“Finally a girl is no one”
Is she though?
I had a hard time wrapping my head around this episode, and not in an Inception or Enemy way. The ending of this episode attempts to tie a satisfying bow around the empty wheel spinning on Arya’s adventures in Braavos. She finally reclaims her name and sets out for Westeros and the audience is expected to throw their hands in their air and be all pumped like any cool moment on the show.
An aside to tell you about how I watch Game of Thrones. I turn on the TV, get under a blanket after making my lunch and the first time I watch an episode I am all on my lonesome. As a book reader and a serious lover of the fantasy genre, I react to this show like a madman. When Jon came back to life I stood up from the couch, put my hands in the air and whooped. When Hodor met his fate, I slowly got up from the couch and walked closer to the TV with my hands in my hair, shocked expression all over my face. Why am I telling you this? Because this week’s episode left all these tension filled moments, and left them to the side, to build to a finale that completely fell flat for me.
When Jaqen says “Finally a girl is no one”, it is meant to be the end of the journey and the beginning of a new one for Ayra. There is meant to be a feeling of satisfaction that she achieved her goals and another of excitement for her future. But, in reality, the followers of The Many Faced God should not approve of the previous chase scene. If she was really no one, wouldn’t Arya have the ability to blend in without causing a huge scene and drawing attention to herself? Wouldn’t she be smart enough to realise an old woman approaching her on the street is obviously an assassin with the ability to change their face, especially if you are on the run from that very organisation? Jaqen saying she has achieved the status she has been working towards for the past two seasons rings false, because it is simply a set up for a line of dialogue to get people pumping their fists. The decision to have The Waif and Arya’s fight off screen may be based on production constraints (we do have a huge battle next week, welcome back Ramsay “Sexy Jawline” Bolton), but to have their ridiculous Terminator-esque chase through Braavos lead to a slow reveal of who won the fight, is just plain weird. There is no way in hell Arya has been defeated off screen, and at this point in her story there would be no point, yet this is a choice made to keep the audience guessing, on a plot point they already know the answer too. Unlike Jon’s resurrection, Arya’s return to Westeros feels as if the show is finally done keeping her on the sidelines, and is ready to bring her back into the main story. Her main takeaway from her time in Braavos is compassion and understanding that the people she wants to kill are more than names on a list, they have lives and families as well. Which is the exact opposite approach The Faceless Men expect from their assassins. She truly is Arya Stark now, I just hope it feels more earned in the coming weeks.
Back in King’s Landing, a person on Arya’s kill list is forced to become a shadow of her former self. Cersei is let out of the news the king will be making an announcement and is forced to watch from the position of a simple ‘lady of the court’, watching on with the masses as her son announces her fate. Tommen’s ban of trial by combat is a blow to Cersei (and seemingly the end of a once promising fan theory), as she will no longer have The Mountain to get her out of this mess. The High Sparrow was introduced to King’s Landing by Cersei herself and the outcome of this move has stripped her of everything she holds dear. She no longer has any shred of the power she so coveted, which means she is more dangerous than ever. The story in King’s Landing may finally be heating up.
While Cersei’s story is heating up, her brother’s rapidly cools down as Jamie emerges victorious at the siege of Riverrun after proclaiming his never-dying love for his sister and forcing Euron to betray his home to save everything he held dear. In the book’s Jaime’s redemption arc is once defined by his separation from Cersei, as he is able to find himself, no longer forced to deal with Cersei at every turn. Tyrion’s final remarks make Jamie question his love and Brienne introduces a sort of friendship into his life, which makes him hold a mirror up to himself and question who he really wants to be. By having this story detour quickly finish due to Jamie’s insistence that he definitely loves his sister, it seems as if the show simply introduced the siege to tie up loose ends as rapidly as possible. There was no character intrigue, no dilemma between wanting to be by Cersei’s side or deciding to follow Brienne’s moral code, just a speech cementing the same Jaime we know and the death of The Blackfish (again, off screen) to hand Riverrun to The Freys. Granted, there is more story to come, but at the moment and in conjunction with everything else that happened this week, it feels as if the show missed several opportunities for real character pathos to move the story along for next week’s ‘Battle of the Bastards’.
I am so f*cking excited…
- Tyrion and co. attempts at jokes was another in a line of scenes attempting to build a rapport and comradery between the leaders of Meereen. I enjoyed it, mainly because of the inherent cuteness of the whole situation. With the Slavers suddenly attacking the city, Dany finally arrives back in the city with Drogon in tow and now we wait two weeks to see how this storyline unfolds.
- Varys leaves Meereen for Westeros before the attack to drum up some support in Westeros which may lead him to where he was at the end of A Dance With Dragons, but that seems like an unnecessary detour, although considering this episode, maybe not so far-fetched.
- Sandor finds the Brothers without Banners and debates joining them, considering he has nothing else to do right now. The reveal of Beric Dondarrion is a devastating blow to the prospect of an awesome book character appearing in the show and so Sandor’s storyline passed me by because I was sulking.
- Finally, next week’s episode nine, which is always a huge episode for a season of Game of Thrones, and the promos make it seem as if this one will be no exception. Season 6 has been great and I hope next week will bring it back on track in the most cinematic of ways. Benioff and Weisse said that this season will feature the biggest battle the show has ever done and if it’s anything like the last few large scale battles the show has gifted us with, we should be in for a real treat.