The stakes begin to ratchet up even further as Game of Thrones edges closer and closer to the endgame. Not a lot of death, in contrast to the first half of the season, but The Hound is back! In tandem with the last few episodes, which have reintroduced Benjen, Bran, and Rickon Stark, Walder Frey, The Blackfish, and Osha (who promptly died) Sandor Clegane is now a moving piece on the chessboard once again.
This can only mean, with Cersei’s trial by combat nearing, that Cleganebowl is happening. Congratulations, internet. The Hound actually plays a big role in this episode, he is the titular Broken Man that the title is referring to. His near death experience at the hands of Brienne of Tarth has forced him to have an epiphany and grow a conscience. The episode in turn follows his inner conflict.
A brief check in at King’s Landing. Cersei is in trouble, she’s been in trouble ever since the Faith Militant became a thorn in her side, and it only gotten worse. The High Sparrow has turned her son and his wife against her, and the Tyrells are now running for the hills. Conflict is inevitable, and I’m sure that *other* Clegane will come into play in due time.
Also a brief checkup in Riverrun, The Blackfish from Season 3 is a player again and he’s holed up in this important (now Lannister owned!) castle. The Freys have failed to coax him out by threatening his nephew Edmure, and now the Kingslayer is taking charge. Jaime meets with the Blackfish, who proves to be a stubborn old sod. I can’t imagine the showrunners are interested in killing Jaime here, so I’m interested to see how this plays out. The Blackfish is certainly vulnerable.
Sansa and Jon get a lot of screen-time this particular episode as they try and rally a few houses to join them against the Boltons. They manage to win over the Mormonts, but they are not so fortunate with other houses. These scenes are bloody fun to watch, because they’re probably the best examples of Sansa’s evolution through the series. We have seen her get tormented and abused through five seasons, and now she is getting to bite back. She is taking initiative, she is problem solving, and she is becoming a ‘slay kween’ in her very own right. It falls in line with many other character arcs that have flowed through the run of GAME OF THRONES. We have seen a lot of women in positions of subordinance taking initiative and in turn proving to be quite resourceful and strong willed. To see my patience begin to pay off after all of this time has been one of the greatest joys of season 6.
Arya finds herself in a predicament. After Blood of My Blood set up a big confrontation between her and the Faceless Men, she finds a ship back to Westeros, only to be assassinated! (Almost, oops).
The episode leaves her struggle in medias res, and with me chewing my nails.
Back to the Hound, he is after all, the star of the episode. His conversations with Ian McShane’s Septa make up the philosophical crux of the episode. Can you repent after a life of wrongdoing? The two reach separate conclusions, the Septa wants to forgo violence altogether, whereas The Hound is merely rearranging his perspective. It is an exciting dynamic, and I for one am glad to have him back.
(P.S. the show has now wasted Ian McShane and Max Von Sydow. Really, guys?)