“Blood of My Blood” Reviewed. Game, Set, but not yet Match to Savonarola
I love being wrong. Absolutely love it. It’s what keeps me watching.
For sure I thought Margaery would be saved, at the last minute, from having to do her Walk of Shame. We’re not going to be made to watch that whole palava twice, I thought. And I was not wrong.
But I thought that Cersei and Jamie were gonna unleash “The Mountain” in the nick of time – and
Frankenstein’s Qyburn’s Monster would single handedly slaughter half the plebian population of King’s Landing leaving the other half to subsequently think twice about showing up to gawp at nekkid aristos.
But what we saw was better and scarier. The peculiar “union” of Church and State means that Westeros is now officially a theocracy. And it expands upon a distinct variant of evil. Although those of us scrutinising Jonathan Pryce’s features may have detected a trace of distinctly worldly and selfish satisfaction at the spectacle of his clumsy enemies’ defeat, it is of course, the selfless incorruptibility of the Sparrows that makes them so alarming. As Bob Dylan reminds us “when you ain’t got nuthin you got nuthin to lose”, – and the unthreatenability of Sparrows makes them very hard to outflank. What can you threaten to take away from them?
Most chillingly, we can see the potential for nice Thommen to be the most destructive King we’ve seen so far. He is of course the nicest monarch in living memory – although this living memory consists of King “Caligula” Joffrey, King Robert “Edward IV” Baratheon and King Aryen “Burn Them All” Targaryen. But a well-intentioned maniac who believes that God(s) is(are) on his side is a more dispassionate killer – emboldened by the belief that slaughter is cleansing and Divinely sanctioned, Thommen and High Sparrow (Savonarola) could together kill far more people than any of their recent predecessors. Thommen’s need to “do the right thing” is far more dangerous than the mere sadistic gratification of appetites.
In other news, the Girl has a name again, and she’s giving up on her training. Part of me, the pedagogue part, feels a bit gutted because she’s completed about 90% of her course work and the House of Black and White offers what must be about the most rigorous university tripos on Earth. Could she not sit some summer resit exams? Take extra credit modules? Some form of exit accreditation has to be awarded to make up for being beaten up by The Waif on a daily basis.
Turns out the play was the thing that turned the conscience of the Stark. I loved seeing Richard E. Grant last week (who doesn’t?) but part of me loved the joke about him appearing in a tiny part and spouting the hoary thespian maxim that “there are no small parts only small actors” so much that I hoped I wouldn’t see him again. Arya (seeing as she has a name) was in a very Hamlety situation of using theatre itself as a means of deciding whether or not to apply poison. Oh well, Stannis Baratheon was clearly Macbeth, so it was someone’s turn to play Hamlet.
It was “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” time at the Tarly Household – only Sam’s Dad turned out to be considerably less flexible than Spencer Tracy. (Oddly enough, James Faulkner played Herod Agrippa in I Claudius, 40 years ago.) And of course, we all feel smug and knowing as we enjoy hearing someone say that White Walkers don’t exist.
Bran, meanwhile has found a new friend and ally (and Gods know he needs one) in the shape of his uncle, who’s been sort of benignly undeaded by Children of the Forest. Just goes to show you shouldn’t tar all undeaded warriors with the same brush. Watching Bran’s visions, I increasingly feel like some commercial sponsor of an expensive science project. I know I should sponsor science for its own sake and I know that knowledge is its own reward etc. etc. etc. but I wouldn’t mind seeing a few deliverables at this point. A few more practical applications of the whole trippy Bran thing? Am I being vulgar? I am being vulgar. I’ll shut up.
Finally, in a display of raw showmanship, Daenerys flies around on a dragon again just to impress the troops. Because she can.