'Game of Thrones' Recap: Is Everyone Headed to Winterfell?

brienne in game of thrones season 6
HBO
HBO

How is it possible that an episode of Game of Thrones costs as much as the GDP of Uzbekistan and they still won't even show us all the good things that happen? All the major events in this episode happened off-screen and instead we get, what, Jaime Lannister talking to the rapist from Outlander in a boring tent with a pole in the middle like the waiting room at Medieval Times?

Just think about it, Arya killing Intern Emily, Intern Emily killing Lady Crane, the Blackfish being murdered, Drogon landing on top of the pyramid, Varys getting on a slow boat to Westeros -- all of these things happened when we weren't looking. Now, I know that Arya and Intern Emily fought in the dark, but couldn't the show have spared us a little bit of CGI on some of those other events? There was so much talking and not enough doing. But at least it seems like we're finally done with Braavos forever.

the waif season 6 game of thrones
HBO

Braavos: Arya kidding me? 

The best moments of this show, of course, have been homecomings. And even though Arya's return to Westeros hasn't quite happened yet, when she confronted Jaqen H'ghar in the House of Black and White, I was ready for something bad to happen to her, like how Oberyn Martell got his face bashed in at the last moment. But Jaqen, possibly to save his own life, told her that she was finally no one and gave her that third chance he said wasn't coming. She didn't want that anymore.

Instead, Arya confirmed her identity and said that she's Arya Stark of Winterfell and that she's going home. Little does she know that a lunatic with a fetish for dogs and castration is holding her house. (Speaking of which, thanks to the previews for next episode, we know that this year's penultimate episode, the one where all the major stuff always goes down, is going to be the Battle for Winterfell. I expect the Knights of the Vale to be the last-minute troops that swoop in and rescue everyone this time, à la Tywin Lannister at the Battle of Blackwater and Stannis Baratheon at the Battle of Castle Black.)

Arya's story was certainly the most satisfying of the night, and most of us knew that she was going to survive by going to see Lady Crane and getting the woman she spared to help her. Arya's advice at how to play Cersei should win Lady Crane a Westerosi EGOT, so there is another reason she should want to help her little friend. Thankfully, Lady Crane has a history of dressing wounds from the lovers she stabbed. Does this mean that Arya is going to have to forgive Cersei in real life, just like she forgave the woman who played her on stage? It's been amazing to see how this play was the thing that helped Arya realize what she really wanted all along was to avenge her family rather than forget about them in a haze of assassinations.

The showdown between Arya and Intern Emily (which, to remind you, is what I like to call her because she reminds me of the evil assistant Emily that Emily Blunt played in The Devil Wears Prada) was everything that we really could have hoped for. Intern Emily was stalking her down, walking slow and determined just like Robert Patrick skulking after Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2. The most disappointing part, though, was that we finally got to see Arya leap out of that window that was teased in all the trailers. We thought that meant she could finally, like, fly, but not really. She crash-lands pretty hard, falling down the stairs and spilling all the fruit in Braavos.

Ultimately it was her time as a blind girl fighting with a stick that saved her when she used Needle to cut down the candle in the little basement room where Intern Emily cornered her and cut her face off in the darkness. 

We know that Arya is headed home now and there is no way that she can make it back to Winterfell in order to participate in the battle, so just what is she going to find? Will she join up with some people to fight the great battle north of the Wall? Will she hook up with the Hound and the Brotherhood Without Banners for a full-on reunion? Will her misadventures continue as she tries to cross some more names off her kill list? We know that she's headed home, but Winterfell is a long way from Braavos, and so much can happen in the interim.

mereen game of thrones
HBO

Meereen: Dany's home

The funny thing about our trip to Meereen this week was that most of it was spent with Tyrion trying to teach Grey Worm and Missandei how to tell jokes with the old "A Stark, a Martell, and a Lannister walk into a bar" chestnut. Personally, I would have gone with "How many Starks does it take to screw in a lightbulb?" but whatever. It's so odd when someone of privilege like Tyrion tries to talk to two former slaves and neither of them can relate to each other. After all, Tyrion, the self-proclaimed most famous dwarf in the world, is sort of like the Kanye of Meereen. I wonder what his fashion line is going to look like.

Right when he's finally got Missandei binge-drinking like it's her first time at a frat party, the slavers show up to take back their property with a whole bunch of ships with some sort of crazy fire-rocket cannons on the top of them. But Daenerys has her own crazy fire-rocket cannon, and its name is Drogon. She rides her dragon home and he lands on the dragon helipad atop the Meereenese pyramid; he drops her off and Dany walks into the throne room like your mom coming home after getting a call from your teacher that you were caught cheating on a test. I'm surprised she didn't throw all of them over her knee right there.

I assume that Drogon will torch all of the slavers' ships, but this could have happened already because we didn't see it. There was so much we didn't see this episode that I can't imagine Dany would just hop off her giant lizard Uber and be like, "OK. Five stars. See you later." She must have had him set fire to the slavers and save the day, right? Right!

So after Tyrion is grounded with no cellphone and certainly no Snapchat for three weeks, what are Dany and her crew going to get up to? Varys is off to Westeros to make friends and get them some ships (little does he know that Theon Greyjoy is on his way with his own offer of ships and friendship). Dany's Dothraki army should be arriving via Amazon Prime any day now. The slavers are defeated, the people are freed, and there is nothing standing in the way of them hopping on those wooden horses and sailing across the poison sea now. I suppose that's not going to happen until next season, though, right?

brienne and blackfish game of thrones
HBO

Riverrun: row, row, row your boat

I'm just going to say it: Riverrun is the new Dorne. Everything that happens there is boring and pointless. What was going on with this whole storyline? It was two solid weeks of all this bullshit with Brynden "the Blackfish" Tully just so that Jaime and Brienne could have a reunion like that time when Matthew Perry was on Cougar Town with Courteney Cox and we were all like "FRIENDS REUNION!" and then it happened and it was just another boring episode of a sitcom we didn't even watch and no one really cared. We're all shipping Brienne and Tormund these days, anyway. Brienne and Jaime is so, like, Season 3. I was honestly more excited to see Bronn beat the crap out of Podrick than I was to see these two former BFFs make eyes at each other in a muddy tent.

The funny thing about Brienne is that she is totally a fan favorite but she is super bad at her job. Every time she gets a task from her master, she totally fails at it. She tries to protect Renly Baratheon -- fails. She tries to protect Catelyn Stark -- fails. She tries to get Jaime Lannister to King's Landing in one piece -- fails. She tries to protect Arya Stark -- fails. She tries to protect Sansa from Ramsay Bolton -- fails. She tries to get the Tully army to help Sansa in the North -- fails. Why do we keep giving Brienne jobs? She's awful at them. 

She and Jaime come up with a great plan to get Brynden to take his army north to fight against the Boltons and then everyone gets everything they want. However, the Blackfish won't budge, leaving Brienne to escape in a rowboat and Jaime to send Edmure Tully back into the castle. I did enjoy their scene where Jaime convinces Edmure to do his bidding because he really loves his sister and wants to get back to her, but someone needs to tell Edmure that you really don't want to love your sister the same way that Jaime Lannister loves his sister.

tommen season 6 game of thrones
HBO

King's Landing: mother sucker

Speaking of loving his sister, Cersei Lannister is in some real big trouble in King's Landing, and while I love her as a character, I find it difficult to feel bad for her because Cersei always brings it upon herself. The High Sparrow sends some dudes to bring Cersei down to the Sept to talk about her trial, and she doesn't go with them. Instead, she has the Franken Mountain rip off one dude's head with his bare hands. Then her son, King Tommen, who won't even speak to her, says that her trial will be held shortly, and he bans trial by combat in the entire kingdom. Maybe if Cersei hadn't been so snooty and just went with those dudes, they wouldn't have seen the Franken Mountain's power and she might have had a champion to defend her. 

Sadly, though, the Cleganebowl that readers of the books were hoping for, which would have pitted the Hound against his brother the Mountain in a fight to the death, certainly isn't going to happen now that trial by combat has been banned.

Cersei only has one hope left, and it's the rumor that Qyburn, her master of whispers and only friend left in the capital, was talking about in the throne room. In Episode 3, we saw Cersei tell him to send his birds across the whole kingdom and find out all the dirt he can, but we haven't seen any updates since. Could this rumor have something to do with the High Sparrow? The High Sparrow has been very forthcoming about his past, but maybe he has some secret predilections that would be very embarrassing? You know how that happens with priests. More likely, though, it's about a secret stash of wildfire hidden under the city, as foretold in Bran's vision.

beric season 6 game of thrones
HBO

Wandering around: ain't nothing with the Hound, dawg

Not only will we not get Cleganebowl because Tommen outlawed trial by combat, but the Hound has also joined up with the Brotherhood Without Banners. You know, those are the dudes who picked up Arya and her fat friend who became a baker back in Season 3. They're a bunch of knights who formerly fought for the Lannisters and the Starks and decided to leave their allegiances to worship the Lord of Light and fight for him instead. They're the very same people who resurrected their leader, Beric Dondarrion, in the cave after the Hound killed him. 

The Hound catches up with the three jerks who killed all his friends who were building the church and the Brotherhood had already captured them. As a consolation, they let the Hound hang two of the three of them. (Why not all three? He was just kicking out their stumps because they were such "nancies" that they wouldn't let him cleave them apart with an ax like he did to the guy whose final words were "cunt.")

Just as Cleganebowl won't happen, book readers were also hoping that we would see Lady Stoneheart, who is the reanimated corpse of Catelyn Stark and the leader of the Brotherhood Without Banners in the book. However, that seems unlikely now that the series has progressed so far and she would serve little purpose. But it is curious that we heard her name in this episode, and we've been dealing with her family the Tullys for the last few episodes inexplicably. If it's not to introduce Lady Stoneheart, then what was all that for? 

Anyway, the Hound agrees to go off with them and fight the battle against the White Walkers in the North. That seems like a good place for him, and it's a reminder that the real battle is going to be waged north of the Wall. We spent this whole episode dealing with the game of thrones instead of the real fight that is going to matter in the end. As Beric tells the Hound, "Good and bad, young and old. The things we're fighting will harm them all." So can't we focus a little bit more on the big picture here and get the hell away from Riverrun forever?

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Brian Moylan previously ranked the Real Housewives for Thrillist and misses Ser Pounce. Find him on Twitter: @BrianJMoylan.