Spoiler-bound, but no fear! This was a (relatively) quiet episode.
This week is Arya’s week, which I’m rather glad about. Her entire story has been on the back burner since last season, when she arrived in Braavos and opted to spend her days being bashed with sticks. So far this season, she has learnt some valuable lessons, such as not victimising others for personal gain, humility and perseverance. She definitely missed the memo on obedience, but this is Arya Stark. We have always loved the rebel in her.
Last week, she escaped the Waif by throwing herself off a bridge after being stabbed. She scrambles out of the water and makes her way to the only “friend” she has left in Braavos; Lady Crane, who takes her in and patches her up. The Lady invites her once again to join the travelling troupe of actors, but Arya (Maisie Williams) refuses. She intends to go far away to Essos, or even west of Westeros. She needs to escape. She needs to feel safe. The question is will she ever be? Definitely not today, for her sanctuary is short-lived. The Waif sneaks into Lady Crane’s chambers, murders her, and chases Arya through the streets. (NOTE: This is so ridiculously implaughible – Arya throws herself off a balcony and runs hours – at most, days – after being stabbed!) It’s tense (have you seen the muderous zeal on the Waif’s face!?) and Arya starts to bleed again, but she keeps going, luring the Waif away from the crowds and to a secluded chamber. Arya pulls out Needle and snuffs the light. All of that blind sparring may have paid off after all.
No one is surprised to see that Arya is the one standing in the House of Black and White whilst the Waif’s face is smeared bloodily on the wall, least of all Jaqen. Apparently, a girl has succeeded: she is now no one. Whoop-de-do! But in her quest to be “no one” Arya has realised that she very much needs to be someone. She is going back to Winterfell, and one can only assume that her kill list is at the forefront of her mind.
There is a lot of movement this week as the chess pieces are being shaken up. Varys (Conleth Hill) leaves Meereen for starters, though for where and for why is currently unclear. This leaves Tyrion (Perter Dinklage) with Greyworm (Jacob Anderson) and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), who are hardly the liveliest pair, though they do
painfully try to share some jokez, for after all, in the new peace of Meereen, it would be uncouth to not indulge a little, right? Their lighthearted bonding session is soon interrupted however by loud noises and an enormous fleet of ships heading into the bay. It appears that The Masters have gone back on their word and are back to take what is theirs. There seems to be little that they can do, other than assemble the Unsullied and barricade themselves into the pyramid. But just as they are about to go down fighting, there is a crash on the roof. The doors to the balcony open and who is there but everyone’s favourite Mother Of Dragons? Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) does not look best pleased – and who can blame her? She’s been gone for all of five minutes and both her city and authority is under siege. It will be interesting to see if The Masters reconsider now that they can see how large Drogon has gotten.
Talking of large things, man-mountain The Hound (Rory McCann) is on the hunt for those bandits that slaughtered the Septon and his camp and, in doing so, killed perhaps the only friends that he had ever had. It doesn’t take him long to find four of them, though he dispatches them quickly as they prove unhelpful. Soon afterwards, he happens upon the Brotherhood Without Banners and their continually resurrected leader, Beric Dondarrion. It appears that they have already captured those bandits, in fact they are so far along that they are about to hang them. The Hound wants to finish them off instead (Dondarrion gives him two) and the bandits flail as they swing whilst those around them make small talk. Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr – the red priest who resurrects him – intend to go north, where the “cold winds are blowing”. Apparantly, they are looking to recruit good men to accompany them. The Hound umms and ahhs yet doesn’t commit. Perhaps he intends to go south…
That’s what we all hope anyway, but we’ll get to that in a minute. In this episode, we finally get to see exactly what The Mountain – er, Ser Robert Strong – is capable of in his present un/dead state. Lacel Lannister, the cousin of Cersei and Jamie who you may recall from Cersei’s bed in Season 2 before he refashioned himself as a Sparrow, has come to collect the Mother of the King and deliver her to the High Sparrow, who wishes to speak with her. She states that if he wishes to do so, he will have to visit her in the Red Keep. Lancel warns that should she persist, that there will be violence. “I choose violence” states Cersei (Lena Headey) – and why not? She has the Mountain at her shoulder after all, and her confidence is justified. He proceeds to rip the head off an unfortunate Sparrow (with his bare hands) as a warning to the others, who back off. Naturally.
You almost begin to root for Cersei, but it is a short-lived victory, however. Later, she visits the throne room where King Tommen is about to make an announcement. As it transpires, it is not one she wishes to hear. Under the guidance of the High Sparrow, he proceeds to abolish trial by combat. There goes Cersei’s (and Loras Tyrell’s) chances of innocence it seems. (More importantly, there goes Cleganebowl.) As Cersei internally crumbles once again, Qyburn whispers into her ear. Apparently, his little birds have reported something that could be to both of their likings.
“Is it a rumour,” asks Cersei. “Or something more?”
“More,” says Qyburn. “Much more.”
Is Cersei about to fulfil her wish to burn Kingslanding to the ground? It’s the first thing that comes to mind, though we will have to wait and see.
The last visit to be made this week is a return jaunt to Rivrrun, where Jamie (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is still holding it out with The Blackfish (Clive Russell). Both are still refusing to budge, it seems, when Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Pod arrive in the camp on behalf of Sansa to converse with her uncle. She tells Jamie that she intends to convince The Blackfish to go with her up north in order to aid his eldest niece in taking Winterfell from the Boltons. She also tries to return to him his sword as she has now completed her promise to Catelyn Stark to rescue her daughter (everyone believes that Arya is dead). Jamie refuses, and the Blackfish doesn’t bite. The honourable Brienne doesn’t take failure well.
Jamie has one trump card it seems: Edmure. He cajoles the Tully and convinces him to return to the castle and order his men to lay down their arms, in order to save his child whom he has never met. Both comply, and the Lannisters move in, but the Blackfish would rather go down fighting than surrender to the Lannisters. He ships Brienne and Pod upstream before meeting an honourable end, and as the pair row north in escape, Jamie spots them and waves. It is an odd relationship, that of Jamie and Brienne, one that is of mutual fondness and respect, yet seems doomed to end sombrely.
So yes, I slow week, but a vital one. Sometimes misguided – e.g. Arya’s epic healing skills, her total 180° and The Blackfish being snuffed (he’s still living in the books, hell, he wasn’t even at the Red Wedding!).
Where Arya go now that a girl is someone again? Will Daenerys end her conflict with the Masters once and for all? And where is the Hound headed?
Over and out for now!