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Battle of the Bastards - May the Best Bastard Win: A Game of Thrones Season 6 Review

The eighth episode of Game of Thrones season 6, titled “No One,” accomplished three things: ended the Blackfish’s rebellion, kick-started the Battle of Meereen, and concluded Arya’s quest in the House of Black and White (or signal the end of the worst internship ever as many fans dubbed it).

Lancel Lannister

In King’s Landing, several Faith Militants, led by Lancel Lannister, sought out the Queen Mother who was being summoned by the High Sparrow. Of course, Cersei refused to listen, and she let her personal bodyguard, the Mountain, handle the rest.

Later, however, whatever smugness she was feeling was wiped away when King Tommen the Blessed decreed that trials by combat would not be allowed anymore in the realm; instead, those standing trial would face a jury of seven septons, ensuring that the Seven’s will would be done. This meant that in her upcoming trial, the date of which Tommen also announced, Cersei would not be able to use the Mountain’s special set of skills, thus putting her in more jeopardy.

Brinne and Jaime

A little bit up north, Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne arrived at Riverrun at Sansa’s behest, seeking Brynden “Blackfish” Tully’s help in the war to come. They were just in time for the siege the Frey and Lannister forces were mounting against the Tullys, and Brienne finally saw Jaime again. (Pod and Bronn also shared a moment, and it was fun seeing the old gang together, wasn’t it? Bronn also never forgot Pod’s legendary sexual prowess—who would, frankly?)

Jaime and Brienne discussed the merits of talking the Blackfish out of the Tully castle, and Jaime agreed to let Brienne give it a try. The fewer lives lost, the better, and this might give them a chance for that. Brienne also tried to return the sword Oathkeeper to Jaime (I am still not over Ice the Sword, no matter how cool Oathkeeper looked), but Jaime told her that the sword would always be hers. (Jaime, be honest, on a scale of one to I-will-push-an-innocent-child-out-a-tower-for-you, how much do you love Brienne?)

Brienne and Pod got into Riverrun, but like Jaime warned her, the Blackfish was a stubborn man. He refused to leave his ancestral home, not even to help his niece.

Edmure and Jaime

Outside, Jaime was psychologically scarring Edmure Tully (as if the guy needed any more of that) with threats of using his son (whom he never met yet, and never would, should he not listen to the Kingslayer) in a catapult. Edmure was released after Jaime made his point, and the Lord of Riverrun went back home...

... only to surrender to the Lannisters and Freys waiting in front of his gates. He also ordered his uncle captured and presented to Jaime Lannister, but he was killed in action (and offscreen! What a travesty!), though before he died, he had managed to lead Brienne and Pod to an escape route.

Upon learning of the Blackfish’s death, Jaime stood on Riverrun’s balcony and saw them rowing away. Brienne looked back, and catching her gaze, Jaime raised his hand in farewell. Brienne returned the gesture. An understanding passed between them; both knew that though Jaime allowed them to get away, the next time they meet, they would be sworn enemies (just as Brienne reminded Jaime in the tent earlier, for her allegiance would be to Sansa first and foremost).

Sandor Clegane

Sandor Clegane got his revenge. He killed a few men (and then some), and then he came across Beric Dondarrion, who was in the middle of hanging three men, the same ones who rode to Brother Ray’s camp and then murdered him and his followers. The Hound haggled with Beric for the right to kill the, well, killers, who were kicked out of the Brotherhood because of what they did to Brother Ray’s people. Beric agreed to let him kill two, and though he’d prefer the use of his ax for a bloodier demise, Sandor relented to just hanging them in the end.

Afterward, Beric and Thoros of Myr offered Sandor a place in the Brotherhood without Banners. Sandor was skeptical, of course, but Beric convinced him, thus putting the Hound in the path toward the Wight War.

Daenerys with Drogon

East, in Meereen, Tyrion’s deal with the Masters seemed to be paying off. The economy seemed to be doing well, with merchants and peasants roaming Meereen with a productive liveliness not even seen in King’s Landing for a long time. Varys was leaving for a secret mission, Tyrion showing hesitance in whatever it was.

Later, while Tyrion was making headway with his relationships with both Grey Worm, general of their queen’s army, and Missandei, their queen’s confidante and handmaiden, the Masters launched an attack to the city from sea.

In the midst of all the chaos, Grey Worm taking point in the military matters, Daenerys Stormborn returned, and she did not look at all pleased.

Lady Crane

In Braavos, Lady Crane’s tear-jerking performance as Cersei Lannister earned her thunderous applause. It seemed that she took Arya’s (Mercy's) advice to tap into the Queen’s deep love for her bastard son Joffrey, and she effectively infused that emotion into her lines.

After her piece, Lady Crane went backstage to get a drink. However, before she got a chance to do so, she heard a thud. And like the normal curious person, she looked for the source of the noise, which, in this case, was in her wardrobe.

There, she saw a bleeding Mercy.

Lady Crane decided to show Mercy mercy, taking her to an upstairs apartment to tend to her wounds. And Lady Crane apparently knew what she was doing, medically speaking, after a life spent stabbing past lovers and then patching them up. Mercy asked about the fate of the girl who wanted Lady Crane dead, and she was basically told that it wasn’t an issue anymore.

Lady Crane also prepared food for Mercy (and it tasted terrible, but that’s not the point— Arya, you need to eat) and then proceeded to invite her to come with the theater troupe, which was leaving for Pentos soon. Arya, of course, declined despite Lady Crane’s tender insistence. When asked what’s left for her in Braavos, Arya answered that Lady Crane would not be safe with her, not while she was still looking for Arya. At this, Lady Crane seemed to realize what really was going on with this young girl who bled all over her wardrobe, and yet she didn’t cower. Instead, she asked the girl where she would go, to which Arya replied, “Essos is east, and Westeros is west. But what’s west of Westeros?”

Lady Crane said truthfully, “I don’t know.”

And young Arya’s eyes sparked with a little bit of childlike wonder and curiosity, last seen in the first season, back in Winterfell. “Nobody does. That’s where all the maps stop.”

The smile Lady Crane gifted Arya with was equal parts gentle and indulging. “The end of the world maybe.”

It was a bit heartwarming, seeing someone taking care of Arya for once. It’s been years since she’s been exposed to any type of a mother figure (and perhaps it’s just me, but Lady Crane was so reminiscent of Lady Catelyn Stark in some angles that it was sort of heartbreaking), and Lady Crane sure did seem to come to genuinely care for the girl. The actress’s company was a bit of a safe haven for Arya.

Of course, as there was no rest for the wicked, this little piece of calm soon came crumbling down, when the Waif appeared and brutally murdered Lady Crane.

Hearing the commotion, Arya woke up from her milk-of-the-poppy-induced sleep and saw the woman drenched in blood. The Waif then confronted Arya, and what followed was a cat-and-mouse chase on the busy streets of Braavos.

The Waif followed Arya without heed of the people around and at last came to a gloomy cell in an out-of-the-way corner of the city. There Arya was waiting with a single lit candle, kneeling and gasping for breath, affecting an air of helplessness, which the Waif completely bought.

But the young Stark had a plan. She unsheathed trusty Needle, and as the Waif came closer, she slashed through the candle, plunging the room in darkness.

Arya and Kindly Man

Next, we see the Kindly Man following a trail of bloody imprints on the floor of the House of Black and White. It led him to the Hall of Faces, which was holding a new addition, the face of the Waif with her eyes carved out, blood on her cheeks like war paint.

Arya appeared holding Needle out, confronting the Kindly Man about the kill order he gave, and he did not refute it. He came as close to praising her as he ever did, saying, “Finally, a girl is No One.”

And Arya, after so long shedding the wolf within, answered, “A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell, and I’m going home.”

And with that, she turned around and left.

The next episode will be the season’s penultimate. Titled “Battle of the Bastards,” it will show the long-awaited and highly anticipated showdown that has been foreshadowed all season long: the Bolton Bastard—psychopathic, murderous, and patricidal Ramsey—and the Stark Bastard—stern, honorable, and resurrected Jon—will be facing off in the most epic battle that will grace Game of Thrones yet.

Battle of the Bastards

Will the Starks, lacking men and resources, manage to even the odds? Or would Winterfell, and the North itself, fall into the Flayed Men’s grip as a more permanent arrangement?

Will Lord Petyr Baelish swoop in with the Knights of the Vale to save the day, whether it was because of altruism? It is highly likely that it was he whom Sansa reached to earlier, without Jon’s knowledge. Littlefinger had the numbers to turn the tide, for he was basically the one controlling the Vale and its armies.

Will Ramsey be betrayed by one of the Northern houses who swore allegiance to him? There’s a circulating theory that the Umbers giving Rickon Stark to Ramsey was just a ruse to get him to trust them, in a plot to get a Stark in Winterfell again (because we all know that there must always, always be a Stark in Winterfell). True or not, it certainly wasn’t panning out well so far, especially when Osha, Rickon’s long-time protector, was killed by Ramsey himself.

Speaking of the youngest Stark, will he die? His life quite literally was on the hands of a murderer who had no qualms about taking lives and instead relished in it. And let’s be honest, aside from the vague reports of his exile in Skaagos, Rickon’s plotline was the least interesting of the remaining Stark children. Additionally, another dead Stark would be a surefire way of taking the hate for Ramsey up a notch, one more reason to pray to the old gods and the new for his death. The grislier and more gruesome it ends up being, the more satisfied we would probably be.

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