This episode feels like the the last placeholder where pieces are more than set in motion for the 2 crunching final episodes. As always the episode will be discussed with SPOILERS.
So first to the character suggested by the title, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) who despite all this training was just stabbed last week and no clever twist as many fans had hoped for. She survives thanks thanks to the help of Lady Crane who is then brutally dispatched by the Waif. An enthralling chase scene follows where logic says Arya should have broken both her ankles and be heavily bleeding but it was fun to watch. The Waif moved with a Terminator like emotionless in effecient pursuit. The climax was disappointing as with much of this episode; Arya slices the only light, the candle and the scene ends.
Many things happen off screen in this episode including big character deaths, which suggest budget constraints on this episode that will hopefully be made up for in the last 2 episodes. However not seeing the Waif showdown did lead to a great scene where Arya finally admits Jaquen she is Arya Strak of Winterfell and is going home.
The Starks continue to head back home hopefully to converge soon. Jacquen’s wry expression was a fitting end to the scene but it did confirm what many feared, the last 2 series of Arya’s storyline has been pointless! She doesn’t seem to have become a badass assassin as she was caught out easily by the Waif and she finally admits she cannot be no-one. This storyline has felt over stretched just to intertwine with the other Starks.
Luckily Riverrun produces much more drama and character development as Jamie (Nikolaj Coster Waldau) gives an intense performance in his scene with Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and then the captured Lord of Riverrun that he bends to do his bidding. Light relief is provided with Bronn and Podrick briefly reunited before rowing away with Brienne overseen at a great distance by Jamie leading to farewell wave. The reuniting of Jamie And Brienne was as intense and honour bound as expected. Unfortunately the underused Blackfish was dispatched off screen in a disappointing creative move probably influenced by budget.
The Hound (Rory McCann) was reintroduced last week but this week is back at his killing best in a brutal and violent scene where you find yourself almost cheering his murderous ways. He is reunited with with the long forgotten Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr who are entertaining with an interesting chemistry with the Hound. As book readers know the possibility of Lady Stoneheart still lurks in the background but remains a creative difficulty for the show.
In Kings Landing the full force of the resurrected Mountain holds the sparrows at bay leading to an emotional throne room scene for Cersei (Lena Headey) as the evocative Rains of Castamere plays in the background. The brainwashed Tommen does the High Sparrow’s bidding removing the option of Trial by Combat laying waste to a popular fan theory ‘Clegane Bowl’ where the mountain would take on the Hound. It also leaves Cersei in an extremely precarious position but the disgraced Maester teases a further twist to the tale.
Varys also adds further intrigue by leaving on an unknown mission and the missed Tyrion gets more light relief by attempting to make jokes with the stiff Greyworm and Missandei. Tyrion’s political peace in thrown into chaos by the marauding masters but Daenerys arrives back to hopefully sort it all out. Again it seems highly unlikely sh will make it Westeros this season.
Not a vintage episode with some creative mis-steps but hopefully leading to big things in the closing two episodes.