Lady Crane finds a wounded Arya behind the theater and takes her home to heal. The Hound finds some of the Red Guard camping and eviscerates them. When he finds the last being set to hang by Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr, The Hound kills two and listens to Thoros as they ask for his help in the coming war. In King’s Landing, Lancel attempts to summon Cersei but one of his men is killed by The Mountain. Later at court, King Tommen announces that there will be no more trials by combat leaving Cersei vulnerable. At Riverrun, Brienne speaks with Jaime about the Tully army but unsuccessfully convinces The Blackfish to leave. Later, Edmure is convinced by Jaime to go and make the castle surrender, leaving The Blackfish to help Brienne and Podrick escape, though The Blackfish is killed later. In Meereen, the masters arrive by fleet and bombard the temple as Dany returns by dragon to once again lead the unsullied. In Braavos, the waif finds and kills Lady Crane as Arya escapes but is eventually trapped. Arya battles the waif with Needle in the dark and later returns to the black and white temple where Jaqen sees the waif’s face skinned and added to the many faces. Arya declares she’s Arya Stark of Winterfell and that she’s returning home. She leaves with Jaqen looking pleased.
Tonight’s episode felt like it was running a mile a minute with scenes wrapping up sooner than they should have and with the abruptness of a Hound’s axe. We’re told to trust a few too many scenes that happen off camera including Bryndon’s demise as well as Arya’s victory, moments that would have been savored and lamented in novel form, should they occur as seen tonight. Jaime returns somewhat to old form if nothing more than to convince a man like Edmure that bloodshed is worth avoiding and Meereen has seen better days, but now the queen has returned. The lack of the North promises to give us full disclosure on the battle of the bastards next week, as smaller bits of stories finalize and the rest are sated to conclude in unexpected ways, namely the trial by combat we all through we were going to see. But politics and religion play a different game, one that will hopefully see Varys return shortly.
With Arya’s wounds not as bad as we might have thought, she single-handedly did away with the waif and her T-1000-like obsession with killing her. While I don’t think they should have left it up to our imaginations to understand how Arya beat her, what’s important is that she did and confronted “Jaqen” who in a strange way finds pride in Arya’s decision to remain herself, something I think only the real Jaqen would appreciate, but in the end we’ll never know. Arya’s journey wasn’t to lose who she was but rather to regain that name and return to her roots. Going back to Westeros could mean a lot of different things, but whether she’ll just show up at the doorstep of Winterfell with Jon and Sansa reuniting with her, or whether she’ll find The Hound and join the cause remains to be seen. But finally, her assassin’s story has finished, for now.
Everything Jaime did to preserve the peace while taking back Riverrun felt awkward and clumsy. Bryndon’s death wasn’t necessary and further more, his death, which was just stated in passing will likely lead many to believe he’s still alive and fighting the good fight. But I don’t think the show can afford too many red herrings and surprise twists anymore. What really suffers is how once more, Brienne has to return under a flag of failure and must report that the Tully army will not aid Jon in the future. She and Jaime keep their relationship intact but at the cost of an army really makes me wonder where Jaime goes from here. He’ll go back home and save her sister, or maybe he won’t. That’s the conundrum of a character bound by love is that he’ll do what he has to save Cersei and nothing else. Until that’s severed he can never truly grow into his own.
The Hound’s initial kills and taunts toward his victims. He has a weathered spirit when it comes to violence but he knows how to make it hurt and personal. His venture with Thoros and the group seems all but destined as he has a sense of belonging he just can’t decide where yet, but hopefully the merry men of Beric and company will give him that purpose. He remains to be a fascinating and turbulent character that should have plenty more to do for this season and the next.
Arya was the bookend of this episode as she did what she had to to survive and reclaim her name-sake with needle in hand. Instead of pursuing Jaqen’s declaration that she was finally no-one, she instead proudly calls her name and leaves giving her the kind of hero’s journey that she’s been striving toward since she left Westeros to begin with. What’s interesting is that her determination doesn’t mean she knows what she’ll do when she gets back home, but if anything, I can see her finishing the list in her head and frankly there’s only two people left on it, Cersei and Illin Payne.
Qyburn’s investigations have led Cersei to be correct about something that I can only suspect may have something to do with what the Mad-King left behind, a means to destroy King’s Landing, something that I think would be an epic finale if she loses what’s left of her status in the city. Cersei can’t rule in her state any longer and Tommen is more or less a lost cause. She won’t hide and escape in the night, but I don’t think she’ll face her trial without an ace in the hole. For once I’m on her side to see what crazy plan she’ll pull now that trial by combat is no longer an option.
I suspect with Varys leaving, having never met with Dany means he’ll return to King’s Landing in the cover of night and hopefully end the season with his little birds killing Pycelle (As the book depicts), but depending on King Landing’s state, who knows how he’ll return, only that he will and make it ready for Dany’s arrival.
As for the fleet overtaking Meereen, what a time for Yara Greyjoy’s fleet to arrive and box them in, giving them the perfect opportunity to ally with Dany should they help remove the threat. If Euron somehow beats them to the punch, that will just be a strange and awkward gathering, but I don’t foresee that occurring.
With no Tully army backing Jon up, it stand to reason the fabled “Great Northern Conspiracy” may be the only thing left to help Jon take back Winterfell which means the Umbers have to be on their side, but what always stood wrong with that idea is not counting on Ramsey to do anything short of killing Rickon in their possession. That’s a big gamble, and furthermore, Osha couldn’t have been their wildcard to assassinate Ramsey. Something doesn’t add up there, but either way, Sansa’s letter could be what’s left to help give them the edge they need, if it’s in fact Littlefinger she wrote to.
This still very much leaves Dorne in a state of limbo, and though no-one wants to see Ellaria and the sand sisters do anything more on this show, it stands to reason they’re being saved for that rainy day moment where they either aid or obliterate someone’s army, namely Jaime’s who has just taken Riverrun. There’s still unfinished business there and I’d hate to think they just decided to write it off based on fanmail expressing disinterest in the Dornish people.
7 out of 10. The Hound and Arya’s progress were among the highlight’s of episode 8’s “No one” which also gave us two off-screen deaths and not much else to look-forward to that isn’t Northern related. The beats were hit rather fast and Dany’s sudden appearance in Meereen was just the tip of the hat showing us how convenient she can make the plot by riding a dragon wherever she pleases. We’ll get resolution in the finale with all these events but by skipping two episodes of the northern tale, we’ve been giving little else to work with outside of Arya’s declaration to return home. Everyone ends up back in Westeros, but for now, the battle for Winterfell will have to wait one more week as expected. Thanks for reading.
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