Game of Thrones is finally gathering it’s characters together again, very efficiently setting up major conflicts throughout Westeros and Essos. However, the show still has some room for a few surprises. Not only did this week’s episode “The Broken Man” introduce a new favorite character, an old one was brought back! If you’re not caught up, then watch out!
“The Broken Man” is the first time that Game Of Thrones has had a cold open this season. At first, I was really surprised that they were doing a pre-credits sequence during an episode that wasn’t a premiere or finale, but I completely understood why. You have to have to make a grand entrance when you bring back The Hound!
We last saw Sandor Clegane back in Season 4 as Arya left him to die in the Erie after his brutal (but amazing) fight with Brienne. Book readers and show watchers alike have been speculating for years that we hadn’t seen the last of The Hound, and this time the crazy fan theories were right! We caught up with Sandor, who has been hanging out with a sort of cult, lead by Brother Ray. Brother Ray is apparently a reformed killer and leads a small flock of folk who are happily farming and building under his guidance. Unfortunately, nothing good in Westeros lasts for long, and the Brotherhood attacks and kills everyone but Sandor by the end of the episode.
The last we see of The Hound, he is angrily storming off with an axe. Where to is anyone’s guess, but I am hoping that he finds his way to Riverrun as that castle is shaping up to hold quite the reunion soon.
Speaking of the Riverrun, Jamie arrives there with Bronn and an army in tow to take control of the Fry’s shoddy siege and seize the castle from The Blackfish (Brynden Tully). He and Bronn watch as two Frey brothers give a terrible attempt at forcing a surrender using Edmure Tully’s life as a threat, but once it is clear that they will fail to follow through the Blackfish leaves the battlements in disgust.
Jamie takes control of the siege and treats with Brynden. I had forgotten that the reason Caitlyn Stark released him from captivity all those seasons ago was so that he could go and protect the Stark girls. Both Jamie and I were reminded how utterly he had failed at that task. Brynden tells Jamie that they have enough provisions inside the castle walls for two years, so bring it on.
Arya is now on the run from the Faceless Men, and quickly books passage on a ship to Westeros for the following morning. However in a (to my mind) completely stupid move, she lets an old women embrace her, who of course turns out to be the Waif. The Waif stabs Arya repeatedly in the gut and Arya escapes by jumping off the bridge into the canal. As she walks down the streets terrified, she is bleeding quite badly and has a number of deep puncture wounds … I’m pretty worried about my favorite Stark’s well-being!
Also across the narrow sea, Theon and Yara relax at a brothel. Theon is obviously uncomfortable, and Yara gives him a stern talking to. As she bullies him into chugging his drink, she tells him to buck up because she wants the real Theon back. According to her, if Theon is really so broken then he would be better off ending his life. I’m not a fan of this “pep talk” of hers, Yara seems to have a very harmful view on mental health. However, it is fitting for the character. She was raised in a society where the leaders are willingly DROWNED before they are considered worthy of accepting their position, the culture of the Iron Islands is full of traditions based on ideals of very traditional masculinity. This culture also fits with her very frat-bro attitude towards the prostitutes.
What we did learn from this conversation is that they are headed to Meereen to talk to Dany. With their uncle delayed building his fleet, they will most likely beat him to the dragon queen.
In the capital, an uncharacteristically modest Margaery is in talks with the High Sparrow. This conversation gave me the creeps. The High Sparrow mentioned that Tommen had come to him concerned because Margaery had not had sex with him since she returned to the Red Keep. According to Margaery, she was no longer driven by the desires that drew her there before, which according to the High Sparrow is not a good enough excuse. He believes that she has a duty to give Tommen an heir, so she needs to suck it up and go sleep with her husband. I was incredibly uncomfortable during this entire conversation. The idea that duty” trumps consent is a terrifying one, even in a fantasy realm. The Sparrow also let Margaery know that her grandmother is next on the list to be taken to the Great Sept to atone for her sins.
Once she returned to the castle, Margery called Olenna over to her rooms. Under the gaze of Septa Unella, she tells her grandmother to return to Highgarden, and slips her a picture of a rose.
Olenna is no fool and immediately prepares to leave. While doing so, Cersei comes by to urge her to stay. I really don’t know how Cersei still thinks that she is in a position of power, and neither does Olenna. As The Queen Of Thrones points out, all of her allies are gone except for The Mountain, and the position that they are in is entirely Cersei’s fault for putting power in the hands of the Faith Militant in the first place.
I love scenes between Olenna and Cersei, but this one had a remarkably different tone. Usually, the two are vying for power, and while it didn’t make the Queen of Thornes any less scathing, it was clear that this time both of them have already lost. While she is essentially in exile from the capital, I don’t believe this will be the last we see of Olenna this season and have heard some very interesting speculations on who she may be writing to for help.
By far my favorite storyline this episode was Jon and Sansa. Team Stark is in the process of rallying The North to fight against the Boltons. After convincing the Wildlings to fight alongside them, they go to Bear Island to talk to Lyanna Mormont. You may remember her as the 10 year old who wrote a sassy letter to Stannis a while back. She is rightfully angry. She has already lost her mother fighting for Robb, and does not want to risk any more lives fighting for the Starks. Watching this amazing little leader (the very first IMDB credit by actress Bella Ramsey!) put up with absolutely none of Sansa and Jon’s crap was so much fun. In the end, it is Davos that convinces this wonderful girl to align herself with them by letting her know of the real fight between the living and the dead that is rapidly approaching.
Team Stark and their forces make camp at the same place where Stannis’s forces were stranded before their last battle at Winterfell. This is a curious choice after all this is where Shireen was killed, which still hasn’t been revealed to Davos. Jon is ready to attack, even though their forces are greatly outnumbered, but Sansa insists that they need more men. The last we see of our Queen of the North this week, she is writing a mysterious letter. Since she knows the knights of the Vale will rally to her cause, as well as what remains of the Tullys (although she is unaware of the siege) I’m guessing that she is planning to go behind Jon’s back and ask Little Finger for help.