‘Game of Thrones’ Recap 6×08: Waif Runner

Maisie Williams as Arya Stark.

Maisie Williams as Arya Stark. Macall B. Polay/courtesy of HBO

Ben: Riverlands raiders fingering each other’s butts in the woods, Podrick getting a full sack-grab from Bronn, a flash of the Hound’s junk…This was a deeply agro-sexual episode of Game of Thrones. Speaking of, hey, Vinnie: want to practice kissing? *Waggles middle finger*

Vinnie: Uh uh, I’ve been in enough vaguely religious bands of woodlands outlaws to know how this ends.

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 Vinnie: Wow, what an absolute nightmare this episode was for the Faceless Men’s PR department. You advertise yourselves as untrackable, unstoppable assassins that use their mastery of disguise to serve silent, definitive death. Uhhhh nope, not after “No One” you don’t. Not after watching The Waif drop all pretense of stealth and covertness to parkour her way after Arya through the streets of Braavos, only to fail again to kill her because homegirl left the night vision goggles back at the corpse freezer.

Ben: It’s just bad for the brand. That’s the problem with interns, right there. Instead of swift, footsteps-across-the-water assassins, you have these two tweens brawling through the city like they’re reenacting that scene from Inception.

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Vinnie: Apparently, Arya is impervious to blood loss AND basically Daredevil now, but still. I’ll just carry out my revenge and/or jealousy fueled assassinations myself for free, thank you very much.

Ben: This resolution really bugged me too. Theoretically, I like the idea of Arya luring The Waif to a pitch black area and using the blind kung-fu skills she acquired to her advantage but: A) open wound B) the Waif bitch-slapped her up and down Main Street for an entire season, she’s no slouch! Arya now wins because she turned off the lights? Pshaw, I say.

Oh, and has that candle been burning since the last time Arya was there, five days prior? (This isn’t nitpicking: candles burn out. That’s their function.)

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Vinnie: Either way, there we have it. Arya’s time in Braavos, which began all the way back in season 4, is at an end, and…it basically meant absolutely nothing. Honestly, boil it down and this is one of the more obvious “remove the character from the action until we need her” examples I can remember on TV. What’s changed? Where is the arc? Arya came to Braavos as Arya Stark of Winterfell, and now she’s leaving as Arya Stark of Winterfell who is a little better at fighting in the dark. Great, that’ll help if we can convince the White Walkers to funnel their entire army into a small bedroom with one candle.

Ben: Now, see, there I disagree. Arya came to Braavos a single-minded killing machine. She’s leaves it a much better fighter, an expert in poisons, presumably able to extract and swipe faces… I think? And she is also much more human and morally guided than before. (Mostly thanks to our premiere domestic stabber, Lady Crane.)

Vinnie: The only intriguing bit here came during Arya’s conversation with Lady Crane, before Lady Crane became an entry in next year’s Tony Awards in memoriam. “What’s west of Westeros?” Arya asked and, correct me if I’m wrong, the answer is a big-ass ocean with the Shadowlands on the other side. You know, where both Melisandre and Daenerys’ dragon eggs are from? And……wait. This is the exact same thing as two years ago when we were all like “How cool is it that Arya’s going to be a Faceless Man” isn’t it?

Ben: Nah. Remember, we only have two shortened seasons left; they’re definitely not going to send Arya to the Shadowlands. That was just “I like to travel” chitchat fodder. Our girl is headed back North. All surviving Starks end back at Winterfell, traumatized and Direwolf-less. It is known.

(Also, do they not yet know the world is round on this stupid show? West of West is East again, ya dummy.)

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Vinnie: All in all, “No One” was one hell of a Reddit-slayer in general. While the internet (myself included) were pausing previews down to the millisecond over a shadow that sort of, kind of looked like Syrio Forell, the answer just turned out to be Lady Crane and a sewing kit.

Ben: Sigh. RIP, Lady Crane. If it hadn’t been a gruesome stool death, the cirrhosis would have gotten you anyway… Someone tried to poison you with that rum last week, woman. Maybe sniff it before pouring yourself a shot?!

Vinnie: Same with that meaner, more cruel Brotherhood without Banners from last week that re-sparked a slew of Lady Stoneheart rumors. This week: ehhhhhhh nope. No resurrected Catelyn Stark abomination with an icebox where her heart used to be. Just some bad apples in the bunch (without banners).

Ben: This episode killed a couple long-lasting fan theories. Namely, Lady Stoneheart and Cleganebowl. In the books, Berric gave his life for Catelyn’s three days after the Red Wedding, which explains the sorry state of her body, which was thrown in the river after the massacre. So, the fact that he’s still walking around years after the Red Wedding means that Catelyn has presumably decomposed beyond repair. It might be time to retire that one.

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Vinnie: Thoros of Myr and Berric Dondarion? They’re still pretty good dudes, albeit with questionable choices in hairstyle. (R’Hllor’s light apparently doesn’t shine bright enough to illuminate what a manbun looks like on a person’s head. See also: Jon Snow).

Ben: Thoros’s manbun-over-bald-spot is so very awkward.

Vinnie: Considering the last time they met up Sandor was chopping Berric Dondarion quite literally in half, the banter here was pleasant enough. But, very similar to Arya, a lot of past character work was erased in one, quick piss into a river. Sandor seemed suddenly pretty chill about his Sept-building buddies being killed because he got to kick over two out of three hangman’s stools.

Ben: He was driven by vengeance. He got his vengeance. He’s good now. He’s a simple, dog-like man with very basic impulses.

Vinnie: Speaking of popular internet theories going the way of Valyria: Tommen just banned trial by combat in Westeros, putting a big ol’ hole in the hype zeppelin hovering over the Cleganebowl. That was my hype zeppelin, Tommen. You went and popped my hype zeppelin because Governor Weatherby Swann told you to.

Ben:  Cleganebowl was never going to be a thing, ya nerds! (“They’re brothers! They must fight again in a Trial by Combat!” …Why?) But Tommen is such a little prick, I swear. It’s devastating to see Cersei betrayed by the kid she endured a Walk of Penance to get back to. Could they just short-circuit his simple blond brain into a coma by telling him he is actually an abomination born of incest himself?

Vinnie: There was still a whole lot to love in King’s Landing this week, though, not the least of which was watching Lancel Lannister being thankful he wore the brown robe as Gregor Clegane played Bocce with his fellow Sparrow’s head. Like, come on Lancel. You’re easily the wimpiest member of a family that includes a dwarf and two siblings who can’t stop fucking each other. Don’t bring your weak sauce to an eight-foot-tall zombie’s murder party.

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Ben: He really is very smug for being Cersei’s former lover himself.

Vinnie: And hey, if outright horrific face-smashing isn’t your thing, there was also plenty of courtroom intrigue. An Emmy, no, multiple Emmys to the look on Lena Headey’s face when Kevan Lannister dropped “Your place is in the gallery, with the other ladies of the court.” My goodness. That is shade so dark Arya could actually win a fight under it.

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Ben: This one is a recurring miscast, in my opinion. Kevan is supposed to be Tywin-lite but this season he just keeps coming off smarmy like an uncle Bad Touch at Thanksgiving.

Vinnie: But you know what usually helps cut through shade? Bottles upon bottles of the magical white hot magma known as Wildfire, which there is an unlimited supply of under King’s Landing.(Aerys Targaryen was a huge fan of it, along with being pants-shittingly insane and lighting people on fire.) Again, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that’s the rumor Cersei asked Qyburn to confirm.

Ben: 100 percent! Remember, we also got a preview of it in Bran’s uploaded vision montage earlier this season. I thought Tyrion used it all up in the Battle of Blackwater, but I guess not. Nobody shaves baby’s head, puts baby in the corner and tells baby she can’t have a trial by combat. Baby will very literally burn down your church. 

Vinnie: Another detail that may or may not mean anything at all: Tommen dipped from the court room to the tune of The Rains of Castamere, which you may remember as the soundtrack to the Red Wedding. For those who don’t know, if the Rains of Castamere had a subtitle, it would be “The Lannisters are the Best, and Greatest, and Most Handsome.”

Ben: Know your audience, Vincent. I literally know how to play Rains of Castamere on the piano… Ladies. 😉

Vinnie: I know it’s pretty big news that the Blackfish died spectacularly off-screen, but the riverlands this week, for me, was all about adorable reunions. I was one of the people who watched this episode’s preview and was like “OH NO WHY IS BRONN CHOKING POD,” and I’m overjoyed that the answer is just sometimes true broes get rough with each other.

Ben: *Waggles index finger at Vinnie again*

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Vinnie: I probably would have been okay with ten more minutes of Bronn cheekily slapping Pod in the face while still managing to compliment Pod’s massive, brothel-splitting package.

Ben: That Podrick Payne has such a magnificent peen that King’s Landing’s prostitutes would rather face the wrath of Littlefinger for coming up short on their invoices than accept payment from him is still one of the best flights of fancy that Weiss and Benioff have ever had.

Vinnie: And Jaime and Brienne? Nothing’s changed with those two besties since the days when Brienne was carrying Jaime across the countryside as a prisoner and then whoopie-doodles Jaime lost one of his hands but still saved Brienne from a bear.

Ben: I think they’ve setup Brienne is the embodiment of all the chivalry that exists in Jaime, his most knightly impulses whereas Cersei is his basest push-a-kid-out-the-window desires. He’s very clearly made his choice, but it’s nice that she still has a place in his heart.

Also, shout out to the fact that more men on the show are openly admitting that they would love to spend a night with Brienne. Good for you, Bronn.

Vinnie: One of the most surprising joys of the story’s adaptation from book to show has been the undeniable chemistry between Gwendoline Christie and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. It’s so heart-warming that I almost don’t care that someone other than Jaime definitely should have seen Pod and Brienne rowing that boat away and immediately killed them.

Ben: Immediately. Like, that soldier that delivered the news of Blackfish’s death to Jaime would have seen them by moving his head slightly to the right. I guess that’s the downside of those Lannister helmets.

All in all, that was a pretty lame siege, no? I get that they had to adapt it due to The Riverlands being another convergence point like The Wall was earlier this season but, oy… A plotline worthy of Edmure Tully. Enough said. RIP, The Blackfish, 2014 – 16 — You join Balon Greyjoy and Osha, in characters coming back to underwhelm us and then swiftly die. (Things aren’t looking good for Rickon.)

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Vinnie: It says a lot about Meereen that there is a massive sea battle featuring fireballs being lobbed into a massive golden pyramid, and I still feel the need to stick it all the way at the bottom here in the “things that mattered the least” portion of the recap. I want to hear Greyworm recite from a book of knock-knock jokes for a full hour before I hear anything Daenerys has to say now that she’s back from her Dothraki day trip.

Ben: It’s almost meta-commentary how bored with his own storyline Tyrion is. He keeps trying to awkwardly punch it up with jokes and banter. Also, the ultimate sign of a white guy being dissatisfied with his life: pitching the bar/vineyard you want to open one day to people who could not be less interested. A year in, Meereen has been a pretty lackluster playing field for Tyrion.

Vinnie: Also, where ya going Drogon? Daenerys is aware that the main attribute of a dragon is its ability to rain literal fire from the sky, correct? Because that is a major tactical advantage against boats made of wood. I mean, sweet entrance, Dany. We’re all *super pumped* you’re not dead, and all that. But the dragon you were just riding would be a big help right now, girl.

And don’t try and tell me she doesn’t have full control over her dragons. Drogon just dropped Dany off at the top of that pyramid like a two mega-ton Lyft. That fire-breathing monstrosity of death and destruction just delivered her to her destination in a safer and more timely manner than any Uber I’ve ever taken.

Ben: Drogon is 100 percent tamed right now. I assume he went back to assist the scared-pantsless-of-water Dothrakis after dropping off Dany… who doesn’t seem particularly pleased with the situation. Again: this was the master tactician we were promised in Tyrion? The masters are attacking, he’s freed and lost her other two dragons, and there’s a new red cult in town that is not to be trusted. I can just imagine Tyrion trying to sputter an excuse: “No, no, no. Two days ago it was so good! Varys could tell you!”

‘Game of Thrones’ Recap 6×08: Waif Runner