Title: Game of Thrones – “No One”
Air Date: June 12, 2016
Before we begin – Yes, there are Game of Thrones spoilers ahead. I will not celebrate every twist and turn, but if we are going to talk about what we like, we have to discuss the great scenes. Stop reading if you do not like spoilers. You have been warned!
There’s that payoff we’ve been waiting for! After two straight episodes of “moving the pieces” after that traumatic Hodor origin story, some of our stories got that forward momentum they needed. “No One” was obviously an Arya-centric Game of Thrones episode, but a few other major players got pushed in the right direction as well. We’ll focus on Arya last, but how did everyone else fare this week?
Arya’s old frenemy, Sandor “The Hound” Clegane, made his presence known this week. He interrupted a bizarre kissing lesson with his trusty axe, again proving that he is one of the top five people in Westeros that you do not want to mess with. Much later, he proved his ability to interrupt by halting the hanging death of last week’s slaughterers, only to meet up with the long-lost Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr. Not quite the stone-hearted greeting that much of the internet expected, but it puts Clegane in an interesting place. Beric seems to know about the White Walkers, and did his darndest to recruit Sandor to his cause. He would probably fit right in with the Brotherhood without Banners, but where would it leave this storyline? We probably only have the final episode of the season to figure that out, as it looks like next week will be dominated by a couple of bastards.
The battle for Winterfell is coming next week, and it fed right into the biggest storyline in “No One;” can Brienne drum up some help for Sansa, Jon, and Davos? She did her best, but was unable to sway Jaime or the Blackfish to give up their fight with one another. Her reunion with Jaime was sweet and full of tension; it seemed fitting when Bronn asked Pod, “You think they’re f***ing?” It is interesting to see who Jaime respects. He obviously respects the honor and fighting prowess of Brienne, he respects the stubbornness of the Blackfish, but he has zero respect for Edmure Tully. They’re argument was fascinating, as it actually made you believe that Edmure had some fight left in him. It was quickly revealed that he is as shallow as we always thought. Blackfish was reported dead, but, as with mmany Game of Thrones “fakeout” deaths, we never actually saw it happen…
In the end, Brienne gets to keep her sword, but her and Jaime seem like star-crossed lovers at this point. It was nice that Brienne and Jaime shared their little farewell, but it is clear that Jaime is clinging to his love for Cersei at this point in time. This makes the development in Cersei’s storyline the most devastating revelation of the week.
After yet another brutal scene showing how nasty the zombie Mountain is (seriously, he ripped a guy’s head off with his bare hands after being stabbed in the chest), we found out that his power has been nerfed. Trial by combat is no longer allowed, under the alliance between the crown and the faith. Cersei obviously did not like the news, as it seems like her only living child is hamstringing her best chance for survival. She still seems like she has an ace up her sleeve, however, as she slyly asked Qyburn about whether “the old rumor” was true. “It is more… much more,” he replied. How will Cersei possibly make it through a regular trial by jury? Is this part of Margaery’s sudden conversion? And what kind of wild rumor is Cersei all fired up about?
Before we head back to Arya, the story in Meereen got moving a bit this week as well. Game of Thrones has spun its wheels a bit with Tyrion and Dany this season, so it was nice to get them back together by the end of the episode. Tyrion, “the most famous dwarf in the world,” had some more great conversation this week (including an awesome telling of jokes with Grey Worm and Missendei), but it was only a matter of time before his compromise with the slave masters came back to bite him. Although we got no resolution on it, we now have the man of planning reunited with the (wo)man of action. It seems fitting that one of the most difficult to pin down characters on the show, Varys, slipped away just before the masters attack. Almost like he knew something was coming…
In the end, “No One” wound up being bookended by everyone’s favorite child assassin. Arya’s storyline was also a bit convoluted throughout this season of Game of Thrones, but it got a satisfying conclusion. Why did Arya allow that creepy old woman to approach her last episode? How did Arya get away from the Waif? How did she manage to win a fight while bleeding from massive stomach wounds and at least one broken ankle? Who knows, but she got her bloody revenge on her sadistic enemy and managed to impress Jaqen H’ghar in the process. She proclaimed that she is Arya Stark of Winterfell, rather than “No One,” and set out to return to Westeros. It was a moment worth cheering, but it also makes you logically wonder: why did she come here? She’s a better fighter now, but she is not much further developed as a character due to her stay in the House of Black and White. Hopefully this is something yet to be resolved, and not just an open ended concession by the writers. And we never actually saw the fight play out. Maybe the Waif is sick of being “No One,” and she decided to take on a new life. You never know with Game of Thrones.
Overall, “No One” got some good delivery in many of its storylines. Some of the drama was a bit convoluted, and some of the logic did not quite check out, but Game of Thrones still manages to deliver dramatic character interaction and plenty of intrigue with its crowd-pleasing moments. Arya is Arya again, Cersei has a “plan,” Daenerys is going to burn things. All is well with Westeros.
- Characters: Arya, Jaime, and many others got to take the next steps in their development.
- Story: Again, many stories got significant pushes, either finishing an arc or moving much closer. Some logical leaps (how did Arya survive all that?) needed a grain of salt.
- Cinematography: The scenes with Sandor Clegane were the best; they seemed very reminiscent of Jason stalking his prey in the Friday the 13th series. The Arya chase scene was very intense.
- Acting: The Blackfish is always a treat, and a few reunions (Bronn and Pod, Brienne and Jaime) were great. Tyrion’s terrible joke session before the attack of the slave masters was also excellent.
- Good reunions outside Riverrun
- Many characters get to move forward
- Both Cleganes show their prowess
- Daenerys back to do what she does best
- Arya has a satisfying conclusion...
- ...Although how she got there seems dubious
- Offscreen deaths (Blackfish + Waif)
- Ramsay is still alive