Game of Thrones, Season 6, Ep 7 “The Broken Man”

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

Random grassy place: Unusually, the episode opens with a pre-credits scene. A group of people are building a structure from wooden logs. We see close ups of the sawing, hammering, pegging logs, and applying tar for waterproofing. Before the camera pulls back to show the surroundings, I think maybe they’re building a ship, and this is a scene from the Iron Islands, but later shots show that it could be the beginnings of a church, or a small tower of some sort, in an otherwise empty area of of a grassy valley fringed with rocky hills. No sea in sight. We see one man in particular, chopping the wood with a huge axe, showing close-ups of his hands, arms, legs, body… then the camera pans up and we see his face. It’s Sandor “The Hound” Clegane! Not dead as we thought! Roll opening credits…

The group building the structure seem to have a leader, an oldish man. He talks to Sandor as they take a breather from the construction work. We learn that he found Sandor, on the verge of death (after Arya left him to die, following his loss in the fight against Brienne), and nursed him back to health. The old man seems to be a priest or holy leader of the group of people. He tells Sandor it wasn’t his time to die, the gods were looking out for him. Sandor is cynical, saying he committed many crimes and if there were any gods they’d have struck him down by now. The old man takes this philosophically and tells Sandor that they must still have plans for him. Sandor is bemused, but his manner seems somewhat repentant – perhaps his brush with death has caused him to reflect on his life and change his outlook. The old man says it must have been some man who could best him in combat; Sandor says, “that man was a woman.”

Later, three riders approach and ask what the group are doing here. The old man says they’re just minding their own business. The riders ask if they have horses, the old man says no. Weapons? No. They ask for money, he says they have none. Frustrated, the riders leave. Sandor warns the man that they are from the Brotherhood Without Banners, and they will return to take whatever they want. But the old man is not concerned, saying they have nothing they could want.

Later, Sandor is off in the woods, chopping logs. He walks back to the construction site, to find everyone slaughtered. People are stabbed and dead all over the place, and the old man is hanging from the partially constructed tower. A look of grim determination comes over Sandor’s face, he picks up his huge axe, and stalks off.

Well, with Benjen and Edmure last episode, that’s three people we thought were dead returning. I suppose with so many characters killed, that’s not a resource we’ll run out of any time soon. It seems Sandor’s experiences have changed him, but the rage is still within him, and I expect he will exact horrible revenge on the men who slaughtered his new friends. Where he goes from there, who can say? Except that no doubt if he’s back in the story, he’ll have some significant role to play later. As the gods will.

Castle Black to Winterfell: Jon and Sansa go around recruiting their army to attack and attempt to reclaim Winterfell. They visit the wildlings and convince them, though some of them are initially reluctant to join a war between southerners. Jon points out that the white walkers and the Boltons will kill them if they don’t unite now and take care of the Boltons before the white walkers arrive. The giant with the wildling party declares “Snow”, which is enough to convince the others to join Jon.

Next they visit Bear Island, the home of House Mormont, where Lady Lyanna Mormont rules. She is about 10 years old, but feisty. Jon tells her how he served under Lord Commander Mormont in the Night’s Watch before he died north of the Wall. She’s unconvinced that she should risk her men in a war between the Starks and Boltons, until Davos speaks up and describes the white walkers, and says the North must unite. Lady Lyanna takes some whispered advice from the advisers by her side, and eventually agrees to help. Jon breathes a sigh of relief, then asks how many men he can expect. An adviser whispers, and Lady Lyanna states “Sixty two”. Maybe about a thousand less than Jon was hoping for! Interestingly, Lyanna appears to be named after Ned Stark’s sister, who disappeared mysteriously and who we’ve been learning a bit about recently. It seems more of this story is still trickling out.

They move on to the keep of House Glover. But Lord Glover doesn’t even let them inside, telling Jon that he supported Robb Stark, and look what happened. He says House Stark is dead, and he’s not risking his men joining Jon. So they end up disappointingly short of the number of men they were hoping for. Jon says they should still attack Winterfell immediately, before more snow arrives, but Sansa wants to find more help first. She sneaks off and writes a letter, sealing it with her wolf seal, and then to find a raven to deliver it.

We don’t see who Sansa is writing to. There aren’t a lot of options. Tyrion might be the only person she vaguely trusts, but she has no idea where he is. (Actually, she’d assume he’s in King’s Landing.) Petyr Baelish is right out. Robin Arryn is also out. Theon?? Maybe, but that’s doomed to failure as she doesn’t know what’s happened at the Iron islands, or that Theon is halfway across the world with Yara now.

Riverrun: Walder Frey’s sons are trying to lay siege to Riverrun. Jaime and Bronn arrive with a huge Lannister army, and saunter in through the siege camp unchallenged. The Freys have Edmure in a noose and threaten to hang him if the Blackfish doesn’t surrender the castle. The Blackfish refuses to give. The Freys release Edmure and hold a knife to his throat, and repeat the threat to kill him. Blackfish says, “Go on, cut his throat then.” The Freys obviously weren’t counting on this, and look indecisive, before taking Edmure away unharmed.

Jaime rolls his eyes at their incompetence, tells them they just let a huge army march into their camp, orders Edmure to be bathed and fed, and then takes charge of the siege. They Freys protest meekly before giving in. Jaime asks for a parley with the Blackfish. He approaches the drawbridge alone, which is lowered to reveal the Blackfish and his men. Jaime tells him he can’t win against the Lannisters, and to surrender for mercy or be killed. Blackfish snorts and says he’s defending a strong castle, he’ll kill a thousand Lannisters for every hundred of his own men, and he has supplies for two years to outlast a siege… “Do you have two years?” Jaime retreats and ponders his next move.

Well, this could be a huge battle, or it could be some other thing. Jaime is tactically sound, and whatever plan he comes up with should have a good chance of working.

King’s Landing: The High Sparrow meets with Margaery, who is busy reading a holy text, to the delight of the Sparrow. She is again making all the right signs here. Sparrow says Tommen has told him that they haven’t shared a marriage bed since they were rejoined, and that it’s her duty to the gods to provide an heir. He also says she should speak to her grandmother Olenna. Margaery and Olenna meet, under the watchful eye of the Evil Nun. Margaery urges Olenna to take up the faith, but Olenna is unimpressed and wonders what has happened to her previously headstrong granddaughter. but as they embrace, Margaery slips a note into Olenna’s hand, unsees by the Evil Nun. Aha! I had doubts that Margaery was being sincere, and thought this all might be a trick to deceive the Sparrow long enough to get out of this mess. This is the conniving Margaery we all know and love. Olenna opens the paper later and reveals not a note, but a picture of a rose – which I think is the symbol of House Tyrell. I presume this means that Margaery is thinking of House Tyrell, not the gods. Anyway, it’s a good sign.

Olenna decides to head home to Highgarden, but Cersei intercepts her and tells her she needs to stay and help fight the Sparrow. Olenna is disgusted, blaming Cersei for this whole mess in the first place. Cersei takes that one on the chin. Olenna tells her to get out as well, as Cersei has no more friends in King’s Landing either, and the Sparrow will soon rule all. Cersei grits her teeth and says she’ll fight on alone.

So what’s Margaery’s plan here? Presumably she’s adopted this pretence of faith so she can have time to talk to Tommen. We know that if she returns to the marriage bed, he’ll do whatever she tells him to. Is that her plan? But she’ll need more strength from somewhere. Some sort of alliance with Cersei? I suppose that’s plausible – they both have strong reason to take down the Sparrow. But I can’t see what the plan of action might be.

Volantis (I think): I think I recognise this place as Volantis. The Ironborn ships that Yara stole are sitting in the harbour, and Yara and her men are enjoying the taverns and brothels of the city. Yara herself is enjoying the ladies of the brothels too. Theon is downcast. Yara urges him to drink ale, and stop being so miserable, because she needs his help. When Theon continues being miserable, Yara tells him to either slit his wrists and be done with it, or buck up and help her conquer the world. Theon opts for the latter. Yara says they will sail to Meereen and attempt to ally with Daenerys – before Euron gets to her.

Okay, that’s a fairly sensible course of action. And it might even work. Daenerys needs ships, Yara has ships. Seems like a match made in heaven. And will Theon ever regain his old self-confidence, or is he a broken man forever? I guess we’ll see at some point when the chips are down. I’m not betting either way, though.

Braavos: It looks like Arya survived the night without being attacked by the Older Girl. She heads to the docks and finds a Westerosi captain, asking for passage on his ship. The captain sends her away, but Arya tosses a bag of coins on the table in front of him. He opens it and looks inside, telling her she can have a hammock in the hold, and he sails in two days. Arya tosses another bag of coins, says she wants a cabin, and they sail tomorrow morning. The captain nods, and Arya leaves, taking the coins with her until then.

She walks off through the markets, across a bridge. An old lady comes up to her – and you can just tell this is the Older Girl in disguise. Why does Arya not notice? Anyway, the “old lady” grabs Arya and stabs her a couple of times in the stomach. Bad move… that’s not the place to aim to kill someone quickly and painlessly, like Jaqen instructed. Has the Older Girl deliberately disobeyed Jaqen? Will she get in trouble for it? I hope so!

Anyway, Arya struggles free and jumps off the bridge into the water to escape. A bloom of blood rises to the surface. The Older Girl, now revealed from her disguise, watches for a minute, and then walks away. Arya surfaces and crawls up some steps back to the street, holding her bleeding stomach. She wanders through the streets… looking for… I don’t know what. People stare at her.

Now, the Older Girl has done a really half-assed job here. If she’s any good she’d have waited much longer to see if Arya surfaced, and/or would easily be able to track a bleeding person staggering through the streets and finish the deed. But no doubt Arya will survive, and the Older Girl has done a totally botched job of this, which seems extremely out of character for her. But exactly how will Arya survive this? Where can she go? Can she patch herself up? Maybe Lady Crane can help her! Yeah, that could work. I guess we’ll see.

One Response to “Game of Thrones, Season 6, Ep 7 “The Broken Man””

  1. Glen says:

    Nice writeup. Between this one and the previous one you picked up on one or two things I didn’t get on the first watch through. But you’re also in for at least one interesting surprise, I think.

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