As we head toward the end of the season, the show seems to be condensing timelines in an effort to hit some of the major notes they need to before entering the homestretch for the series. It’s hard to envision how the producers will wrap up some of these stories even within the season let alone the large arcs. As we head into the 9th episode tonight, ironically titled “Battle of the Bastards” on Father’s Day, let’s recap what happened in episode 8: “No One.” Spoilers are coming…
For an episode called “No One” the show didn’t focus on Arya as much as I would have imagined. It does open up with her having arrived in Lady Crane’s dressing room, wounded badly from her encounter with The Waif. Lady Crane takes her in to care for her and asks her to join the acting troupe and move on from Braavos.
The Hound is on a rampage. He comes upon a group of people that ostensibly have nothing to do with the murder of his friends and slaughters them outright. Later in the episode he meets up with the Brotherhood Without Banners, who have captured the men he is actually after. After a bit of a comic negotiation with Beric Dondarrion, The Hound is allowed to kill 2 of the 3 men responsible for murdering the group of people that had saved him from death. In a bit of a surprising move, they ask him to join the BWB insisting that The Lord of Light has plans for him. For now, the Clegane Bowl is off.
The Faith Militant have entered The Red Keep in an attempt to bring Cersei to The High Sparrow. The moment that Cersei chooses violence has been teased on the show for some time and it was entirely satisfying. It’s clear that faith clouds judgement because anyone standing across from The Mountain considering any kind of violence has not thought through their own actions. After barely acknowledging the four-pronged morningstar style weapon buried in his sternum, the Mountain proceeds to rip off a Faith Militant’s head clean off his body. Unfortunately for Cersei, she shows her cards too early. In a later scene, trial by combat is denounced by King Tommen (The Faith) as a barbaric tradition, invented by sinful rulers and is forbidden in the 7 Kingdoms from that day on. It looks like Cersei might burn down King’s Landing with the wildfire that Qyburn hints about.
Brienne and Podrick arrive at the siege of Riverrun. Brienne and Jamie have a taut conversation, both bound by honor. Brienne is there to convince The Blackfish to surrender Riverrun and head North with his men to fight for Sansa and Jon in their effort to retake Winterfell from Ramsay Bolton. She convinces Jamie to allow her to enter Riverrun but levels the warning that if he were to attack she would be forced to fight him. The Blackfish is stubborn and deaf to Brienne’s pleas, refusing to give up the castle.
Tyrion is still in Mereen trying to get Misandei and Grey Worm to drink, only this time they do! And they tell some bad jokes right before the city is invaded by the Masters who have come to reclaim their property in the absence of the Dragon Queen. Tyrion’s deftness at politics doesn’t extend to Essos. Interestingly enough, just before the city is invaded, Varys leaves for Westeros to find allies for Dany’s coming invasion. I want to think there is more going on here, because with Varys there is always something going on behind the scenes, but I do think this might have just been good timing. Also, the show has to compress timelines and it wasn’t clear that some time didn’t pass between Varys leaving and the invasion. As the city is being bombarded, Dany returns. FREE RHAEGAL AND VISERION!
Jamie and Edmure have an endearing conversation. Edmure asks Jamie how it is that he lives with himself; Jamie imagines himself to be a decent person, but Edmure makes clear to Jamie the evil he has brought into the world. Jamie, echoing the sentiments he shared as he threw Bran out of the window, says that he loves Cersei and will do whatever it takes to get back to her. Jamie then makes a deft political calculation; Edmure is the Lord of Riverrun; if Jamie allows Edmure back into the castle, Edmure can surrender it to him and they both can go home. This is exactly what happens. The Blackfish still doesn’t surrender and in a very dissatisfying way, the show kills him off screen. I hope that this has some kind of meaning or purpose; perhaps, he will fill the role that the missing Lady Stoneheart has in the books.
Arya is laying in bed recovering when The Waif finds her. After quickly dispatching Lady Crane, The Waif stalks Arya on a long chase through the streets of Braavos. During the chase, Arya reopens the wounds in her belly and begins to struggle evading her pursuer. Arya cleverly uses this to her advantage, leaving a blood trail that leads The Waif directly back to her hideout where she has hidden needle. It is here, in the dark, that Arya and Needle remember how to water dance. She murders The Waif, removes her face to add to the Hall of Faces and reclaims her identity: Arya Stark of Winterfell. She is going home.