Written by Hannah Dunleavy

Arts

Last Night’s Watch

Ser Davos wins the ‘negotiation skills’ round of Game of Thrones. Here’s Hannah Dunleavy with more. AND SPOILERS.

If you think he looks happy, you should see Hannah's face: Ian McShane finally puts in an appearance.

If you think he looks happy, you should see Hannah’s face: Ian McShane finally puts in an appearance. Photos: HBO.

Welcome to fucking Westeros

Finally, after weeks of near-ceaseless chatter (mostly, I’m aware, by me), Ian McShane finally arrived like a converted Al Swearengen trying to build Jonestown in The Shire.  An arrival so glorious (and linked, of course, to the reveal that the Hound was alive) it merited a rare pre-credits sequence, which was only topped by a monologue – a fecking monologue – about all the bad things he’d done in his life. There’s no man better for the job.

It was all part of a wider theme about failure to negotiate and a clear statement that, while it’s proper nice to smile into the sky, it doesn’t really cut it in the current cut-and-thrust climate.

The death of his new community sent the Hound off somewhere with some bloody intent, which I’m a bit ambivalent about, if I’m honest. But who cares? It was sustenance in what I’m sure will be a never-ending wait for the Deadwood film and I thank them for it.

Hatpins? Eagles' claws? Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) refuses to reveal her secret.

Hatpins? Eagles’ claws? Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) refuses to reveal her secret.

“Truly vile”

I don’t know if the problem is the character of Marg’ Tyrell or if it’s how Natalie Dormer plays her, but blank-faced inscrutability and thin sketching means the long and short is I spent that whole scene thinking, “I wonder how that crown stays on her head.” Which I’m pretty sure wasn’t the point.

Elsewhere, the Rigg/Headey face-off was nicely done as Olenna gave Cersei a reality check, called her truly vile* and closed down that negotiation before it had even started.

*Which I called her in a previous piece for Standard Issue. For which I’m awarding myself one Diana Rigg coolness point. Running total, one Diana Rigg coolness point.

How are these guys even alive still?

Oh yes, not one but two battered old bastards making a comeback as Bronn (“that’s like saying I’ve got the biggest cock in the Unsullied army”) joins Jaime in an attempt to retake the castle The Blackfish had nicked. War stuff. Excellent choice.

Negotiations got off to a terrible start when the Frays threatened to kill Edmure, then threatened to like really kill him, then didn’t kill him at all. Then Jaime and the Blackfish had a back and forth about siege warfare and how disappointing Jaime is in the flesh. Negotiations failed.

Somewhere throughout all this it occurred to me how incredible it is that any of these guys have lived this long. Which means one of them must be on the way out soon. Which is about as close to excited as I’ve felt about the show all series.

About time.

Bronn (Jerome Flynn) and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau): catch them while you can.

Bronn (Jerome Flynn) and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau): catch them while you can.

“I don’t know you”

Faring slightly better in the negotiations was Team Snow, which got a few victories in early before crashing and burning with House Percy*, sorry Glover.

Tormund did the necessaries persuading the wildlings to fight another man’s war, while the child whisperer, Ser Davos New Family won over the small but committed House Mormont, in a scene perhaps designed to inspire memories of lovely Princess Greyscale and the Onion K-nigh-t.

Sansa’s not happy with any of this and, in an episode where Rob was dragged out of his grave more than once, she seems to have taken the position previously occupied by her mother, as well as her rather lofty attitude to loyalty.

The wildlings and Mormonts are won over by a précis of Jon’s actions. The sort of thing that inspires loyalty. Sansa appeals instead to an older, traditional loyalty, which seems more entitled and a lot less likely to succeed. Which it doesn’t.

She’s probably right – and about to take action – about the numbers and quality of men they have, but she’s dismissive about both Davos and Lady Mormont, who, let’s not forget, has joined the war caravan, aged 10. So enough of that please Sansa.

She’s clearly being given the opportunity to grow as a character but it’s interesting that she’s moved so quickly back to stubborn-head Stark, as if she has learned nothing from observing the Lannisters, the Tyrells or Littlefinger.

That said, it’s the most interesting she’s been in ages so more power to her furred elbow.

*Talking of Blackadder, ever since I mentioned Tormund looking like Captain Redbeard Rum, I can’t get it out of my head.

“I’m going to fuck the tits off this one”

Last negotiation of the night is yet to happen, as Yara unveils her plan to strike a deal with The Unburnt to rule the Iron Islands when she takes over Westeros.

She’s also trying to coax old Theon out from inside his shell, so she takes him to a whorehouse and gets him pissed, which was an odd choice even before she started talking about his missing cock again. Sisters eh?

And then Arya gets stabbed

Ah the classic ‘fall into a canal and disappear under the water assassination’ gone wrong. More news as it happens.

Follow Hannah’s week-by-week Game of Thrones blog here

@thatdunleavy

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Written by Hannah Dunleavy

Hannah Dunleavy is the deputy editor of Standard Issue. She likes whisky and not having to run anywhere.