Each week Radio Monash’s brightest Westerosi expats Tim, Sam, Ewan, Connor and Gazain get together, lament the inevitable stream of deaths, recompose and break down the week’s happenings. This week saw a number of returns and new character debuts, however for our gang there really was only one that mattered…
In the Riverlands…
Sandor Clegane lives! He’s chilling at a rural convent, since Septon Ray saved his life with ointment, prayers and sassy one-liners. Following some heart-breaking memoirs, the Brotherhood Without Banners’ scouts arrive, drop low-key death threats, and smugly leave. Sandor is wary, later returning to find Ray, and his new community, butchered. Enraged, he grabs an axe and runs.
Ian McShane gave an utterly stellar performance as Ray. Perfectly paired with Rory McCaan, they crafted one of Thrones’ most complex ever relationships in just 10 minutes’ screen-time. Their banter was fresh and organic; McShane’s jovial wit naturally complimented McCaan’s gruff cynicism. But it ran deeper. Both men were haunted by their monstrous past, both embodying the titular ‘Broken Man’. A power-move by the writers, this made the finale all the more tragic. Sandor, so close to redemption, was faced with the brutal reality of his friend’s lifeless eyes. Sandor Clegane is dead, but the Hound lives.
This episode marked the return of not just one badass but 2, with the plotline for the fabled ‘Blackfish’ returning to conflict Jamie’s pursuit of ‘conquering every castle to make her incestuously-driven sister happy’. With the onscreen return of Edmund Tully, a previously forgotten battle commander for the now-deceased King of the North, viewers get a glimpse into the stubbornness and even more adamant ‘no bullshit’ attitude of on the most beloved leaders of Riverrun. His unnerved stance against a Lannister army proved to strike a nerve with Jamie Lannister, as the Kingslayer learnt that there are people other than his father in Westeros that feel disappointed at the sight of his presence. Before every storm (in this case, tower siege), the show captures the proverbial pissing contest between the men responsible for each army. With the Blackfish’s potential to ‘ride or die’ at his castle, we could be close to witnessing the most enduring attack between the Lannister’s and the North since season 1.
In the North…
Suspense continues to build in the North. Winter is (finally) coming; the White Walkers are on their march and the divided, bitter and bickering Houses stand little chance of fending them off without a united army.
We share in Jon, Sansa and Davos’ dread as they seek the allegiance of Houses to build an army to reclaim Winterfell. There’s a potent sense of urgency and utter desperation as their measly army begins to take shape.
The introduction of Lyanna Mormont, the young lady that heads up House Mormont, was excellent. She’s ballsy, which frankly is what this band of amateurs need, but she sadly is only able to provide 62 men.
Sadly, in addition to the Wildlings, that is almost the extent of the help they receive. Robett Glover reopens some old wounds in his scathing attach of Rob, ensuring they can’t expect any help from House Glover.
Regardless, the siege is imminent. Jon is determined to go ahead and with episode 9 titled ‘The Battle of Bastards’ it’s a done deal. However, Game of Thrones revels in tearing apart and squashing (often literally) those with good intentions which has me fearing the trio I’ve been rooting for, may meet a grim demise.
Arya attempts to buy herself a spot in the next boat to Westeros. She walks the streets of Braavos uncharacteristically oblivious to her flight from the House of Black and White, seemingly forgetting those who are coming after her can disguise themselves as literally anyone. Her carelessness does not go without punishment. In a visual reminiscent of Talisa Stark’s brutal murder, the Waif catches up with Arya, slashes her stomach, stabs her twice, then twists the blade before Arya leaps off the bridge and into now bloodied water.
This scene was characterised by ignorance. Arya’s for forgetting about her pursuers and the Waif’s for assuming Arya was now dead. But these characters are not completely stupid, which leads us to believe there’s something larger at play here. Perhaps the rumors are true and Ayra and the Waif could turn out to be the same person? That’s right, a prevailing fan theory is that the Waif is a vehicle for the killing of the inner Arya Stark, so she may become No-one. Coincidentally, next week’s episode is called No-one. It’s been a big season so far, so expect to learn where Arya’s place in the world is in the coming weeks.
A rather uneventful week for the Iron Born. Yara, Theon and the Pyke Fleet dock in Volantis to hide, rest and have a few pints of ale. Inside a brothel, Yara reminds Theon that he must become the Greyjoy he once was if the two want to join Danaerys in Mereen. Taunted about the loss of his member, Yara instead departs with a woman while Theon ponders.
Danaerys hasn’t come into contact with Westeros much, if at all, in her tenure on the program. So it seems rather odd that her first contact is with Yara Greyjoy. They will both be arriving in Mereen this coming week or next, so we will see some interesting outcomes. Potentially the season will end with Dany, the Iron Born and the Dothraki sailing to Westeros, dragons overhead.
In Kings Landing…
The Real Housewives of Kings Landing continues with another epic cat fight this week. Catching up on her weekly reading, Queen Margaery is visited by the High Sparrow who is perhaps still skeptical of her miraculous conversion. Also on his mind is the matter of Tommen’s prepubescent sex drive, and he questions why Margaery hasn’t yet “served her duty in bed with her king”.
He also makes a point of reminding Margaery that her grandmother, the Queen of Thorns, is a sinner who must be converted. In a heated conversation, Olenna remains as stubborn and strong willed as ever against her granddaughter’s insistence that she return to High Garden. If Margaery is acting and playing a larger game, she’s selling it very well. Lady Olenna doesn’t seem to understand the gravity of the game Margaery is playing until she is given a secret note with the noble Tyrell family sigil upon it.
Before Olenna leaves, Cersei pays her a visit to find some common ground. “I wonder if you’re the worst person I’ve ever met,” the Queen of Thorns spits back at the Queen Mother, who continues to press her idea of uniting their two houses against a common enemy. In what really is one of the highlights of the night, Olenna channels her resentment for the queen mother in one spine tingling reality check: “You’ve Lost”. Cersei’s idea of her own invincibility isn’t shaken however, and Lena Headey conveys the Queen Mother’s bitterness with a spiky grace.
Best character: Lady Mormont absolutley put us all in our place this week. This girl deserves the Iron Throne #DanaerysWho?
Spud of the week: Arya Stark, who ought to have seen that innocent old lady trick coming from a mile away.
In Memorial: Theon’s Erection, Ray, The People of the Riverlands and The Hound’s Zen.
Next death: Arya is trouble, but we don’t see her story coming to an end just yet. To escape however, she’s gonna have to off The Waif. The Brotherhood without Banners also don’t stand much of a chance with the Hound on their tracks.
Written by Timothy Neville, Gazain Zia, Sam Corcoran, Connor Johnston and Ewan Roxburgh.