After last week's emotionally grueling hour, Game of Thrones needed to take a step back and assess the damage. True to its title, "Blood of My Blood" focussed entirely on family, as long-lost faces (Uncle Benjen! Edmure Tully!) returned and the true strength of familial ties were tested. This set the stage for some excellent character moments, from Sam's tense Tarly family dinner to a game-changing shift of generational power in King's Landing.
But before we wade too deeply into spoiler territory, here's a message from our bear:
Now, let's talk about what's really going down in the Seven Kingdoms. Bran is the Three-Eyed Raven, Margaery Tyrell and Arya Stark have both gone rogue, and Daenerys Targaryen is essentially one Iron Throne away from becoming the Mad Queen. That's a lot to take in! Never fear, dear readers. I am here to answer all of your Game of Thrones questions, and I will try to do so without fangirling too hard over Jaime and Brienne's imminent reunion in the Riverlands.
Is Daenerys the villain?HBO
It's been said that since the death of Tywin Lannister, Game of Thrones has had a villain problem. But what if the show's most powerful villain has been there this entire time? As "Blood of My Blood" seemed to suggest, Daenerys has more in common with her late father, the Mad King Aerys II Targaryen, than we previously thought.
Daenerys Targaryen wants war; she wants to rain fire and blood all over King's Landing. Does that make her the antagonist? She may not have said the words "Burn them all," but Daenerys didn't have to. The Mother of Dragons has tried to govern, and that didn't quite work out. Now, she's a warmongering conqueror with an army of bloodriders and dragons the size of mountains. At the end of "Blood of My Blood," Dany spoke of "killing men in iron suits" and "tearing down stone houses" in Westeros. Does that sound like the hero to you? We hope your shirtless bloodriders like snow, Dany. Winter is definitely coming.
Where are the Manderlys?HBO
There's no house more loyal to the Starks than the Manderlys. When Ned Stark was arrested in King's Landing, the Manderlys marched south against the Lannisters alongside Robb Stark. And when Robb died at the hands of Roose Bolton during the Red Wedding, it was Wendel Manderly that died with him.
In George R. R. Martin's A Dance With Dragons, it's revealed that House Manderly operates a secret resistance to House Bolton and House Frey -- and it's likely the show is building toward this reveal as well. Given that the Manderlys have yet to declare their allegiance to Ramsay Bolton, it's possible that they've been trying to unite the North on the DL this entire time. In the books, the Manderlys send Ser Davos on a mission to find Rickon Stark, but with Sansa already in the North, they have their Stark. Now, they need their leader. The North remembers.
Can Arya defeat The Waif?HBO
A girl is no longer a girl; she is Arya Stark of Winterfell. After what felt like ages sweeping floors in the House of Black and White and getting whacked in the face with a staff, Arya finally forsook the Many-Faced God and took back her identity. She wants to avenge her family, not check names off someone else's kill list. Cersei Lannister deserves to die at Arya's hand, not Lady Crane. Now comes her ultimate challenge: The Waif. Arya has been getting her ass kicked by the tiny blond assassin all season, but with her family's honor on the line, something tells me Arya Stark is going to tap into that inner wildness, or the "wolf blood" as Ned Stark once called it, and defeat The Waif once and for all.
What is Margaery's game plan?HBO
Margaery Tyrell is the smartest woman in Westeros so, no, I don't think she's joined forces with the High Sparrow. I think she's playing him and King Tommen for fools. Her endgame here is safely freeing the person she loves most, her brother Ser Loras. She's playing the long game, whatever that may be. What's especially intriguing here is the generational flip of power. Cersei and Lady Olenna thought they had it all figured out, but Queen Margaery has been in control this whole time. (Tommen is essentially a human rubber band at this point.) She has now endeared herself to the people of Westeros, which is a brilliant tactical move. Still, the High Sparrow is a dangerous man, so we hope Margaery knows exactly what she got herself into.
Who will kill Walder Frey?HBO
Perhaps Arya's first stop in Westeros should be The Twins in the Riverlands. Aside from Ramsay, there's no one else we'd like to see suffer more than Walder Frey. He's the man responsible for the Red Wedding, and therefore, it's only appropriate that a Stark reminds the Freys that North remembers. Yes, Brienne of Tarth is headed to the Riverlands to get the Blackfish to join Team Stark, but if there's one person who deserves this kill, it's Arya.
Does this mean Jaime and Brienne of Tarth will be on opposing sides again?HBO
After being removed from the Kingsguard by King Tommen (a.k.a. his own son), Jaime has been ordered to babysit the Riverlands to stop the mess with Catelyn's Uncle Blackfish and re-conquer the land for the Freys because the Freys can't do anything without the Lannisters. It just so happens that Brienne is headed there as well, in an attempt to convince the Blackfish to join the frontlines of Team Stark in the War For Winterfell. This means that one of the show's greatest-ever character pairings will be reunited in the Riverlands. Unfortunately, they're also on opposing sides, which should make for a ~ dramatic ~ reunion. Luckily, Bronn will be there to ease the tension and hopefully convince Brienne and Jaime that they are meant to be. (Too much?)
How will Bran stop the White Walkers?HBO
"Blood of My Blood" featured the long-awaited return of Benjen Stark. (He is now an undead since the Children of the Forest were able to stop the White Walkers' magic from fully taking hold of the Night's Watch Ranger.) Benjen tells Bran that the Three-Eyed Raven sent for him, presumably to protect the boy as he learns to navigate the world-spanning knowledge hastily uploaded into his mind at the end of "The Door."
That knowledge, we've been led to believe, will be key in winning the war against White Walkers. "He will find his way to the world of men," Benjen told Bran, referring to the Night's King, "and when he does, you will be there waiting for him -- and you will be ready." With a little help from his Uncle Benjen, Bran may even piece together the show's biggest mystery: Jon Snow's parentage. (We really need to see the second part of that Tower of Joy vision, Bran.)
Of course, Benjen also dropped this bomb: Bran is now the new Three-Eyed Raven, which means that the young Stark is now the most powerful player in the game. He's a deity! And when he actually gets his shit together, he will be invaluable to humanity.
Where is Sam headed with Heartsbane?HBO
We know Sam was originally headed to the Citadel in Oldtown to cram for his White Walker test and report back to Jon Snow, but now that he's stolen his family's Valyrian steel sword, Heartsbane, there's no telling what his plan is. Will Sam bring Heartsbane to the Citadel? Seeing as it's a place where the maesters experiment with the latest science, it could be the perfect opportunity to find out exactly why Valyrian steel works so well against White Walkers, and if there's a way to replicate it. Then again, his furious father obviously knows that's where Sam was headed, so going to Oldtown is just asking for trouble. And Sam's not a fighter, so I have a hard time believing that he would risk Gilly and Little Sam's lives to bring Heartsbane back to the North.
Also, "Blood of My Blood" delivered a great reminder of how everyone south of the North is blissfully unaware that winter is coming. When Gilly told the Tarlys that Sam had killed a White Walker, his brother Dickon laughed. To them, the White Walkers are nothing short of folklore. The Night's Watch is largely regarded as a joke, a place for rapists and criminals to live their days manning a piece of Westerosi history. Won't it be fun to watch as Horn Hill gets ravaged by a horde of hungry wights?