Each week, twins Adam and David Shimer analyze the latest episode of Game of Thrones from the perspective of a non-book reader. This week they discuss “No One,” but first they would like to assign some weekly awards:
Tywin Lannister Memorial Award for Best Political Maneuvering: Without even appearing, the High Sparrow continued to control the game.
Honorable Mention: Jaime using his fervent passion for incest to end the siege of Riverrun.
Eddard Stark Memorial Award for Worst Political Maneuvering: Creepy girl turning into Terminator girl.
Honorable Mention: Tyrion somehow making Grey Worm and Missandei seem smart.
Brandon Stark Award for Most Boring Storyline: Grey Worm and Missandei telling predictably awful jokes.
Honorable Mention: The pointless saga of the Blackfish.
Jaime Lannister’s Right Hand Award for Best Fight Sequence: Clegane #1 violently decapitating someone with his bare hands.
Honorable Mention: Clegane #2 violently decapitating someone with an axe.
AS: In an episode entitled “No One,” Arya finally proclaimed the opposite: that she is still “Arya Stark of Winterfell.” Perhaps “no one” refers not to a person, but to a collective pattern. The Blackfish, Lady Crane and the Waif all met their demise, and yet we didn’t actually witness any of them die — a rarity for the bloodthirsty showrunners. We instead only witnessed the deaths of nameless men, such as the crushed faith militant and the Hound’s victims. Rather than bid farewell to significant characters, we were left to be satisfied with the deaths of people who for all intents and purposes are “No One”. Some characters have had their lives dramatically end in ways such as the ill fated weddings and Ned’s beheading, but the absence of the Blackfish’s heroic last stand and Arya’s final duel with the Waif demonstrate that not all characters get the climactic endings that the audience has come to expect.
DS: You’re giving the showrunners too much credit. There was no purposeful pattern here — only laziness. The Waif chasing Arya through the streets felt like a tribute to the Terminator movies, not the faceless men, and led to a climactic fight we didn’t get to see. To make matters worse, Arya spent two seasons in Braavos but never learned how to change faces. Now that’s satisfying television. I had long waited for Cersei’s much advertised decision to “choose violence,” and yet the show failed to deliver carnage in the Red Keep or a trial by combat. And I had assumed the return of the Blackfish would serve some larger purpose, namely an infusion of Tully forces into the Stark army. Instead we got a time-killing loop: The Blackfish is as absent as he was three episodes ago, Brienne is on her way back to Sansa, and Jaime is on his way back to Cersei. At least Dany’s adventures landed her a horde, though her sudden return also felt odd — as did the fact that no one noticed the attack on Meereen until hundreds of ships fired on the pyramids. For a show that prides itself on realism, this episode didn’t hit the mark.
AS: Even if certain plotlines seem to be going in circles, the showrunners have still continued to successfully develop Jaime’s complex character this season. His friendship with Brienne may be the only true personal connection he has in the show beyond his two siblings (though he claims he will kill Tyrion the next time they cross paths). Brienne carrying around a Lannister sword while serving the Starks highlights the contradiction that her relationship with Jaime creates. But when she attempts to give the sword back, Jaime tells her that “it’ll always be yours”, showing that despite the fact that they now oppose each other, he is not willing to severe their friendship. Nothing about Jaime is straightforward, including his connection to Brienne. He sent Brienne on a mission to find Sansa in order to fulfill his vow to Catelyn, despite the fact that Cersei wants “that bitch” dead because of her belief that she helped kill her and Jaime’s firstborn son. If only all of Jaime’s problems could still be solved by merely shoving a 10-year old boy out a window. But those days are long over, so it’s no surprise that he somewhat desperately tried to simplify all of his thoughts, actions and motivations down to one thing: his enduring love for Cersei. He tells Edmure that he will launch his son into Riverrun with a catapult and justifies it as an example of “the things we do for love”, which is exactly what he said to Cersei before he sent Bran flying out a window. This avid love is his most humanizing feature, but it is also the motivation behind his most horrible actions. Somehow Jaime only manages to most fully embody the villain that everyone believes him to be when he is driven by something as pure as love for his family — the same thing that has always been the primary motivation of the honorable Starks.
Random Thoughts —
-What did Qyburn’s little birds investigate? What secret mission did Varys embark on? What does the future hold for the Jaime-Brienne-Tormund love triangle? So many unanswered questions…
-I’m shocked that Dany didn’t make an over the top speech in High Valyrian after she dramatically returned to Meereen.
-“I choose violence” — the words Cersei won’t get to say just before her trial by combat because of her thankless son.
-Somewhere this episode Margaery was quietly reciting a prayer while mischievously looking both ways.
-Tyrion successfully led the defense of a city besieged by hundreds of ships, unlike you Grey Worm — so next time maybe don’t be so snooty.
-Brienne is the only person that doesn’t sneer at Jaime when he cites his honor.
-There could be a mediocre spin off based on what Beric and Thoros have been doing in the woods for the past three seasons.
-Thank god the showrunners decided not to devote screentime to showing Arya skin the Waif’s face off.
M.I.A. this episode: Sansa and Jon, Bran and Benjen, Daario and Jorah, Gilly and Sam, Ramsay, Dorne, Rickon, Littlefinger and the Night’s King