Will Arya Be Free of the House of Black and White?
Even though most of the storylines by Season 6 have diverged from the books, I was still surprised to see Arya’s story in Bravos ending the way it appears. In A Dance With Dragons, Arya completes her training and is going to be sent off to an apprenticeship in another city. She’s done all the temple priests have asked, and it’s clear her story as an assassin-in-training will continue in The Winds of Winter. But on the show, it looks like she’s done with the temple, and now will have the Waif to deal with.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m happy Arya’s decided to return to being Arya Stark. In fact, that’s always been my hope, ever since she hid her sword Needle under those stairs. I really want Arya to finish her hit list, and she was never going to be able to do that as a nameless servant in the House of Black and White. Yet with last Sunday’s development, some are questioning the entire point of the past season-and-a-half in Bravos. If she defeats the Waif and goes back to her life as Arya Stark, what has she really learned from her time in the House of Black and White?
Maybe the answer is: She learned that she needs to be Arya Stark – that it’s her destiny. Maybe that’s the point. Only by trying to abandon her past did she realize she needs to stay true to who she always was. It won’t surprise me if the books end up at this same point, but now that Game of Thrones is rushing towards its conclusion, it feels like the show’s writers are skipping a few steps.
Benjen Stark is Coldhands
This point will only make sense to those who have read the books. Way back in A Storm of Swords, a seemingly undead Night’s Watchman called “Coldhands” saves Gilly and Sam from the White Walkers after they flee Craster’s Keep. Then, in A Dance With Dragons, when Bran and company arrive at the Wall, Coldhands is there to escort Bran to the Three Eyed Raven.
The show had omitted Coldhands from the plot until last Sunday when Benjen suddenly appeared to save Bran and Meera. Benjen never calls himself Coldhands, but admitted he was mortally wounded by a White Walker, only to be saved by the Children of the Forest. In the showrunners’ commentary after the show, the writers called Benjen “Coldhands,” making it crystal clear they’re one in the same. If true, we’ve seen another spoiler from The Winds of Winter.
That said, I remember a report where George R.R. Martin disclaimed that Coldhands was, in fact, Benjen. But this may have been Martin playing with words, assuming the “human” Benjen died, only to be reborn as Coldhands. Either that, or the writers have merged two characters again, as they did with Sansa and Jeyne Pool.
Daenerys’ Story Seems Like It’s Moving Too Fast
This may be the first time I’ve seen what looks like a major a plot hole in Game of Thrones. Rather than ending with the Waif setting out to kill Arya – which would have been the perfect way to end episode 6 – we got a scene with Daenerys and her new Dothraki army. Then, all of a sudden, Drogon appears, and the next thing we see is Dany on his back rallying her troops to war.
I had a problem with this. If Dany can just summon Drogon at will, why didn’t she do that while she was captured and forced to march to the Dothraki temple? Or, why not use Drogon to roast the Kahls alive instead of tipping over all those braziers? It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
What would have made sense is for Dany to go on a quest to find Drogan. A legit quest, like where she’s chasing down dragon sightings or following a trail of charred goats. At some point, we all know she needed to reunite with her dragons. But this seemed way to effortless, especially given how untamable Dragon seemed in Season 5 (and in A Dance With Dragons too).
Now, maybe the end of episode 6 was supposed to depict this quest in a super truncated form. The problem, however, was that the scene was so brief it hardly portrayed the work she should have gone through to find her dragon. My fear is that this is a symptom of the writer’s simply moving way to fast to get to the end of Game of Thrones.
Season 5 basically covered the entirety of both A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons. Those stories, frankly, could have made up two full seasons of Game of Thrones. Given its reported length, The Winds of Winter could probably fill two more full seasons. My guess is that the writers don’t have that kind of time, which is why Game of Thrones seems to be moving at warp speed now that it’s untethered from the books. So far, this was the only time I was disappointed by the show’s decisions this season. But I hope this doesn’t become a trend.
Those are just my quick thoughts. What did you think about this episode of Game of Thrones?
* Images courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes
* Images courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes