There are no books to work from on Game of Thrones this season — even George R.R. Martin might be surprised with what’s happening on the HBO series — and things could get confusing. To help you out, after every new episode, two resident Thrones experts will answer your five most pressing questions.
1. How did Beric’s sword catch on fire so easily?
Ryan: On Game of Thrones, fire and swords go together like peanut butter and jelly, making Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr my favorite members of the Westeros Magnificent Seven (with a shout out to the group’s band of expendable Night’s Watch fodder). As for why their swords catch fire, you can thank the fire god R’hllor, also known as the Lord of Light.
Thoros is one of R’hllor’s red priests, and he (unwittingly) resurrected Dondarrion when performing a ceremony called the Last Kiss. Since then Beric has had the ability to light his swords ablaze using his own blood as a sacrifice. Thoros seems to have figured out the trick as well, just more proof that magic is quickly becoming more potent in Westeros.
Speaking of the sword he uses, there doesn’t seem to be any particular importance to the blade Beric took beyond the Wall. When footage first aired of his sword catching fire, some fans wondered whether he might be wielding Lightbringer, a flaming sword of prophecy that is supposed to help win the Last Battle. Two things seem to discount this: 1) In this episode, Thoros’ sword catches fire in exactly the same way and 2) Back in season three, one of Beric’s previous flaming swords is broken in half by the Hound when they fight. Sure, I guess this latest one could be Lightbringer. But don’t believe the hype: there’s no indication thus far that he’s using a special weapon at all. Which is too bad, because Jon Snow could really use something like that right now.
Josh: Oh, but as half of Twitter pointed out, Jon does have a special weapon.
Except not really. Longclaw has a storied history (it had been in the Mormont family for five centuries before Lord Commander Jeor, a.k.a. the Old Bear, gave it to Jon, who replaced the bear on the pommel with a direwolf), and the fact that it’s crafted from Valyrian steel lets the King of the North slice through White Walkers like they’re made of butter. But there’s nothing special about the eyes. Watch the GIF long enough, and you’ll see it’s just water splashing onto the sword. Game of Thrones already went full Lord of the Rings the last two episodes — there’s no reason to add an all-seeing eye, too.
2. What’s the deal with Arya’s bag of floppy faces?
Ryan: Meanwhile in Winterfell, Sansa discovered how fierce the competition for weirdest returning Stark kid is (sorry, Bran) by stumbling upon Arya’s satchel of faces. Okay, maybe “stumble” isn’t the correct word. She went snooping through Arya’s room and found the bag half exposed under the bed. Let’s be clear: they are faces and not just masks. The House of Black and White, where Arya underwent training throughout season six, had an entire hall full of faces taken from those who came to the temple to die. At the end of the season, Arya added the slain Waif’s face to her ever-growing collection.