As always, if you haven’t watched Episode 8 of Game of Thrones yet, don’t read any further. For this review is dark and full of spoilers.
In an episode full of off-screen deaths and crushed fan theories, there was a lot to take in this week. The twists and turns of all the characters story arcs seem to be set up nicely for the final run to the end of Season Six.
We start in Braavos with Lady Crane giving a much more convincing performance as Cersei during the Purple Wedding scene. Backstage she finds a bloodied Arya hiding in her dressing room. She takes Arya home and tends to her wounds. And they lived happily ever after. Or not. This is Game of Thrones after all!
The Waif soon appears and brutally kills Lady Crane. Arya is pursued by the Waif in a scene straight out of an Assassin’s Creed game. It looked like Arya was done for, but it soon appeared that she is in fact leading the Waif right where she wanted her. Arya returns to her hideout and pulls out Needle, she cuts the candle turning the screen black. Given the focus on her losing her eyesight, and the Waif’s brutal attacks during this time, it was clear that this would come back in some way.
Jaqen H’ghar finds the Waif’s face cut out on the wall, and is confronted by Arya. In what was a delightful bit of dialogue, Arya proclaims that “A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell, and I am going home.” Jaqen’s half-smile almost suggests that he is happy with the outcome, and maybe that he always intended for this to be the outcome. He did give her a lot of slack during her training, which caused lot of the Waif’s resentment to begin with. But it didn’t seem to make a lot of sense. Cloak and dagger stuff to cover plot holes it seems.
So there we have it. Arya’s story in Braavos has ended and she is now heading back to Winterfell. While there were some great moments during her story arc, the ending does feel a little flat. There is also a real contrast between her character last week and this week. Lazy writing? The character shift was noticeable and there never seemed to be an explanation for this. Also, she was stabbed multiple times and was in a bad way, other characters have died from less! In the end, she seemed to have a little too much ‘plot armour’ which ultimately made a lot of the ending a little frustrating.
The episode’s other major story followed the siege at Riverrun, which featured two very different reunions.
First we had the meeting of Jaime and Brienne, and then we also had to more comedic reunion between Bronn and Podrick. Their scene in particular was probably the most humorous scene in the entire episode. They have a really good rapport and it was pleasing to see them reunited on screen once more.
As for Brienne and Jaime, the old spark of respect and honour between the two remains. Jaime refuses to take back his sword and insists that Brienne keeps it. Their relationship is also the reason why Jaime agrees to allow Brienne and Podrick access to Riverrun and to meet with the Blackfish.
Despite the Blackfish warming to the idea of a fighting alongside his family, he refuses to give up his home. Brienne sees her mission as a failure.
Jaime meets with the captive Edmure, and during his conversation it is clear that any redemption story for Jaime may never come. His love for his sister looks set to block any attempt of his character’s redemption. This is a little disappointing given that there is so much good to his character, as Brienne can clearly see.
Edmure is released and returns to the castle, where the Blackfish refuses entry. The captain of the guard tells the Blackfish that Edmure is the Lord of the keep and tells his men to lower the gate.
Once inside, Edmure orders his men to stand down and allow the Lannister and Frey armies to take over the castle.
Down by the river, the Blackfish takes Brienne and Podrick to a boat so that they can escape. Despite a final plea from Brienne for the Blackfish to join her, he refuses and runs off to fend off the Lannister soldiers.
On the castle wall, Jaime is informed that the Blackfish was killed in combat, another off-screen death. Jaime spots Brienne escaping on the boat, and rather than ordering his men to intervene, he simply waves, with Brienne returning the gesture. Will these two meet again? We hope so.
This overall story felt like it had a lot more potential and in the end it was wrapped up too nicely and quickly. The Blackfish being killed off-screen was also a little irritating. But who knows? Given the show’s history with these things he may not even be dead!
In King’s Landing, the Faith Militant have a run in with The Mountain. This confrontation resulted in one of the Militant having their head ripped off. This brutal scene would come back to haunt Cersei, as in the the throne room Tommen announces that ‘trial by combat’ is now banned. And that his mother will stand trial before the faith. This does not look good for Cersei, and it means we won’t be getting any fight between The Mountain and The Hound anytime soon.
It wasn’t all bad for Cersei. It appears that thanks to Qyburn and his ‘birds’ that she has a trump card up her sleeve. While their conversation was cryptic, we can safely assume they are indeed talking about the caches of Wildfire, hidden throughout the city. The Mad King never used them, could Cersei be planning to blow something up? We think so!
OUR FAN THEORY: Cersei uses the Wildfire to blow up the Sept of Baelor with the High Sparrow & Tommen inside. Jaime finds out his son was killed by Cersei and this breaks the spell Cersei has over him. He takes Bronn and joins up with Brienne and Podrick, where they then get their own spin-off show. The end.
The Hound also got a continuation of his story, after his much welcomed return on last week’s episode. He kills the majority of the Brotherhood Without Banners men who killed the settlers. Here we got some vintage Game of Thrones gore and The Hound at his witty best.
He catches up with the one remaining member of the posse, Lem Lemoncloak, only to find him with a noose around his neck. The returning Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr had captured him and were going to hang him for bringing shame on the Brotherhood. Turns out they had gone rogue.
It’s great to have Dondarrion and Thoros back, even more so that they appear to be heading north to fight the White Walkers. They also try to convince The Hound to come with them. To do some good by fighting. We hope this happens, as we would love to see a reunion between The Hound and Arya next season!
On a side note, the more returning characters we get means there is hope for Gendry yet!
In Meereen, Varys departs to Westeros on a ‘secret mission’. Book readers will have a little indication of what this might be, but we won’t go in to detail here. It may not be book related at all though. He could be going to meet the Greyjoys and obtain their fleet. Or he could be heading to Dorne to gain their support and use their hatred of House Lannister to bolster their numbers. We hope not. We never want to see Dorne again.
Not long after Varys’ departure (coincidence surely?) The Masters arrive in Meereen and attack with their ships. This gave us a beautiful panning shot of the attack which was really impressive to watch.
Just as it looked like there was little hope for Tyrion and co, Daenerys returns as Drogon flies off in the distance. Whilst this signalled the end of the scene without any real resolution, it does set up the next episode perfectly.
We predict that Dany will let loose her other two dragons and see the Master’s ships destroyed. Though she would do well to try and salvage some of the boats.
Overall this was another good episode. It had plenty of plot and character development as well as more returning characters. It did however have a few issues, mainly Arya and Jaime related. The off-screen deaths were also a little annoying.
Next week we will see the ‘Battle of the Bastards’. This episode plans to be very exciting indeed. As for ‘No One’? Another solid episode.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Sad that the fan theories didn’t come to pass? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.