Back we go to the only piece of theatre available in Westeros! We’re about 5 seconds in and I already feel like I could have done without this. How nice to see that Lady Crane (who Arya previously declined to murder) has taken the little Stark’s acting advice and greatly improved her Joffrey death scene! Thankfully there is a point to all this and that point is: Arya is hiding in Lady Crane’s wardrobe. I can’t be the only one that found this rather disappointing? Not so much the wardrobe, more the fact that it turns out Arya really was just being that foolish, over-confident and swaggery last week. I was hoping it would be revealed that she had some great plan or that it wasn’t actually Arya we saw getting stabbed by the Waif. But no. Oh well.
Moving on, it briefly appears that things are looking up in Meereen: the red priestesses are doing a stellar job of spreading positive Daenarys propaganda around the city and Varys has a plan! It’s a simple plan – go to Westeros, get ships. I did yell at the screen ‘Don’t bother mate, there’s a ridiculous number of Iron-born racing each other to bring you as many ships as you could ever need’ but he didn’t hear me. Unfortunately this period of calm is fairly short as, later in the episode, the slave masters return (with their ships) to claim what they believe belongs to them. Ooh, not good. However, this news is preceded by a hilarious scene in which Tyrion continues trying to befriend Missandei and Grey Worm. Since about 80% of my own interactions with other humans are similarly awkward, I can really relate to Tyrion in these moments. I loved his awful Stark accent, loved his strangled fake laugh after Missandei’s joke, loved Grey Worm’s disdainful ‘That was the worst joke I’ve ever heard’ and finally really loved the fact that Grey Worm was just pretending not to know what jokes were. Brilliant. But, as I said, sadly ruined by Master-attack. Let’s see how that turns out…
Speaking of things I really enjoyed: BRIENNE AND JAIME. From the moment she spotted him in the distance I knew it was going to be good. And then such an intense moment of actual reunion – balanced amusingly by Bronn’s speculation as to whether Pod ‘thinks they’re fucking’ (or have, or will, or how he would, or how Pod should, etc, etc. It clearly occupies his mind a lot. He’s not alone in that.) Anyway, as I was saying: they weren’t fulfilling Bronn’s fantasies, but they were filling the tent with deep, deep unspoken tension. Sadly I couldn’t work up even a moment of belief that Brienne’s plan, though obviously the best option, would ever work. The Blackfish is way, way too stubborn for that!
Over in King’s Landing Cersei is busy choosing the path of violence and damn, does she mean violence. At least someone is doing something about the blasted faith militant. For me this is a storyline that really has some ups and downs. On one hand it’s a bit different from anything else going on and has plenty of potential – the question of what happens when people like this gain power is an interesting one, after all, especially now they’ve sucked King Tommen in too. But on the other hand, every single one of them is so irritating to watch (just like Ramsay’s torture of Theon previously. I get it, it’s repulsive, but week after week it’s also boring!), and I genuinely think this story is just being dragged out for far too long. Get on to the good stuff!
There are three main things to come out of the King’s Landing scenes this week (not counting Kevan Lannister sassing Cersei by sending her off to the gallery): 1. Cersei and Loras both have court dates. 2. Trial by combat is now banned which is unfortunate for Cersei as that was kinda her sure-fire way to win and 3. There is a mysterious something which may have been a rumour but actually is totally true and known about now by Cersei and Qyburn. I’d like to place my bet now that this something is the Mad King’s secret underground stash of wildfire. I’m not sure why it wouldn’t have been found before and this is total conjecture and guesswork but hey, it’s where my mind went!
Let’s get back to Riverrun now where, predictably, the Blackfish doesn’t think much of Brienne’s plan and even an impassioned letter from his great-niece Sansa doesn’t help. Brienne: you tried. It’s no shock that Jaime is busy with his own plan of course, which involves a little chat with Edmure Tully about the latter’s defenceless baby son. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau did a great job in this episode –you can see in Jaime’s scenes with Brienne that something has changed in him since they last met, there is now something more Lannister, something more influenced by Cersei, in his actions and in the way he speaks. Jaime is a truly conflicted man: Edmure hits the nail on the head when he asks how Jaime can possibly think of himself as a decent person. Does Jaime even think this anymore? Does he hope for it? Or is what he says true and he has given up on everything in the world except Cersei? The words he is saying to Edmure make him sound like an awful person but the result of those words, as we later see, is a peaceful end to what could have been a horrendously bloody conflict.
The multiple mentions of ‘Kingslayer’ are no accident, surely. Are they there to remind us of the reason Jaime felt compelled to kill the king (never forget the wildfire stash!)? Could they also be there to remind us that at the very centre of this character is a man who is despised for the one deed that he sees as his greatest moment? I think Jaime has a very interesting journey still ahead of him…
Luckily for everyone, the ‘set Edmure free after taunting him a lot and hope that he really does surrender’ plan works like a dream – well ok, everyone except the Blackfish. Who is now dead. He goes down with honour and a really cute comment about embarrassing himself in a swordfight. Oh Brynden, you’ll be missed!
Elsewhere in Westeros, the Hound is tracking down the men that killed his friends (oh Brother Ray, we hardly knew ye). After a brief (character-establishing?) moment of ribaldry, the Hound storms their camp and dispatches them as only a Clegane can. He also manages to track down their leader who is already in a sticky situation – and hey, it’s Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr, last seen repeatedly dying and reviving the dead respectively. No one seems overly surprised to see each other (people in Westeros often turn up at just the right moment or in the just the right place. It’s amazing – tv cliché or evidence of the gods in control?! You decide!)
Religion, it seems, is really not ready to let go of the younger Clegane. After being graciously allowed to do the deed on two of the three men he was after, the Hound stops awhile with the Brotherhood who also seem to believe in the bigger picture. As reluctant as he is, will the Hound find himself getting caught up in this idea? Stranger things have happened.
Stranger things are currently happening actually, in Arya’s life. Lady Crane is murdered by the bloody annoying Waif and Arya has to make yet another quick getaway. I’d just like to say it’s really unfair of the Waif to moan about Arya not doing her job when she totally failed in her own job last week – i.e. actually killing Arya. I wouldn’t get too smug if I were you, girl. Based on last week’s idiocy, I did slightly fear that Arya was leaving that really obvious trail of blood by accident – but no! Three cheers for Needle! Three more cheers for no more Waif (and ew for the fact that Arya actually cut her face off) and a final three cheers for that storyline hopefully, finally being done with.
Oh and last but not least, Daenerys arrives at a great moment to make a really dramatic entrance courtesy of Drogon. I don’t think she’s going to be very happy about what’s going on…
Final grade: C – too much of this episode dragged and felt like pure set-up for the final episodes. I know that there has to be set-up, I just want these in-between episodes to have some real substance of their own!
- It pains me how dim Tommen is. Ok, trial by combat is a pretty crap justice system. But trial by seven blatantly-going-to-be-corrupt septons is better? Really?
- It pains me in totally different way how much I wanted Jaime and Brienne to kiss. In any other show… Sniff!
- But oh he let her go! Her saw her and Pod sailing away and they waved at each other! Ok, fangirl moment over. Ugh.
- Sometimes I think the writers think they’re doing character development when what I think they’re doing is wasting time. I’m all-in for genuine character development, I’m so not in for random men being boringly bawdy and repetition of stuff we know.