Game Of Thrones Recap: A Girl Has A Name, And It’s Arya Stark Of Winterfell
Game of Thrones’s eighth episode of the season, “No One,” is the last thing on this godforsaken earth that any of us want or need to be watching right now; personally, for example, I would really like to be sob-watching the Tonys wearing only a bottle of wine. But here we are somehow. So let’s get to it, shall we. The episode begins with a flashback to a quote that’s extremely relevant, considering the horrific events of Sunday morning: “Violence is a disease. You don’t cure a disease by spreading it to more people.” The episode then proceeds to be the most violent of the entire season. Which is nice.
Lady Crane is giving the performance of a lifetime, taking Arya’s advice by tacking some incensed rage onto Cersei’s weepy sadness. The audience eats it up.
After another long but fruitful day at the office, Lady Crane sniffles her way backstage for her nightly sip of whiskey (same), but stops short when she hears a freaky scurrying sound behind her clothes. It’s Arya, casually bleeding to death. Arya, WTF. I understand you’re an Independent Woman, but, like, it’s OK to ask for help sometimes, like when you need somebody to grab a box of cereal off a high shelf or when you are bleeding to death.
Moments later, Lady Crane—we get it, Game of Thrones, she dresses up like Cersei but also looks like Catelyn Stark, WE GET IT — is wrapping Arya up like a very disappointing Christmas present. She explains to a now much-perkier Arya that she learned to magically cure organs-deep stab wounds by stabbing a lot of cheating men and then feeling bad about it. Both seem to find this detail charming and cute, giggling conspiratorially like Crane had just confessed to stealing a bag of marshmallows from the sorority kitchen. Arya asks Crane what happened to the “actress who wanted you dead,” and Crane’s like, “I f*cked up her face, LOL” (but violence is bad). They giggle again; Crane has just agreed to stuff as many of the marshmallows into her mouth as she can. Some jokes are made about Crane’s cooking skills; Arya cheerfully explains that she’d like to find “what’s west of Westeros” once she stops bleeding freely from inside of her body. 12 marshmallows deep, Crane chokes a little bit and both get spooked. Crane spits the marshmallow ball gently into the garbage and covers it politely with a Kleenex. After the two bid one another an awkward goodnight, Crane drugs Arya to sleep.
A group of white dudes are making lazily homophobic and misogynistic jokes because they are terrified of their own truths and desires and of losing their millennia-spanning upper hand; rather than face the reality that life and human beings are messy and gray and complex and beautiful and impossible to define or permanently bind or suppress, they’d rather create laws and enforce outdated policies that promote and support a culture of hatred and fear and violence and racism and bigotry in the name of “religion” and—oops, sorry, I forgot we weren’t recapping modern-day America for a second. On Game of Thrones, in some-ass woods, the same white dudes that murdered last week’s hippies are being gross and the Hound comes up and hacks them all to death. Guess he wasn’t feeling Ian McShane’s advice about violence.
In Meereen, things are going well, at least in the sense that nobody onscreen is currently bleeding uncontrollably or being raped by a friend or family member. Don’t worry, I’m sure both things will happen posthaste. Tyrion and Varys are bidding each other adieu because the latter is going on a “secret mission” to Westeros, where he will … do something. Didn’t he just get to Meereen, though? I feel like Varys just needs to chill for a minute, take off his long-sleeve shirt, have a good shvitz. But I’m not his doctor. The two have a briefly tender moment wherein Tyrion tells Varys he will miss him and Varys calls Tyrion a dwarf and Tyrion’s like, “Yeah, but who wears suede in the desert?”
Cersei is drinking in a dark room (same) when she learns that Tommen Cruise has allowed the Yung Scientologists into her home. She grabs the Mountain and heads for her front door. Her Yung Scientologist cousin Lancel informs her that she is to make her way over to the High Sparrow’s house. The two proceed to have an extremely passive-aggressive, Real Housewives of Westeros–esque chat about this. Cersei is like, “I’m good, I like my house more, because its name is a beautiful metaphor for a vagina [The Red Keep],” and he’s like, “I agree, but you sort of have to come—you can Uber, really depends on how much you feel like chatting with your driver,” and she’s like, “No, really, I’m not suuuper feeling up to it,” and he’s like, “Totally hear you, but like, it’s that or violence—”and then she’s like, “OK, I choose violence,” and the Mountain brutally slaughters a Yung Scientologist. If you are keeping track, this is the second scene that has ended in such a way in 15 minutes. But violence is bad.
Brienne and Podrick are staring at Riverrun, the most boring castle this side of the one ABC just canceled. Podrick tells Brienne that he thinks a siege is afoot and she’s like, “………………………”
I truly believe that Brienne could solve all of America’s problems if we just gave her 10 days and a bag of oats (for Podrick). Brienne spies Jaime stomping around sexily on his white horse and loses herself for a second—she’s only human!!!—but then demands to speak with him. Meanwhile, Bronn teaches Podrick a boring, outdated lesson about boring, outdated masculinity, which is: A fun way to greet your friends is by pretending to kill them. He then mansplains Brienne’s in-depth and thoughtful fighting lessons and slaps Podrick across the face because this is how dudes bond—thank you goddess above for bestowing upon me the gift of womanhood.
Meanwhile, inside, Brienne is getting actual wartime stuff accomplished while verrrry subtly flirting with Jaime, because women can multitask. They have a dull political argument—Brienne wants to seize back Riverrun for Sansa, Jaime needs it for Cersei, neither can agree on whether the whole “slaying Robb Stark and all of his family” thing was cool or uncool. Brienne, an unmitigated baller genius, convinces Jaime to let her talk to Blackfish about ending the whole thing peacefully. She tries to give Jaime back his sword, but he makes her keep it because it is a phallic symbol and they will never actually screw as this show only fulfills violence-based wishes. They part as all star-crossed lovers have since the dawn of time: by agreeing that they will murder one another if they have to.
Brienne is trying to convince the Blackfish to surrender to Jaime and lend his entire army to Sansa. He’s like, “Fuuuuck no.” Mere seconds later, he’s reading Sansa’s letter, wistfully proclaiming, “She’s exactly like her mother,” but he ultimately still draws a hard line on the “f*ck no.” Brienne tells Podrick to send Sansa a raven. “Tell her I’ve failed,” says Brienne, “and remind her to tape the Tonys, because it’s on at the same time as this show.”
Back in Westeros, Tommen Cruise is throwing mad shade at his own mother by (1) not informing her of his royal announcement; (2) not allowing her to stand by his side while he makes his royal announcement; (3) having Chin McGee coldly tell her “there will be a royal announcement right this moment”; (4) issuing a decree to halt all trials-by-combat, so that Cersei will not be able to use the Mountain for his express purpose, which is to smash people; and (5) holding her trial on the “first day of the Festival of the Mother.” DAAAAAAMN. She’s his mother!!!! That’s her day!!!
Tyrion, Missandei, and Grey Worm have one of what have been a string of extremely long scenes. Rich white man Tyrion does his latest “dance, monkeys!” routine, beckoning ex-slaves Missandei and Grey Worm deep into the bowels of alcoholism alongside him and forcing them to tell jokes to keep him entertained. All of this is played for comic relief? What is this, open mic night? “We’ll do a tight seven each!” Tyrion also tells Missandei and Grey Worm that his dream is to be like Dennis Quaid in The Parent Trap, owning a winery and practising a brand of parenting so absentee that he will not even notice when his children take on one another’s identities in the interest of autocratic subterfuge. Thankfully, all of the f*ckery is interrupted by a giant siege on Meereen; the masters are cruisin’ right on in to grab the slaves that Tyrion promised them.
Back at Riverrun. Let’s try our best to stay awake, lest we drown in the nonthreatening moat. Jaime and Edmure are having an angry chat. Edmure is angry because Jaime killed his literal fam. Jaime is angry because he isn’t screwing his sister in a bath of his enemies’ blood. Jaime’s like, “I won’t kill your baby son if you let me take Riverrun, and here’s why you should believe me: I do incest.”
This convinces Edmure, who walks up to the sad moat and demands entry to his ancestral home. There is a brief tussle between Blackfish and this week’s Most Random Unidentified White Man—Yoplait—over whether Edmure should be allowed inside. Blackfish is like, “It’s a trap!” and Yoplait is like, “No, Edmure is our lord, this is going to go very well.” Guess what: It’s a trap. Edmure forces everyone to lay down their weapons and give Riverrun to Jaime so he can go home and give it to his sister atop a pile of well-preserved children’s skulls.
Down in the moat-dungeon thing—I don’t understand how this castle is laid out? But castle architecture has never been this show’s strong point, as Balon Greyjoy’s unholy spirit can attest—Brienne, bless her heart, is inviting the Blackfish to run away with her and save himself. The Blackfish is like, “That’s nice, but I’m just gonna die, it’s fine.” Brienne encourages him not to die for pride when he can live and fight for Sansa, and he’s like, “Um … I’m kind of tired? But really, thanks, you’re too sweet.” Within literally 10 seconds, the Blackfish is reported dead to Jaime, who wanted to murder that scaly MF himself, goddammit. Jaime is never allowed to have ANY FUN.
Pouting, Jaime steps 10 feet to the left to stare moodily at the water below. He spies Brienne, floating away on her little boat. Both Dawson and Joey look wistful as they wave goodbye to one another. The timing is all wrong for them right now. They both know that. Dawson’s too into the bad girls, too strung out on his own delusions of grandeur; Joey’s too focused on getting into college, on making something of herself. Perhaps it never will be their time. Perhaps their time has already passed them by, like a little boat floating away from a castle full of fresh corpses. But at least they have this moment.
Grey Worm is chastising Tyrion for being an effing moron and ruining Meereen, which was already sort of ruined but is now definitely 100 percent ruined. In a design flaw that rivals that of the Lincoln Log bridge in the Iron Islands and the wicker hut decorated with flaming bowls in Dothrakiville, chandeliers full of fire hang tenuously from shaky ceilings. Someone is storming down the hallway, preparing to attack. Everyone braces themselves for a fight, except, wait, it’s Dany! She’s looking enraged and horrified, like a mom who’s returned home early from her business trip to find dozens of teenagers passed out among piles of Four Lokos in her basement.
Over in the Some-Ass Woods, the Brotherhood [of what, who are these people, what is happening] is about to hang the white dudes who senselessly murdered the hippies last week. They are giving the Good White Dudes a Bad Name. Imagine: a small group of violent extremists being conflated with their peaceful, humane religious brethren. The Hound stumbles upon them and manages to talk his way into hanging two of the murderers. He wants to ax them to death, but they say no, because violence is bad. Only hanging-centric violence is OK. Keep up, guys. Mid-hanging, the Hound takes one of the dead man’s boots, which look very cute on him.
The dudes and the Hound then engage in a philosophical discussion about living (read: dying) for something larger than themselves. The dudes are like, “The Lord of Light kept us alive so we could do, like … stuff for him.” The Hound is like, “That’s dumb.”
Arya is dreaming about Lady Crane being attacked by That Bitch. She wakes up to find that, yes, That Bitch has, in fact, attacked and murdered Lady Crane, and is now about to do the very same to Arya. In response, Arya jumps out a window and proceeds to perform the entire opening scene from Aladdin while also bleeding copiously from a stomach wound. The award for Best Lead Actress In A Musical While Bleeding 2 Death goes to Arya Stark!
After spending a not-insignificant amount of time inside a men’s sauna (where Varys should be having his aforementioned shvitz) and tumbling for an extremely unlikely amount of time down a staircase stacked with colourful fruits, Arya finally confronts That Bitch. In a fun twist, she uses the trick she learned from That Bitch—Fighting While Temporarily Blind—to kill her. We don’t see this, though, because violence is bad.
Arya then returns to the House of Black and White, where she confronts Jaqen. “Chunky highlights were over in the early aughts,” she says, “and also, I am Arya Stark.” Jaqen smiles to himself like he has been secretly planning this outcome all along, which, no. Please don’t tell me that the past 1,265 hours of Arya’s plotline have all been for fakesies and Jaqen brought her to the brink of death multiple times and killed multiple women so that Arya could get her groove back. No. It’s too dumb. IT’S TOO DUMB.