from becoming a whitewalker. Now drink your rabbit’s blood; the Night King is coming, and you need to be ready.
Cut to HBO Headquarters, where David Benioff and D.B. Weiss realise the episode is nearly done and essentially fucking nothing has happened.
Benioff: “Fuck. We better end big.”
Weiss: “Tower of Joy?”
They stare at each other a moment , then burst into hysterical laughter. Benioff wipes a tear from his eye, pops another peeled grape in his mouth and instructs his editor to “throw them a dragon bone”.
So: to Vaes Dothrak. Daenerys is at the head of her new khalasar, on their way to Meereen.
She turns to Daario and asks how many ships it will take to get her entire army across the Narrow Sea. He ballparks around 1000. Euron Greyjoy pops up and cries BINGO! But he has to build them from scratch using tree logs and handspun cotton, so if you can hold off on invading for 30 years or so that’d be great.
Dany spots some unusual sand activity up ahead, and tells Daario to wait in the car. We watch as Daario and the khalasar get restless. Some of these Khals have some hilariously dodgy wigs, probably because production blew the whole budget on…
Dragon-shaped shadow overhead! Drogon appears and the dragon theme music kicks in…fuck you, Benioff and Weiss. It gets me every time.
Drogon’s all healed up and has apparently been getting his RDI of flame-grilled children and livestock, because he’s enormous. Daenerys is on his back, dragon-riding like a boss. At this point I got distracted thinking about her actual horse. Did Drogon eat him?
Daenerys throws the Khals a saucy look and gives a call-to-arms speech that makes Mace Tyrell look even more like a retired librarian in amateur drama class.
Will the khals cross the narrow sea on wooden horses? YES!
Will they tear down the stone houses of her enemies? YES!
Will they rape and pillage and terrorise the common people she used to care so much about? PROBABLY!
Are they with her, now and always?
The Khals and my husband: HELLS YES!!!
But what about Daario? We spend an inordinate amount of time on his reactions in this scene, and I don’t think it’s because he wants some Khaleesi action. My traitor-spidey-sense is tingling.
Anyhow, Drogon roars us off. You can actually see the little flame jet/outlet thingies in his mouth! Or are they tonsils? Whatever. I’m sufficiently mesmerized and forget that this episode had the plot density of a prawn cracker.
Next week: Jamie VS the Blackfish, Olenna VS Cersei, and the Team Stark recruitment drive kicks off on Bear Island.