A very basic question – how could Meera and Bran survive on their own pursued by a horde of wights – is answered pretty quickly and definitively. They can’t, not without the help of BENJEN motherfucking STARK! Freaking brilliant to throw Benjen in the “Previously On...” at the end of last season to remind people who he is and tease the return, which allowed them to preserve some element of surprise here. The big reveal is that Benjen was saved by the Children before he could be converted to a White Walker.
Also, Bran is trying to deal with the massive download from the Three-Eyed Raven of all of the world’s knowledge. Going to take a while to get used to that. But one of the many visions we see is the first on-screen appearance of the Mad King, screaming “Burn them all!” Hmm, I wonder if Aerys’ madness is similar at all to Hodor’s.
Samwell has a bad reunion with his Wilding-hating father, who deduces that Gilly is a Wilding. For bringing such a vile creature into his home, Sam has been banished. Well that was a whole lot of trouble for nothing. Oh, wait. He leaves, but takes Gilly and Little Sam, and also House Tarly’s Valyrian steel sword (!) with him. Sam and Gilly clean up nice.
A girl continues to have second thoughts about carrying out her assigned hit, the actress playing Cersei Lannister in the slightly inaccurate dramatic retelling of Ned’s execution and Joffrey’s poisoning. She joyfully watches the exaggerated version of Joffrey’s death, and that actually relieves some of her longtime grief, since she didn’t get the satisfaction of seeing the real thing. After a nice convo with the actress, she violates her orders and stops the hit (but the Waif saw the whole thing). Arya then digs up Needle and flees, no longer content with being a faceless girl. The Waif is overjoyed at being allowed to hunt down Arya and kill her. And now we all patiently await the moment when Arya finally gets to take out the Waif permanently. But even when she does, Jaqen will always be hiding in plain sight.
Speaking of acting...As expected by pretty much everyone, the plan hatched by Jaime, Cersei and the Tyrells to use force to take out the Faith Militant and save Tommen, Margaery and Loras, fails. Turns out that Margaery has “confessed” and “repented” for her sins, which allows her to be reunited with Tommen, and they together have joined forces with the Faith to rule the world. The High Sparrow thinks he has successfully manipulated the Crown, while Margaery is most likely faking it. But my money is on Tommen playing the High Sparrow.
There's a lot of focus on an area of the world where a big thing happened that we didn’t actually see. The Blackfish has taken Riverrun from Walder Frey, as told by Littlefinger to Sansa last week. So, Sansa sends Brienne to recruit those troops for the eventual conflict with Ramsay. This week, we find out that Brienne’s former flirt, Jaime, has been sent by Tommen to overtake Riverrun. As well, Walder Frey wants it back, and is somehow going to use his longtime prisoner, Sansa’s uncle, Edmure Tully. A big showdown is brewing.
Dany and Daario estimate they’d need 1,000 ships to be able to transport of all her accumulated troops across the Narrow Sea. Oh, will you look at that – Euron is building 1,000 ships, give or take. See you crazy kids next season (or maybe at the end of this season). And in a nice bit of overkill, Dany rallies the already submitted Dothraki while atop Drogon.
Tommen is not that smart. If Euron shows up with a thousand ships in a week, it will be the most riddiculous thing this show has done. This show. Riverrun could be this year's Hardhome where at the end, you realize we have turned the corner on something big.
We also see the Walkers looking at King's Landing. Danny needs to get there fast, because poor religious Sparrows have no prayer there.