This week’s Game of Thrones was tonally perfect. Emotional, funny, cunning, and bloody violent — just how I like it.
So apparently Arya (Maisie Williams) is a comic book superhero with super-healing powers. The girl recovered miraculously well after getting stabbed in the gut four or five times by the Waif. She’s lucky that she has a friend in Lady Crane — the actress she almost poisoned a couple episodes before. She shows up bleeding and white as a sheet in the woman’s dressing room. She kindly tends to Arya with a warm bed, bad soup and milk of the poppy to help her sleep, but not before she offers her a place with the acting troupe. We all know this isn’t Arya’s place in the world, though. This miracle Stark has bigger fish to fry. I’m personally very glad she’s leaving Braavos — this plot story has been one of the season’s weakest.
Before we find out Arya’s ultimate fate, we follow her former travel buddy, the ax-wielding Hound (Rory McCann), as he hunts down the men who killed Ray and the rest of the villagers last episode. He shows up like a bat out of hell and slaughters four men in a matter of 30 seconds. This is the first of several jarringly graphic scenes that sends a shock to the system in a way only GoT can. But he still must find the leader, the man in the yellow cloak. He soon finds him and his co-conspirators about to be hanged by the Brotherhood Without Banners. He convinces Lord Beric Dondarrion to let him kill two out of the three. After doing so, he then steals Yellowcloak’s boots. Sorry Dany, The Hound is officially my favorite character again.
In Meereen, Curly and Moe are lone stooges as Varys is off on a mysterious expedition, leaving Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) behind to rule the city alone in Daenerys’ absence. The bromance is real with these two, and it’s the first of a few touching moments in the episode that served as a break from all the campaigning and violence. But leave it to Tyrion to add some levity to any given episode. He, Grey Worm, and Missandei proceed to celebrate the liberation of the slaves in hilariously awkward fashion, as he forces them to drink wine and make jokes. Really, really bad jokes. It’s one of my favorite scenes of the season, reminding us that even one of the Unsullied can laugh. But before Missandei gets too sloshed, a fleet of slaver ships suddenly appear. “The masters have returned for their property,” Missandei laments. Looks like Meereen isn’t so free anyway, as the city burns from the fleet’s attack. Cue Daenerys (Emilia Clarke)! It’s a really obvious return, but, either way, it’s nice to see her back. And if anyone can save the city from burning to the ground, it’s the flame-retardant Mother of Dragons.
In King’s Landing, Cersei (Lena Headey) is being called out of the Red Keep to appear before the High Sparrow. But because she’s a deeply difficult person, she refuses, forcing Lancel and his men to attempt a run at her terrifying bodyguard, the Mountain. At her behest, the eldest Clegane literally rips one of the men’s head off with his bare hands. What’s more unsettling is the look on Cersei’s face while he’s doing it — pure satisfaction. Like a true sociopath. I don’t know whether to loathe her or almost respect her. Even when she’s in shameful sequestration, she somehow still manages to land on top. I’m wondering if this mysterious “rumor” she referenced will help her cause.
The forever loyal Brienne, along with Podrick, has traveled to Riverrun to secure men for Sansa’s (Sophie Turner) army. It doesn’t go so well, and they leave soldier-less. All we really learn from this transaction is that The Blackfish is arguably the most stubborn person in Westeros, and that Brienne and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) still have weird sexual tension. Oh, and Bronn is really funny. And his pal Jaime is still as cunning as ever. The square-jawed Lannister somehow convinces the rightful Lord of Riverrun, Edmure, to yield the castle, without an ounce of blood spilled. That’s the good thing about Game of Thrones, they (usually) know when to relish in the bloodshed and when to reel it in. It’s politicking at its finest.
Speaking of reeling it in, Arya is in a much more precarious situation when we catch back up with her. After the Waif brutally murders Lady Crane, she and Arya participate in a high speed chase through Braavos. For a girl who’s nursing a massive stab wound, Arya is surprisingly agile. How she survived after jumping from a 20 foot building and tumbling down a flight of steps is beyond me. The assassin eventually catches up to the very injured Arya, and the two are locked in a dark room together. We see the Waif slowly approach Arya, knife in hand. Arya takes a deep breath and slices the top off a candle to produce pitch blackness. They could’ve easily ended “No One” there, leaving Arya’s fate hanging in the balance. But why do that when you can send her on an epic hero’s quest?
Cut to Jaqen H’ghar walking into the Hall of Faces to see the Waif’s bloody face among them. It’s a very effective scene. And evidently this is the task Arya needed to complete in order to become No One. But, as I’ve said before, this girl will never be no one. She’s Arya Stark of Winterfell. And she’s going home. Game of Thrones certainly knows how to end an episode. She might as well have said “It’s Arya, b*tch.”Game of Thrones airs Sundays on HBO at 9 p.m. ET/MT.