This 'Game of Thrones' discussion is written by someone who has read George R.R. Martin's books, but will generally only discuss events that have happened on HBO's televised version -- not that it matters much now that the show is going its own way. Still, please respect these boundaries should you choose to participate in the comments section.
Episode 6.08, "No One"
FINAL SCORE: Violence 10, Sex 1
(Scoring is typically 1 point per on-screen death or nude character, but the reviewer reserves the right to award bonus points or adjust the score as necessary.)
Totals: Four men murdered by an axe-wielding Hound; one religious zealot decapitated by hand; three outlaws hanged; one actress knifed; one assassin's face added to the House of Black and White's creepy trophy wall.
Notes: The Blackfish, the Waif, and Lady Crane all died off-screen, which typically scores zero points. However, I'm awarding a point each for the latter two deaths, because (a) they're established characters and (b) we got to see bloody proof of their deaths. Sorry, Blackfish: no body, no credit.
Totals: One b-hole fingered for laughs; one crotch grabbed; several longing looks at Jaime Lannister; one dong exposed to urinate; one bathhouse stumbled through.
Notes: So, not much in the way of sex, buuuuuut ... MISSANDEI GETTIN' TIPSY Y'ALL!
Perfection. She is my Game of Thrones girlfriend, and Davos is my Game of Thrones dad, and we're all going to live in Dorne (I hear it's under new rule) with my Game of Thrones dog -- tentatively Ghost, though I'll accept any living direwolf.
Jaime Lannister: Lawful Evil
In Jaime's conversations with Brienne and Edmure Tully, it was hard not to notice the gulf in their differing impressions of the Kingslayer. Brienne is certain that Jaime is honorable; Edmure views him as evil and asks how he can sleep at night.
They're both right, and they both miss one of the driving principles of George R.R. Martin's world: the notions of "honor" and "evil" are irrelevant to reality. As Jaime admits, he is powered by self-interest. If, along the way to achieving his goals, he happens to load a baby into a catapult or allow a respected enemy to escape, the accompanying labels of "evil" or "honorable" are just optics he doesn't have time for. (This is a man who gets shit for killing his king but never gets credit for saving the city -- and himself -- from the king's order to burn the city with wildfire.)
This isn't to say Jaime doesn't have ideals; he clearly admires Brienne's honor (and is flattered by her view of him), but whatever honor he has is secondary to his pragmatism. He's more complex than the worldviews of Brienne and Edmure allow; it's why we love him despite his penchants for incest and child murder. Well, that and his jawline. Hubba hubba!
So, that's great that Dany's back in Meereen and all, but the preview for next week's episode was all about an epic battle at Winterfell, which suggests that the show may not return to Meereen until the season finale. And that's fine: we definitely need a climax and resolution up north, but also ... SHOW ME THE DRAGONS WRECKING SHIT.
This isn't entirely driven by my unquenchable thirst for fiery violence (although it helps); as the preeminent Game of Thrones military scholar, I'm also intrigued by the tactics Daenerys will employ. Sure, she can immolate the entire fleet at Meereen's doorstep, but that would be a waste of the specific resource she needs to carry her army to Westeros. Does she burn some ships and force surrender? Hold the dragons in reserve until the ground assault begins? Or will Theon and Yara show up to complete an envelopment?
For more on this subject, please see my article "Close Air Support in the Age of Dragons" in the latest Marine Corps Gazette.
Death Arrives Out of Focus
It was a great episode to be a character arriving to a scene out of focus; there was a 100 percent chance you were showing up on-screen to kill someone (only a 67 percent success rate, though).
While this was generally a kick-ass episode that moved story lines forward while also prioritizing character development through unhurried interactions, I do regret that we didn't get to see the Waif meet her end. This is not to belittle its badassery or Arya's ingenuity; I'm merely a spiteful man fueled by vengeance. And I wanted to see that cocky, Robert Patrick-running little terminator get gutted by Needle.
So long, asshole. Maybe in the next life you can use the unfathomable power to CHANGE YOUR FACE TO THOUSANDS OF DIFFERENT IDENTITIES to your advantage.
The Brotherhood With Balding Man-Buns
Scoff if you will at Thoros of Myr for the top knot despite his receding hairline, but his technique for keeping his hair out of his face would be revolutionary technology in the Iron Islands.
Bad Idea Jeans
do you even know what armor is
Consider how rare this kind of scene is in Game of Thrones (or on television anywhere): a head being torn from a body, and eight people reacting to that carnage in one shot. EIGHT! And what a sumptuous feast of reactions they've given us! An eight-course meal of horror, shock, and fear:
1 - "I have perhaps overestimated our position in this standoff."
2 - [pooping]
3 - And to think, Lancel wouldn't be watching this decapitation if he hadn't felt so guilty about banging his cousin -- and she wouldn't be so angry if his testimony hadn't led to her walk of shame through King's Landing. The lesson, as always: never feel bad about banging your attractive cousin.
4 - Loved this guy on Season 1 of "House of Cards"
5 - "Damn, what's his arm workout?"
6 - Frankly I expected a little more courage from Henry Rollins.
7 - Consider the training for these fools. Do you think the Faith Militant has a martial arts finishing school? No, these are zealots who volunteered for the High Sparrow's muscle business and picked up table legs for weapons. They've got no armor to speak of and decorative chains weighing them down -- an intimidating look right up until the moment when the sociopath with a murderous robo-giant says, "I choose violence."
8 - "I just wanted to be the guy with the mace!"
'A Scheme Devised By Corrupt Rulers'
CON: Having one's giant armored Frankenstein's monster tear the head off one of your enemies, while satisfying, may influence the king's decision to eliminate trial by combat. (And before you say, "C'mon, Tommen was going to figure that out anyway," take a look at Tommen's face and estimate how many puzzle pieces he's fit together in his life. Whatever it is, I'll take the under.)
PRO: Your chief mad scientist/rat murder enthusiast looked into the rumors of dangerous caches of wildfire underneath the city and -- GOOD NEWS -- all of King's Landing has been rigged to explode for years. What a relief!
"So, anyone here like slave jokes? Right, okay. Maybe not.
"Any kind of jokes? Does anyone even know what a joke is?
"Hello? Is this thing on?"
Nothing to see here, just some guys practicing kissing in the woods
"Game of Thrones" rule of thumb: if a scene opens on a bunch of characters you've never seen before, one or all of them are about to die. In this case, die horribly:
It goes back to one of the very first things I learned at Marine Corps Officer Candidates School: no fingering buttholes until you establish a perimeter guard.
One other thought: later in the episode, the Hound tells Beric and Thoros that there was a time he "would've killed all seven of you just to gut these three," as if he'd turned some huge corner since axe murdering four guys who turned out to be unrelated to the crime he sought vengeance for. WHOOPS. That old Hound, such a softie!
JESSE! WE'LL COOK IN THE RIVERLANDS!
Hey, do you guys remember other prestige TV shows? I sure do. Sometimes actors on the TV shows I watch look like other actors I've seen before, and I like to talk about it.
Huh, it's a lot less interesting when I lay it out like that.
- Braavosi bystanders jostled: 15
- Fruit baskets overturned: at least 7
- telltale blood smears: 2
- totally metal decapitations: 2
- Goodbyes delivered with a quip and stiff upper lips: 1
DNP, Coach's Decision
Jon Snow, Sansa, Davos, and the rest of The Empire Starks Back: Back into Winterfell; Ramsay and his knife collection; Margaery and her gently wavy hair; Rickon Stark; Bran & the Coldhands Crew; the High Septon formerly known as High Sparrow; Ian McShane; Daario and Jorah; Bianca's new face; Sam and Gilly; Randyll Tarly's dinner party circuit; the second-most famous dwarf in the world; Yara Greyjoy and Pledge Theon; Euron Greyjoy and his armada of one thousand E-Z-build ships.