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[Warning: this story contains spoilers for episode six, season six of HBO’s Game of Thrones.]
What’s an episode of Game of Thrones without Jon Snow (Kit Harington) in the mix?
That was a question fans were forced to ask all throughout the off-season, given Jon’s death at the hands of the Night’s Watch mutineers. But ever since his resurrection, Jon and his brewing war against House Bolton has taken a central and essential role. However, even former Lord Commanders require some rest every now and again; for the first time since the season six premiere, the story at Castle Black and surrounding areas took a seat on the bench, set to resume in next week’s episode, “The Broken Man.”
With Jon absent from the hour, several other stories stepped into the spotlight, including the return of some long forgotten figures — both friend and foe.
Here are all the key moments from “Blood of my Blood,” the sixth episode of Game of Thrones season six.
1. The Never-Ending Nightmare
Without the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow), will Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) still be able to visit the past? That was one of the biggest questions coming out of “The Door,” and now, we have our answer. Bran begins the episode still tripping down the rabbit hole, seeing a slew of visions including his own fall from Winterfell and the horrors at Hardhome. While the Raven is dead, his powers live on through Bran — both a blessing and a curse for the young warg.
2. “Burn Them All”
Bran’s visions this week are quick but important, especially one in particular: Mad King Aerys Targaryen, barking orders at his minions to “burn them all.” It’s a vision of the final night of Aerys‘ reign as he threatened to level King’s Landing to the ground rather than surrender to Robert’s Rebellion. Several recent time-travel theories center on Bran having a role in Aerys‘ descent into madness, and his appearance here only further fuels that speculation.
3. Bran Sees His Parents
Another important thing to notice in Bran’s visions: he witnesses the deaths of his father Ned (Sean Bean) and Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley). Is it possible that Bran’s time-displaced spirit was actually present for both their murders? Catelyn’s return in particular should spark some fan theories about a certain book character left out of the show so far — especially given the series’ revitalized Riverlands storyline.
4. In From the Cold
Speaking of characters left out of the adaptation thus far, one of George R.R. Martin’s most mysterious figures finally emerged: Coldhands, a frozen guardian who protects Bran’s party in the books. His identity has not been confirmed in the pages of A Song of Ice and Fire yet, but at least for the show, he stands revealed as Benjen Stark (Joseph Mawle), Bran’s uncle not seen since season one. With Benjen back in the action, one of the show’s longest-running questions has officially been answered.
5. The Seven’s Landing
In King’s Landing, the conflict between the Red Keep and the Faith Militant comes to a head, in a very unexpected way. Rather than spilling blood on the streets, Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) loses the war due to his own son’s actions: King Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) forges an alliance with the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce), completely upending the power structure within King’s Landing, even if Tommen does not immediately realize it.
6. Return to Riverrun
The Riverlands are set for a resurgence in season six, having already been mentioned during “The Door,” with Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) telling Sansa (Sophie Turner) that her uncle Bryndyn the Blackfish (Clive Russell) has overtaken Riverrun. Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) is already on her way to seek the Blackfish’s aid, and now, Jaime rides toward the castle as well, on the other side of the battlefield. With that, the pieces are in play for one of the books’ most dramatic cliffhangers to play out on the show.
7. Into the Frey
There’s not much to discuss when it comes to Walder Frey (David Bradley) returning to the show, and yet, his very presence is enough to inspire some bone-deep fury. Viewers have not seen the traitorous monster since the Red Wedding’s aftermath, but House Frey’s return to the show can only mean their imminent collapse — at least, one can hope.
8. Faceless No More
Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) turns her back on the House of Black and White, refusing to kill Lady Crane (Essie Davis). The Waif (Faye Marsay) witnesses Arya’s inaction, and is officially given the go ahead from Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) to kill her nemesis. To quote Samwell Tarly (John Bradley), she can bloody well try; Arya recovers Needle from its hiding spot, revealing that the Young Wolf of House Stark is once again ready for action.
9. Stealing Steel
Speak of Sam and swords, the hopeful future maester of the Citadel steals his family’s ancestral weapon: Heartsbane, a Valyrian sword that has been in House Tarly’s possession for centuries. Even though he’s killed enemies in the past, Sam isn’t exactly the world’s greatest swordsman. Still, the addition of another Valyrian sword in the impending war against the White Walkers can only mean good news for the good guys.
10. The Mother of Speeches
At long last, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) is ready to do what fans have wanted from her for six seasons now. She ends the episode with a rousing speech, promising to conquer Westeros, and asking her Dothraki followers to join her across the Narrow Sea. Given their enthusiasm, it seems like they’re ready to follow orders, pushing Dany further along the path toward the Seven Kingdoms than ever before.
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