“No One” was one of the weaker episodes of Game of Thrones sixth season, with few surprises and some outright perplexing story choices that left this one feeling diminished, especially since it is one of the final episodes of the year.
For simplicity’s sake, these reviews will be formatted thus: we start in the furthest north and go south – covering the Wall, the North, King’s Landing and the rest of the Seven Kingdoms – and then east, to the Free Cities of Essos and finally, the Dothraki Sea and Slaver’s Bay.The Riverlands: Jaime, the Tullys/Freys, Brienne, the Hound
In the Riverlands, two of the three Brotherhood members who pillaged the community last week are giving two younger one a lesson in dancing that quickly becomes a lesson in sexual abuse. That is, until the Hound goes apeshit on the group, brutally killing them all before demanding the final one’s location (known as Lem Lemoncloak), The final member gives only cuss words. “You’re shit at dying, you know that?” The Hound asks before finishing the task.
As a fan of the good-natured version of the Brotherhood Without Banners, I’m glad the three bandits who slaughtered Brother Ray’s commune last week turned out to be rogue members. The Hound later comes upon Lem but he’s already a captive of the real Brotherhood’s leader Beric and his Red Priest Thoros (now rocking a millennial man-bun), the first time we’ve seen them since Season 3. The two remain on the Tyrion/Varys, Jaime/Brienne friendship spectrum i.e. they actually respect each other. It’s a flavor that can go missing for stretches on the show so its nice for a dose of that and continuity. They’re so nice they allow the Hound to personally hang two of the rogues including Lem while sternly preventing the Hound from indulging his nastier instincts.
As if they were spying last week, they pick up where Ray left off slowly rotating the Hound’s redemption cycle. The Brotherhood has felt the winds of winter approaching and believe the Red God is preparing them for a battle. Beric thinks this is the reason he gave Thoros the power to resurrect him going on six times. By the end, the man they sought to execute the last time they met seems poised to actually join them properly defending the smallfolk. It’s a remarkably earned transition in the two episodes Rory McCann’s been back.
Elsewhere in the Riverlands, Brienne and Podrick shows up at the Riverrun siege. While Brienne goes to meet with Jaime, we get a different but no lesser reunion between Podrick and Bronn, filled with filthy talk about Brienne, whether Pod wants to sleep with her, whether Jaime does etc. The brodown transitions naturally to wrestling match, Bronn-style. The knighted sellsword gives Pod some impromptu lessons in honorless fighting, the form that Bronn has made an artform.
Jaime marvels at Brienne’s tale of what’s occurred since their last meeting in Season 4, episode 4 “Oathkeeper” as well as her new role as Sansa’s bodyguard. Her blunt honesty clashes with Jaime’s identity crisis as a knight and as a Lannister. After their talk of who is honor-bound to do what, given the atrocities that have piled up, Brienne proposes he allow her into Riverrun to somehow smooth over the aforementioned atrocities. She offers the Valyrian sword Oathkeeper back to Jaime but he refuses, saying it is hers forever and reminding their mutual respect still stands, regardless of their personal allegiances.
Inside Riverrun, Brienne does her best at convincing the Blackfish but he’s as stubborn with her as he was with Jaime. Even Sansa’s letter requesting his aid in retaking Winterfell does not sway him. Brienne dejectedly tells Podrick to send a letter to Sansa, telling her of her failure.
Jaime later visits Edmure Tully and poor Tobias Menzies finally gets to get a word in, most of them spent cutting through Jaime’s metaphorical armor. The Lannister heir rhetorically retaliates, threatening Edmure of his hitherto-unmentioned son (conceived during the Red Wedding no less) with death as long as his uncle keeps Riverrun.
In a gambit, he does for Edmure Tully what Catelyn Tully did for him: he releases him. He sends Edmure to the castle, causing somewhat of a constitutional crisis on the ramparts as the Blackfish sees through the ploy but the loyal Tully soldiers feel honor-bound to obey their rightful liege lord. They let him in and he immediately commands the castle yield and coldly orders the Blackfish arrested. Is he a coward? Or a broken man, put in an impossible situation? I lean coward, but would love to hear your thoughts.
Fortunately, Blackfish escaped with Brienne and Pod to a boat underground! Unfortunately, the show spits on the character and Brienne by having the stubborn elder Tully refuse to leave his family home. He dies off-screen(!) in a senseless sacrifice. Man, I thought they wasted Barristan Selmy last season but I had no idea how badly they intended the pin and peg Blackfish like he’s a rotisserie chicken.
King’s Landing: Cersei, the Tyrells, the Sparrows
Lancel shows up for Cersei, saying the High Sparrow has requested her presence. I know what you’re thinking because I’ve been thinking it all week: “Finally we see FrankenMountain off the leash!” Sure enough, he gets between them, we get the amazing “I choose violence” quote and then . . . The Mountain chokes out a sparrow and beheads him with his bare hands in front of Lancel and the others. Kinda disappointing result for such a badass boast. I was expecting a gore extravaganza.
Like all of Cersei’s move, this one backfires. The High Sparrow (off-screen this episode), alerted to Cersei’s monstrous defender, convinces Tommen to outlaw trials-by-combat. Both Cersei and Loras Tyrell’s trials will be in front of seven septons as it was when the Faith previously dominated. Without looking at his mother, the young king leaves the throne room after the announcement, though he surely knows on some level he has eliminated his mother’s last chance to avoid a less-than-pleasant fate at the hands of the Faith.
We did not leave Arya in a good place last week as the above photo shows but we start this week in Braavos not with her, but Lady Crane delivering another soulful performance as Cersei in The Bloody Hand . . . until she discovers the exsanguinated Arya collapsed backstage.
Apparently, both her wounds were minor and Crane a good medic because by night, Arya’s apparently recovered. Crane pleads for Arya to join the theater troupe in Pentos. But Arya knows the Waif will never stop hunting her so instead, she wonders about going west of Westeros, to the edge of the Known World. Perhaps its a fanciful notion but one that is very appealing. Imagine a pirate/adventurer Arya?
The Waif interrupts any chance of that, showing up to murder Lady Crane before villainously taunting Arya, giving her the requisite time to escape through the window. Arya runs like someone who either wasn’t stabbed a dozen times last week or got a Senzu bean from Lady Crane. She wanders through a crowded sauna, a crowded marketplace (jeez, how bout an UNcrowded place) until reality (aka her wounds) catch up with her.
The Waif follows the Stark girl’s blood trail down the backalleys of Braavos into the dark room that Arya never should have left in the first place. Cornered, it appears over. The weakened Arya picks up Needle and destroys the room’s lone candle, plunging the room into darkness.
Back at the House of Black and White, Jaqen (was this guy and the Waif the only Faceless in this place?) spots a blood trail he follows to their Hall of Faces. In another off-screen event(!!!), the wounded Arya managed to kill and face-scalp the Waif, placed among the others in the hall. Jaqen isn’t angry, even when Arya shows up with a sword to his heart. Far from it; he’s proud. She officially reclaims his identity, his nod ensures her safe travel and she strides out the assassin guild. Uh, that’s all folks?
Meereen: Tyrion & Varys
While Kinvara’s priests spread the good word of the Dragon Queen, Tyrion bids Varys farewell on a special, undisclosed mission to Westeros, supposedly for “allies and ships.” If only they knew the two Greyjoy fleets delivering themselves as they speak. Nonetheless, the send off is sweet. The friendship between the two characters is one of the few points of sincerity in the show, funny considering their status as schemers and liars.
Dinklage gets another delicious scene with Grey Worm and Missandei he can knock out of park that does no plot progression whatsoever and just focuses on developing the interplay and relationships of these three Dany acolytes. Fortunately, as with many Game of Thrones scenes, this one is extremely well-written and genuinely hilarious. Which means it has to be interrupted by the worst possible thing: the Masters’ fleet arrive to take Meereen back by force. Tyrion’s peace plot has backfired in the worst possible way (although it yields a truly spectacular shot of the ships catapulting flaming boulders into the city).
In the pyramid, Tyrion acknowledges his failure and defers to Grey Worm for the city’s defense. But their dire situation may have gotten substantially less as a rumbling atop the pyramid signals not more flaming boulders, but flaming dragons: Daenerys Targaryen has returned.
MISSING THIS WEEK:
- No Bran, Meera or sorta-dead Uncle Benjen
- No Jon, Sansa, Davos, Melisandre
- No Littlefinger or Ramsay
- No Greyjoys
- No Sam, Gilly or “Little Sam”
Here’s the preview for the ninth episode “Battle of the Bastards.” No synopsis has been released, but expect this one to follow in the tradition of fellow battle episodes “Blackwater” and “The Watchers on the Wall” as a bottle episode set entirely in the North.