Tonight’s Game of Thrones (season 6, episode 8, “No One”) felt a little cheap. Not cheap in the sense of acting or production quality — it was as cinematic as ever — but cheap in the way that a Michael Bay movie feels cheap: formulaic and requiring laborious suspension of disbelief.
Two scenes in particular stood out to me.
The first was the chase scene between the Waif and Arya through the streets of Braavos. For a professional assassin, this Waif is a terrible assassin. Perhaps we’re supposed to believe that the special grudge she holds for Arya causes her to do irrational things. Maybe that’s why, when she could easily catch her injured victim by running after her, she plods like Jason Voorhees, continually allowing her victim to escape and prolong the chase. Maybe that’s why she opts for a Bond-villian conversation before striking the killing blow. But the grudge feels like insufficient justification. For someone watching this chase unfold from a bird’s perspective, the a more natural conclusion would be that we’re all part of a fictional world in which some director is optimizing this assassin’s behavior for cinematic effect.
The second was the scene in which Daenerys enters the pyramid. Daenerys took off on her dragon last episode and hasn’t been seen since. The city is under siege from ships in the harbor hurling fireballs. Gray Worm concludes that the group must stay in the pyramid because it is the only defensible place. The group hears a noise on the roof of the pyramid, and everyone crouches into a defensive posture. The tension is supposed to be high as one soldier ventures onto the balcony. What could it be? Who’s on the roof? Could it be your dragon-riding queen who took off last episode and hasn’t been seen in a while? WHO ELSE LANDS ON A ROOF? Of course it’s Daenerys. Come on: you can’t create tension for the audience just by showing the characters acting tense. If their tension doesn’t make sense, the audience isn’t going to feel it.
But I still love it.