“If you shaved your beard with a straight razor, you’d say the razor worked. That doesn’t mean it won’t cut your throat.”
Ironically, the episode titled “No One” sees several characters finally return from obscurity and rejoin the battle: Daenerys comes back, Cersei starts to make moves, Brienne comes back south having completed her mission for Jaime, and Arya claims her name again. This episode had some excellent moments, but let’s start with a small amount of warranted criticism.
Oddly enough, the one moment that was supposed to be the most triumphant was, in my opinion, super cheesy and action-movie-standard - Daenerys’s return. In fact, the whole of Mereen seemed a bit lackluster. I think that, as much as I love Tyrion, he needs Varys to really make his character work. Without Varys, he’s just one super smart degenerate dwarf. Yes, he gets Missandei to laugh and sip some wine, but the joke he tells about the three flies in the beer is a recycled Irish joke (I always heard it as an Englishman, a German and an Irishman). Her joke is a mildly amusing one, and then the slaver ships come in. An entirely weak scene.
The trebuchets on the ships flinging flaming balls of destruction looked cool, but the structure of that secene was so hackneyed it would make Stan Lee blush. As soon as the rumbling happened on the roof it was obvious that it was Drogon. But what of the other two dragons? Tyrion freed them, and for what? Why weren’t they out there burning the crap out of some wooden ships? The whole plot line was very disappointing. Hopefully Varys is off doing something cool.
Other than that, the episode worked pretty well. The Hound gets back to killing, which should make him happy. And Beric Dondarrion is back! I love this character (keep your Gendry, give me Beric any day), and, given that only he and Jon Snow have come back this way, he seems like he could be pretty important. And now he might have the Hound at his side. This could get pretty awesome.
Arya sets herself free after escaping the T-1000, who, for some reason, has chosen to take on the shape of a Waif. That said, I was sad to see Lady Crane go. Her re-jiggered speech in the play was rather amazing, and she seemed like a genuine person. So, of course, she had to go. The dialogue when Arya delivers the Waif’s face to the House of Black and White was not particularly well-written. Which girl was no one? If he was saying that Arya was no one, then he’s wrong, as she points out. Is he saying that the Waif is now no one because she’s dead? Was he testing her as well as Arya, and Arya won? Or, is he saying that, by delivering the face of no one in exchange for her face, Arya is no longer owed to the Many Faced God? It’s not at all clear what he means, except that, it would seem that Arya is free to go home.
Edmure Tully goes home as well, but only to surrender his home to the Lannisters (and the Frays). However, Jaime’s scene with Edmure is incredible. Jaime has just shown his honorable side to Brienne by giving her Oathkeeper and letting her pass. His relationship with her is an odd one. I think she envies his ability to serve as a knight, which she cannot do simply because she’s a woman. He envies her actual purity of honor, which is what he has always wanted but never had - incest is so rarely seen as honorable. After the scene with Brienne, you just might think that he’s honorable. The scene with Edmure then comes to disabuse you of that notion.
Edmure has a moment of real wisdom when he says, “All of us have to believe that we’re decent, don’t we?” Not only is this true, but he finds a trigger point for Jaime, who has been seeking decency most of his life. Jaime, in response, talks about the fanatical love Cersei and Catlyn had for their children, then compares that to his love for Cersei. He threatens Edmure’s son, Edmure himself, and then says that he will “slaughter every Tully who ever lived to get back to her.” The dead-eyed seriousness of Jaime’s promise of violence convinces Edmure. Jaime is never one to make a threat he’s not willing to follow through on, so we are left to somehow balance the honor he shows to Brienne and the deadly resolve he shows Edmure. That complexity is why this show rules.
And then there’s Cersei. She unleashed the Faith Militant as a means to protect herself, as Tyrion has done with the Red Priestesses in Mereen. And now, the tool she thought would work for her seeks to cut her throat. The promised violence in the preview from last week did not disappoint. The Mountain proves to be as brutally effective as we would expect. The real evil here, though, is in Cersei. The look of physical pleasure on her face as The Mountain pulled a man’s head off his body by the jaw would freeze beer. It’s the barest smirk, but with eyes that want more blood. And we watch the blood flow into the storm drain. In reaction to this, it would appear, the High Sparrow has Tommen ban trial by combat. Cersei has always been evil. But, of late, her wickedness is sympathetic. That doesn’t make it any less chilling when Qyburn tells her that the unnamed “rumor” she told him about is “much more” than mere gossip.
So, what is the rumor? In this case, I think the fan theories may be on to something. Bran’s vision should have ignited wildfire. We know that the mad king had hidden caches of the stuff all around the city and had intended to burn the city completely, which is why Jaime killed him. Perhaps Qyburn has found one or all of the wildfire collections. I would wager there’s one under the High Sept of Baelor. Would she ignite the Sept to destroy the High Sparrow? Would she do it while Sir Loras Tyrell was on trial? I believe she would. Would she kill her own son? I don’t think so, but she seems to have gone round the bend, so it’s hard to predict if there is a line she won’t cross.
But first, we have the Battle of Winterfell. As the Boltons say, “Our blades are sharp.”