We're reaching the end of Season Six. You can see the beginnings of some resolutions, as possibilities are discarded and paths are chosen. The major characters, often caught up in the flow of greater events around them, are now starting to tentatively (and sometimes forcefully) choose to carve their own way rather than let events happen to them.
Sandor may have a bit of a hitch in his stride, a remnant of his fight with Brienne and the subsequent infection, but he walks with a purpose. Right now his purpose is to kill everyone who slaughtered the people with whom he was building a sept. He comes across four of them playing kissing games, and he kisses each with his axe.
Continuing on, he finds the ringleaders of the raid. But Beric Dondarrion has them teed up for hanging. Sandor wants to kill them because they killed his friends. Beric is hanging them for honor, because they sullied the good name of the Brotherhood Without Banners. After a brief negotiation, Beric concedes that Sandor has the better claim for revenge, and lets him do the honors. Sandor wants to use an axe, but Beric insists on hanging. And so hanging it is. Sandor doesn't even wait for them to strangle before he pulls the boots off of one of them, to replace his own.
Beric tries to recruit Sandor to join the Brotherhood. He speaks of the battle brewing in the North, against the White Walkers. Perhaps glimpsing into Sandor's soul, and seeing the self-loathing there, he tells him that the good he could do fighting this battle could far outweigh the bad he's done in his life. Clegane ponders his words.
Tyrion and Varys stroll through the streets of the city, enjoying the vibrancy that has returned after the deals concluded with the slavers and with the Red Priestess. Varys is leaving the city on a secret expedition. He speaks of needing friends in Westeros, and of needing ships. So perhaps he's going on a recruiting visit.
Back in the pyramid, Tyrion continues to try to recruit Grey Worm and Missandei into not being such boring companions. He wheedles them into drinking wine by raising a toast to Daenerys and then proclaiming that anyone who doesn't drink the toast is being disrespectful to the Queen. He also tries to get them to tell jokes, but they are uncomfortable with the idea of humor. Grey Worm says he doesn't know any jokes. Missandei tells a particularly unfunny joke. Tyrion laughs politely, but Grey Worm proclaims it the worst joke he has ever heard. Missandei reminds him that he doesn't know any jokes, but he points out that he has lived his whole life in the military, and of course the military tells jokes. When Tyrion points out that he lied to them about knowing jokes, Grey Worm says he made a joke. Missandei finds this funny, and Grey Worm smiles at Missandei's laughter.
But the joy is short-lived. Their conversation is interrupted. The slavers have betrayed the truce, and they have shown up in force to assault Meereen. They are launching firebolts from their ships. Grey Worm has ordered the Unsullied to stay in the pyramid, which is the most defensible stronghold in the city. They will wait for the slavers to come to them.
Then they hear something very large overhead. They wait tensely for the mystery to resolve itself...and it does, as Daenerys comes striding into the room and Drogon flies off in the background.
Qyburn arrives at Cersei's door, with news that seven members (see what they did there?) of the Faith Militant have arrived. Cersei goes down to meet them, with Qyburn and the Mountain. Cersei's cousin Lancel leads the Faith on this visit. They've come to gather Cersei to take her to meet with the High Sparrow at the Sept of Baelor. Cersei instructs them to tell the High Sparrow he's welcome to come see her at the Red Keep, but she's not going to Baelor before her trial.
Lancel says it's not a request. When they move to take her, the Mountain steps in. Lancel tells Cersei to instruct the Mountain to step aside, or there will be violence. "I choose violence", replies Cersei. The bravest (most foolhardy) of the Faith hits Gregor in the chest with a weapon that punctures his breastplate. It doesn't faze him in the slightest. He grabs the man by the neck, lifts him off his feet, and throws him down. He grabs the man under the chin and...simply...rips the man's head off.
And then Cersei smirks, as she tells Lancel to invite the High Sparrow to visit whenever he wishes. She smirks when she thinks she's done something smart.
She's usually wrong. She's certainly wrong this time.
The next we see Cersei, she arrives at the throne room to hear a pronouncement from King Tommen. She was not invited, and is not allowed to stand by her son as he makes his pronouncement.
The pronouncement is to reaffirm that the Faith and the Crown support each other, and that Ser Loras and the Queen Mother Cersei will stand trial for their sins, but the practice of trial by combat is outlawed. Loras and Cersei will face a trial by seven priests.
Showed your cards too early, Cersei. Where's that smirk now? Still, I don't want to be the one to try to bring her to her trial.
Tommen is a little brother, isn't he? Valonqar, in Valyrian...
Qyburn approaches Cersei and mentions that he's had his "little birds" investigate the rumor she passed along, and have confirmed that it's much more than just a rumor. Will this rumor be her lifeline?
Brienne and Podrick arrive at Riverrun to find it under siege by Jaime and the Lannisters (and Freys). Bronn banters with Pod (banters = picks on him incessantly) while Jaime and Brienne speak. Brienne informs Jaime that she has found Sansa, and she's here to seek the aid of the Tully army in taking Winterfell for Lady Sansa.
Jaime points out that the Tully rebels are currently occupied. They argue about who has the right to Riverrun. Jaime has the royal decree. Brienne insists that honor demands a different view, and she's confident that Jaime has that honor.
For his part, Jaime is discomfited by Brienne's insistence that he's a better man than his reputation suggests. She suggests that she speak with Brynden Tully, the Blackfish, and convince him to take his army North to Winterfell. Jaime gets the castle, Sansa gets a big boost to her army...win/win. Brienne tries to give Jaime his sword (Oathkeeper) back. Jaime tells her that sword is hers, and will always be hers. Brienne also tells Jaime that if the Blackfish refuses to surrender, she's be compelled by honor to fight against Jaime. "Let's hope it doesn't come to that", he says. And you can tell that he honestly doesn't want to fight against her. There is some interesting tenderness there. Brienne, for her part, looks like she's trying not to cry as she leaves his tent.
And of course the Blackfish doesn't have the same faith in Jaime's honor that Brienne has. He refuses to leave the castle, both because he doesn't trust Jaime and because he doesn't want to abandon his ancestral home. But, in light of Brienne's persistence, he finally agrees to read the note from Sansa. He gets a little emotional as he recognizes Catelyn's spirit in Sansa. But still he refuses.
Brienne instructs Pod to send a raven to Sansa to let her know the outcome - that the Blackfish isn't coming.
Meanwhile, Jaime visits with Lord Edmure, nephew to the Blackfish, brother to Catelyn Stark and Lysa Arryn. He speaks to Edmure of the son Edmure sired on the night of the Red Wedding. A son Edmure has not yet met, born to the wife he hasn't seen since their first night together.
Edmure doesn't want to make small talk with the man whose family massacred Edmure's family, kept Edmure prisoner for years, and is even now laying siege to Edmure's home. He wants to know how Jaime can sleep at night...how he can convince himself that he's a decent human being.
Jaime retorts that Catelyn let her worst enemy go in the hope that he could return her daughters to her. "The things we do for love", he says to Edmure, as he said it to Cersei right before pushing Bran out the window. Jaime says that he only cares about one person - his sister Cersei. Nobody else matters. And if he has to send for Edmure's son and launch him by catapult into Riverrun, if he has to slaughter every Tully that's ever lived, he'd happily do it to see his sister again. Edmure, always the weaker sibling, not only believes Jaime, but he betrays his uncle and his men by ordering them to lay down their arms and turn the castle over to the Freys and the Lannisters.
For his part, the Blackfish makes sure that Brienne and Pod get out of the castle by boat, and then he commits suicide by fighting the invaders.
Jaime sees Brienne going downriver. He waves to her, and she waves back.
Lady Crane has taken Arya's advice. For the play about Joffrey's death, Arya told her that Cersei would not only mourn, she would rage. And Lady Crane has put that into her performance, to great reception. In the glow of that performance, and the applause raining down, the actress finds the wounded Arya backstage, hidden amidst the wardrobe.
Lady Crane takes Arya back to her place, where she dresses her wounds and gives her food and milk of the poppy to speed her healing.
Later, as Arya sleeps, Lady Crane steps up on a stool to retrieve a bottle of something. As she turns, the Waif is in the doorway. Arya is woken by the noise of Lady Crane's murder. As she stares in horror at her friend's corpse, the Waif lectures her.
The Many-Faced God was promised a name, the Waif says. He must have what is his. "You can't change that. I can't change that. No one can."
And no one does.
Diving over the balcony, Arya leads the Waif on a long run through the city. Her wounds reopen, and she staggers into a dead end. The Waif closes the door to the dead end to ensure that Arya can't escape. But Arya is not trying to escape. This dead end is the room where she hid Needle. As the Waif contemptuously approaches, secure in the knowledge that she's better than Arya, Arya slices through the candle, plunging the room into darkness. Quick quiz - which of the two has spent much of the recent past in total blindness?
Jaqen H'ghar follows a trail of blood to see the face of the Waif on the wall. Arya materializes behind him, holding Needle threateningly.
"You told her to kill me", she says to Jaqen
"Yes. But here you are, and there she is", he replies. "Finally a girl is no one."
"A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell, and I'm going home."
Jaqen nods to her, and off she goes.
Scenes From Next Week:
- The Starks and Boltons face off
- Davos stares at an old fire site - where Shireen burned?
- Battle is joined, and Wun Wun is looking to make some noise
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