Game of Thrones isn’t generally a show known for its heart. Maybe the beating heart of an enemy torn from his chest while his children look on aghast, sure – but not much genuine sentiment.
Or so we thought – because in this week’s episode we noticed a subtle callback to an earlier episode that is actually quite touching, focusing on a love between father and son.
The moment in question comes during Bran’s (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) flashback to the old days of Winterfell, where a younger version of his dad Ned Stark (Sebastian Croft) sparred with his brother Benjen (Matteo Elezi).
Upon beating back Benjen, Ned took his brother’s face in his hands and said “Keep your shield up, or I’ll ring your head like a bell.” Now, where have we heard that before?
That’s right – those are the exact words Jon Snow (Kit Harington) used when teaching protégé Olly (Brenock O’Connor) how to use a sword back in the first episode of season 5, right down to the face-touching finale. Clearly, this is a catchphrase that Ned kept throughout his life, sometimes even saying it to his own sons Jon and Robb as he taught them how to fight, and Jon remembered it when doing his own teaching.
And with Ned and Robb gone, Jon passed it on to the young Olly in a sweet moment (he may have seen him as some sort of surrogate brother/son) that would have only increased the power of the scene later on. But then Olly HAD to go and betray Jon instead, stabbing him to death alongside other Night’s Watch traitors and leaving him to bleed in the snow.
Ah yes. THERE’S the horrible Game of Thrones we know and love.
Game of Thrones continues on Sky Atlantic next Monday at 2am and 9pm