TV Review: ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 6 Episode 8: “No One”
****WARNING!!!! MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW****!!!!
Synopsis: Arya’s fate is learned. The Hound’s vengeance takes an unexpected turn. Meeren’s peace is threatened by the wise masters. King Tommen makes a devastating proclamation affecting Cersei’s fate. Brienne and Pod arrive at Riverrun as the siege enters its endgame.
Review: Schemes within schemes, plots within plots, moves and counter-moves. Game of Thrones attracts a lot of viewers due to the “tits and dragons” (as Ian McShane, last week’s Septon Ray said) and violence. That’s all well and good, however it’s the intrigue, the game itself, that keeps this juggernaut of a show going. And we got a lot of it this week.
As suspected by the end of last week’s episode, it didn’t take long for The Hound to hunt down some of the members who slaughtered Septon Ray’s people. Nothing like a little ax murder to kick off the show! Seriously though I love that Sandor Clegane is back if for nothing other than his dark humor. ” ‘Fuck you’ that’s all you’ve got?” “Uhhh…cunt!” “You’re shit at dying, you know that?” Oh and of course, “I prefer chicken.” Brilliant stuff there. It’s interesting that Clegane has come full circle. The Brotherhood Without Banners wanted him dead only a few years ago. Now they offer him a chance to ride North and fight. Perhaps The Hound can’t deny that he’s a warrior, a killer, but maybe he can put that skill towards the good this time. I don’t think he’s necessarily looking for salvation, just if he really has it in him to change.
Even when The Mountain and The Hound are apart, they just can’t help but compete with one another. After seven of the Faith Militant led by Lancel Lannister command Queen Cersei to accompany them, she answers through Ser Gregor. Who promptly goes Mortal Combat and rips a dude’s head off. Unfortunately, Cersei will not have The Mountain’s talents at her disposal at a Trial By Combat. Because there isn’t going to be one. In another deft move by the High Sparrow, King Tommen bans Trial By Combat, meaning Cersei will be tried by Seven Septons. For anyone hoping for the “Clegane Bowl,” your dreams have been dashed. With each passing day the High Sparrow is cutting more and more strings between Cersei and Tommen, while he attaches new ones between himself and the King. It’s going to take a miracle to save Cersei now.
Jamie may or may not be that miracle. Brienne finally arrives with Pod (who has a really funny interaction with Bronn) and persuades Jamie to allow Brienne into the castle to treat with The Blackfish. Unfortunately Brienne’s attempt fails miserably as Brynden Tully outright refuses. The scene between Jamie and Brienne is quite intriguing, as Jamie probably didn’t expect to ever see Brienne again when last they parted.. He refuses to take back Brienne’s sword, perhaps recognizing that Oathkeeper is now being wielded by a better person, a more noble person. There’s a mutual respect between Jamie and Brienne even when she says she may have to kill him.
Brienne and Jamie’s scene becomes even more significant when juxtaposed with Edmure and Jamie’s interaction. Edmure feels nothing but disdain for Jamie and all the atrocities he’s committed against the Tullys and the Starks. Yet Jamie points out that most of the actions taken, the blood spilled, all comes back to family. Jamie respected Catelyn because she reminded him of Cersei, at least in the fierce love they each had for their children. It is Jamie’s love for Cersei (which he openly admits to Edmure) that is driving him to get back to King’s Landing. Love in many ways can be an obsession, a dangerous one at that. Just look at Rob Stark. Jamie even remarks to Edmure, “The things we do for love,” which harkens back to the show’s first episode. Jamie said something very similar just before he pushed Bran out of a window. Where with Brienne we saw the goodness, the honor inside Jamie, with Edmure we see the malicious side. He threatens to catapult Edmure’s son into Riverrun. That’s cold-blooded. The threat works as Edmure is let into the castle and promptly surrenders it to Jamie. The Blackfish unfortunately dies in the fighting although Jamie allows Pod and Brienne to escape.
Across the sea, Meereen seems to be stable again, thanks in part to Tyrion’s negotiations and the Red Priestess Kinvara’s actions. It was a little bittersweet to see Tyrion and Varys part. Varys is going on some mysterious expedition to drum up support in Westeros. I think the logical people would be the Dornish. Attacking King’s Landing from the South and the East would be quite formidable. Unfortunately for Tyrion, he should have listened to Grey Worm and Missandei. (Speaking of, can we stop with their little romance already? It’s boring and not adding anything to the story. That scene where the three were making jokes and drinking was painful.) The Wise Masters attack Meereen with their ships. Apparently, seven more years of slavery isn’t enough for them. They want it all. Fortunately for Meereen, Dany strides in LIKE A BOSS with Drogon to save the day. At least presumably. Pretty sure he’s taking out most of the masters. Although, if they can find a way not to destroy the ships that would work to Dany’s advantage.
Arya meanwhile needs every advantage she can get. Fortunately she finds it in the arms of Lady Crane who finds Arya gut wounded and close to death. Lady Crane apparently has a knack for attracting bad men and used to stab them often…and then patch them up. Look I know this is a fantasy show but this is a bit of a big deus ex machina here, and to be quite honest Arya recovered fairly quickly from a pretty serious stomach wound. However, I can forgive that if only because her confrontation with the Waif was so awesome. After the Waif kills Lady Crane, Arya brilliantly lures the Waif down to her hidey hole, plunges them in darkness, and kills the Waif. She then brings the Waif’s face back to the House of Black and White and confronts Jaqen H’ghar. He’s actually pleased by the outcome. In some ways Jaqen was rooting for her all along. Yet when he declares she’s finally become No One (i.e. acquired enough skill to become a Faceless Man) Arya chooses not to be No One. She boldly proclaims, I am Arya Stark and I’m going home. So now she has all the skills of a Faceless Man, the training of a Water Dancer, and the warrior blood of a Stark flowing in her veins. You better get your popcorn ready. It’s about to get real up in Westeros.
Next week’s episode, “Battle of Bastards” promises to be up there with the Battle of Blackwater and the battle at Castle Black. In fact judging by the preview it looks like, “Battle of Bastards” will be just like episode nine of season four, “The Watchers on the Wall,” where the action stayed in one locale the whole episode. We are finally going to see the battle to take back Winterfell and whether or not Ramsay Bolton will die. Will Littlefinger arrive with the Knights of the Vale in time? Will he come at all? The North hangs in the balance.
And Winter is Coming.
“No One” rates: 8/10 Severed Ned Heads.
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