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.