By Jessica Grey
This week’s show spent a lot of time ramping us up for the end of the season, but it didn’t shy away from the action the past few episodes seemed to lack. The Hound and his axe got some action, while his zombified big brother communicated rather effectively to the Faith Militant. One of our favorites finally made her way home, and another heroine has resolved to find her way home as well.
The episode opens at the theatre in Braavos, during Lady Crane’s rewritten monologue. Heading backstage at the end of her scene, she removes her wig and just as she is about to pour herself some rum, she hears thumping coming from the other side of the room. When she investigates, Lady Crane finds Arya, pale and bleeding, hiding behind a curtain of costumes. She takes Arya home, bandages her wounds, feeds her, and tries, unsuccessfully, to convince Arya to travel with the troupe to Pentos before giving her some milk of the poppy.
We then clip away to Westeros, in the middle of a forest, where some of the members of the Brotherhood who participated in last week’s massacre are hanging around making homophobic and misogynistic jokes. They’re just generally a classy group of people, aren’t they? And here comes Sandor Clegane and his axe.
Next, we’re in Meereen, where a self-congratulatory Tyrion is escorting a skeptical Varys to the docks. Tyrion is reveling in the success of his negotiations with the Masters and with Kinvara. Varys, on the other hand, is wary of their new bedfellows: “If you shaved your beard with a straight razor, you’d say the razor worked. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t cut your throat.” They part ways before making it all the way to the docks, where Varys will board a ship bound for Westeros to drum up support for their Queen. *sigh* I always like it better when these two are bickering and bantering; I hope Varys returns soon.
In the Red Keep, down in King’s Landing, Qyburn finds Cersei to inform her that member of the Faith Militant are there and demanding an audience with her. After determining that it was her son who permitted them entrance, she goes, in the company of Qyburn and Ser Zombie, to confront them. Of course, it is Lancel Lannister who is heading up this merry band of militant fanatics. Lancel tells Cersei that the High Sparrow wishes to speak with her at the Sept of Balor. As Lancel’s fellow Faith Militant move to take her into custody, the Mountain steps forward. Lancel tells Cersei to make her man stand aside, or else there will be violence. Cersei chooses violence. Ser Zombie doesn’t flinch as one of the militant swings a mace at him, piercing his armor. He then proceeds to pick the attacker up by his throat and throw him across the courtyard, before literally ripping his head off. After this display, Cersei tells Lancel to make sure the High Sparrow knows that he is always welcome to visit.
Outside the gate of River Run, Brienne and Podrick discover the Lannister siege camp and, having seen Jaime riding through camp, Brienne demands to speak with Jaime. Once in the camp, Bronn and Pod are reunited, however uncomfortably for Podrick. Meanwhile, Brienne convinces Jaime to let her treat with the Blackfish: she will approach the Blackfish with the letter she is carrying from Sansa and try to convince him to surrender River Run and, instead, come to Sansa’s aid. Jaime agrees and promises to grant them safe passage north if she is successful. Brienne then tries to give Oathbreaker back to Jaime, who tells her that it is hers and will always be hers. Before they part, Brienne tells him that if she is not successful and the Lannister army attacks River Run, honor compels her to stand with the Tully army and fight against him. Both of them, though Brienne much more obviously, seem to balk at the prospect.
Once inside River Run, Brienne has a hell of a time trying to get the Blackfish to even listen to her, let alone read Sansa’s letter. When the Blackfish points out that he can’t trust a friend of the Lannisters, Brienne lets him have it: “Jaime Lannister kept his word to your niece, Caitlyn Stark. He sent to me to find Sansa, to help her as Caitlyn wanted. He gave me this sword to protect her. That is what I have done and I will continue to do until the day I die.” And then she thrusts the letter right at him. (Y’all, I love Brienne so much.) Finally, the Blackfish concedes and reads Sansa’s letter, remarking that she sounds so much like Caitlyn. Still, he refuses to surrender River Run.
Back at the Red Keep, Cersei enters the throne room and marches straight to the dais to confront her uncle about why she was not informed that there was to be a royal announcement. When she tries to approach Tommen, the Hand blocks her path and tells her that her place is in the gallery with the rest of the ladies of the court. Resigned, she makes her way back to the gallery and listens as King Tommen announces that her own trial and Ser Loras’ trial have been scheduled and, further, that trial by combat is now outlawed. Trial by combat was going to be Cersei’s ticket out of this situation, but now she has to stand trial before seven septons. As Cersei watches in disbelief while her son makes his way out of the throne room, Qyburn leans close to her and whispers cryptically that his “little birds” have checked out that rumor she told him about and confirmed that it is not just rumor. Given some of the fan theories making the rounds these days, this could be really bad, y’all.
In Meereen, Tyrion tries to drum up conversation and get Grey Worm and Missandei to join him in drinking wine. Missandei and Grey Worm keep being awkwardly adorable together. And then alarm bells start tolling: the Masters are sailing into their port and the enormous fleet does not appear to have peaceful intent.
Meanwhile, back at River Run, Jaime pays a visit to Edmure Tully. The encounter begins courteously enough, but it ultimately ends with Jaime telling Edmure that he will slaughter every Tully who ever lived to finish this. Realizing just how serious Jaime is about this threat, Edmure approaches River Run, demanding, as the rightful lord of the castle, to be admitted. The Blackfish tells the captain of the guard to disregard Edmure’s order, but the captain of the guard defers to Lord Edmure and lowers the drawbridge. Once inside, Edmure orders the army to lay down arms, open the gates, and find the Blackfish and take him into custody. The Blackfish guides Brienne and Pod to the castle tunnel so they can make their escape; despite Brienne’s insistence, the Blackfish refuses to go with them. Brienne and Pod make it out safely, the Blackfish is dead, and the Lannisters and Freys now have River Run.
Returning to Meereen, we see the city under siege from the bay. Tyrion apologizes, recognizing his gambit clearly didn’t work, and starts arguing that they need to work on putting together a beach assault. Grey Worm basically tells Tyrion to take a seat: Grey Worm is the leader of the city’s forces and he will make the determination on any defensive moves. As Grey Worm starts outlining his defensive plan, the pyramid itself starts to shake. Everyone in the room starts to move into a defensive posture and one of the Unsullied approaches the balcony, expecting find a charging enemy. When the door opens, the whole room stares in stunned silence and bows: Daenerys is back. Finally!
Then, we rejoin the Hound on his hunt for the rest of the dudes from the Brotherhood who killed his friend. And he finds them, about to be hanged by the rest of the Brotherhood, including Thoros of Myr and Beric Dondarrion. In fact, the Brotherhood are about to hang them for the very same reason Clegane is hunting them down. Beric agrees to let Sandor kill two of them, but they have to hang—the Hound can’t use his axe. Afterward, Thoros and Beric tag team Clegane, trying to convince him to join the Brotherhood. Whether or not he is convinced, I guess we’ll find out, but—for now—he’s not totally rejecting the idea either.
We wrap up in Braavos, where Arya is still on the mend. Someone enters Lady Crane’s home, surprising the actress, and murders her. The crashing sound of Lady Crane’s body falling to the floor startles Arya awake; she makes her way out of bed to investigate and finds her caretaker’s body on the floor and the Waif staring at her from the doorway. Arya leaps from the balcony and on to the street, running like hell. We watch as Arya reopens her wounds as she runs for her life. Bleeding again, she leaves a trail of blood leading to an alcove, where the Waif corners her. But this is also the alcove where Arya stashed Needle. She stands to face the Waif, Needle in hand, and slices through the nearby lit candle, blanketing the room in darkness.
In the House of Black and White, Jaqen finds a blood trail in the main sanctuary and follows it to the Hall of Faces, where he finds the Waif’s face has been added to the Hall. Arya approaches, Needle drawn and pointed at him, and asks if he ordered the Waif to kill her. Jaqen says, “Yes. But here you are. And there she is. Finally, a girl is no one.” To which Arya responds, “A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell. And I am going home.” *claps* Yes, girl! Tell it!