Cheers, chills, and the sound of online fan theories imploding. “No One” delivered Jaime Lannister’s finest scene in years, a thrilling chase, and set one Stark on an exciting new path. Though in some respects, “No One” could be short for “No One Shown Fighting.” The preview for Sunday’s episode teased a major Riverrun clash (which was cleverly averted), a King’s Landing fight with the Faith Militant (also avoided — aside from one fool who dared to mess with The Mountain), a Jaime vs. Brienne clash (nope), and we all expected an Arya vs. Waif fight to the death (which did indeed happen, although we didn’t see it — more on that later).
We start with…
Braavos: Every week there’s at least one new theory about what some GoT plotline really is about that gets circulated. The latest, and perhaps the most popular this season, was an idea that The Waif and Arya are somehow the same person due to The House of Black and White’s magic — that The Waif is basically her subconscious and the young Stark must defeat her to truly become “No One.” The GoT fan theories tend to be impressively clever and fun to consider. They also usually fixate on minor details and assume those details secretly add up to a complicated conspiracy that will be revealed in a stunning twist that will make you reconsider everything that’s come before. The average viewer considers Thrones an already dizzyingly complex show, so if the drama suddenly threw in twists that hinged on Meera Reed or Rickon or Smalljon Umber, it would baffle casual fans who just barely know who those characters are. For the most part, what you see happening on Thrones is what’s actually happening — and that’s the case with Arya, who has been been in an escalating grudge deathmatch with The Waif and wasn’t having some Fight Club-esque bipolar mind trip all this time.
The episode opens with Lady Crane trying out Arya’s suggestion for play-Cersei’s reaction to Joffrey’s death — anger, not just grief. “My son… my first born son… my child king,” she weeps. Her lines cleverly foreshadow a scene coming later in King’s Landing — Lady Crane’s words could nearly be Cersei’s own thoughts in a few moments.
Wounded Arya finds Lady Crane, who fortunately has nursing skills. She reveals that she apparently gets angry with her boyfriends and stabs them on a regular basis (which we wouldn’t have guessed, but then again she is an actress, so perhaps not too surprising).
Arya gets an indeterminate amount of time to recover somewhat from her wounds along with some help from that Thrones-ian opiate elixir Milk of the Poppy (one of my all-time favorite typos is when a reader leaving a recap comment honestly thought this was called Milk of the Puppy).
Lady Crane also offers to let Arya run away and join their acting troupe. I’d sort of love to see this. What if Arya ended up playing fake Arya in the play? Or maybe she could be Sansa and just troll her sister’s reputation in every scene. Arya says she couldn’t remember all the lines, but her actual motive is what we see later — Arya has realized this isn’t her destiny any more than being a Faceless Man.
Kings Landing: Lancel — Cersei’s cousin, ex-lover, now fanatic — arrives to tell her she’s been summoned by the High Sparrow. Lancel is leading a group of men from the Faith Militant. She doesn’t want to leave the security of the Red Keep because she’s not stupid and her hair has finally started to grow out enough to style it again.
He gives her the option of the easy way or the hard way. “I choose violence,” she says, as if selecting the prize behind Door #2 on a game show.
Some brave dolt tries to put an ax into Mountainstein, and he’s dealt with amusingly. The Faith Militant decide it’s wise to leave. She won that round.
Also: Does Mountainstein eat? Does Mountainstein sleep? Did Mountainstein really taking a vow of silence or is he incapable of speech? So many Mountainstein questions…