“I choose violence.”
Almost everyone chooses violence this week on Game of Thrones, but not everyone is successful in upping the game in “No One”—not everyone gets the outcome they expected. And for those who don’t choose violence—like Jaime and Brienne—there are still choices made here that show some differences are inescapable and undeniable and unfixable.
Jaime and Brienne may never be on the same side, despite whatever friendship they formed years ago at Harrenhal. Edmure Tully, in giving up Riverrun to Jaime and the Freys, has run his house into the ground. Tyrion thought he was outsmarting the slavers, but he underestimated the lure of human capital—and the entrenched oppression going on in Slaver’s Bay. And while Thoros of Myr and Beric Dondarrion—more returned characters from seasons ago—try to convince the Hound to join their fight against the White Walkers (they are going to the Wall, right?), how do they know where they’re going, who they’re fighting, or what they’re facing?
Last week, Septon Ray/Ian McShane/Al Swearengen told the Hound, “Violence is a disease. You don’t cure a disease by spreading it to more people.” But all throughout “No One,” violence is used as a solution. How much longer is this tenable? How much longer can this last?
Lots of impossible situations on Game of Thrones this week. Let’s get into it.
… Anyway! So yeah, the Hound runs into Beric, who if you recall was sent by Ned Stark back in the day to stop BWB, but actually ended up joining them, and who was killed by the Hound before Thoros brought him back through the Lord of Light. Crazy reunion, guys! But there is a certain resignation and acceptance to the insanity of the world once you’ve been killed, seen people come back from the dead, and realized that everything you fought for is pretty much useless, so the trio get along fairly well.
When Thoros and Beric start talking about the Lord of Light, Sandor is skeptical (“Lots of horrible shit gets done in this world for something ‘larger than ourselves’”), but will their mention of the fight against the White Walkers lure him along to the North? Hanging the Night’s King doesn’t really seem like it would work, though. Just saying.
Instead, Cersei and Loras Tyrell will be tried by a council of seven septons, and I can’t imagine this going very well. Notice who Tommen was surrounded by in the Throne Room—Maester Pycelle, grand-uncle Kevan Lannister, Mace Tyrell—but no Margaery. Is she OK with this turn for Loras? How is she going to play this? And for Cersei’s part, you know her and Qyburn obviously have something up their sleeves; what was that “old rumor” that Qyburn’s child spies the little birds are investigating? I wonder ... and I think it might include wildfire.
Also, another bait and switch from the showrunners: Based on last week’s episode, book readers thought we were getting the Clegane Bowl, with the Hound and the Mountain facing off against each other in Cersei's trial by combat. NOPE. Honestly, this whole episode seems written with a gigantic “Fuck off” to book readers in mind, especially with what goes down at Riverrun. Which we’ll get into next!
There’s so much to cover in this story, which gives us maximum Jaime in his sexy samurai armor time, even as he’s being the exact kind of pompous, privileged Lannister jackass that I find quite trying. First, let’s start with his interaction with Brienne, which ramps up the unresolved romantic tension on her part: She’s so intently staring at Jaime, healthy and whole and riding through the siege camp when she and Pod first arrive at Riverrun, that she doesn’t even care to address the Lannister riders who greet them with her customary politeness. She’s clearly torn during their meeting in Jaime’s tent, arguing Sansa’s case (loved her incredulous “The Tullys are rebels because they’re fighting for their home?”) while also trying to repay the debt she thinks she owes Jaime in the form of Oathkeeper.
And that’s what dictates Jaime’s behavior when he meets with Edmure, too. In the books, it’s clear that Jaime’s speech here—including the bit about killing Edmure’s child by catapult—is meant to avoid war and save thousands of lives (the same mentality that inspired Jaime to kill the Mad King Aerys all those years ago, earning him the nickname Kingslayer), whereas the show puts more of a still-all-in-with-Cersei spin on it. Edmure gets some great lines in with the shocked “Do you imagine yourself a decent person? … How do you live with yourself? … How do you tell yourself that you’re decent, after everything that you’ve done?” but Jaime has an answer for everything, and his threat to slaughter everyone in Riverrun to return to Cersei hits home.
Edmure returns to his castle. The Blackfish is killed. Sansa loses another potential ally. And Jaime’s reputation—the one that has Edmure scoffing “I have your word?”—gets another depressing chapter with the news of the death of the Blackfish, killed while fighting. “The things we do for love,” Jaime says to Edmure of his feelings for Cersei. But that last longing look with Brienne as she and Pod rowed away from Riverrun—Brienne knows that Jaime could be a better person than he is now. And if he’s ever going to be that person, it will be because of Brienne—not because of Cersei.
But the flip side of that, though, is that Dany has come for her subjects, arriving on Drogon (I’m gonna call him the Drogon Express, given that he seems to fly away right after dropping her off at the top of the pyramid, causing that shaking pyramid that we saw Tyrion notice in the preview for this week’s episode).
And some odds and ends:
+ “Please tell his High Holiness he’s always welcome to visit.” The faces of Qyburn and Cersei after Ser Robert Strong/the Mountain tore off that Faith Militant guy’s head? Priceless. Perfection. I want to screencap that and print it out for my office at work, just as a reminder of the good things in life.
+ “The night is dark and full of terrors.” I miss you, Lem Lemoncloak. Too bad that you were a fake-out character to drive up interest in Lady Stoneheart, because Benioff and Weiss are petty jerks.
+ “Those are your last words, ‘Fuck you’? … You’re shit at dying, you know that?” SO glad the Hound is back.
+ Anyone else think that Lady Crane inviting Arya to tour with their company to Pentos was another “Screw you, book readers” moment? Especially since the role being offered was Arya playing Sansa? Whomp whomp.
+ “She should have killed you.” Not wrong, Edmure. Catelyn probably should have sliced Jaime’s throat when she had the chance.
+ “Tougher girls than you have tried to kill me.” Nice shout-outs for Arya and Brienne, Sandor!
+ WHERE IS GENDRY? WHY IS HE NOT PART OF THE BROTHERHOOD WITHOUT BANNERS? AGHHGH GODDAMMIT.
+ “Shouldn’t argue about politics.” You are white privilege personified, Jaime Lannister.
+ “I am soldier all my life, you think I never hear joke?” Grey Worm’s smile at Missandei’s laugh was the most perfect thing and I will treasure it forever.
+ So the Bronn/Pod conversation about whether Jaime and Brienne were into each other is all the acknowledgment us shippers of those two are going to get? Real lame, guys.
+ “I just assumed Sansa was dead.” Way to utterly disregard the entire mission you sent Brienne out on, Jaime.
+ “He’s not my friend.” Girl, get your mind right. We ALL want Jaime Lannister’s fine ass to be giving us gifts.
+ “I haven’t had a proper swordfight in years.” You’ll be missed, Blackfish. SO MUCH.
+ And in previews for next week’s penultimate episode of this sixth season, “Battle of the Bastards”: Jon’s on one side. Ramsay’s on the other. Wanna fight?