S6Ep6: Blood of my Blood, Man in my Mirror

The Blood of my Blood is Myself

The core theme of ‘Blood of My Blood’, and perhaps even all of season 6, is reflection on identity. In this particular episode it’s the question of who a person is within the context of family and dynasty. Tommen is manipulated to fall in line with the Faith by his wife Margaery. Daenerys is nudged toward embracing her heritage as a Targaryen conqueror by Daario Naharis. Sam torn down by his lord father, and built back up again by Gilly. Bran is told of his destiny as the Three Eyed Raven by his reanimated uncle UnBenjen. Jaime is relieved of his position as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard by his king nephew-son, and then called to take up his place as head of House Lannister by his sister-lover. And “Mercy” is inadvertently brought back to her identity as Arya of House Stark by the charismatic actress Lady Crane.

Tommen and Margaery:

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Margaery looks very in control right here…

Margaery really spells out the theme of this episode when she speaks with Tommen about how the High Sparrow isn’t really who she and Tommen took him for, and then reflects on who she has been and who she has appeared to be. “I’ve had lots of time to think about how good I was at seeming good.” Now part of me wonders how genuine Margaery is in all of this, seeing as her “genuine” discovery of piety has really just put her right back to where she wants to be by using her manipulation to bring Tommen into the fold.

But this theme of characters being reminded who they were born to be is played out throughout the entire episode:

Dany and Daario:

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#BloodOfMyHYPE

Daenerys is told by Daario that she was meant to be a conqueror rather than a conciliator, and she then mounts Drogon and reclaims her former identity as the fearsome Mother of Dragons. This seems pretty true to her book storyline, and the event actually feels pretty believable. Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed this scene quite a bit. The CGI on her riding Drogon was better than it was last time Dany rode him, and the Dothraki extras did a very good job at portraying hype.

Jaime and Cersei:

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“Stand at the head of our army where you belong, where Father wanted you. Show our men where their loyalties belong. Show them what Lannisters are, what we do to our enemies. And take that stupid little castle back, because it’s ours and because you can.” – Cersei

Jaime is stripped from his position as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard by his own son, and is encourage by Cersei to claim the position he was born into, as the head of House Lannister. This even comes with the same creepy “twincest against the world” attitude that Jaime and Cersei displayed at the beginning. This definitely seems like a divergence from Jaime’s book plotline, but it’s one that works so far for this world. There is a certain chivalry to Jaime’s actions, sticking by the show’s less evil portrayal of Cersei, and doing his best to take care of his last living child rather.

Sam and Gilly:

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“You’re not what he thinks you are Sam. He doesn’t know what you are.” – Gilly

Samwell comes back home to be berated by his father just as he always was for his softer more scholarly disposition, and for bringing what is secretly a wildling back to Horn Hill. Gilly stands up for Sam, and despite looking completely ridiculous dressed up like a southern lady, keeps a certain pride in who she is and reminds Sam to do the same. It’s perhaps Gilly’s reminder that makes Sam unable to leave her at Horn Hill, and brings him to continue to break his vows by taking what is essentially a wife, fathering a son, and even taking the Tarly family sword.

Bran and Benjen:

Bran is rescued by his uncle Benjen, who is now a wight. Uncle UnBenjen has apparently been “sent for by the Three Eyed Raven,” though it’s unclear which Three Eyed Raven sent for him. Was it Max Von Sydow, or was it Bran? This turn of events is interesting because it implies that in the show and the books, Bran will have the power to animate reanimate the dead.

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“A fearless boy. Loved to climb the castle walls, frighten his mother […] You are the Three Eyed Raven now…. so drink this rabbit blood so you can face off against Frosty Darth Maul.” – Uncle UnBenjen
So “ColdBenjen” reaffirms to Bran and Meera that Bran has become the Three Eyed Raven, and that it is his destiny to face the Night King and the army of the dead when they reach the world of men. Bran is himself, but he is also not himself. He has also merged with something that is beyond human and beyond himself.

SIDE NOTE: Benjen is a reanimate corpse. Just look at his face. He died.  The Children did not use the dragonglass to save Benjen’s life, they used it to cancel out the White Walker’s magic and prevent him from turning into a wight. In fact, I find it very unlikely that Brother-uncle Benjen has been casually walking around north of the Wall for 5 years, and more likely that he simply rises from the dead when he is needed. Apparently, Benjen is “show!Coldhands”, but [according to Martin] Benjen is not book!Coldhands. It still leaves the question whether this will be the destiny of Benjen in the books, or if they have something else planned. With Benjen being such a mystery, it seems like it would be a big change for the show. But at the same time, it also seems a bit redundant for Benjen to become Coldhands #2 in the books. We’ll have to wait and see.

 

Faceless Man in the Mirror

Something I have been noticing this season is how the show uses cinematography to connect scenes to one another on a thematic level, from episode to episode and this season to previous seasons. For example, Bran (who is now the rightful Lord of Winterfell), is depicted standing where his lord father stood in the scene he is introduced. Young Ned Training Benjen is shot to reflect Jon training Olly. The S6Ep2 ending shot of Jon’s resurrection was originally story boarded to mirror the S2Ep2 ending shot of Bran’s waking up, but it was later changed to match the S6Ep5 closing shot of Wyllis becoming Hodor. Another example would be the way Arya’s training montage was set up to reflect the injuries taken by people close to her. Or how Melisandre washing Jon’s body before resurrection was a direct call back to how the Faceless Men wash bodies before they have their faces removed so that their identities can be worn by someone else.

In this episode we get perhaps the clearest example of this visual symmetry yet, when Arya is having second thoughts about poisoning Lady Crane, and a girl looks into the mirror.

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“What’s your name?… Do you like pretending to be other people?” – Lady Crane, asking all the right questions.

In this shot, having viewed a play to remind herself of who she is and where she comes from, Arya must look at her own face in the mirror as she decides whether she can forsake her own personal code of justice and kill an actress purely in service of the Many-Faced God. The focus shifts from Arya’s face in the mirror to the rum, as she decides between being true to herself or doing what has been asked of her. After this Arya speaks to Lady Crane, and her conversation with Lady Crane causes her to further empathize with the talented stranger, and not to take her life.

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“Be careful of that one” – Mercy

This shot is even repeated when the actress who plays Sansa looks at herself in the same mirror, indicating her envy of Lady Crane, and her involvement in the plot to poison her.

This mirror gazing moment of self reflection is a direct call back to the ending shot of ‘The Red Woman.’

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In this shot, Melisandre has failed Stannis Baratheon, and has found herself in a crisis of faith. She finds herself doubting that her Lord of Light has a purpose for her, or whether she is even capable of fulfilling that purpose. At her lowest point Melisandre looks at the woman in the mirror to take stock of who she really is, and takes off her glamour to reveal the feeble old woman that lies underneath the facade of the seductive “Red Woman.”

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The parallel between these two scenes is no accident, and it’s likely not just a stylistic choice since the two episodes have different directors. But in both shots there is a vial on the table which is focused on, the same basic composition, and even the score is exactly the same.

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In anycase, Arya’s self reflection leads to her sword in the stone moment, where Needle is salvaged, and with it her sense of self.

The last thing I would point out is that the scene between Jaqen and the Waif is pretty interesting. Though the Waif is given permission to kill Arya, is seems that the Waif too is unable to let go of her sense of self. Maybe not her name, but her disdain for Arya seems to be deeply personal and perhaps based on being from a much lower social class. In her conversation with Jaqen the Waif tells him “you promised me,” hence referring to herself as “me,” rather than “a girl,” indicating that the Waif too isn’t truly no one.

From this I get the sense that Jaqen doesn’t really care much if Arya or the Waif dies, as he sees both as tools to serve an agenda or further an ideology. I don’t think there is any chance Jaqen is coming after Arya.

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“A shame. A girl had many gifts.” – a man

Perhaps the next time he see Jaqen, he may well be wearing the face he was removing from a corpse… perhaps in Oldtown.

Killerbowl = Fucking Confirmed.

Get Hype.

 

 

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“A shame, a girl had many gifs”
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S6Ep5: The Door to Infinite Sadness

What an episode huh? For an episode that casually dropped such a huge answer, it left us with far more n the way of questions. As it seems, the Children of the Forest created the Others out of men, as a last ditch effort to combat annihilation at the hands of men. This will likely be the same relationship in the books, and it’s one that throws into question a lot of what we know about the the ancient history of Westeros.

But it’s also a relationship Martin has written before.

 

[Spoilers for Tuf Voyaging by GRRM]

 

The Guardian Connection

In Martin’s short story from Tuf Voyaging titled Guardians, the space trader Haviland Tuf comes to the planet Namor, who’s inhabitants are being plagued by killer sea monsters who are terraforming the planet. Tuf offers his services to the so called ‘Guardians’ of this world, who are at a loss for how to deal with the threat. Being ecological engineer, Tuf wants to fully understand why the sea monsters have suddenly appeared and started attacking, but is pushed by the Guardians to go to war prematurely, so he wages bio-war on the leviathans, engineering his own creatures specifically to counteract the sea monsters.

This strategy works for a bit, but then the sea monsters gain a resistance.

In the end, it turns out that the reason these sea monsters have suddenly appeared and begun terrorizing the planet is that the population had been eating a race of sea clam called the mudpots. Though seemingly benign, the mudpots are actually telepathic hive minded bottom dwellers who biologically engineer sea monsters to eliminate predators. As it turns out, it’s the mudpots are the titular Guardians of the planet Namor. Only by engineering a psychic kitten named Dax (no I’m not kidding), is Tuf able to communicate with the mudpots, and thus a truce is brokered between the mudpots and the humans, putting an end to Namor’s sea monster apocalypse.

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psychic cats are a thing.

Now our story has taken a slightly different route, but the same concepts are still at play. Mankind is still preparing to go to war against an what appears to be certain doom before truly understanding why the enemy is doing what they are doing… and after thousands of years, why now? In Tuf voyaging, and I suspect ASOIAF, mankind is being killed by their lack of understanding, not their lack of preparedness to kill.

In ASOIAF the Others have turned against their creators. Exactly when and why this turn occurred is unknown, but it’s definitely one of the big mysteries that remain in the series. The other major difference is that the Others have seemingly been dormant for thousands of years. On a practical level, the Others could build their army of the dead out of wildlings in a matter of days, particularly considering how insanely effective their recruitment methods are. So we have to wonder what it is which provoked the Others seemingly within a generation of the events of our story.

Though I think I have a pretty good answer for this in Mirror Mirror Beyond the Wall, I should add that Bran must be considered as a key suspect now. The show has not backed away from the introduction of time travel and the subsequent time paradoxes it creates, and it’s unlikely to be a coincidence that the Three Eyed Raven awaited Bran so very long only to have his chosen one arrive just in time for the war to come. Given that the story is filled with suspicious and seemingly self-fulfilling prophecies, it’s worth considering whether Bran may be the lynchpin of a great self-fulfilling conflict. The root of a time paradox that history has been hurdling towards for ages.

For many this idea may seem convoluted, but a time paradox is an interesting commentary on the self-fulfilling nature of war. Essentially: Our enemies are preparing for the war to come, because we are preparing for the war to come that our enemies are preparing for.

 

 

The Bad Wolf is a Time Traveling Body Snatcher

Bran’s powers only ever escalate.

He has appeared 3 times this season. The first had him watching the past, the second had him communicating with the past, the third had him mentally breaking Wyllis in the past by seizing his body in the future, from the past.

Let’s go over what happened in the show, because it’s a doozy.

In the show, Bran’s mind exists in at least two separate points in time and space. His mind is decades in the past watching his father leave home, and also in the cave of the 3 Eyed Raven at the time of the White Walker attack (we know this because he can hear Meera while he watches Winterfell). This makes it complicated to determine exactly when Bran did what, because Bran’s mind is simultaneously in more than one point in space-time. Even cinematic indicators are a bit unreliable, as Bran is inside Hodor’s mind in the present, while watching Wyllis’ breakdown in the past.

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This means that the question of “when” is transcended completely. Bran telepathically subjugates Hodor from the moment he is broken till his death.

 

Martin has also written a story about time travel possession. It’s called Under Siege.

 

 [Spoiler Warning for Under Siege]

Under Siege is a story about a dwarf living in a horrible society, who’s mind is sent back to the past to prevent that society from ever coming into existence (NOTE:  in this story characters actually can change the present by changing the past). Yet the protagonist has anxiety about deleting his own existence, and so he combines his consciousness with someone else’ in the past (basically skinchanging), changes time, and remains combined with his host forever.

There are several connections in ‘Under Siege’ to what just happened in ‘The Door’:

  1. Bran’s mind goes back in time.
  2. Wyllis is broken in the past by Bran
  3. What Bran does from the past effects the present, but also permanently transforms the past.
  4. Bran can likely skinchange people in the past. (the horror of human skinchanging was foreshadowed in the Varamyr chapter.)

 

But has Bran learned his lesson and decided to never warg again? Is Bran going to never touch the past again or warg a person ever again, and spend the rest of his life only using his powers to listen in on important which he can pass on to the able bodied?

Maybe. But probably not. Time travel has been introduced. Time loops are part of this now.

“It is beautiful beneath the sea. But if you stay too long you’ll drown.”

– The Three Eyed Raven

The Three Eyed Raven, Jojen and Meera have all warned Bran about losing himself in another time, place, and identity, and that Chekhov’s gun hasn’t quite gone off yet. Many thought the Night King vision was the culmination of that, but gladly it turned out not to be something so conceptually shallow. I think (but really I hope) that human skinchanging and time travel are only just beginning to be explored.

The concepts are loaded, and allow Martin to explore more of Bran’s inner feelings of inadequacy through escapism, while also exploring the complex and often abusive relationship between the ruling class and the ruled, and the soldier and the general. And beyond that time travel explores the paradoxically self fulfilling nature of war and propaganda.

 

Bran Ex Machina

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In the next episode, it’s likely that we will encounter the mysterious wight slaying horseman from the trailer. Before the season began I actually suspected this would be Hodor, but that’s clearly incorrect. The two current competing theories on this rider are that it will be Coldhands or Benjen. Right now I’m on team Benjen, simply because the Coldhands of the books is very likely being animated by Bloodraven, and the Raven is now dead.

So if it were Coldhands, it would have to be a version of Coldhands animated by Bran.

But if it is Benjen, where has he been all this time? Has he really been hanging out for 5 years in the haunted forest just to pop back up again at just the right moment to save Bran? This seems kind of implausible. Whether the savior horseman in the show is Coldhands, or whether it’s Benjen, or whether it’s both, we may actually be looking at Bran’s second attempt. Just as Bran went into the past and telepathically subjugated and broke Hodor so he would be forced to save Bran and Meera at the exact moment he was needed years later, I suspect that Benjen may be the same way (though perhaps slightly less broken).

We can see that while Meera tries her best to escape with Bran, Bran’s mind is still time traveling and watching the past, while listening to Meera’s distress in the present. So we now have a week to figure out which is the more likely scenario: A rider with the skills to kill wights just so happened to be out there and will just so happen upon Bran and Meera? or that the time traveling Bran, knowing where and when he needs to be saved has set up a rider to arrive at the exact moment he would need it…

Given that time travel and human skin changing is now a potential in Bran’s story, there are some pretty major implications, and it’s worth taking into consideration that Martin is a huge fan of Heinlein and is on record as stating that ‘All You Zombies’ is what he considers to be the last word on time travel paradox. I haven’t read the story, but I’m a huge fan of the movie, so I was happy to hear Martin share the appreciation of this paradoxical story. If you want your mind blown, read the story, or even just read a summary.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.” – (Bran, ADWD)

Bran cannot change what has already happened, but moving forward we have to wonder, how much of what has already happened has Bran caused?

“You could have been a knight too, I bet,” Bran told him. “If the gods hadn’t taken your wits, you would have been a great knight.” (Clash of Kings, Bran II)

In a scene from ‘The Door’, the Red Priestess Kinvara speaks to Varys about predestination, and how everyone is where they are for a reason, and then taunts him with the idea knowledge of the voice that spoke from the flames on the day he was castrated. She asks him if he would like to know what the voice said, or the name of the one who spoke. And in the original leaked audition, she even asks if he’d like to know where it lives.

Then the scene cuts to Bran.

“Now I am become Time who bringeth all to doom, the destroyer time come hither to consume”

– The Bhagavad Gita

The Three Eyed Raven claims to have waited for Bran for a thousand years. Jojen has called Bran “the only thing that matters.” We watched Hodor being broken for 55 episodes before realizing that Bran had done it all along. What else will we find out that Bran has done?  Did Bran shape Benjen’s disappearance? Is Bran the Lord of Light? Who else will Bran become?

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Two episodes this season have ended on the same composition (notice the matching cuts)…. It’s beautiful beneath the sea huh?

 


We’ll just have to see where this goes, when it goes there…

S6Ep3: Hit ’em where it hurts

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The Waif isn’t your average bully.
  1. Credit for this find goes to reddit user Aludiana. I just added the Hound and made the gif.
  2. I realize this could be nothing. It could also be something. Directors use images to foreshadow and reference like writers use phrasing.
  3. Leg injuries are not fatal. #hope #Rickoning
  4. Technically which she counts Jon among her brothers her hand gets smacked, and Jon’s hand is burned. That said it’s the wrong hand.
  5. Episode 7 is going to be titled ‘The Broken Man.’

 

So let’s all get hype for Trial by Dog Fighting.

S6Ep3: A Time for Time Traveling Wolves

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“Why did you do that?! Take me back there I want to go back!”

– Bran + millions of other people

This appears to be the general sentiment everyone is carrying forwards from S3Ep6 ‘Oathbreaker.’ Since last week, fans have been hyped to see the Tower of Joy fight, and even more hyped to finally get confirmation on that burning question.

Does R+L=J???

To be fair there’s a little more people want to know. Who else was there? What was the promise? Does Jon have a Targaryen name? could Jon have a sister there too?

But the most interesting thing for me about the Tower of Joy scene, is how the  contents of the tower are working as a misdirection from the even more significant information floating around it. Some answers we were given, and some we were pulled away from. Yes that Three Eyed Raven pulled us away, but I think he pulled us away from something far bigger than R+L=J.

SPOILER ALERT: this will include information about upcoming episodes from trailers and promotional material.


 

 

1. The Three Eyed Raven on the show is NOT  Brynden Rivers

“You think I wanted to sit here for a thousand years watching the world from a distance? as the roots grew through me?” – The Three Eyed Raven

We now have a pretty good idea that the show version of the Three Eyed Raven is not actually Brynden Rivers. Now this goes beyond physical discrepancies (for which there are a dozen reasons). Many people are still under the impression that he is, and that his remark about being 1000 years old is just hyperbole, or a reference to witnessing 1000 years of history. But this would be horrendous writing.

Though GRRM may use “1000 years ago” as a way of stating “that was forever ago,” there is a big difference between internal monologues in the books talking about spans of time we all know , and dialogue from an ancient tree wizard which genuinely suggests that the Three Eyed Raven is 1000 years old.

Bear in mind that anyone who only watches the show will have no idea who Brynden Rivers is, nor any reason to believe the Three Eyed Raven isn’t over a thousand years old. To say that he has been there for a thousand years when it was really closer to fifty would be needlessly misleading information about a character whom we’ve gotten absolutely no hint in the show is a Targaryen bastard Hand of the King from the time of the Blackfyre rebellions.

As someone who writes this blog largely focused on Bloodraven’s actions, I think this is a very good move.

Bloodraven is an very compelling figure. Much like Tyrion, he was an abnormal looking Hand of the King who was disfigured fighting off rebellions till eventually being stripped of his position. Like Jon, hee was an acknowledged bastard who became Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch (also resulting of a union of Valyrian and First Men blood). Like Jaime he was in love with his sister. And like Bran he has the power of greensight.

But Brynden River’s role as a central political figure during the Blackfyre Rebellions is one the show hasn’t set up, and with the removal of Aegon, the Blakfyres, and the Golden Company, the show has no reason to put forth the time to. The Three Eyed Crow being Brynden River’s wouldn’t matter to show watchers because they have no idea who that is, nor do they know anything about the period of time which defined him. The old rivalry with Bittersteel doesn’t actually matter if there’s no trace of Bittersteel.

 

2. The Three Eyed Raven and The Night’s King are Arch Enemies

I must admit, I was a little prepared for this revalation that the Three Eyed Raven was not Brynden Rivers. The 3 Eyed Raven being some other character who is legitimately 1000 years old fits perfectly with what the actor who plays Bran has said in recent interviews:

“I think there’s some interesting to come in the coming season which will reveal exactly what the relationship between those two mystical characters — the Three-Eyed Raven and the Night’s King — is. That’s something that’ll be cool.” – (Isaac Hempstead Wright, IGN)

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Max von Sydow is basically a lifeguard for astral projection.
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Night’s King v. Three Eyed Raven: Dawn of Winter

Based on the trailers, both the Night’s King and the Three Eyed Raven appear to be able to see and take hold of Bran’s spirit when he astral projects or has his visions. And given that the Night’s King will invade the cave of the Three Eyed Raven later this season, they both seem to be locked in conflict with one another.

It seems the show is going to play the show!Three Eyed Raven against the show!Night’s King, likely as arch enemies who come from the same age (1000+ years ago). For all we know the Three Eyed Raven in the show will be an ancient Stark, or a King Beyond the Wall, or even a variation of the Last Hero (or he’ll be none of those things). But since we have received no indication from Martin or the books that the Night’s King is still around in the present timeline, it seems that he too will be show only.

” As for the Night’s King (the form I prefer), in the books he is a legendary figure, akin to Lann the Clever and Brandon the Builder, and no more likely to have survived to the present day than they have.” – GRRM

Hence all things point to the show version of the Three Eyed Raven’s rivalry with Bittersteel, to be replaced with a rivalry with the Night’s King.

 

3. The Three Eyed Raven has been waiting for Bran Stark for 1000 years, but NOT as a replacement.

3ER: I was waiting for you.
Bran: I don’t want to be you.
3ER: (laughs) I don’t blame you. You won’t be here forever. You won’t be an old man in a tree.

This is kind of a big deal. The show is starting to portray the central struggle of Bran’s arc

“Why do I want to return? so I can be a cripple again? so I can talk to an old man, in a tree?!”

Yet in people’s excitement to see what’s in the tower, everyone seems to be missing the enormous clues being dropped about Bran. That in the conflict between the Others and the Three Eyed Raven, Bran is not only central, but he is so central that he has been awaited for 1000+ years.

There are major implications there.

If the Three Eyed Raven has been waiting for Bran for that long, then what are the chances that the Others really the instigators of this conflict? What are the chances that the time which Bran was born and made his way north of the Wall just so happens to be around the time that the others started to reemerge?

“Now he’s realized he’s been having his dreams because he’s got to save Westeros.” – Isaac Hempstead Wright

Furthermore, not only did last week’s episode cast serious doubt on fan theories that Bran would be stuck under the tree forever (not this could be a place where book and show canon diverge, but that’s a pretty major divergence), but this week reiterated that, while also casting further doubt on theories that Bran would be some old man in a different tree. Now the Raven could be lying, but it’s becoming more and more apparent that Bran’s destiny is a lot bigger than the fandom at large had previously thought.

 

4. Bran can time travel, and we all have to stop pretending he can’t.

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“Now he’s starting to make use of the visions and staring to discover he can interact with the past – he’s like Doctor Who. It’s Doctor Bran” – Isaac Hempstead-Wright

Now he’s starting to make use of the visions and starting to discover he can interact with the past — he’s like Doctor Who. It’s Doctor Bran!

Yes, it seems Bran is genuinely capable of X Men Days of Future past style time travel. This isn’t something new. Not only is there good reason to believe Bran may have time traveled in ACOK, but Bran goes into the past and contacts Ned in his last ADWD chapter:


“Winterfell,” Bran whispered.

His father looked up. “Who’s there?” he asked, turning … … and Bran, frightened, pulled away. His father and the black pool and the godswood faded and were gone and he was back in the cavern, the pale thick roots of his weirwood throne cradling his limbs as a mother does a child. A torch flared to life before him.
“Tell us what you saw.” From far away Leaf looked almost a girl, no older than Bran or one of his sisters, but close at hand she seemed far older. She claimed to have seen two hundred years. Bran’s throat was very dry. He swallowed. “Winterfell. I was back in Winterfell. I saw my father. He’s not dead, he’s not, I saw him, he’s back at Winterfell, he’s still alive.”
“No,” said Leaf. “He is gone, boy. Do not seek to call him back from death.”

[…]

 

“But,” said Bran, “he heard me.”

“He heard a whisper on the wind, a rustling amongst the leaves. You cannot speak to him, try as you might.” – Bran III, ADWD


 

In Dance, the Last Greenseer also shrugs off what Bran did as nothing significant, and so given how much of a game changer it is, fans have largely ruled out time travel as a part of the story.

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Doctor Bran is not a happy camper.

But given that the show has decided to work Bran’s ability to contact the past into a totally separate scene, I think we need to consider that this might be a very important part of the story. After all, why would the showrunners have included Bran’s time travel in their abridged story if time travel wasn’t relevant to the story moving forward?

So what does this mean?

Well, given how the Tower of Joy casting call asked for an infant, we can pretty safely assume that Bran is going to eventually see what is up in the tower and witness Ned’s promise to Lyanna.

Though, Bran might do a little more than bear witness….

“He could hear her still at times. Promise me, she had cried, in a room that smelled of blood and roses. Promise me, Ned. The fever had taken her strength and her voice had been faint as a whisper, but when he gave her his word, the fear had gone out of his sister’s eyes. Ned remembered the way she had smiled then, how tightly her fingers had clutched his as she gave up her hold on life, the rose petals spilling from her palm, dead and black. After that he remembered nothing. They had found him still holding her body, silent with grief. The little crannogman, Howland Reed, had taken her hand from his. Ned could recall none of it. “I bring her flowers when I can,” he said. “Lyanna was … fond of flowers.” – (Eddard I, AGOT)

The very first time Ned talks about Lyanna and the events of the Tower of Joy, Ned’s description indicates that he has a lapse in memory at the time of Lyanna’s death. At this point it’s so early in the story that we think nothing of it, but as the story progresses there are various instances of characters blacking out at important moments. Jon Snow blacks out before he finds Othor reanimated and trying to kill Lord Comander Mormont, Catelyn blacks out staring at the moon and listening to a singer just before she frees Jaime Lannister, Daenerys blacks out before she steals the Unsullied torches Astapor, and Samwell Tarley blacks during the mutiny at Craster’s keep and wakes up to hear Jeor’s final command.

“He twisted free of the old man’s grasp, shoved the knife into Mormont’s belly, and yanked it out again, all red. And then the world went mad.

Later, much later, Sam found himself sitting cross-legged on the floor, with Mormont’s head in his lap. He did not remember how they’d gotten there, or much of anything else that had happened after the Old Bear was stabbed.” – Samwell II, ASOS

Though many are skeptical about introducing time travel into the story this late in the game, it appears that several characters have blacked out seemingly for no reason during key moments in their story.

Given that Bran is set up to witness Ned’s promise to Lyanna at the Tower of Joy, is Bran’s consciousness going to time travel into the past and accidentally warg into his father as Lyanna dies? Is that the real reason why Ned blacked out watching his sister die? Did Bran make Hodor the way he is by warging him in the past?

And what other implications will Bran’s time traveling mind have for the story?

 

only time will tell…

S6Ep2: There’s Snow Place Like Home

Though I’m far from the first person to notice some of this,  I think there is more to say about some of the imagery from Season 6 Episode 2, so I’d like to deliver my quick thoughts on some important symbolism from this weeks episode. Some of this you may have noticed, and some of it you may have missed. Either way there are things to be said about all of it.

So let’s dive in.


 

1. The Lord of Winterfell Beneath the Sea

lordofwinterfell

“It is beautiful beneath the sea. But if you stay too long you’ll drown.”

– The Three Eyed Raven

There is a lot more to this parallel than people probably recognize.

The second episode of Season 6 opens on Bran Stark greendreaming that he is back home. Except in the past. And in this vision of the past Bran is standing exactly where his father stood, and exactly how his father stood, in the very first scene of the show. He is overlooking a cheerful family moment. The Three Eyed Raven even mentions that Bran was happy once too, referencing this time before Bran’s fall. A time before the story even began.

What makes this (I believe) more significant than a simple Easter egg, is that Bran isn’t merely standing where the Lord of Winterfell stood, Bran is the Lord of Winterfell. Since the death of Robb Stark, it’s not Rickon, nor Jon, and not even Sansa that is the legal Lord of Winterfell. This should be kind of obvious but hardly ever considered, and is especially indisputable on the show, where there is no chance Robb Stark’s wife had a child, and there is no mention of Robb’s will.

Furthermore on the show the fact that Brandon Stark is alive is known to Sansa, Jon, and Rickon. That kid who opened the show shooting arrows as his older brother’s advised him, and his mother and father watched, has now by all rights inherited the castle. Except he’s stuck under a tree.

Though maybe not for long…

meerahome
I suspect that there is more to Meera than just boredom. I think “sad Meera”  has already begun to bring to light an integral part of Bran’s arc. But that’s another topic of discussion…

After a year long hiatus, Bran returning and setting up the theme of the episode on a dream of ‘home’ is especially significant since we find out from Leaf in the very next scene that Bran Stark is eventually leaving that cave. Not only did we have pretty strong indication of this before from the Game of Thrones Season 6 prosthetics video, but it’s become increasingly clear that years of fan theories which mostly presumed that Bran was staying under the tree forever now need to be reconsidered. And thus so do the fan theories built around those fan theories.

Yes the show is the show and the books are the books, but we need to at least consider that this may not be a departure.

So, given the knowledge that Bran is leaving the cave, and given how it seems the Starks will take a shot at Winterfell this season, we need to consider that the Lord of Winterfell may very well be going back home too.

 

 

2. Keep Your Shield Up

keepyourshieldup

This is a nice little parallel between Ned and Jon, with Benjen and Olly. It seems that either Jon learned this from Ned, or they both learned it from a common person (Rodrik?). I don’t know that there is anything here in the way of implications, but it’s a nice parallel. It’s worth noting that Ned Stark is basically Jon’s role model, and it’s nice that even though we can’t get Jon’s internal monologue on the show, we are getting a sense here that Jon really did try his best to emulate his real dad.

Also, people hate Olly way too much.

There. I said it.

 

3. Ser Wyllis the Unstoppable

Oh Nan

“Ah Nan! Look at the size of him. If he ever learned to fight he’d be unstoppable!” – Young Ned

This quote is fun because it’s true. It’s unclear if Hodor ever did learn how to fight (likely not), but when he is skinchanged by Bran we get a pretty clear sense that little Ned was completely right about him being unstoppable. Hell, if Wyllis had been trained as a knight he probably could have been a match for Gregor Clegane. Will a skinchanged Hodor perhaps be the hooded man saving Meera in the trailer?

Also, it seems that the scar above Hodor’s right eye predates whatever it was that took away his speech, indicating it may not be as simple as a bonk on the head.

Did anyone else get a Samwell Tarley vibe from young Wyllis? …. maybe just my imagination. In any case, it was a fun scene.

hodowned

 

 

 

4. Rodrik v. Rodrik: Dawn of Sideburns

Call Sheet # 04. Game of Thrones. Malta. 29/9/10
Mutton chops are coming

Here we see a young master-at-arms Rodrick Cassel and his mutton chops when they were just starting up. This is probably hugely significant to the story, because Rodrick’s facial hair ponytail is what actually provoked the Others, likely placing the timeline of their invasion at some point after Robert’s Rebellion.

 

 

5. Ramsay Bolton Sends His Regards

ramsaysendsregards

Ramsay Bolton throws one Killer Baby Shower.

No big surprises here. Roose Bolton dies much like he killed Robb Stark. Stabbed, minutes after finding out that he is having a son. It was probably a bit easier than it should have been, but then again the showRoose is the showRoose, and the bookRoose is the bookRoose.

Though obviously, this seems to be the beginning of the end for Ramsay Bolton.

 

 

6. A Strangerly Familiar Ritual

There has been a lot of talk about how modest and unassuming Jon’s resurrection ritual was. Yet there is something very familiar about what Melisandre did to Jon’s body prior to resurrecting him.

The similarity is uncanny… maybe there was a reason for showing us Arya washing bodies after all..

ritual

Here we have a pretty direct callback to the scene from Season 5 in which Arya is washing bodies at the House of Black and White. When you place the two scenes together, you find that even the cinematography of the two scenes echo each other, and so this is definitely an intentional parallel.

 

Note: it should be noted that both of these episodes have the same director.

From washing the body, to trimming the hair, to pouring a pitcher of water over the hair and draining it into a basin, the first half of the ritual is essentially the same.

Of course, Mel’s the ritual takes a different turn when she drops Jon’s hair into a fire and then starts praying over the body. The act of putting her hands over the body and asking “fire god” for a miracle is a lot more like what Thoros does, though Thoros doesn’t do any of the ritual stuff beforehand. Also Thoros doesn’t wait over 24 hours, and Thoros’ version works faster.

In any case, same idea…

That said, it’s worth noting that this ritual performed by the House of Black and White is one that is performed on bodies before their faces are cut off and they are added to the Hall of Faces for a Faceless Man to use their identity/face in service of the Many Faced God.

But how far does this parallel go?

facehalljon1
one way or another, a face will be added to the hall…

 

 

7. Red Star Dead Star

 

darkruby

There is a pattern in the show where every time Melisandre is using any kind of magic, the ruby around her neck will glow. This is the case when she survives drinking poison given to her by Maester Cressen, when she births a shadow demon which murders Renly, when she is taking off the magic which makes her appear young and beautiful, and even when she is showing Stannis visions in the flames.

Yet during Jon’s resurrection sequence… the ruby doesn’t glow.

It should be noted that though Mel admits to a certain amount of trickery (potions, powders, etc.), on the show the ruby has not been associated with any form of “fake” magic. Drinking poison. Birthing a demon which goes out and kills Renly. Those are not illusions. Renly being murdered by a shadow that came out of Mel’s vagina is NOT an illusion

So…

Was this a continuity error? Does the glow represent Mel’s confidence? Did her ruby start glowing when Mel left the room? Did Melisandre tap into something other than her usual magic? Was Mel responsible at all?

It might be a little too early to say, but I do think it’s worth noting that D&D were a bit vague about this in their post episode commentary.

 

credit to for this observation goes to reddit user u/_ebenezer_splooge_

 

 

8. Waking Up Gasping

myrcella dead

“Do you know why we use these stones? to remind us not to fear death. We close our eyes on this world and open them on the next.” – the High Sparrow

Finally I’d like to talk about death, and how it’s compared by the High Sparrow to closing one’s eyes on one world, and opening them on another. This is a pretty interesting quote given how this episode ends, but also given how the episode begins.

One could fairly say that Jon opening his eyes at the very end of S6Ep2 parallels Bran opening his eyes at the end of S1Ep2. But we could also say that there is a self contained symmetry to this episode on it’s own.

wakeup
This episode both opens and ends on characters waking up gasping. Which makes sense. There is no air beneath the sea.

Home opens on Bran, laying on his back, with his eyes glazed over as his eyes are opened to what is essentially another world, or, as the Three Eyed Raven would call it, ‘Beneath the Sea.’ Then when Bran awakens, he opens his eyes to the world around him. This mirrors the ending of the episode where Jon’s eyes are closed, and then they open. Both wake up gasping for air. So has Jon closed his eyes on one world and opened them on another? is there a next world at all? UnBeric certainly didn’t think so.

Is the High Sparrow’s quote better applied to Jon or to Bran? or perhaps both?

 

 


That’s all we’ve got folks. Feel free to sound off in the comments section with your thoughts.