The episode opened with a nice, short soliloquy from Lady Crane acting as Cersei, with a delighted audience watching her wax lyrical about Joffrey as he died in her arms. It was emotive and deft acting, and sadly the last chance in the episode to see either quality. There are no prizes for predicting what happened next, as Lady Crane discovered and rescued Arya. The scene was decent, if not a little ill-thought-out – in an emergency, I’m not sure why you’d hide behind a curtain; the trail of blood is proof enough of your whereabouts. Regardless, Crane put Arya to bed, and after a short discussion of their futures, we traveled across Westeros to find The Hound.
Jokes about arse-related foreplay are slightly taboo on television, but network censors likely forgot about it immediately, given what came next. Brothers Without Banners members were left headless by The Hound, who was channeling his inner Jack Torrance, or the more family-friendly Gimley. It was a short scene, but extraordinarily bloody, and equally satisfying. We did return to The Hound, as he met Thoros and Beric once again. It was a funny scene, which Clegane owned – taking the shoes of a hanging man, bargaining over butchery – it was all very dark, but amusing, and the delivery was excellent.
In King’s Landing, we had another quick, incredibly graphic showdown. Lancel Lannister appeared at the Red Keep asking for Cersei to visit the High Septor. Gregor Clegane, The Mountain, killed a young man from the Faith Militant by pulling his head off, in a way that resembled taking the cap off of a bottle of shaken cherryade. At this point the episode had begun to descend into pure exploitation television. Cersei wrapped it all up with a sassy one-liner: ‘please tell his high holiness he’s always welcome to visit’.
At Riverrun, the warriors’ romance was not rekindled – despite Bronn’s ‘fucking’ deliberations. Clearly, they both felt for each other, though where Brienne pined only for Jaime, he appeared more focused on his relationship with his sister. Their meeting was respectful but it didn’t really feel all that necessary, nor wholly convincing. To paraphrase the events at Riverrun: Jaime gave Brienne a chance to persuade Blackfish, she failed, so he used Edmure instead, who was successful. He waved to Brienne as she escaped on a boat, but Blackfish lost his life in typically belligerent fashion. The only noteworthy development was that Jaime appeared to abandon the morality he seemed to have discovered upon losing his hand. In his diatribe, he claimed that the only thing he cared about was Cersei, and he vowed to do anything for her.
Of course it remains to be seen if and when Jaime will discover that Cersei slept with Lancel. That may be a huge turning point for him, or it simply may never be mentioned again. In the books it has already been covered, but with the show deviating in places from the book, clearly writers decided to milk the relationship for longer.
There was also an unnecessary scene between Pod and Bronn, where the latter imposed his dishonourable fighting philosophies. Whilst mildly funny, an episode this close to the end of the series shouldn’t need dedicated comic relief scenes.
Which brings us directly to a particularly terrible part of the show – up there with the absolute worst in the series. It’s not clear why this jovial scene was included; perhaps to show a softer side to Greyworm and Misande? To get some on-screen time for the increasingly irrelevant Tyrion? It simply wasn’t funny, and far from developing any characters, the acting was so remarkably wooden that it removed the audience, like when the lights come on in the cinema and woeful bloopers or deleted scenes played us out.
Cersei sent to the gallery with ‘the other ladies of the court’. Trial by combat banned, Tommen looks to send his mother to an early grave. Suggests no Clegane fight.
In an important twist in Cersei’s fate in King’s Landing, Tommen declared an end to trial by combat. Since it was transparent that The Mountain would win any fight, the High Septor changed the rules. Things look bleak for Cersei, as even from a neutral, non-faith point of view, she has more than most to answer for.
The masters arrived just in time to be destroyed by Drogon, though that eventuality was saved for next week.
Back at Riverrun, Edmure and Jaime played out a classic torturer/victim scene. Edmure didn’t go full Stockholm Syndrome, but instead fell for the threats of an incestuous lover. We had a callback to the horrible line ‘the things we do for lav’. Not great. Edmure realised he could not win against Jaime, so he entered the castle and betrayed his father. The scene closed as Brienne and Jaime waved to one another, the former sailing off into oblivion with Gendry, or back to Sansa, or something.
Dir: Jeremy Bodeswa
Scr: David Benioff, George R.R. Martin, D.B. Weiss
Cast: Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harrington, Liam Cunningham, Carice Van Houten, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams.
Prd: David Benioff, George R.R. Martin, D.B. Weiss, Duncan Muggoch, Peter Welter-Soler
Music: Ramin Jawadi
Episode Number: 8 of 10