BY JACOB LOUQUE
The pace is clearly beginning to pick up in this season of "Game of Thrones," and that was very well reflected by last night's episode.
Quickly into the episode, we're treated to a sight that we haven't seen in what feels like a very long time: Sandor "The Hound" Clegane beating the shit out of people. Seeking revenge for the murder of his friend Septon Ray, he makes short work of a group of men in a particularly brutal scene (even for "Game of Thrones") before finally coming across the three responsible for the massacre about to be hung by his old friends Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr.
This was an interesting encounter, since The Hound had already killed Beric earlier in the show, only for the latter to be resurrected by Thoros, a Red Priest. In what is now the second nod to resurrection this season, The Hound doesn't bother trying to fight these two men, but rather compromises for the right to kill two of the perpetrators of the massacre in a decidedly less violent fashion than what he had planned. It was intriguing to see The Hound act a bit more diplomatic and to choose his battles a bit more carefully, a possible side effect of a his close brush with death. Either way, we'll have to see if this plays into his future decision making this season, especially in what feels like the inevitable upcoming encounter between him and the reanimated husk of what was once his brother Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane.
Immediately following the kick off of #HoundRevengeTour2K16 was another encounter that felt a long time coming. That of course was the meeting between Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister at the siege of Riverrun. This meeting had a poignant and somewhat final feel to it, and very well could have been the last time these two characters interact on screen. It is one of the more interesting relationships on "Game of Thrones," because it was born out necessity and founded on mutual distrust, but later evolved in the exact opposite of that.
That is made obvious when Jaime refuses the sword that he gave to Brienne when she tries to return it to him, and Jaime granting Brienne the chance to mass the Blackfish's forces and exit Riverrun peacefully to head North. This is a side of Jaime that we've grown a bit more accustomed to seeing over the past few seasons, but interestingly enough, we also see the side that we were used to over the first few in this episode as well.
This is the manipulative, cold Jaime Lannister that will cut any throat and pick and pocket to protect himself, and above all else, his family. His love for his sister Cersei his fully fleshed out and articulated in a conversation with Edmure Tully, when he states that he simply doesn't care about anyone or anything but Cersei, and would kill anyone in any family to keep her safe. This goes full circle to when he is comforting Cersei following the death of their daughter Myrcella, and declares that they are the only two who matter in the world and "fuck everyone else." His cold and calculating monologue convinces Edmure to use his power to force the defenders of Riverrun to surrender the Castle to the Frey and Lannister forces. This is an interesting scene because Jaime "doing anything," for Cersei will probably be even more of a challenge for him than before, since King Tommen brought an end to the trial by combat during the episode. This means that Cersei's trial in front of the Gods will not be decided by the zombified Mountain fighting against some poor bastard who wouldn't have a prayer of winning. Maybe this means that Jaime will again have his limits tested, and again will prove that there's nothing he won't do.
Meereen gets much more screen time than it has lately this episode, as the slavers have begun attacking the city, just as Grey worm warned. Sir Varys has departed for a secret endeavor into Westeros, leaving Tyrion, Grey Worm, and Missandei in charge of what looks like could turn into a full on slaughter. That is, until Daenarys finally completes her journey back to the city, complete with an outfit of soldiers and Drogon the Dragon ready to... Do what exactly? It's unclear as she doesn't have any speaking lines in the episode, but bringing a dragon and a military outfit into a war torn city may be self-suggestive.
Finally, we come to Arya's plot line, which may have just been the most satisfying of the season. Still recovering from her knife wound under the care of Lady Crane, Arya states her desire to travel the world to areas unseen. But those plans fall apart when the Waif again appears, now trying to finish the job she started last week. But this sequence is Arya at her best, and she proves that by outrunning, outsmarting, and eventually, finally, killing the Waif.
This really is one of the best "Game of Thrones," fight scenes yet, not because of what you see, but what you don't. Since most of the show is so littered with unspeakable violence, it was almost surprising to see such an important fight scene go down in such an understated fashion. In fact, you don't see the fight at all; rather you see Arya make her way back to her low lit hideout where her sword Needle is stashed and quickly snuff out the handle before ultimately doing the same to the dreaded Waif.
The Waif's head is now implanted along with the countless others in the House of Black and White, much to the surprise of Jaqen H'Ghar. Jaqen takes this as a sign that Arya has accepted the life of the faceless men. "Finally, a girl is no one," he says. But he's wrong on that one. "A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell," she responds. "And I am going home." This response says a lot about her character. Early in the episode, she was talking about cutting out completely, and traveling the world. But having survived her final encounter with what proved to be her hardest enemy, she learns that she is strong enough to help her family reclaim the North. And finally, she'll return home, after what has been a six season journey.
This was one of my favorite episodes of the season so far, mainly because we seem to be getting to the end of Arya's development as a character, and what kind of person she is. While that is a question that seems to be all but answered, further questions have now been raised about other characters such as Jaime and The Hound. To hear the answers to them, all we can do is wait.