In tonight’s new episode of Game of Thrones, the siege of Riverrun came to an end, and no one was safe.
Spoiler Note: This post is for those who have read the A Song of Ice and Fire series. The post and the comments section will contain spoilers from the novels! Because no, we are not all Unsullied now. If you haven’t read the books yet, please check out our non-book-reader recap. Thanks!
In King’s Landing...
The Faith Militant are running rampant in the Red Keep, thanks to Tommen’s alliance with the church. Lancel and his unpleasant boyband try to force Cersei to meet with the High Sparrow, and Cersei finally gets the opportunity to show off her new toy. Threatened with the possibility of violence, Cersei accepts it furiously and sics FrankenMountain on the boyband. One ripped-off head later, Cersei and Qyburn are smiling like proud parents, and Lancel knows they are deeply outmatched.
In the Throne Room, Cersei finds there’s an announcement due shortly. Her uncle Kevan shows up just long enough to be a misogynistic ass, and I’m wondering how long it will be before Uncle Kev gets the FrankenMountain neck adjustment.
Finally, Tommen makes his pronouncement, regarding the trials of Cersei and Loras. He sets the long-awaited date- and throws a nasty curveball in Cersei’s plan by forbidding all trials-by-combat. Instead, seven septons will determine their fate at trial. The combat ace in the hole she was counting on is useless. There is no way Cersei is going to fool seven septons who all bow to the High Sparrow.
Qyburn steps up and confirms to Cersei vaguely that “that rumor” is true, after all.
“That rumor” Qyburn references, the one that his little birds have confirmed- my best guess is it’s wildfire, based on Bran’s visions. With her plan of trial-by-combat out, and her own son doing nothing to help her, Cersei might be going kamikaze.
Somewhere in the Riverlands…
Sandor Clegane is on a roaring rampage of revenge, and that’s bad news for a few men this week. The outlaws who sacked the hippie commune last week- minus Lem Lemoncloak, who is occupied elsewhere at the moment- are relaxing and talking trash when the Hound and his axe finds them. They don’t die well, but Sandor is in fine old form.
Later, Sandor does find Lem- and the rest of the Brotherhood without Banners, who have Lem and two other men strung up for their attack on the innocent villagers. BWB leader Beric Dondarrion and his mad red priest Thoros of Myr are punishing them for violating the BWB’s ways. Despite the fact that Clegane fought with Dondarrion last time they met, this time they get on swimmingly. Sandor really has changed. Mostly they haggle over the hanging men a bit and Sandor steals Lem’s boots after he finally executes the outlaws who killed Brother Ray.
Over dinner, the Brotherhood makes the Hound an offer- to join them. “The cold winds are rising,” Beric warns, and they need good men. The idea that Sandor can still do good in the world is revisited, and he’s once again left pondering his uncertain future.
R’hllor’s charismatic preachers are doing their work as promised, selling Daenerys (and her advisors) to the crowds. Varys is now apparently headed out of town on a mission, looking to acquire more friends in Westeros to further their cause.
Back at the pyramid, Tyrion forces another awkward drinking game on Missandei and Grey Worm with marginally better luck this time. Honestly, Tyrion is that sad guy who wants to drink all the time but doesn’t want to drink alone because he knows what it means, so he peer-pressures people. The trio tells some painfully bad jokes, and once again, we’re cheated out of the punchline of the honeycomb and the jackass story.
The monotony of uncomfortable drinking games is broken up by the slavers from the other cities returning to claim “their property.” The masters launch an attack on the city, fire-bombing Meereen from their ships as Tyrion, Missandei and Grey Worm argue over strategy.
Deciding to hunker down in the pyramid, they get ready to defend themselves at the sound of a threat close by. The door opens, an Unsullied looks out….and bends the knee to Daenerys, who steps into the pyramid without warning, after her long absence.
The siege of the castle continues, with the Blackfish holding firm and properly wasting Jaime Lannister’s time. Brienne and Pod arrives at the siege camp and are brought in to meet with the commander.
Bronn gleefully teases Pod (his acquaintance from the days when the young man squired for Tyrion) and makes some keen observations about the possible attraction between Jaime and Brienne. Let the record show, it is also now canon that if given the opportunity, Bronn would definitely fuck Brienne.
In the tent, reunited for the first time in ages, you can see how much it means to Brienne when Jaime says he’s proud of her for all she’s done since she left King’s Landing. Now, her cause is in direct opposition to his once again. Their situation is complicated, with their conflicting loyalties, but then, it always has been. Jaime is still struggling with the notion of doing the right thing, and how it clashes with his desire to return to Cersei and the life he knows. Even knowing Brienne’s suggestion for the Blackfish to abandon the castle will fail, he lets her try. Before they part ways, she offers him back the sword Oathkeeper, having fulfilled her vow to find Sansa.
“It’s yours. It’ll always be yours,” Jaime says. And I’m fairly sure every shipper just about died right then.
If they meet again, they may have to fight, but clearly neither of them want it.
Unsurprisingly the Blackfish has no interest in her offer, and doesn’t trust the Kingslayer’s word. He won’t abandon the defense of his own home for Sansa, the niece he barely knows.
Later, Jaime meets with Edmure Tully and softens him up by discussing his baby, the child conceived at the bedding at the Red Wedding. Edmure pokes at Jaime, wondering how someone like him can sleep at night. Edmure pricks at his conscience in the way Brienne did, but Jaime remains focused on his goal.
He brings up Catelyn, and her love of her children, before working his way around to his real point: catapulting Edmure’s baby into the walls of Riverrun if he doesn’t cooperate.
Later, we see Edmure, now freed and more presentable, approaching the drawbridge of the castle. The Blackfish argues against letting him in, but the men feel they have no choice but to obey their true lord and lower the drawbridge, letting him in.
Once inside, Edmure gives the order for every man to lay down his weapon, surrendering Riverrun to the Freys and Lannisters. Edmure orders the Blackfish to be put in irons and given over to the Freys (payback for the Blackfish being so chill about letting him hang, I suppose).
But the Blackfish isn’t one to go down easy. He helps Brienne and Pod slip away, via a rowboat on the river beneath Riverrun. Freys and Lannisters fill up the castle, the men come to take the Blackfish, and apparently he dies off-screen, as a soldier reports to Jaime that the Blackfish died fighting. (The HBO Viewer’s Guide backs that up, and seems to kill any hope that the Blackfish escaped.)
Standing on the walls, Jaime sees the rowboat slipping away. His and Brienne’s eyes meet, and they wave farewell.
After a performance, Lady Crane discovers Arya in her dressing room area, bleeding and in desperate need of help.
Yes, that was Arya getting righteously shanked last week. That was Arya wandering around in broad daylight undisguised when Faceless Men were hunting for her. The Waif really is that ineffective a Faceless person. All that theorizing from fans after last week’s episode, and uh yeah…
Anyway, Lady Crane stitches up Arya (after revealing she has a habit of stabbing her boyfriends), who isn’t sure where to go anymore. Arya needs to rest and heal though, so she reluctantly accepts milk of the poppy and sleeps.
Later, Lady Crane checks back in on Arya, who is still out cold. While getting more medicine from a shelf, a young man appears behind her.
Arya wakes up to find Lady Crane dead, with the Waif standing over her. The Waif is determined to finish the job when it comes to Arya too.
She jumps out the window, fresh stab wounds and all. The Waif is close on her tail, chasing her through Braavos: down stairs, over walls, through marketplaces, until Arya leaps again and rolls down a long flight of stairs, reopening her wounds. She manages to get away, staggering back to her hidey hole, where the Waif tracks her down.
Challenged by the Faceless woman, Arya rises to her feet, Needle in hand- and slashes at the candle, bringing the room and their fight into total darkness. Handy for a girl who has trained recently as a blind person. Unfortunately we don’t see any of this fight.
A quick cut to the House of Black and White, and suddenly there’s a blood trail catching Jaqen’s interest. He follows it back to the Hall of Faces, where he discovers a very new and raw face has been added to the collection- the Waif’s.
“Finally a girl is No One,” he says to Arya, who raises Needle.
“A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell, and I’m going home.”
Jaqen accepts her choice with a touch of a smile as she leaves.
Assorted Thoughts on the Episode:
This was not one of the better episode of the series. It was frankly a bit of a mess. The good news is that even a weaker episode of Game of Thrones still has great moments.
Jaime & Brienne’s scenes, and Bronn’s moment with Pod.
Jaime & Edmure’s conversation. Thank god, they finally let Edmure speak!
The action portion of Arya and the Waif’s scene was great, beautifully done and great use of a location.
Essie Davis is wonderful and I’m so glad we had her even for this short amount of time.
It may disappoint some but I like that Cersei can’t use her trial-by-combat trick. Anyone who knows her would have seen that coming a mile away and plotted around it, as the High Sparrow clearly did.
Waiting to see…
The return of Thoros and Beric is interesting. Thoros we knew about a while back from filming spoilers, but Beric is more of a surprise. With Beric still in play, what does that mean for the show’s version of the BWB plot? The loss of Beric is significant in the books, and bringing him back makes me think it’s only so he can pass his spark of life onto someone else. Otherwise, what’s the point?
The Meereen scenes were more or less a mess. The masters suddenly showing up…but then, oh no, it’s Dany at the door! The pacing was all wrong, and Tyrion’s scenes with Grey Worm and Missandei are a waste of time.
Show, Don’t Tell part 1: If you’re going to kill the Blackfish, it damn well better be on camera. If the Viewer’s Guide is right and he’s dead for real, what a total letdown. The build-up was good, and then it completely fizzled with that off-screen business.
Show, Don’t Tell part 2: Arya and the Waif are finally going to have a final showdown, and we don’t see any of it? There was really no suspense in how it was done. All the momentum of the chase was gone. They didn’t need to show us cutting off her face- that part could have been a surprise.
Across the board, there was a lumpiness to the episode with jokes falling flat and the pacing of the scenes erratic. There were good scenes, for sure, but I think this will go down as one of the low points of the season.