A disconcerting start to tonight’s episode as we open on a happy valley full of people doing some pleasant carpentry. Very suspicious. So suspicious in fact, that I didn’t even slightly guess at who was going to show up there! But there he was: a very much alive Hound, merrily wood-chopping in happy hippy land and hanging out with Ian McShane, AKA Brother Ray. How nice! But still suspicious.
Meanwhile, Margaery is still hanging out in the Sparrow’s favourite room ever (did that set cost a lot to build? And now they’re just trying to get their money’s worth? I’m sick of the sight of that bloody stone bench). Anyway, I’m still bored by the Sparrow, but mercifully this was a relatively short scene, serving the purpose of highlighting the danger Olenna is currently in, unless she makes a swift exit.
Speaking of Olenna, I couldn’t believe she was convinced that Margaery was sincere in her ‘conversion’ – come on Queen of Thorns, give your granddaughter a little more credit! Thankfully Margaery was able to slip her a nice drawing of a rose and prove her loyalty to House Tyrell (and silence any watching doubters too!) I loved Natalie Dormer’s acting in this scene, particularly her face as she hugs her grandmother – Margaery is a woman who wears a mask of absolute composure at all times, and so it was quite heart-tugging to see her true emotions surface before she pushed them back below the surface.
Another happy result of this was the scene between Cersei and Olenna. As Olenna put very clearly, it really is important to remember that that moron Cersei is the whole reason these religious lunatics have any power in King’s Landing anyway. Totally Cersei’s fault (well, pretty much). I’m going to let that continue to fuel my hate for her. And yes, Olenna, I suspect that Cersei may very well be the literal worst person you’ve ever met (if not, definitely second behind Joffrey).
This episode features a fair amount of planning and manoeuvring, and while this isn’t the most exciting thing to watch, it sure does set up a lot for the last three episodes! Jon and Sansa are travelling by some sort of teleport and hopping all over the north to find support. Although it’s lacking from House Glover (eh, they were boring anyway: their name is Glover, their sigil is some sort of glove, no imagination), it’s in full swing from House Mormont – after a bit of convincing from Davos, anyway (always good with children, that guy). I thought Lyanna Mormont was wonderful and it was lovely to finally see the girl who wrote that defiant letter to Stannis so long ago. Full credit to actor Bella Ramsey for her scene this week and I hope we see more of her. Lyanna was basically the anti-Robyn Arryn, if you’re going to have a child in power you want it to be a child like this! Also in the Stark’s corner are a lot of Wildings and approximately 12 random drunk blokes. So good luck with that.
Also moving with the speed of light this week are Yara and Theon Greyjoy, who have apparently already arrived in Volantis. You know, it was really nice to see Yara cheerful for once, having a nice time, relaxing. Well, apart from her short stint as world’s most messed-up therapist. Somehow her rough and ready approach seemed to work on Theon, leaving them both ready to target a Targaryen (please let this happen!)
In other news, Jaime is stomping around being commanding in the Riverlands. Nice to see Bron back at his side and even nicer to enjoy his comical sneering at the worst siege ever – clearly not a strong skill on the Frey side. As much as I enjoy Jaime and his commanding times, I just want them all to stop and go home. Let the Blackfish have the flaming castle, no need for anyone to die! Obviously this is not an option, nor is any sort of peaceful surrender. I wonder what that’s building up to…
We also have time this episode for a few moments with Arya who is striding around like she owns the place and not like someone who has just broken bonds with a group of incredibly sneaky assassins. She’s so ludicrously relaxed that it’s made me quite like the theory going around that this was actually Jaquen wearing Arya’s face. It could be? Maybe? Either way, Arya really should have seen that old woman coming; it was the most suspect entrance I’ve ever seen. Sadly she’s in a place where no one could care less if you wander the streets leaking blood. Oh Arya. Please escape, please have a more interesting storyline from now on!
There was a pretty strong theme of vengeance running through this week’s episode – from Yara using it to motivate Theon, to the Starks desperate rallying of troops, to the Lannister/Frey plan to wrench back control of Riverrun and more! But nowhere was it more bluntly shown than in the closing scenes at happy hippy valley. After a great speech from Brother Ray about the importance of doing good in the world, not seeking revenge but choosing to life a better life, sadly the whole place came tumbling down due to the arrival of the Brotherhood Without Banners. Oh how times change – originally the Brotherhood were a group of knights sent by Ned Stark to protect the folk of the Riverlands from extortion and violence, but now this guerrilla fighting group have become the exact thing they banded together to stop. And once again the Hound is in the middle of it all. Missing the slaughter of Ray and his chill homies, the Hound returns to camp to find nothing but the mangled bodies of the first people to be genuinely nice to him in a very long time. Time for some Clegane vengeance I reckon…
Final episode grade: B
- For a brief moment in hippy land, I did start to wonder whether Gendry was there too. Whether it was some sort of Church of Abandoned Characters. I mean, ok, at one point I also thought it might be a kinda lumberjack heaven. Tragically not.
- Bear Island looked beautiful, thus allowing me to finally answer the vital question: ‘if you were going on holiday to Westeros, where would you go?’
- So there’s a giant with the Wildlings and nobody ever talks about that. Where are all the other giants? Are they are a separate race? Who are these people? Maybe it’s considered rude to ask but I wish someone would!
- I’m trying to imagine how bored I would be stuck in a castle under siege for TWO WHOLE YEARS. I can’t. It’s really crap. Also that Blackfish needs to take a step back and stop sassing Jaime!