In the Game of Game of Thrones, it takes a lot of time to become no one. I've seen some grumbling that tonight's episode negated everything that Arya Stark's been up to for the past two seasons, and I don't think that's exactly true — she's become a formidable fighter; and has grown sufficiently jaded about the once-impossibly-mysterious House of Black and White (as have we, I think). She's taken the useful bits of their teachings and kept them, while discarding that which doesn't apply to her. Jaqen H'ghar tells her this week that she has successfully become No One (+25), but even without that distinction (and the implied face-related powers that come with it) she'd be a significantly different person. I just don't know if we needed this particular training montage to go on as long as it did.
This 'Game of Thrones' Fan Theory will change the way you seen Needles forever
It was always clear from the beginning that Arya would end up staying Arya; if only because popular Western entertainment is fueled by ego-driven narratives. But I'm getting ahead of myself: let's start with Lady Crane. Our master thespian is going through that thing where you realize that all of your co-workers hate you and the only way to get back at them is to be hypercompetent even when you know the work is bullshit. I totally did this at the deli I worked at in high school. It's clear that the talent imbalance is kind of throwing off the whole show at this point. But before she can give any serious thought to switching productions, Arya Stark stumbles back into her life with those fierce eyebrows and a hole in her gut. Crane stitches her back up and offers to give her a job with the company, presumably in the role of Sansa Stark, seeing as the last Sansa apparently slipped and got her face cut. A future of moldy wigs and genital warts and career-mandated Botox and two-dimensional female roles flashes before Arya's eyes and she's like "nah." Lady Crane gives her some milk of the poppy and this creepy music cue comes in and my first thought was, "Wait, is Arya about to become a junkie?" I still kind of like this as a Z-grade crackpot prediction. This One Wacky Game Of Thrones Online Fan Theory Will Change The Way You See Needles Forever.
While Arya sleeps, and Lady Crane rummages around for more drugs, The Waif shows up and ends her rather gruesomely (+20). What follows is a kind of ridiculous chase scene in which Arya, who is still bleeding and high as a fucking giraffe, manages to evade The Waif doing the best T-1000 impression this side of the Narrow Sea. I don't know how it's possible for a soulless killing machine to be hammy, but The Waif preordered this honeybaked with relish. Arya eventually lures her to a secret chamber and kills her in the dark (+30) — because she's capable of blind assassinry now, you know? She brings The Waif's face back to the HBW and Jaqen is impressed, but Arya is out of there — "A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell, and I'm going home," she declares (+10). Hypercompetence amidst bullshit, etc.
The Hound (who was never dead and does not get any resurrection from the dead points) isn't hypercompetent so much as he is in possession of an axe. He axe-murders four nasty rogue Brothers Without Banners (Brotherhood Extra-Without Banners? +40) and chops the last one in the crotch, which means we got to see a shot of bloody guts falling out of a dick, I guess? This show! The guy won't tell him where Brother Ray's killer is, so he tells him, "You're shit at dying, you know that?" (+5) and finishes the job. Later he comes upon our old death-cheating buddies Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr, who, if he were drafted, would have gotten some points for the sweet new manbun he's rocking. They let him kill two of the murderers they had strung up, though both we and The Hound understand this is much less satisfying than axe murder. Still, he gets another +20 and some new boots! Great week for The Hound. In all likelihood he'll be heading north to help the Brotherhood fight the walkers, which is bad news for the walkers and for anyone with any emotional investment in the fan theory formerly known as CleganeBowl.
We're gonna need a bigger Violence
And not just because he's going in the wrong direction — Cersei Lannister's trial by combat is officially off the table. Perhaps it wasn't so wise to show her hand by having The Mountain rip open the jaw of one of the Faith Militant's lackeys (+10, +5 for style), as it certainly seemed to prompt a rethinking of this (admittedly pretty silly) legal practice. Cersei may choose violence, but if nobody else does at the moment, she's going to need more violence. Like, a huge stockpile of violence. A huge stockpile of violence that Qyburn happens to know the location of.
In Meereen, we get a minisode of my least favorite show: Tyrion Lannister & Friends. Once again we found the imp berating his tragically dull sidekicks into lightening up and eventually swapping jokes. (Tyrion's: too Westerosi! Missandei's: unfunny! Grey Worm's: accidental!) At this point Tyrion is Reese Witherspoon in the worst scene from Cruel Intentions, an otherwise perfect film.
Oh, right, I should also mention that Varys has gotten the hell out of Meereen, on a "secret mission" whose first and last objective is probably just getting the hell out of Meereen. Varys is smart. So smart that I'm giving him +25 for removing himself from this situation. The other three teetered dangerously close to Lame Plotline territory, and would have been cursed to remain there if not for the arrival of The Masters' army and Daenerys Targaryen, finally. (Who else initially thought those ships were Euron Greyjoy's and yelled "You've got to be fucking kidding me" at their televisions? I know I can't be alone.) Seeing as Tyrion's negotiation tactics are probably to blame for this development, Grey Worm and Missandei are righteously pissed. "No more talking from you," says Grey Worm, for all of us (+10). Anyway, next week we're probably in for some dragon-assisted warfare which means that Meereen is still kind of interesting.
But the most interesting place to be this week was Riverrun, mostly because that's where the great Jaime Lannister-Brienne of Tarth reunion went down. Since these two were last in the same room, this 'ship has become a cottage industry — even Bronn has Lannistarth Fever. "Do you think they're fucking?" he asks his old pal Podrick Payne. "He'd fuck her, that's for sure. And she'd fuck him, don't you think?" (+5). No, Bronn, no. If Jaime and Brienne admitted their feelings for each other they'd just kiss and cuddle and smile at each other and it would be very sweet. As it stands, they are sort of at odds with one another. Brienne needs The Blackfish and his army, The Blackfish needs to keep Riverrun, and Jaime needs to take it from him. In the end, Brienne is unable to convince Brynden Tully to leave the castle, but Edmure Tully is able.
Edmure gets extremely real with Jaime
See Jaime, as he's done before after Brienne leaves, reverts to his worst self. Jaime is like a child in many ways. When he's treated like a good boy, he acts like a good boy — notice how Brienne asks for his word that he'll let the Tully army go unharmed, when most others would scoff at the idea of his word being worth anything. But when he's treated like a bad boy — or a Kingslayer, more likely — he readily assumes that douchebag mantle. This is particularly apparent in his exchange with Edmure, which starts off fine until the prisoner starts getting extremely real with Jaime. "Do you imagine yourself a good person, is that it?" he asks. "After you've massacred my family." The hits keep coming: "You understand, on some level, that you're an evil man." (+10). "Tell me. I want to know, I truly do: how do you live with yourself?" (+10). It can't be an accident that this tongue-lashing comes so close on the heels of Olenna's grand dressing-down of Cersei last week. But Edmure's words seem to hurt more, perhaps because Jaime believes them on some level. "You think I suck? Let me show you how much I suck: I'm gonna throw your fucking kid over the wall of the castle!" This coming from a man with some experience in kid-throwing.
He frees Edmure (+25 to Edmure) and sends him to the castle, and the dummies up there, bound to familial protocol, have to let him in, against the wishes of The Blackfish. Once inside, he opens the gates to the Lannister army, and Jaime Kingslayer Lannister takes Riverrun (+50) in the chillest coup of all time. Brienne, (to whom I'm awarding a bonus +15 to for just generally being great in an episode in which she's otherwise score-less) and Pod escape out the back, and we're told the Blackfish dies fighting, but I won't believe it 'til I see it. He's totally going to pull a Han Solo in next week's "Battle of the Bastards" and wipe out the Boltons in a clean sweep. And even if he doesn't, next week will be a big bloodbath for lots of people, so make your trades accordingly. In the meantime, I'll be singing my sweet ode to Jaime, most well-behaved and kindest boy in Westeros. You know that we trust you. Do that which you must do.
The Verge's league rankings:
- Loren Grush: 431 (Top scorer: Varys, 25)
- Kwame Opam: 417 (Top scorer: N/A)
- Andy Hawkins: 386 (Top scorer: N/A)
- Michael Zelenko: 300 (Top scorers: Arya Stark, 65)
- Kaitlyn Tiffany: 230 (Top scorer: N/A)
- Liz Lopatto: 211 (Top scorer: The Waif, 20)
- Bryan Bishop: 190 (Top scorer: Brienne of Tarth, 15)
- Jamieson Cox: 170 (Top scorer: Jaime Lannister, 50)
- Ross Miller: 155 (Top scorer: The Mountain, 15)
- T.C. Sottek: 85 (Top scorer: The Hound, 65)
For the full list of updated stats visit The Game of Game of Thrones on Fantasizr.