Bran found a miraculous ally, Sam took control of his fate, and power changed hands in King’s Landing in Game of Thrones 6×06.
In a series that is lousy with losses (and legendary for it) Game of Thrones 6×06 takes another step toward unexpected reclamation. The ranks of the living swell slightly in “Blood of My Blood,” but that’s not all; there is a thread of ownership sewn through the episode, of established claims portending strength lent to allies and enemies both.
Benjen Stark stands most prominently among the reclaimed of Game of Thrones 6×06, returning from the early days of season one to rescue Bran and Meera from hoards of wights. (Meera’s life, it must be said, continues to rival even Sansa’s in pure suck factor.) Benjen himself was pulled back from the grasp of the White Walkers by the Children of the Forest, returned to life (or something like it) by their own magic.
Crucially, Benjen asserts Bran’s ownership over the mantle of the Three-Eyed Raven, a counter to the Night King’s claim on humanity. “He will find his way to the world of men,” Bran’s once-uncle promises. “And when he does, you’ll be waiting for him — and you’ll be ready.”
Ownership of a more humane (and mundane) degree also pulses through Sam’s long-percolating story. Sam’s return to Horn Hill exposes the overwhelming pattern of loss that characterized his life before the Night’s Watch. Though Sam’s mother and sisters are (thankfully) delightful, his father Lord Randyll plays the anticipated role of jealous thief. The disgusted disappointment with which Tarly views his oldest son is as intense and terrible as anticipated. He makes no hesitation in rehashing once again how Sam was unworthy of his natural claim as the heir to Horn Hill, while Sam withers under the familiar assault.
But Gilly, fiercely loyal (and much more fierce in general than Sam) is unimpressed by Randyll’s cruelty and asserts his claim to bravery and strength. Gilly’s assertion seems wasted at first, but Sam finds his courage when the time comes for him to leave his wildling love and adopted son behind forever.
“We belong together, all of us,” Sam tells her as he sweeps them out of his family’s castle. He may not be able to assert a claim to Horn Hill, but Sam does take part of his heritage for his own — the Tarly’s ancestral sword Heartsbane.
In Braavos, Arya also reclaims a sword, one she herself had apparently relinquished. After watching the players act out the “noble” Joffrey’s death, Arya does poison Lady Crane’s brandy — only to take ownership for the action by warning the actress of the poison. The Waif, her theories about Arya’s unsuitability as an assassin at last proven, is given permission to take Arya’s life.
But Arya, unearthing her buried Needle, may have staked her claim on her own identity once again. Whether the Waif, in all her rage, will be able to steal that away… well, I wouldn’t count on it.
Meanwhile, King’s Landing and the Riverlands both are also awash in theft and reclamation. At Riverrun, Edmure Tully returns from the dead, Walder Frey’s last pawn to assert dominance over the Great Houses who have spurned him. And as the Tyrells and Lannisters prepare to seize Margaery back through strength of arms, the High Sparrow plays the card he has worked so hard to earn. Tommen Baratheon and Margaery have both become fervent puppets of the Faith, owned wholly by the Sparrow.
“They’ve beaten us,” Lady Olenna tells Mace Tyrell, her intelligence laying claim to the depth of this loss. “That’s what happening.”
Jaime, of course, has no such impetus for acceptance. Ordered out of King’s Landing, he rails at Cersei that they should steal Tommen back to their side by any means necessary; but Cersei is more sedate about the situation. With the Sparrow’s plan revealed, she has adopted a mantle of calm, urging Jaime to answer the Sparrow’s arrogance by reasserting Lannister dominance. Jaime will take back Riverrun, finally reclaimed by the Blackfish, “Because it’s ours,” even if it takes separates them for a time.
“We’ve always been together,” Cersei promises Jaime. “We’ll always be together.” The twins belong to each other; surely this separation of triumph will only be temporary.
Right? Of course right.
Game of Thrones 6×06 concludes on one last, and unprecedented act of ownership. Daenerys may not have the thousand ships she needs to take Westeros (which, in her language, is known as “what is mine”) but has Drogon once again. (And he’s flipping ENORMOUS.) To his strength, Dany binds the masses of Dothraki to her as blood riders, a link deeper than ordinary claims to loyalty. They are hers — “now, and always.”