Wednesday, June 15, 2016

6.08 No One

Heads popping off, axes in the chest, virgins getting drunk, and people escaping quietly by boat. No, it's not the annual Thanksgiving gathering at Uncle Herman's, it's this week's Game of Thrones! As always, I'm joined by a man who is someone, Christopher Lockett, as we discuss this week's shenanigans in Westeros and abroad. And this week, I'm going to let Chris begin. 

Christopher: We begin with yet another theatrical retread of the Purple Wedding, this time focusing on Lady Crane’s portrayal of Cersei’s grief over Joffrey’s death. Much of what we have seen of this play has been broad and crude, with a reliance on fart jokes and highly stylized acting, and a great deal of mugging for the audience. But “Cersei’s” speech is much closer of what modern audiences expect of a stage play: though the speech is written in verse, and declamatory in delivery, Lady Crane nevertheless brings a measure of naturalism to her performance that conveys a palpable sense of grief and brings much of the audience to tears. 

The fact that we have now seen segments of this play several times develops several themes, not least of which is a greater sense of how the events in Kings Landing have developed into a narrative divorced from historical reality. The first time we watched the play along with Arya, we felt the profound disconnect: between the play’s presentation of an oafish Ned, murderous Tyrion, noble Joffrey, and maligned Cersei, and our own experience as audience to the “actual” events. There was ironic humour to be found in just how wrong the play gets things, but we were also given pause by the parallel between the play’s broken-telephone storytelling and the truth of Ned’s fight with Ser Arthur Dayne, as witnessed by Bran. And this moment, where Lady Crane channels Cersei’s grief at her son’s death, reminds us of how powerful truths can emerge from fabulation and fiction.

Cersei did not, of course, deliver a moving speech over Joffrey’s body. She was, in fact, all but inarticulate until she started hurling accusations at Tyrion. But her grief was real, and in this moment of stage acting, Lady Crane communicates a mother’s grief well enough to move an audience; and I cannot speak for anyone but myself, but I was impressed with her performance-within-a-performance, not least because it evoked one of Cersei’s few redeeming features. We might laugh when the Queen of Thorns muses about whether or not Cersei is in fact the worst person ever, but we cannot doubt the love she has for her children.

As it turns out, Lady Crane’s eulogy for “Joffrey” effectively sets the key theme for this episode. Coming away from it, I reflected that the title is a red herring: Arya’s erstwhile process of becoming “No One” was all about divesting herself of worldly attachments, of leaving behind name, family, loves and hates, and (apparently) any sense of morality or ethics. But this episode is very much about such attachments, the way in which individuals’ attachments to their very personal wants and needs—whether they be about love of another, the desire for vengeance, a sense of honour, hatred or grievance—drive the affairs of state. Jaime will do anything to get back to Cersei; the Hound thirsts for vengeance, and damn all who stand in his way; the Blackfish will not sacrifice his ancestral home to aid his niece; Brienne will fight Jaime if need be, in order to remain true to her oath to Sansa.

And Arya will desert the Faceless Men at her own peril, to embrace her name and her idiosyncratic sense of self.

I kind of love the fact that, in fleeing the Faceless Men, Arya finds her way to the theatre troupe as a way-station, and that Lady Crane ends up being her saviour, after a fashion. The show has used the theatre and the play (and the players) to good thematic effect this season, not just in terms of highlighting the role played by story and narrative, but also as an interesting parallel to Arya’s apprenticeship with the Faceless Men. The role of an actor is not to become “no one” per se, but to dissolve one’s ego into a role; hence, the best actors are often those who can be literally unrecognizable when playing a part. Acting mimics the way in which the Faceless Men go about their business, and so when Lady Crane tells Arya, “I’ve got a feeling you’d be good at this sort of work,” we’re a little obliged to nod in agreement. (Just as an aside, she adds that they’ll be needing a new actress, as she did something horrible to Bianca; were Arya to join them, would she end up playing Sansa? Weird to think about).

So Arya’s safe—for the moment—and falls asleep in Lady Crane’s care. But on the other side of the sea, the man she left for dead begins his RAMPAAAAAAGE!. What did you think of the Hound once again embracing a wee bit of the ultra-violence, Nikki?

Nikki: You hit the nail on the head with that introduction, Chris. People commented back near the beginning of this season that the episode on Mother’s Day felt like it had been written for Mother’s Day, but to me, this episode spoke even more to that. The best shows, in my mind — Buffy, Angel, Lost, Babylon 5, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, just to name a few — use plot as a device to convey the deep connections people have to one another, and the sacrifices they are willing to make for those people. Interesting that it was Arya who told Lady Crane to change those words in the opening, and it was only on relying on her imagination of Cersei’s connection to Joffrey — connection being the very thing Arya was supposed to divest herself of — that Crane turns the Punch and Judy show into emotional theatre.

But then we have the Hound, the first of the Clegane brothers who has a very busy day this week. Yeesh, I don’t know what Mama Clegane fed these boys for breakfast, but man... As we see the four men sitting and talking like drunken high schoolers, in the background you can see the Hound coming up on them quickly with the axe in his hand, already swinging, and it’s equal parts thrilling and terrifying to watch. He cuts down the first two in no time, before taking out the third and finally burying the axe in the single most painful place one can imagine (I’m a woman, and it still had me crossing my legs and squealing in imagined pain). And before he finishes him off, he allows the man a final word. And when the guy fails at that, Sandor gives him another chance at a final word. And when even that comes from the Al Swearengen Big Book of Final Words, Sandor gives up, kills him with one blow and says, “You’re shit at dying, you know that?”

Oh, how I’ve missed the Hound.

Meanwhile, over in Meereen, Tyrion is patting himself on the back for welcoming the Lord of Light acolytes into Meereen and bringing peace to all. “You made a pact with fanatics,” says Varys. “And it worked,” Tyrion replies.

“Yeah, that’s what your sister said, too,” says all of the viewers at home. Varys tells Tyrion that he’s heading off on a secret mission, but that he’ll return soon. But in order to do so he needs to take leave of Tyrion, because his mission won’t be so secret if he’s seen being accompanied by the most famous dwarf in the city. Tyrion corrects him — “the most famous dwarf in the world” — and in doing so, made me realize that Dinklage himself might actually hold that honour.

And speaking of Lannisters who allowed religious fanatics into the city and perhaps later regretted it, we’re off to the Red Keep with Cersei and that other Clegane brother who’s come back from the dead. What did you think of the Mountain v. Sparrows death match, Chris?

Christopher: As I mentioned last week, something that Game of Thrones is quite good at doing is tweaking the audience’s hierarchy of hatred. Cersei for a long time was one of the bad guys (and in some ways still very much is), and of course we hate the Mountain for crushing Oberyn’s head like a melon—to say nothing of the fact that we’re really creeped out by Frankenmountain. But for many, many episodes now, the Sparrows have been infuriatingly untouchable, and the High Sparrow too smug by half. So when Cersei forces a confrontation and chooses violence, there is a certain guilty satisfaction to it, especially considering that Margaery’s gambit denied us the viewing pleasure of watching the Tyrell soldiers storm the sept.

There is, however, a certain amount of pathos to the scene, as we’re all too aware that Tommen has ceded yet more ground to the High Sparrow, and that with every yard he yields, it takes him that much farther out of Cersei’s orbit and influence. For a scene that ended so bloodily, it began with great stillness: Cersei sitting alone at a table with her back to the door, her ever-present glass of wine at her elbow. The news that members of the Faith Militant have entered the Red Keep means, as Cersei divines, that Tommen continues to allow the High Sparrow to dictate to him. The Red Keep, after all, is the seat of the Crown in King’s Landing: Tommen allowing the Sparrows to enter is a surrender of sovereignty, and the High Sparrow’s newfound arrogance in summoning Cersei speaks to his worrisome influence over the king.

That new influence is not lost on Cersei, nor is the knowledge that if she leaves the Red Keep and enters the Sept of Baelor, she surrenders what little protection she has left. “I choose violence,” she says, but she hasn’t actually been left much of a choice—and backing Cersei into a corner isn’t precisely the wisest of courses, as one poor (now headless) Sparrow learns.

I do hope her moment of smug satisfaction as she watches the Sparrow’s blood run into the drain was worth it. “Please tell his High Holiness he’s always welcome to visit,” she adds as a parting shot in classic Cersei fashion, but her defiance looks to have some negative consequences. Arriving at a royal announcement for which she was apparently left off the email list, she has to suffer the dual humiliation of being relegated to the gallery “with the other ladies of the court,” and seeing the loathed Grand Maester Pycelle whispering in her son’s ear. And then the boom comes down: after consulting with the High Sparrow, Tommen has decided to outlaw trial by combat … Cersei’s one ace in the hole, the means by which she was to avoid the humiliation of being found guilty, by unleashing the Frankenmountain on whatever hapless knight they send against her.

But no more … and the pathos of the earlier tableau is deepened as we watch Cersei watch her son depart the throne room, unable to make eye contact, unable to reach him any longer. All she has left now is the Frankenmountain … and Qyburn, who cryptically tells her that the “rumour” she had mentioned to him was something much more than just a rumour. Is this her new ace in the hole? One of the things I like about this season being off book is that I honestly have no idea. It will be interesting to see what Qyburn has up his voluminous sleeves.

The Cersei scenes are juxtaposed with Brienne’s arrival at the Lannister camp, and her tete-a-tete with Jaime. The serried rows of red tents are not what she had expected or hoped for. “Looks like a siege, m’lady,” observes Podrik. “You have a keen military mind, Pod,” Brienne replies sardonically, as she scans the camp and espies Jaime. This much is a boon: one imagines that if they had arrived before the Lannisters invested the castle, the Freys would not have been very welcoming. She sends word down, and is cordially received, leaving Pod outside to be tormented by Bronn.

This was one of those moments from the trailer for this season that looked more threatening than it was: Pod suddenly grabbed from behind, which had some fans speculating that he might be joining the ranks of the GoT dead. But no … just Bronn, having a bit of fun, and reminding us that, once upon a time, they had both been in the service of Tyrion.

“I never thought you’d find her,” we hear Jaime say while Bronn coaches Pod in the art of dirty fighting. “I just assumed Sansa was dead.” In answer to Brienne’s incredulity about the question, he shrugs, “In my experience, girls like her don’t live that long.” Brienne’s observation—“I don’t think you know many girls like her”—is quite possibly my favourite line from this episode. It is freighted with everything we have seen Sansa endure, and Gwendoline Christie delivers it with a deadpan gravity that similarly articulates both Sansa’s hard-won resilience and Brienne’s respect, admiration, and devotion to her.

Despite the fraught situation without Jaime’s tent, this reunion is a guardedly happy one—though Jaime reminds us that nothing is simple, given that Cersei still wants Sansa’s head on a pike in the belief that she was complicit in Joffrey’s death. But Jaime is not Cersei, and he is quite open to being reasonable. Hence he agrees to Brienne’s proposal that, if she can convince the Blackfish, he will allow the Tully army to march north unmolested to join Jon Snow’s forces.

Oh, what a beautiful dream … how perfect would it have been for everything to have fallen out precisely that way? Jon would get the men he needs, the Tullys would avoid bloodshed, Jaime would fulfill his mission. But as I said in my opening comments, the movement of the pieces on the board are far more subject to the vicissitudes of personal passions, attachments, and desires. The Blackfish will not be moved, not even by the words of his grand-niece who has, as he says, become very much like her mother. “Find a maester,” Brienne tells Pod. “We need to get a raven north to Sansa.” With what message? he asks. “Tell her I failed.”

Not all matters of state are quite so weighty, however … what did you think of Tyrion’s efforts to get Grey Worm and Missandei to drink and tell jokes, Nikki?

Nikki: Poor Tyrion, stuck with the two unfunniest people in Westeros. I couldn’t help but think, I don’t drink, but I think I’ve been to this party. (And I might have been Missandei in that situation...) Like Missandei, I’m a teetotaler, mostly because wine makes me feel funny, and unlike 99% of the population, I don’t like the funny feeling. But according to Tyrion, “That’s how you know it’s working.”

We’ve always looked to Tyrion as the voice of reason and intelligence on the show, the man who, though small in stature, often stands above everyone. And yet it’s in moments like this one we’re reminded he’s the family joke not just because of his size, but because he long ago turned to prostitutes and alcohol as a way to dull the pain of being emotionally abandoned by his father and loathed by his sister, of being the one whose very birth caused the death of his own mother. He has a weakness, and he gives into it time and time again. While he possesses a mind that could win the Iron Throne, he instead dreams of one day having a wine called “The Imp’s Delight” that he would give only to his friends. And once Grey Worm rejects the wine — “it tastes like it’s turned” — and Missandei discovers that the red stuff isn’t so bad after all, Tyrion settles in and asks them both to tell him a joke. So Missandei tries her hand at it, and it’s surprisingly humorous. Grey Worm one-ups her by telling her it’s the worst joke he’s ever heard... and then has to explain the punchline that it’s the only joke he’s ever heard, having been a member of the Unsullied, where jokes are few.

It’s all fun and games until someone screams, and when that happens, Grey Worm runs from the room to find out what’s going on. These scene stands in stark contrast to when we’ll return to this group, where Tyrion — the leader, who urges them to give in to his favourite pastimes — shows that his political cunning isn’t so hot after all, and it’s the terrible joke-tellers who end up taking over and leading them all.

But now back over to Riverrun, where Jaime and Edmure have a chat inside the tent where Eddie is being kept prisoner. I was glad they had a lengthy Tobias Menzies scene; Menzies has become quite a sought-after British actor, and Game of Thrones nabbed him relatively early, so I wondered if we were just going to get quick scenes with him. But the scene between Jaime and Edmure is excellent, and ties in to what you talked about in your opening, Chris. Edmure might be ineffectual as a Tully, as a fighter, even as a man, but despite only being his with his wife for a single night, he cares for her, and the baby that their single night of lovemaking produced. Jaime comes into the tent and acts sympathetic towards Edmure, telling him that he’ll make sure he’s made more comfortable. But Edmure’s having none of it. “Do you understand you’re an evil man?” he asks Jaime. Jaime is smug and aloof throughout this scene, but despite the humour of last week’s fake-out throat-cutting scene, Edmure has been tortured for the past three years while other events have been playing out. His wedding ended with the murder of his sister, nephew, and nephew’s wife and unborn child. He thought he was marrying a rare beauty, only to have her snatched from him as he was thrown into prison. And it was all due to the Lannisters and Boltons aligning with the Freys to get back at the Starks. He asks Jaime how he lives with himself, how he tells himself he’s a decent man.

Jaime tells Edmure that he was once imprisoned by Catelyn, who hit him with a rock. He says that she hated him, but he admired her because she’s a mother, and everything she did was for her children, whom she adored more than anything. And in Catelyn he saw the same devotion he’d always known of his sister, Cersei, who, as you pointed out earlier, Chris, and as we’ve discussed many times in these posts, is unfailingly devoted to her children. She would do anything for them. Lady Crane’s portrayal of Cersei at the outset of this episode was truthful in her devotion to Joffrey, and we know the pain with which she endured the death of Myrcella. Now we’re seeing Tommen going down a rocky path, and the internal struggle Cersei is going through — will she end up betraying the only child she has left? How will she get out of this one?

But it’s in that devotion to one’s children that Jaime comes at Edmure. He knows that Edmure cares about the child he’s never seen, and by mentioning his anger that he’s never gotten to see his son, Edmure accidentally shows his hand. Jaime has also lost his children, and he has one left, but there’s only one person he’s ever been 100% devoted to, and that’s Cersei. And as he says to Edmure, he will slaughter every Tully who ever lived to get back to her, if that’s what he has to do. He threatens Edmure’s child, saying he will strap the baby to a catapult and launch it into Riverrun just to get the Blackfish’s attention. He doesn’t care about filial ties—all he cares about is Cersei.

And that’s when he gives Edmure an offer he can’t refuse. What did you think of Edmure going to the gates as the Lord of Riverrun, Chris? Was that something that was in the books?

Christopher: That was indeed something that happened in A Feast for Crows—right down to the threat to launch Edmure’s child from a catapult. I was wondering how they meant to play this, whether they would sync this narrative up with the novels, or make another departure.

And, well, they’ve mostly been faithful to the text here: Edmure was indeed responsible for negotiating the surrender of Riverrun, though it did not proceed as it does in this episode. Edmure orders the castle’s surrender, but arranges for the Blackfish to make his escape by swimming down the river—something that angers Jaime, as the Blackfish’s freedom is something that could be a problem down the road. Instead, he allows Brienne and Pod to escape (or rather, they make their escape before anyone notices their departure), and Jaime sees them as they row off down the river. Further, the Blackfish ostensibly dies fighting—though given that that happens offscreen, it leaves open the possibility that he also escaped. A possibility, but not a likely one, as it seems improbable that Jaime’s men would lie to him about that, and it would be suspicious if a body could not be produced.

The Riverrun scenes were ultimately more about Jaime and Brienne than they were about Edmure, the Blackfish, or the Tully fortunes. We’ve come a long way from the original Jaime & Brienne roadshow, with her suffering his jibes and mockery with every step, and him the subject of her withering contempt. There is now a deep and mutual respect: Bronn’s idle speculation to Pod on whether or not they were having sex serves as a comic, if crude, contrast to the actual regard they have for each other. Brienne might protest to the Blackfish that Jaime Lannister is not her friend, and it’s entirely likely that she still doesn’t actually like him, but she sees past the simplistic labels he’s been marked with and grasps the complexity of his character, just as Jaime sees past the negative connotations that attach to a woman wearing armour. He refuses to take his sword back, which is a huge gift considering the rarity and value of Valyrian steel; but it is the salute they share as she floats down the river that speaks volumes.

From one siege to another, we move from the fall of Riverrun to where Meereen is under assault from the masters of Astapor and Yunkai. I don’t have much to say about this scene, aside from that it was my least favourite in the episode—both perfunctory and predictable, it at least means that we won’t have a protracted siege of Meereen played out over several episode. Daenerys is back, her dragons will make short work of the attacking ships, and she has an entirely new army to add to the men she already has. With Yara’s ships making their suspiciously fast way from the Iron Islands, I’m laying even money on Daenerys’ departure for Westeros as the final shot of the season.

More interesting is the Hound’s encounter with the Brotherhood Without Banners, which answers my lingering question from last episode: namely, had this formerly altruistic band of do-gooders gone bad? Had the endless, soul-destroying task of fighting the power driven them onto the Dark Side?

To which this episode replies: well, some of them. But Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr are still with the living, and pass sentence on their men who rape and pillage. Their sentence is too lenient for the Hound’s liking, but he doesn’t say no to hanging two out of the three. Considering how messily he butchered the others, these ones got off easy.

Thoros and Beric make the case for joining the Brotherhood, and though Clegane is skeptical, it’s fairly obvious this is how things will go. They appeal to his sense of idealism, which is perhaps the wrong tack. “Lots of horrible shit in this world,” he retorts, “gets done for something larger than ourselves.” Having seen the Faith Militant at work, as well as Melisandre’s numerous excesses, it’s not a sentiment we can necessarily disagree with. But having passed through a life of indiscriminate violence, through atonement, and now vengeance again, there is one dimension to the Hound that Beric identifies unerringly, and one that Clegane cannot deny: “You’re a fighter,” he says. That he is in spades, and it looks pretty obvious that he’ll be continuing in that capacity alongside Beric and Thoros.

This episode, and indeed the previous few episodes, develop the strong sense of the pieces being arranged on the playing board. The die is cast for the battle of the bastards, which may or may not feature the Vale armies playing Rohan to Jon Snow’s Gondor; Daenerys is back and, we assume, ready to make her return to Westeros; the Hound will likely rejoin the fight on the side of the angels; and one other key character is ready to reclaim her birthright and also go home.

What did you think of the climactic showdown between the Waif and Arya, Nikki? And what did you think of her embracing her name and home again?

Nikki: I loved the final Arya story of the episode. We begin back at Lady Crane’s flat, where she has given Arya a sleeping draught and is reaching up to the top shelf to grab something else (it’s unclear what it is, since we know the milk of the poppy is already sitting on the side table). And no sooner had I written in my notes, “Boy who looks like waif appears” then the boy who looks like the waif kills Lady Crane in a rather grotesque fashion — and, naturally, it turns out to be the waif herself.

I was sad to see the death of Lady Crane, but it was a strong symbol for Arya and her story. Until now she’s been playing a role. We knew the moment she buried Needle and refused to give it up that there was no way she ever become a selfless, faceless person. She could walk around calling herself “a girl” and pretending to be one of the faceless assassins, but Arya cares too much for her family, her name, and who she is. If she had given up her very self, she’d be turning her back on Sansa, Bran, Rickon, Jon, and the memory of her parents. She’d betray the memory of her brother Robb, who became King of the North and was the first Stark to do so. The Starks are a strong family, and it’s arguable that Arya is the strongest of the bunch — for her to give up her very self would be giving up everything. And besides, after this season word has it they’re pulling a Breaking Bad and giving us two shorter 7-episode seasons, so it’s not like they have a ton of time to take Arya on a journey of utterly losing herself and then finding it again. It’s time to get Arya back.

Lady Crane was a woman who played another woman on stage, an actress who was caring and kind to those who showed her the same, but, from what she says earlier in this episode, wreaks ruthless vengeance on anyone who doesn’t. (Much like the woman she plays.) Arya was the one who told her she needed to introduce a tone of vengeance into Joffrey’s death speech, and in doing so, perhaps she instilled the very idea into Lady Crane.  Lady Crane played a character, and then began to embody parts of that character.

So, too, has Arya been playing a character all this time, and yes, she’s taken on parts of who that character is. Before she met Jaqen, Arya had a death list, and she would soothe herself by repeating the names on that list to herself over and over again. But it was only when Jaqen arrived and she saw what it actually meant to be an assassin that she first questioned her future as a cold-hearted killer, and then embraced parts of it. Arya resists doing things she doesn’t believe in — she couldn’t bring herself to poison Lady Crane, for example — but when she believes it’s right, Jaqen has taught her how to get the job done.

The dead actress in the apartment signals the end of Arya’s acting, and she runs for her life, away from the waif who is hellbent on killing her. A theory had been going around the internet recently (I only read the headline and didn’t bother with the theory itself; if it’s true, I don’t want to be that spoiled) that the waif doesn’t actually exist, and that this would turn out to be some Fight Club–inspired thing where the waif is simply another side of Arya, part of her imagination at war with her. Thankfully, that didn’t turn out to be true (I don’t think that scenario would be suited to the world of Game of Thrones) and Arya leads the waif on a long, painful journey right to Needle’s nest. And then, just like a blind Audrey Hepburn smashing all the lights in Wait Until Dark when an intruder comes into her apartment, Arya cuts out the candle. She knows how to fight whilst blind — and the waif doesn’t.

I’ve had the sense for some time that Arya is a favourite of Jaqen’s, despite him being so hard on her. He never has a smile for the waif, who is filled with hatred and jealousy at every turn. He knows the waif believes she is selfless, but this constantly loathing she has prevents her from truly being one of the faceless men, because she feels that hatred too strongly. Jaqen doesn’t kill out of hate: he kills because the person whose name has been chosen... has been chosen. And he needs no more reason than that. He holds nothing personal against those whom he kills. With Arya, I think he saw someone he could shape and mould, but I was never convinced that he believed she could become one of the faceless, nor did he want her to be. When the waif asks to kill Arya, and he makes her promise to do it quickly, I wonder if he meant for her to die quickly, as if he already knew Arya would best her. Did he blind her so she could learn how to fight in the dark? Did he strip her of everyone so she would find the will and the power to overcome the waif in their final battle? Did he know she would triumph and then head back to Westeros to help take back Winterfell?

He knows when a new face has been added to the wall. He descends the stairs amidst the firepots (who keeps all of those going, by the way? Seems a wee bit excessive, but anyway...) And when the face turns out to be the waif’s, and Arya comes up behind him, he looks neither surprised nor disappointed. “You told her to kill me,” Arya says, as she holds Needle out to him.

“Yes, but here you are, and there she is,” he says, moving his body against the tip of her sword. “Finally, a girl is no one.”

“A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell,” she says, “and I’m going home.” And with that, a small smile plays at the corner of Jaqen’s lips, as if he knew this was how it was to play out the whole time. As if he’s actually proud of Arya for refusing to slough off her very self, and for returning to the place she should have been this whole time. It’s a fantastic moment, and one of the highlights of this season so far.

And with that, as you say, Chris, we seem to be putting the pieces in order. As the credits rolled I said to my husband that things are moving very quickly now. I wondered aloud if next season was going to be the fight for Winterfell, and the final season the battle for all of Westeros. And then the “Previously on” section showed after the credits and I realized oh. Maybe we don’t have to wait so long for one of those things to happen.

Thanks to everyone for reading, and we’ll see you next week for the penultimate episode! 


Anonymous said...

So Tommen basically attempted to condemn Cersei to death...does this mean he's officially worse than Joffrey now?

I can't help but think most of Arya's storyline was mostly a waste of time...she went to Braavos, trained to fight and came back. We never learned that much about the Faceless Men or saw them in action. Jaquen (?) stood around for two years spouting philosophy. This should have all been contained in a single season. Arya has barely had any effect on the main storylines and it's not like we didn't know exactly how it would end up.

As always great recap - next episode looks like a big one!

-Tim Alan

Anonymous said...

Wonderful recap as always. Much like how GoT has turned a simple 'hold the door' request into a fit of crying for me, now should anyone tilt their head in my direction - I will run like Arya running from the Waif (even if down the hall while at work). No head tilt! AH! RUN!


Blam said...

I really wanted to feel nothing but glee and triumph for Arya, but the resolution to last week’s cliffhanger was disappointing.

Faye Marsay did a great job as the Waif right up to the end, in her single-minded pursuit of Arya, both figuratively and, here, thrillingly literal — I saw a screencap of her during the chase scene through the market, frozen mid-hurdle wearing just the most wicked grin. Maisie Williams’ performance, as ever, can’t be faulted either. But I have two complaints.

One: It ended up about as predictably as possible, except insofar as you — me, anyhow — didn’t expect the show to take the predictable path. The Fight Club scenario would’ve been weird, yeah, although if they’d gone that way I figured it wouldbe less about a mental break of Arya’s than something induced by Jaqen at the House of Black & White. Arya really was taken off-guard by the Waif, though, and the Waif really did go abdomenly stabulous on her, with the mousetrap she presumably laid before the Incident on the Bridge only coming into play at the end.

Two: Given what we’ve seen on the show, Arya shouldn’t have nohow recovered from the Waif’s attack in such short order — those repeated, deep jabs to her belleh on their own would likely do her in, as they did the sister-in-law she never met, but on top of that she was exposed to who-knows-what in that canal running through the city. If we’re meant to believe Lady Crane did more for her than just stitch her up and give her milk of the poppy, something outright magickal, then we weren’t provided enough of a hint for me to feel like such an explanation — that or maybe some lingering recuperative abilities bestowed by the Faceless Men’s fountain — isn’t entirely headcanon of my own making.

Needle’s quick slash to the candle was a very cool little moment and the chase was, on its own, pretty thrilling. This show is usually brutally matter-of-fact when depicting the consequences of injury, though, whether immediate trauma or the dangers of infection and such thereafter, so I can’t easily get over the inconsistency even if it’s in Arya’s favor.