Warning the following is dark and full of spoilers
We continue on our journey of the never ending set up, but like I’ve said in previous reviews I don’t mind this in Game of Thrones. GoT always has an enormously satisfying pay off that makes all this exposition warranted. The puzzle pieces need to be put in place in order to have the full picture. If any episode was a setup episode though, this was it. Next week is episode nine so I think we are in for some major pay off then. In the mean time let’s dive into episode eight.
I will start off by saying that the Riverrun battle—or lack thereof—was a bit of a let down. Edmure Tully just went along with the Lannisters and Freys, families that killed his family by the way, plan: he walked right into the castle, told them he was the lord, and that was that. The Lannisters and Freys and their armies—if you can call the Freys an army—just marched in, set up their banners and that was it. The Blackfish was also killed off screen; I would have loved to see him valiantly try to defend his House. Instead what we got was an after thought of “oh by the way,Jaime, sorry The Black Fish is dead, you can’t say, ‘I told you so’ to him”. I did like the look of defeat from Jaime though; I bet he wanted to keep him prisoner like he was kept prisoner. Also, man, Sansa is not going to be happy with not getting this army. What is she going to do now? I mean she’s trying the Littlefinger route but we all know he’s untrustworthy.
Some good came from the Riverlands segment though: the reunion of Brienne and Jaime, and Podrick and Bronn. Brienne and Jaime are so in love with each other; I mean it’s all there in the looks and the words. He said his sword was always hers: to a knight that’s basically giving someone your heart. Also the look they gave each other—when Brienne and Podrick were rowing away—was the sweetest look of love if there ever was one. I felt the longing and the pain; it was quite heartbreaking. Jaime had this whole speech earlier about how Cersei is the only one that matters to him always– I call shenanigans on that sentiment Jaime, you have eyes for Brienne don’t lie. Poor Tormund… he’s no Jaime, and that ship may never leave the dock. Bronn and Podrick’s reunion was like two brothers and didn’t miss a beat; it was almost like they were never apart. Bronn plays the older brother part really well, teasing Podrick but also teaching him at the same time; it was beautiful and I’d watch that spinoff. It provided some comic relief which, in this show, is in low supply.
Speaking of comic relief: the best scene in this episode was the one between Tyrion, Missandei, and Grey Worm. Earlier Varys had to leave to go somewhere—we know not where—to get ships and more supporters, which broke up the Tyrion and Varys bromance. The Imp and the eunuch would also make for a great spin off, but alas he left. So Tyrion tries again to have a hang out with Missandei and Grey Worm: offering them wine, telling jokes, trying to make them laugh. This scene was adorable because you can tell both Missandei and Grey Worm want to have fun but they’ve never been allowed to before, nor do they know how. After a glass of wine though she loosens up and tells a rather clever joke and is actually funny, which prompts Grey Worm to make a very dry joke. So dry, we missed that it was a joke. They both told jokes ya’ll; they let go and let themselves be humans instead of robots, it was great. Grey Worm even freakin smiled everyone, Grey Worm smiled; there is something underneath his tough exterior. To put icing on the cuteness cake, Missandei then exclaimed, “more jokes!” You can see that Tyrion was so pleased with this moment– he was beginning to have friends again.
The adorableness was cut short though by the arrival of the Masters of the Free Cities via warships. At first I thought these ships were Yara and Theon and was like “dang that was actually quite fast even for this season”, then I figured out it wasn’t them. Man, did Tyrion’s plan not work out at all– instead it made them attack Meereen. They succeeded until Dany arrives in the knick of time to not do anything yet—of course; she kind of just looks at everyone and that’s it. You can see Drogon in the background though, so maybe he’s taking care of business with fire. They also have two more dragons just chillin unchained– use them too! The amount of extremely useful resources that go unused in this world is astounding.
The Hound got some vengeance in this episode. He didn’t axe any questions—sorry had to—he just brutally axed four men to death. He then came across some familiar faces: Thoros of Myr and Ser Beric Dondarrion. You have to be excited for these actors, they show up in Season three, disappear and are called back three years later to reprise their roles– good for them! Not much happened here other than the reunion and hanging the rest of the men who slaughtered Brother Ray and his crew. Book readers tell me: does the Hound being with the Brotherhood Without Banners just continue to set up for the possible return of another character, possibly from the dead. The Hound was always a hit or miss for me but this week he was a hit. One of the men had an arrow to his head and without even looking at him he says, “Tougher girls than you have tried to kill me.” He knows what is up with my girls Brienne and Arya; he knows they’re fierce and almost killed him. He has respect for them and I really enjoy that.
In King’s Landing, Cersei wins some and she loses some. She wins when she is allowed to stay in the Red Keep and return to the court after Zombie Mountain brutally slaughtered one of the Sparrow minions. She lost when she wasn’t allowed to stand up with her son and when Tommen announced the removal of Trial By Combat. You could see the betrayal on her face; Cersei is a horrible woman but at the end of the day she loves her kids. Tommen is her only child left and she is losing him to the Faith Militant. Tommen is turning against Cersei by the influence of the Faith. Trial By Combat was Cersei’s last hope of survival; it has to happen somehow even if it’s not sanctioned. Let them fight! I really think Cersei is either on her way to getting murdered or she’s on her way to snapping and burning them all. She has all of the Wildfire just sitting there; that stuff can do some real damage. Maybe she’ll go out in a blaze of glory burning all of King’s Landing, including herself, or maybe Arya is actually on her way to crossing Cersei off her list herself. Remember that prophecy from last season that Cersei will die by the hands of her valonqar aka little brother– maybe that is actually Jaime. Could you imagine?
Arya isn’t dying everyone, she’s going home to Westeros. She is the badass we always knew she could be. Although when she was running from the Waif it looked pretty clear that she wasn’t going to make it. Also, she was stabbed pretty badly–how was she able to run that fast and be that awesome after only a nights rest and soup from the actress—may she rest in peace. The chase sequence between the Waif and Arya was awesome; the ending was even better. Arya led the Waif into a stone room without any outlet except the one Waif was standing in. It looked like it was over for Arya; after falling down multiple stone steps she was bleeding again pretty badly. The Waif said it will all be over soon, but that’s when Arya pulled out Needle! She led the Waif there on purpose; even bleeding out my girl Arya has a plan. The Waif said, “we’ve been through this already, that won’t help you”, so Arya shows her by slicing the candle in half, and everything goes black. I thought the episode was over and was going to be so pissed but excited for next week even more; it wasn’t over, though, not by a long shot. The next scene we are back at the House of Black and White. Jaqen H’ghar is walking around doing his thing when he sees a trail of blood and follows it. The blood trail leads to a bloody cut out face of the Waif hung on the wall of faces! You see Arya became a badass assassin ninja while blind; she could fight in the dark, the Waif could not. Jaqen was quite pleased with Arya, surprisingly, but he’s a weird dude so what are you going to do. He told her, “Finally, a girl is no one.” and Arya snapped back at him, “A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell and I’m going home.” Yes!! I knew she knew her name, I knew she’d be Arya again, that’s why I never stopped calling her Arya. I’m a little sad though, because I think this means no more of my boy Jaqen H’ghar. He could show up again; he can be literally anyone. Arya is going back to Westeros with some new skills in tow; it’s time for a battle. She’ll probably be back there next episode, for this is Season No Need For Travel Stark Reunion 2016.
Well there you have it, so much more setup than we ever dreamed, but it will be oh so satisfying when it pays off next week and the last. To recap: Jaime has Riverrun, which mean he can return to Cersei to love her or end up killing her, Cersei is ready to snap and wreak havoc, Arya is going home finally, The Hound is with the Brotherhood Without Banners, Brienne and Podrick are on their way back to Sansa, Varys went on a journey, and Dany is back at Meereen. This all calls for major action for the final two episodes where we will finally see the big picture that all these puzzle pieces are putting together for us. Episode nine is appropriately titled “Battle of the Bastards” so already from that we know Ramsay and Jon are finally fighting if the title is as on the nose as it sounds. Who will win? Will Cersei die? Who will kill her? Will Arya finally be reunited with her family after all this time? Is Gendry still paddling somewhere? Tune in next episode to find out!