“Game of Thrones” inched closer and closer to its final two episodes of the season, though preyed on the audience’s patience. And by the audience, I mostly mean me.
Arya’s arc took arguably the least climactic turn of all time. After suffering severe stab wounds last week, the internet filled with theories about Arya’s fate — including questioning if it was indeed Arya at all.
Spoiler alert: IT WAS.
But it didn’t mean her death. Arya made her way backstage and found comfort and care in Lady Crane, who’s apparently used to patching up bad men. “I’ve always liked bad men and they’ve always liked me,” Crane says cheekily.
This aid is short-lived. Though the episode opens with this encounter, it closes with it too. The Waif pays Lady Crane a visit and kills her, sending an injured (but somehow spritely) Arya on the run. Arya tumbles downstairs and further injures herself, eventually meeting with the Waif again. Is this it? Is this the battle we’ve been promised? Will this end much like last week? (RELATED: The Truth About Hodor Revealed)
As Arya readies her sword, the screen goes black and we return to Jaquen, who looks on the wall of faces and finds the Waif’s! Arya returns. “Finally a girl is no one,” he says. But Arya retorts, “A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell and I’m going home.” I mean, yeah. In another sense, though, really? After all that, you suddenly realized who you’re meant to be in one fell swoop? Then again, we don’t even know how many swoops, because we didn’t even see the fateful death scene. I could use some wine. (RELATED: What ‘Game Of Thrones’ And 69′ Have In Common)
Speaking of wine: Tyrion, Missandei and Grey Worm share drinks together in a welcome scene of comic relief. Tyrion and Missandei tell unfunny jokes, and Grey Worm chimes in after Missandei’s poor showing. “That is the worst joke I ever heard,” he coos. But of course he has — he’s a soldier. It’s moments like these that remind us these characters are human, amid constant violence and chaos. It’s really a metaphor for life. However, it’s all short-lived — the Masters head to Meereen and start attacking the city. Don’t fret, though. Daenerys is back, dragon in tow. Classic.
Also classic: The Hound wielding that (beloved?) ax to murder those vagabonds — which we eventually discover are members of the Brotherhood Without Banners. (RELATED: Why Arya Stark Will Never Be The Same)
The greatest (platonic?) love story ever told: Brienne and Jamie reunite briefly. Let’s all take a minute to remember their time together. OK, done. Brienne wants to talk to the Blackfish and ask him to abandon the castle so she can take the Tully army, and for Jamie to give them passage North. Sansa wants their help to reclaim Winterfell. Jamie allows, but she loses the opportunity. Brienne tries to return the sword Jamie gave her, but he doesn’t want it.
Jamie does eventually get something he wants. He coaxes Edmure into taking control of Riverrun and having the army surrender. The Blackfish dies protecting it.
As for more death: When the Faith Militant try and take Cersei by force, the Mountain chokes one of them and takes off his head. “I choose violence,” Cersei says triumphantly before this occurs. Indeed, m’am. Later, Tommen abolishes trial by combat; Cersei and Loras will stand trial by the Seven Septons — whatever that means. But it doesn’t sound promising.
Elsewhere, Varys is off to Westeros (which can’t be good because people leaving each other is never good) and Brienne and Podrick escape Riverrun.
All in all, a solid if frustrating installment, though nothing will prepare us for next week, given its preview and extended running time. Hang on to your Iron Thrones, people.