REVIEW: Game of Thrones 6.08 ‘No One’ balks at battle yet again
Please be aware this review contains spoilers for Game of Thrones season six, episode eight ‘No One’, which first aired at 2am in the UK. If you are waiting for the 9pm repeat, please click back.
Game of Thrones‘ season six episode eight ‘No One’ will probably only ever be remembered as the episode before the Battle of the Bastards.
In ‘No One’ most blood (apart from that from Arya’s stomach wound) was spilt offscreen. In the space between scene transitions the Blackfish is killed fighting after Edmure Tully peacefully surrenders Riverrun to the Lannisters and Arya finally disposes of the Waif. To top it all off, there will be no trial by combat for Cersei. We hope the decisions not to include bloodshed were made because there is already enough gratuitous violence to come in episodes nine and ten, but it does feel like yet another letdown.
It was Arya’s storyline in ‘No One’ that was the most disappointing, despite the episode being named for her. Lady Crane nursed her back to half-health before the Waif chased Arya around Braavos in scenes that felt tonally bizarre. If the Waif was supposed to be intimidating, or the scenes where Arya ran were supposed to be thrilling, the show failed on both counts. Arya ended up in the exact same place she finished episode six, in her dark room with Needle waiting to face the Waif, making all that has happened since essentially filler. I’ve previously argued that the Game of Thrones is racing forward too quickly, and this felt a massive waste of valuable screentime. In the end, Arya managed what we all expected and won. A nice touch was that she did it in the dark, and was able to because of her training. She returned the Waif’s mutilated face to Jaqen, who pronounced her training complete. Arya doesn’t care, she’s going back to Westeros.
The situation at Riverrun was also a non-event, although I did enjoy a threatening speech made by Jaime that was equally doused in both show lore and foreshadowing. The threats hit the spot and Jaime was able to achieve a nearly bloodless surrender of Riverrun. The Blackfish helped Brienne and Pod escape from the castle (though I doubt they were in much danger), before settling for a noble death fighting for his home. It feels like we’re being cheated when a character like the Blackfish goes down this way offscreen.
The highlight of the episode was the return of the Hound to his old form – both in terms of brilliant one-liners (“I prefer chicken”, “You’re shit at dying”) and a thirst for vengeance. He finds the members of the Brotherhood without Banners and murders all those he can until he comes across Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr, who are apparently still in charge of the group. They are about the hang Lem Lemoncloak for murdering the Hound’s community, and they come to the agreement than the Hound can personally hang Lem and another rebel. Beric and Thoros then attempt to recruit the Hound, saying the past is long forgotten, and an icy darkness rises in the North. Finally some plot progression!
I’m sick of saying that episodes this season mostly provided set up for a thrilling climax, and frankly, the next two episodes better fulfil their promise of being blindingly brilliant. The climax of Arya’s story in Braavos ended up summarising the majority of her time there: mostly filler and mostly boring. Jaime returned Riverrun to control of the Crown, while Brienne failed in achieving anything. Meereen is right back where we started in episode one, in complete chaos. The only bright light of the episode was Sandor Clegane and a mention of the only battle that counts – the one against winter.
This would all end on a more damning note if episode nine ‘The Battle of the Bastards’ did not appear to show every sign of fulfilling all our wildest dreams. Check out the trailer below and roll on Bastardbowl.