Game of Thrones blah blah blah sex, magic, violence, let’s just get into it!

Season 6, Episode 7: The Broken Man
Written by Brian Cogman
Directed by Mark Mylod

Recap:

We open on the barn building scene from Witness, or, more accurately, the building of a church. Ian McShane, with a seven pointed star around his neck, directs his followers, including one follower who can lift a log by himself and has a scarred face and is Sandor Clegane aka the Hound, back from the dead!

He chops wood and McShane’s character, Brother Ray, asks him how he “died.” Later, Ray, approaches him again and lets the Hound know he scares people. Ray reminds the Hound/informs us of how the Hound was found barely alive and saved. He tells The Hound that the Gods aren’t done with him yet.

In King’s Landing Margaery is visited by the High Sparrow and they quote scripture to each other. She continues her act(?) of being repentant and the Sparrow maintains his act(?) of being the wise counsel by explaining to Margaery her duty to share the marriage bed with her husband, something she has been avoiding. She explains that her previous “desires” have vanished and The Sparrow tells her she must simply lie back and think of Westeros, if they (a word with many meanings here) are to have an heir. As he leaves he mentions that another sinner who needs repenting is Margaery’s grandmother, The Queen of Thorns.

Margaery visits Olenna (The Queen of Thorns), accompanied by one of the Fun Time Nuns. Olenna threatens the nun and Margaery tries to convince her of the Faith’s mercy by telling her that Loras will be freed and free to renounce his titles and become a penitent. Olenna tells her to leave but Margaery tells her to leave, and gives her a note.

The note is simply an image of a rose, the sigil of the House Tyrell and a sign that Margaery Tyrell is still in the game.

In the North, Jon Snow goes to a camp of wildlings who rebuff his advances to fight with him against the Boltons as it’s not their fight. Snow reminds them that if he is defeated then the Boltons and Karstarks and others won’t care that the Wildlings kept out of it. They’ll wipe them out anyway.  Giantsbane tells them that if Snow would die for them, as he did, then they must be able to offer the same in return. And they do, the leader of the Wildlings shaking Snow’s hand to form the alliance.

Cersei and her undead giant bodyguard (I love this show) visit Olenna, who is preparing to leave and who blames everything that has gone wrong concerning the High Sparrow on Cersei. Cersei tries to appeal to Olenna’s emotions by saying they need each other if they are to win but Olenna’s main driving emotions are simply rage and sarcasm, and that’s how she replies, by coldly listing Cersei’s enemies and letting the Queen Mother know that she has lost.

At Riverrun, Jamie and Bronn (Yay, Bronn’s back!) arrive with the Lannister’s army. Jamie offers Bronn the leadership of the army for a title, a castle, and a pretty wife.

The Freys have Edmure noosed up on the gallows platform. They call for the Blackfish’s surrender and the Blackfish doesn’t reply. So they take the noose from Edmure’s neck and replace it with a knife and the same call for surrender. The Blackfish replies, “Go on then, cut his throat,” and the Frey does nothing.

Jamie greets the Freys by explaining that their military tactics are so pisspoor that eight thousand men just marched over to them unchallenged. He has them bathe and feed Edmure and assumes command of the whole operation. The Freys are set to work and Jamie asks Bronn to set up a parlay with the Blackfish.

Jon visits a Northern Lord, a very young Mormont lady, and are schooled by a child who wants to talk business instead of bullshit. The Mormonts had previously pledged fealty to “the King in the North whose name is Stark” and Jon Snow appeals to that loyalty in helping the Starks that remain to take back Winterfell. Lyanna Mormont is not convinced the two people, Jon and Sansa, are Starks concerning their bastardry and previous marriages. Davos steps up and shows his skill for working class diplomacy by avoiding bullshit and just explaining what’s important. And what’s important is that the North doesn’t need to unite because Ramsey Bolton is a shit. They need to unite because sooner or later they’re going to need to fight an army of the dead. And, once again, I must add that I love this show.

Lyanna announces that she’s happy to pledge her men to them. All sixty-two of them. But if she’s anything to go by, sixty-two Mormont soldiers might be enough to win the war by themselves.

Back at Riverrun, Jamie meets with the Blackfish. Jamie orders him to surrender and the Blackfish isn’t keen to hear terms. He gives Jamie two options: Attack or starve them out. And they have food and water for two years.

Jon and the others meet with Lord Glover who gives them a firm no. And a firmer no when he hears about the Wilding element of Snow’s army. Sansa reminds Glover that House Glover is sworn to House Stark, and Glover reminds Sansa that fighting in Robb Stark’s army left his castle and family undefended from the Ironborn who took them and did what they would with them.

Speaking of Ironborn, Theon and Yara are somewhere where there is drink flowing and topless women everywhere (Volantis?) Yara has had enough of Theon being Reek-y all the time and gets him to have a good drink and relax. She exhibits some Ironborn psychology by telling him to cheer up or slit his wrists, because she needs him when they sail to Meereen and make a pact with Daenarys.

In their camp, Snow, Sansa, and Davos, plan their attack with their less than ideal army. Less than ideal for numbers and less than ideal as in-fighting has already broken out between Wildlings and non-Wildlings.

Sansa sees the ravens in their cages and writes a letter.

Brother Ray gives a sermon to his followers while the Hound looks on. Brother Ray talks about shame at his past actions as a man of violence, and his words seem to sink in with the Hound. Three riders approach and Brother Ray greets them. The riders are sketchy dudes who at first seem about to start some shit, but then they ride away, the leader saying the Red Priestess’s words, “The night is dark and full of terrors.”

The Hound admonishes Brother Ray for his naivety when talking to the three riders, members of the Brotherhood without Banners. The Hound warns Ray that he has things – food, steel, women – that the riders would want and would return for.

In Braavos, Arya buys her passage onto a ship back to Westeros (and the main plotline). An old woman approaches her on a bridge and – Oh Shit! – she slashes Arya and stabs her in the stomach. Waif pulls off the old woman face and Arya head-butts her and throws herself from the bridge. Waif sees the blossoming blood in the water and walks away.

Further down the canal Arya bursts from the water and crawls onto dry land. She stumbles through the streets, leaking blood, and not being helped.

The Hound cuts firewood and hears the sounds of horses. He runs back to the camp and finds Brother Ray and his followers massacred. Poor Brother Ray hangs from a beam in the church they’ll never finish building. The Hound walks away, picks up a very large axe, and his brief reprieve from a life spent killing might be over before it can begin.

Review:

This show knows how to stick a landing. Tonight’s episode had three stellar endings one after another, and any of them would have served as a fantastic finale. Other shows would cut off their own heads for endings like Arya’s ambush, or her helpless walks, or the Hound taking a weapon and heading off into a bloody future.

Tonight’s episode cemented for me that, for the first time since the early seasons, the plot in King’s Landing is the best thing going. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Wall stuff, but the intrigue and double-cross and subterfuge and politics of the great Houses trying to outthink the Faith is compelling stuff. King’s Landing hasn’t been this much fun to watch in quite a few years and its lovely to watch it all come together as we see that Cersei is now completely alone and Margaery was faking her conversion the whole time. The two Queens are now technically on the same side against the Faith but for how long and once the Sparrow is dead will they simply fall back into the old patterns or is the Sparrow taking one of them with him?

The Wall stuff and the preparation for war was fun to watch as we saw Snow, Sansa, and Davos go from camp to camp, House to House, trying to boost up their army. Little Lyanna Mormont is a great addition to the cast and I hope we see more of her. I’m also a big fan of the giant, Wun Wun (full name Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun) and every time he’s onscreen is a good day for me.

The little taste we got of Yara and Theon was quick but achieved a lot. It would be fine if the show decided that that was all Theon needed to shake off Reek, and its good they’ve clarified that they’re heading to Meereen with a fleet of ships, exactly what Daenarys now needs.

The former best candidates for a spin off, Arya and the Hound (in the spin off they would have solved mysteries) got some great stuff tonight. The Hound’s return happening the same night as the return of another fan favourite psychopath, Bronn, was a gift and it was interesting that the show didn’t bother dragging out the Hound and Brother Ray stuff. Instead they pretty much hit their beats with some great scenes together and then Ray was dead and Hound had an ax.

Arya’s plot finally culminating in her preparing to leave Braavos was great. Her then getting stabbed repeatedly was less so. I’m sure we all believed that George RR Martin has got us again when that knife went in but it looks like Arya might yet live to fight another day, provided someone bloody helps her.

Overall, a great little episode. There was place setting aplenty for the coming Battle of Winterfell and also the siege of Riverrun and also the trial by combat between The Undead Mountain and whoever the Faith’s champion is. Oh, it’s the Hound isn’t it? I just worked that out!

Body Count: Too many to count, but crucially Brother Ray. And crucially not Arya Stark.

Nudity Count: Also too many to count.

Men – None

Women – Multiple at wherever Yara and Theon were. I lost count of the topless women.

Best line: “Violence is a disease. You don’t cure it by spreading it to more people.” – Brother Ray

Predictions for next week: Arya finds a doctor, the Hounds kills at least three dudes with an ax, some more Bran stuff, and maybe, just maybe Tyrion will get to do something other than drink and justify his actions.