Season 6, Episode 8
Aired: June 12, 2016
Director: Mark Mylod
Writer: David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
What an odd, often-perplexing episode of Game of Thrones.
To start with the good, I really loved everything with Brienne and Jaime. Their meeting in the tent was genuinely touching and it was heartbreaking to think they might have to face each other on a battlefield.
I really enjoy the fact that Brienne is the only one who sees Jaime as an honorable man. Everyone else only sees him as the Kingslayer. Countless times, we’ve seen characters scoff at Jaime when he speaks of his honor. But Brienne understands it. And even though, as he explains in this episode, his driving force will always be Cersi, he does have a code of right and wrong. He treats Edmure with respect and kindness, he lets the men of Riverrun surrender peacefully (minus the Blackfish) and he lets Brienne and Pod escape. He’s had to get his hands dirty more than once, but he is a knight who does his best to live by a code of honor.
Still, while I enjoyed most of that storyline, the surrender and the Blackfish’s death both seemed like misfires. Edmure surrendering the castle could have worked, but it just seemed like the show got there a little too easily. As much time and energy has been put into this Riverrun siege, it seems a bit too convenient that a brainwashed, beaten Edmure just gave up. It could have worked, given the torture he endured, but I just didn’t feel like the show sold it well enough.
And the Blackfish’s death was so, so stupid. Sure, he’s stubborn, but it seemed so pointless that he would stay to die instead of going off to help his remaining family retake Winterfell. At that point, he had so clearly lost. So there wasn’t any honor in dying. It was pointless bloodshed. And, worst of all, his death happened off-screen. I know he isn’t a major character in the grand scheme of things, but he deserved more than a throwaway line of dialogue telling us he died.
Back to the good, it was really fun seeing the Hound quickly and swiftly get revenge. I liked his negotiations over how many people he got to kill and how he got to kill them. And his looting the body while the guy was still twitching was also great. Plus, the Hound has been a surprisingly fertile source of great one liners and “You’re shit at dying. You know that?” was another great one. I’m curious where he heads next.
Unfortunately, I found the rest of the episode pretty underwhelming. The joke scene with Tyrion, Grey Worm and Missandei felt like pointless filler that went on waaaay too long. The King’s Landing stuff just felt like a lot of blustery posturing (though the banning of trial by combat is a curious development). And the CGI in the episode was surprisingly bad.
Then, there was everything with Arya and the Waif. Ugh. Bringing back Lady Crane, just to have her brutally killed off, felt stupid, especially when it was made clear that the other actress, Bianca, was already fired from the show. Worse, the past two episodes have made Arya seem completely incompetent. She seemed to have no plan to deal with an assassin who she knew was after her and instead ended up stumbling bloody and dying on the doorstep of the one person the Waif was sure to track down.
Then we got that ridiculous chase scene that felt like the Game of Thrones version of a Family Guy Peter Griffin chicken fight. There was so much parkour! And the Waif was moving like the Terminator, stoically and roboticly pursuing Arya through the streets in broad daylight. (Are any of the Faceless Men competent assassins?) It wasn’t until three-quarters of the way through the sequence that the writers remembered Arya was injured and made any effort to acknowledge it. And, even then, she seemed to be doing surprisingly well for someone who, after being stabbed four times and bleeding profusely, fell down a flight of steps.
The sad part is that the final battle scene between the two was actually pretty clever. Since Arya spent so much time fighting blind, it makes sense that the way to win was to fight in the dark. I just wish they could have gotten there in a more organic, less ridiculous way. Everything that preceded it made Arya, the Waif and the showrunners look terrible. And, worst of all, this ending makes the whole Faceless Men storyline seem like a pointless waste of time. Clearly she didn’t learn any new skills during her time there. And it was all just a way to kill time until sending Arya back to Westeros.
Overall, I thought this week had some really fun highlights, but unfortunately the bad outweighed the good.
And another thing …
- The show teased two big secrets. Varys has a secret plan to get ships for Danny (which may or may not involve the Iron Islands). And Cersi, thanks to the little birds, seems to have uncovered something shocking. My guess would be it’s dirt on either the High Sparrow or the Tyrells (or perhaps some kind of helpful evidence for her trial), but who knows?
- I need more scenes with Bronn teaching Pod how to fight without honor.
- That play is going to have to do some quick recasting. They lost their two main actresses and they have a show coming up in Pentos.
Written by Joel Murphy. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact Joel at firstname.lastname@example.org