The Broken Man returns, but it could apply to several downtrodden characters
Game of Thrones packed a surprising return, a stunning death and a shocking potential death into a stirring episode with war and broken men in the air.
Tonight’s big return was a character long presumed dead — Sandor Clegane aka The Hound. When last we saw him, Arya left him to die, but a septan, Ray (Ian McShane), nursed him back to health. Seeking some measure of atonement, The Hound listens to the preaching. It’s hard not to get swept away with McShane’s charisma instantly setting Ray up as a character worthy of investment.
Naturally, he gets killed because we can’t have good things on Game of Thrones. It’s a fact of GOT life. A clan of threatening mercenaries sized Ray’s group up and murdered everyone for their supplies and food. The Hound was off chopping wood and was spared the massacre. But a Hound with a purpose won’t be good for anyone on his hit list.
As the season is winding down, it’s possible the penultimate episode will feature not one, but two major battles. Jon and Sansa leading the charge to retake Winterfell and Jaime spearheading the efforts to regain control of Riverrun. While Jaime is relatively easy to root for, this mission has him aiding Walder Frey, one of the show’s original evil bastards that needs to meet a horrific end. And anyone that makes Frey’s life miserable is OK in my book so I’m fully #TeamBlackfish on this one.
At least Jaime is in good company as he’s brought Bronn along for the ride. Bronn has been sorely missed this season, but he immediately gets back into form with his unfiltered commentary and advice. As enjoyable as the Tyrion/Bronn pairing was, Jaime and Bronn is even more entertaining due to their warrior background.
In the North, Jon and Sansa try to recruit forces to join their army against the Boltons. Despite watching Jon and Sansa mature into adults the past few seasons, their recruitment drive serves as a reminder they’re still inexperienced in the politics of launching a war campaign. Tormund aids Jon in committing the Wildlings to the cause. Davos helps save a spiraling pitch to Lyanna Mormont, the pre-teen daughter of Jon’s old Night’s Watch commander.
Davos is unable to the next go round and this army is looking pretty short. In a similar position, their brother, Robb, was able to unite armies and Stark banner men to his cause since he was groomed for diplomacy and had Catelyn advising him. Realizing Jon is about to make a common prideful Stark mistake, Sansa dispatches a raven presumably to Littlefinger to call on The Knights of the Vale’s assistance. That’s a smart move as it’s hard to imagine Jon being too upset if they prove the key in overthrowing Ramsey’s forces.
Shedding some light as to why the Iron Islands have been such a non-factor in the Great Wars, we check in on Yara, Theon and their men at a whore house. They’re partying and preparing for an epic night before they resume their flight from their uncle. Pausing from indulging in her regular lady, Yara gives Theon a much needed pep talk and says she needs him. Theon may not be under Ramsey’s sway anymore, but he’s definitely exhibiting classic PTSD symptoms and is still broken. Considering where he was a few seasons ago, the writers have managed to make Theon a compelling character again.
In Braavos, Arya is ready to skip town. Last week’s events seemed to suggest Arya knew she was potentially at risk for not completing her assassination as she grabbed Needle from its hiding spot. And it seemed very silly for Arya not to be more on guard of friendly strangers when she’s isolated. On a bridge, a kindly woman greets her and begins stabbing her. As The Waif prepares for the killing strike, Arya launches herself into the river. Bleeding out and now paranoid about anyone, Arya stumbles aimlessly.
Once again the least interesting subplot was the continued developments at Kings Landing. The High Sparrow had to remind Margaery providing Tommen an heir is part of her responsibilities. Tommen bringing that up to the High Sparrow clearly had to have been the one awkward conversation even the showrunners decided to spare us.
Whatever long game Margaery is playing against the High Sparrow isn’t nearly as interesting as everything else going on right now. Once the center of the series, Kings Landing has largely been the dull point of this season. Margaery secretly reaffirmed her loyalty to House Tyrell, but slyly maneuvered The Queen of Thrones out so she would be spared The High Sparrow’s wrath. The only enjoyable moment came when the Queen of Thorns gave Cersei another verbal smackdown for causing all this mess with the High Sparrow in the first place.
With big moves coming from all sides, tonight wasn’t about paying off anything just yet. The Broken Man was more focused in turning up the heat oh so slightly to get everyone fast approaching the boiling point for the season’s end game.
Rating: 9 out of 10