Game of Thrones: A Painstaking Breakdown of Everything Bran Learned in – Vanity Fair

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This post contains discussion of Season 6, Episode 6 of Game of Thrones titled “Blood of My Blood.” If you’re not caught up, now is the time to leave.

In a post-episode interview on HBOGo last week, Game of Thrones show runner David Benioff said, “As soon as the Three-Eyed Raven realizes there is no time, he has to upload all this knowledge to Bran.” Viewers were curious why, given the time constraint, the Three-Eyed Raven would take Bran to the courtyard in Winterfell to see Hodor, young Ned, and the rest. Surely there were more important visions?! Well, there were. And Bran got plenty of them in this week’s episode. As Benioff put it this week, “Bran had to absorb the entire history of the world in imagery.”

According to Benioff, Bran just got a little “window into his purpose.” So what did Bran see? Well, likely we didn’t get to view everything he downloaded. The show does have a budget, after all. But between a clever mix of recycled footage and some fresh, new images, the sequence provided a fun little tour of Westerosi lore. Let’s find out what Bran learned via every single image that flashed by in that vision.

The Dragon Queen

The dragon imagery was repeated a few times, but these were the basic images. Daenerys’s rebirth, Drogon in flight, and the shadow of Drogon over King’s Landing. It’s all recycled footage. Bran had actually seen a number of these images before, including that shot of Drogon over King’s Landing, when he touched a weirwood tree back in Season 4. Whether or not Bran understood all he saw remains to be seen, but, if he did, he’s aware of the dragon queen over in Essos.

The Mad King

Some of the most exciting new footage (especially for book readers) was that of Jaime Lannister assassinating the Mad King Aerys in the King’s Landing throne room. It’s a nice way to connect Aerys to the increasingly warmongering ways of his daughter, Daenerys. But this is also where Jaime—cloaked here in Kingsguard white—got his nickname “Kingslayer.” He see the king calling to “burn them all” and Jaime stab him in the back. Jaime and Ned discussed this moment back in Season 1 and it’s another example—like Arya’s play or Bran’s vision of the Tower of Joy—of how history can be twisted into legend. The way Ned paints it, Jaime is a villain.

Jaime: When I watched the Mad King die, I remember him laughing as your
father burned. It felt like justice.

Ned: Is that what you tell yourself at night? You’re a servant of justice?
That you were avenging my father when you drove your sword in Aerys
Targaryen’s back?

Jaime: Tell me, if I stabbed the Mad King in the belly instead of the back,
would you admire me more?

Ned: You served him well when serving was safe.

In Season 3, Jaime tells a more complete version to Brienne:

You all despise me. “Kingslayer. Oathbreaker. Man without honor.” You
heard of wildfire? The Mad King was obsessed with it. He loved to
watch people burn. They way their skin blackened and blistered and
melted off their bones. He burned Lords he didn’t like, he burned
Hands who disobeyed him. He burned anyone who was against him. Before
long half the country was against him. Aerys saw traitors everywhere,
so he had his pyromancer place caches of wildfire all over the city.
Beneath the Sept of Baelor and the slums of Fleabottom. House,
stables, taverns. Even beneath the Red Keep itself.

Finally, the day of reckoning came. Robert Baratheon marched on the
capitol after his victory at the Trident. But my father went first
with the whole Lannister army at this back promising to defend the
city against the rebels. I knew my father better than that. He’s never
been one to pick the losing side. I told the Mad King as much. I urged
him to surrender peacefully. But he didn’t listen to me. He didn’t
listen to Varys who tried to warn him. But he did listen to Grand
Maester Pycelle—the great sunken cunt. “You can trust the Lannisters,”
he said. “The Lannisters have always been true friends of the crown.”
So he opened the gates and my father sacked the city. Once again I
came to the king begging him to surrender. He told me to bring him my
father’s head. Then he turned to his pyromancer. “Burn them all,” he
said. “Burn them in their homes, burn them in their beds.”

First I killed the pyromancer and then, when the king turned to flee,
I drove my sword into his back. “Burn them all,” he kept saying. “Burn
them all.”

Jaime’s Season 3 version lines up pretty well with what Bran saw in his vision (though he left out the part about how he was sitting on the Iron Throne when Ned walked in). But the young Stark just learned that the villainy of the Lannisters is more complicated than he was brought up to believe.


For most of the significance here, you can refer to the passage above. You can see the pyromancers setting up caches of wildfire at Aerys’s behest. But it’s worth remembering that Aerys didn’t manage to burn the city. Jaime stopped him. So what’s with the big explosion? There are some theories. In the books, Cersei gets a little wildfire-happy during Margaery and Tommen’s wedding feast. Will they move that plot forward as part of Cerise’s ongoing struggles with the High Sparrow? Will she go citywide with her vengeance? Possibly! Or maybe Bran is destined to use wildfire against the White Walkers should they come to King’s Landing. Either way, like Drogon’s shadow over the city, this image foretells doom for the capitol.

The Death of the Starks

Bran also got the joy of re-living the death of his mom, dad, and brother. Lucky kid. He also flitted briefly back to the Tower of Joy scene. Ned’s question—“where is my sister?”—is followed by an image many interpret as the answer. Is that a bleeding Lyanna Stark and the sad hand of Ned in the final frames? (A quick sleeve comparison proves it’s not, as some assumed, Talisa and Robb.) We may find out for certain before the season is through.

The Rules of The White Walkers

Hey! Bran got to watch “Hardhome!” Lucky! That episode was the best. So, presumably, Bran now knows a) how White Walkers use Craster’s babies to make more White Walkers b) that the Night’s King can raise the dead and maybe c) that Jon’s Valyrian steel sword stopped the Walker in his tracks. He also got a little refresher on how the Children of the Forest made the White Walkers. As if he was in danger of forgetting.

But when coupled with the vision of Daenerys, we get the birth of the armies of both ice (White Walkers) and fire (dragons.)

Put a Bird on It

And, finally, as has been the case with almost all of his visions, Bran got to see some bird stuff. That’s because, as Benjen pointed out in this episode, Bran is the Three-Eyed Raven now.

Of course, the show has been trying to tell us that all along.


Game of Thrones: A Painstaking Breakdown of Everything Bran Learned in – Vanity Fair