Coldhands! Blood of My Blood Review and Power Rankings

Yes, the big headline for this week will be that Coldhands has appeared and that he is Benjen Stark. “Benjen is Coldhands” has long been a fan theory and a great many Song of Ice and Fire fans will feel vindicated that their hypothesis has been proved true; however, we still don’t know if this is the case in George R.R. Martin’s novel. Revealing Coldhands to be Benjen or, rather, simply reintroducing Benjen as an undead, only part-way turned Wite never called Coldhands, seems a bit too neat for this series, too closed a circle. It would be more in keeping with the series’ dedication to a “realistic” world with fantasy elements were Benjen simply to disappear never to be heard from again. Also, I was thinking Ian McShane would be playing Coldhands (he still hasn’t popped up yet and his role has yet to be announced), and now I feel foolish. But the return of Benjen Stark was not a major part of the episode, the scenes with Bran and Meera were mostly to show how the pair escape the Wites, and offer us a glimpse of The Mad King via “Green Dream.” More important things happened this week; moves upon moves.
On Game of Thrones it’s a good bet that if you witness the formulation of a plan, said plan is not going to work out. Such is the case with the Lannister/Tyrell attempted liberation of Margaery and Loras from The Sept. It seemed unlikely that Margaery would have to do a “Walk of Atonement,” no matter what went down, but the announcement of Margaery and Tommen as a ruling couple of born again in “The Light of The Seven” is a legitimate surprise, even if the groundwork for the development has been laid over the last couple of weeks. Tommen seems very much to have dedicated himself to the faith, Margaery may be faking, trying to leverage Loras’ release. You know what? I’m saying it now, Margaery is faking, she’s a secret badass. If Margaery is lying, the High Septon likely knows it and doesn’t care because what he really wants is Tommen’s, and therefore Iron Throne’s, devotion. That High Septon’s a real player, the look he gives Jaime upon Tommen’s entrance is not one of the humble devotion he plays at but one of smug victory. Honestly, the rescue plan was not a good one, had it come to fruition it would have resulted in the stairs to The Sept littered with the bodies of the Faith Militant and probably lots of Tyrell men, the small phalanx that Mace brings along (he gives them a humorously uninspiring speech) seems pathetically small next to the throngs of peasants behind them who would likely riot were a fight to commence. Things probably worked out for the best.
The Lannister/Tyrell rescue mission was not the only bad plan featured this week as Samwell Tarly is making some terrible decisions of his own. After a very unpleasant dinner with his father Randyll (a real dick), his brother Dickon (a real Dickon), his mother Melessa (just a peach), and sister Talla (also very nice), Samwell decides that he will not go to The Citadel, but will instead run off with Gilly and Little Sam, taking with him the Tarly family’s Valyrian steel sword, Heartsbane. This seems like a terrible idea on several fronts; first, Sam is not outdoorsy; second, his father and brother will undoubtedly be after them; third, he will be marked for death for deserting the Night’s Watch. Narratively, while Sam’s dedication to Gilly and the baby has always been heartwarming, Sam’s decision to stay with her here seems intended to be crowd-pleasing rather than satisfying storytelling. Additionally, it is a bit disappointing that Sam will not be at the Citadel, one of the great institutions of Westeros of which fans know very little.
In other perhaps-not-great plans, Arya is making some moves down in Braavos. If the scenes this and last week of Arya watching the mummers’ play (which have been a bit long for my taste) have shown anything, it is that she has still not become “nobody,” she can’t dispassionately watch a portrayal of her father’s death; she’s a Stark from the womb to the tomb. Her decision to spare the actress, Lady Crane, shows that she still has a strong sense of justice, something of which she would need to dispense if she were to become one of the Faceless Men. Now The Waif is going to get a chance to terminate Arya, something she’s wanted for a while, apparently, and it looks like we’ll be getting a duel soon. I would guess that no one expects The Waif to walk away from that. I would also guess that Jaqen H’ghar doesn’t much care who wins the fight, he doesn’t seem too attached to The Waif, who is just as headstrong as Arya.
In the night’s final scene, Daenerys reaffirms the loyalty of her new khalasar by reuniting with Drogon (the big dragon), and plopping down right in front of them, speechifying from atop the beast. This scene would be more affecting if she had not just earned/inspired the loyalty of the Dothraki a couple weeks ago with her badass torching of the assembled Khals. It’s starting to seem a bit late in the season for Daenerys plotline to make any major leaps. Her taking control of the khalasar has taken a frustratingly long time, it’s the kind of thing she used to do in just one or two episodes. If there is a major problem with this season of Game of Thrones it is that there are now so many characters in different places that they are only getting one or two scenes in about every other episode, the writers don’t want to simply focus on a couple of characters for a while, lest the other characters are forgotten about. It’s a lot of setup this year, but we can have faith that there are great things to come.
Week 6 Power Rankings
1. The High Sparrow: With Tommen, and (maybe) Margaery), newly devoted to The Faith, it is The High Sparrow who is holding the cards in King’s Landing now.’
2. Dany: The Khalasar have dedicated themselves anew to Dany now that they have seen her bitchin’ dragon. Don’t expect Dany to fall from the top two any time soon.
3. Euron: No appearance with week, but you can bet he’s still back in the Iron Islands, large and in charge and building a fleet.
4. Ramsey: Similarly no appearance this week, but he’s still Lord of Winterfell and has some powerful allies. His position seems tenuous with Jon and Sansa rallying the troops.
5. The Starks: Bran is safe, for the time being. Arya is taking a stance against murder-for-hire and looks to break free of the influence of The House of Black and White. Jon and Sansa do not show up this week but are looking to surge in the coming episodes. Things are not currently looking great for Rickon who, we can assume, is not having a great time with Ramsey.
6. Margaery: She’s back, baby! Free at last! Look for her to start making some moves, either for The Faith or against it, very soon.
7. The Lannister Twins: This are not looking great for Cersei and Jaime right now. Tommen is no longer Cersei’s puppet and Jaime has been relieved of his position as Lord Commander of The Kingsguard. However, this pair is steely in their resolve and will look to mount a comeback ASAP.
8. Tyrion: No appearance this week, assumed to be in Meereen still, making politically sound but morally shaky decisions.
9. Littlefinger: He still controls The Vale. He’ll be back.
10. The Young Greyjoys: No appearance, likely on the run for the time being.
Not Ranked: No appearances made by Stannis’ Old Crew, Ellaria and The Sand Snakes (we’re done with that, right?), or Bronn (but he is mentioned!). Sam’s situation still needs to shake out before a proper ranking can be assigned.

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