SPOILERS ARE BELOW. I can’t be bothered to write a clever reference for you this week.
So, at this point, what does death even mean? We’ve seen so many people die and quite a few, not do so or come back that death doesn’t even feel like a threat but an inevitability. That might actually be what they were going for but at this point, I don’t even pretend to understand what they’re trying to do in that writers room, I just try to write snarky synopses of the episodes while making references the Maervel Cinematic Universe (you don’t know how hard I worked to resist the urge to make a Punisher reference about this week’s ending). Still with the fun acknowledgement that death is as meaningless as life, let’s get on with the summary:
We open this week with a surprising inclusion, a pre-credits sting and what a sting, The Hound is still alive and working for Ian McShane (who thanks to GoT wiki I have discovered is playing Ray, a Septon of the Seven) helping to build a church -insert Witness reference here-, Margy Tyrell is informed by High Sparrow that she has to sleep with Tommen already and get Olenna Tyrell to stop being such a sinner, Olenna and Margy speak, Margy hands Olenna a secret message indicating that perhaps Margy is still the same backless dress wearing badass we thought and not such an easy convert after all, there’s disputes within the Wildlings as to whether they need to follow Jon or just go home forgetting that their home is full of ice zombies, luckily they all agree to follow him after emotional speeches from Jon and Tormund and a single word from a giant, Cersei and The Undead formerly known as the Mountain go to visit Olenna and I continue to be excited about how much Tyrell action there is this week, Big Match Jamie marches on towards his fight with the Blackfish and hooray Bron’s back (clearly having had his fill of bad pussy. OK, I’ll stop), Edmere lives to be pathetic another day and Jamie takes over the siege by the power of fake hand bitch slap, Jon, Davos and Sansa go to Bear Island which is not nearly as fun as it sounds as its the home of the Mormonts but unlike Ben Grimm wannabe Jorah, the lady of the house is an angry child, Jon and Sansa suck at pleas luckily Davos is far more relatable and emotional so they get the troops they need from Lady Angry Child, well 62 of them but it’s a start, it’s time for parlay with the Blackfish, can you win at Parlay? Because Blackfish just won at parlay, The Jon-Sansa-Davos campaign to make the North great again hits house Glover and Lord Tim McInnerny who doesn’t want to join the fight because Rob failed him, Yara and Theon are hanging out with the entirety of this series’ tit quota, Yara continues to be my new favourite with a blunt but needed message of support for her brother, plus they’re planning to ally themselves with Dany, more JonSanVos (I can’t be bothered to keep typing their full names) as Jon realises they’re outgunned, outmanned, outnumbered outplanned and if they’re going to make an all-out stand, they’re going to need more men, the brothers without borders turn up to threaten Septon Ray and The Hound tells him to fight back, Arya books passage on a ship only to be stabbed by the Waif but she’s not dead yet, The Hound finds his church dead and Ray hanged so picks up an axe and heads off to get revenge and eat chicken, and he’s already eaten all the fucking chicken.
After a mixed bag last week, this is what you want from a Game of Thrones episode: politics, nudity, figurative backstabbing, literal frontstabbing, angry children and the return of two fan favourite characters in Bron and The Hound. I have to commend Thrones for doing small things to constantly surprise me. Doing something as simple as having a Cold Open was immediately effective in telling me this was a week breaking convention. Sandor and Ray was an interesting piece of storytelling for this programme because it wasn’t really about anything other than the story itself. Even when they talk of what they did in the past, it’s clear that they really are fighting to craft a place post-violence in a world that isn’t ready for them to move on yet. Ray chooses to try and reject fate and he’s hanged from the rafters of the husk of his church. When Clegane picked up his axe at the end of the episode, it’s quite possibly the saddest moment of the entire season. He’s not a man who’s able to escape his position as an extension of the axe. He just wants to chop wood and be used to build things but instead, he has to become a blunt instrument of vengeance. If you know me, you know I love Ian McShane but I still have to give him immense credit for making me miss his character after being introduced and killed off in one episode as much as beloved regulars.
The Greyjoys and Arya had some nice scenes this week but they weren’t exactly full stories in themselves. I am incredibly grateful to the writers for pushing the Greyjoys into Dany’s trajectory as for too long her story has been separated from the mainland and not just by an ocean. Even when Tyrion and Varys came over to her side, they were severred from the Kings Landing storyline so to actually link two storylines that have been completely unrelated thus far is a clever move to keep things fresh and also move Dany closer to bringing her plan to take the seven kingdoms one step closer to fruition. Also nice use of the ticking clock with Arya having two days to not die and kill the waif before she gets a ship home.
Our Friends in the North don’t have a fun week as simultaneously something and nothing happenss. As much as I’ve praised Sophie Turner for ramping up the intensity of her performances recently, the JonSanVos campaign trail was four scenes that only needed two. The show’s build-up to Stark v Bolton, LanniFrey v Blackfish, Greyjoys v Greyjoy And Arya vs The House of Black and White has been impressive in its ability to spin multiple plates at once without seeming like any one of them are the most important plate of the week. But I’m still not sold on Jon’s story. Can anyone honestly tell me, why did Davos decide to bring Jon back from the dead? I can understand why some characters would but why Davos? As good as Liam Cunningham is in the role, he still seems like the most sense I can make of it is he’s a servant in need of a master but even then, why Jon? Even since he’s come back he’s played second fiddle to either Davos, Tormund or Sansa. They’re going to need to do something to explain why Jon needed to come back and preferably this season as it’s beginning to become distracting and a hint frustrating.
So I finally decided to research what the whole ‘CleganeBowl’ theory is – I’m still unconvinced that Cersei’s trial by combat will have a Clegane in both corners as Sandor has no reason to ally himself with the Sparrows at this point and judging from the landscape and accents around him, I’d say Sandor is still up north. He could play a key role in the fight for Castle Black though. But this week was a joy for Tyrell fans as whatever was on that note, it reminds us that Margy is one of the few people who can match Kingslayer Olenna Tyrell in terms of subtle machinations. It’s interesting how little of a threat they’ve bothered to make Zombie Mountain relying entirely on his impressive physical appearance to sell him. That said, when you look like he does, why bother trying?
This was another week of brilliant television, full of great performances, superb direction and cinematography (Shot of the week: the over shoulder of Blackfish walking to the castle wall) and intriguing writing. Right now, Thrones has so many things happening that with only a few episodes to go, it has to be potential to either be the best season finale the show has done or to create the most crushing series of anticlimaxes yet. Either way, on a week by week basis, this last few episodes has possibly been the most consistently entertaining since Season Two, I hope that they just manages. to not fuck up at the last few hurdles.
Silicon Valley Update:
So Pied Piper is ready to launch, just in time for Erlich to have fallen upon his business sword and sold his shares in order to pay off the disastrous party that they had last week. I can’t exactly say this was a great episode because it did not have enough Jared. Even if we did discover that as much as they hate to admit it, Guilfoyle and Dinesh are best friends. Well apart from the modem, that was Guilfoyle”/ best friend.
if you’re reading this bit, do tell me because I keep forgetting to add Veep updates.