So much happened on this week’s episode, and yet it didn’t or at least, we didn’t see it. In what sadly is the weakest episode so far of a stellar season, we get more setup for the last two episodes. As I’m expecting these last two episodes to be mostly battles and payoff, this episode may not be the one we want, but it is the one we need.
First up is the Bravosi Footlights, with another long, expressive scene reminding us of Cersei’s capability for rage and fury. Why have we been seeing the Purple Wedding over and over again? More on my theory later. Turns out the crazy Arya theories were just that I’m afraid, and we get the old ‘find a friend, rest up and have some terrible soup’ trope. Still I’m glad to see Arya alive, just so it means these last two years in Bravos haven’t been entirely for nothing.
Next, it’s the Hound in full-on axe toting beast mode! He’s getting right back into the *swing* of things!
Over in Meereen, Varys is off on a B&B weekend somewhere (did we get told where at some point?). It might be to meet with Theon and Yara, or Euron, or someone else entirely. Tyrion and Varys share a fond farewell which usually spells a death knell for one or both of them. Perhaps Varys’ head will come back in a box.
Cersei is boozing it up in the Red Keep as per usual, when Lancel pays a visit. Ser Robert Strong (aka Zombie Clegane) politely responds to their request that Cersei return to the High Septon (not Sparrow anymore then?). Sadly, it is not Lancel but some poor other member of the Faith Militant that is discombobulated. We get a tiny hint of Zombie Clegane’s power but are limited to just a little bit this week.
Jamie and Brienne are back together as she tries to convince the Blackfish to leave Riverrun and help the Starks retake their home. Cue lots of intense and meaningful staring into each others eyes. The Blackfish promptly refuses. Will Jamie and Brienne be forced into fighting each other in a brutal battle? No…because the budget for that is in next week’s episode.
In what has to be the biggest let down so far this season, trials by combat are now outlawed! The long held fan theory that the two Clegane brothers would face off in Cersei’s trial by combat was dealt a serious blow tonight. Scores of fans are reportedly returning large amounts of ‘Cleganebowl’ t-shirts and other merchandise. Qyburn reports back that his little birds have found something interesting….more on that later.
We then get another overly-long scene of Tyrion trying to get some entertainment out of his comrades in Meereen, as if he were a stand-in for the audience trying to get some entertainment out of this plotline. Thankfully some warships show up and start blowing shit up, which holds our interest at the very least.
Jamie has a long conversation with Edmure, but again the message is that Cersei needs him, and he would do anything to get back to her. He knows what she is capable of without him to guide and counsel her. Again a hint that we will get to later. Edmure agrees and demands entry back into Riverrun, where he orders everyone to stand down and for the Blackfish to be handed over to the Freys (that part was a little harsh). Anyway he dies fighting (offscreen!) giving Brienne and Pod time to escape. The marching into Riverrun was a little cheesy as was the immediate hanging of Lannister flags, as if that would be the first thing on the agenda when taking over a castle.
Hey Danys back! She storms into the chamber with a “I leave you alone for five minutes!” look on her face. Drogon drops her off and proceeds to fly….somewhere. And the scene ends! Again, nothing but setup here really.
The Hound meets up with the Brothers without Banners, who after a light hanging and a quick snack convince Sandor to join them in the fight against the White Walkers (I assume). Another blow to Cleganebowl as presumably he will now be heading North?
And the final scene shows Arya finally defeating the Waif, with some top-notch action up until the final battle, which is in the dark and we don’t see it. Color me frustrated. Still we get a resolution to the entire storyline, Arya has finished her training and become no-one. Except she decides immediately to renounce all that and head back to Winterfell. Which, don’t get me wrong, is great, but it still feels like an unsatisfying payoff to the storyline. I also was never that clear on why the Waif hated her in the first place? Was that developed more in the books?
More on that theory later
This episode dropped the biggest hints so far that Cersei will go apeshit and burn down King’s Landing. She has already started to lose control (“I choose violence), and we know from past episodes that she will ‘burn cities to the ground’ when she doesn’t get her way (something she says on more than one occasion). I think that Qyburn is reporting back that there are stockpiles of Wildfire scattered around the city. I think we already knew that from Season 2 in ‘Blackwater’ when Tyrion used some of it against Stannis. This also explains Bran’s visions of Wildfire running through tunnels, and Danys vision of a smoked out and ruined throne room at the end of season 2. The trial is not going to go her way, and all bets are off when it doesn’t.
I think the preview says it all. And the fact it is Episode 9. And the fact is was directed by the same person that did last year’s ‘Hardhome’. Looks like we are in for quite a ride…