There's no shame -- shame! shame! shame! -- in admitting "Game of Thrones" Season 6, Episode 6, "Blood of My Blood," was not quite as strong as last week's emotionally traumatizing "The Door." Not every episode can leave us with chills, but this one left us with...

  1. 1. Arya entering 00Stark mode to survive, now that Jaqen H'ghar has OK'd the waif's dream of killing her;
  2. 2. Not one but TWO two major swords back in action;
  3. 3. A new (un)holy alliance between the crown and the Faith Militant (Tommen is so damn weak, Ser Pounce should claw his ass right off the Iron Throne);
  4. 4. Walder F--king Frey and Jaime Lannister ready to jump in on the Riverrun action Sansa and Brienne talked about last week;
  5. 5. The return of poor Edmure Tully, who soooo regrets ever agreeing to that wedding;
  6. 6. Daenerys Targaryenriding Drogon,then mic-dropping another grand speech about her Seven Kingdoms plans;
  7. 7. And another major Stark reunion in the random, but awesome, return of Uncle Badass Benjen Stark.

The last time we saw First Ranger Benjen Stark he told Jon Snow, "Here, a man gets what he earns, when he earns it." Apparently Uncle Badass earned some kind of saving from the Children of the Forest. He was killed and was going to be a wight but they saved him with some dragonglass to the heart? Or whatever? The Starks tend to have extreme luck -- good and bad -- and here's another one who kind of died but is now less dead than before, thanks to a last-minute save from an outsider. (LS would fit right into this theme.) And now that Arya has reunited with Needle, she seems like she's ready to join the other living Starks back in Westeros. (Find Nymeria!)

Read on for a recap of Episode 6:

THE MAP: This week, the intro map takes us to King's Landing, Winterfell, The Wall, Braavos, Vaes Dothrak, and Meereen.

The first shot is Meera walking as she tries to drag Bran, picking up directly from "The Door." Bran is still warging, and his visions flash through time. We see the Mad King ("burn them all!") Ned Stark asking for his sister, and more. Targaryen teases. Very interesting stuff to go back and rewatch and analyze later. Lots of clues in there, no doubt. Meera stops and cries. She can't seem to get Bran back. He sees Hardhome, the White Walkers, everything that has happened in time. Finally, he returns to the now. The wights are right behind them, though. Meera apologizes, she must think it's over. But a figure on a horse shows up to save them. LOVE that fireball chain. He's like the Grim Reaper with his hood. It's Benjen Stark, but not Coldhands of the book? (Didn't GRRM say, definitively, that Benjen was not Coldhands? Maybe that's another book-to-TV change.)

OK, here are the showrunners openly calling Benjen "Coldhands Benjen" so it's canon for the show:
"Come with me, now," he tells them. "The dead don't rest." So he's like the Terminator. Mixed with Aragorn. And Luke Skywalker. And Michonne. But mostly Benjen. Come with me if you want to live. So the Benjen return rumors were true, although it would be good to know how he became the Grim Wight Reaper. Where the heck has he been?

Later, Benjen says the Three-Eyed Raven sent for him. But he hasn't revealed he's Benjen yet. Benjen tells Bran the last time he saw Bran he was a fearless boy, fearless enough to climb the castle walls. Uncle Benjen shows his face. The Children plunged a shard of dragonglass in his heart? He's kind of like a White Walker, but not really...? The Night's King is coming. One way or another he will find a way south to the world of men, and when he does Bran will be there, ready. Great! But will Dany and the dragons be there and ready, too? 'Cause someone is going to need to bring a lot of dragon fire, Valyrian steel, etc., no?

Sam is a nervous talker on his ride back home. He didn't think he'd ever go back to Horn Hill. He also didn't tell his family that Gilly was a wildling since his father, Randyll Tarly, hates wildlings. Whatever. Sam the Slayer, you need to tell him you killed a White Walker and the real battle is North of the Wall. We see Sam's mom and sister, who are welcoming. Randyll and Sam's brother Dickon are on a hunt.

Gilly later shows up all dressed fancy for dinner. Sam says she's beautiful, and it's very sweet, but then things get cold at dinner. Randyll glares the whole time. Dickon brags about the day's hunt, and asks about hunting north of the Wall. Tell him about the White Walker! They think Gilly is from the North, like the Umbers, but not a wildling. Randyll fat shames Sam when Sam wants bread. Where is the Hound with a chicken rant when you need him? Bad daddy is not done, either, he complains that he thought Castle Black would make a man out of him. Gilly stands up for Sam and says he killed a Thenn and a White Walker. Dickon laughs. "He's a greater warrior than either of you will ever be." She says he killed a WW on the way down from Castle Black, and Randyll picks up on it. Where is she from? North of the Wall. She's a wildling. Yes, she is. Suck it, Dad. Randyll points out the sword Heartsbane, it's been in the family for 500 years. Valyrian steel. Oooohhh, they need that to kill WWs. The sword is supposed to go to his firstborn son after Randyll dies, but R says no way. Randyll would rather Gilly be a Mole's Town whore than a wildling. Someone needs to just grab the sword, stab bad daddy, and leave. Mom says Dad dishonors himself. At least someone will stand up to him. Dad says this will be the last night Sam spends at Horn Hill, but they'll raise "the bastard" and have Gilly in the kitchen. Gilly isn't mad at Sam, she's mad that horrible people treat good people and get away with it. Sam is meant to leave at first light. He decides Gilly and the baby will leave with him. "We belong together. All of us." So they sneak out, but not before Sam steals the sword. NICE. Well done, Tarly. Now what, though? Can't he just go back to The Wall at this point? Ditch the maester idea, it's not important. Bring the Valyrian steel where it's most needed.

Arya returns to watch more of the play, telling the story of King's Landing, and Joffrey's great death. Arya laughs at his death, but stops laughing when Lady Crane brings the emotion to play Cersei, grieving for Joff. Arya watches the actress who plays Sansa, who says the lines from afar. Arya goes backstage, she's supposed to kill Lady Crane, with a plan to poison the rum. Lady Crane says she saw Arya in the audience. She's seen the play three times. LC talks to her about sneaking into performances when she was younger. They talk about changing the script. The queen loves her son more than anything. He was taken from her before she got to say goodbye. She wouldn't just say goodbye. She would be angry. She would want to kill who did this to her. LC asks Arya's name, and if she likes being other people. Be an actress now, Arya! Arya knocks the rum out of LC's hand when she's about to drink it. She tells LC the other actress wants her dead. Oh, but the waif saw it. Arya knows she's in trouble, so she digs up NEEDLE! Yes! Two Valyrian swords back in action. (Forgot that Needle isn't Valyrian. It's still awesome, though.) The waif snitches on Arya, and Jaqen H'ghar says "Shame. The girl had many gifts." The waif wants to kill Arya, apparently he promised her, and she smirks as she leaves. Jaqen doesn't want Arya to suffer, but there's now a hit out on her. Run, 00Stark!

Tommen has another meeting with the High Sparrow. Apparently Margaery is devoting her life to the gods, or at least claiming to as a way to get out. Tommen gets to see his wife and asks if they mistreated her. (Yeah, they locked her up under his command.) Margaery says things will soon be better than they were before. Tommen wonders how, since she's meant to have her walk of atonement. But it doesn't sound like she's worried about that. Margaery, what is your game right now? She says the High Sparrow is more than they thought. She seems to be playing along with the High Sparrow's game, but... she tells Tommen she's had a lot of time to think about how much work she put into seeming good. She's relieved to let go of her lies. What about Loras, Tommen asks. She loves her brother; his soul is pure and perfect but he needs to atone for his sins. We all do, sooner or later, one way or another. (What is her scheme?)

Later, we see Jaime and Papa Tyrell (making a rather grandiose speech) on horseback with their army, heading for the High Sparrow and Margaery. It's a standoff. Margaery seems surprised to see her dad, and any backup Oh, and Lady Olenna is there, too. Jaime tells the High Sparrow they are there for Marg and Loras. Give them to us and we'll go away. Jaime and the horse climb up the stairs to block Margaery's walk. But there's no need. The High Sparrow says there will be no walk (which makes sense, since her hair is not cut). QS has already atoned for her sins by bringing another into the true light of the Seven. Enter King Tommen. They announce a new holy alliance between the crown and the faith. Together, Tommen says, they will restore the Seven Kingdoms to glory. Cersei is going to be pissed. Olenna says the High Sparrow has beaten them, that's what happened. So no fight? Shame!

Later, Tommen sits the Iron Throne and tells Jaime if you attack the faith you attack the crown, so Jaime is no longer fit to lead the Kingsguard. Tommen is now a slave to the High Sparrow. Tommen sends Jaime away from King's Landing. To Riverrun. Cersei says it's better he's elsewhere right now. Jaime says he's going to give Bronn money for an army so they can face the High Sparrow and kill him. But Cersei says if he kills the High Sparrow he won't live. She wants him to go to Riverrun to take back that stupid castle, because he can. Her trial is coming and she has the Mountain. She says they'll always be together, they are the only people in the world, and they make out. So he's leaving right before her trial? Hmmm. Doesn't seem like a good idea to leave her with no back-up, in these conditions.

Speaking of Riverrun, we go back to the Twins to hang out with that absolutely piece of filth, Walder Frey, who is now pissed that the Blackfish has reclaimed Riverrun. He wants the Freys to take Riverrun back. He's tired of bowing to the Tullys. The younger Freys say they don't have enough men to take Riverrun, but Walder won't hear it. He's tired of everyone laughing at them. He wants to remind the Tullys of the Red Wedding. They drag in poor Edmure Tully, but tell him to cheer up, 'cause he's going home.

Dany and Daario try to plan what's next. Get ships (take them from Euron?), sail for Westeros. Take what is mine. He says she wasn't meant to sit on a chair. She's a conqueror. She sees a dragon flying, and goes ahead. It's Drogon again, showing himself to everyone. He lands, with Dany on his back. Every khal who ever lived chose three bloodriders. She is not a khal. She won't choose three bloodriders, she will choose them all. She will ask more of them than any khal. Will they ride the wooden horses across the see? Will they kill her enemies in their iron suits? Will they give her the Seven Kingdoms, which Drogo promised? They are with her, now and forever. So that "I won't choose three bloodriders" doesn't mean she won't need two other dragon riders, right? Jon and Tyrion need to jump up. Speaking of Jon, isn't this the first episode this season that he was NOT in? And what happened to the other two dragons, that Tyrion visited?

Episode 7, which airs June 5, is called "The Broken Man" and has this synopsis: "The High Sparrow eyes another target. Jaime confronts a hero. Arya makes a plan. The North is reminded."

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