Definitely a step up this week from the previous two episodes, as a lot more happened, storylines progressed, and we got some sense that things are finally falling into place.
Starting off in Braavos, we see Lady Crane once more performing the scene of Joffrey’s death, only this time she is following Arya’s advice and adding some anger into her performance. Following the moving scene, Lady Crane heads back to the dressing room and preps another glass of rum (did she learn nothing from the poisoning attempt!?) and finds Arya hiding behind some curtains, badly wounded. She takes Arya back to her home, where she dresses the wounds, revealing that she has some experience with knife wounds as she was known to stab petulant lovers in her past. To finish her first aid, she gives Arya Milk of the Poppy (the ‘Thrones’ version of medicinal opium) so she can rest, which worries Arya as she knows her life is still in danger. Lady Crane also offers Arya a place in their show, saying they are moving on soon and could use a girl like her. While the offer might be tempting, Arya has other plans in mind. She takes the drug and falls asleep, and we all hope she has time to heal before the Waif catches up to her once more.
In King’s Landing, Lancel leads the faith militant into the Red Keep to escort Cersei back to the Sept, but she refuses the offer, knowing she is only safe from the High Sparrow in the Red Keep. The faith militant are armed, however, and threaten to take her by force, but after the Mountain easily and gruesomely dispatches the first man to attack him (with a useless ax to the Mountains armor) the rest of the religious fanatics flee, leaving Cersei with her small victory. She has little time to celebrate the victory though as she later heads to the throne room for a royal announcement, and is told that her place is now in the gallery, not on the dais with her son, the King. Perplexed, she heads back to the gallery as Tommen arrives and makes his announcement. Apparently after much prayer and thought and conference with the High Sparrow, Tommen has decided to end the ‘barbaric’ practice of Trial by Combat in the Seven Kingdoms, a fact which ruins Cersei’s plan of escape from the High Sparrow’s justice. The fact that her son made the decree is even more awful for the woman, as both he and his mother know this decree might as well have sentenced her to death. As Tommen leaves the throne room and Cersei contemplates what this means for her future, Qyburn arrives behind Cersei and speaks of a rumor his little birds have been investigating, which apparently is bigger than they thought. (mystery #1 of the night).
Meanwhile, at Riverrun, Brienne and Pod arrive at the siege, and Brienne immediately demands to be taken to see Jaime. Outside of that meeting, Pod is met by Bronn, who eagerly greets the young squire, reminiscing about their time working together with Tyrion, with Bronn attempting to teach Pod some dirty tactics so the young man can defend himself even outside of classic combat. Inside the tent, Jaime and Brienne are mostly formal with one another, speaking about the siege and Brienne’s mission, and how they might be able to help each other. If Jaime lets Brienne into the castle, she might be able to convince the Blackfish to take his army and go help Sansa, thus leaving Riverrun for Jaime and the Freys. Jaime thinks the Blackfish is too stubborn to take the deal, but he agrees to let Brienne try. She then tries to give him back his sword, Oathkeeper, as he initially gave it to her so she could fulfill her mission to Catelyn Stark (to find and protect her daughters). Jaime tells her to keep it, that it will be hers forever, and we see the spark of their former relationship come out. Brienne reminds him that if he attacks while she is in the castle, she is honor bound to fight alongside the Blackfish, and against Jaime, a fact he is all too aware of.
As Jaime suspected, the Blackfish does not go along with Brienne’s plan once she is in the castle, as he rightfully points out that he would be going to help Sansa reclaim her home, and he would be giving up his own home in the process. Meanwhile, Jaime has his own plan, and he goes to see Edmure Tully, in what is probably one of the more outstanding Jaime scenes of the season. They talk about honor, and Jaime’s own sense of decency, with Edmure still holding a grudge since Jaime and the Lannisters killed so many members of his family. Jaime, though, does not care what kind of person Edmure thinks he is. He tells Edmure that he desperately wants to get back to his sister (who he loves) in King’s Landing to help her, and will do anything to speed up this siege, including finding and killing Edmure’s wife and son (a boy that Edmure has yet to meet since he has been locked up since the Red Wedding). Edmure knows that Jaime is deadly serious, and agrees to go along with Jaime’s plan. So we see Edmure approach the castle alone and demand that the gates be opened, and since he is the actual rightful Lord of Riverrun (even more so than the Blackfish) the men allow him inside, despite the Blackfish warning them all that it is a trap. Edmure demands the troops lay down their arms and allow the Lannister army entrance, proving the Blackfish correct, but also saving Edmure’s family. The Blackfish leads Brienne and Pod below the castle to a hidden boat they can escape with, but instead of going with them, he says he is going to stay behind and fight, as he has not had a proper sword fight in years. Brienne and Pod escape down the river, as Jaime takes control of the castle, learning that the Blackfish was killed, but no other blood was shed. As he walks along the ramparts he sees Brienne and Pod escaping, but he sends no men after them, only waves goodbye to his old friend, who sees him and waves back.
Back in the wilds of the Riverlands, the Hound tracks down the three murderous Brotherhood without Banners members and finds them about to be hung by Beric Donation and Thoros of Myr for their shameful actions, and for besmirching the name of the Brotherhood. The Hound demands that he be allowed to kill the bastards, but Thoros and Beric only give him two to kill, but he has to hang them, though the Hound actually wanted to make them suffer for what they did to Brother Ray and the others. Still, he agrees as he is the new kinder and softer Hound, and he quickly hangs his two prisoners while the rest of the Brotherhood watches. They invite him to join their group once more, echoing Brother Ray’s comments about how it is not too late for the Hound to do some good in this world, and speaking about the war that is coming in the North, as apparently they have learned about the White Walkers. Most likely the Hound will join them, but we will see what happens next week.
In Mereen, Tyrion escorts Varys to a ship where he is a leaving on a secret mission (mystery #2 of the night), gloating the whole time about how prosperous the city has become under his decrees. Tyrion returns to the pyramid where he convinces Grey Worm and Missandei to drink with him, and they have some moments of happiness telling jokes before the shit hits the fan, and they spot a fleet of warships coming toward Mereen, sent by the Masters. Everyone is pissed at Tyrion as his plans have failed, and Grey Worm reminds him about his earlier words that the Masters would use him, and they did, pretending to go along with Tyrion’s 7-year plan to end slavery so they could plan this attack. To save the city, Grey Worm decides they will need to pull all the Unsullied back toward the pyramid which is far more defensible, but just as he states this, they hear something very large hit the top of the structure. The door to the balcony swings open and all the soldiers bow instantly, as Daenerys returns to Mereen, with Drogon flying off in the background, ostensibly to set fire to some Masters’ ships. She does not look happy to see her people under attack, but the show instantly cuts away, leaving the Mereen battle and any of Dany’s dialogue for next week.
Lastly, back in Braavos, Arya awakens to find Lady Crane brutally murdered, with the Waif waiting for her, claiming the woman’s death could have been far more painless if Arya had just fulfilled her original mission. Arya flees, and an epic chase scene ensues, with much leaping crashing, and stalking (provided by the Waif, who wears a far too sinister smile on her face throughout the pursuit.) Arya takes a few bad falls and her wound re-opens, and she is now leaving a trail of blood behind her, which is all too easy for the Waif to follow. Arya retreats to the small dim room where we saw her stash Needle a few episodes back, and suddenly we realize she was not clumsily leaving blood behind but was rather leading the Waif into a trap. The door closes behind the Waif, and Arya draws Needle and uses it to douse the only candle in the room, leaving the pair to fight in pitch blackness, a state that Arya has already mastered. We cut to the House of Black and White, where Jaqen follows a blood trail into the Hall of Faces and finds the Waif’s face added to the collection. Arya appears and holds him at swordpoint, pointing out that a life was promised to the many faced god, and she has delivered. Jaqen seems pleased with her progress, and says that at last she has become “no one.” Arya does not agree and says she is Arya Stark of Winterfell, and is finally going home. She leaves an almost smirking Jaqen behind as she exits the building, and we cannot help but wonder if this is what he wanted for her all along.
GAME OF THEORIES:
– This secret mission that Varys left on, could that be his recruitment of Theon and Yara into Dany’s army (including all of their ships?)
– What is this rumored information that Qyburn and Cersei discuss? Could they be looking into how many followers the new Red God has and if they could challenge the High Sparrow and his faith?
– Is there a chance that the Waif was recruited by Jaqen for the sole purpose of training Arya and being her greatest challenge?
– If the Hound joins the Brotherhood without Banners, is there any chance they could make it up North in time to help out Jon Snow’s army?
Loved this episode, loved the end of Arya’s time in the House of Black and White, and cannot wait to see what happens in Mereen next week (they better not gloss over that battle, I want to see Dany’s massive army DESTROY the forces of the Masters.) See you back here next week!