And Game of Thrones moves forward with what has been an excellent season. No One subverts elements we know about the show, and pays off others. It’s a fine hour of television. It wastes no time, and it offers the craftsmanship and storytelling the series has become known for.
Arya is safe, she was patched up by the actress she failed to assassinate in Blood of my Blood. Like The Hound in The Broken Man, the entirety of No One is structured around a pivotal character moment for Arya. The main setpiece is devoted to her final confrontation with the Faceless Men, and, for once, she is on her way to see her family; finally unopposed. It’s a wonderful payoff to several seasons of agony for this character. Like Sansa, like Brienne, like Margarey and Cersei, Arya is taking initiative.
I mentioned The Hound earlier, we check up with him in No One once again. He is on a DEATH WISH esque hunt for the three members of The Brotherhood without Banners who slaughtered his camp. The Hound is a dark character headed towards an arc of redemption. I’ve always enjoyed him, as well as Rory McCann’s performance, so I’m excited to see his evolution.
Meanwhile, at Riverrun, Jaime is able to pull off a smooth victory. These parts of the episode focus more on the political aspects of Thrones, which is a fraction of the show that has been sorely missed. First Brienne attempts to negotiate a deal with Jaime to let the Tully army walk in exchange for Riverrun, but the Blackfish proves to be too stubborn. The friendly chemistry between Brienne and Jaime is a welcome dose of pathos in the midst of this dour affair. Is it romantic? Or just respect between warriors?
When No One reaches its climax, the Blackfish has, what I’m going to dub as his ‘Ned Stark’ moment. Does he surrender his pride to go with Brienne and Podrick to help Sansa? Does he die in his place? Once Ned was at a similar crossroads, does he betray his honor to help his kids, or does he maintain his pride and die? Both crossroads ended at the same place, but both men make very different decisions.
Things got bad for Cersei in a hurry. The Faith Militant seems to have her son fully under their control and her way out, through a trial by combat has been cut off. Its intriguing, because the Faith have gotten Tommen so convinced that what he’s doing is the right thing that I don’t think he realizes that he could very well end up bringing the legitimacy of his reign into question. I think Cersei could probably schmooze him back, but my guess is that somebody’s going to lose their head.
And the writers decide to find something interesting to happen to Tyrion, which is something they’ve been struggling with all season. His plan to allow the masters of Meereen seven years to ween their communities off slavery seems to have backfired, as they attack the city anyway. For the longest while Tyrion had been seeming like a super-genius, impervious to error. This adds a little bit of a human element to spice things up yet again.
It’s a good hour of television, with the next, Battle of the Bastards, promising to be better still. Ready for that Stark-Bolton showdown!