‘Game of Thrones’ killed (or allegedly killed) another major character off-screen this week. How long do you guess it will be before he turns up again?
Sorry, that’s just a pet peeve of mine with this season. The writers have made it pretty clear that character deaths cannot be trusted, and doubly so if we don’t actually see the character die on-camera. (Even if we do, that doesn’t necessarily mean much anymore.)
We’ll start with that storyline:
Under orders from Sansa to secure an alliance with The Blackfish, Brienne and Podrick ride to Riverrun and see the castle under siege by the combined Frey and Lannister armies. They’re approached by soldiers who demand to know their names and purpose. Brienne announces herself and asks to speak with Jaime Lannister (not The Blackfish). She says that she has his sword.
As he waits outside, Podrick is greeted by Bronn, who teases him about being amazed he’s still alive. Hilariously, Bronn pesters poor Podrick to speculate whether he thinks Jaime and Brienne are fucking inside the command tent.
They aren’t, though Jaime is indeed very pleased to see Brienne. He respects her greatly. Brienne tells him that her mission is to recruit The Blackfish to assist Sansa in taking back Winterfell. She wants to barter a deal between Jaime and The Blackfish. If she can convince The Blackfish to turn over the castle peacefully, she wants Jaime to allow him and his army to leave with her. Jaime doubts that she’ll have any luck at this, but agrees to let her try.
Brienne offers Jaime back his sword, saying that it accomplished the purpose she needed it for (rescuing Sansa). Jaime refuses to take it. He tells Brienne that the sword belongs to her. Before she leaves, Brienne warns Jaime that if the present situation should escalate to violence, she is obligated to side with The Blackfish, even if that means fighting Jaime himself. He would expect no less.
Brienne is allowed inside the castle to speak to The Blackfish. As Jaime predicted, she finds him to be incredibly stubborn. Though she’s just as pig-headed in return and eventually gets him to acknowledge her as an equal, she can’t convince him to give up his family’s home. Brienne tells Podrick to find a maester, because she needs to send a raven to Sansa admitting that her mission is a failure.
As night falls, Jaime speaks with the captive Edmure and offers to let him see the baby son he’s never met. (Impressively, the child was conceived on the night of the Red Wedding. Imagine the performance anxiety Edmure must have been under!) Edmure spits in Jaime’s face and asks how he lives with himself considering all the evil he’s done. Jaime compares his sister Cersei to Edmure’s sister Catelyn, which Edmure finds offensive. Jaime then openly admits to being in love with Cersei and says he will do absolutely anything to get back to her as soon as possible. If he has to kill Edmure’s son and every other member of the Tully family to wrap up this siege, he has no compunctions about doing that.
A bit later, Edmure walks alone up to the castle’s drawbridge and demands entry. Recognizing that this is an obvious trap, The Blackfish refuses to let him in. However, this causes a conflict with the soldiers in the castle, who have pledged their loyalty to the Lord of Riverrun, and that’s currently Edmure. Obligated to follow his orders, they open the drawbridge against The Blackfish’s objections. As soon as he steps inside, Edmure’s first command is that the army surrender and open all the castle’s gates. He also orders that The Blackfish be arrested and turned over to the Freys.
As the Frey army marches into the castle, The Blackfish helps Brienne and Podrick escape through a secret exit. Brienne begs him to come with them, but he’d rather stay and die fighting for his home.
The castle taken quickly and relatively easily, Jaime stands at the battlement surveying the land. A soldier informs him that The Blackfish was killed, though we don’t get to see the legendary fighter go down. As Jaime looks out, he spots Brienne and Podrick in a boat rowing downriver away from the castle. He waves and lets them go.
Elsewhere in the Riverlands
The Hound takes his revenge for the murders of the Septon and the religious commune he was living with. He finds and slaughters four of the men from the Brotherhood Without Banners who participated in the raid. As he’s working on the last one, he demands to know where the rest of the group is. When the man spits out a weak insult, The Hound tells him he can do better for his last words. The man stammers out another epithet. The Hound declares, “You’re shit at dying, you know that?” and finishes him off.
Sometime later, The Hound comes across Beric Dondarrion, the oft-resurrected leader of the Brotherhood Without Banners (last seen in Season 3). He has already strung up three of the men from the raid to be hanged for their actions, which he did not sanction. The Hound wants to kill them himself. He and Beric wind up negotiating for how many The Hound can kill and how he can do it. (He wants to use his axe and make them suffer, but Beric insists that they must hang.) Ultimately, the two of them hang all three men, just as Beric had originally planned. The Hound finds this unsatisfying.
Beric invites The Hound to stay for a meal and tries to recruit him to join the Brotherhood. “You can still help a lot more than you’ve harmed,” he says.
While speaking to Qyburn, Cersei is informed that her religious nutjob cousin Lancel and a group of the Sparrows have entered the Red Keep and are demanding that she come with them. She’s disappointed to realize that her son Tommen granted them access. Cersei refuses to go with them. She tells Lancel to inform the High Sparrow that if he wants to speak with her, he should come to her.
When Lancel threatens violence unless Cersei complies with his orders, The Mountain steps between them. One of the Sparrows foolishly attacks the hulking knight with an axe. The Mountain tears the idiot’s head from his body, ripping out his spine like a ‘Mortal Kombat’ kill move. (Could that ever really happen? I’d think the head would detach from the spine first.) Lancel and the other Sparrows flee. Cersei is pleased. She doesn’t realize she’s just made a huge tactical error in playing her hand too soon.
Later, Cersei marches through a crowd in the throne room, where Tommen will make a royal announcement. She’s annoyed that she wasn’t invited, and more annoyed when told that she can’t stand with her son. She’ll have to watch from the gallery.
Tommen sits on the throne and announces a date for his mother’s trial. Further, he declares that the barbaric ritual of trial by combat is henceforth officially banished. Cersei must stand for judgment on her own.
For all her scheming and manipulating, Cersei continues to underestimate the High Sparrow. Frankly, she should have seen this coming.
As she reels from this blow, Qyburn sidles up to Cersei and informs her that a rumor she asked him to investigate may pay off. Though not specified here, I suspect she may have some leverage over the High Sparrow after all.
His pact with the slave masters holding and the city in a period of recovery, Tyrion is pleased with himself. The Red Priestesses are also preaching the virtues of Daenerys Stormborn’s leadership to the masses as he arranged. Varys, however, remains skeptical about working with religious fanatics. He also tells Tyrion that he has to return to Westeros on a secret mission.
Without Varys to mediate between them, Tyrion has another awkward Small Council meeting with Missandei and Grey Worm. To break the tension (since all seems stable at the moment), he encourages them to have a drink and try to tell jokes. That doesn’t go especially well.
Their meeting is interrupted when an alarm cries out from the city below. A navy armada is heading straight for Meereen. For a moment, I assumed that this must be Yara and Theon coming to make their pact with Daenerys, but Grey Worm instantly recognizes what’s happening. The slave masters have broken the treaty and are coming to take back their property.
The fleet lays siege to the city. Trebuchets fling flaming artillery that sets half the buildings ablaze. A desperate Tyrion wants the Unsullied to mount a defense at the shore (which worked for him at Blackwater), but Grey Worm has had enough of him. He blames Tyrion for his fiasco and bluntly tells him that he knows nothing about military leadership. Tyrion defers to Grey Worm when he says that their best option is to fortify their defenses at the pyramid and make a stand there.
As they talk, they hear a noise from outside the room. An Unsullied goes to check it out. Suddenly, he and the other Unsullied kneel. Tyrion is shocked to see Daenerys walk into the room, obviously having flown in on her dragon. I imagine she’s disappointed with him.
In the latest production of her play, the actress Lady Crane makes the changes to her dialogue that Arya had suggested, and gives such a moving performance that she brings the audience to tears – which is quite an accomplishment considering that she’s playing one of the most hated women in the world. When she goes backstage afterwards, she finds the injured Arya in her dressing room, bleeding profusely. The girl has no one else to go to for help.
Lady Crane patches up Arya’s wounds, and explains that she has experience with such things. When Arya asks what happened to the young actress who wanted her dead, Crane implies that she fucked up the girl’s face pretty badly and she’ll never act again. The woman has a bit of a temper.
Crane invites Arya to join their acting troupe and come with her on their next stop to Pentos. Arya says that she actually wants to travel west of Westeros, to the edge of the world, and see what’s there. Crane gives her a drug to help her sleep.
Arya wakes up later to a loud crashing sound. She climbs out of bed and finds Lady Crane murdered, brutally. The Waif stands at the door and chastises Arya for making her do it the hard way. Arya runs and the Waif chases after her through the city. As if she weren’t already in enough pain from her stabbing injuries, Arya falls down a long set of stairs. Nonetheless, she pulls herself up and continues to flee, leaving a trail of blood behind her.
The Waif follows her trail, growing more arrogant by the step. It doesn’t occur to her that Arya might be leading her into a trap. She finds the girl cowering in a dark hovel, illuminated only by a single candle. Arya stands, her sword Needle clutched in one quivering hand. The Waif asks how many times they need to go through this. Arya has never beaten her in a confrontation, and surely stands no chance in her current state.
Then Arya uses Needle to knock out the candle, plunging the room into darkness. Oh shit…
At the House of Black and White, Jaqen finds another trail of blood on the floor. It leads him to find the Waif’s face mounted on the wall with all the other masks. Arya reveals herself behind him. Jaqen is actually pleased with her. This was all some sort of twisted test. He declares: “Finally, a girl is No One.” But Arya doesn’t want to be No One any longer. She proudly proclaims that her name is Arya Stark and she’s going home.
There’s no way The Blackfish is really dead. I don’t buy that for a second. Fool me once, ‘Game of Thrones’…
I also feel uneasy at the way that Arya running and jumping around so soon after sustaining a major traumatic abdominal injury reminds me of a particularly ridiculous scene in the idiotic movie ‘Prometheus’.
This episode has a few big plot developments. Namely: Jaime taking Riverrun, Daenerys’ return to Meereen, and the conclusion of Arya’s Braavos adventure. However, all of these storylines felt like timewasters and distractions from the main narrative. Ultimately, the only purpose they really served was to sideline some major characters so that they wouldn’t be around to help other characters. Hopefully, we can get back on track after this.
Despite my impatience with the show, I must admit that this episode is enlivened by some terrific character work in all of its storylines. At key moments, this is the funniest episode in quite a while. At others, it has real emotional impact. Jaime’s speech to Edmure about what he’d do for Cersei is shockingly heartfelt.