Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Directed by Mark Mylod
With a title like ‘No One’, you’d be forgiven this week’s Game of Thrones might throw quite the focus on Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), a girl who just can’t live up to the episode title, try as she might. I almost wrote an article last week about the theories surrounding just how Arya might get out of being stabbed by The Waif (Faye Marsay), the most appealing being that it wasn’t really Arya at all, but the simplest explanation turns out to be the most accurate in the end – it *was* Arya, she’s doing some serious bleeding, and only her old mate Lady Crane (Essie Davis) can help her out. Some may have questioned the whole point of Arya’s arc in Season Six, and while there’s no question they’ve stretched a five-episode story for Arya out to almost twenty, the point was sold with Crane’s assistance; Arya seeing the mummers show about the recent history of Westeros was the catalyst for Arya truly rejecting the life of a Faceless Man, though in truth the Waif and indeed Jaqen’s (Tom Wlaschiha) actions have proven they’re not quite as ‘nobody’ as they like to make out. The Waif finally gets hers, after turning into a T-Waif000 (props to Simon Columb for the comparison), and it appears Arya’s rebirth as a Lady of Winterfell could well have been Jaqen’s sneaky plan all along.
In any event, a girl is no longer no one, and she’s finally heading back home. The big question now is who she visits when she gets there. Jon? Sansa? Cersei?
One concern among fans of George R.R Martin’s books in the last few seasons has been the stalled progress of Jaime Lannister’s (Nikolai Coster-Waldau) transition from loathsome, handsome bastard, into a genuinely honourable, flawed warrior. The long period he was running around Westeros with Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) did a great deal to fashion Jaime into more than just a slicker version of his father Tywin – he lost a hand, lost some faith in his family, and learned a few points of honour from big Brienne. Then he came home, got involved in Lannister politics, had a little holiday with Bronn (Jerome Flynn) in sunny Dorne, and this year has felt landlocked in the Kings Landing troubles – until being sent to Riverrun (Westeros’ version of Coventry), and this episode spends a good deal of time reminding us Jaime is actually a quite conflicted man. It’s been too long since he shot the shit with Brienne, and while being reminded of their touching, sort of in love with each other, sort of respect each other dynamic was terrific, his scenes with Edmure Tully (Tobias Menzies) are the most illuminating; Jaime still has the Lannister steel, still wants to be more than the Kingslayer, but equally he lacks the cruelty of his sister – why else would he let Brienne sail away? It might be the last thing he does for her, and one of the best things in the long run given he sends her packing with some Valyrian steel.
What happens next to the Lannister Lion is the most interesting question. Now he’s sorted out Riverrun for the Freys, he can’t exactly rock back up at Kings Landing given the High Sparrow manipulated Tommen into giving him the bullet, but where else can he go? Who is he? What purpose does he now serve? It could well be choosing violence alongside his sister…
Speaking of, things just keep going from bad to worse for the deposed Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Last week Cersei (Lena Headey) got her arse handed to her by the cutting savagery (and truth) of the Queen of Thorns, and her sage claims that Cersei has ‘lost’ the game ever more seemed to be confirmed this time around, as Cersei loses her vital ace in the hole. See, she’s not panicked too much at her loss of status, house arrest in the Red Keep, and being face palmed out of the King’s Council because she knew she’d win the ‘trial by combat’ the Faith had promised her, for she has Gregor ‘The Mountain’ Clegane (Hafbor Julius Bjornsson). Not just Clegane, but an undead FrankenMountain who this week gets the baddest kill possibly since he squashed Oberyn Martell’s head in Season Four. Now Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman), under the brainwashing of the Sparrow, has barred the practice of the trial and taken that away – Cersei will be tried by, y’know, an actual system of justice and stuff. Under those circumstances, she’s fucked and she knows it. No trial made up of Faith prosecutors & jury will acquit Cersei’s treacherous, adulterous, murderous ways; she’ll be hanging from the Sept naked or spending the rest of her life in a dark hole before she knows it.
Or will she? Cersei may not have an ace anymore, but her creepy Maester Qyburn (Anton Lesser) *does* it appears. Could he have remembered the Lannisters still have a metric fuckton of Targaryen made wildfire lurking under Kings Landing? Could Cersei decide that if she’s lost, then they all lose? And crucially, will she need to kill her last living child to escape justice?
From one Clegane to another, and hands up if you’re still dancing the magic dance that Sandor ‘the Hound’ Clegane (Rory McCann) has risen from the dead and is once again cutting people to ribbons. People have gone nuts this last week that we’re racing towards the legendary ‘Cleganebowl’ theory FUCKING CONFIRMED, but while ‘No One’ puts the brakes on the clear way that could happen soon (thanks to Tommen’s decree), the fact the Hound could well be stacking up with Robin Hood—sorry Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) and his merry men, the Brotherhood Without Banners, suggests we may still be on course for a fight so epic it makes Jon Snow vs the Night King look like a playpen fracas. Some wondered if the Brotherhood may have gone native after last week, but it turns out Lem Lemoncloak (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson) and his shower of bastards had simply become what Dondarrion split off to fight against, and the Hound could actually be heading North to help out in the fight against the White Walkers. Let’s face it, he has being slightly undead in common with Dondarrion, who very much has a lot of undead in common with Jon, so North seems like a logical destination – especially now the war in the Riverlands is very much over.
The Hound continues to transform, however, from a cold hearted monster into an exciting anti-hero we can cheer for as he slices the heads of murderers open with his axe. He still has a long way to go, but whichever direction he heads in, one hopes he’ll continue being glorious. Just don’t forget Cleganebowl, guys. That has to happen.
We haven’t seen much of everyone’s favourite Imp lately, and that’s because everything seemed to be coming up roses for our Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), didn’t it? He’d consolidated his position in Meereen as saviours of the city from the slavers, forged an alliance between three cities, smacked down the Sons of the Harpy terrorists, and he’s even getting close to giving Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) a personality. Like all good things, it couldn’t last forever though, could it? Firstly Varys (Conleith Hill), his old mucker, sees the writing on the wall and undoubtedly cooks up a secret mission to Westeros so he can get the hell out before it all crumbles down – much as he bromances Tyrion a bit, be under no illusion he knew what was coming and now Tyrion must face the consequences of his over-confident actions as a final piece from Martin’s book, A Dance of Dragons, is finally being adapted – the Siege of Meereen. Thankfully he’ll have Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), her dragons and a Dothraki army to help sort things out, as she strides in to save the day, but his attempt at governance very much fell flat on its face. Tyrion will need to lick his wounds and with Dany admit they failed in what they tried to do.
Is this it, then? Is this finally finally finally the point Daenerys decides “fuck this, Meereen isn’t worth it, it’s time to hit up Kings Landing?”. It looks that way. We can assume the Ironborn may well help get her out of the siege & provide the ships her army needs to get across the Narrow Sea too but, at last, Dany & Tyrion may be coming home to roost…
On the whole, ‘No One’ has divided opinion among the fandom. Some have called it out as S6 at its weakest point, and there’s an argument for that – it wrong foots just when you feel you know where some of it may be going, it cheats in a few places like the shameful lack of an on-screen death for the badass Blackfish, and it at times feels like it’s wasting valuable minutes we need to advance a dozen other stories. It may well end up though, retrospectively, one of the better episodes – less about rapid plot, more about important character beats. So let’s give it the benefit of the doubt slightly, and just know the next two… if they don’t blow the roof off, then this man really is no one…