“The Broken Man” marks the seventh episode of ten in season six of Game of Thrones. We have but three episodes left to go. This is the part of the season where there needs to be little to no drag in certain storylines; where we need to see a forward trajectory in order for the ending to not seem too rushed, particularly since we’ll probably get one of those episode nines where we’re only in one setting. Nevertheless, here is my recap and thoughts on episode seven. What an episode.
Firstly, the episode didn’t begin with the traditional title sequence with epic music. I have to say, I was worried that my television had gone a bit weird. But even better than the fact that my television isn’t broken – this episode begins with such an amazing reveal.
We begin at the Vale, with some mysterious people building a wooden structure. Women are cooking stew, men are carrying logs. But there’s one man carrying a huge log all by himself. Who could it be? Oh, you know, just THE HOUND, SANDOR CLEGANE. Who we thought was dead. (But I knew he wasn’t dead because this show doesn’t kill people off-screen, unless it’s Stannis Baratheon.)
This is amazing. Cleganebowl confirmed, get hype!
The Hound is staying with a group of villagers and a warrior turned septon named Ray, played by the flawless Ian McShane of Deadwood fame. It is revealed that Ray found the Hound when he was almost dead, and that the Hound was nursed back to his present state of health. Bloody amazing. Rory McCann is such an excellent actor, and I am so glad he’s back.
We then meet with Margaery in King’s Landing, who is reading from The Seven-Pointed Star, the bible of the Faith of the Seven, showing just how pious she is. Margaery has a chat with the High Sparrow, further convincing him that she is a changed woman. The High Sparrow (HS) asks why Margaery hasn’t joined Tommen in the marriage bed since her imprisonment, which is a bit of a personal question. The HS says Tommen must have an heir, and that Margaery must do her holy duty in this regard. The HS makes vague threats towards Lady Olenna Tyrell, the Queen of Thorns, Margaery’s grandmother. Since Olenna is apparently an unrepentant sinner as well, the HS implores Margaery to talk some sense into her.
Margaery goes to meet with Olenna, who is having trouble with creepy Septa Unella listening in, demonstrating her classic sharp-tongued wit. Margaery explains the current state of affairs, where her brother Loras must repent in order to be released from prison. Margaery implores Olenna to go back to their homeland, Highgarden, secretly passing her a note, evading the keen eye of Septa Unella. Boom – there we have the proof – Margaery is playing a game too. In this scene, we see some of Natalie Dormer’s best acting as she portrays a woman who is experiencing extreme conflict between loyalty to her family, a need to protect herself and her family, and wanting to continue to secure her family’s ties to the throne. Knowing that Margaery is playing a game, Olenna agrees to leave for Highgarden, to safety.
Olenna reads the note that Margaery passed her, which is revealed to be a drawing of a rose – the sigil of Tyrell, a symbol that Margaery is still faithful to House Tyrell. This is confirmation that Margaery, underneath her newly religious and purified exterior, continues to be loyal to her family, and her family’s values.
In the North, Jon Snow goes to meet with the wildlings who, long story short, pledge their army to Jon’s cause. They agree to fight in the Stark name to take Winterfell back from the Boltons, even though the wildlings are mainly interested in the war between the living and the dead. I love Wun Wun the giant, whose single utterance of “Snow” shows us exactly where his loyalties lie.
In King’s Landing, Cersei meets with Olenna, who is in the process of leaving for Highgarden. Olenna basically tells Cersei that she is the worst human being ever, and that Cersei is responsible for the majority of both of their suffering at this point in time; to which Cersei agrees. Good. Cersei wants House Tyrell to fight against the Faith Militant with House Lannister, but Olenna has had enough. Olenna suggests that Cersei leave as well, because Cersei has no support in the city and everyone hates her; she is surrounded by enemies. Olenna says Cersei has well and truly lost. Cersei looks hopeless, but determined.
I love Lena Headey as Cersei. At this point, Olenna is right. Cersei is a hated woman whose power is diminished. Lena Headey’s portrayal of this complex woman has been flawless since day one, but during the past three seasons in particular she has been stellar. It’s surprising that she hasn’t won an Emmy yet. She deserves an award.
In the Riverlands, the Lannister army approach the Tully castle at Riverrun, where Brynden “Blackfish” Tully is holding fast against a siege by the Freys. Jaime approaches, as does his fun friend Bronn! Welcome back Bronn. They both comment on the sad state of affairs of the Frey army, who seem to be making extremely amateur choices. The Freys show the Blackfish that they have Edmure Tully, and threaten to kill him. But the Blackfish doesn’t stand for it, saying that the Freys may as well cut Edmure’s throat. The Freys, being cowardly idiots, don’t do it – first mistake, not making a threat they’re prepared to carry out, showing their weakness.
Jaime approaches and tells the Freys just how amateur they are. Now the siege is under Lannister command. Jaime instructs Bronn to keep the Frey army in check, and also initiate a parley between himself and the Blackfish.
In one of the best scenes of the episode, Jon Snow, Sansa Stark, and Davos Seaworth go to meet with Lyanna Mormont – the 10 year old Lady of House Mormont. This girl is a tough cookie who knows what she wants. She effectively schools Jon and Sansa on their naivety in asking for her allegiance, given that Jon is technically a Snow, not a Stark, and Sansa is either a Bolton or a Lannister given her two marriages. Lady Lyanna wants to know why these two so-called Starks deserve her army. Neither Jon nor Sansa are able to convince her, but Davos pipes up, and in his own grandfatherly way, convinces the Lady to lend her hand to the burgeoning Stark army. Jon and Davos tell Lady Lyanna that the undead army are coming, and a divided North cannot stand against the Night King’s army. Unfortunately, after all this negotiation, House Mormont only has 62 men. However, Lady Lyanna says that these 62 men will fight as hard as 10 men each. Fingers crossed.
This moment was the best. Seeing three established characters getting schooled by a ten year old was kind of hilarious, but also a very interesting insight into the way that the different Houses of Game of Thrones work. House Mormont is one of my favourite Houses because they value women as leaders, and their women are fierce enough to fight in battle. These are the social nuances that you miss out on in the show, but are explained in excruciating detail in the books.
Jaime goes to meet with the Blackfish at Riverrun. Like Lady Lyanna Mormont, the Blackfish is one tough cookie. Jaime tries his best to get the Blackfish to surrender the castle to the Freys, but the Blackfish says that they’re prepared for a two year siege. The Blackfish says he was born in his castle, and he is prepared to die in it. The Blackfish is a badass. Jaime retreats for now, but it looks like he’s not finished at Riverrun yet.
Jon, Sansa and Davos then go to House Glover to encourage more Northern men to join their army. Lord Robett Glover refuses to provide men for their army, given that House Glover is now allied with House Bolton. Lord Glover wants to know who’s in the Stark army though, and Jon answers honestly that a whole bunch of the army are wildlings. Unfortunately, Lord Glover will not fight alongside wildlings. Even though Sansa reminds Lord Glover that House Glover is pledged to House Stark, Lord Glover still says no. Lord Glover gives a fine rationale in that following House Stark hasn’t gotten his House anywhere. Following Robb Stark never helped him when the Ironborn attacked his castle, and in fact, Robb Stark made some silly decisions which got him killed. Lord Glover says House Stark is dead. Sansa’s face basically says, “We’ll see about that”.
In Volantis, the Ironborn ships are docked whilst the Ironborn men and women visit a brothel. Poor Theon is being physically and mentally tortured, given that he was castrated quite some time ago. Theon won’t even drink, but Yara gives him a fine talking-to, encouraging him to drink, encouraging him to remember his identity as a true Ironborn. Yara wants Theon to come back, better than ever, ready to visit Meereen and make a pact with Daenerys Targaryen, in order to take back the Iron Islands. Theon seems to regain some strength and assures Yara that he is with her. I love the Ironborn. I can’t wait to see more of this storyline, and I can’t wait to see if they make it to Meereen without getting interrupted by crazy uncle Euron.
Jon, Sansa, and Davos now arrive at their army camp, where Stannis Baratheon camped back in the day. They decide not to stay long, before the snows set in and ruin their plans. They count their army – it’s smaller than they hoped, but Davos knows that if they have a plan and are smart about it, they have a chance against the Boltons to retake Winterfell. Sansa suggests to Jon that they don’t have enough men and need to go to Castle Cerwyn to seek more for their army. Jon disagrees; they don’t have any time. Sansa decides to write a letter to recruit more numbers for the Stark army. But who does she write the letter to? We just don’t know. Given the look on her face, it may be a controversial choice. I just hope she’s not involving Littlefinger again.
Back in the Vale, Ray (the incomparable Ian McShane) is telling a story of his past to a captivated audience, with the Hound listening in. The moral of Ray’s story is that it’s never too late to come back from a bad set of circumstances, and you have to answer your own prayers yourself. A trio of men emerges who seek horses, gold, food, and steel from Ray and his people. Ray tells them that he has nothing to give, not even some supper. Ray is told to stay safe, that “the night is dark and full of terrors”.
Later, Ray approaches the Hound, who informs him that the trio of men are from the Brotherhood Without Banners who follow the Red God, the Lord of Light. The Hound doesn’t quite know what to do about the men, and Ray is sick of fighting. Ray heads back to his people, but the Hound stays to chop some wood.
In Braavos, Arya is wandering through the streets. She successfully pays some Westerosi traders for a room on their ship back to Westeros. She bargains her way up to sleeping in a nice cabin, and they agree to leave for Westeros at dawn. Unfortunately, in a vulnerable moment, what looks like a nice old woman approaches Arya and stabs her in the stomach. The old woman is revealed to be the Waif, and Arya jumps into the canal, blood bubbling to the surface.
Arya emerges from the water, blood seeping from her stomach wounds. She walks through the streets of Braavos, blood dripping onto the cobble stones. The people of Braavos don’t seem to care. She walks through the crowd, and her fate is not known.
Back with the Hound, he’s still chopping up branches for firewood. He seems to hear a faint screaming in the distance and goes to find Ray and his people all slaughtered, Ray hanging from the structure they were building. The Hound’s peaceful lifestyle has been upended, and if anything, it’s been proven to him that fighting and violence is his chosen path to protect himself. The Hound leaves, and it’s likely that he’ll seek vengeance. He may know exactly where to find it.
Can I just say, it’s awesome that the Brotherhood Without Banners are back, because that signals something truly awesome to me that I won’t say just in case I am proven wrong and find myself completely heartbroken again by the end of the season. Given that the trio from the Brotherhood appear to value hanging as their killing method of choice for important people, it may be that we get to see a particular certain someone who shall not be named, who should have been in the show since approximately season three. Remember how in approximately season three, Beric Dondarrion in the Brotherhood Without Banners was able to bring people back from the dead? I wonder! However, it’s totally not the Brotherhood’s style to go and slaughter a whole bunch of people for no good reason. In both the show and in the books, they seemed to have a code of conduct which included only really killing people who were their enemies. Which does not compute in this episode. So in a way, I’m glad that they were featured this episode, but in another manner, I’m not happy that yet another group of complex characters are being portrayed as straight-up villains to make things simpler for viewers.
Overall, I really enjoyed this episode. We didn’t see any of the laggy storylines, although we might get to see them next week, and we got some more positive movement in Arya’s storyline as well. Performances by Lena Headey, Sophie Turner and Alfie Allen continue to be absolute highlights of the season. Jon and Sansa’s storyline seems to be the most focused one, but other than that, there’s a lot to enjoy so far.
In the next episode, entitled “No One”, judging by the trailer it’s looking like we’ll get to see the FrankenMountain versus the Faith Militant, Brienne and Pod at Riverrun meeting Jaime and the Blackfish, Jaime admitting his undying love for Cersei, the Waif in Braavos, the Hound swinging a sword at someone, Pod potentially getting captured (no!), Tyrion in Meereen, Arya jumping away from something, and the FrankenMountain potentially face-squishing a Sparrow. Looks like there will be a whole bunch of action – and rightfully so, since we’re getting to the pointy end of the season.
What did you guys think about this episode? Are you super excited about the Hound returning to get some revenge done? Let us know!