Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Game of Thrones, Season 6, Episode 8: No-One

As is pretty clear by the title of this episode – a lot of this is Arya’s storyline

Actually there’s not a lot there – given the title I expected more. But Arya, after last week’s bizarre decision to let a stranger just come up to her despite knowing she’s being targeted by shape-shifting assassins seeks sanctuary with the actress she spared

That actress is indeed very skilled and, honestly, I can’t think of Arya having many other people to turn to. But at the same time she should have realised the contract on her head isn’t just going to disappear – and low the woman everyone is calling the Waif assassinates the target. And then targets Arya

We get a lot of running and falling through the streets with Arya getting steadily more beaten up and us all knowing that Game of Thrones will kill anyone… until Arya, her stitches ruptured, bleeding, bruised and overmatched, faces the Waif with a Needle. In a place lit by one candle only. Which she extinguishes

Arya, who spent weeks blinded, cuts off the Waif’s face and displays it for Jaquen. He assumes she’s finally “No-one”. Nope, she’s Arya Stark and she’s going home. Time for the Starks to strike back, hopefully with them all being mildly more intelligent than their deceased kin. Because oh gods, let us remember that this family is known for monumentally bad decisions.

On the note of the Starks striking back with Brienne and Pod making it to Riverrun to try and get the Blackfish to lead the Tully forces north to Winterfell. Except for that whole damn siege thing. This brings Brienne and Jaime together (and Pod and Bronn)

Jaime and Brienne continue to be excellent together. Their obvious, desperately unrequited chemistry is very very very clear. We also see a lot about both characters – who they want to be. Jaime wants to be a good man, an honourable man and… just fails desperately. He knows he’s never as good as he wants to be – though Brienne inspires him to try

Because she’s Brienne. She IS everything a knight is supposed to be. Honourable, good, honest, brave and heartbreakingly out of touch. Throughout this series Brienne’s earnestness has almost been mockable because she’s in the wrong story. There is absolutely no way someone as honest and true as Brienne can exist in the savage and awful world of Game of Thrones. Despite that, she’s held onto those principles. They still mean something to her and in doing so she usually looks terrible naïve – but occasionally she makes everyone else look as terrible as they are as she stands there being the shiny beacon of honour she is. And, yes, that does make the Jaime’s occasionally try to be better. And yes, in that moment she can trust Jaime’s word of honour

Yet all of her honour means very little to the Blackfish for a very good reason – exactly why should he abandon his home and take his army north to protect Sansa’s home. He doesn’t owe Sansa that.

Unfortunately Jaime’s honour wears off and he threatens the never-very-impressive Edmure Tully in stark terms – Jaime loves Cersei. Yes he’s open about that. He doesn’t care. All he cares about is Cersei and he will do anything for her. And if that means killing every last Tully he will do it

More interesting to me is the way he compares Catelyn Stark to Cersei and their status as mother’s – because this is a statement we made back in season 1. Both of these, apparently intelligent women (ok that’s a lie, but let’s go with it) were and are defined primarily as mothers and it is as mothers that both of them hurt and both of them were so bitterly disappointed. As they desperately sacrificed for their children who made a series of increasingly terrible decisions – yet they both loved their children fiercely despite the world being a much better place if many of their kids were accidentally fed to a dragon.

Edmure surrenders the castle. Brienne and Pod still escape. The Blackfish, apparently not.

Speaking of Cersei – she throws down the gauntlet: when ordered to attend the High Septon, she “chooses Violence” and has her zombie giant kill someone.

Now all smugly happy to solve everything by killing she’s stymied by her useless son: who promptly bans trial by combat. She and Loras (remember him?) will now be tried by totally-unbiased-Septons instead. Yes, this is most certainly not good for Cersei and Loras.

Tommen – I know you’re supposed to be sweet and nice but you’re starting to annoy me as much as your older brother. You’re so inept. Where’s Margaery. Please Margaery, stop this cringeworthiness. You murdered your last husband… murder a septon or three.

But apparently Cersei and Qyburn have found a “rumour”. More detail needed before I get excited. Game of Thrones feasts on our disappointment

Time to check in with Meeren where Varys is still very much not a fan of Tyrion recruiting the Red Priests (though he’s heading to Westeros drumming up support) and Tyrion’s other achievement, making peace with the Masters, collapses awfully. Because they’re now invading the city

I actually like this. Look, I’m a Tyrion fan, I am, but he’s still far far outside of his context and making decisions for a culture and people he knows nothing about. He should fail here. This is not his place. This is not his expertise. He needs to be shown that he is most certainly not the expert here. When Tyrion tries to make tactical decisions, Grey Worm steps in – no, Tyrion you failed, time for Grey Worm and Missendei, military and cultural experts should step up and lead

Yes yes yes, let’s do this!

And then Daenerys arrives

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo a Black person almost got to make a decision! Is it like a dragon-shaped White-Saviour-Symbol. Daenerys, POC are making decisions! Hurry Mhysa! HURRY!

And Sandor Clegane is being recruited by the Brotherhood without Banners – who have hanged the men who killed his happy septon people. Well those that Sandor hasn’t already caught up with. They try to sell him the idea of fighting for something bigger than himself but Sandor has heard that before. Lots of terrible things have been done by people fighting for a greater cause

I think he will join, but only after a lot of recruitment and convincing. And he will either abandon them for Arya or bring them to follow Arya. Yes yes he will.