Ben: In the great Stark tradition of children getting rescued in the woods in your hour of need, Bran joins Sansa in getting his very own… Ceuh-Ceuh-Ceuh-Coldhands! AKA the much-theorized-about Benjen Stark! Someone check Reddit to see if they’re not all Hodoring themselves all over the place. I like his backstory of having been both Ice Zombied and White Walker-ed with a shard of obsidian but I’d be lying if I said I had been giving Benjen Stark much thoughts these days. His last appearance was 54 episodes ago!
Vinnie: Why am I picturing Game of Thrones’ writing staff sitting around a big wheel with “Possible Book Twists to Spoil” on it, that they just spin when they run out of ideas? We already got Jon’s resurrection, Hodor’s Hod-origin story, Ser Robert Strong’s secret identity, and now the revelation that Coldhands = Benjen Stark. The Seven help us all the day that wheel lands firmly on R + L = J. You’re going to be able to hear David Benioff cackle “BURN THEM ALL” from HBO’s offices in Burbank.
I mean, to be fair, Coldhands turning out to be Uncle Benjen is the most obvious, logical spoiler since all those months of “No, Jon is REALLY dead you guys.” But if it’s one thing this season has been light on it’s forward momentum. This season of Game of Thrones is the “Daenerys takes over Westeros” of seasons; it keeps getting distracted on the way to an obvious endpoint by shiny new plot plot points. With only four more precious episodes of Game of Thrones in my life for an entire year, I’d like a little less emphasis on “wow omg shocking MNightShymalan twists” and a little more on someone taking their drama past the dining room table.
And yes, I am salty because Drogon showed up by the end, which was definitely the reason they couldn’t afford to have Coldhands ride in on a massive CGI elk, as he did in the books / all my fanfiction.
Ben: Out of all the rich folks in this world, Sam really lucked out to be born into basically the perfect family… And the firstborn son too! Horn Hill seems to be located far away from the coming winter and King’s Landing’s politics and 3/4 of his family seems to be friendly and agreeable! (His brother is Freddie Stroma, the British Bachelor from Season 1 of unReal… That’s a varied genepool.) All Sam had to do was learn to swing a sword to keep all that bling and he couldn’t do it!
I’m all for an awkward family dinner, but considering that Dorne — the entirely of Dorne — was wrapped up in about half the length of that scene, I was running out of patience for the comedy of Wildling manners. Am I wrong or did that not go on forever? I like all these characters but we only get 10 episodes every 10 months. *Finger snaps* Keep it pithy, D-listers.
Vinnie: Seriously, shave like…five minutes from that dinner scene and I would’ve enjoyed the hell out of it. For two reasons, mainly: I’ve been on the receiving end of enough disappointed glares from a father over my lack of physical prowess to know guest star James Faulkner absolutely killed as Randyll Tarly. I was whispering out loud that entire scene, urging Sam to give his father the business he so clearly deserved. “You killed a Thenn, Sam. You don’t need to do this, Sam. You don’t need his approval, Sam. You’ve def lost weight, even.”
And secondly, Sam’s “Aw, hamburgers” look when Gilly finally did lash out just absolutely slayed me.
Ben: I love how Cersei’s “the crown and the faith are the two pillars of the world” has turned into a full on meme in King’s Landing.
I guess this is where all this King’s Landing wheel spinning was supposed to get us: Tommen as a devout king and loyal to the High Sparrow over his own family. Whatever; I’ll take religious zealot Tommen over flaccid toddler husband Tommen any day of the week, but it doesn’t track as well for Margaery.
I refuse to believe that she is another Selyse Baratheon in the making. I didn’t buy her reformed act one bit, considering the last time we saw her she was promising Loras to do whatever was needed to get him out of there. Maybe I’m just optimistic but I think her shtick is faker than the CGI behind Jaime at the top of the steps.
Vinnie: I think Margaery’s sharp left-turn into religious convert is part of her “doing whatever it takes” promise to Loras. Listen, I went to Catholic school for 12 years. I know the best way to graduate on time / keep your gay brother out of the basement dungeons is to smile along, sing the songs and clap your hands at all the appropriate times. It keeps the High Sparrow, or in my case, Sister Donna, happy enough to not follow you down the hallways with a shame bell.
Because like you said, Margaery’s change of heart is way too sudden to be legit. Tommen, though? Bless his product of incest heart, poor Tommen is so legitimately on board. Tommen is the poster child for the young, blonde boy with mommy problem they interview in documentaries about Scientology. Dude is basically the king of the world, and he’s still just looking for a place to belong.
Ben: We’re six weeks into this thing: can I get weird on you, Vinnie? I am all about Jaime and Cersei. That scene was politically unwieldy on Cersei’s part but steamy AF. Sure, Joffrey was a little… temperamental but their incest has mostly turned out fine. They’re consenting adults so we should all stop judging. They’ve beaten the odds! (Besides, our editor has an unending fascination/attraction/devotion to Ramsay Bolton — not Iwan Rheon; Ramsay Bolton — so glass houses and all that.)
Vinnie: Let’s go into this weird night together, Ben, though it be dark and filled with incest. I totally agree about Jamie and Cersei. And there’s good reason, I think. Jamie spent so much of this season awkwardly serving as Cersei’s shadow, just sort of standing attached to her shoulder, maybe kind of nodding in earnest agreement every couple of seconds. This scene was like getting old Jamie back, the one who would straight lope a 12-year-old boy out a tower window and still be charming as hell. It was such a relief to get some damn fire into that one-handed bastard that by the time Cersei is whispering “We’re the only two people in the world” into his ear it’s like [chokes back tears] “yeah you are.”
Also, I was just kind of excited that Jaime mentioned Bronn. I love how Bronn got back from Dorne and just immediately nope’d his way out of all that family squabble bullshit. He’s probably in a Flea Bottom brothel somewhere, laughing his ass off.
Ben: I know a lot of people are going to moan about Arya throwing two seasons’ worth of plotting away on the life of a measly actress but I love this.
Vinnie: *Let’s Ben lay out his points, but begins to moan anyway*
Ben: The fact that this woman Arya can’t kill portrays Cersei of all people — someone who Arya hates and hopes to kill — and that her motherly essence still comes to affect our little Starklette was pretty moving. Arya didn’t see Cersei or a face for the wall there; she saw her own mother and the grief of those left behind. Those Braavosi UCB classes saved that woman’s life.
Vinnie: *Moaning intensifies*
Ben: We’ve seen Arya gruesomely kill everything from stable boys to random soldiers but she’s still starkly (ha) moral. She has never killed someone that didn’t wrong her or actively get in her way and it’s a line she apparently won’t cross.
I haven’t loved the house of Black & Repetition and it’s clear that this is the development that will push Arya out of it. Let’s polish that needle because leaving Braavos is going to be a rough ride… No, really, what is The Waif’s issue? Is she a lost Stark that resents Arya? Was she Jaqen’s BAE before Beckie-with-the-good-hair Arya came into the picture? I don’t get this personal vendetta.
Vinnie: Not to be the Waif to your Arya, Ben, but I really hated this. Hated it so much I want to bring it to a house that is both black and white and beat it with a stick repeatedly. I do enjoy Thrones’ attempt to draw a throughline between early-season Arya and this girl thousands of miles and an ocean away with this Braavosi play, but…a few things. First, they really overestimate how much of that play I actually want to watch. I think we got the point about 15 minutes into it last episode, so returning this week to NBC’s Game of Thrones: Live! is really taking that symbolism and turning it into one, giant fake fart noise underneath Tywin Lannister’s corpse.
And I don’t think I’d be as annoyed if we didn’t spend so much time, SO. MUCH. TIME watching Arya in training as the Waif–who, yeah, what the fuck is her problem with Arya, again?–face-whacked her for telling the truth. Or lying. Honestly, not sure. Either way, I don’t think I’ve seen a more obvious placeholder plot since that time Tyrion tried to invent Never Have I Ever with a slave and a eunuch.
Ben: My only beef, really, is that hiring the Faceless Men is supposed to be ridiculously expensive. Like, King Robert couldn’t afford it according to Littlefinger in season 1 when he wanted to assassinate Daenerys. How the hell is a glorified extra in a play pulling that kind of funds, just to get rid of the competition?
Vinnie: Jeez, yeah, if I ever found out the Faceless Men’s protocol for killing people, I’d ask for my gold coins back immediately. They basically sent their unpaid intern to do the job. I’m not hiring someone being paid in college credit and experience to do my jealousy-induced murdering.
Ben: P.S. How blue were Actor Joffrey’s eyes? That was some White Walker shit.
Vinnie: I’m still confused as to how these actors from Braavos are nailing the events over in Westeros so accurately. Even my HBO GO takes like, a full day to get a new episode available to stream.
Ben: Walder Frey’s back! It’s a Season 3 reunion, everybody. The crotchety Red Wedding traitor that spanks his wife’s butt in lieu of slamming his fist on a table… He’s a literal bridge troll! ….I do worry of the boy’s hole, though… Edmure’s not looking great.
Vinnie: Man, I heard a lot of people saying they don’t care about Walder Frey coming back, but I’m pretty sure I could watch David Bradley be a cantankerous old fart about pretty much anything for an hour and still be highly entertained. Like, give me a GOT spinoff that is just Walder Frey yelling at his wait staff over under-cooked mutton or something and I’d pay for it. I’d watch this Argus Filch motherf*cker be a crotchety old man over anything involving Braavos at this point.
But, I will say, Edmure Tully’s reappearance definitely had a Benjen Stark flavor to it, in that I think a lot of viewers were like “Uhhhhhhhhhh, who?” Even if you mention the Red Wedding, one of Game of Thrones’ most famous scenes, Edmure is like, the sixth or seventh name you think of, tops. He got to have wedding night sex AND he’s still alive. All things considered, the Red Wedding was a lovely evening for Edmure, by comparison.
Ben: Erm, does Dany plan on giving these speeches every pee break on the way to Meereen? Because the Dothraki are still a week’s worth of riding away. (And exactly 1,000 ship short of reaching Westeros… I love it when numbers line up on this show. Remember Ramsay’s “20 good men” last year?)
Vinnie: Oh, yeah, that “1,000” ship thing was so on the nose, I’m surprised the conversation didn’t go like this:
Dany: How many ships would it take to reach Westeros?
Daario: Eh, exactly how ever many Euron Greyjoy said he was building last episode.
Ben: But literally nothing prompted that monologue beyond her spotting Drogon again. She could have waited until they were outside Meereen or something. “2:45PM: time to grandiosely speechify.”
Vinnie: The Dothraki and the Iron Born are definitely going to get along super well, because they both respond well to vague grandstanding. Like, she didn’t even have a microphone, magical or otherwise. No way the whole Khalasar even heard what she was saying. They just waited for the break in dragon screeching to be like “WESTEROS, FUCK YEAH!” but in Dothraki.
Ben: I love when this show forgoes the dramatic in favor of just straight up literal. How does Jon Snow come back? Davos asks Melisandre to try her mojo on him. How do Dany and Drogon reunite? She senses him around, goes off-screen and mounts him behind a rock. Ha! Take that theorists.
Vinnie: Right? Was Drogon just…chilling behind that rock taking a dragon-snooze? I feel like if we understood dragon-speech, a lot of what Drogon was yelling about in that final scene was his mom waking him up on Memorial Day Weekend to go yell at some horse people. It’s my day off, mawm!