With just three episodes to go, and with three writers having contributed thus far, you can probably guess where we're going with this. Episode 8, 'No One', comes courtesy of Clare Clarke, with 9 & 10 to come from Scott Reynolds, and Pete Bartholomew. This week, Clare seems to have been very much excited by the episode - read on and find out why.
As most Game of Thrones fans agree, the last three episodes of the show tend to be the best: a culmination of the previous seven and, as with seasons two and four, a possibility that episode nine will be focused on one place only. So, with the hopes it is one of the best of the season, here is my review of episode eight, ‘No One’.
As the title suggests, the episode primarily focuses on Arya, framing it by beginning and ending with her. The opening scene is of Lady Crane, the actress playing Cersei who Arya ‘saved’ (or rather, didn’t kill…) in episode six. This act of ‘kindness’ paying off, Lady Crane proceeds to patch up Arya and gives her milk of the poppy, which Arya accepts – part of me does worry that she was able to trust her so quickly but hey, she was right this time anyway. The figure of Lady Crane is interesting, in both her portrayal of Cersei, and as a sort of Catelyn Stark figure – in her vague resemblance, and in her mothering of Arya. There is perhaps an embodiment of the two characters within Lady Crane, and Jaime also brings up the connection between the two later in the episode.
“It is interesting how scenes with multiple deaths can be counted as some of the funnier ones of the season”
From Braavos and Arya, we are taken back to the Hound, who made his shocking reappearance last episode. This connection between the Hound and Arya parallels season four of Game of Thrones, when the two were together throughout, perhaps indicating that they are in some way connected or fated to meet again on Arya’s (hopeful) return to Westeros. In this scene, the Hound is very much on full killing form, telling one of his victims that, “you’re shit at dying, you know that?” It is interesting how scenes with multiple deaths can be counted as some of the funnier ones of the season. From Clegane, we move to Varys leaving for Westeros – which I’m sure will be interesting at some point later in the season, but for now seemed like an odd scene that detracted somewhat from the episode.
There’s more violence in King’s Landing, with Cersei ordering the Mountain to ‘violence’ against the Faith Militant when Lancel tries to force her to see the High Sparrow. There is a particularly good shot of blood pouring down a grate after the Mountain rips one of their heads off. This clearly has lasting consequences, as later in the episode King Tommen announces Cersei’s trial will no longer be by combat – scuppering her plan to use the Mountain to secure a favourable outcome. However, the most interesting part of the scene is a cryptic exchange between Cersei and Qyburn, in which the latter reports that a rumour he was ordered to investigate is “more, much more” than just hearsay. While fans are unsure as to what this rumour is, it will be interesting to see it revealed and whether it will be part of Cersei’s inevitable escape from the Faith’s justice.
As much discussed in past reviews, two old pals, Brienne and Jaime, are finally reunited in Riverrun, with the siege of the castle on the brink. There’s a funny interchange between Podrick and Bronn, with a weird discussion of “fucking” Brienne, and Bronn teaching Podrick the rules of fighting; “Lesson one, assume everyone wants to hit you.” A more serious discussion is occurring within the tent, however, with Brienne and Jaime striking a deal to allow Blackfish’s men to leave Riverrun to meet Sansa if they surrender the castle to Jaime. (Jaime also threatens to fire Edmure’s son from a catapult.) Surprisingly, this is to no avail, however, as Blackfish refuses the offer and is instead absolutely shafted by Edmure later in the episode.
Preceding the takeover of Riverrun is a scene between prisoner Edmure and Jaime – one deeply reminiscent of the scenes in which Jaime was captured back in season two. When Edmure asks him how he believes he is a decent person, Jaime says it is his passion for Cersei. He notes the similarity between Edmure’s sister Catelyn and Cersei in their devotion to their children, and how his reason for taking Riverrun is so he can be with Cersei again. His only motivation is to return to her, a feeling to which he eludes in saying, “the things we do for love” – a comment which harks back to his ending line in the show’s debut episode, where he pushes Bran out of the window uttering the same phrase. There are some interesting parallels in this scene for Jaime, and they demonstrate that while there is some room for humanity, such as with Brienne, his ultimate devotion is to Cersei and this has not changed from the beginning. There is little character development for Jaime, and that is rather depressing for someone who has warmed slightly to him for the past few seasons.
Edmure Tully is clearly persuaded by this speech (which is more a threat to his family), and he ultimately, and metaphorically (you’ve got to be careful when discussing GoT) stabs Brynden ‘Blackfish’ Tully in the back. He takes back Riverrun by reasserting his authority as Lord of the Castle, and demands the soldiers put down their weapons and allow the enemy forces entry. There is a poignant moment in which the Tully banner is trodden on as new Lannister banners replace them. Blackfish is declared dead, although there is no actual fighting in this scene, much to my disappointment.
“There is little character development for Jaime, and that is rather depressing for someone who has warmed slightly to him for the past few seasons”
In Meereen, there’s a light humoured moment between Tyrion, Grey Worm, and Missandei, in which wine and jokes are exchanged. This is ruined by bells warning that the Masters’ fleet has come to attack the city. Not to fear, however, as Daenerys finally returns with Drogon – ready for a super-cool battle at some point (probably episode ten).
The last two scenes involve the Hound, followed by Arya, mirroring the opening of the episode. The Hound finds the Brotherhood Without Banners, the forces lesser seen in the past three seasons, and they try to convince him to join them. There is even a nice shout-out to Arya, when the Hound tells one of the men, “tougher girls than you have tried to kill me”. There is some ambiguity, but perhaps we will see more of the Hound and the Brotherhood in later episodes, or even next season.
This scene is followed by the last of the episode, a great chase scene between Arya and the Waif. Rushing around Braavos, it’d be easy to forget that Arya was stabbed repeatedly in her stomach the previous episode. But, hey, maybe she heals really fast or is impervious to flesh wounds… As Arya becomes noticeably weaker, she walks away from the centre of the city leaving a trail of blood, an intentional move used to bring the Waif to her hideout. There, Arya uses her sword, Needle, to cut the solitary candle providing light and bring darkness upon them. Clearly Arya’s no-eyes training sequence was well worth it – proving it will be handy for late night fighting in Westeros, I hope. Jaqen H’ghar, who is played by one of my favourite actors of the show and I wish he’d been in this season more, finds the Waif’s bloody face placed on the wall, and Arya holding him at sword-point. He proudly says, “Finally, a girl is no one,” to which she replies, “A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell and I’m going home.” While this exchange sounds rather good, I would like to question why her killing the Waif has suddenly made her ‘no one’, as her fighting prowess has nothing to do with her ability to forget herself. Anyway, disregarding this, the episode ends one of the most brutal training sequences I am yet to witness and finally (hopefully??) Arya is going to return to Westeros and kill a bunch of people (yes it feels weird typing those words just as much as reading them).
- Next week’s episode is entitled ‘Battle of the Bastards’ – perhaps a focus on the Jon/Ramsay battle which has been building all season?
- Miguel Sapochnik will be directing episode nine, the same man who brought us the epic battle with the White Walkers in last season’s ‘Hardhome’. Arguably the best of the season.
- For my part, #TeamStark, definitely not #TeamBolton, despite one of my flatmate’s strange admiration for Ramsay…
- The Hound: “You’re shit at dying, you know that?”
- Cersei Lannister: “I choose violence”
- Podrick, observing the military camps, to Brienne: “Looks like a siege, my lady”, Brienne: “You have a keen military mind, Pod”
- Bronn to Podrick: “You’re the one with the magic cock”
- The Hound: “Tougher girls than you have tried to kill me”
Images: HBO 2016