(Photo Courtesy of Independent)
Three “television enthusiasts,” the dynamic brother-sister duo of Marci and Rusty Buehler and Zac Hirschbeck, watch Game of Thrones each Sunday night and exchange their thoughts on the show’s happenings.
Zac: A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell… and she is going home!!
Marci! Rusty! Arya is back!
While she never disappeared from the show entirely like her brother Bran, Arya was left in storyline purgatory since the beginning of Season Five. That sentiment was made all the more frustrating considering how beloved Arya was in the show’s first few seasons. However, following Episode 8, it appears the second daughter of Ned and Cat Stark is back on track in becoming one of the show’s heroines.
I really loved the ending to this week’s episode. While I always had my doubts that Arya would die in Braavos at the hands of the Waif, I certainly couldn’t help but be concerned considering the show’s proclivity toward killing off anyone at anytime. However, as Arya weaved and stumbled her way through the Braavosi streets, it became increasingly clear that she was not in danger, but it was her pursuer that was in harm’s way. Although her actress friend Lady Crane was not as lucky, Arya lured the Waif into a corridor, extinguished the light as a means to utilize her extensive blinded training, and struck down her foe. Upon returning to the House of Black and White and placing her fallen enemy’s mug in the Hall of Faces, Arya informed Jaqen H’ghar of her true identity and her plans to return home.
There are two things I’d like to offer when it comes to Arya. First, I’m glad the show went this route with her. Marci, last week you mentioned a popular Internet theory that Arya was essentially “Fight-Clubbing” the Waif. Though I’m sure the show would’ve made such a potential reveal entertaining, I’m glad they instead opted to use Arya’s allotted screen time to craft her into a badass assassin. Also, despite his somewhat underwhelming reintroduction to the show, I still really like Jaqen H’ghar. I’m not sure if you both would agree, but his smile and nod as Arya departed seemed like the reaction of someone who was satisfied with his work. Arya came to Braavos looking to make good on the gratitude that was owed to her by Jaqen. She wanted to learn the skills that she knew Jaqen possessed. She wanted to become a faceless assassin. Although she didn’t shed her face (and her identity), she very much became an assassin. Jaqen’s reaction, in what will likely be the last time we see him, was one that seemed to indicate that this was what he wanted for Arya all along.
Lastly, I’m hopeful that Arya’s departure from Braavos will lead to another Stark reunion. While this show certainly doesn’t often offer hope, I have to imagine her return to Winterfell won’t involve Ramsay Bolton. With a battle between Jon/Sansa and Ramsay looming next week, I think Jon/Sansa retake Winterfell and we see Arya make her way back home to her siblings in the season finale. Or, better yet, Arya returns to Winterfell next week and MURDERS THE SHIT OUT OF RAMSAY!
Before I turn things over to you both, I want to briefly touch on my other favorite moment from this week’s episode, and that was Jaime and Brienne’s reunion. I really love when they are on screen together. Individually, Brienne is arguably the show’s most honorable figure. She’s hilarious (both intentionally and unintentionally), much like Arya she’s a badass, and she’s also managed to make Jaime a sympathetic character. Despite the Blackfish’s demise, I was happy that the two friends weren’t forced to fight, because that would’ve been awful to watch. However, as quickly as their reunion warmed my heart (particularly when Jaime urged Brienne to keep his sword), I was saddened by their somber exchange of waves in what appeared to signal a final goodbye. I sincerely hope that proves not to be the case.
Rusty! Marci! What did you make of Arya’s triumph and Brienne and Jaime’s reunion? And what else stood out for you this week? As usual, there is no shortage of talking points…
Marci: GO ARYA, GO ARYA, GO! GO! Get it girl, get yo’ name back! Cut off that dumb Waif’s face! Oh yeah! Alright! Go do your thang, Arya Stark! A girl has a name!
If you couldn’t tell from my last paragraph, I agree with you Zac! I’m glad Arya is back with us and that she defeated the Waif. I’m interested to see where she ends up next. Ultimately I’d like a Stark reunion, but if she happens to meet up with The Hound in the woods on her way, I think I’d be okay with that. Arya + The Hound 4LYFE!
Speaking of The Hound, I’m glad we got to see him murder those dum dum’s who killed his peaceful tribe. Such great form with an axe, that one has. I have absolutely no idea where he and the Brotherhood Without Banners folk are headed next, but I’m interested to find out.
I also loved the scenes with Brienne and Jaime – they play really nicely off each other. They are such an unlikely duo that it warms my heart to watch them be friendly. That whole scenario played out in an interesting manner. When Brienne gave several moving speeches to the Blackfish I thought he would consider joining the fight to take Winterfell, but ultimately he could not be persuaded by Brienne’s eloquent words, “Don’t die for your pride when you could fight for your blood.” The Blackfish chose to die for pride. Oh well.
Meanwhile, in King’s Landing Cersei is continually thrown shade by her son, who has now decreed that NO MORE TRIALS BY COMBAT. This may or may not have something to do with the fact that The Mountain literally ripped the head off one of the Sparrow dudes who came to try to get Cersei to leave the Red Keep. I don’t know if Cersei is gonna hang around for her trial, but I think it’s probably a good time to let The Mountain be her lead blocker and get the hell outta town. I’m sure she will stay put though…stupid allegiance to her dang son.
Rusty what did you think of this week’s episode? Did you enjoy the joke telling session with Tyrion, Grey Worm and Missandei? Where do you think Varys is headed? And how pissed is Dany gonna be when they tell her about the deal Tyrion made with the slavers?!
Rusty: I agree with you both that it’s nice to have Arya back, firmly out of the House of Black and White. My big question is when are we going to see her again? The showrunners seem to be playing fast and loose with travel time this season (Theon and Yara sailed halfway around Westeros in one episode,) so there is a chance Arya could make an appearance before the season finale. Is there a Westerosi version of Waze Arya could use? Some crowdsourced advice like “Avoid the main road, hazards/pillaging rapists ahead.” Also, Marci, I know that you love the buddy cops Arya and the Hound… but the Hound was on Arya’s kill list. Do you think they’ll still be buddy buddy if/when they ever reunite?
Also, I want whatever cold medicine the actress gave Arya to recuperate! What was that?? Tylenol PM? The Waif shanked Arya prison-style, twisting her knife before she took it out of Arya’s stomach. You’re telling me some Vicks Vapo Rub and a good night’s sleep helped her to shake that off? All kidding aside, and I know we are talking about a fantasy show, but for a television series that seemingly prides itself on realistic violence and gore, Arya couldn’t have bounced back so quickly from 4+ tummy stabs. But whatever, welcome back Arya, get back to Westeros already!
Meanwhile in Meereen, I truly have no idea what is happening. Zac, maybe you can help us out here, but I interpreted that the slave owners basically did a ‘take backsies’ on Tyrion’s 7 year de-slaving agreement, and sailed to Meereen to take back all of their slaves? If this is the case, I’m not sure how pissed Dany could really get at Tyrion, since he bought everyone a little time and made the Sons of the Harpy disappear. Am I totally wrong?
I was surprised to see Varys ship off randomly this week. My big prediction is that Varys will have the last scene of the season, traveling all the way North to ally Dany with… JON SNOW! A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, BABY! Then they’ll mop the floor with all those White Walkers in season 7.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, I want to shout out what is sure to be the hottest Westerosi vacation spot in 30 years… Tyrion’s dope-ass vineyards. Of course our main man wants to own wineries! And to call his flagship wine The Imp’s Delight! That’s a red varietal in my book. Probably something earthy like a Shiraz. I loved the scene Tyrion had with Grey Worm and Missandei. While it’s clear that they didn’t agree with Tyrion’s diplomacy, I think the three of them have a mutual respect for one another. Although we gotta work on Missandei’s tolerance… girlfriend had MAYBE two sips of her wine cooler and was already flushed and giggly. Also, was that the first time Grey Worm has ever smiled on this show? Good for him. When you don’t have a penis, what else can you really do but smile?
Do you guys have any big predictions for next week?
Marci: Ha, I also loved the Tyrion/Grey Worm/Missandei scene, it was quite nice to finally see the boring people let loose and have a little fun – kind of felt like I was watching an awkward version of a company holiday party unfold. And YES on Tyrion’s vineyards! I was actually thinking that it’d be a smart idea to start making a wine called “The Imp’s Delight” and you could make a few bucks pretty quickly. It wouldn’t be the first time that pop culture dictated wine.
Rusty – I agree that Varys might be heading north…I also got the feeling that he might be biting the bullet soon…the goodbye scene between him and Tyrion felt very heavy, almost final. But, I could be wrong about that (like usual)!
Based on the preview of next week’s episode, it seems like we’ll finally get our big Battle of the Bastards:
There’s a line from Jon Snow that makes me think he challenges Ramsay to a one on one combat, “Thousands of men don’t need to die. Only one of us.” But seeing as that’s followed by thousands of men charging at each other, it seems the resolution will not go the route of one-on-one combat.
I HOPE HOPE HOPE that Ramsay dies in the ensuing battle and that the Starks take Winterfell. However, this show loves to take us for lots of twists and turns, so we’ll see.
My best guess is that Ramsay will be defeated, but Rickon Stark will be killed in the process (and possibly one of our favorite wildings – NOT WUN WUN, PLEASE!)…
Zac, what do you think will go down next week?
Zac: A few quick things I’d like to add before I share my thoughts on the battle to end all battles next week…
- It’s hard for me to believe that Tommen really is turning his back on his mother. He’s a Lannister, and although he may be more innocent than his deceased older brother, I don’t buy him effectively sentencing his own mother to death with his “No Trial-by-Combat” decree. If I had to guess, I think Margaery and Tommen have concocted a plan to oust the Sparrows. For Cersei’s sake, hopefully that plan comes to fruition before her court date. If not, at least turn The FrankenMountain loose for a bit.
- I’m worried about Tyrion. I completely picked up on the sadness of his farewell to Varys. His longing for a life outside of the Westerosi chaos isn’t promising to me either, and his happiness with Grey Worm and Missandei was short-lived after the slavers returned to Meereen. If Game of Thrones were operating with traditional television tropes, it seems they are setting up Tyrion to die. However, I really hope that I’m wrong. Peter Dinklage has been incredible during the show’s run.
- While it wasn’t a critical element to Episode 8, I loved Bronn and Podrick’s reunion. They’re both very lovable secondary characters, and I hope we continue to see them involved with more frequency moving forward.
- The Hound certainly shed the nonviolent ideology that he seemed drawn to last week. I’m also interested to see his path going forward now that he’s teamed up with Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr. I could definitely see the Brotherhood Without Banners join forces with Jon Snow and Co. in their fight against the White Walkers. Also, will we ever see GoT-Internet-theory favorite Lady Stoneheart in Westeros? Beric is back and Cat Stark was mentioned quite a bit during this week’s episode…
- Daenerys just keeps dropping the mic every time she’s on screen this season! With Dothraki and Unsullied forces AND three dragons backing her, I can’t imagine the slavers trip back to Meereen will be a fruitful one. I’m excited to see that. Also, it was my understanding that Varys was headed elsewhere to start drumming up support for Daenerys’ eventual takeover of the Iron Throne. I’m also excited to see that happen.
As for the Battle of the Bastards…I CAN’T WAIT. Whenever GoT shells out the dough for battle scenes, they do a terrific job. The preview for next week alone look to be pretty epic.
As far as my predictions for this week…
Jon wins! And Ramsay dies!
There is just too much character buildup (heroic for Jon, villainous for Ramsay) that’s been crafted to have this go any other way. Especially considering Jon was just revived (he kinda has a free pass on the whole death thing for a while now) and he still has to learn his parentage in the season finale. I’m sorry, but it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t mention R+L=J for the eighth consecutive week…
Rusty, care to wrap us up with your predictions for the penultimate episode of Season 6?
Rusty: I am so pumped for The Battle of the Bastards! It reminds me of an old school WWF Royal Rumble or Summer Slam. The Battle of the Bastards isn’t the main event, like a Wrestlemania, but you know a lot of shit’s gonna go down. In this instance, who will be the Lex Luger and who will be the Yokozuna? Did I just blow everyone’s minds with that analogy? Or is neither Ramsay nor Jon the equivalent of a 600-pound Japanese sumo wrestler? (I think Jon will take this battle, but suffer major casualties… Either Rickon or Sansa is toast. Jury’s out on that one!) Also, I’m worried about Wun Wun! There are a lot of arrows/soldiers hanging off of our friendly giant during that teaser promo. Keep your fingers crossed for some cross-platform synergy with the BFG movie – that might be the easiest way to keep Wun Wun alive.
Not to jump the gun, but the season finale title has also been released, and it’s “The Winds of Winter.” Previous season finales have started to thread the needle for the subsequent season…. But, this finale is also supersized, clocking in at 67 minutes. That’s the longest episode Game of Thrones has ever had, and if they are indeed setting the stage for next season, this season finale may have way bigger moves than in previous years. Usually, the big set pieces occur in the penultimate episode (Hardhome, the Red Wedding, etc). I have a feeling this season will have another action packed finale, bucking the trend of previous seasons. This show is so good!
But now I’m going to watch old Wrestlemania clips on YouTube. I’ll leave you with one more old school comparison… Varys is basically Paul Bearer.
See you next week!