This is a recap of the Game Of Thrones episode “No One” (season 6, episode 8).
Non-spoiler summary: “While Jaime weighs his options, Cersei answers a request. Tyrion’s plans bear fruit. Arya faces a new test.”
See below for full SPOILER-ific recap!
1) Arya drinks milk of the poppy and sleeps through the entire episode
As many expected, Arya’s act of kindness sparing the actress Lady Crane pays dividends when Lady Crane stitches her up after the Waif shanked Arya in the tummy at the end of last episode.
Arya rests and prepares for the battle that we all knew was coming…
2) Arya uses her Bloodsport fight-without-seeing abilities to defeat the Waif
Following a slapstick car chase through the streets of Braavos where Arya spills a bushel of apples and seems to be on the verge of running through a plate of glass being carried by two workmen, Arya leads the Waif back to her straw bed where she hid her sword, Needle.
Arya cuts the light (literally) and then the shows cuts to…
3) Jaqen tells Arya she is finally a Faceless Man and Arya says “Boy, Bye!”
The Many Faced God demanded a new face, but it was The Waif and not Arya who had to pay the price.
Jaqen tells Arya that she can finally join his lil’ club, but Arya has her other plans, declaring once and for all what we all suspected was still the case.
Quick thought on the Faceless Men
I found myself initially a little disappointed at the end of Arya’s storyline this episode, and I reflected a bit on why. I realized that I expected more from Jaqen than what transpired.
From the start, he was a fascinating character. Between last episode and this week, I read lots of fan theories predicting that Jaqen was masterminding an even greater test that would be revealed in the future: that perhaps Jaqen was wearing an Arya mask last week and he was going to die for her; that Jaqen had somehow orchestrated a Tyler Duren / Fight Club scenario where Arya was both Arya and the Waif and needed to kill the “Arya” part of herself in order to complete her training; that the Waif did not actually want to kill Arya but was in cahoots with Jaqen in one final test.
But none of that came to pass. The Waif was merely a jealous pupil who had a personal vendetta against Arya. She was a flawed religious zealot, like so many of the other flawed religious zealots we’ve seen in all other parts of the show. And Jaqen was just another imperfect religious cult leader.
And this was the heart of my disappointment: despite realizing that the High Sparrow is flawed and Melisandre is flawed and all other religious leaders in this show are clearly imperfect, I found myself secretly believing the Faceless Men were somehow better than all of the other religious orders. I couldn’t believe that Jaqen would ask Arya to kill an innocent actress because another jealous actress could afford it; I couldn’t believe that Jaqen would tolerate the Waif’s jealous vendetta. There must be another explanation! I wanted to believe.
But in the end, I was wrong. As George R.R. Martin’s story has shown us time and time again, despite the best intentions of religious orders, they are ultimately just human institutions created and operated by flawed humans. The Faith of the Seven, the Lord of Light, the Drowned God, Old Gods of the Forest, and, yes, even the Many-Faced God. They all promise that we’re here for a reason and that by joining you can become a part of something “larger than ourselves.” But as the Hound says elsewhere in this episode:
“Lots of horrible shit in this world gets done for something larger than ourselves.”
Arya finally saw through that. She is Arya. She is a Stark. And she is going home.
Okay, thanks for allowing that interlude. Now, let’s check out the rest of the episode.
4) The Hound carries out some vengeance…
We come upon a bound of bandits playing grab ass in the woods, and you just know that we are waiting for the Hound to show up and deliver some vengeance. The Hound delivers. With an axe.
5) …and then later the Hound carries out some more vengeance with permission from his ol’ pal Beric Dondarrion
The Hound shows up to finish his vengeance quest, but finds that Beric is about to take care of it on his own (except, much to the Hound’s dismay, via hanging rather than via axe).
With this, we have a slight reversal on the theme of “All Religious Orders Are Corrupt.” Much like that classic episode of The Simpsons “Mr Lisa Goes To Washington” where Lisa initially thinks the system is corrupt but then learns that sometimes justice is served in the end, we see that Beric Dondarrion’s Brotherhood Without Banners might be a religious order with principles. When their own violated the principles they stand for, they were punished.
The scene ends with Beric and his sidekick the drunk priest Thoros attempting to recruit the Hound to their cause.
— Beric Dondarrion
“You’re a fighter. You were born a fighter. You walked away from the fight. How did that go? Good and bad, young and old, the things we’re fighting will destroy them all alike. You can still help a lot more than you’ve harmed, Clegane. It’s not too late for you.”
When is it too late for redemption? This question is at the heart of many of the character moral arcs of GoT. Can the Hound ever do enough good to make up for the harm he has caused? Is their a moral calculus that can be done to right past wrongs? As we see from Sandor’s face as he listens to Beric, despite his gruff exterior, on the inside he desperately wants to believe what Beric is telling him.
6) Also, real quick, did y'all notice the Hound just flop his penis out to pee?
HBO said that they were going to try to have more full frontal male nudity on the show, and they have delivered.
7) Dany returns to Meereen! And for some reason it is awkward af
Dany returns to Meereen, just as The Most Famous Dwarf In The World’s diplomatic plan has gone to shit (who would have guessed that the immoral SLAVE TRADERS would go back on their word? Don’t they have more respect for the dignity of human life??).
Time for Dany to take care of business and do what she does best: kick the asses of slave traders! But first, we just need to get past this awkward silence:
Maybe things are so awkward because everybody just keeps thinking about their awkward joke telling session from earlier in the episode?
7) Cersei chooses violence
This season we have watched Cersei wrestle with doing the right thing. So much has been taken from her, she’s had little choice but to take stock of where she stands and evaluate how to move forward. She even attempted to apologize and admit to doing something wrong to Olenna, but to no avail.
As Lancel and the Faith Militant confront Cersei and demand she follow them to the Sept to meet with the High Sparrow, Cersei takes a stand. She’s not going to be apologetic anymore. As she puts it, given the choice between compliance or violence, she chooses violence.
Later in the episode as Weak King Tommen announces his new Executive Order (overstepping much, Tom?) to ban the practice of Trial By Combat, Cersei quickly learns that her new (or renewed) choice to “choose violence” will not work to get out of the upcoming trial for her crimes.
The scene ends with Qyburn mentioning something about “rumors.” Wtf is he talking about, you ask? A popular fan theory is that he is referring to the large stockpile of wildfire that the Mad King stored throughout King’s Landing as a failsafe to burn the whole motherfucker down, should it come to that. Increasingly, it seems more and more likely that Cersei just might be crazy enough to take up where the Mad King left off.
8) Jamie chooses non-violence
While his sister Cersei chose violence, Jamie is doing his best to choose non-violence.
With the Hound, we see someone struggling to see if he can switch from someone who did harm to someone who does good.
With Jamie, we see a failed knight struggling to see if he can act with honor after becoming the oathbreaker. Jamie is reminded again and again and again that he is an oathbreaker. Just about every person he encounters brings it up. The Blackfish refuses to make a deal with him because he says he can’t trust an oathbreaker, and then when Brienne gets inside to negotiate he doesn’t trust her because of her association with Jamie. He is a man whose soul is tarnished.
In this episode, we watch as Jamie figures out a way to make the honorable choice. He doesn’t want to fight the Blackfish just to avoid violence, but on an even deeper level he wants to avoid yet again breaking an oath. When Catelyn Stark let him escape, part of his vow was that he would never again take up arms against House Stark or House Tully. Fighting Brynden Tully or executing Edmure Tully would be a violation of that oath and further damage to his already tarnished honor.
Jamie has a verbal confrontation with Edmure, that eerily echoes the conversation that Cersei had with Olenna last episode. Olenna tells Cersei that she is the worst person she has ever met. Edmure asks the rhetorical question to Jaimie, “You imagine yourself a decent person, is that it?” Cersei and Jaime have lived their lives with an Ends Justify The Means mentality, where they have made their choices to benefit their beloved at the expense of all else (Jamie’s beloved is Cersei; Cersei’s beloved is her children). Finally in this season, we see both of them called out for it, but neither appear ready to change their ways.
Ed hits Jaime where it hurts:
— Edmure Tully, Season 6 Episode 8
“Tell me, I want to know, I truly do: how do you live with yourself? All of us have to believe that we’re decent. Don’t we? We have to sleep at night. How do you tell yourself that you’re decent after everything that you’ve done?”
9) Brienne fails to convince the Blackfish to march on Winterfell and Edmure surrenders Riverrun
After failing to convince the Blackfish to send his men to help Sansa and Jon take back Winterfell (and from next week’s preview, it’s going to be one heckuva battle), Brienne has Pod send a raven to Sansa saying simply that she failed.
After a poignant conversation where we see that there is still strong affection between Brienne and Jaime (does Brienne love Jaime? Does Jaime admire Brienne for being the knight of utmost honor that he could never be?), we have another poignant moment as Jamie allows Brienne to escape under the cover of night by rowboat.
Jamie has no personal beef with Brienne, despite the fact that the ongoing war has put them on opposite sides of the conflict. To Jamie, it’s all just “politics,” no sense taking it personally.
Speaking of politics, Jaime does some backroom politicking and somehow arranges for Edmure to be released in turn for surrendering Riverrun.
Edmure strikes some sort of deal with the Kingslayer, and he is released into Riverrun. He commands his men to surrender the castle, and blood is not shed, with the exception of the Blackfish, who opts to go out fighting with honor rather than to allow himself to be captured. Was it a simple trade of Edmure’s freedom in return for Riverrun and the Blackfish in irons? Or is there more to this deal that has yet to come to light?
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading and see you next week!