Spoilers, of course. Though I’m one day late for this upload.
GOT delivers one of the richest episodes in character exploration so far in the season. All the previous episodes have teased and teased, and while it is frustrating to still have no answers so far, what we had is quality time with our characters. That experience of feeling like being in a room with them, chatting, joking, is something I have sorely missed.
And from this episode, everyone is essentially No One.
I notice that a number of story arcs lately have been anchored on Jaime’s perspective; for the past episodes we had the failed Lannister-Tyrell attack on the Faith Militant, and the barely spoken but deep anguish of Cersei over losing Tommen to the Sparrow. This episode takes Jaime’s point of view to deeper character revisiting. I did enjoy the awkwardness but genuine connection of Jaime and Brienne. I appreciated Jaime’s conversation with Edmure Tully (and my goodness, Edmure-actor Tobias Menzies did deliver; he was Brutus in HBO’s Rome series before. I loved that series immensely).
The Jaime of this episode rekindles the conflicts of the King Slayer. For those who read the novels (and from Jaime’s confession to Brienne seasons ago), it is known that Jaime held the secret of knowing the fact that the Mad King wanted to burn the entire city, which compelled him to break his sacred vow and murder the king instead. His king-slaying was an act of heroism nobody knows and appreciates, but he carried on anyway with his brand, knowing there was a higher purpose to it. That is the Jaime we are reminded in this episode. This is a good man born under the wrong house, loving the wrong woman, serving the wrong king. But he has no choice. So bad as bad gets, he has to own up to his family’s murders of the Starks (“Must we talk politics?” to Brienne), and fight for what is left of whatever honor is left for his house (“I love my sister. You can laugh at that” to Edmure).
That scene between Jaime and Edmure was painful to watch. You know that Edmure hits the right chords with Jaime: “You imagine yourself a decent person…. After you massacred my family, how do you live with yourself?” And you have there the face that Jaime’s No One wears: the brutal Lannister who will massacre every lord and bannerman just to come back to his Cersei. We know he is not joking about his answer, but you also feel that there is a side of Jaime that aches for something on the right side of good.
Jaime’s character redemption is embedded within his complex relationship with Brienne. Brienne is the embodiment of the knight Jaime, in another life, would have become. That tender moment triggers some #feelz – “It’s yours. It will always be yours” on Oathkeeper to Brienne. He allows Brienne safe passage out to fight a war he wishes he could fight. To fight for an obvious right, an explicit right. He fulfills his vow to Catelyn Stark, and symbolically through Oathkeeper, sends Brienne to a knightly adventure he can never have.
Where do we even begin? Cersei’s No One is about to break. Her Tommen is essentially dead. This Tommen she sees, like her Mountain, is undead. That is even sadder if you remember that during the battle of Blackwater, when Stannis attacked King’s Landing and Tyrion used wild fire, Cersei was willing to kill both her and Tommen, sitting on the Iron Throne, just to be able to spare them from the fate that the Targaryens had during their fall. And now her son, sitting on the same Iron Throne, has abandoned her.
So of course, the pronouncement that there will no longer be trial by combat effectively shut down any possibility of Cleganebowl. But what remains is, “there is more”. I am crazy about this, because all directions point to MORE WILDFIRE.
We know from the books that the Mad King had ordered the city to be burned by wildfire, but never got to use them because of Jaime’s intervention. So of course there is more wildfire. The question now is whether Cersei would use that to eliminate the Faith Militant. There are clues. In Bran’s vision there are images of wildfire released and expanding through tunnels. That could not be a vision from the past, because again, Mad King did not get to “burn them all”. So we can speculate that Cersei would make ‘burning them all’ happen.
So, if Jaime gets back in time, would he do to Cersei what he did with the Mad King, in order to avert another attempt on a wildfire-induced burning of the city? Can Jaime even dare to kill Cersei? This possibility exists only in the series. Because in the novels so far, Jaime has long abandoned Cersei’s plea for a reunion.
Finally the drag of her storyline has ended. On a point that we all knew would happen anyway. The chase scene was good; we got some parkour moves. And sure she killed the Waif in the darkness, because that was how she was trained to do.
What pisses me off again is how damn unemotional Jaqen is about all of these. The Many-faced God was promised a death; it was the Waif; and he does not really care. But he gave out a little smirk. So does that mean that entire Arya drag was intended by Jaqen? Is it the entry of the Many-faced God to the battles of the gods in Westeros? To send Arya as the killer in the dark? Because #TheNightIsDarkAndFullOfTerrors? Arya’s storyline is so far away from the clustering and overlaps of the other story arcs that even if her “a girl” chapter has ended, it still feels like a drag to me.
Sure there’s the mic drop worthy line about her being Arya Stark of Winterfell and she’s going home. But damn girl, we knew that all along.
The Hound’s No One is spelled out well by the BWB. He was born to fight and he is pretending otherwise. The Hound in this episode, all violent and brutal, is on such a light mood. He was never this light since his adventures with Arya. So we’re reminded why he is not such a bad guy after all.
Of course he’ll join BWB. Come on. And if this story track does not lead to Lady Stoneheart, I’d be pissed.
P.S. Give the damn Hound chicken, please.
Finally. Scenes with quality time on Tyrion’s character. Tyrion’s No One is being a Lannister. Let me frame it this way: he tried to sort out the trouble with the slavers in a way that a Lannister would – cunning, devious. But here outside of Westeros, he saw, that is not what the negotiation language is. And I like this character twist, if it is developed as so. Tyrion might eventually realize that his Lannister ways are not what his way should be. Maybe there is wisdom in the TARGARYEN way. (Because you know, he might actually be one. He should be.)
I felt refreshed with his drinking scene with Greyworm and Missandei. That was the kind of Tyrion who won our hearts with his long jolly scenes with Bronn and Podrick before. And that scene with Varys? Well who knows what Varys is up to. Which allies in Westeros is he going to connect with? To think, one of the great battles of this GoT narrative is the war between Varys and Littlefinger. Whoever outsmarts the other and puts the next king in the Iron Throne will be the winner. We know where Littlefinger’s odds are at now; Varys in this episode teases his.
P.S. Someone point me to whoever fixes Dany’s hair. Coz she rode a dragon and all that flying, but her hair looks fresh from the curling iron. Talk about hairspray.
P.P.S. But wait, why is Drogon flying away? In an attack involving fire? Come on. You gotta be kidding me. But then again, this might be the long-awaited plot development on Dany and Tyrion ruling and crushing enemies together, because again, Targaryens. #Believe
What’s amazing about the set-up from episode 8 is what may be a simultaneous battle in episode 9 involving the three Targaryen dragon heads: Dany and Tyrion at Meereen, and Jon Snow at the Battle of the Bastards. The trailer is pretty intense. You have the Starks at lesser odds against the Bolton army. But you have Jon Snow. And you got to believe in Jon Snow.
At this point I am thinking, there must be a way to start building the Azor Ahai narrative to the picture, if Bran will continue to deprive us the visions of the Tower of Joy to confirm R+L=J. In the books, the prophecy says, “when the stars bleed and the cold winds blow, a warrior shall draw from the fire a burning sword. That sword will be Lightbringer; the one who draws it is Azor Ahai reborn.”
There had been theories:
- Stars bleed = Melisandre. The theory is that Melisandre will wither away as payment for her resurrection of Jon Snow. Apparently, Melisandre’s origins connect with “star”.
- Cold winds blow = COME ON! He’s freaking coming.
- Drawing from the fire a burning sword, Lightbringer. Now this is where it can get exciting. In the Azor Ahai story, hero forges a sword and fails many times. And he only gets to create Lightbringer when he thrusted it against the breast of his wife. We know that we missed that chance with Longclaw and Ygritte. My wish is that we get that chance with Longclaw and Sansa. Because for all intents and purposes, Sansa is a dead storyline to me. Fine, I am biased against her. But it’s not bad to dream.