Monday, June 13, 2016

HBO Game of Thrones Recap : No One

In Braavos after Lady Crane finishes playing Cersei during Joffrey's death scene she leaves the stage. In her dressing room Lady Crane discovers Arya wounded and just about out of it. She binds Arya's wounds. I guess we'll just ignore the serious nature of several deep stabs to the stomach, intestines, kidneys and liver areas for now and roll with the story. When Arya questions how an actress learned to be such a good medic Lady Crane tells Arya of previous domestic violence issues with her beloved bad boy paramours. But hold on to your feminist outrage. Lady Crane was the aggressor. She also got rid of the actress playing Sansa by scarring the girl's face. She likes Arya. She offers to bring along Arya when the troupe moves to Pentos.  Arya says she can't stay with Lady Crane because she'll put her in danger. The Hound, as befits his name, has tracked down some of the members of the Brotherhood without Banners and showed them 99 different ways he can turn them into origami with just one trusty axe. He hasn't found the leaders yet but he's looking. The Hound is not so much on the forgive and forget train any more. King Charmin Tommen gave the Faith Militant access to the Red Keep. Qyburn is too polite or too scared of Cersei to point out Tommen's weakness but Cersei knows it well enough. Smelling himself a bit, Cersei's cousin and former lover Lancel tells her that The High Sparrow wants to see her. Cersei is not really feeling this but Lancel makes it clear that it's not a request. So get moving. Now!  Cersei has had just about enough of this attitude and says she's not going. So Lancel and his Holy Rollers need to leave. When they try to seize her, FrankenGregor steps in. One of the Faith Militant is foolish enough to attack the undead Mountain. The Mountain knocks him down and rips him apart. Cersei sardonically lets Lancel know he and The High Sparrow are always welcome to visit. But maybe Cersei played this hand too soon. A little later there is a royal pronouncement in the throne room. Cersei is rather ostentatiously not invited to hear it. Typically she shows up anyway but her uncle Kevan, Tommen's Hand, won't let her anywhere near her son. He banishes her to the upstairs gallery, an obvious insult. King Stay-Soft announces trial dates for Loras and Cersei but in a move that probably comes from The High Sparrow Tommen also announces that effective immediately, trial by combat is banned. It's barbaric and doesn't really prove anything. Instead seven Septons will judge Loras and Cersei. And just like that Cersei is deprived of her most obvious weapon. But you never laugh at live lionesses. Qyburn tells Cersei that there's much more to the rumors she had him investigate. Interesting. Cersei has a plan. I'm sure this involves violence.

Brienne and Podrick reach Riverrun. They are surrounded by Lannister soldiers and escorted to see Jaime. Bronn shoots the breeze with Podrick. Bronn is not awed by Podrick squiring for Brienne or with Podrick's tales of training sessions under Brienne. Bronn says Podrick should be a knight by now. Bronn wants to know if Podrick has had Brienne and is disappointed to find out otherwise. Bronn is a pragmatic sort. He points out that Brienne and Jaime look at each other in a certain way. Bronn also shows Bronn a few combat moves that Brienne might not know about. Jaime claims to be impressed that Brienne found Sansa alive, but he's not going to lift the siege despite Brienne's appeals to his honor. The best Brienne can get from Jaime is an agreement to take Riverrun without bloodshed and let the Tully army go north to help Sansa. Of course this requires that the Blackfish surrender Riverrun based on Brienne's appeals and Sansa's letter. Jaime doubts that will happen. But for old time's sake he's willing to let Brienne try. Jaime says that the Blackfish is even more stubborn than Brienne. Brienne says that The Blackfish wants to stay and fight she will feel honor bound to take The Blackfish's side as she's sworn to Sansa. When Brienne reaches the Blackfish he proves Jaime's assertion to be correct. He questions why Brienne's friend Jaime would let her thru the lines. He points out that he's not seen Sansa since she was a child and wouldn't know her signature. He questions Brienne's gear (Lannister). When he reads Sansa's letter The Blackfish reluctantly recognizes his sister Catelyn's style in the writing. But even if he wanted to leave he just can't. Besides, he doesn't have the numbers. He's unmoved by Brienne saying that he has more men than Sansa. The Blackfish is sorry but he's also fighting for his home and must say no. He's tired of running. Brienne tells Podrick to get word north that she failed.

Jaime visits Edmure Tully. Jaime is affable enough initially, apologizing for the rough treatment of Edmure by the Freys. Edmure doesn't trust Jaime. Having your sister, nephew and various bannermen murdered at the behest of the Lannisters tends to reduce goodwill. Jaime is not bothered by this. War is war, after all. And what ever else is happening he's the one with freedom and an army. Edmure is the one who is imprisoned and living only because Jaime finds it currently useful. Slowly dropping his guise of affability and letting his true nature shine thru, Jaime tells Edmure that the incest rumors are true. He loves his sister very much. Jaime was inspired by the common traits that Cersei and the late Catelyn Stark had. They each possessed a ferocious love for their children. Jaime thinks Edmure is probably the same way. But in any event even if Edmure lacks that attribute, Jaime is anxious to return to Cersei. Jaime is so anxious to get back that if he has to murder Edmure's child with Roslin Frey he will do just that. He would slaughter the entire world for a slice of Cersei's well, you know. Edmure wants to know how Jaime lives with himself but Jaime doesn't care what Edmure thinks.That's the point he's trying to impress upon Edmure you see. Cleaned up and released, Edmure rides up to Riverrun and demands entry. The Blackfish objects because he knows it's a trick. Unfortunately the Tully hierarchy has apparently not previously discussed this eventuality. The Blackfish argues that an order given under duress is no order but the second in-command and apparently most of the Tully warriors are of the opinion that their lord is their lord, no matter what. And Edmure Tully is in their view the legal lord of Riverrun. The Blackfish is not. And they are willing to enforce this view with violence against The Blackfish if need be. Disgusted, The Blackfish backs down. Showing that he has the spine of a jellyfish, once he's inside Edmure Tully orders his men to lay down their weapons and open the gates to the Lannister-Frey armies. If I were in the Tully brigade I might have thrown Edmure over the walls myself. What a wuss. Brienne and Podrick flee. The Blackfish apparently dies fighting offscreen.
In Meereen another Red Priestess is singing the praises of Daenerys. Tyrion and Varys walk thru the streets. Varys is leaving on a secret mission. Is he returning to Westeros? It's unclear. It's a secret mission after all. Back at headquarters, Tyrion is incredibly satisfied with himself. He thinks all his plans and rationality have paid off. He's just so smart. He finally gets Grey Worm and Missandei to lighten up and have some wine with him. Nevertheless neither of his new drinking buddies seems to appreciate Tyrion's sense of humor. Missandei likes the wine though. She also likes Grey Worm, as if that weren't obvious. But this nascent joviality is aborted when alarms ring out. The slavers have gotten themselves a fleet and are attacking Meereen. Battle is joined. Showing that he still has an ego if not his manhood Grey Worm can't resist telling Tyrion that Tyrion was wrong. Tyrion admits he was wrong but still has some ideas about where and how to fight. Grey Worm doesn't want to hear it. It's a military situation. He's running things now. He intends to fight a defensive battle and make the invaders pay. But this is interrupted by Daenerys' return. The Hound has tracked down the last Brotherhood without Banners outlaws but finds that the three remaining men were renegades who are about to be executed by the true Brotherhood without Banners members, led by Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr. The Hound insists that the men are his to kill but Beric disagrees. After some haggling Beric agrees to let The Hound kill two of them, but only by hanging. No axe work or mutilation. Afterwards The Hound sticks around for dinner and listens to Beric and Thoros talk of a great danger coming in the North. They need his help and say that the Hound can still redeem himself. Checking on Arya, Lady Crane sees a young man in her room. Arya wakes up to find The Waif in her room. Lady Crane is dead. This kicks off a chase scene that may have felt epic when it was written but which I found interminable. The Waif pursues Arya through about half of Braavos before she corners her in Arya's little cave. Only this time Arya has Needle. The Waif doesn't care. Arya closes her eyes and extinguishes the candle that lights the cave. Back at the House of Black and White Jaqen H'ghar notices blood on the floor. He follows the blood stains to find a new face on the wall. It's the Waif's face. Arya is behind Jaqen with Needle. She wants to know if Jaqen sent the Waif after her. Jaqen says yes. Jaqen says that finally a girl is no one. Arya disagrees. She says that she is Arya Stark of Winterfell. And she's going home.

What I liked

  • I liked the end of the Arya overseas storyline. I liked that the fighting blind training paid off.
  • I liked the fact that Edmure Tully was forced to choose between the memory of a dead sister and nephew and the hope/promise of a living son. Whereas The Blackfish could afford to be unfettered about making a last stand, having no children, Edmure couldn't. You could argue that he SHOULD have been especially since his in-laws are the ones who murdered his sister and nephew and are likely to murder him soon but parenthood is a responsibility that can change perspectives.
  • I liked the reminder that Jaime is not a nice man. At all.
  • Most people would prefer not to go out in a blaze of glory if they have a choice about it. Of course since it's the Freys outside the walls I would be hesitant about surrendering and trusting their word but it is what it is.
  • It's a little hamfisted but I think we're supposed to notice that Tommen is always framed listening to and responding to men. Certainly Kevan, Pycelle and The High Sparrow have marginalized The Queen of Thorns, Margaery and Cersei. 

What I didn't like

  • I thought that Brynden "The Blackfish" Tully deserved a final onscreen confrontation with either Jaime or Edmure. The actor oozes testosterone and gravitas. 
  • It's one thing for Tommen to fall under the influence of the The High Sparrow but little man was just apologizing to Mommy a few episodes ago about not standing up for her. I understand that Cersei has few friends but would Tommen really be so callous about his mother's fate? Mother is everything.
  • Sorry but people who get stabbed multiple times in the gut and side take a bit longer to heal, if they ever do. 
  • The Missandei-Tyrion-Grey Worm scenes just don't work for me. They don't really like and more importantly don't understand each other. Perhaps this was supposed to be a commentary on the foolishness/arrogance of the White Man's Burden, or White Woman's Burden, since it's part of Daenerys' storyline, but I found the scenes boring. I would like Daenerys to leave for Westeros. I want to see how she fares with people who are war weary and don't care for her claim. I also want to see exactly how a self-styled liberator leads an army of Dothraki and mercenaries that live for rape and slavery.
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