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TV Review: Game Of Thrones 6.7 “The Broken Man”
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Game Of Thrones 6.7 Margaery

Game of Thrones
Episode 6.7 “The Broken Man”
Directed by Mark Mylod
Written by Bryan Cogman
Starring Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Carice van Houten, Alfie Allen, Natalie Dormer
HBO
Air date: June 5, 2016

WARNING: Spoilers for HBO’s Game Of Thrones….

Last week’s Game Of Thrones took us for the first time to Horn Hill, the ancestral home of Samwell Tarly, while Arya Stark made her final decision to not join the Faceless Men, and the Faith Militant once again won the upper hand in Kings Landing after securing the ultimate follower, the boy King Tommen Baratheon, who announced the joining of the Crown and the Faith. Also, Uncle Benjen, long presumed dead, came back as a not-quite White Walker.

On this week’s episode, 6.7 “The Broken Man,” another presumed dead character has risen and brought a whole new storyline with him, while Arya’s plan to return to Westeros hits a major snag; Sansa and Jon’s attempts to gather allies against the Boltons is proving to be much more difficult than anticipated; Jaime heads the Lannister army to take back Riverrun for the Freys; and Margaery remains faithful to the High Sparrow and his teachings.

Typically, a Game Of Thrones episode is preceded by a “Previously on…” clip montage, that goes right into the opening credits. Not this time! Instead, the clips went right into a prelude of sorts that introduces a new group of people, followers of Septon Meribald (played by Deadwood‘s Ian McShane). We see the followers chopping wood and forging steel to build something, and among them is none other than Sandor Clegane — the Hound!!!

After the credits, the show returns to the Hound, who we last saw left for dead by Arya Stark near the end of Season 4 two years ago after he lost a swordfight to Brienne of Tarth. We learn that when the Septon found the former Lannister lackey, he had bugs on him and stunk of death, but he was still alive, even if just barely. The holy man thought for sure the Hound would die soon after, but he lived on, and now seems fine except for a slight limp (and the burned face he’s had since a childhood incident with his older brother Gregor aka “The Mountain). Why is the Hound still alive? “Hate,” says the Hound. But the Septon, who claims not to know if any of the gods are real, believes it’s because there is some kind of power greater than them all that has a plan for the man. Sandor says a lot of people say things like that, but they all believe in different gods. While Meribald is a well-spoken charismatic Septon, he makes it clear that he doesn’t know if the gods are real. After referring to his past transgressions, the Hound hits him with, “If the gods are real, why haven’t they punished me?” “They have,” the Septon says.

Hmm…. INTERESTING!!!!!!!!!!!! The episode returns a few times to Sandor, who continues to chop wood and help his new community by doing the work of four men. There’s one really great exchange between him and the Septon. Noticing that the Hound is a big, strong man, he assumes that the man who “killed” him must have been “some kind of monster,” but Sandor reveals that it was a woman. Later, we see three men from the Brotherhood come upon their group. It’s obvious to the Hound that these men want what they have, even though they have hardly anything. The Septon, who we learn used to be a warmonger and sinner, will not resort to violence, even if it is to protect himself and his people. This is a preposterous notion to the Hound. In the last scene with the Hound, he’s once again off chopping wood when he hears screams — it turns out they were the screams of his new community. All them have been slaughtered, while Septon Meribald has been hanged from the top of the skeleton of what was presumably to be their sept. The Hound, filled will anger, grabs his axe and storms off. The self-proclaimed “tough fucker who’s hard to kill” will likely have his vengeance against the Brotherhood. But then what? Who will Sandor “The Hound” Clegane align himself with? What will these great plans for him be? Will he ever meet up again with his former hostage/travel companion Arya Stark, and if he does, will he want revenge from her or forgiveness?

The adventures of Arya and the Hound were a major part of Season 4, and their interactions were beloved by fans, so it would make sense to reunite them eventually. But first, Arya has to make it out of Braavos alive, and right now, that’s going to be difficult. Last week, the youngest Stark daughter decided not to go through with the hit on the actress Lady Crane, which meant she could not join the Faceless Men. It also meant that The Waif would be allowed to kill Arya, who had wisely gone into hiding. With pouches of coin, Arya buys passage back to Westeros on a ship that will leave at dawn. But while Arya awaits departure, the Waif, disguised as an elderly woman, slashes and stabs her. Arya fights back and hurls herself over a bridge, reddening the water below with blood. Satisfied of her kill, the Waif leaves, but up comes Arya from the water! She’s not dead. She makes her way out of the water and through the streets. Where is she going? Who will help her? Perhaps Lady Crane, the woman she saved from death? We don’t know yet, but it’s a safe bet. Maybe Arya will join their theater troupe and star as herself (unbeknownst to her colleagues), acting her way back to Westeros. Whatever happens, she’s definitely been delayed.

Arya’s siblings in the North are doing better than her, but not by much. Jon Snow does manage to inspire the Wildlings to take up his cause and join his fight to reclaim his family’s territory in the North. Then, he, Sansa, and Ser Davos Seaworth (their new advisor) take their army of 2,000 Wildlings to Bear Island, home of House Mormont, where they ask for men to join their battle against the Boltons. Jorah Mormont, the disgraced lord who resettled in the Free Cities and became advisor to Daenerys Targaryen, is a member of this family, as was Jeor Mormont, the former Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch who Jon Snow served under as his personal stewart. Jon references his connection to the late Lord Commander to win over Lady Lyanna Mormont to his cause, but the 10-year-old girl (yes, 10!!!!) isn’t falling for it. While this Northern family has been long-pledged to House Stark, the young leader isn’t convinced she needs to join the Bolton-Stark war. But Ser Davos does manage to convince Lady Lyanna (named so for Sansa’s aunt and — as we all believe — Jon Snow’s true mother) with news of the coming of the White Walkers. Lady Lyanna only has 62 soldiers to spare, as they are not a large house, but she promises they’ll each do the job of 10 men. “If they’re half as ferocious as their Lady,” Davos says tells her, “the Boltons are doomed.”

This brings Sansa and Jon next to House Glover, another one of the Stark’s bannermen. Unfortunately, the Glovers have already pledged to House Bolton, which helped them regain their castle after the siege of the Ironborn when his people were slaughtered and his wife and children imprisoned. Lord Glover doesn’t want to be flayed — a Bolton speciality — and has no respect for Jon leading a Wildling army. He also isn’t too thrilled that Robb Stark, who he had backed as King in the North against the Lannisters, endangered his bannermen when he broke his engagement to Walder Frey’s daughter to marry a foreigner — an event that led to Robb’s death at the Red Wedding. “House Stark is dead,” Lord Glover proclaims. The North Remembers indeed, just not in the way Sansa had hoped.

Sansa thinks they need to acquire more soldiers, but Jon insists that there’s no time — they must march on Winterfell now. When going over their numbers, Davos says, “It’s not what we hoped for, but we still have a chance if we’re careful and smart.” Do they? Sansa doesn’t think so, because she goes off to send a letter. To who, we don’t know, but my bet is on Petyr Baelish aka Littlefinger, who she doesn’t fully trust (he did marry her off to the sadistic Ramsay Bolton!), but she knows she can call upon him. When last we saw him, he had secured his own men, as well as those of young Robin Arryn and the House Arryn bannermen — all he was waiting on was word from Sansa. Looks like the word is given.

Ok, so about those Ironborn: What happened to Yara and Theon Greyjoy after they fled the Iron Islands after losing the Kingsmoot to their prodigal uncle Euron Greyjoy? We know they abandoned their kingdom with their best men and fastest ships. Now, we find them in brothel, a place where castrated Theon can no longer find enjoyment, but his sister apparently loves the ladies. Here, Yara urges her younger, broken brother to drink and become the Theon he used to be, because that’s the person she needs in order to take back the Iron Islands from their murderous uncle. She says she wants justice, but he says that would mean their burned bodies would hang over Winterfell, referring to the atrocities he committed when he conquered the Stark castle. Now this is a man clearly on the road to redemption. Ok, so forget justice, his sister says, how about vengeance? Is he ready to get beyond the torture he faced at the hands of Ramsay Bolton to help her forge an alliance with the “Dragon Queen” Daenerys Targaryen (a plan, we know, that Dany has no clue about)? Yes, yes he is! Redeem yourself, Theon!

Speaking of redemption, Queen Margaery is keeping up her pious appearance now that the Crown and the Faith are one. But, is she a true convert? No fucking way. This women is a survivor and while her brother Loras remains in the Sept’s dungeons, she’s going to do whatever she has to do to get him released, even if it means convincing her young and very dumb husband King Tommen to join the faith. We learn that she has not shared her husband’s bed since her release from prison, which is something the High Sparrow thinks is a problem. He tells the queen that it’s her duty to sleep with her husband and bare him an heir so that the faith can continue. When she confesses her lack of desire as of late, the High Sparrow says that “Congress does not require desire on the woman’s part, only patience.” Please kill this asshole already! And just when young Marg thinks she’s finally going to save her family, it turns out the religious leader is now setting his sights on her grandmother, Olenna Tyrell, the Queen of Thorns, who he refers to as “an unrepentant sinner” who the queen must teach the ways of the faith.

Ok, damage control time: In pious guise, Margaery meets with her grandmother under the watchful eye of Septa Unella (of “SHAME!” fame). Lady Olenna doesn’t appreciate the Septa’s intrusion, and has no problem threatening to have the women beat down. But the Queen urges her grandmother to return home to High Garden and commit herself to the faith — it’s clear that she is trying to save Olenna from imprisonment, and her brother too because there’s a plan for Loras. He must renounce his lands and titles and become a penitent to the faith, a suggestion that outrages Lady Olenna, as her grandson is the heir to High Garden. Just before the scene ends, Margaery slips her grandmother a piece of paper, giving the viewer — finally — the very first confirmation that she has not been brainwashed. Outside, Olenna opens the paper and it’s a drawing of a rose, the House Tyrell flower, signifying that Margaery is still loyal to her family and her piety is an act to help save them.

Before Olenna met with Margaery, Cersei came to see her in hopes of forging an alliance between the Tyrells and Lannisters to overthrow the Faith Militant. Olenna does not hold back her contempt of the Queen Mother, who is the person responsible for putting this religious regime in power. Cersei admits to her wrongdoing, but Olenna will not hear it — she flat out tells Cersei she remembers and will never forget how the woman smirked at her as her grandchildren were led away to the dungeons. She reminds Cersei that her young son, the King, is no longer under her thumb and that she has no family or allies around her anymore; in fact, she stresses to Cersei that she’s “surrounded by enemies, thousands of them.”

While Cersei is left without an ally in King’s Landing, her twin brother/lover Jaime has made his way to the Riverlands to help the Freys regain control over the Tully house, Riverrun. We saw last week that Walder Frey’s sons (two of many) are bumbling idiots and here when facing Brynden Tully, aka The Blackfish, they continue to display their inadequacies. The Freys failed to secure a perimeter for their siege, which allowed Jaime’s army of 8,000 soldiers to gain easy access their area, which prompts Bronn to tell them that they’re lucky it was friends who arrived. The Freys still don’t get it. They call out the Blackfish, holding his nephew Edmure hostage, threatening to kill him if his uncle doesn’t surrender the castle. The Blackfish is too smart for these men, and tells them to go ahead and kill Edmure, knowing that they won’t do it. And… they don’t. This is when Jaime steps in and bitchslaps them and takes over the lead on the siege. While Bronn has the Freys secure the perimeter like they should have in the first place, Jaime goes to parlay with the Blackfish, who greets the Lannister as “Kingslayer” (you know how much Jaime loves that nickname!). He asks if the Kingslayer has come to honor his oath to Catelyn Stark (the Blackfish’s niece) to return her daughters, but Jaime confesses he does not have the girls. Jaime says if the Blackfish surrenders, he’ll spare his men, but the Tully leader says that as long as he’s standing, the war is not over. He reveals that they have provisions to last them 2 years there. Does Jaime have the same? The Blackfish was born in that castle and he’s ready to die there if need be. Confused, Jaime asks why the man even bothered to even meet with him. It was to size up his opponent. “I’m disappointed,” he says of Jaime, as he walks off.

At this point, alliances are all over the place. When the show first began, everyone had their corner of Westeros and the only major threat to the seven kingdom was Daenerys Targaryen, and many didn’t even consider a young girl with no house or army a real threat. Now, everything is out of control; characters we initially hated, such as Theon Greyjoy, Jaime Lannister, and The Hound, are the likable ones to root for; and even the people we still hate, like Cersei, have even more evil enemies to fight. Shit is about to go down, but please, get us back to the Tower of Joy vision already!

Video

Game of Thrones Season 6: Episode #7 Preview (HBO)

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