Okay, so after an episode like that, all I can do is be angry that I have to wait a full week to see what happens next. You’re going to leave us hanging like that? Seriously??? Ugh… I simply cannot WAIT until next Sunday. That said, we have SO much to get into this week, so let’s dive right in.
Es: I don’t even know where to start with this, so let’s do as Vizzini told us and go back to the beginning.
We start this week off with a cold opening, which I thought was a first for this show, though as I was writing this post I remembered that the first episode of Season 4 (I think) cold opens with Tywin getting the two Valyrian swords forged from Ned Stark’s sword Ice (which, now that I think about it, is a pretty badass name for a sword, especially one formed from the steel that can defeat White Walkers, but I’m on a WHOLE crazy digression that I must now steer out of).
Getting back to this week. I felt the cold opening gave this episode a very ominous feel, especially so because I had an important (and kind of wonderful) previous commitment that stopped me from watching Sunday night like I usually do, and while I didn’t see anything spoilery per se, I did see there was a lot of just REACTION for this episode… and so I was filled with dread the entire time I was watching this episode.
And in this cold opening, we get the reveal of the Hound… yes, the fucking HOUND… and it was just FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC. I knew it was coming, and I still got the chills from it.
I started thinking after this reveal that for such a “bad guy” it’s an amazing job of writing and acting that gets you (or at least me) to see that ultimately the Hound is someone who actually has a good heart, but this good heart has been torn apart by what has happened to him and what his experiences have lead him to do.
I mean, when you compare him to someone like Joff, or Ramsay, or even his brother, this “good” side of him becomes even more wildly apparent… even if he belies all of this by telling Ian McShane (oh look, it’s Al Swearengen!) that hate is what kept him alive when he was so. very. close. to death.
And getting back to McShane (whose character’s name is apparently Brother Ray… according to IMDB), how much better does this dude make every scene he’s in? And this is for someone who said he doesn’t really get the show, nor its appeal. It just goes to show how great of an actor this guy is.
Anyway… so as the show goes on, we keep getting peeks back into what the Hound has been up to: building shit, chopping wood, and talking shit out. I thought this episode was just TEEMING with great lines, and that Brother Ray’s “Violence is a disease. You don’t cure a disease by spreading it to more people.” is one of them. The character was the first “holy” person we met who truly admitted he does not know what is what, but he knows there’s something… which I also found interesting.
So the Brotherhood Without Banners (or so it seems) shows up, wants food and junk, then takes off for some reason. They eventually come back while the Hound is off chopping wood annnnnnnnnnd everyone is dead now, including Brother Ray, as he is hanging from a noose… and I also think I noticed that he was not wearing his seven-pointed-star medallion either.
The episode ends with the Hound storming off from the scene of this massacre, going to grab an axe as the drums build behind him (not NEARLY enough is said about how great the music is on this show), and then off to look for blood… or so one would think… as we cut to black.
So, James, after my mini diatribe to start this week off, I do actually have some questions for you.
When the BoB showed up, it seemed as if they were asking what the Hound was doing there, or it did to me. Did you get that impression as well? Do you think that the BoB then planned to come back when he was away? If they were going to kill all of them, why wouldn’t they do it the first time and be done with it? And if the BoB is indeed “protecting the people” why would they go and slaughter innocent smallfolk like that? Speaking from your sordid experience here, Jim, why would they do this???
Jim: I must admit I was a tad taken aback by the actions of the Brotherhood Without Banners. Slaughtering smallfolk seems to go against their ragtag band of outsider’s mystique. This leads me to believe it was not their work at all, or that the three jerkstores who visited them were not truly from that crew to begin with, or were an offshoot band. But who would do such a dastardly thing and what was the motive?
Unless indie hipster folk sensations Brother Ray and the Smallfolk were not who they purported to be, but we’ll never know that now cuz they are dead… before it was cool, for sure.
I cannot accurately describe my level of disappointment at Ian McShane’s appearance only being a one-off. He could star in the next seven Alvin & the Chipmunk Squeakuals and still get a pass in my book because he will live forever as Al Swearengen. For those readers who did not watch Deadwood in its day, I implore you to seek it out and thank me later. For those who are staring at the page with skepticism at my/our recommendation, I quote Mr. Swearengen when I say: “You would not want to be staring like that… at me.”
The return of the Hound was fantastic, and I was a little surprised at just how happy I was to see his melted creep face. Not because he wasn’t awesome but because I kinda forgot about him a little bit. I would assume the cold open was so we wouldn’t see Rory McCann’s name in the credits and ruin the surprise. Don’t rooon it, dick!
Lots of speculation as to what the future holds for him but after a respite of peace it’ll be awesome to see Sandor Clegane unleashed again on Westeros, so let me be the 8,000th person to make the “Release the Hound!” joke. You’re welcome, Dear Reader… that one’s on the house.
Es: In King’s Landing, Jim’s girl Margy dips into the devout section of her wardrobe to pull out a very modest dress (much to Jim’s chagrin, I would think). She goes to see the High Sparrow, and in a show that is just rife with bad advice when it comes to sex and marriage, the HS hits her with “Congress does not require desire on the woman’s part, only patience.” Um… ew.
Ew. Ew. EW.
Anyway, he then threatens the Queen of Thorns, so Margy rushes to her with Overly Devout Septa looming over her. And just when I think that your Magpie has totally drunk the Kool-Aid, she slips her grandmother a note. Though on this note is simply a rose, which is a message the QoT seems to understand.
Lady Olenna is then visited by Cersei where she wonders aloud what I often think about Jim—“I wonder if you’re the worst person I’ve ever met.” Then she follows that up with, “You lost, Cersei. It’s the only joy I can find in all this misery.” And I don’t think her assessments in this scene are wrong.
So, Jim, do you agree with my assessment that the Queen of Thorns’ assessment that Cersei lost is true? Has Cersei lost? What can she do now? They can’t rise up against the church now because the king is firmly entrenched with them, so what’s her play? Also, just how many tears have you shed over the newly devout Queen Margaery? And what does her note mean? Does it mean that she’s still loyal to her family? Is it a warning? Is it a secret code? What is she doing? I never know what she’s doing back there.
Jim: Modesty has NO PLACE on this show and that’s realistic sex advice from the Sparrow… ya know, consistent with the clergy’s guidelines in the olden days… and by olden days I mean the years 1-2016.
I told you there was no way my gal Margy was buying into the Sparrow bullshit. I believe the flower on that note was a tip off that she’s still with her family and to take her warnings seriously. While we’re on the subject, did you notice just how many sigils showed up in the episode? Tyrell, Lannister, Greyjoy, Mormont, Stark, Glover, Tully – there may have been more but that’s what I remember off the top of my head. They were all prominently displayed this week, much more so than normal and I find that fairly interesting. Not sure what it means but the people that make this show are way smarter than me, so it wasn’t just an accident.
Forever with the assessments with you. However, while Cersei has lost, I think it’s only for the moment. She’s too cunning and smart to be out of the game forever. She’ll find a way back in. To paraphrase the amazing Veep (another HBO show you MUST watch): “She’s like a MRSA infection – you don’t just get rid of Cersei Lannister.”
By the way, on the coming attractions for next week, it appears the Mountain literally rips a dude’s face in half and I could not be more excited. Does that make me a creep? Or, more of a creep? [Ed. note: Nah, this is tame for you, James.]
Es: We get a short aside with Yara and Theon somewhere across the Narrow Sea. In this we see that Yara really likes the ladies, and that Theon is suffering some pretty harsh PTSD. His big sister then consuls him on the best way to deal with it, “Drink! Drink it all!” and then tells him to slit his wrists if Theon isn’t coming back. #toughlove
Then they confirm that they are INDEED on their way to Meereen… with their 1000 ships.
Since this is a short aside, I’ll jump right to the fucking Blackfish! He shows up and immediately brings an end to any and all bullshit that the Freys are trying to perpetrate, then saunters off like a boss.
Then… oh, look… it’s Bronn. And he seems NOT at all happy about being where he’s at. Jaime pretty much puts him in charge, then goes off to meet with the Blackfish (and I BRIM with anticipation). The Blackfish, as old and as grizzled as he is, knows what he’s up against, and he says he is willing to die holding Riverrun. He also states, “As long as I’m standing, the war is not over.” Then he tells Jaime that he wanted to meet him to get a measure of him, and that, “I’m disappointed,” and again saunters off once again like the boss he is.
So, Jim, to the Greyjoys first… do you think that Theon will get his shit back together or will he go all emo and slit his wrists? Do you agree with the Yara Greyjoy Treatment for Dealing With Past Horrors?
And as far as what’s going on in the Riverlands… how do you see this playing out? Can Jaime really best the Blackfish? Do you know how torn I am with him on one side of this and Bronn on the other?
Jim: Who would’ve thought Yara would provide me with waaay more fantasy material than my Margy has lately? Did she even have a conversation with Theon? I was like the dog from Up during that scene—distracted by all the breasteses. And yes, if the Yara Greyjoy Treatment involves seeking comfort amongst some whores, well then her idea is the tits.
How delightfully incompetent the Freys are! They’re like comic relief until you remember how they murdered Catelyn, Robb, Robb’s Bbabbygirl, and Robb’s Unbborn Babby with ruthless efficiency. I hate to see Bronn on their side so hopefully he and Jaime end that alliance quickly.
Edmure is the Riverland’s version of Meg from Family Guy. Everyone loathes him and the Frey’s thinking they could use him as a bargaining chip was hilarious. The Blackfish/Kingslayer parley was a thing of beautiful insults. So the siege begins, which sounds a bit boring until we remember that Brienne is on her way to Riverrun and should cross paths with her road trip buddy Jaime right quick. What happens after that is anybody’s guess but I would suggest launching the Freys at the walls with a trebuchet… much like the parents concerned with violence on that old episode of South Park.
Es: In the North, we get a montage of Jon, Sansa, and Davos trying to rally troops. First Jon and Tormund get the Free Folk to fight for them. Then they travel to Bear Island to recruit the help of House Mormont.
As this scene started to unfold I thought to myself that most Mormonts are fairly awesome… yes, even Ser Bad Decision has his awesome moments, he just makes really. bad. decisions… and the young Lady Lyanna does NOT disappoint. She not only shrugs off Sansa’s “great beauty” remark, she hurls it on the floor, repeatedly tramples it, then sets it ablaze like the HBIC she is.
And I literally launched into a belly laugh when after Ser Davos gets up and pleads his case, which was REALLY well done btw, as the Onion Knight seems to have a way of clicking with the young ladies and princesses of Westeros (that sounds WAY creepier than it is in reality), Lady Mormont tells Stark, Snow, Seaworth, and Co. that they have can the Mormont fighters… all 62 of them.
SSS&C then travel to see the Glovers, who are adamant in not going up against the Boltons, and even when Sansa tries to step up, Head Glover gets in her face and tells her what’s what… and suddenly she looked to me like the same scared little girl again. Just when I thought she was breaking through. Boooooo.
After this we see them all camped at the place Stannis’ army became doomed (and, you know, he had his only child burned alive, just to bring back the happy memories from this place), and Sansa is sure they don’t have enough fighters. She then writes a letter to someone, and that is all we see.
So, Jim, I assumed this letter was to Littlefinger, especially because the only other person she could be writing is her Uncle Blackfish… and she sent Brienne down there, so there’s really no need.
ANYWAY, do you agree with my take on this? Do you think she’s writing Littlefinger? If so, will he help? If he does not, do they have enough fighters to take on the Boltons? Do you think that Sansa is making progress and finally becoming a good and strong leader, or is it one step forward, two steps back with this chick? Also, the Red Woman is conspicuously absent during all of this. Where is she, Jim???
Jim: Whomever is responsible for the casting of the young actress playing Lady Lyanna deserves an Emmy this instant. Impeccable casting and wonderful acting; I certainly hope she isn’t a one and done.
Yeah, I would say that it definitely had to be a note to Littlefinger, and since we agree that it was, I think it also shows definitively that Sansa is indeed becoming a strong leader. It probably kills her to ask Littlefinger for help, but she understands a good leader does what is needed to succeed. Assuming that’s who the letter is for, Littlefinger’s littlefinger will be engorged with the chance to come to Sansa’s rescue once again. It puts him, at least as far as he’s concerned, right back in the driver’s seat with regards to Sansa. Hopefully she doesn’t allow him to take advantage of that quite so easily.
While watching this episode it occurred to me that the best possible scenario for everyone in Westeros would be for Davos to become a good and benevolent King and to make Lady Lyanna his Hand, cuz she is just not taking ANYBODY’S shit, son!
Es: We end this week’s recap in Braavos. Now I mentioned earlier that I didn’t get to watch this episode Sunday night, and that I saw REACTION on the Interwebz… though no real spoilers. So as this episode is going on, I keep looking at the clock. And I notice that, due to the “Previously On…” and Maisie Williams’ name being in the opening credits, we will see Arya this week.
Three-quarters of the way through the episode and still no Arya, and then I start thinking that they’re going to end on a shocker with this episode, and that the Waif is after Arya, and there is no way she can beat the Waif… and this is where I start worrying about the Wolf Girl.
After using her Newfound Bags of Monies and booking a ship back to Westeros, for who only knows what reason other than to get away from the folks at Oreo Hall, all my fear is paid off by the Waif showing up disguised as an old woman, and then slashing at Arya (I seriously thought at first that she slit Arya’s throat) then repeatedly stabbing her in the stomach.
So much for what Jaqen said about making it painless, as the Waif not only doesn’t go for the heart or the neck where the death would be super fast, but the stomach… twisting in the knife in the process for maximum effect… so Arya would experience a lot of pain first. (I’m utterly disturbed at myself for knowing this stuff. Thanks, Game of Thrones. Thanks a ton.)
Arya gets away and rolls off the bridge and into a canal. The Waif has achieved extreme happiness at this point, thinking she has killed the Wolf Girl, but Arya emerges later and staggers wildly and instinctually down the street while she bleeds out. Though I will say that her getting it a couple times in the gut—and NOT having her throat slashed—made me feel better about her chance of survival, but she is still CERTAINLY not out of the woods, because, well… let’s just get to the question portion of this “question”.
Even if Arya avoids the Waif, or eventually winds up killing her, will the folks at Oreo Hall leave her be after that? Like it’s just, “Well, we’ll send this angry-ass assassin who really hates the fuck out of Arya, and if she fails… we’ll, I mean, we tried, right?” I can’t really see a band of super-creepy and magical killers being so cavalier about someone wanting out of their little murder gang.
Also, does Arya eventually beat the Waif? If she does, how does she make peace with Oreo Hall?
Something else occurred to me when I started thinking about Arya getting killed, despite how much I LOVE her character (she is easily in my top 5… if not outright #1), is there any main character on this show more expendable than her? What is her role to play here going forward? I mean, she didn’t complete her assassin training, though is still a killer in her own right, but what is she going to do with that? Is she really going to start working on her List again and kill those people? Does she somehow run into the Greyjoys (which I think would be cool btw) and go with them to Meereen? That would be something. Either way, I have no idea where her story is going to go from here and where this is going to lead her, which fills me with dread and concern for her. Do you share my views, James?
Also, one last thing here, with you being the film guy that you are, do you think they should have ended with her staggering down the street, or even with her falling into the canal and the Waif grinning, and not with the Hound grabbing the axe? I mean, the Hound thing is pretty badass, but would everything with Arya been more shocking if there was just a cut to black there rather than after the scene with the Hound?
Jim: It’s funny you mention Arya meeting up with Greyjoys at some point cuz I had that exact same thought. Khaleesi is certainly a collector of the disenfranchised and displaced what with Tyrion, Jorah, Daario, Barristan Selmy, etc. The Greyjoys and the Wolf Girl certainly fit that description, and adding them to her ragtag army is not out of the realm of possibility.
I see what you’ve saying with Arya being the last image in the episode and that makes sense… unless they are trying to tell us that she and the Hound, now that he’s back in the game, are going to cross paths again?
Even if Arya survives, which I think she will, what happens if she does? Aren’t the Oreo Hall people always just going to keep coming after her? I feel like Arya will make it through the whole bloody mess that is coming only to be killed by Jaqen in the last episode of the series, when we’ve long forgotten him, cuz a life is owed. And that’s the kind of horrific shit in which Game of Thrones specializes.