Spoiler Alert: The following discusses plot points from Sunday night's Game of Thrones Season 6 episode, "No One," written by executive producers David Benioff & D.B. Weiss and directed by Mark Mylod.
(Check out last week's recap here if you missed it.)
In short: Arya has help with her injury, but there's a Faceless Man's shadow looming over her shoulder. The Hound catches up with those who wronged him (most recently) and then reunites with some former foes. Brienne of Tarth arrives at Riverrun and has an awkward conversation with Jaime Lannister. She then attempts to sway the Blackfish to pledge the Tully forces to Sansa Stark. Cersei gets betrayed by Tommen and wedged under the High Sparrow's thumb once more. In Meereen, Tyrion's gamble doesn't pay off when the Master's ships arrive and attack the city. However, the Mother of Dragons returns to her children.
It's another episode framed around characters reuniting and reconnecting as the A-list, and B-list players, are snapping into their positions for the battles to come. Plus, there were bucketloads of gnarly deaths.
I, for one, am grateful that several stories got a kick in the narrative pants, particularly Arya's arc and the Meereen story.
Speaking of Meereen, as hilarious as it was to watch Tyrion goading "good kids" Greyworm and Missandei to lighten up, tell some jokes and drink with him, it definitely felt like filler until the Masters' ships arrived with hostile intent. However, I give props to actor Jacob Anderson for hitting my funny bone with his deadpan exploration of Greyworm's sense of humor. And even better, as the Masters' missiles attack the Pyramid, who arrives home but Dany! Bless the Lord of Light, the stalled Meereen storyline is over! Hopefully, the Dothraki Queen jump-starts the waiting around by either having her dragons fire-bomb the Masters' armada, or Yara and her Ironborn cavalry arrive to prove their worth, and allegiance, to the Targaryen terror.
Moving back to King's Landing, Cersei's fate went from soaked in smug blood to "Cersei, you're in trouuuuble" in mere minutes. King Tommen fully committed to his High Sparrow overlord by allowing his Hand to banish mummy to the peanut gallery. He added insult to injury by decreeing that her trial-by-combat option was getting erased. Which means The Mountain, who literally separated a Sparrow from his head and spine like a Mortal Kombat character, will not be Cersei's ace-in-the-hole as assumed all season. She and Loras will have to face a council of seven Septons, who might as well be high-sevening their impending deaths. It was a sobering moment for Cersei, again, but Qyburn seems to have a mysterious, last-ditch option brewing. Can't wait to see what, or who, it is.
At Riverrun, actor Tobias Menzies made Edmure Tully relevant again with his heartfelt and scathing conversation with Jaime Lannister. The Kingslayer got his own dressing down this week when Edmure asked him, "How do you live with yourself? We all have to believe we're decent people, but how do you?" Without Brienne's arrival, I don't think that would have stuck as hard as it did with Jamie. He flinched. Of course, it didn't last long as he basically threatened Edmure's infant son as catapult ammo in order to get what he wants. And that is? Cersei. Jamie is fully committed to going to any depths to get back to Cersei, as he says she's all that matters to him. Yet Brienne knows another side of Jamie. It rattled him to talk with her again and it's nice to see that she's always going to hold a little piece of truth about him that he's never has, and likely never will, share with Cersei.
I've got to admit, by episode's end, I was #TeamBlackfish. The old coot's tenacity won me over, and I was sad to see him decline to escape with Brienne and Pod. We didn't see him actually die, so maybe he's pulling a fast one, but if he's now deceased, at least his efforts were earnest and understood in this episode.
Oh sweet, Podrick. Run! Bronn will turn you into a potty-mouthed, whore-monger faster than you can imagine! Stay pure, sweet squire. But definitely assume everyone wants to hit you (Bronn is still awesome, despite being an agent of corruption).
I adore Maisie Williams' performance as Arya Stark, but overall this is my least favorite execution of an Arya arc in the series. There was a lot of character exploration to be done, or even just a more interesting way of portraying Arya's journey as an assassin-in-training, than we got. It all felt very repetitive and compressed, and ended in the same fashion this episode. For me, it all came down to plausibility. Arya took some pretty brutal gut stabs by the Waif last week. They looked potentially fatal. Yet, this week, Arya gets stitched up by Lady Crane with maybe a day of rest, and then pops out of bed to essentially do a Jason Bourne through Braavos. No one with an abdominal wound is running like that. Add to that the Waif T-1000 chase and I'm shaking my head. The Waif would have easily overwhelmed Arya. Because of that, the chase came across as overblown and an excuse for Arya to conveniently lead the Waif into a closed room where Needle was waiting. Yes, Syrio Forel trained Arya but it wasn't for that long, so I don't buy that all it took for her to wipe out her nemesis was a dark room and her sword. Especially while she's bleeding out. I'm just glad the arc is done. Arya has embraced that she is "Arya Stark of Winterfell" and she's going home. We agree! Let's get the hell out of Braavos, thank you!
This was a barf-bag episode, in that I needed one watching the eviscerations. As soon as I saw Sandor creeping in the right corner of the frame behind the Red Guard lackeys, I knew it was gonna be ugly. The show did not disappoint. Yes, it's satisfying that those perv murderers got theirs, but damn! And we'd barely made it through that violence when were given a grisly chaser with The Mountain stopping that Sparrow in the least delightful way. Yeesh. Never my favorite moments of the show.
Things to Ponder ...
Where's Varys going? The man obviously has his little birds everywhere but who would be most useful in Meereen for Dany right now? Will Qyburn's little birds and Varys' intersect?
So Brienne and Pod escaped, but will that be the last she sees of Jamie? In a better world, maybe those crazy kids would have a chance at romance. She could have inspired Jamie to be the man he'd like to be. Sadly, his Cersei devotion literally puts him on a far different path. But she'll always have Oathkeeper.
If Cersei hated the High Sparrow with blinding fury before this episode, can you imagine the volcano of rage burning inside her now that he got Tommen to leave her for dead? Honestly, it's a 50/50 bet now about who gets the more horrific on-screen end: Ramsay Bolton or the High Sparrow. Those that want them dead, really want them dead.
The remnants of the Brotherhood without Banners - Thoros of Myr and never dead Beric Dondarrion - returned to the story. Plus, there was a whole lot of chatter about Caitlyn Stark in the last two hours, which is really pointing to what book readers have been speculating about for two seasons. However, I'm a little confused about the context in which a certain person(?) might be revealed considering how the Brotherhood bros were re-introduced. We shall see...
Is the Bastard Bolton going to finally get his deserved death next week? How do you want to see it done?
What did you think of "No One"?