TV Review: Game of Thrones, Season 6 Episode 8 “No One” (USA, 2016)

“No One” is an episode of Thrones that can’t seem to decide what it wants to be. It isn’t quite clear whether this episode is the spark that sets off the cascading events of the season’s final two episodes or a climax in its own right. Though it offers some closure to the Braavos and Riverlands plotlines, neither lands with much of a punch. Simply put: this feels like much more of a mid-season episode than last season’s “Hardhome” did.

Bookended around the conclusion of Arya’s training in the House of Black and White, the episode opens with a wounded Arya (Masie Williams) seeking refuge with Lady Crane (Essie Davis). While it was nice to see Davis’ character one last time, her appearance didn’t do quite much to make make up for how cheap Arya’s stabbing last week felt.

The chase scene that closed out the episode was straight out of Assassin’s Creed and leaving her triumph over the Waif (Faye Marsay) off-screen was an interesting touch. In any case, the show seems determined to bring Arya back into the fold with her vocal rejection of Jaqen (Tom Wlaschiha) letting everyone know she’s ready to return to Westeros.

Meanwhile, the continuing story of Sandor Clegane’s (Rory McCann) redemption proved itself one of the episode’s strengths. It was great to see The Hound back in action and his chance encounter with The Brotherhood without Banners made for some exchanges as he haggled with Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) and Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye) over the lives of the outlaws who destroyed Clegane’s refuge last week. Given how many fans have speculated that Sandor’s destiny lies in king’s Landing, it was interesting to see the episode play with the idea of him as a potential asset in the fight against The White Walkers.

The other plotline we saw a conclusion to this week was that of the siege of Riverrun. We got to see some fun reunions between Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), as well as Bronn (Jerome Flynn) and Pod (Daniel Portman). With so many major characters gathered together on either side of the stalemate, it felt like a surprise death was inevitable. Unfortunately, the tension here fizzled out quickly once it became clear that Jaime could use Edmure (Tobias Menzies) to end the siege. The Blackfish’s (Clive Russell) stubborn refusal to offer aid to Sansa felt true to his character – but still a bit of a cop out.

Cersei’s (Lena Headey) further ostracization from the politics of King’s Landing continued this week. We got to see The Mountain again demonstrate his bone-crushing strength (and Qyburn his own versatility) but it’s not clear where this is all going. With a trial by combat no longer an option, perhaps we’re in as much denial about Cersei’s chances of a comeback as she is.

“No One” wraps up a few of the season’s outstanding plotlines but offers little insight into how the season as a whole will come to a close. With the sudden arrival of the Yunkai fleet at Merreen a problem already potentially-solved by Daenarys’ (Emilia Clarke) return, it’s hard to tell see how the disparate plot-threads of Season 6 will coalesce.

Hopefully next week’s “Battle of the Bastards”, sheds some light on things.

Review Score: THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Highlights:

  • The Clegane brothers throwing down
  • Grey Worm’s jokes
  • The return of the Brotherhood
  • Bronn training Pod

Lowlights:

  • Arya scenes were good but still felt a little rushed
  • The Blackfish’s off-screen death

Stray Thoughts:

  • I wonder what rumor Qyburn and Cersei were talking about
  • Where does Dorne fit into all this?

Episode MVP: Sandor Clegane

Game of Thrones airs in Australia on Showcase, Foxtel every Monday at 11am and 7:30pm