Given the title of this week’s Game of Thrones you’d be forgiven for thinking that it centres mostly on Arya and what she’s been up to since that nasty belly stabbing at the end of the last episode. While we do discover her fate, audiences are left unsatisfied as it turns out that yes, she is that stupid, and no, last week’s attack wasn’t all part of some cunning plan to outwit the Waif. At the time, I questioned how someone supposedly trained as an assassin didn’t see her own assassination coming, and fans quite rightly speculated that it was a trick on Arya’s part using a fake blood pack and some borrowed acting skills. Sadly, it turns out once again that we came up with a better storyline than HBO, as we find out that Arya is actually bleeding to death and only survives thanks to the help of Lady Crane who patches up her stomach wound like it’s nothing.
She isn’t left to recover for long though as the Waif finds her, finishes the job she was suppose to do on Lady Crane, and tries to put Arya out of her misery as well. Apparently, a few stabs to the stomach isn’t enough to slow down the young Stark though as she dodges, dips, dives, ducks, and dodges all over Braavos to escape her would-be killer. Although the chase sequence is impressive and different to most scenes we see in Game of Thrones, there’s no way you can watch it without rolling your eyes. How on earth we’re supposed to believe that Arya not only survived the belly stabbing to make it all the way to Lady Crane, but then - after a bit of a nap - started jumping off walls without breaking her stitches until the very end? I don’t know! Oh, and as if that wasn’t enough, she then kicks the Waif’s arse with Needle and puts her bloody head in the Hall of Faces. What? Now she’s got her sight back she’s a better fighter than the Waif even with the bloody stomach wound? Finally, she pays Jaqen a visit to let him know she’s heading back to Westeros and so we finally get confirmation that the last two seasons for Arya have been POINTLESS.
Thankfully, we get a much more interesting development over at Riverrun as Brienne and Pod rock up to say hi to Jaime and ask if they can take the Tully army up North to fight the Boltons. Surprisingly, he isn’t that keen on giving Sansa more men, but he agrees to let Brienne try and talk Brynden Blackfish Tully into joining his niece and giving up Riverrun. Surprisingly, the Blackfish isn’t that keen on surrender and basically Brienne is back to being a massive failure. Brienne and Jaime have a touching reunion that shows how much they mean to each other, even though they’re on opposite sides of the war now. Just as you’re thinking Jaime ain’t such a bad guy, he goes and threatens Edmure Tully (still a captive of the Freys) telling him that if he doesn’t get his Uncle to surrender Riverrun he’ll throw his infant son - who he’s never met - over the castle’s walls. Damn. While there’s no doubt Jaime is the bad guy of this exchange, it’s actually kind of nice to see his motivation so clearly for once. He wants to get back to Cersei and to do that he has to take Riverrun, and no one, BUT NO ONE, is going to stand in his way.
Suitably terrified Edmure gets himself let into Riverrun only to order the Tully army to stand down and so Jaime takes the castle without a single drop of blood being spilt. Oh, except for the Blackfish who does not go quietly. You don’t actually see his death, but you know it’s coming. As he sneaks Brienne and Pod out the back door he tells them: “I haven’t had a proper sword fight in years. I expect I’ll make a damn fool of myself.” The Blackfish is dead, the Freys have Riverrun back, Edmure Tully is presumably back in prison, and Sansa hasn’t gained a single soldier. But you know, Bronn and Pod had a funny reunion where the sellsword complimented him on his magic dick and slapped him round the face, so there’s that at least.
Fans of the Hound will be pleased to hear that he’s back to his killing ways in this episode, dispatching four rogue Brotherhood Without Banners followers with five very painful swings of his axe. He’s understandably out for revenge for the killing of his friends last week, but before he can find the ring leaders, the Brotherhood Without Banners has already sentenced them to hang for the same crime. Re-enter Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr. After some rather gruesome bartering over who gets to kill who, the Brotherhood again try and persuade the Hound to join them and it looks like this time it might have worked. He never actually says as such, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the Hound trying to do some good with the Brotherhood next week. And who else is supposed to be with the Brotherhood? Fans of the book will know who I’m talking about, but we’re running out of time for Lady Stoneheart of make her entrance. I’d love it if the Hound came face-to-face with the resurrected Catelyn Stark before the end of season 6 though. Fingers crossed.
Elsewhere in King’s Landing, Cersei isn’t having a great time of it. Her son, King Tommen, seems to be doing everything in his power to make sure she doesn’t see season 7. After she refuses to go and visit the High Sparrow we get our “I choose violence” moment from the trailer and the zombie-Mountain pops the head off a Sparrow before Lancel Lannister and his brethren run back to the Sept to tell on them. This leads the weak King Tommen to declare in front of everyone once again that to disobey the Faith is to disobey the Crown. An announcement for which Cersei is relegated to the balcony with the other ‘ladies of the court’, which goes down with her about as well as a shit sandwich. On top of that, Tommen sets a date for her trial and outlaws trials by combat leaving her incredibly vulnerable and Cleganebowl fans everywhere screaming.
It’s sad to see how far Cersei has fallen, even as someone who’s spent most of Game of Thrones hating her. It’s obvious why things have changed, the enemy here is her own son who has been manipulated against her, and so she can’t use any of her usual snake-like tactics. With Jaime in Riverrun (for now at least) and Lady Olenna Tyrell returned to Highgarden, she’s running low on allies. Here’s hoping we see a return to form for the once terrifying matriarch soon. With Qyburn whispering in her ear that a rumour he was pursuing has proved true, she’s definitely up to something, but what? There’s plenty of speculation online that it might have something to do with the Mad King Aerys, but frankly, at this point it could have something to do with Donald Trump and we wouldn’t know.
In Meereen, aka the most boring storyline of season 6, Tyrion says farewell to Varys who is to return to Westeros to find allies for Daenerys, and instead spends his time trying to make Grey Worm and Missandei act like human beings. He’s still basking in the success of his plans to compromise with the Masters right up until the point they start raining fire down on Meereen. Apparently, they don’t want to wait seven years to give up slavery, preferring to just attack while Meereen is weak and keep lovely slavery forever. We see Tyrion admit he’s wrong for perhaps the first time ever and just as Grey Worm is forming a plan of defence for the city Daenerys walks through the door. Finally. It would be fair for any of them to ask, where the bloody hell have you been, but instead the credits roll and we’re left feeling that there’s no way the Mother of Dragons is going to make it to Westeros before the end of the season. Goddamit!