Finally we are into the business end of the season so I was really expecting things to be ramped up now after a couple of filler episodes.
And we begin at the play that Arya had been watching earlier in the season, as the actress playing Cersei, Lady Crane, is in the middle Jeoffrey death scene. I thought this could be some foreshadowing to Tommen’s possible death, maybe not this episode, but by the end of the season. She finds Arya, wounded after the last episode, and helps patches her up. I’m pretty disappointed that Arya actually allowed herself to get stabbed so easily in the last episode. Arya turns down an offer to go with the company, saying that they’ll be in danger. She says she will head west of Westeros, which will probably take her back to Westeros.
Next we have a group of the Brotherhood Without Banners sitting by a fire, when the Hound appears and brutally murders them. This was pretty awesome; it gave us the Hound we all know and love, a great quote, and absolutely what I wanted from the Hound.
In Meereen Varys is leaving on an expedition to gain friends and ships. This scene between Varys and Tyrion really had the feeling of the last time they will see on another, which leads me to suspect that Varys may die, which would be devastating as he is absolutely one of my favourite characters, and I love his friendship with Tyrion.
Member of the faith militant come to Cersei demanding she goes to see the High Sparrow. We finally get the “I chose violence” moment that I’ve been so excited for. The Mountain completely destroys one of the men, and tells the rest the High Sparrow may always visit. This was another completely badass moment, and the Mountain showed just had scary he is right now.
Brienne and Podrick arrive at Riverrun where they discover the siege and Jaime’s presence there. Jaime and Brienne are not the only two reunited, Podrick and Bronn as well, in a rather humorous scene. Brienne and Jaime are obviously at odds. She proposes that she tries to convince the Blackfish to take the Tully army north, allowing Jaime to retake the castle without bloodshed. They both obviously know that should this fail they will be fighting each other. The Blackfish is being rather stubborn, as Jaime predicted. The Blackfish understands Sansa wants her home back, but reiterates that Riverrun is his home, and he won’t surrender it.
Cersei comes to the throne room where there is to be a royal announcement. They announce when Loras and Cersei’s trials are to be held. They also announce that trial by combat is to banned, ruining Cersei’s plan and possibly our hopes of a Clegaine Bowl. Cersei and her maester Qynurn discuss a rumour, which we cannot hear. Based on Bran’s vision earlier in the season this could well be to do with wildfire, is Cersei going to burn the lot of the? She did want Jaime out of there when the Faith announced their union with Tommen.
We get another scene of Tyrion trying to engage Missandei and Grey Worm in conversation and drinking. Tyrion discussed plans for owning a vineyard, and starts a joke telling session. These scenes are so unneeded when we don’t have that long to the end of the series, it’s not like we don’t know and care for these characters already. Thankfully an armada of ships arriving interrupts it. As the Masters from Slaver’s Bay come.
Jaime offers Edmure a comfortable life with his wife and child. They then get into a morality discussion threatening to kill his son and every Tully man to get the job done. I thought this was a great Jaime scene. He has tried to take Riverrun without unnecessary violence or bloodshed, but here he makes it clear that he will do whatever is necessary to get back to Cersei, even threatening a child. The use of the ‘Things we do for Love’ line really takes us back to that first episode with Bran. Edmure demands entry to Riverrun, and despite the Blackfish’s best attempts to stop it, Edmure is the rightful Lord of Riverrun. Edmure then orders all the forces to lay down their arms and open the gates. The Blackfish is to be handed over to the Freys, he sneaks out Brienne and Podrick, but declines to go with them, instead choosing to fight to the death. I think Edmure is going to take a fair amount of hate for this, but he’s done the honourable thing, he’s saved his men’s lives, whilst the Blackfish had the opportunity to leave and help Sansa.
Meanwhile Meereen is under attack from the masters. Tyron admits he made a big mistake with the Masters and Grey Worm takes command of the army, insisting that they stay in the pyramid as it is more defensible. This is when Daenerys arrives back. This all feels so rushed given how slowly this storyline had been moving.
The Hound is continuing on his rampage when he runs into Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr (the two who introduced us to the Lord of Light’s resurrection powers way back in season 3 I think), they are also preparing to execute the men who slaughtered the Hound’s friend. There’s and argument over how many the Hound should be allowed to kill. The brotherhood offers the Hound a chance to join. The Hound has some great lines in this scene, Rory McCann is one of the best things about the show and I love having him back. It’s interesting to see where he’s going to go, I think he’s going to have an important role, I don’t think they would have brought him back other wise.
Arya wakes as the Waif murders Lady Crane. Arya runs and is chased through the streets of Braavos. Arya manages to make it back to where she has Needle stashed. She takes out the candle and uses her time when blind to win the battle and add the Waif’s face to the wall. Jaqen says that she is finally no one, but she declares herself Arya Stark and that she is going home.
Thankfully Arya’s storyline in Braavos has come to a resolution that made some sense. Given that she was blinded for some time, and we got that scene at the end of the 6th episode where she blew out the candle, it made logical sense for her to fight the Waif in the dark. I wasn’t over keen on how the story got there, because whilst Arya finished pretty badass, she did seem pretty hapless and lucky in getting the Waif to that spot. But her reclaiming her name as Arya and heading home was good, I thought the last time her story was really interesting was when she was in Westeros. And talking about great stuff, I did love Jaime’s plan to take Riverrun. He was awesome in this episode. From the nice reunions at the start of the episode, especially Bronn and Pod’s, which just added a bit of levity, to that brilliant scene with Edmure, this was the best storyline of the episode. I’m slightly disappointed we didn’t get to see the Blackfishes last stand, but I get it, this was about Jaime. He started the siege trying to minimise the bloodshed, but in the Edmure scene he revealed he was willing to do pretty much anything to take Riverrun and thereby get back to Cersei. I’ve been waiting all season for Cersei to chose violence, and the moment itself was awesome, but there was still more set up, with the faith banning trial by combat, I’m expecting that to be the big part of the season finale. And it was a similar story with the Hound. The first scene where he massacred the four guys was awesome, but the end scene with Beric and Thoros, was more set up for the Hound’s story going forward. I think that it’s likely he will join with the Brotherhood, which clearly has some discipline problems and has gone a bit wrong. Finally the change in pace at Meereen went from 0 to 100 really fast. We were in the middle of a rather unnecessary scene between Tyrion, Missandei, and Grey Worm, when suddenly we were thrown into the middle of an attack and Dany arrived back. Overall this was a decent episode, but not a great one, especially comparing to the eighth episode of last season, Hardhome. Quite a lot happened, but parts of the episode were rather anti-climatic. I wish we’d got to see some of the action, but I understand why we weren’t shown either Arya’s fight (it was in complete darkness) or the Blackfish’s last stand. I am however so excited for next week’s episode, The Battle of the Bastards, this is going to be huge.