So, that internet rumour doing the rounds before the airing of ‘No One’ turned out to be a fizzer and hearts were broken all over the internet.
Haven’t heard it?
It centred on an image of The Waif with a curly haired figured standing behind her. It had everyone speculating that life had been breathed back into another long lost character. It looked remarkably like Syrio Forel; the sword master who sacrificed himself for Arya way back in season one.
Given the episode’s title “No One”, it was safe to assume that Arya would be the centre of attention. Put two and two together and hopes were high that Syrio was back.
No such luck. Syrio remains lost to his loyal legion of fans.
Despite that disappointment, “No One” played an integral role in ‘moving things a long’. Storylines that seemed to be going nowhere fast, suddenly have a sense of purpose.
The Varys and Tyrion ‘bro-mance’ has come to an end as the Spider sets sail from Meereen to find new friends for Daenerys. They trade a few barbs and part with Tyrion telling Varys:
“I’m going to miss you”
Awww, ain’t they cute?
Varys heads west not knowing that Dany is about to make her long awaited return to Meereen. Almost as soon as he departs the city, it comes under attack from the Slave Masters.
They’ve reneged on their deal with Tyrion. But the bombardment stops all of a sudden and the Unsullied fall to their knees as in walks Daenerys. We can only imagine she’s hitched a ride on Drogo.
So, that’s brought her back to Meereen to either accept the decisions made by Tyrion or reject them all and boot him out of the city. We will have to wait and see.
Meantime in Kings Landing, Cersei has finally found her mojo as she faces Lancel and members of the Faith Militant. They demand she appear before the High Sparrow and naturally, she refuses.
As they move to surround her and take her by force, the Mountain/Frankenstein steps forward.
“Order your man to step aside or there will be violence”.
“I choose violence”.
And with that, the Mountain begins to lay waste to the Faith Militant. I could be wrong, but he may have pulled someone’s spine out through their mouth. I can’t be sure as I had my eyes closed.
Unfortunately, Cersei may have overplayed her hand. She later appears in the throne room to stand by her son as he makes a Royal Announcement.
Instead, her uncle Kevan tells her to move along and watch from the wings. In hindsight, Cersei may have preferred to have not witnessed her son turn on her.
Tommen announces that she is to stand trial along with Ser Loras Tyrell. The smug look is wiped from her face when he declares Trial by Combat is now forbidden.
Uh-oh. There goes the plan for The Mountain to battle it out for her honour.
Instead, King Tommen has decided ‘after much prayer and thought’ that they will stand trial before the Seven Septons as it was in the earliest days of the Faith.
Looks like Cersei could be facing more humiliation. Does she have any dirty little secrets? Oh yeah, there’s one sitting on the Iron Throne. This decision could come back and bite Tommen.
The King’s father/uncle, Jaime is plotting ways to end the siege of Riverrun and return post haste to Cersei and King’s Landing.
And who should turn up? His old buddy, Brienne of Tarth. She’s been sent to Riverrun by Sansa to convince the Blackfish to lend his forces to help retake Winterfell from the Boltons.
But Brienne is in a sticky situation. She needs to convince Jaime to back down so Blackfish can join forces with Snow and Co in the North. Effectively, he’d be helping an enemy of the Crown (the Starks) defeat an ally of the Crown (the Boltons) while stripping another ally (the Freys) of Riverrun.
She appeals to his better side:
“You’re a Knight, Ser Jaime. I know there’s honour in you. I have seen it myself”.
“I’m a Lannister. Don’t ask me to betray my house”.
But her plan to convince Blackfish to abandon his ancestral home to help Sansa regain her home comes to nothing. He refuses because a) this is his home and b) he doesn’t have enough troops to help Sansa.
Back to the drawing board, Brienne.
But her faith and belief in Jaime’s Knightly ‘goodness’ is a little misplaced in his confrontation with the Blackfish’s captive nephew, Edmure. You might remember him as the one who got hitched in the infamous Red Wedding.
Jaime informs him that he’s a father. A child born from the one night he spent with his Frey bride. Then he reflects on Cersei and Catelyn in a veiled threat that only the audience gets at first.
“I supposed all mothers love their children. But Catelyn and Cersei? It’s a fierceness you don’t often see. They’d do anything to protect their babies. Start a war. Burn cities to ash. Free their worst enemies. The things we do for love”.
Those are they same words he said as he pushed Bran out of a window back in season one.
And with that, Jaime calmly tells Edmure that he’ll put his infant son in the catapult and fire it at the walls of Riverrun if he doesn’t betray his uncle.
Which he does. No surprises there. He orders the Tully forces to lay down their arms and open the gates to the Lannister forces. And with that, the siege is over with no bloodshed.
Well, except that of the Blackfish. He refuses Brienne’s urgings to come with her and help Sansa. Instead, he draws his sword to take on those who’ve betrayed him.
And Jaime watches, almost wistfully, as Brienne and Podrick row away. He raises his hand in farewell; a gesture she returns.
The Hound has faced his own reckoning. He catches up the brigands who massacred the community he’d been living with. His revenge is bloody and swift.
He then runs into Beric Dondarrion and the Red Priest, who are dealing out ‘justice’ to the other killers. It could turn out to be a fateful meeting and they try to convince him to join them.
In words that echo Brother Ray, the Priest tells him:
“You can still help a lot more than you’ve harmed, Clegane. It’s not too late for you”.
While episode eight has moved story lines along, it really does belong to Arya (with or without Syrio Florel).
After stumbling through Braavos, she makes her way to the actors who are still perform their own stage version of Game of Thrones. She’s found by Lady Crane, who nurses her back to health
But, The Waif finds her and kills the actress, completing the job given to Arya. But it doesn’t end there.
“The many-faced God was promised a name. He must always receive what is his. You can’t change that. I can’t change that. No one can. And now he’s promised another name”.
With the determination of the T-1000 in Terminator 2, The Waif hunts Arya, chasing her through the streets of Braavos until they reach a darkened room, where a bleeding Arya pulls out her sword.
Next we’re in the House of Black and White in the Hall of Faces, where Jaqen H’ghar discovers a new addition. And it’s not Arya.
“You told her to kill me”.
“Yes, but here you are and there she is. Finally a girl is No One”.
“A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell and I am going home”
And with a smile and a nod from Jaqen, the episode ends. Has this been his plan all along? Train up Arya and set her on her path? Is this the will of the Many-Faced God? Are they all pawns in the God’s version of a Game of Thrones?
With just two episodes to go, Game of Thrones is building nicely to its end of season crescendo and next week’s Battle of the Bastards promises to deliver the traditional ‘game changer’.
That’s if you believe everything you read on the Internet.