This week’s episode gave us a tense, thrilling episode that started slowly before reaching its full, butt-clenching, head-popping boil. We are reminded that it’s best not to ever get too happy or self-satisfied, that the Clegane brothers really do have a lot in common, and it’s really the badass ladies who ultimately rule the Game of Thrones. Find out why, after the break!
It must have seemed like such a simple equation for Cersei: await trial by combat, unleash Frankenmountain on whatever poor sap the High Septon puts up there, and watch it unfold in all it’s head-squashing gory… er, glory. Hell, she even got a preamble as old big, dead, and stinky popped the head off one of the faithful militants (making Lancel and crew seem both a little less faithful and a little less militant). But that foxy (in the crafty sense) High Sparrow had other plans. And while outlawing the trial by combat pretty much puts the kibosh on Clegane-Bowl, it’s an excellent turn of plot that gives us something unexpected and really puts Cersei at risk, maybe for the first time since the show began.
It has me wondering whether Cersei herself may become the agent of Tommen’s destruction. Because right now, she is pretty much the biggest threat to him. He’s safe(ish) under the Sparrow’s thumb; it’s really only her skin that needs saving right now. This was an excellent episode by Dean-Charles Chapman, as he displayed Tommen’s nervousness and shame perfectly. This is a young king that knows he’s dooming his mother, but doing it because he truly believes it’s right. I wish I knew exactly what Queen Margery’s play is here, and why she was conspicuously absent this episode. And exactly what rumor did creepy Qyburn confirm? Could we have found the Mad King’s secret stash of Wildfire?
In the Hinterlands
Frankenmountain isn’t the only Clegane with a penchant for popping off heads. Baby brother Sandor went and got medieval on those bad Brothers without Banners. I’m feeling a little better about last week’s episode, now that we found the douches who killed off the folks in Idyllic Valley were actually a splinter group of the BwB, and Dondarrion and Thoros were handling their bad apples appropriately. I’m more intrigued about the possibility of The Hound joining the Brotherhood, even if that pretty much also eliminated the possibility of CleganeBowl. It’s good to see the Brotherhood thread being picked up again, and Dondarrian referring to cold winds blowing up north hints at some excellent storylines next season. Still waiting for a certain Lady to show up.
Full confession: I thought Podrick was toast this weekend, simply based on the preview where he’s getting choked from behind. Good to know it was only a roughhousing Bronn, who pretty much shows our squire love-god that he don’t know shit about fighting. The Jaime-Brienne scenes simply crackled here, their mutual admiration for the other obvious and touching. Brienne’s plan to get the Blackfish to quit may have failed but I can’t help but think it may have laid some seeds in Jaime’s mind. After all, why bother putting a few thousand Tully soldiers in irons when he can just send them up North to help his old friend Brienne (and continue to fulfill his pledge to Caitlyn, since Sansa is anything but safe)? Might not make Cersei especially happy, but she’s got her own things to deal with.
And dare I say, did the Kingslayer seem almost kingly. Using Edmure to bloodlessly take the castle, keeping his oath with Brienne, hell, it even seems he felt real regret that the Blackfish had died. After last years Dornsaster, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau has really brought the A game here, playing his part with passion and anger. And his reaction when Edmure asks how he can live with himself, how he could not acknowledge that he’s the villain, was a pitch perfect look of fiery resignation that said, Kingslayer just gotta be Kingslayer.
It’s really about time that Tyrion realizes he’s merely an actor in a script written by sadistic madmen. He should know, every time he thinks he’s made it, every time he gets that sense of self-satisfaction that one of his plans has come together, some navy is going to show up and start shooting fire. This time it’s the Slaver cities, come to reclaim their property.
Loved the look of horror and expectation when something landed on the roof and all you heard were skittering claws. And Dany’s wordless entry was the stuff of legend. Queen D is in the house and going to set things right. Maybe the best part was the view over her shoulder of Drogon heading out to sea to see for a midnight snack of flame-broiled Yunkai and seared Astapor. Hope he can get his missing brothers involved in the fun.
The episode began and ended here. Can I just say, I love the play within the play. There is just something so deliciously meta about watching these scenes from the audience’s perspective, where Joffrey is a tragic hero and audiences are reduced to tears by Cersei’s grief and anger. And it again makes me wonder if the evil Lannisters are, in fact, the heroes of this story.
We know The Waif is not, though, and her extended pursuit of Arya was amongst the most tense scenes in the series. She really turned out to be an excellent, short-term villain – part T1000 and part Ninja. And I’ve extended my allowable threshold for disbelief to not roll my eyes at the gut-stabbed and weakened Arya’s successful plan to go the Daredevil route and beat The Waif in the dark, simply because her closing words to Jaqen contained so many levels of awesome. Arya’s back, baby – and I think we’re going to need a bigger list.
The Hound had the best lines of the night, nearly every one priceless. Still the winner is “Everyone dies, ‘cept him,” as he refers back to Dondarrion.
I think this is Tyrion’s worst season as a character… just not a lot to do except say funny stuff and get people to drink. Still, the sad, hopeful dream he shared about having a future on a vineyard was classic Dinklage. I hope we can get more of this soon.
Was I the only one who thought Brienne was going to leave a big, wet smooch on Jaime before she left the tent? Maybe I’ve been watching too many rom-coms.
Looks like the Battle for the North is coming next week. Will Jon have enough men? Will he find a surprise ally or enemy waiting with the Boltons? Find out next week when we get the Battle of the Bastards, live on pay per view… er… HBO!