blood of my blood recap tarly

Meet the Tarly Family

We’ve been hearing about the cruelty of Randyll Tarly since season one, when Samwell Tarly confided in Jon Snow that his father, the lord of Hornhill, threatened to kill him if he didn’t renounce his claim to the family castle and join the Night’s Watch. And now, we’ve met Lord Tarly and he’s every bit the bastard that we all expected. He feels no pride for his son and looks upon him with disgust. He’s wily enough to see right through the cover story Sam and Gilly concocted to cover her wildling origins. He’s a nasty piece of work, but it’s clear why he’s managed to weather the storm of so many wars – he roots out weakness and he destroys it. Game of Thrones has added yet another monstrous father to its ensemble.

While it’s hard to see how Sam could possibly be the child of such a man, you can see shades of him in his other family members. His mother is sweet and kind, but also in possession of a backbone that allows her to stand up to her domineering husband. His sister instantly accepts Gilly like a sister, offering her a dress to wear to dinner. Even Sam’s younger brother, the new heir to Hornhill who only gets a line or two, seems deeply uncomfortable with how his father is treating his firstborn. It’s now easy to imagine Sam’s childhood as a loving, caring little boy who only wanted to learn, encouraged by a mother who loved him unconditionally while also despised by a father who can barely stand to look at him. Having now met Sam’s mom, we can understand we he would treasure her thimble…and we can understand why him giving it to Gilly in the first place is such a huge deal.

blood of my blood recap sam gilly

Sam and Gilly Go Off-Book

One of the unique pleasures of Game of Thrones season six is how it has fully set off for uncharted waters. While some characters and storylines are still dealing with book material, others are in bold new territory, sidestepping (or even completely ignoring) the positions George R.R. Martin left them in at the end of the fifth book in the series. Right now, Gilly and Sam are veering in a wild new direction that is taking them as far from the source material as possible.

By taking his father’s Valyrian steel and fleeing his family’s home with Gilly in the middle of the night, Sam has laid claim to what is rightfully his. He has seemingly abandoned the Night’s Watch in favor of personal pride and the woman that he loves. For the first time in a long time, he has decided to take control of his destiny and stand up to his father. Of course, he stands up to his father in the most Samwell Tarly way imaginable – by running away. And there is no way this ends well for them.

blood of my blood recap arya

Arya Stark Has a Name

One of the great casualties of Game of Thrones has been Arya Stark’s innocence. The plucky tomboy who used to chase cats around the Red Keep has become a murderer, a companion to a brigand, and now, an assassin ready to denounce her identity and kill in the name of a mysterious god and his cult of face-swapping followers. Arya, lost and alone and broken and fueled only by a desire for revenge, needed something, anything, to fill the void in her life. Becoming a Faceless Man, letting go of her painful history and denouncing her family’s name, seemed like a good start.

But when tasked with poisoning an innocent actress, Arya had an epiphany. This wasn’t her. This wasn’t her fight. Her fight was back across the Narrow Sea, where her family name was being dragged through the mud, where her enemies continued to cling to power. As she says to the victim she spares at the last moment, her father is waiting for her. She watched him die so very long ago and she ran from her pain. Now, having stared into the abyss, having understood what it means to be no one, she reclaims Needle, her physical connection to the family she left behind, and she abandons assassin school. She is not no one. She is Arya Stark of Winterfell.

Of course, one does not simply walk away from the House of Black and White. Jaqen sends the Waif after her to remove her from the picture – she’s seen too much and has disgraced the many-faced god. Arya’s trip back to Westeros, to her family and to her name, is going to involve a few speed bumps.

blood of my blood recap sept

Showdown at the Great Sept of Baelor

It turns out that you don’t need an army to win a battle. Well-timed alliances and the right audience are more powerful than a hundred soldiers. The Lannisters and the Tyrells, the two most cunning great Houses in Westeros, have officially met their match in the High Sparrow. The planned military intervention to rescue Margaery Tyrell before she would be forced to endure a walk of repentance quickly turned into a blunder. Jaime, Olenna, and Mace Tyrell had to watch impotently as the Queen was cleared of all charges and King Tommen joined his wife on the steps outside the Great Sept of Baelor to declare a new alliance between the church and the crown. As the crowd roared their approval, three of the most powerful and influential men and women in Westeros stood there with a useless army and egg on their face – they had been outplayed by a barefooted priest in rags. Their king had picked a side.

We saw some fallout from this new alliance in “Blood of My Blood,” but there is surely more waiting in the wings. Cersei’s trial is just around the corner and her own son no longer supports her. The people have made their approval of the High Sparrow and this new alliance known. Jaime is gone (more on that in a moment). And yet, there seems to be more here than meets the eye. While King Tommen seems to have bought into the High Sparrow’s worldview, Margaery is still the big question mark here. She’s too smart, too cunning, and too much of a politician to let a man like this change her in a fundamental way. Think back to her scene with Ser Loras in his cell – she was going to get out of here at all costs, no matter what it took. And she was going to get her brother out, too. While everyone else scrambles or basks in newfound confidence, Margaery could very well be playing everyone else for fools.

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