Game of Thrones S6/E8 “No One” Review

“I choose violence”


Arya

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Let’s begin with the character to whom this week’s episode “No one’ is a reference. How on earth is Arya still alive / why was she acting so overly conspicuously last week?! She had her guts opened up by a supposed master assassin, so there’s absolutley no way she should have survived by such mundane means, let alone being fit enough TO ESCAPE FROM AND KILL THE WAIF. We kind of feel like our intelligence has been insulted. Why does Arya need to go back the Hall of Faces and risk things going tits up again after the Waif is dead. Furthermore, how the hell does Jaqen reason that she’s “no one”?! If this is the end of the Bravos storyline, and we suspect / hope that it is, it’s been a damp squib which has seen some terrific concepts and characters utterly wasted, as well as precious screen time.

 

Tyrion and co.

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Tyrion and Varys’s friendship has clearly developed into something deeper than just superficial banter, not that we’ve seen any hard evidence of it. Varys is apparently heading to Westeros on some kind of secret mission. So secret, in fact, that we’re at a loss to credibly speculate as to his destination and purpose. Watch this space. There’s a cute scene with Tyrion, Grey Worm, and Missandei which, if we’re honest, should have come way earlier in the series. Missandei’s starting to come around to Tyrion, but Worm clearly still thinks he’s an arrogant, debauched intruder. Their conversation is cut short by a warning bell; how the hell did they only get warned of that random Slaver’s Bay coalition fleet when it was like fifty yards away? We get that its purpose is to convey that Tyrion doesn’t understand Essos and to create conflict between the members Dany’s inner circle, but it makes no sense that the slavers would randomly invade when they’ve gotten themselves a decent deal. Dany has a cool arrival but why is that all we see of her?! CONCLUDE STORYLINES, STOP JUST INCHING THEM ALONG. The cut away from her was so premature and strange, in fact, that we had to rewind and watch it again just to make sure that nothing had gone wrong at our end. Very poor film-making indeed. We want to see the dragons burn the slavers’s armada to a crisp. It would have represented a deja vu for Tyrion in watching ships burning just as he did at the Blackwater. Plus, to understand how much chance Dany has of taking Westeros, WE NEED TO SEE THE DRAGONS IN ACTION. Not to mention the fact that it would have been an awesome, and very welcome spectacle. We’ve only been told, on numerous occasions, that dragons are the ultimate force of destruction. All together, everyone… DON’T TELL WHAT YOU CAN SHOW. It’s just boring, lazy writing. 

The Hound

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Sandy’s quickly becoming everyone’s favourite character again, though he maybe could have been allowed more time in order to develop a close enough rapport with Ian McShane et al in order to justify him going back to his life of violence. We’re delighted to see that there’s no Lady Stoneheart (everyone breathe a sigh of relief) and that the Brotherhood Without Banners aren’t just randomly evil now. Thoros and Beric are extremely likeable for religious warriors and we’re excited that we’ll get to see plenty more of them. There’s some lovely black comedy as the Hound kills a guy brutally, chiding him for being “shit at dying”, and then steals shoes off another bloke who’s hanging to death. The Brotherhood are significant in the books and, with Sandy now swelling their ranks and Beric’s direct reference to the coming war against the White Walkers, look to be being afforded the prominence they deserve in the show. Let’s hope they don’t prove to be yet another example of the show runners’s wasting of the source material. 

King’s Landing

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We loved the Mountain ripping off a guy’s head with his bare hands, but it could at least have been a named character or led to more of a fight before the Faith Militant who, we’re told, yearn for death in service of the gods, run away with the brown stuff spurting out of them. Having said that, we can’t imagine even the Islamic State’s most fanatical fighter being too up for taking on the Mountain in close combat. Courtesy of the High Sparrow speaking through his puppet king, CLEGANE BOWL IS CANCELLED! WE REPEAT, CLEGANE BOWL IS CANCELLED. On one hand it’s a shame that we won’t get to see the brothers smash each other to bits, in this context at least, but we’re also glad that the show isn’t just pandering to every fan theory under the sun. Cersei, in a rare display of emotions these days, looks mortified at her son’s announcement that she’ll have to stand fair trial. The impertinence of it all! Anyway she realises that she’s probably screwed, until Qyburn conveniently tells her that some “rumour” she’s had him digging into is no rumour at all. Cersei definitely appears to perks up at the news. Wildfire anyone?

 

The Blackfish and the Kingslayer

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At Riverrun, final preparations are being made for the siege to which this plot line has been gearing up for the last three episodes or so. the combined Lannister and Frey forces assemble before the walls of the castle, its Tully defenders lined up on the battlements. Both sets of men surely say their final prayers to the gods many of them are soon to meet. The scene’s set for a proper, medieval-style storming. We should be so lucky. Instead of the bloodbath we were promised, we get precisely nothing. Literally one bloke is killed, and that’s not even on the damn screen. We understand what they were shooting for; after all, not every situation ends with a battle but, come on, give us something! the Tullys ignore the Blackfish’s orders to whom, by the way, the castle actually now belongs by right of conquest, instead electing to fall for Jaime’s blindingly obvious gambit of sending in Edmure literally to TELL THEM TO STOP THE SIEGE. THAT’S IT. Weeks of build-up leading to the castle’s defenders peacefully laying down their arms without so much as a scuffle or even any bickering within the ranks. It’s not even a clever or innovative solution to the situation; the first, paper-thin ploy by Jaime results in the breaking of the siege. That lack of ingenuity or consideration in the writing is just indefensible. To top it all off, Blackfish nonsensically refuses the chance to escape his inevitable death with Pod and Brienne, instead electing to die pointlessly and, we re-iterate, OFF SCREEN. Sure we don’t want to see the old boy getting cut to pieces, but it would have been nice to have been shown his foolishly noble demise in some kind of creative way. Instead we just get a random Lannister soldier telling Jaime of his passing with words to the effect of “he dead lol sorry”, to which Jaime reacts as though he’s been told that the toilets are a bit mucky. It’s an incredibly ignominious end for one of Westeros’s titanic figures.  

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The Riverrun sequence concludes with what is, to be fair, a beautiful, bittersweet moment as Jaime, miraculously, is the only one to spot Brienne and Pod rowing away in the moonlight. The former companions salute each other as they disappear from view. There’s a tangible sadness about the scene which suggests that this could be the final time they see each other, at least in peaceful circumstances. What would have afforded to this moment an even greater gravitas, as well as far better serving the plot, would have been the revelation that the Blackfish had escaped with Brienne, thus conveying to us that Jaime is willing to sacrifice the prestige of having captured the legendary commander in favour of his friendship with Brienne, as well as allowing the Blackfish to make a contribution to the war for the North, possibly proving to be the difference between glorious victory and catastrophic defeat for the Starks. Another opportunity missed. If you’re going to bring back a character to such trumpets and fanfare as the show’s writers did the Blackfish, at least utilise said character as more than an insignificant divergence in the plot. With Riverrun peacefully reclaimed and Jaime, we assume, free to return to Cersei in the capital, absolutely nothing significant to the wider universe has changed as a result of the Lannister army’s foray into the Riverlands. We must therefore conclude that the Riverrun subplot was a complete waste of time. if the Blackfish had indeed escaped, perhaps Jaime would have taken his forces north in pursuit, thus being in a position to play a part in next week’s “Battle of the Bastards”, and bringing the northern conflict to the attention of the wider world. Imagine the deliciously torturous internal conflict that Jaime would have experienced had he been forced to, once more, choose between his allegiance to the realm and his feelings for Brienne, as well as breaking his oath to Catelyn. Come on, tell us that wouldn’t be better.

 

Our Final Thoughts

To conclude, we feel that this week’s episode was kind of like the Dark Knight Rises; contains good moments but lacks overall direction and makes little sense. Jon Snow and Sansa, the Boltons, Littlefinger, and the ironborn have become complete non-entities, a feat we can’t quite believe the show’s writers have achieved. Jon’s death and resurrection, as we’ve often bemoaned, seems utterly meaningless and his storyline is caught in the doldrums. Considering that he’s a character for whom every single viewer rooted and who produced so many of the show’s most memorable and meaningful moments, it’s unforgivable that he and his journey have become such a bore; A truly dire effort by the show makers. To prevent this series from proving to be a thorough waste of time and hype, the final two episodes need to be as superb as “Hardhome”. That’s a hell of a tall order.


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Dan

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