Back in Season 1, Sam Tarly arrived at Castle Black a self-confessed coward. Over the next several seasons, he killed a White Walker, killed a Thenn, fell in love, and basically adopted a child. The Sam of Season 6 is still brainy and kind, but he’s quite a bit bolder than he used to be, something that actor John Bradley attributes to the positive influence of Gilly and Little Sam, as well as to good old fashioned maturation.
His priorities have been narrowed down and down and down, to love. I don’t think he’s going to give any headspace to things he once felt he should have respect for, but now aren’t worthy of his respect anymore. As long as Sam has Gilly on his side, as long as he has baby Sam to concentrate his efforts on, he doesn’t mind who he’s approved of, or disapproved by. I think that happens a lot. When you’re young, you try to please everybody. You think everybody’s opinion matters to a ridiculous degree, and then you find the person you love, and you think, “Oh, those people don’t really matter anymore.
In the latest episode, Sam said that he wanted to become a maester in part to “help Jon when the time comes,” so he still has priorities beyond Gilly and Little Sam, but they seem to be the driving force behind his transformation. Interestingly, Bradley also cites a moment Sam shared with Stannis from Season 5 as important in the would-be maester’s development.
[E]ver since he spoke to Stannis in season five, and Stannis basically said, “What you’re doing is really important,” to hear that from somebody who his father would have respect for, that was a really interesting moment. Now Sam has found his place in the team. He’s not just dead weight to be carried along. He’s actually found out that what he does, and the skills he has, can be hugely beneficial. So, now he’s off to the Citadel with that in mind.
Sam’s father, you’ll recall, is the guy who ordered Sam to the Wall in the first place, and threatened him with death should he disobey. Randyll Tarly is a harsh man, and with Sam planning to drop Gilly off at Horn Hill, the ancestral seat of House Tarly, there’s a family reunion in his future.
How will Sam fare when he confronts his father again? After all, Randyll doesn’t know about Sam’s recent heroics.
His father has not seen any of these changes. And I’d like to think Sam would care less now. He’s begun to re-prioritize his life a little bit. He’s fallen in love, he has two people that are more important to him than anything, and if they’re more important to him than himself, they’re certainly more important than Randyll Tarly.
We’ll see when that ship docks, hopefully soon.