The worst thing that Game of Thrones can be is slow-moving. It’s something that the show can be relatively often, but usually to a small degree. It’s also something that is often offset by the excitement of certain events happening. “The Door” is an episode where there isn’t a whole lot that happens aside from the monumental 10-minute finale, and everybody remembers it as a transcendent episode. With that in mind, “Blood of my Blood” isn’t necessarily THAT different from the rest. However, it’s structured in a way that makes it somewhat frustrating when compared to the rest.
Some of this had to do with Sam taking up at least 15 minutes of the episode. His scenes were pretty good, to be sure. The way that his family interacted with each other and with the world around them spoke to the complex dynamics within their familial structure and within their place in the world. Horn Hill is a place relatively untouched by war, and Sam’s father is so stuck in his ways that he doesn’t even consider that Sam could have been through quite a bit in his time away. He clings onto the fact hat Gilly is a wildling over anything else Gilly says. But Sam is such an auxiliary character at this point that even the relatively good writing doesn’t entirely offset how tangential his story feels to anything else that’s going on. I’m sure that there will be some payoff down the line, but it’s difficult to see that right now.
As for the rest of the episode, the focus on King’s Landing would have been more interesting if it didn’t resolve in such an anticlimax. Clearly, there will be a climactic resolution to the King’s Landing story at some point this season, but having the High Sparrow completely outsmart the Lannisters and Tyrells, having Jaime go to Riverrun, is kind of a strange way to divert the season over halfway in. Seeing Walder Frey and Riverrun take over a portion of the narrative felt so bizarre, as the focus is already so broad that broadening it even further seems like something that Benioff and Weiss would stray from. But this season is proving the opposite: Benioff and Weiss have been expanding farther and farther while simply cutting out points that aren’t working. Maybe it was a good idea to cut Dorne out of the mix, but is Euron Greyjoy and this Riverrun business any better? Only time will tell, but as of right now, the season is feeling a little bloated.
Much of this episode is about Margaery, and whether or not she’s sincere or playing Tommen to get out of prison. It’s possible that she’s doing either, though it would be much stranger for her to be sincere about accepting the faith into her life. Margaery has always been the kind of scheming person that wants to acquire as much power as humanly possible, and has never been somebody that would be swayed by faith, so it seems much more likely that she’s playing Tommen to get out of prison. But even this seems odd, as Margaery is alienating Lannister and Tyrell forces from the crown, making it harder to wrestle power back from the Sparrows. It’s worthwhile to withhold judgment about this storyline until we see further development, but as of right now, it’s a little shaky, as its playing with Margaery’s characterization in a way that doesn’t make complete sense yet.
The most exciting part of this episode had to be the actual movement on Arya’s storyline, as she has rejected the ways of the Faceless God and is reclaiming her name as Arya Stark. Of course, this doesn’t go over well with Jaqen, who sends the Waif to kill her. But after two entire seasons, it’s exciting to see Arya’s adventures turn back towards Westeros, where she can participate in the real action. As for Bran, the reveal that Benjen is alive is interesting, but doesn’t do a lot to advance the story. Daenerys suffers from the same problem here, as she recovers Drogon (somehow), but doesn’t do much other than rouse her troops with an inspirational speech. It’s somewhat exciting, to be sure, but doesn’t move forward very much.