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GAME OF THRONES Recap: Many Happy Returns

Hello, fair citizens of the Realm! It’s that time of year again—the most wonderful of them all—Game of Thrones season. And, in addition to winter: spoilers are coming! (And maybe a few swears, too. Woops!) As this is a recap, it goes over everything in crazy detail, so proceed at your own risk and don’t say we didn’t warn you in the comments below.

Is a girl a fuckin’ badass, or is a girl a FUCKIN’ BADASS? In a largely sleepy episode of Game of Thrones (probably only because the next two are going to be goddamn wildfire), Arya’s new course has been charted, and it’s homeward bound. A girl isn’t trying to be no one anymore—she’s someone, and a formidable someone at that. And it’s not just because of her last name.


In what was definitely the most set-up-y of all the episodes this season—because we’ve got the Battle of the Bastards coming for us next week—we got a lot of dithering about, mostly in the Riverlands, and a fairly major reintroduction to hopefully move us forward in the last two episodes of the season.

The Riverlands were a major focus of this episode, what with the Lannister/Frey vs. Tully battle on the brink, The Hound’s vengeance adventure to find the Brotherhooders that did him and Brother Ray wrong, as well as Brienne and Podrick’s return to the region in the name of Sansa’s army.


…Only Sansa didn’t get her familial army, and the Frey/Lannister vs. Tully battle went out with a whimper thanks to Edmure “The Snivelfish” Tully (that’s my new nickname for him, feel free to use it). Homeboy is an expert at being the least effective member of his House—dead or alive—giving over Riverrun to the Lannisters and Freys without a fight. Listen, Edmure: I know being held captive for a few years is tough, but really? That took TWO SECONDS OF TALKING. Where’s Septa RatchedUnella with her shame bell when you need her?

Because this episode could probably use it for a couple reasons, starting off with the Blackfish. Really: that’s how he died? Off-screen “in battle” with nary a sight of it? THE BLACKFISH? Generally I agree with most all of D&D’s decisions when it comes to cutting story, but that just felt like a huge misstep.


Honestly, most of the Riverlands stuff felt like treading water hype for an eventual Lady Stoneheart return. There was that Red Wedding reference, the comparison of Cersei and Catelyn Stark, and—of course—that bit when Thoros of Myr and Ser Beric Dondarrion showed up in The Hound stuff! We’re probably not getting a CleganeBowl now (more on that in a second), but we better get us some goddamn Stoneheart, ya feel me?


At least we got a glimpse at the Pod and Bronn Comedy Hour that’s going to take Westeros by storm in 20-whenever this series ends (2018?). We also saw the reunion between Jaime Lannister and Brienne; and in the sort of time it takes someone to get whiplash, we saw everyone fall back in like with those two and their honor falling for one another. Well, everyone except poor Tormund.


We got what felt like seconds in Meereen, as Varys left and the city found itself in the middle of a war with the Masters of the Free Cities, hellbent on getting their property back. (So much for that deal, Tyrion. D+.) Dany returned just in the nick of time to (hopefully) burn them all where they stand with Drogon, but her thoughts on the matter weren’t even made clear—all we saw was her return. (Did she even have a line this episode?)

We also have to talk about Arya’s night, since it was FINALLY, finally, finally, finally decided upon that A Girl will return to Westeros! Oh, and that whole “the Waif and Arya are the same” theory was kiboshed which: THANK GOD. Sorry, guys, I hated that Tyler Durden BS and I’m very happy y’all were proven wrong. After being nursed back to near-health by StageCersei (a.k.a. Essie Davis from The Babadook—which I mention because y’all need to watch The Babadook), the Waif found Arya and murdered poor StageCersei. After an aggressive chase where it seemed like maybe Arya didn’t have a plan, we got what we all wanted: darkness and death. Arya’s ability to fight while blind was always an edge she had over the Waif, so we were glad when Needle snuffed that candle out and helped everyone’s favorite serial murderperson put the Waif’s face up on a wall.


Over the river and through the woods—to Westeros we go!

More exciting, though, was Cersei’s return to court after the undead Mountain made quick work of murdering the shit out of a Sparrow (though his brother’s decapitation work definitely took the cake tonight). Turns out? The Faith Militant are turning Tommen against Cersei and Ser Loras Tyrell, even going so far as to ban Trial By Combat, which is exactly what that CleganeBowl was all about. So: are we getting a CleganeBowl in the name of religion and honor? No: but that doesn’t mean those two won’t battle it out later.

Still: this is all setting up something major, major, major with Cersei and King’s Landing. And, honestly: I’m more for this speculative theory than anything else. For awhile now—ever since that prophecy that kicked off last season—fans have wondered if Cersei’s vengeancehammer would produce something majorly fucked up for King’s Landing. And now that she’s being forced out of power and denied her trial by combat, we’re certain she’s going to go feral pretty soon.


Remember how there’s all that Wildfire stashed underneath King’s Landing? Wildfire that Cersei’s been having the maesters make for seasons and seasons now (the same cache from which Tyrion nabbed his Wildfire for the Battle of Blackwater that took out Stannis’ ships)? Yeah, well, our money’s on Cersei burning it all to the ground—and we mean ALL OF IT, the Sept of Baelor, the Red Keep, all of King’s Landing—killing her son and the Faith Militant in the process, forcing the hand of her valonqar (little brother) to murder her to death.

Most fans have speculated that murder will come at the hand of Tyrion, but with all the “I love Cersei so much no seriously like I love her a lot she’s just the best, she’s my best sisterloverfriend” talk Jaime extolled this episode, we’re fully convinced it’ll be him that takes her down. After all: Jaime is technically the younger of the two of them, so it works by the prophecy’s standards.

And speaking of prophecy: remember that scene from the House of the Undying way back in season two? When Dany saw a winterized Red Keep all torn asunder? Who’s to say that isn’t exactly how it’ll look after the season finale’s done with us, huh?


Because with that finale title—”The Winds of Winter”—I’m thinking that’s exactly what’s to come.

Other Thoughts:

  • Line of the Night: “Tougher girls than you have tried to kill me.” -The Hound, keepin’ it real. #TeamArya #TeamBrienne
  • Second place? This interaction: “Finally, a girl is no one.” “A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell and I’m going home.”
  • StageCersei did some serious projecting on the “Cersei’s gonna die this season” front with her lines about “seeking vengeance” and paying for it with “my life,” eh?
  • Speaking of Cersei, her “Please let his High Holiness know he’s always welcome to visit” line killed me. Girl is RICH with humor some days. (Must be all the wine.)
  • I AM NOT OKAY WITH MAESTER CREEPBURN (a.k.a. Qyburn) and his ominous song-and-dance set-up “Is it just a rumor or something more?” “More; much more” bit. What did your birdies tell you?
  • I would definitely pay like, $100 to a Kickstarter that helped fund a The Tales of Dunk and Egg-style series of TV adventures with Arya and Lyanna Mormont trying to find what’s West of Westeros. (It’s Ameryros, right?)
    • Like seriously LOOK AT THIS INTERACTION REGARDING THE SWORD: “You gave it to me for a purpose; I’ve achieved that purpose.” “It’s yours, it will always be yours.”
    • Anyway, they’re in love. Sorry Tormund (I’ll kiss you if you want though).
  • “I have your word, oh good.” – Edmure Tully, being all of us when it comes to the Lannisters/anyone on this show, really.

But what do you think, Thrones fans? Looking forward to Arya’s return home? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Images: HBO; Wildfire GIF: Vanity Fair

Alicia Lutes is the Managing Editor, creator/co-host of Fangirling, and resident Khaleesi of House Nerdist. Find her on Twitter.

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