*Spoilers. And Grumpiness.*
Hmm. A curiously, disappointingly unsatisfying episode, this one. Unless you particularly enjoy the Hound storming around the countryside butchering the uncouth and wise-cracking all the way, in which case, fill your boots.
I understand the Brotherhood Without Banners are supposed to be important to the overall plot eventually but, as far as I’m concerned, now we’ve rediscovered the Hound, we’re spending a little too much time and the writers are having a little too much fun – this is GOT, not Lethal Weapon, you guys – with him and his stand-up comedy/ search for motivation, when there are plenty of other things we could be doing. Other things that ideally do not involve axes to the genitals or random sexual assaults played for comedic value.
But now I’ve pursed my lips and shaken my head, onto the rest of the ep, and this week’s quick but brutal trip to Kings Landing which reveals that, while the Mountain is a lot less chatty about it, forcibly detaching people’s heads from their bodies is something of a Clegane family hobby. A Lancel-led team of Faith Militant come to the Red Keep for Cersei, Cersei’s not for going, the Faith Militant try to make her and…. The Faith Militant will not be trying that again.
Cersei’s smirk is fun but short-lived, however; Turncoat Tommen promptly ruins everything by outlawing trial by combat because the High Sparrow told him to and the High Sparrow’s obviously not too keen on losing, be it trials by combat or heads of his followers. I don’t think those who want to see the Hound vs Mountain grudge match should worry too much, though – the smart money suggests it’s coming at some point, even if it’s now looking more like next season than this.
At least this season has finally got another grudge match out of the way, meantime, with Arya vs the Waif coming to a bloody end what feels like several thousand years after I stopped giving a stuff. Poor Lady Crane, a woman whom Arya just cannot allow to drink her rum in peace, tries to help, but the Waif/Terminator will not be stopped: Arya surviving last week’s stabbing stretches credulity enough, but the sequence where the Waif is in pursuit like she’s the T-1000 and this is Game of Terminators is completely ridiculous and would have made me laugh had I not been far too busy rolling my eyes. As for Arya winning? Knowing it would happen doesn’t make it any less unbelievable or this entire No Name storyline – seasons of it – any less of a total waste of time. “A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell and I’m going home” would have made me cheer three years ago, but now I’m just annoyed it took her this long to work out the bloody obvious.
What a bad-tempered post this is turning out to be. The problem is that while “No One” isn’t a bad episode, it’s such a frustrating one – with the (plentiful) good stuff overshadowed by the opportunities squandered – that the more I think about it, the grumpier I get.
Even the charm of Varys and Tyrion’s farewell by the docks, for instance, is diluted by a) them splitting up and b) Tyrion having to hang out with the insanely dull Missandei and Grey Worm instead. Tyrion’s “A Stark, A Lannister and a Martell walk into a bar…” joke is a valiant, witty attempt to lighten the mood, but by the time we get to everyone desperately pretending to laugh at Grey Worm’s attempt at a punchline, it’s a relief when the Masters attack and Daenerys turns up. Although if this turns out to be nothing more than an excuse for yet another of her “rallying speeches,” I will be far from amused.
One grumble at a time, though. The main reason I’m in a mood just now is Riverrun, the storyline which somehow manages the bizarre job of being both the best and worst of the week.
Jaime and Brienne’s long-awaited reunion is lovely, courtly and over way too quickly, of course, with their respect and affection for each other evident throughout. Would a snog have hurt anybody? No, but even if I do agree with Bronn as to how both parties feel about it, it’s never going to happen so respect and affection is all we’re going to get. Fine. But did we really have to sacrifice the Blackfish in the process? A genuinely exciting, fresh character, brought back after years of absence, just to die a completely pointless, off-screen death, one week later? What on earth is the point of that?
Yes, I did need reminding that Jaime’s no Prince Charming, his loyalty is to Cersei, always, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was particularly terrific this week. And, yes, I’ve been complaining a lot recently about characters not dying so you might think the writers just can’t win with me. But I’d sooner the Blackfish lived to fight another day than Arya or the Hound; throwing away an engaging character like that and abruptly cutting short what could have been a much more satisfying plotline in such lifeless, disappointing fashion doesn’t do the show any favours at all. No, Riverrun didn’t need to go on much longer, but it didn’t need to end like that either. Hurrumph.