Subtitle: we are who we are
With only two episodes left this season, it’s become clear the wheel has turned back towards the beginning and we are hurtling towards the rise of the Starks, the collapse of the Lannisters, and the return of the Targaryens. That’s three of the four Houses represented in the show’s logo and the fourth, Baratheon, has a presence in the stories of the past we’ve visited in Bran’s visions as well as the many Red Priests that populate this season and the persons of Davos, Brienne, and Tommen. It’s been a pretty strong season, likely because they chose to go back to the roots of what we all liked in the first place. I fell for Arya ten seconds after I met her and I’ve been waiting nearly two years to see that girl again.
In Braavos, Lady Crane’s Cersei is nuanced and tragic and when Jaime goes on about his sister’s fierce love for her children later in the episode, the scene becomes retroactively more poignant. Pleased with her performance and the audience’s glowing response, she prepares to take a celebratory drink — because no one is afraid of the GANG OF ASSASSINS that populate this city even when they KNOW they are targeted???? — but is interrupted by a dying Arya. Lucky for our erstwhile heroine, Lady Crane is abusive (wtf) so she’s learned to patch up stab wounds. But not cook. This character is . . . she has many layers. So many I kept expecting her to turn into Not Jaquen. But she fixes Arya up and gives her some heavy drugs to sleep it off.
In the woods of wherever Sandor Clegane is, the bad guys who murdered his support group are being extra gross so no one feels badly when Sandor Clegane graphically murders them.
In Mereen, Tyrion is taking a victory lap around his newly revived city with a less impressed Varys. The Eunuch is taking his leave to go on a secret mission to procure a fleet of ships for the cause. Is he intending to meet with Yara or Euron? Perhaps he thinks it will be Euron but it will actually be Yara? Perhaps it will be Euron but Yara will spoil and hopefully throw Euron in the ocean and it will drown him for real this time? Options!
Lancel and his little gang of Hyenas try to get Cersei to leave the Red Keep and meet with the High Hyena, but the Mountain telepathically realized his little brother was getting to behead priests and wanted in so he rips one of Lancel’s priestling’s head off with one hand. While Cersei and Doctor Frankenstein smile in the back.
Brienne and Podrick arrive at Riverrun to find it surrounded by Freys and Lannisters under the leadership of Ser Jaime. Brienne, being Brienne, chooses the direct approach and demands to see him. Now we get three scenes in a row that feel like fanfiction — which is neither an insult nor a complaint! But first we get fan favorites Podrick and Bronn discussing whether or not Jaime and Brienne have feelings for each other, then Jaime and Brienne dancing around said feelings while being on opposite sides of the conflict, and finally the Blackfish smiling while comparing Sansa to his niece, her mother.
For Jaime, Brienne represents a path not taken. Who might he be if there was no Cersei, if they weren’t Lannisters, if his mother had lived, if the wars never happened, if everything was different? Maybe he would be Brienne or maybe he would be someone who loves Brienne or who Brienne could love. She calls him “Ser Jaime” with no sense of irony or derision and it matters to him. But his guilt and his arrogance, which are often the same thing, won’t let anything be different. For Brienne, well she has a well-developed saving people thing and Jaime is someone she’d like to save, but she also has a well-developed code and he has to want to be saved.
Tldr; I don’t care if it is fan service, Jaime telling Brienne his
heart soul sword will always belong to her makes me FEEL THINGS STRONGLY.
She gets Jaime’s word that if they give up the keep, the Tully army will be allowed to leave and join Sansa’s fight for Winterfell, but the Blackfish prefers to stay and fight for his own home. Brienne has Pod send a raven to Sansa, informing her she’s failed.
In King’s Landing Cersei sweeps into the throne room amidst whispers and stares, proving Olenna’s point from last week — Cersei has no power and no friends in court any longer. Her uncle, the Hand of the King, won’t let her stand by her son, or come near him at all, so she must watch him from the Ladies Gallery. King Tommen is clearly a puppet for the Hyenas, I’m not sure how Kevan fits in anymore. But Tommen makes a statement: Trial by Combat is outlawed. Loras and Cersei will be tried by seven septons and neither have much of a chance with that.
But Cersei is Cersei and she has a back-up plan already in the works with Qyburn. Backed into a corner I expect her to burn it all down.
In Mereen, Tyrion is trying again to turn Missandei and Grey Worm into aristocrats like himself with wine and jokes. While their beginnings as slaves remains an undercurrent, it is a far better scene than the last attempt mainly because Missandei and Grey Worm are ADORABLE. Unfortunately, their revelry is cut short by the appearance of a fleet of slavers attacking the city. So much for compromise and/or diplomacy with slavers. 10 points from Slytherin, 50 points to Hufflepuff.
Back at Riverrun, Jaime approaches Edmure Tully with a plan — he’ll let Edmure go if he promises to take the castle back from his uncle the Blackfish and hand it over to Jaime and the Freys. Edmure Tully is one of my favorite minor characters and here’s why.
Jaime starts out appealing to Edmure’s status — Lord to Lord, here’s my plan for you and your son if you give in to my demands. Edmure rolls his eyes and asks what Jaime tells himself in order to believe he’s decent. Then Jaime brings up their sisters, Cersei and Catelyn, who once held Jaime hostage the way he now holds Edmure, and Edmure gets angry. But Jaime presses on because he has a point: all he cares about is getting back to Cersei’s side. He says he will cut through anyone and everyone to do it and Edmure believes him. Because he realizes Jaime doesn’t care about being decent, he doesn’t care about anything but Cersei. So, in the face of a mad man willing to put a baby into a catapult and an army he cannot defeat, Edmure agrees. He gives up in order to save his family and his soldiers from the battle and the Kingslayer’s wrath. Edmure may not be a good military leader but he is a good decent person who cares about people more than pride and I love him.
The Blackfish tries to hold out against Edmure’s return, which he rightly sees as a trap set by Jaime, but he’s overruled. As the Lannister and Frey army takes over the castle, the Blackfish dies and Brienne and Podrick escape. Jaime raises a hand in farewell — to Brienne and to the Jaime he might have been.
Back in Mereen, Tyrion apologizes for being wrong about everything but Grey Worm doesn’t have time for that. The slavers are storming the city and he thinks their best choice is to hold them off from the pyramid. As they start to debate the merits of this plan the room shakes and the Unsullied spring into action to protect their small council. But it’s not the slavers who’ve breached the walls, it’s Dany and Drogon returned just in time to stop the battle with fire and blood. Girl knows how to make an entrance.
On the road to wherever Sandor catches up with the Brotherhood without Banners just as their leader Beric Dondarrion is set to hang the three miscreants who killed Sandor’s villagers. Sandor wants to make them suffer but eventually agrees to let their deaths be swift. Aww, he’s a changed man. And so Dondarrion tries to recruit him to their cause. Sandor decides to join them for dinner and maybe forever.
Finally in Braavos, Lady Crane lovingly strokes Arya’s hair, very like a mother would, which is quite deliberate I imagine. Catelyn Stark has been alluded to I think three times this episode. . . Are they preparing us for Lady Stoneheart or is that wishful thinking? The timeline for it is very confused at this point. Anyway, the actress’s tender moment is her last as the Waif shows up and kills her with a chair.
Arya awakens to the Waif’s taunting and what follows is almost too ridiculous to discuss. The internet has redubbed the Waif a Terminator because the sequence seems straight out of Judgement Day. Arya flees, the Waif chases her down, stone faced. They run through a bath house and down a stairway of merchants selling their wares and it is supposed to be tense but I was laughing the whole time. They end up in the room where
it happens Arya stashed her sword and she is able to defeat the Waif by killing the lights. Because Arya learned to fight while blind I guess. And because the showrunners don’t want to show our hero Arya removing someone’s face (for which I am grateful!).
We end in the Room of Faces where Arya has deposited the Waif’s visage. Not Jaquen is so proud of her for finally becoming No One but Arya is Over It and responds Nah,
Not Jaquen lets her go. This entire storyline was SO DUMB and the end is not nearly as triumphant as the writers think it is, or I wanted it to be, but the end result is Arya is free and on her way home so I will cling to that and let the rest go.
Winning: Jaime Lannister, Daenerys Stormborn, Arya Stark
Dead: The Blackfish, Lady Crane, The Waif