Hello, fair citizens of the Realm! It’s that time of year again—the most wonderful of them all—Game of Thrones season. And, in addition to winter: spoilers are coming! As this is a recap, it goes over everything in crazy detail, so proceed at your own risk and don’t say we didn’t warn you in the comments below.
He’s baaaaaaaaack! And it’s time to get hyped, smallfolk, because the long-awaited/rumored/hinted at CleganeBowl felt all-the-more real and possible after Sunday’s new episode of Game of Thrones. “The Broken Man” saw the return of everyone’s favorite Clegane brother, The Hound, nearly dead but nursed back to health by Brother Ray, a septon of the Faith of the Seven, reborn in his search for tolerance and peace after a life of violence as a warrior—a perfect foil for the younger Clegane. But his wasn’t the only return in tonight’s episode, as ruminations on violence and service were juxtaposed to two budding battles and a scary, violent cliffhanger for one of our favorites. So let’s get to it and discuss this very excellent episode of season six, shall we?
What do we talk about when we talk about this episode? Sure there’s the obviously exciting bits—and the return of BRONN! YAY BRONN!—but on a thematic level, it felt like a lot of work was going on underneath the surface of the lines and moments on screen. And by that we mean discussions of duality, change, redemption, belief, violence, allegiance, and honor; Of what it means to be alive, and thrive, in the world; Of death and life and all the choices made to get us there. Some people may be annoyed by all the character returns the show’s had this season, but the duality of the self and what makes us who we are (versus who people think we are) has always been a major story thread on the series.
Sometimes it happens through experiences (Sansa, Jaime, Arya, Daenerys), or necessity (Margaery, Varys, Littlefinger), other times the “old” part of a person is literally killed …as was the case for Jon Snow, the Night King, the Mountain, aaaaand Lady Stoneheart (if we get her—which I think we will!—but more on that later). However it happens, the result has always been the same: people are changed by violence and a need for control. But what if we have no control at all: but rather a pre-ordained purpose?
That certainly seems to be the argument being made by the series this season, and echoed by Brother Ray in a rarely seen cold open before the credits rolled. (Gotta love whenever those happen.) “There’s a reason you’re still here…The gods aren’t done with you, yet,” he said to The Hound. It’s a phrase that’s echoed throughout many of the religious beliefs of the Realm: there are bigger things at work here. We’ve seen as much in Bran’s visions and the work of various religions, and we heard as much from Ser Davos when he brought a dose of real talk over to Bear Island: this is a fight between life and death. We only wish those “bigger things” involved keeping Brother Ray around for more than an episode (Ian McShane is a goddamn beast, y’all).
In the books, there is no Brother Ray: his character is essentially Septon Meribald and the Elder Brother combined (only slightly different). A humble man with even humbler means, Brother Ray was changed by the violence he witnessed and took part in, which is why he tried for a better, more peaceful life—a refreshing change from the “violence-is-the-only-way” point of view that most of the Known Realm operates under. So of course Brother Ray was essentially killed for that belief (Guess we know how GRRM and the show feel about the “give peace a chance” crowd), but now The Hound has a purpose again: to murder the ever-loving shit out of the Brotherhood without Banners (!!!). “Hey: can I axe you a question? Can I murder all of you fuckers?” – The Hound, next week. Mark me!
And that also means we might be getting some LADY STONEHEART ACTION NEXT WEEK. Which: Y’ALL! I AM SO READY FOR THIS! It’s happening—there’s just been too much foreshadowing this season for it to not. Right?
Since we’re talking about things that went down in the Riverlands (which: wow, what a Riverlands-heavy season it’s been!), why not move over to the goings on between Houses Tully and Frey? Otherwise known as “the most pathetic siege to ever siege” because I mean WHAT WAS THAT, Y’ALL? If Walder Frey wants to exert their power and dominance in the area, this was decidedly not the way to do it. And those were not the men to deliver it, either. Don’t you know Brynden “The Blackfish” Tully’s all outta fucks? Go ahead, kill his sniveling nephew Edmure (sorry, Tobias Menzies)—he does not care. He’s got two years of provisions for everyone in Riverrun and a serious case of “bring it on/come at me bro” ‘tude regarding Jaime’s threat of actual battle. Jaime, boy: you better be careful. I don’t think you’re on the right side of history with this one.
Not making stupid life decisions for Team Lannister for once? Cersei. (TWIST/I KNOW.) By the looks of it, ol’ Cers and Lady Olenna are going to become the most unlikely of allies in the fight against the Faith Militant. Truly being ~all of us~ in tonight’s episode, Olenna cut Cersei down to size for her terrible, awful, no good, very bad “rule” of the Seven Kingdoms and gave her hell for starting this whole religious zealotry rule in the first place. But after seeing how truly trapped Margaery seemed in her conversation with her grandmother—as moderated by Septa
RatchedUnella—we’re worried for how all of this is going to end. (“Burn them all” comes to mind—and this time we’re fairly certain it’ll be Cersei who’s saying it as she lays waste to the Great Sept with her casks of Wildfire. Will Margaery and Tommen be in it when it happens? All of her kids are supposed to die, after all.)
Speaking of kids: can we talk about Lady Lyanna Mormont, a.k.a. the baddest tween in all of Westeros? The head of Ser Jorah “The Nice Guy”‘s old house, Lyanna had jokes, sass, and no time for Jon Snow and Sansa’s pleading for their allegiance against House Bolton. She was all “yeah, about that: nah!” until the Westerosi Dad of the Year, Ser Davos, came correct with the real enemy here: the dead. An idea Jon Snow used later on the Wildlings to ensure most of them would fight with him in the impending Battle for the North to come. That is if Sansa didn’t just bungle the whole goddamn thing with her raven to Littlefinger (which is totally what that was, right? GOD DAMN IT, SANSA—you should really know better by now!). If she’s not careful, Lord Glover’s “House Stark is dead” line may come true.
And then there was Arya. Oh my old gods was that the WORST or what? After booking herself the swankest cabin this side of the Narrow Sea, Arya looked like she may actually escape The Waif’s bloodlust. Only: NOPE! NOT REALLY! How’s this stabbity-stab-stab from an old lady feel on ya, Arya, eh? Now, based off the footage we’ve seen in the trailers and what’s coming for next week, we know Arya’s not going to die from her very, very serious-looking wounds (I HATE YOU, WAIF — I JUST HATE YOU!), but that doesn’t mean we aren’t incredibly worried and stressed out for her and her desire to finally head home to Westeros. Here’s hoping the series doesn’t turn her into a Lady Stoneheart stand-in: we want our tiniest, most murderiest Stark to have a win. Because we’re selfish and honestly already writing headcanon for her adventures with Lyanna Mormont when they ultimately become badass best lady friends.
- Truth-Telling of the Night: “The real war isn’t between a few squabbling houses, it’s between the living and the dead. And make no mistake m’lady, the dead are coming.” – Ser Davos.
- Best Olenna-ism is a tie between: “You’ve lost, Cersei; it’s the only joy I can find in this misery” and “I wonder if you’re the worst person I’ve ever met.”
- NOT A FAN OF THE HIGH SPARROW’S SEX ADVICE, NOT GONNA LIE.
- [Insert “nope nope nope” GIF of your choice here.]
- This is ours:
- Looks like Theon’s humplust is a family trait, as evidenced by Yara’s gold one-liners while the duo where in Volantis on their way to hook up with Dany.
- Which: THEON AND DANY IN A SCENE TOGETHER—MAKE IT HAPPEN (if for nothing more than the pure hilarity), THRONES.
- Also: anyone else think Yara and Dany would be best friends?
- Jaime’s sense of humor about his lost limb really has come a long way: “You can be the right hand I lost.”
- Bronn for the win, though, with his “Don’t say it! Don’t fucking say it!” response to Jaime’s “A Lannister always pays his debts” line.
- When Lord Glover said “House Stark is dead” I couldn’t help but think “House Stark is death” because, like, they’re sort of the harbingers of it/protectors of it, aren’t they? (Just something to think about moving forward!)
And while we’re here obsessing over the possibility of Lady Stoneheart, let’s consider another lost character, shall we?[brightcove video_id=”4850855347001″ brightcove_account_id=”3653334524001″ brightcove_player_id=”2bfa565b-5412-4cfd-9211-6269880b8a5e”]