SPOILER WARNING: If you have not watched Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 8: “No One,” do not read on.
“No One” begins with Sandor Clegane prowling through the trees, wielding an axe. He tracks down a group from the Brotherhood Without Banners and murders them violently. One quick swing results in a decapitation, another relieves a poor man of his genitals. It’s a satisfying way to begin an episode, and while this week sees Game of Thrones at its most ultra-violent and action-oriented, certain threads in the story meet an unsatisfying end, leaving us in anticlimactic limbo.
We see more of Tyrion’s transformation into a mere side character, he’s happy about the Red Priest presence in Meereen, and their success in increasing Daenerys’ notoriety. A scene involving ample filler and a painful attempt at comic relief plays out between Tyrion, Grey Worm and Missandei as they attempt to share jokes. Queen Daenerys finally returns just as the Masters attack Meereen by sea.
Lancel Lannister and the Faith Militant cross paths with Cersei, which ends in bloodshed when the Mountain is unleashed, literally tearing a cloaked fighter’s head clean off. Although the events in King’s Landing are reaching a boil — with Cersei and Tommen both locked in, one in a corner, the other under a poisonous faith — I’d have liked to see more of the Mountain, especially in the hyped up trial by combat, but it appears Tommen’s indoctrination has reached a disturbing new low after he announces the abolishment of such trials. This puts Cersei in a dire situation; she’ll have to face a traditional trial. Her face melts in horror as the young king exits the royal announcement without giving his mother the slightest acknowledgement.
The only Lannister winner this week is Jaime, who swiftly takes back Riverrun, scaring Edmure with his passion to get back to Cersei, and his disregard for all human life that isn’t his beloved sister. Edmure convinces his men to stand down and let the Frey’s in, but the stubborn Blackfish chooses a valiant off-screen death. There is a few touching scenes between Jaime and Brienne, their respect for each other is apparent, perhaps their affections even border on the romantic. However, Lady Brienne escapes Riverrun in a boat with Podrick. She shares a heartfelt wave with Jaime before rowing off in the dark.
“No One” chips away at Season 6’s stellar run. As the title suggests, Arya Stark’s frustrating Braavos arc takes the lead. The Waif makes quick work of Lady Crane —who dies quite gruesomely, like I said, this was a graphic hour of television — before chasing Arya around the slummy streets in a corny, overlong chase sequence. Arya, who is still wounded, manages to outrun the Waif and takes refuge in the small enclosure where she left Needle. Now, if you were expecting a sword dance in which Arya would surely lose to her healthy, seasoned opponent, you’d be wrong. We smash cut to a scene with Jaqen. He follows a trail of blood in the House of Black and White until he finds the Waif’s face, blood soaked and mutilated.
Can you guess who appears behind him?
With her sword pushed against the Faceless Man’s chest, Arya rejects the Many Faced God and vows to return home. Arya’s plot armour is impenetrable, how she made it out alive from the Waif fight, and out of Jaqen’s kill list, we will never know. The Faceless Men story line was an utter waste, a big block of filler that could have resulted in game changing assassinations (Arya’s list includes the Hound and Cersei), even Arya meeting her demise would have worked better than a collection of cop-outs.
I suppose there is a silver lining in all of this. She is finally leaving Braavos.