The classic quote “The things we do for love” began its life in the moment when Jaime Lannister, wishing to preserve and continue his relationship with his twin sister Cersei Lannister, used this quote to justify throwing the eight year old Bran Stark off a tower in the first episode of Game of Thrones, that conflict being the one that has simultaneously announced the beginning of the story. The same sentence is also the focus of this episode, because in the terminology of Game of Thrones it now becomes a slogan that tells us how what is personal is at the same time the political, and that the political is inevitably the personal. Therefore, we can say that the eighth episode of the sixth season, titled “No One” is dedicated to all those characters that will rest at nothing for the love of the family, name, house, honor, or love of their nation or the people they love. The episode also serves as a reminder that in the feudal society, such as this one, depicted in Westeros, devotion out of love often leads to catastrophe and suffering felt throughout the country, effecting not only those who commit atrocities in the name of love, but all the people of the land. The demonstration of that kind of love and devotion to somebody or something is provided most radically by Jaime Lannister, Brynden “Black Fish” Tully, Arya Stark and Sandor Clegane in the tonight’s episode.
In the Riverrun we are granted the opportunity of witnessing the scene that strongly resembles an already seen one. Think of it as a kind of a déjà vu. The fact that Edmure Tully is now assuming the role of Jaime Lannister (from the second season), and that Jaime Lannister is in fact assuming the role of Catelyn Stark, respectively, stands as a reminder that Jaime will, just like Catelyn, do everything to protect the people he loves. For Catelyn it was a mistake of releasing her worst enemy to freedom, a mistake that will cost her everything, while for Jaime it was the speech about the worst kept public secret in Westeros. Without getting into the depth or the problematic of aforesaid speech, the characterization of Jaime Lannister, his motivation and so forth, which we talked about earlier this season, the fact that Jaime has nothing else to lose but Cersei, and that he gambled his last chance at redemption this week, speaks for itself.
On the other hand, what was the turning point for Lord Edmure Tully, which made him commit the atrocity he did, whether it was the promise of seeing his wife and son, or the high price of an honorable fight, is not really clear. Using the love as his upper hand, using the idea of Catelyn Stark, a woman he admired deeply, Jaime Lannister managed to persuade Edmure to give up his ancestral home without a fight, thus ensuring his uncle’s certain death.
BRYNDEN “BLACKFISH” TULLY
Title of the most consistent character this episode certainly belongs to the acting Lord of Riverrun, Blackfish Tully, who even under a great pressure did not plan to give up his home without a fight. Some things are still worth the fight even if it means saying no to the daughter of his beloved Cat. In addition to the love for his home and name, what drove Blackfish’s motivation here was, for most part, his pride and a second chance to redeem himself for allegedly running from “The Red Wedding” (in the book he didn’t even attend the wedding and therefore thankfully he will not have to redeem himself either).
Using Jaime’s benevolence and gained entrance within the Riverrun walls, in order to sway Blackfish to Sansa’s cause, Brienne gave her best. She gave her best and ultimately she lost because surrendering to a Lannister without a proper fight was never Blackfish’s plan. With the sword in hands, defending his home from the House that butchered his family, yet another great character we used to love and respect, lost his life, almost in vein and for no apparent reason. Following a well-known analogy and a golden rule of Martin’s writing, by which the death that occurred off screen did not really happen, concluding that Blackfish is in fact still alive and kicking would hardly be a stretch. However, as this is the sixth season and we already have a surplus of characters to deal with, the only thing left for us to do is to wish him to rest in peace.
In Braavos we have the same paradox perpetually repeating. Arya, a coldblooded killer, refuses to kill in the name of the God she wants to serve while proving that she will kill without a hesitation if it means restoring her identity or gaining freedom. In the run before a Terminator, otherwise known as Waif, we see Arya reaching her secret hideout, where she left her sword Needle. In this darkness, two disciples of the Many Faced God – Waif and No One – fight to death, which again happens off screen. However, the proof of her death, in the form of a face, which Arya brings to the House of the Black and White as a gift to the God she cannot serve, stands as a clear proof that the annoying Waif has finally met her maker. To our surprise, Jaqen seems rather pleased with this news, almost as pleased as us, the audience. This unusual reaction becomes even more peculiar once we decide to put two seasons – fifth and sixth – face-to-face. Book will not even be mentioned this time.
So, towards the very end of the last season, right after the brutal revenge on Meryn Trent, Arya learns that Jaqen is in fact not Jaqen at all, which is a logical discovery, considering we are talking about a Many Faced cult whose followers are No One. And when you really think about it, the whole point of the Faceless Men lies in their demand of your identity, which you must denounce, in their demand that you have to let go of your grudges, your suffering, your thirst for revenge, in order to become a man without a face, without identity, and a member of their prestigious league. This theme, as mentioned earlier, gains importance towards the end of the fifth season when horrified Arya starts pealing Jaqen’s face, one after the other. However, now, during this season, the show creators have decided to do something highly illogical – to build the story around the apparent highly personal feelings of hatred, bigotry and disgust, which Waif, for the unknown reasons, feels towards Arya. It is almost as if Waif is not No One but in fact Someone, and rather a someone from Arya’s past. Besides this kept identity, the show runners have also decided to go back towards the idea of Jaqen being just Jaqen, a sole leader of the Faceless cult, who apart from Waif, is the sole resident of the House of Black and White, as well.
Although illogical, none of the aforesaid things are as important as the discovery that Arya gained her seat in the House of Black and White for killing Waif, a member of the Faceless men cult, and that Jaqen will, as a reward for well behavior, grant her the status of No One. This of course, even with our generous will to turn the blind eye to these inconsistencies, is an utter nonsense. To be a No One does not imply the demonstration of your personal skill to take one’s life, especially your colleague’s. To be a No One means to be fully able of denouncing your identity, it implies your willingness to give yourself to the cult you want to join, both tasks Arya failed to pass, and for which she was rewarded. Jaqen’s smile at the very end of the episode is mysterious insofar as it makes us wonder if all of this was some kind of a test that will prepare her for the war to come, which Arya now passed.
If we put aside all the tasteless moments that this scene is comprised of, and there were plenty, in the context of the episode, full of dull jokes and awkwardness, we can conclude that it may be the best part of the episode. Out of love for the hippy commune leader who gave him a home and a certain kind of rest, as the sole survivor of the horrible massacre, Sandor Clegane embarks upon a vengeance quest. In mere minutes the body count reaches four. And then seven. Infuriated Sandor is unstoppable, except of course by Beric Dondarion, the man he has already killed. The fact that Beric is alive shouldn’t be a surprise, but, if we are speaking in the context of the book, this serves as final evidence that the undead Catelyn Stark will not be making an appearance on screen after all. Perhaps for the better. Considering that, only in this season so far, Jon, Benjen and Sandor were resurrected, her return would be the straw that broke the camel’s already weary back.
BEST OF THE EPISODE
-Blackfish Tully, fully determined, even if it means his death (although passing out on helping Sansa seemed kind of weird).
-The conversation between Sandor, Beric and Thoros of Myr.
-Hound going to a killing spree.
-The first part of the conversation between Jaime Lannister and Edmure Tully, the part before everything went of rails.
-The consistency in insisting how The Hound is important and still has a large role to play in the upcoming war, whatever it is.
-Freedom of Arya Stark. Freedom to kill Walder Frey at a wedding.
-The melancholic goodbye between Brienne and Jaime. Although silly, it stands as a hint that perhaps Jaime is not completely lost, as a character and that he will, after all find a way to redeem himself. Number of references pointed towards Cersei loosing her mind mirroring Mad King Aeris’ madness during Robert’s Rebellion. There is no doubt that she will try to burn King’s Landing to the ground using the wildfire (“they would burn cities to the ground for their children”), which is something Bran saw in his visions. The idea behind this is that Cersei heard about Aerys’ plot from Jaime, and later on made Qyburn to investigate the Mad King’s varied wildfire caches. Presumably, there is one beneath the Sept of Balor (or whatever building Cersei plans to lure them into), and she’ll light it on fire like she did to the Tower of the Hand in the books.If Tommen dies this season, and chances are he will, the prophecy will come to pass, which means that a younger brother (valonqar) will kill Cersei. If Cersei decides to engulf King’s Landing in wildfire jeopardizing the lives of every single living thing, will Jaime find the strength to do what is necessary, i.e. kill his sister in the same manner he killed his king? Wouldn’t that be poetic? *fingers crossed*
WORST OF THE EPISODE
-Arya survived multiple stabs into the belly, and happened to stumble upon a surgeon disguised as an actress. How convenient.
-The mockery of Faceless Men
-The incompetence of the best assassins to murder a little girl
-Everything concerning Meereen, especially Varys’ secret mission (return to Dorne and pact with Ellaria Sand,so help us God) and Tyrion’s jokes
-Endless fillers, which keep piling up, as the time passes
-The death of Brynden “Black Fish” Tully
-The Jaime-Cersei dynamic, especially Jamie’s unrealistic love for Cersei, which turns into his sole motivation for the siege of Riverrun. This desire to return to his sister becomes ever more bizarre because it completely negates Jaime who loses control of his actions
-The established dynamic between Jaime and Brienne which is, concluding with this episode, most probably the most bizarre scene we had seen in this series so far. The conversation begins with the discovery that Sansa is found and saved, which was sworn upon by Jaime and Brienne to Catelyn Stark, and also one of the reasons Jaime decided to present Brienne with the part of Ned’s sword. Similarly to the situation with Jaquen, we encounter a problem here, because the writers have suddenly decided to change Jaime’s opinion on the whole situation about Sansa. If you remember, Jaime pledges Brienne with the sword after Joffrey’s death, in fact after Cersei had accused Tyrion of Joffrey’s murder. Therefore, Jaime had already known that Cersei blames Sansa and Tyrion for the death of her son. Contrary to that, Jaime pledges Brienne to protect Sansa and he himself releases Tyrion from prison. Now, two seasons later, Jaime acts like he has forgotten the order of former events, because if he didn’t, he would never think of saying that Cersei wants Sansa dead; he already knows that, and that never occurred to him as a problem. To make things worse, right after his threatening at Sansa’s life, Brienne asks to meet Brynden to convince him to send his army to Sansa, in aid of reclaiming Winterfell from the Boltons. Revealing this to Jaime was a great omission, especially in the context of the newly formed situation, because Jaime is in Riverrun exactly for the same reason – to stop an uprising. Riverrun has fallen to the Freys after the “Red Wedding”, exactly like Winterfell, which has fallen to the Boltons, the sympathizers of the crown. If Tully’s being in Riverrun reads as a mutiny, isn’t Sansa’s wish to reclaim Winterfell a same thing?! Doesn’t that mean that Jaime is going to march with his large army to Winterfell next week, to aid his ally, Ramsay Bolton? Ultimately, following this analogy, it would be only logical, unless Jaime now feels homesick for his sister and decides along the way that Winterfell is not worth the trouble, which is the most likely scenario considering how bizarre this world is.
-The lost Brienne who has apparently forgotten that the sword she carries is made out of Ned’s Ice, and if she is to present it to anyone, it should be Sansa Stark
-The pointless representation of the siege of Riverrun, which, apart from never actually happening, hasn’t led us anywhere either.
-Where are the surviving direwolves and are we ever going to see them? What is happening with Nymeria’s pack and why hasn’t Ghost appeared since the second episode?
-The frustration caused by missing the best events that for most part happened off screen
-The structure of episodes – we start in a place where we also finish, while between these two points the fillers pile up alternately – which persistently continues
Looking in retrospect, with the exception of “The Door”, the sixth season turned out to be a huge waste of our time. Let’s hope that last two episodes (minus Deus ex Machina Littlefinger’s entry in the nick of time *THE EAGLES ARE COMING* to save the day and Jon’s ass next week) will somehow manage to wash the bad taste and make up for the lost time. In the mean time, as we wait that something (meaningful) finally happens in Game of Thrones, check out the last season of Penny Dreadful, which proved itself to be the best show on television right now.
“I am not No One. I am Arya Stark of Winterfell. And I am going home.”
Best quotes from the books which paint Jaime Lannister in real light:
“Ser Jaime?” Even in soiled pink satin and torn lace, Brienne looked more like a man in a gown than a proper woman. “I am grateful, but…you were well away. Why come back?”
A dozen quips came to mind, each crueler than the one before, but Jaime only shrugged. “I dreamed of you,” he said.” – A Storm of Swords, 2000.
“I know”, Jaime said, “there has been a white raven from the Citadel. Winter has come.”
“No, my lord. The bird was from King’s Landing. I took the liberty…I didn’t know…” He held the letter out.
Jaime read it in the window seat, bathed in the light of the cold white morning. Qyburn’s words were terse and to the point, Cersei’s fevered and fervent. Come at once, she said. Help me. Save me. I need you now as I have never needed you before. I love you. I love you. I love you. Come at once.
Vyman was hovering by the door, waiting, and Jaime sensed that Peck was watching too. “Does my lord wish to answer?” the maester asked, after a long silence.
A snowflake landed on the latter. As it melted, the ink began to blur. Jaime rolled the parchment up again, as tight as one hand would allow, and handed it to Peck. “No” he said. “Put this in the fire.” – A Feast for Crows, 2005.
It was near midnight when two came riding back with a woman they had taken captive. “She rode up bold as you please, m’lord, demanding words with you.”
Jaime scrambled to his feet. “My lady. I had not thought to see you again so soon.” Gods be good, she looks ten years older then when I last saw her. And what’s happened to her face? “That bandage…you’ve been wounded…”
“A bite.” She touched the hilt of her sword, the sword that he had given her. Oathkeeper. “My lord, you gave me a quest.”
“The girl, Sansa. Have you found her?”
“I have,” said Brienne, Maid of Tarth.
“Where is she?”
“A day’s ride. I can take you to her, ser…but you will need to come alone. Eleswise, the Hound will kill her.” – A Dance with Dragons), 2011.
Text written by: Monika Ponjavic