As “Game of Thrones” nears the end of its sixth season, viewers have seen many characters return and others meeting their deaths. Since “The Winds of Winter” has yet to be published, the producers are using author George R.R Martin’s outline for this season. “No One” continues the emotional arc of its characters as we approach the last two episodes.
During a stage performance, Lady Crane reenacts the Queen’s reaction to Joffrey Baretheon’s murder. After the show, she finds an injured Arya Stark (Maise Williams) hiding in her wardrobe. Crane tends to her wounds and commiserates with her. She offers the girl a chance to join the stage troupe. However, Arya declines the offer, explaining she intends to go west of Westeros. Williams succeeds is depicting Arya’s vulnerability and determination.
Later, the Waif kills Crane and goes after Arya, who struggles to keep going as her wounds reopen. After heading into a small chamber, Arya manages to kill the Waif in darkness and removes her face before taking it to the House of Black and White. She informs Jaqen of what she has done, to which he praises her for finally becoming “No One.” However, Arya declines to join him and announces her plan to go home to Winterfell. Williams’ maturity and resoluteness in these scenes is stunning, because she has managed to not forget her roots.
In the Riverlands, Sandor “The Hound” Clegane (Rory McCann) goes after a group of Brothers without Banners with his axe. He is seeking revenge over the deaths of his valley companions. During this time, he encounters Thoros of Myr and Beric Dondarrion, who are preparing to hang the surviving Brothers. They discuss the possibility of Sandor joining the fight against the White Walkers. While it is great to see Rory McCann back, one wishes the Hound’s subplot could have been longer this season.
Back in Mereen, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) is optimistic that his plans to abolish slavery in the city will succeed. Varys (Conleth Hill) says they need the support of a queen- namely, Daenarys, but he advises his companion not to trust the Red Priests. Later, Tyrion meets with his supporters and talks of possibly having his own vinyard when Daenarys becomes ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. Dinklage’s comedic timing and witty nature are in full force when he envisions inventing his own wine -“The Imp’s Delight”. This light moment is interrupted by the arrival of the Masters’ fleet. As the night passes, Tyrion and Greyworm debate what they should do, but they are stunned with the arrival of Daenarys (Emilia Clarke) herself. Clarke’s scene feels somewhat rushed and ends abruptly, but the audience is at least spared another speech.
At King’s Landing, Cersei Lannister is confronted with Lancel and the Faith Militant, who have come to take her away. Despite being ordered to surrender, Cersei refuses to go with them, prompting a bloody standoff between Gregor and the Faith Militant. Cersei is brought to the throne room and told. Tommnen announces the trials of his mother Loras Tyrell will be held in Baelor during the Festival of the Mother. He also declares trial by combat will be forbidden throughout the Seven Kingdoms. Cersei’s chances of being exonerated are now even slimmer, but she has Qyburn investigate a possible rumour that could help her.
Meanwhile, Brienne (Gwendolyn Christie) meets up with Jaime Lannister at Riverrun. Jaime expresses surprise that Sansa Stark is alive and asks how she plans to retake Winterfell. Brienne demands the chance to talk with the Blackfish for use of his army. Jaime refuses to give up the castle. After a tense discussion, he agrees to give Brienne until nightfall to talk to Blackfish, warning her that “Not everybody wants to die for someone else’s home.”
Blackfish reveals himself to be sympathetic to Sansa’s plight, but he refuses to help them retake Winterfell. Meanwhile, Jaime tries to get Edmure Tully on his side, offering him the chance to see his newborn son. Edmure scoffs at this approach and taunts him about his past misdeeds. Jaime admits that he is desperate to be reunited with Cersei and will do anything to achieve it, even if it means killing all the Tullys at Riverrun.
Edmund goes to Riverrun to capture Blackfish. As Brienne urges Blackfish to help his niece, he tells her that she has served Sansa far better than he ever could. Blackfish sends her away and prepares to meet his end. His fate feels disappointing, because the viewer never get to see it happen onscreen.
David Benioff and D.B. Weiss succeed in ramping up the emotion and raising the stakes. Special praise should be given to Christie, Dinklage and Williams for their acting. Now, the viewer can look forward to the ninth episode- “Battle of the Bastards.”