So does anybody else here adore the quintessential, often villainous, always smirking actor Richard E. Grant, whose appearance livens up any production lucky enough to have him?
Okay, well maybe he doesn’t care for me quite as much as I do him. But I cheered out loud when I realized that it was Grant playing King Robert in the pantomime show Arya is sent to watch in Braavos, in this week’s episode, and he got the most brilliant line possible:
“There are no small parts.”
Personally, I loved that, because that’s really Richard E. Grant summed up, for me. I’ve seen him in big roles, but often in smaller character roles, and he never, ever plays his roles small. And as King Robert in this episode, he got, what — 3 lines where he wasn’t completely covered in beard and yarn entrails?
It was a nice meta moment. It made me smile.
I bring this up NOW, because for the first time in the six years of watching this show, a GOT episode made me cry. Real, actual tears, down my face, over a damn TV show from which I believed I could take anything. Hit me, show.
“There are no small parts.”
Like one-word parts, say.
YOU SUCK, SHOW!
So welcome once again to the worst recaps on the Interwebs. All game, all thrones, all the permanent emotional scarring.
Sansa receives a scroll with a mockingbird seal, and oh no he di-int —
Yeah, it’s Littlefinger. Of course he did.
Sansa meets him in Molestown with Brienne, and to the delight of everyone, makes Littlefinger squirm. “Did you know about Ramsay? If you didn’t, you’re an idiot, and if you did, you’re my enemy.” Either way, I can have my stalwart lady knight here slice you asunder in no time. She pushes him to say, actually say, what he thinks Ramsay did to her. Watching his face is like watching Trump trying to dodge one of those big, scary facts. You can see the wheels turning as he looks every which way for an escape route. Littlefinger has gotten far, after all, on insinuations, on the things he doesn’t say. Of course, as Sansa puts it after he chokes out a halfhearted “Did he beat you…did he cut you?”: “The other things he did to me ladies aren’t supposed to talk about but I imagine brothel keepers talk about them all the time.”
Very nice, Sansa, very nice. I mean, if you’re going to use rape as a device in this show, at least letting Sansa take that fact, throw it in Littlefinger’s face, all the while glorying in his discomfort — well, it’s a tiny victory. I’ll take it. I live for tiny victories now.
Like Brienne, getting all sassy. “The lady Sansa asked you a question scumbag.”
Littlefinger tests his leverage again, though — Brynden the Blackfish Tully has retaken Riverrun and has an army that she might find handy. Sansa dismisses this — her brother has an army. “Half brother,” Littlefinger smarms smarmily, as he oozes out the door.
Hmmph. That’s Secret Targaryen half brother to you, douchestache.
Of course, when she shares the info about the Tully forces with Jon, she doesn’t say where she got it, which I get. It doesn’t have as much to do with trusting Jon as it does with needing to keep a short leash on her relationship with Littlefinger. Keep him where as few people know about him as possible — for now.
The endless intimidation tactics continue, because apparently Arya still hasn’t leveled up high enough to unlock her Faceless Power. She’s given one more shot at an assignment, or else her face will be added to the wall. So she goes to see a play, with the aforementioned darling Richard E Grant, and watches the general public’s idea of What Happened With Ned Stark That One Time. Summary: Northerners are Westerosian rednecks — dumb, unlettered, moronic. Dumb. Did I mention dumb? Cersei is a put-upon mother who’s just trying to do right by the kingdom, and poor Joffrey was about to spare Ned Stark, who had conspired to seize the throne, when Tyrion pays off the executioner to chop his head off anyway. Then he hauls Sansa away after flashing her tits at everyone. You know, as one does.
It’s a curious scene that raises some questions. Like: is the reason Arya is being given this particular assignment because she would have to see this show that the actress she’s supposed to assassinate is in? (She plays Cersei, which dovetails nicely with the fact that Cersei is still on Arya’s list.) Or is that just a coincidence, but one which shows her exactly what sort of popular narrative she is up against?
Either way, it also serves to complicate matters both for No One and for Arya. The actress she’s meant to take out conveniently is the only one who drinks rum after the show, so poisoning her should be easy, but she also seems witty, charming, and fairly decent. Arya wonders why someone wants her dead, signaling some misgivings on Arya’s part — at least in the sense that she wants to know the justice underlying her kill. And it’s a reminder that the people Arya wants dead — the people we want dead — aren’t monsters 24-7 (okay, Ramsay and Joffrey being the key exceptions) — that everyone has moments of humor or humanity that make us pause, or at least complicate our hatred.
We’ll see how she deals with it. Jaqen H’ghar is not enthused with her asking questions, again.
Bran is watching a gathering of the Children at a mini-Stonehenge, where a rather unhappy man is tied up. As he watches, the Children stick him with the pointy end of some dragonglass. Deep into his heart it goes, and his eyes go blue, and holy crap, you people created the White Walkers on purpose, I am seriously giving your life choices side-eye right now.
(How does that work, by the way? Dragonglass + human = White Walker; White Walker + dragonglass = pile of bones? The dragonglass giveth and the dragonglass taketh away? )
But, yeah. You people, you’ve had better ideas. I get that you were trying to stop the terrible onslaught of humanity, but… you basically took humanity and made them worse, and undead, sooooo….. Life choices.
Speaking of life choices, Yara makes her bid for the Salt Throne with Theon backing her up, and all is going well, until Captain Ahab shows up (okay, Euron Greyjoy, but he’s squirrel poo levels of nutty) and reminds us that men are, somehow, unfathomably, still in most positions of power: that is, Yara talks about logical solutions to their problems, including fleet building and expansion, and Euron scratches his crotch, says her idea is great, only he’s going to do it betterer because he’s a boy, talks about his cock, jokes about Theon’s lack of cock and general book lernin’ nonsense — basically, he’s Donald Trumpjoy, is what I’m saying.
But in the grand, bewildering, exhausting tradition of men in this book series, he’s got himself an idee, yes sir. See, there’s this pretty dragon lady across the sea who needs ships, but who is just downright helpless to do anything without the aid of some man’s cock, so Trumpjoy is going to go be that cock. (And of course, as this logic always plays out, she’ll go into spasms of wild ecstasy and submission simultaneously, having never seen a Real Man before, and hand over her nether regions and her free will, in that order.)
It never ceases to astonish me how many men in this series hear that Dany is overseas somewhere and available, and think, “That woman seems quite formidable, powerful, and potentially revolutionary. You know what she needs? MY PENIS.”
So the men of the island, swayed by Trumpjoy’s undeniable logic and persuasive use of the word ‘cock,’ immediately support him, do their little drowning ritual, and follow him no questions asked when his first order of business upon coughing up a bunch of snotty seawater is ‘let’s go murder’ Theon and Yara.
But hey, it’s not Theon’s, nor Yara’s, first nautical equivalent of a rodeo. They’ve already bugged out with the best ships. In my headcanon, they’re planning to sail over to find Dany and say, “Hey, we have this ridiculous uncle who thinks he’s going to offer you ships and get your vagina and your dragons for them, so here’s the ships, let’s go kick his ass, #squadgoals.”
Either way, Trumpjoy’s strategy is to go build a bunch more ships. And I’m sure Westeros will pay for them.
The Plains of Smoked Dothraki
Dany faces off with Jorah, ho she can’t quite seem to get rid of, and Daario, who is quietly munching popcorn on the sidelines. Jorah confesses his love, finally, because he’s dying, and shows her his greyscale. He makes to leave, but Dany stops him, and commands him to go find the cure and come back, because she expects him to help her take over Westeros, no excuses.
And…damn, this is a really touching scene, and has anyone noticed that the acting in this whole episode has just been better than normal? Who directed this thing? I think we’re seeing some quality directing in this ep.
This whole ‘negotiate with the slavers’ thing is complicated, so Tyrion believes that a little spiritual backing is in order — to wit, the Red Priestess of Volantis. Melisandre the Lesser is very beautiful, and very creepy, as is par for the course. Apparently her best course of action to win the confidence of the people who want her to help them preach the gospel of Dany is to remind Varys, with a creepy creepy smile, about his horrible experience with the mysticism of this part of the world that led to his castration. We leave Varys shaken and unnerved, Tyrion uncertain, and ourselves slightly repulsed. Another successful scene in Meereen!
Can’t Take You Anywhere, Bran!
“Don’t take the Plantsieve out for a spin while I nap,” the Raven intoned just before this scene began.
Bran, therefore, takes the Plantsieve out for a spin while the Raven naps.
He lands right in front of a massive Walker horde. He walks among the foot soldiers, who can’t see him, and comes face to face with the Night’s King — who can. And who then grabs his arm, burning real Bran’s arm with frostbite, and apparently creating a link so that the Walkers can find them in real time. Bran has officially screwed way the hell up, and the Raven tells him now it’s time for him to become the Raven, because there’s basically no time left.
Bran: “Am I ready?”
In the immortal words of a great philosopher:
So the Walkers are a-coming, and our heroes have got to go, and nothing is going well. Summer is overwhelmed, the Walkers are in the Plantsieve, and Bran and the Raven are mentally back at Winterfell watching Hodor, previously Willis. Back in the Plantsieve, Meera is screaming at Bran to come back now, they need him, and he hears her.
While still adrift in the Plantsieve, at Winterfell, because they have to get out in real time, he wargs into Hodor, who picks up Bran’s catatonic form and they rush for the door. The Night’s King cuts down the Raven, and the hordes are coming in full force. And Bran-in-Winterfell keeps staring at Hodor, like he’s understanding, or he’s about to —
And as they barely make it out, in what is now a moment of television history, I think, Meera tells Hodor to “Hold the door!”
Which of course, he does, throwing his entire self into it. And back in Winterfell, young Willis falls to the ground, seizing, shouting over and over, “Hold the door!” Which becomes more and more slurred, closer and closer together, until inevitably, all we can hear is “Hodor!”
As Hodor does what he’s always been telling us, and holds that damn door until the wights rip him apart, giving Meera and Bran time to escape.
And with that, I sobbed my eyes out.
Afterward, I had questions.
How was Bran both in Winterfell and controlling Hodor in the present at the same time? Was it simply that fact, the ill-advised nature of doing something so complex when he is so inexperienced, that affected Hodor so deeply in the past? Because really, doesn’t Bran create a bit of a time loop around Hodor? Hood’s past is changed because of his future, and now his past leads inexorably to his future, because Bran created a loop, in which Hodor will always be Hodor, until finally understanding why he’s Hodor comes too late…
Hopefully soon we will get to see Brienne, as she travels to meet the Blackfish with news of Sansa, being haplessly and persistently wooed by Tormund, and maybe Edd having more of those oh-crap-I-guess-I-really-am-the-Lord-Commander moments, because my heart needs some relief from the depression.
My final word on the matter is: Hodor.