The title of last night’s Game of Thrones, “The Broken Man,” seemed like a clear cut reference to the returning character in the opening scene. The Hound was back Sunday Night, working for a priest of the seven named Ray. When Ray found him, The Hound was as broken as a man could be (well maybe except Theon) without succumbing to death. But as the episode progressed, it was clear Sandor Clegane was not the only thing “broken” in episode 7.
Jon and Sansa found that the North is far more splintered than they originally thought. Cersei is faced with the harsh reality of how her decisions in season five have left her broken down and with few allies. Arya dealt with the immediate consequences of her decision last week in the form of a vengeful Waif. And the Hound saw another poor decision (the unwillingness of Ray to take arms to defend his people against the Brotherhood) lead to disastrous consequences.
“Broken Man” was like a psychological evaluation of Westeros, with characters taking inventory of just how poor the mental state of Westeros currently is. And with the threat of the Whitewalkers looming, that is an unfortunate state to be in.
I’m going to start my recap in King’s Landing, where Margaery is suddenly the High Sparrow’s prized pupil.
Margaery has been impressing the High Sparrow of late with her willingness to memorize the books of the seven. She quotes a verse from the book of the mother, which leads to some more psycho babble from his holiness before he gets down to business.
The High Sparrow wants Margaery to get back in bed with Tommen. An heir is essential to the strength of their alliance. But Margaery says her desires have changed since turning over a new leaf. I’ll discuss later some theories for why Margaery might actually be withholding from the King.
The Sparrow also wants Olenna Tyrell to “atone” for her sins. Ha!!! Good one High Sparrow. Look at you telling jokes. Of course the man was serious. And I say, “Good luck with that.”
Margaery then meets with her grandmother to discuss said aton…(sorry but I just can’t say that with a straight face), but Septa Unella oversees the proceedings. So while the High Sparrow is thrilled with his new “convert,” the presence of the tall Septa indicates he doesn’t trust her completely. Margaery informs her grandmother that Loras must confess his sins to be released. Of course, he will lose all titles and holdings he held previously after confessing, but what good are titles at this point in the game anyway? I mean, seriously, will that even matter when the Ice Zombies and dragons get to Westeros?
Olenna is appalled at what her granddaughter, the one she’s been training so carefully for so long, is saying to her. But Margaery keeps pleading with grandma to leave while slipping a note to her before she goes. The note is a picture of a rose, and Lady Olenna smiles. That note seems to be in line with my suspicions from last week: that Margaery isn’t truly reformed in the light of the seven, but is instead playing the High Sparrow for a fool. We’ll see if she can be the first to succeed in that mission.
Before she prepares to leave (we’ll see if she actually does) King’s Landing, Olenna is approached by Cersei. And the Queen of Thrones doesn’t mince words with the former queen. Of course, when has the elder Tyrell ever minced words with anyone?
Now, nothing that Lady Olenna says is anything we didn’t already knew. We all thought Cersei would regret destroying the Lannister/Tyrell alliance and arming the men loyal to the High Sparrow. But it just seems to have more affect when The Queen of Thorns utters the words. And Cersei looks as if she sincerely regrets her actions. That is a first for the former queen, but I guess walking naked through the streets while peasants beat you can have that affect on a person. The Queen of Thorns also correctly points out that Cersei truly is alone (well other than that large Frankenstein that walks around behind her). So how exactly does Cersei, whose been pleading revenge all season, plan on exacting that payback with hardly anyone to assist her?
One of those allies Cersei is currently without is Jamie, who was sent to take care of the conflict in the Riverlands by Tommen last week. And Bronn is back!!! The knight is complaining about his lack of pay to Jamie. To which Jamie replies, “Dude, this is the first time you’ve appeared all season. What exactly should we be paying you for?”
Recall last week that Walder Frey informed us that Riverrun was back in Tully hands thanks to Brendan “Blackfish” Tully. The Freys are there with Edmure Tully when Jamie arrives, going about threatening to kill Edmure if the Blackfish doesn’t return Riverrun to them. Now, you have to forgive the Freys (these two are named Lother and Black Walder by the way) for lacking competence in their skills as negotiators. All they learned at the Twins was how to sit in a perfectly placed castle and collect tolls while giving birth to lots of offspring. That’s how the Freys stay in power!!!
Jamie takes control of the operation from the Freys, but doesn’t have any more success. The Blackfish (which should also be a synonym for “bad ass”) means to keep his siege over Riverrun, knowing that it will mean thousands of deaths to the Lannister forces if they try to attack. He also knows Edmure is likely dead anyway at some point, which is the reason why he didn’t budge at the threat to his nephew’s life. So we’ve got a stalemate in the Riverlands. I’m sure this will end with nobody dying.
So with the Blackfish stubbornly holding the castle at Riverrun, would that make him unwilling to assist Sansa and Jon in the North? If so, then that would be another blow to an already faltering military alliance.
Though she’s come a long way in her understanding of the world, Sansa let some of that old idealism misguide her when she encouraged Jon to take back Winterfell. Sansa assumed that just holding the name Stark would mean Northmen would run arms wide open in embracing the wolf’s head banner.
But what Sansa didn’t understand was that there were two sides to that relationship. The people didn’t just call out to support the name Stark for the hell of it. They expected the Starks to protect them in return for their allegiance. So when Robb took many men to their deaths for what turned out to be a vain cause and left the North susceptible to attacks from the Iron Born, it left a bitterness for the name Stark that Sansa wasn’t prepared for.
The first visit was to House Mormont on Bear Island, a house that, thanks in part to Robb’s war, is led by 10 year old Lyanna Mormont. And Lyanna doesn’t allow fiery words to persuade her. Her mother died fighting for Robb, and she doesn’t mean to rush her fighting men off to another battle. It takes Ser Davos turning the argument towards the Whitewalkers and the need for the North to unify to defeat them to get Lyanna to pledge her 62 men. That’s right, only 62.
But it’s not like Jon and Sansa can be selective with what numbers they are receiving. The Wildlings are on board to fight. But after that, no major house is backing their cause. They haven’t heard from the Umberlys (who have yet to appear in the show) and the Glovers turned them down at Deepwood Motte. The Glover’s were left defenseless from the Iron Born when Robb took Glover men to avenge the death of Ned Stark, and they are still bitter.
So Sansa has no choice but to send a raven for aid. I am assuming she means to ask Lord Littlefinger, the man whose help she so confidently rejected a few weeks ago, for the men of the Vale. Now, we can’t say for certain that’s who she’s sending the raven to. But I think it’s a pretty safe bet. We’ll see if anyone else emerges to aid the struggling Northern cause next week.
Speaking of the Iron Born, it looks like Yara and Theon have docked in Volantis, they city Jorah captured Tyrion in last season. And cruelly enough for Theon, they are in a brothel, where even Yara is able to appreciate the female form.
Theon is sulking, which is mostly what he’s done since season four. But Yara is tired of it. It’s a tough love approach that would not be recommended by any psychiatric association, but it seems to work. She tells Theon that he should just end it now if it doesn’t want to fight anymore. But if he means to fight, she wants to see that fiery brother of hers again.
The plan is to make a pact with the Dragon Queen. Once again, the deal makes just as much since as it did a few episodes ago. But how far behind are Euron and his 1,000 ships they had yet to make? Logic says Daenarys should be back in Westeros by the time they’ve finished building all those ships. But something tells me that timeline will be pushed up just slightly.
When Arya was standing on the bridge and that old nun appeared walking up behind her, did anybody else scream “danger” or hear the Jaws theme going on in the background? It was pretty clear that was the Waif in disguise. Before the attack, Arya had secured passage (with a cabin no less) for a ship departing at dawn the next day.
But the Waif cut her stomach up pretty good. I’m not actually sure how she’s living with the solid scrap and repeated stab wounds she received. But she was able to fight her way out and jump into the water, escaping the Waif. Now, is there anybody who could and would be willing to heal that stomach so Arya has a chance to escape Braavos?
Between the Vale/Riverlands
The last we saw of the Hound, Arya had left him for dead at the end of Season Four. But someone named Ray, a reformed soldier whose now a priest for the seven, found him. He tells the Hound he was ready to bury the large man, who had bugs all around him and was starting to stink when he suddenly breathed. According to the Hound, it was hate that kept him alive. Now he’s here, working with this peaceful commune out in the middle of nowhere as they build a church.
As Ray is telling a story of a child he killed so the boy wouldn’t become a soldier one day, three men ride up on horseback. They ask if Ray and his crew have any horses or food, things his men need to “protect the people.” The Hound recognizes them as the Brotherhood Without Banners (remember them?) and tells Ray after they’ve left that he needs to protect his own people.
Of course, Ray doesn’t listen. And one afternoon while the Hound is off chopping wood, he notices silence. He walks back towards the camp and sees the entire commune has been slaughtered. I guess the near death experience must have left the Hound hard of hearing because I can’t see any other way that he completely missed all these people getting slaughtered. Ray spoke a lot about purpose to the Hound and now, after having looked at the former soldier’s dead body hanging from the unfinished church, the Hound grabs his ax and heads off seeking that purpose.
A quick breakdown of the Northern Houses featured last night:
-House Mormont- Jorah Mormont and the “Old Bear” Jeor Mormont (the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch Seasons 1-3) both come from this house on Bear Island (in case you didn’t recognize the name) But Jeor gave up any right to holdings by joining the Night’s Watch and Jorah has been banished from Westeros since the show started. So, Maege Mormont was leading the house until she was killed fighting in the War of Five Kings, leaving her daugher, young Lyanna Mormont, as the current head of House Mormont. Stannis mentioned the “young girl of 10” leading House Mormont last season when he received a note from them.
-House Glover-Only mentioned in the show to this point, House Glover had their home, Deepwood Motte, overtaken by Yara Greyjoy. But with the help of House Bolton (and I assume because Yara just kind of left her men there), the Glovers were able to take their home back.
-House Manderly-They keep getting mentioned, but never appear. They are the wealthiest house in the North and make their home at White Harbor, a major northern port. They still have yet to align themselves with either side in the North.
-So Jon and crew have made their camp in the same place Stannis did? Something tells me some evidence of Shireen’s death is laying around their somewhere for Ser Davos to find.
–Character Callback: The Brotherhood Without Banners– In Season Three, Arya was captured by and then traveled with this crew of outlaws led by Beric Dondarrion (the man who kept coming back to life) and the red priest, Thoros of Myr. They had been sent out by Ned Stark back in Season One to hunt down the Mountain when Robert was king. But while out on their mission, Joffrey became king and they became outlaws. So they started traveling around the Riverlands, defending and aiding innocent civilians who had been made victims by the War of Five Kings.
-Though we don’t know for certain, it’s strongly implied that the Brotherhood is behind the slaughter of Ray and his people. If that turns out to be true, then this is a much different group than the crew we saw in Season Three.
-Ray appears to be similar to a book character named Elder Brother. He’s the one in the text that finds the Hound and claims to bury him, except that there’s this large guy walking around with a limp who uses the Hound’s horse. The man was named Gravedigger and many book readers think this is the Hound. Also, Elder Brother has healing powers, explaining the possible reappearance of the Hound in the text.
-So is Margaery holding out on Tommen because she’s still upset with how ineffective he was preventing her and her brother’s catpure? Was she using him all along and now, with Cersei powerless, she no longer needs to sleep with him to place that wedge between the boy and his mother? Or is this part of another plan we aren’t privy to yet?
-“Does it ever move or talk?” Another great line, one of many by Olenna Tyrell. I also have to give props to the Blackfish and Lyanna Mormont for their firm stances for their people when everybody else is, well, so broken.
-Who will the hound track down in order to gain vengeance for the deaths of Ray and his people?
-And if the Brotherhood butchered them, what has happened to make the Brotherhood a more militant faction than they were before?
-Will Sansa get help from Littlefinger or the Blackfish?
-Who will come out on top of the stalemate at Riverrun?
-What exactly is Margaery up to?
-Will Theon and Yara get to Meereen before Euron does?
-How is Arya going to heal the wound she received from the Waif?
-How does Cersei mean to exact revenge with few allies to assist her?
-And are they ever going to introduce House Manderly?
With three more episodes left this season, I really expect things to pick up next week. At least they better. Did I mention there are just three episodes left this season?!?