We open in Bravos, where we last saw Arya staggering through a crowded marketplace, bleeding profusely from substantial Waif-inflicted stab wounds.
But now we’re here to watch that play. Again. Is it just me, or has a good chunk of Season 6 felt kind of like calling for your favourite pizza but getting repeatedly placed on hold and forced to listen to a panpipe cover of Greensleeves? Except we’re being placated with a stage interpretation of Season 4 – you know, that season where plot-developing stuff happened on a consistent weekly basis.
Fine. We’ll run with it. Lady Crane has worked some of Arya’s advice into her performance and has the audience eating out of the palm of her hand. They actually cry (ha! HA!) when Joffrey dies in her arms and she vows revenge. Afterwards she heads backstage to find Arya hiding out and looking like she might need a bag of A-positive sometime soon.
Lady Crane’s apartment, where she’s bandaging Arya’s torso. And here’s my first proper beef with this episode; the Waif gored her last week. Literally twisted the knife in her guts. And we know now that it was for-realsies Arya, not just-pretending-Arya or Jaquen-Arya. But a bandaid, some milk of the poppy and a kiss-it-better from Lady Crane is all it takes to get her on the mend?
Okay. Still running with it. Lady Crane tells Arya she should join the theatre, since they’re short an actress. Arya says she can’t – she’d be putting them in danger. Lady Crane pours Arya some milk of the poppy and tells her to drink it because sleep is the only thing that will heal her. Um, how about some freaking STITCHES for one? Not to mention addressing any internal haemorrhaging? Nerve and tissue damage? Maybe any punctured organs? Yes?
To Westeros, where last week’s baddies from the Brotherhood are chilling in the forest. We expend shitloads of valuable episode time watching them act like frat boys. Thrilling. Thankfully the Hound descends upon them with his axe and gratuitous, bloodletting violence ensues..ahhhh, the relief. There’s even entertaining Hound dialogue, just like old times: “You’re shit at dying, you know that?”. I’ve missed you, Hound. Don’t ever leave again.
Meereen, where they’re serving cous cous. Spellcheck wants to change that to cows cows. A Red priestess is preaching to the people, declaring that Daenerys is a gift from the Lord of Light and the Meereenese need to have faith in her and her advisors.
Tyrion and Varys wander past, and Tyrion smugs that his gamble with Kinvara paid off. Varys disagrees with a confusing shaving metaphor, and Tyrion makes the obligatory joke about Varys never needing to shave. They stop in front of a gateway leading out to the port, and we learn that Varys is leaving on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan. Tyrion tells him he’s going to miss him, and then they manage to talk about the political importance of Varys’ journey without actually mentioning where he’s going.
Varys says the Queen has to return because his heart has been broken too many times already. Then he and Tyrion farewell each other, and uh oh. Foreshadowing. This moment has all the colours of a they’re-never-going-to-see-each-other-again rainbow: Tyrion’s parting joke as an attempt to cover the depth of his emotions, the camera lingering on Varys’ sad parting smile, Tyrion watching him walk away. The question is, where exactly is Varys probably off to die? Dorne? The Iron Islands? Dorne makes the most sense politically, but if I had to choose between more Sand Snakes or more Euron screen time, murderous uncle Euron wins the meat tray.
King’s Landing, where the Faith Militant have entered the Red Keep. Lancel and his men are there on behalf of the High Sparrow, who requests that Cersei return with them to the Sept. Cersei refuses. Lancel insists. Cersei chooses violence. Frankenmountain chooses a Sparrow and tears his head off. Blood runs black on the stones and drips down into the drain. Lancel looks close to fainting. Cersei looks like someone bought her a pony.
Brienne and Pod arrive at Riverrun, and Pod quickly ascertains that someone is laying siege to the castle. Not just any someone, Pod. The morally-questionable ying to Brienne’s honorable yang, Jaime-fucking-Lannister. Brienne spots the Kingslayer and you can tell a Bryan Adams love ballad – probably All For One – is playing on the loudspeakers of her heart.
Pod and Bronn shenanigans. They play-fight. Bronn punches Pod in the face. This scene was utter gap filler and was probably improvised on the day when the director realised he’d need something sparkly-but-pointless to stretch the episode out, but I’ve missed these two so much I don’t care. Everyone wants to hit the fucking squire, Pod!
Jaime and Brienne! Shedding their armour! Brienne lifts Jaime in her arms, throws him on the bed and orders him to spank her with his golden hand.
Nah. They’re talking about Sansa instead. Blech. Then they talk about the Blackfish. Then they argue like old times. Then they come to an agreement; if Brienne can convince the Blackfish to relinquish Riverrun, Jaime will allow them free passage to ride North with the Tully army and assist Sansa. Brienne tries to give back Oathkeeper and Jaime tells her his heart the sword is hers – it will always be hers. Or is the sword just a metaphor for his honour? I don’t fucking know. Brienne reminds him that if she fails and he ends up launching an attack, she will be obligated to fight him. Jaime hopes it doesn’t come to that. They make meaningful eyes at each other before Brienne runs from her feelings.
Brienne pleads with the Blackfish to join Sansa’s fight. Blackfish does not give two fucks. Brienne insists. Blackfish reads Sansa’s letter and remarks that she’s ‘just like her mother’. But still no. Brienne asks Pod to send a raven to Sansa that reads ‘Brienne FAILED. FAAAAAAAAAIIIIILLLED!’.
King’s Landing, where there is to be a royal announcement. Cersei enters the Throne Room and tries to take her usual place beside Tommen, but is thwarted by Kevan Lannister. Tommen, nervously kneading the Iron Throne, announces that Loras and Cersei’s trial will be held on the first day of the Festival of the Mother, and by the way the High Sparrow has convinced him to completely sell his Mum out by outlawing trial by combat. FUCK. FUCKING FUCKING FUCK. You’ve ruined our chances of Cleganebowl, Tommen.
Cersei realises she’s completely fucked. Qyburn appears at her side and informs her that his little birds have explored an old rumour she once told him about, and it’s more than a rumour. Thanks for the cryptic status update.
Oh God. Tyrion-Greyworm-Missandei awkward comedy hour is back. I’m pretty sure Peter Dinklage is actually drinking in this scene, wondering why they have completely fucking wasted his immense, Emmy-winning talent almost solely on fish-out-of-water sitcom sketches this year. Watching him read a Dr Seuss book to the dragons would be better than this. In fact, that would be kinda awesome.
Fine. They have another stilted conversation. It gets marginally less stilted with the addition of wine. I wonder if this episode would get better if I drank wine? Blah blah blah, bells start ringing and the city is under attack. The masters have come for their property.
Riverrun, and Jaime is visiting the captive Edmure Tully…who is wearing a really terrible wig. The wigs this season have been comical all round.
Jaime starts off good-cop. Edmure isn’t buying it, and wants to know how Jaime can live with himself. Jaime goes off on a slightly creepy tangent about how Catelyn Stark and Cersei were similar in their maternal ferocity. Then he cuts to the chase and tells Edmure he’ll catapult his baby son into the walls of the castle if need be – whatever it takes to take back Riverrun so he can return to Cersei.
Edmure is apparently persuaded; he convinces his men to open the gates to the castle and let him in, despite the Blackfish’s warning of a trap. Edmure enters the castle. He and the Blackfish glare at each other before Edmure tells the Tully forces to lay down their arms.
The Blackfish helps Brienne and Pod escape, but refuses to go with them. He’d rather die a completely pointless and illogically wasteful death offscreen, thanks. Then Jaime and Brienne wave at each other and share one last meaningful look as Pod rows the boat away – and the geographical and moral distance between them grows once more.
Meereen! Is burning! BURN IT. BURN IT ALL. Erm…*ahem*, I mean…how terrible. Whatever shall we do.
To the Great Pyramid, where everyone is freaking the fuck out. There’s a sudden thud and the ceiling shakes. Missandei grabs a blade and gets ready to use Tyrion as a human shield. The Unsullied get into position. They open the door…and Daenerys enters with a what-the-FUCK-have-you-lot-done look on her face. Over her shoulder we see Drogon fly off into the distance…hopefully to torch some enemy ships? Does ANYONE on this fucking show know how to use a dragon? Anyone?
Undisclosed forest location in Westeros, where the Hound has tracked down Lem Lemoncloak; Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr are about to hang him. The Hound and the Brotherhood argue over who gets to kill them.The Hound negotiates two, but is pissed that he can’t gut them, or even ‘Chop off one hand?’. The men die, and the Hound is hungry.
The Hound, Beric and Thoros sit around a campfire. The Hound prefers chicken, wooop! Beric and Thoros want to recruit him to the Brotherhood; apparently they’ve heard of cold winds rising in the North and want to help stop them. For some reason the Hound gets up to take a leak during this conversation, and we see the second penis in the show’s history. Are they throwing random wang at us to justify the continual exposure of Emilia Clarke’s breasts?
Bravos. Arya is still asleep. Noticeably resembling Catelyn Stark, Lady Crane checks on Arya, then goes and stands on a stool to reach something. A figure of a man appears behind her. Eeeeeeeek Waif-terminator!
A crashing sound awakens Arya. She discovers Lady Crane dead. The waif appears holding a knife and tells Arya she should have done her job in the first place. Arya throws herself out the window, but that’s okay. SLEEP WILL FIX IT.
A ridiculously conspicuous chase ensues through the streets of Bravos. The Faceless Men like to be faceless and ninja-like, except when they’re not. Arya runs through a steamy male bathhouse, but no token penis here.
The Waif catches up on the street; Arya responds by throwing herself down a flight of stairs, toppling basket after basket of oranges. The resets on this scene would have sucked. There are lots of shots showing Arya leaving blood tracks everywhere. Jesus, we get it.
Arya runs for her secret hidey-hole. The Waif follows. She tracks Arya into a small, candlelit room, and closes the door behind her. She promises Arya it will all be over soon. Arya draws Needle and steels herself. YES! This is what we’ve been waiting for! FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!
Nope. Arya slashes at the candle, and we cut to black.
Note to the producers: Next time, maybe less money on the parkour acrobatics and more on the fight sequences? I could forgive not seeing the demise of the Blackfish if I’d at least gotten to see Arya stick the Waif with the pointy end. This felt like such a cheat.
House of Black and Boring, where Arya has thoughtfully mounted the Waif’s face in the hall. I can see why she never got into sewing though – the handiwork is a little, uh, ragged. Arya tells Jaqen H’ghar that a girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell…and she is going home, motherfuckers!
Next week: The Battle of the Bastards. Will Jon die? Again? Or will Ramsay finally get the slow beheading-with-a-butter-knife that he deserves?