TV Review: ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 6 Episode 7: “The Broken Man”
****WARNING! MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW!!!!****
Synopsis: Sansa and Jon rally Northern houses to fight against the Boltons. Queen Margaery consults with the High Sparrow and her grandmother Lady Olenna. Jamie arrives at Riverrun to treat with the Blackfish. Yara confronts Theon as the Iron Islanders prepare to sail for Meereen. Arya makes plans to return to Westeros. A presumed dead character unexpectedly returns.
Yo yo dawg!
Sorry. Just had to get that out-of-the-way. But seriously how awesome is it that Sandor “The Hound” Clegane is back?! Last we saw of him, Arya had left him for dead. Thanks to the ministering, both spiritual and physical, of Septon Ray (Ian McShane), the Hound survived and is now helping to build a Sept with dozens of others. In some ways Sandor seems a different man. He’s a “monster” who can’t fathom why he survived, even though Septon Ray states it’s because the “gods aren’t done with him.” This is similar to what Beric Dondarrion said about the Hound in season four. Clegane comes across as a man almost on the verge of a spiritual conversion, not from just the words of Ray but from his own life experiences. Septon Ray strikes me as the anti-High Sparrow, commenting that he really doesn’t know the gods all that well, and is actually accepting of all faiths, something the High Sparrow would no doubt call heresy.
And the Game between the High Sparrow and Queen Margaery continues. And make no mistake it is the Game they are playing. For awhile I thought Margaery had become a true convert, but it’s patently obvious she’s playing the High Sparrow like a mandolin. Once he not so subtly threatens Lady Olenna, Margaery heads straight for her grandmother and convinces her to leave King’s Landing. Olenna is at first overwhelmed and in disbelief when it comes to the Queen’s zealotry, but is finally convinced it’s a ruse when Margaery places the picture of the rose with thorns in her hands. The real question here though is if the High Sparrow suspects or knows that Queen Margaery is being duplicitous. It even brings into question whether Tommen is in on the ruse.
Lady Olenna has been a fan favorite ever since she was introduced in season three. Her brief but riveting scene with Cersei reminds us why we love her so much. It was gratifying to see Olenna throw all of Cersei’s foolish mistakes right back in Cersei’s face. An obvious thing that didn’t occur to me last week was that the High Sparrow’s move not only removed Jamie off the chess board, it edged out Cersei too. As Olenna points out, Cersei has no army, no friends, no Jamie, and basically everyone hates her. Cersei may talk a big game but she’s in a terrible spot right now.
Jon and Sansa don’t seem to be fairing much better than Cersei. Nothing ever comes easy to the Starks. It’s an uphill battle for Jon to convince the Wildlings to fight, and if not for Tormund and WunWun the giant, it might not have happened at all. The new Lord Glover turns Sansa and Jon down flat, even when Sansa reminds Glover of his pledge to House Stark. One of the most unexpectedly entertaining scenes of “The Broken Man,” was when Sansa and Jon met ten-year old Lady Lyanna Mormont. Bella Ramsey absolutely crushed it in that role. That line where she quipped she wasn’t sure if Sansa was a Stark, Bolton, or Lannister cut like Valyrian steel. While Davos gave a convincing speech it only netted the group sixty-two men. Moreover it seems like Sansa doesn’t trust Davos much. She knows that they don’t have enough men to take back Winterfell. I’m positive the raven she sent was to Littlefinger asking that the Knights of the Vale ride North. What has she promised in return?
I’m glad that we got to see more of the Old School Jamie Lannister in “The Broken Man.” He marched into Riverrun like he owned the place. And slapping that one Frey in the face? Brilliant. It’s clear the Freys have no idea what they are doing. Killing Edmure would take away all their leverage. In any case the Blackfish doesn’t care. If they keep the castle he can take a wife and produce an heir. May seem callous but the Blackfish is nothing if not pragmatic. The “parley” between Brynden Tully and Jamie Lannister lived up to the billing. The Blackfish reminds Jamie of his promise to Catelyn when he asks where his nieces are. Could this mean Jamie helps Sansa in the battle for Winterfell? In any event the Blackfish emasculates Jamie in that parley basically telling him Jamie has shit for honor and that he’s disappointed that the legend didn’t live up to the reality.
Speaking of disappointed, the whole Iron Islands story, particular as it relates to Theon, is becoming very tedious. Where once I pitied Theon now I’m finding him annoying. Let’s hope Yara’s pep talk brings back the real Theon. That was some tough love there from Yara (who is into women don’tchaknow?!) to tell him either buck up or kill yourself. Well they don’t call them Ironborn for nothing. Looks like they will be racing her Uncle Euron to Meereen in order to meet up with Dany. Either way Dany is going to need ships and soon.
Arya on the other hand is going to need medical attention soon. Two things were bound to happen this week. One was that Arya would try to book passage back to Westeros. The second was that the Waif would come for her. A blind man could have seen that the old lady was the Waif, but apparently Arya couldn’t. The Waif stabs Arya but she’s able to get away by throwing herself off a bridge. She’s now stumbling through the streets bleeding out through her stomach. Could we be about to lose another Stark? Perish the thought.
Stephen King wrote in The Dark Tower series that “ka is a wheel,” ka being fate or destiny, and that “it always rolls around back to where it began.” I wrote earlier in this post that Sandor Clegane seemed like a man on the verge of a spiritual conversion. Septon Ray arguably did things just as bad or worse than Sandor in his last life as a soldier. You could see when Ray was giving his sermon, the hope in the Hound’s eyes. All that vanished when he came back to his group of companions only to find them slaughtered and the Septon hanging from the incomplete Sept’s roof. As soon as he picked up that ax, I knew the old Hound was back. And the Seven help whoever he finds to take his vengeance out on.
“The Broken Man” was another fantastic entry into an already phenomenal season. Seriously, Game of Thrones couldn’t be on fire more right now if you threw Wildfire on it. It KILLS me that there are only three episodes left this year. There’s plenty of showdowns and intrigue to come and like always, not everyone will survive. As Jack Palance said in Young Guns, “Get ready for Hell!”
“The Broken Man” rates: 9/10 Severed Ned Heads
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