By Gage Nutter
The episode starts with Lady Crane finding Arya on the ground bleeding out in her dressing room backstage. She takes Arya back to her house, where she gives her food and patches up her wounds. Lady Crane offers milk of the poppy to Arya, which she is hesitant to accept, but eventually does (having someone that can change their face at any time and is trying to kill you will probably make you at least a little hesitant when accepting a drink).
We then catch up with some members of the Brotherhood Without Banners goofing off around the fire, but their joy quickly turns morbid. The Hound runs up behind them and butchers them all. Decapitation, axe to the groin, the whole nine yards. Of course the whole scene was hard to watch, but that’s why we love The Hound.
Sticking with the Brotherhood Without Banners theme, we then see a fire priestess in Mereen, preaching that Daenerys should be followed and that she is their one true hope. Varys and Tyrion stroll by and talk about Tyrion’s deal that he made with the masters. Varys doesn’t approve of the deal, while Tyrion points out that it has brought back life to the city. People are out in the streets and not afraid of the Sons of the Harpy. Varys then boards a ship to go on a diplomatic mission. As Varys leaves, Tyrion gives a sad look. A look that shows he knows he doesn’t have many friends left in Mereen now that Varys is leaving (Missandei and Greyworm have some disdain for him after his deal with the masters, and Daenerys is still missing).
We then see Cersei for the first time this episode up in the Red Keep. She is told by Maester Qyburn that some members of The Faith, Lancel included, are there to bring her to the throne room to speak with the High Sparrow. She confronts them and tells them to leave. Lancel reminds her that it is not a suggestion, but an order that she come speak with the High Sparrow. He then gives an ultimatum, either she comes with them, or there will be violence. In true Cersei fashion, she chooses violence. The Mountain grabs one of the Faith Militant by the throat, throws him on the ground, and rips his head off with his bare hands. The rest of the Faith Militant seem to understand that they have no chance and leave. Cersei has lost most of her power in King’s Landing, but if there is one thing she has left, its The Mountain (for now).
Brienne and Podrick arrive in Riverrun with hopes to get the Blackfish to abandon the castle and help out Jon and Sansa’s army up north. Brienne confronts Jamie and says she will talk some sense into the Blackfish. Jamie knows far too well how stubborn the Blackfish is after his confrontation with him in Episode 7, so he makes sure to tell Brienne that he is even more stubborn than she is. Brienne also makes Jamie promise to let the Tully forces have safe passage to the North if she can get the Blackfish to surrender, and that if it comes down to it, honor compels her to fight against Jamie if the Blackfish doesn’t agree to surrender. Jamie says he hopes it doesn’t come to that, and I believe him. The two of them developed chemistry in Season 3 when Catelyn commanded Brienne to return Jamie to Kings Landing, in hopes that she would receive Sansa and Arya, so it will be interesting to see how their relationship develops as the show goes on.
Brienne’s interaction with the Blackfish goes as expected at first, he wants nothing to do with her. He tells her the same thing he told Jamie, that he is prepared to die in the castle that he grew up in. Brienne then tells him that she served under Catelyn and that she will fight for the Starks until she dies. The Blackfish’s stance starts to sway a bit. He reads the letter that Sansa wrote him, asking for his troops. He says that she is just like her mother, which is something that viewers have been saying for a long time. He says he wishes he could help, but he doesn’t have enough men. So he stands firm on his decision. Brienne is the type of person that is very loyal and honorable, just like a Stark. So when she realizes she has failed, a lot of guilt consumes her. She then has Podrick send a letter to Sansa saying she has failed.
The reason Cersei has been called to the throne room is for a royal announcement. She wishes to sit next to Tommen, but her request is denied by her uncle, Kevan Lannister. He tells her that she has no right to sit next to him, because she has no power, and that it is recommended that she sit in the gallery with everyone else. This is just another reminder for Cersei that her power has dwindled significantly in Kings Landing. Tommen then announces that from now on, trial by combat will be outlawed. This is a huge blow for Cersei, as she was hoping to use the Mountain in a trial by combat to get out from under her charges. Cersei has no chance in a formal trial, so it will be interesting to see what her plan moving forward is. Some theorize that Cersei may do what the Mad King wanted to do before his death, blow up the city with wildfire. We do see an explosion of wildfire in one of Bran’s visions earlier this season, but there is no recorded evidence of something like that happening in the past. Maybe Bran can see the future too? Who knows, just a theory.
We then see Jamie confront Edmure, who is attached to a pole and is looking haggard. Jamie promises Edmure that he will be treated better by him than he was by the Freys. It’s interesting to see that Jamie is empathetic towards Edmure, because he was in his position before. Jamie was a prisoner of the Starks in the first few seasons, so its cool to see his empathy come through here. However, the conversation goes from negative to positive when Edmure asks Jamie how he lives with himself, knowing that he killed his king that he was sworn to protect and that he had a hand (no pun intended) in killing most of Edmure’s family. Jamie then tells Edmure that he admired his sister Catelyn, because she would do anything for her children, just like Cersei. He then says that he loves Cersei and that he will do anything for her, even if that means killing Edmure’s young son and every other Tully if it meant he could get back to her. I believe Jamie when he says this. He always says that you don’t choose who you love, and he has shown before that he will do just about anything for the people he loves.
The next scene is Edmure approaching the castle with no weapons and by himself and asking for entry. The Blackfish tells the Tully soldiers that its a trap, but Edmure is technically the ruling Lord of Riverrun. The Blackfish commands that he not be let in, but he is overruled by the other Tully soldiers who want to obey their lords command. Edmure is let into the castle and commands that everyone lay down their weapons and surrender. He also commands that the Blackfish be put in chains and put in a cell (I would be upset too if my Uncle gambled with my life on the line like the Blackfish did). Brienne and Podrick give the Blackfish the opportunity to flee north with them to fight alongside his family, but he decides to fight until the very end in the castle he was born in. As Jamie is standing on top of the castle he asks to see the Blackfish, he is then informed that the Blackfish did as he said. He fought until the very end, dying in a fight with Lannister soldiers. As Jamie is looking out over Riverrun, he sees Brienne and Podrick leave on a small boat. They each give each other a wave, further cementing how they feel about each other.
We return to Mereen to find that the city is being invaded by the masters from the cities in Slavers Bay. The same masters that Tyrion made a deal with. It turns out that Varys, Greyworm, and Missandei were right, it was wrong to compromise with the masters. As battle strategy is being formulated, Daenerys fly’s to the pyramid of Mereen and lands on the balcony to greet Missandei, Greyworm, and Tyrion. With the battle of Winterfell coming up as well, we should have an eventful last two episodes this season when it comes to battles.
We meet up with The Hound again as he finds the three men that killed his friend, as well as the group he was with, only someone else has gotten to them first. Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr are prepared to hang the men because they broke the rules of the Brotherhood Without Banners. The Hound says he doesn’t want them hanged, he wants them butchered. The two sides compromise and the Hound is allowed to kick over two of the stools that hang two of the men, while Beric kicks the other. The three of them sit around a fire, talk, and eat. Beric and Thoros try to recruit The Hound for the Brotherhood and preach the same thing as his Septon friend from last episode, its never too late to do some good. The Hound seems to really think about it, just like he did last episode. Maybe he gives it another try and does try to be non-violent. However, if he ever comes in contact with his brother, that theory could easily be thrown out the window.
The episode ends with Arya waking up from her milk-of-the-poppy-induced sleep to find that Lady Crane has been killed by the Waif. Arya is able to jump out a window and run through the streets of Bravos in an attempt to get away from the Waif (pretty impressive for a girl that got stabbed in the gut several times, but I digress). A chase ensues throughout Bravos between the two. Arya leads the Waif back to her candlelit hiding place where Needle is stored. As the Waif is about to attack Arya, Arya slices the candle lighting the room in two, making it pitch-black (Arya is used to fighting the Waif in complete blindness, so this is a good strategy). We then see Jaqen walking throughout The House of Black and White following a trail of blood. The blood leads all the way to the wall of faces, in which he finds the Waifs face has been added. He turns around to find Arya. He says that she is finally no one. She explains to him that she is someone. She is Arya Stark, and that she is going home.
Next episode is titled Battle of the Bastards, in which we can expect to finally see the Battle of Winterfell (and hopefully the death of Ramsay), as well as hopefully some more Bran visions. This season compared to others has been moving story lines along beautifully (except for the Dorne story line, but I don’t know many people that like that story anyway). These next two episodes have the potential to be the best in the series, and lets hope they are.