Everyone’s favorite brother-sister loving, skin flaying, backstabbing, dragon flying, dead walking, high adventure is back for season six! Come here every Monday morning for Pressure Life’s review and recap of HBO’s Game of Thrones– season six! Make sure to let us know your favorite scenes in the comments section below!
With the slogan, “It’s not TV. It’s HBO…” episode eight of Game of Thrones, season six, “No One” was curiously a very “TV” hour of television. While saving much of their gunpowder for the last two episodes, “No One” fired a blank for the most part. A connective tissue to the finale, there was little forward progression and more a focus on reinforcing our characters’ paths going forward.
Tyrion is making me worry. All those wistful goodbyes and rueful “If I onlys” are the acts of someone reflecting of their life, in serialized television that almost always precedes death. The quiet moment, making true friends of Missandi and Gray Worm over a toast is a bittersweet prelude on the preludede of a siege that came out of nowhere. His dream of owning a private vineyard where he would bottle “Imp’s Delight” for only his closest friends was too tender and beautiful a sentiment for such a cruel world.
And what of that siege? Cue Will Ferrell’s “well, that escalated quickly” GIF. But it didn’t even escalate, it just kind of happened. Like traditional serialized television, Dany’s plot has been a series of run-on sentences that have not seem fully formed all season. The siege of Meereen is book canon but there was a measure of inciting elements that served to reward the stakes leveraged. In this instance, I outwardly laughed at the unearned insistence of Dany’s latest dramatic entrance. We’ll see how it plays out, but I can’t imagine Drogon having a hard time setting all of the slave ships to tinder in a few breaths. The placement of the showdown is odd. Dany is in immediate need of just such a fleet of ships, which would offer at least a plot advancement to her victory over the warring slavers. But another fleet of ships, courtesy of the Greyjoy rebels, is already en route and preparing to simply surrender their fleet to the Dragonqueen. So what exactly is the point of this latest distraction when we’ve been trying to get her to Westeros this whole time?
Speaking of sieges, down in Rivverun, Jamie Lannister receives a familiar envoy of old friends. Sent from Lady Sansa’s command, Brienne of Tarth and squire, Poderick Payne, arrive at the besieged castle. Bronn’s gregarious welcome of his old traveling partner, Podrick, was a heartfelt reminder of the human element that ties together these larger-than-life storylines. It has been a time coming since Jamie has last seen Brienne and the romantic tension was palpable. Being one of the only people he has ever exposed his true feelings and nature toward, Brienne both sees and brings out the best of Jamie Lannister. To this end, Brienne offers to broker a negotiation that would surrender Riverrun to the Freys and Lannisters (an inevitability) while allowing Blackfish and his men to travel North to fight for his grand-niece’s cause. It was a shrewd offer and the best options for all concerned, but Blackfish is nothing if not insufferably stubborn. A lost cause, Brienne escapes during the casual invasion once Edmure Tully willingly surrendered the castle on implied terms of his release after being a Frey prisoner for years.
This was an impressive bloodless campaign for Jamie, but does his season’s story end at a quiet Riverrun victory? Much like Tyrion’s goodbye to Varys and Arya’s goodbye to Jaqen, which will get into later, there was an endearing finality when Jamie waved his golden hand to Brienne as she rowed up river and out of his life.
If I were Jamie I might want to take the long way home, considering how swell things are looking for Lannisters in King’s Landing. Like always, Cersei has gotten too full of herself and showed her hand too early. In an exhibition outing, Franken-Mountain literally ripped the head off of a foolish sparrow that got fresh with the Queen Mother. Clearly a trial-by-combat ringer, it was only a matter of time before the Crown, through influence of the Faith Militant, ended the practice of trial-by-combat and effectively taken away Cersei’s trump card. While her personal mad scientist, Qyburn, tips her off to some new, surely half-hatched scheme, I’m sure that will blow up in her face too before the season ends.
If Jamie did decide to take detour, he might come across another reunion with a wayward Hound. Not to be outdone by his undead older brother, Sandor Clegane butchers the crude hooligans that slaughtered his former friends from last week before running into old friends, the Brotherhood Without Banners; (another reunion). It has been some time since we last saw the unkillable Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr but they seem to have remained true to form. While it is late in the series, and I fail to see the capacity to make this group a potent enough force as I’d like it to be, The Hound running with the Brotherhood Without Banners righting wrongs for the downtrodden makes one hell of a Westerosi A-Team. That’s one spin-off that demands a pilot commitment.
Speaking of separate shows, Arya’s Faceless adventures have felt completely removed from the rest of the series. While her training montages have proven largely entertaining, much of the credit was given to the assumed culmination that we would witness. Ultimately, the results were underwhelming. Given that the Faceless Men’s whole shtick is nothing being as it seems, masks under masks and all that, it was a failure of resources that strip-mined away any mystery or subterfuge that Arya’s victory over the Waif could have showcased. Even her poetic last stands in the darkness she learned to fight in while blind was undercut by refusing to depict it, even aurally, on screen.
So now for my Grand Arya theory. Basically, she is Bruce Wayne from Batman Begins. Consider: both witness their parents murdered in cold blood before them as impressionable children, both vow vengeance on their killers, both abandon their family names as they travel to world receiving many different life experiences and disciplines of martial art training in order to fulfill their intitial vows, both must master their fears, both enter training in a guild of mysterious assassins, both are apt pupil and favored by their mentors, both fail their initiation for refusing to take life, both ultimately return to their home and reclaim their family name. Following this Batman motif, Arya will return to Westeros as a mysterious and feared force of vengeance that lurks among the shadows striking down the likes of Walder Frey, Cersei, and whoever else has had it coming for far too long…
True to its title, “No One” failed to land on a character to drive the episode for more than moments at a time and came off a bit disjointed for the effort.
Winner of the Episode: Jamie Lannister (The man took a castle without a drop of blood.)
Loser of the Episode: The Blackfish (The man lost a castle because of blood, his son Edmure… get it?)
Arya Stark: “I am Arya Stark of Winterfell, and I am going home.”
Tyrion Lannister: “…Most famous dwarf in the world.”
“One day, after our Queen has taken the Seven Kingdoms, I’d like to have my own vineyard, make my own wine. ‘The Imp’s Delight.’ And only my close friends could drink it.”