Episode eight! We’re closer to the finale, and the usually epic episode nine, than ever. Things seem to be both setting up, and winding down in time for what is no doubt going to be a particularly exciting final two episodes. I wonder what the fates of our favourite characters will be?
Warning: Filled to the brim with spoilers. Definitely watch the episode before reading this recap/review!
We open the episode on Lady Crane, played by the luminous Essie Davis, performing the Game of Thrones play again. We arrive just as Joffrey has died of poisoning in season four, but this time around, Lady Crane has changed her performance to play an angry and vengeful Cersei rather than a sad and mournful one, as per Arya’s advice the other episode. Lady Crane finishes her scene to great applause, and goes back to her chambers to find Arya, bleeding and dying. Lady Crane heals Arya’s wounds, and when Arya is feeling somewhat better she invites Arya to join their acting troupe on their trip to Pentos. Arya says no, since the waif is after her. Perhaps she’ll travel to the edge of the world, where the map ends.
In the Vale, we see the renegade men from the Brotherhood Without Banners, who are relaxing by the fire with some time-wasting dialogue and bad jokes. The Hound shows up and slaughters them all as vengeance for killing Ian McShane last episode.
In Meereen, we see Meereenese people going about their day in the market. A Red Priestess is preaching about Daenerys’ divine providence, and Varys and Tyrion wander around, watching the city come alive again. Tyrion is pretty pleased with himself but Varys remains concerned that Tyrion has involved religion in their unstable political landscape. Varys is apparently leaving to go back to Westeros to find friends and ships for Daenerys, and he heads off, leaving Tyrion by himself, cracking jokes that no one else can really appreciate. Meereen has been an absolute mess this season.
Back in King’s Landing, Cersei is greeted by Qyburn who informs her that some members of the Faith Militant have come to the Red Keep. They have apparently been admitted entry by King Tommen. It’s Lancel Lannister and his fundamentalist friends, who invite Cersei to the Great Sept of Baelor to meet with the High Sparrow. Cersei refuses and instead invites the High Sparrow to meet her on her turf in the Red Keep. Lancel then says that the High Sparrow commands Cersei, not invites her. Cersei tells Lancel and friends to leave, and the FrankenMountain approaches. The Faith Militant do not step aside, and Cersei informs them that she chooses to deal with them violently. The FrankenMountain then shows us a mere hint of his full strength by literally ripping the head off one of the Faith Militant. Cersei turns her backs on them and leaves. I can’t wait to see the FrankenMountain in full swing.
At the Riverlands, Brienne and Pod arrive at the Lannister siege of Riverrun. Brienne has come to see Jaime, and Pod and Bronn get to catch up as well, which is nice. Brienne and Jaime talk, and Brienne informs Jaime that she’s come for the Blackfish, as Lady Sansa Stark wishes to get the Tully army to help retake Winterfell. Brienne advises Jaime to take Riverrun without bloodshed so that Sansa can have the Tully army at full strength, and has concocted a plan for the Blackfish to surrender in order for this to occur. Unfortunately, Jaime delivers Brienne some cold hard truth, as the Blackfish is super stubborn and would never surrender. Jaime and Brienne come to somewhat of an agreement as Jaime gives his word that he will allow the Tully army to have safe passage to Winterfell, should Brienne’s plan work. But will he stick to his word? Brienne offers Jaime the Oathkeeper sword that he gave her in season four, but Jaime says she should keep it – the sword is and always will be hers. Brienne also delivers some cold hard truth of her own, as she says if the Tully and Lannister armies end up fighting, honour compels her to fight for the Tullys, Sansa’s family. Sad times.
Brienne meets with the Blackfish who essentially says “big fat no” to her plan. Although the Blackfish acknowledges Brienne’s truth, and reads Sansa’s letter to him, he doesn’t have enough men to help Sansa retake Winterfell. Plus, his priorities are defending his own home. Brienne tells Pod to send a raven to Sansa, telling her that they’ve failed.
Back at King’s Landing, Cersei, Qyburn and the FrankenMountain approach Tommen at the Iron Throne. There will be a royal announcement that she wasn’t invited to. Uncle Kevan Lannister informs her that she will no longer stand with Tommen at the Iron Throne, but her place is now in the gallery with the other ladies of the court. Cersei is fuming, but holds it in. Tommen gives a religious speech about punishment, and confirms that Loras Tyrell’s and Cersei’s trials will be held at the Great Sept of Baelor pretty soon. However, he informs everyone that there will no longer be a trial by combat, and this is now forbidden throughout the Seven Kingdoms as it is a brutish practice that the privileged have used to escape justice for ages. Which is a good point. Tommen leaves the Throne Room and looks kind of defeated and upset as he does so. It is clear that he is under the thumb of the High Sparrow. The Throne Room looks barren as it has been stripped of the vibrant colours of House Lannister, and this has been replaced with the minimalist religious iconography of the Faith of the Seven.
As Tommen leaves, Qyburn discusses with Cersei a rumour that he’s heard and that apparently they’ve discussed before. The rumour has turned out to be much more than a rumour, and everyone seems intrigued. I wonder what the rumour is! Is it…
- Gendry Baratheon is still rowing to King’s Landing
- Tyrion is technically ruling Meereen
- Sansa and Jon Snow have teamed up to retake Winterfell from the Boltons
- The showrunners of Game of Thrones have set fire to George R R Martin’s house, hence the reason why book number six is taking so long
Also, rest in peace, Cleganebowl. It would have been amazing if it happened, but now that fan theory can be (depressingly) put to rest.
Also, say what you will about Joffrey, he never would have gotten into this religious mess like Tommen has. Joffrey would probably have had the cunning to realise that by eliminating the possibility of a trial by combat, Tommen has essentially damned himself. Cersei may have to admit at trial that Tommen is a bastard born of incest, which means that Tommen is no longer the rightful king. Then the High Sparrow will set himself up for some kind of kingly role. It’s a shame that Tommen is so easily convinced, because he could probably be a good King otherwise.
Speaking of Tyrion, in another witty time-wasting scene, we see him chatting with Grey Worm and Missandei as he believes his plans have come to fruition. Meereen is flourishing, and there is nothing to worry about ever again. They make jokes and drink wine. They sit on what looks like some very nice mid-century modern furniture. This scene just drags and drags, but is admittedly more entertaining when you watch it a second time. This waste of time is interrupted by the ringing of warning bells – ships are approaching, with sails that proudly display the mermaid sigil of Volantis. The Masters have returned for their property and will probably attack the city. Good one Tyrion!
At the Lannister camp at Riverrun, Jaime approaches Edmure Tully who is being held in a tent. It is revealed that Edmure has a son, however he has never met him, and he hasn’t seen his Frey wife since their wedding (aka the Red Wedding). Edmure asks Jaime how he sleeps at night, given all of his wrongdoings. Tobias Menzies is such a great actor, and I’m glad they finally let him form words this season. Jaime reminisces that he was once Catelyn Stark’s prisoner, and reveals that he admired Catelyn and her fierce love for her children. He notes the similarities between Catelyn and Cersei, and how they would both do anything for their children. Jaime admits that he loves Cersei, and gives a speech about how he has to take Riverrun back for the Freys and Lannisters so that he can go back to his one true love. Jaime even says he will launch Edmure into Riverrun via catapault, which is rude. All of a sudden, Jaime is back to being a villain. The writers just don’t know what to do with him. It’s really frustrating because Jaime is at a completely different headspace in the books; a much more logical one.
Long story short, Edmure approaches Riverrun and is let inside despite Blackfish knowing it’s not going to be good for the Tullys. Edmure, as Lord of Riverrun, commands the Tully army to lay down their arms, and the Tullys comply with his command. The Lannister army takes the castle, and Brienne and Pod leave via boat. Brienne tries to get Blackfish to come with them to go to Sansa, but Blackfish stays and fights. Later, the Lannister banners are flown at the gates of the castle, and we learn that the Blackfish died fighting. Which makes him the second main character in this entire show whose death occurred off-screen. Jaime spots Brienne and Pod rowing away, and Brienne and Jaime share a last moment of respect, waving to one another as Brienne leaves. Brienne essentially symbolises Jaime’s last chance at being an honourable person, and off she floats down the river.
In Meereen, the ships from Volantis are pummelling the city with fire. Tyrion’s gloating earlier in the episode has been shown to be a complete waste of time. Grey Worm has a plan for everyone to stay in the pyramid, which is the only place the Unsullied are able to actually defend. All of a sudden, a thud is heard from on top of the pyramid. It’s Daenerys, who has flown Drogon to the city – finally, she’s here to save the day. Drogon is spotted flying away in the distance; here’s hoping that he lays waste to the ships from Volantis.
Back in the Vale, the Hound goes walking and arrives to see some men who are about to be hanged by Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr – two characters we haven’t seen since season three or thereabouts, so it’s fair enough if you can’t remember who they are. They’re the leaders of the Brotherhood Without Banners, and they’re in the woods, about to hang the renegades from last episode who killed a bunch of people for no good reason. This is probably one of the more underwhelming reveals of the season. Beric and Thoros are trying to hang three men, and they won’t even let the Hound butcher them with his axe – how rude! The Hound does get to hang two out of three of them though, and even gets to keep some shoes. We then see the Hound having a nice meal with Beric and Thoros, where he drops a nice in-joke from Reddit about wanting to eat some chicken. Beric and Thoros talk about the White Walkers, which they know about for some reason. They want the Hound to join the Brotherhood so he can help them fight the White Walkers. Which they know about for some reason. Which doesn’t make sense.
This scene essentially ruins what I have been hoping the show might do since season three. I was really hoping the showrunners would cave, and finally introduce a character by the codename of LSH. It’s pretty clear that this isn’t happening now, despite the fact that it would be so amazing if it did. A lot of people (myself included) are going to be really pissed about this.
Back at Braavos, Arya is sleeping off the sedative that Lady Crane gave her, and appears to be safe. Lady Crane checks on her, but then is killed by the Waif in disguise. The Waif approaches Arya, and Arya leaps out of the building and runs away. The Waif chases Arya like the T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgement Day, and Arya escapes into some kind of steamy bathhouse. The Waif follows her throughout the city until Arya goes to her hiding place where she slept safely a couple of episodes ago. Arya picks up her sword, Needle, and the Waif seems to think she has Arya cornered. Arya cuts a candle and the room goes black. We don’t even get to see Arya go HAM and murder the Waif.
We then see Jaqen H’ghar wandering the House of Black and White, who sees some bloody footsteps. He follows these to find the Waif’s bloody face in the Hall of Faces. It is revealed that Arya killed the Waif and cut her face off. Arya is stone cold. Jaqen says that finally, Arya has become no one, however in a scene that makes me feel immensely happy for the progression of the Game of Thrones story as a whole, Arya disagrees with him. She says her name is Arya Stark of Winterfell, and she’s going home. And off she goes. Jaqen watches her leave as the Stark theme rises in the background. Very nice. If only this had happened in a more timely manner, rather than occurring over the span of two seasons, so that Arya’s story could have been given the proper rate of development it deserves.
We had a bunch of great moments this episode, but there were too many laggy, time-wasting moments for me to consider this a great episode. Also, the final nail in the LSH coffin is really bumming me out.
In the next episode, entitled “Battle of the Bastards”, judging by the trailer we’ll get to see Jon Snow and his apparently small army, some Bolton shenanigans, Sansa being political, Davos discovering some charred wood which may be the pyre on which Shireen Baratheon was burned last season, and perhaps we’ll see Davos having some stern words with Melisandre. It also looks like, as suspected, the entirety of episode 9 will be based on this battle between the Starks and the Boltons. Good times! Looking forward!