This blog is published after the ‘Game of Thrones’ simulcast. Do not read ahead unless you have seen season six, episode seven, ‘The Broken Man’, or want to find out what happens. It contains lots of spoilers etc.
We’re all talking about
We’ve been welcoming back a number of characters each week during this series, and this week, it was Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane making his series six debut. As he said himself, he’s a big fucker and tough to kill. We may have believed his fight with Brienne led to his death, but not so. Stannis aside, if you don’t see someone die on screen in Game of Thrones, don’t assume they’re dead.
As hinted by some rather loose-lipped interviews by Ian McShane, Joffrey’s Dog was alive and almost well, save for a pretty bad limp, and living away from trouble and strife. McShane’s preacher had some rather wise words for him and the rest of the flock, about how he tried to repent for his terrible past, and at one point, as he explained to The Hound that violence is a disease, one that can’t be cured by spreading it to other people, it looked as if those words were finally sinking in. Still with the words “It’s not too late to come back” ringing around his ears, the Brotherhood Without Banners – or should that be Bastards Without Morals? – made a reappearance, threatened the preacher, did a recce of the site and then returned when Clegane was off chopping logs and murdered everyone. And all for a pan of stew.
The sight of an upset Hound grabbing that axe at the end of the episode was itself a double-edged sword. On one hand, we’re going to see one of the show’s greatest characters get some revenge, and possibly get back into shape for Cleganebowl to take place. On the other, it’s hard not to pity his tragic existence. There’s a huge sadness with Sandor; hideously burned, unlovable and destined to be used as a blunt instrument because of his size and particular skillset. He has no happy memories, as he said to Arya the last time they saw each other, but he looked like he was getting there, in that permaculture-like environment. But death follows him, and like Michael Corleone, just when he thought he was out, he’s picking up a weapon again…
What else happened?
We saw Margaery, reciting from the sacred texts, and talking with the High Sparrow, who can now add ‘creepy old pervert’ to his list of attributes. He ordered her to start having sex with Tommen again – isn’t the King about 13? – as it was her duty. Bad move. She, like Cersei, knows sex is a weapon, and she’ll have Tommen’s ear again in no time. The Sparrow also threatened Olenna, Margaery’s grandmother, which was another stupid thing to do, but could also have been a test. He, like me, doesn’t seem entirely sure the Queen has converted, making a point about those who can recite the scripts being phonies compared to illiterates who have God in their hearts.
Our suspicions were proven correct when Margaery slid a sketch of a rose into her gran’s pocket. The rose, of course, is House Tyrell’s sigil, and a clear indicator to Olenna that her granddaughter is playing a blinder.
Olenna’s showdown with Cersei was full of truths. Cersei admitted she had been foolish, and in a rare moment of weakness seemed properly chastened by the old lady’s words. “You’ve lost Cersei, it’s the only joy I can find in all this misery,” Olenna told her, forcing down yet another home truth.
Cersei’s brother, meanwhile, had a better day. He, Bronn – yes, Bronn’s back too – and 8,000 men marched on Riverrun to take over from the Freys, and take the castle back from Brynden Tully. Pleasing to see Jaime and Bronn’s bromance is back on track, some of the best one-liners of the series flying around. “He’s old,” said Jaime of the Blackfish. “And you’ve got one,” replied Bronn. “My money’s on the old boy.” It’s one of those situations in Game of Thrones when I don’t want anyone on either side to die.
Bronn and Jaime will need the jokes to keep coming. That siege could be a long one, with Blackfish boasting of two years’ worth of supplies.
Jon, Sansa and Davos continued their tour of the northern houses to recruit an army, after finally getting the Wildlings to agree to fight for them. Lady Lyanna Mormont may have been 10, but she was a fierce negotiator, only bending her knee when Davos spoke up. Shame she could only offer 62 fighting men, but if they’re as fierce as she says they are, or indeed as fierce as she is, they’ll be a handy lot to have around.
The team were less successful at Lord Glover’s keep. He won’t fight alongside Wildlings, but something tells me that isn’t the last we’ve seen of Lord Glover. Why else have Tim McInnery play him? And who was Sansa was writing to? Littlefinger, perhaps, in order to bring the Knights of the Vale into the equation? Or Brienne, to pass on a message to Uncle Brynden to surrender? After all, if the siege goes ahead, the Tully army will have no men to offer in the Bolton fight. Or is there something else that she’s keeping from Jon, and us?
Yara, when she took a quick break from enjoying herself, talked Theon round to digging a little deeper to return to his old self. “I know you’ve had some bad years,” she said, unwittingly delivering Game of Thrones’ biggest-ever understatement. I’m not convinced by such ‘pull yourself together’ antics, but the Iron Born are simple folk. That, or they don’t believe in CBT and a prescription of citalopram.
Finally, Arya. Her escape from Braavos was all going a bit too well, so it was inevitable something was going to go wrong. My first hunch was that the boat captain was going to Jaqen, but no, it was the Waif masquerading as an old lady she should’ve been looking out for. Arya took a good few stabs to the stomach – some assassin The Waif is – but managed to drag herself out of the water and into a crowded market. What now? If she dies in this series I don’t think I could carry on with the show. Presumably she’ll be found by the acting troupe she’s been flirting with, rescued by ‘Cersei’ and begin her journey back to Westeros?
No Bran this week, nor Daenerys, and how much longer do we have to wait to see The Mountain spring into action? Now his brother is back in the picture and likely heading for civilisation, hopefully not too much longer.
What does it all mean
It feels very much like teeing up storylines rather than drastically moving them on, this week. That’s no necessarily a bad thing, but it does make for the series having something of an uneven pace. The way certain storylines have been swiftly dealt with – Dorne, remember Dorne? And the Iron Isles – and the way others are running and running without much progression – I’m looking at you Daenerys, Cersei and Margaery – makes it feel as if there’s almost too much due to happen with just three hours left of the series.
It wasn’t action-packed, but Jon, Sansa and Davos talking to Lady Mormont. The looks on their faces as she put them through their paces was a picture. You would’ve hoped Sansa, knowing all too well what it’s like to be patronised by older men, would’ve been better at talking to a young girl. Thankfully Davos, a sort of kindly uncle, was there to save the day.
Predictions for next week
The Hound makes it back to Kings Landing, is promised redemption by the High Sparrow – but for a price. Arya sticks Needle in some people, and The Mountain gets swinging. Might we also get that Jaime/Kingslayer flashback from Bran?