So death is now officially meaningless in Game of Thrones.
It's not just that Benjen Stark came back, or that Jon Snow came back and now The Hound; the problem is that no death seems final anymore. Is there any doubt that Hodor isn't going to come back as a wight or something worse? Or something better? It feels like Ned is only kept dead because he was beheaded back when the show pretended that death was final. It's long since become a door that can swing both ways. Whom do you think will be the next character who returns from the dead?
But hey, cold open! That's pretty fun, right? I actually stopped HBO Now for a moment to make sure I clicked on the right show. It wasn't just a shift in format; it was a change in tone. People who didn't seem highborn actually having a pleasant time, working together for a common goal in good weather in a beautiful countryside? My god, soon someone could even be given a happy ending!
The scene with the Blackfish was fun not just because it immediately showed why he's such a formidable opponent — and those scales don't hurt in that regard — but because it's interesting to see Jaime be effective again. He's good at what he does, which is take control and lead men. Before he asks for the parley, we're shown that these are two men who are going to sharpen themselves on each other, and it's great to see the show bare its teeth at us in this way.
The reveal of Lady Mormont, combined with her grown-up manner and ability to put both Jon and Sansa on their respective heels, was another enjoyable scene. It was a pivotal moment that ended with Jon and his Wildling army gaining ... 62 fighting men. Oof.
But c'mon. "And now I have. I'm disappointed." C'MON! When did this show become this watchable? Seeing the Blackfish dress down Jaime, and make it clear how poorly this fight would go for the forces of the king, was great. I keep wanting to write the word "fun," which isn't a word I normally associate with Game of Thrones, but the verbal karate and sense of speed in this episode — and in this season in general, for the past few episodes — has been refreshing.
So Theon and Yara are sailing to meet Daenerys and pledge their support, which gives us a bit more information about what is coming and why. The houses are lining up, and they're choosing sides.
Jaime tries to say that the war is over, and from his point of view it may seem like it is, but we know better. We've been watching every finger on this narrative slowly scratch its way across the map, and soon they will form two great fists that slam into each other. That sense of clarity, the feeling that the end is in sight, has re-energized the show this season.
"It's never too late to come back," we're told. Indeed.
But then again, this is Game of Thrones. People will die. And they will often not be named. The giants of this world, both literal and figurative, can't take a step without crushing someone with the weight of their history. Which is why the ending of the episode didn't surprise me, but Arya's death would.
A girl, after all, has a name.
Odds and ends
- "How many men did it take to cut you down?" "It was a woman."
- "He died for us." Took a bit longer than three days for him to return, though, didn't it?
- "I wonder if you're the worst person I've ever met. At a certain age it's hard to recall."
- "Robb is gone. But House Stark is not."
- "We will not break faith today."
- "I know you've had some bad years." "Bad years?!"
- "Violence is a disease. You don't cure disease by spreading it to more people."