By James Hancock June 5th, 2016
Sadly only three episodes now remain for season 6 of Game of Thrones, and while episode 7 ‘The Broken Man’ is unlikely to break the internet with any major revelations, the big news is that Sandor Clegane aka the Hound is back. The Hound has always been one of my favorite characters ever since I read the first book in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and I can only hope that his return means that there is still a chance he might one day face his brother Gregor, even in his zombie form, and get some much-deserved payback. Even before becoming one of the undead, I think we can all agree that the Mountain was one of the sickest and most depraved characters in this story, which in the land of Westeros is saying something. As useful as he might be in the inevitable war against the White Walkers, personally I’d love to see Sandor cut him down and find something resembling peace for his troubled soul. As this episode proved, Sandor will never be able to stay away for long from the violence that has consumed Westeros ever since Robert Baratheon first named Ned Stark as the Hand of the King.
The episode opens with a scene featuring Sandor alive and well, working in what is essentially a hippie commune. Ian McShane plays their charismatic leader, a man with a dark bloody history who is now trying to help people live in peace. McShane’s religious beliefs are vague but he believes in a higher power whether that is the Seven, the Old Gods, the Lord of Light, or all of them put together. He feels that this higher power has a plan for the Hound that goes beyond chopping firewood for their community. We cut to King’s Landing where at first I was dismayed to see Margaery Tyrell playing her part as the pious and now very celibate Queen of the Realm. As impressed as he is with her faith, the High Sparrow urges her to return to the King’s bed to produce an heir and to convince her grandmother, the Queen of Thorns, to leave King’s Landing. Just as I was starting to worry that I would have to actively root against Margaery from now on, she passed a secret message to her crafty grandmother revealing that Margaery is playing some very devious game. I can only hope her plan ends with Loras freed from prison and with the Sparrows enduring quite a lot of pain. Before leaving the city, the Queen of Thorns meets with Cersei who in a rare moment of humility admits that her own stupidity has led to their losing control of King’s Landing to a pack of religious fanatics.
Up North we find Jon and Sansa in recruitment mode trying to rally as many to their side as possible for their assault on Winterfell. Tormund convinces the wildlings and their giant to come his aid. In my favorite scene, Jon, Sansa and Davos convince the very young head of House Mormont, Lyanna, to side with them in the coming fight. Although just a child, Lyanna has a spine of steel and is one of my new favorite characters. Sadly, due to the wildlings in their army, many in the North refuse to side with Jon prompting Sansa to send a raven to an undisclosed recipient for additional aid. Further south, at Riverrun, we see Jaime Lannister in full badass mode as he and Bron assume control over the siege that thus far has been ineffectively run by the Freys. Jaime meets with the Blackfish and implores him to surrender but the Blackfish is determined to fight for his family home and claims to have enough provisions to last for two years. Meanwhile, at a city that is never identified, we see Yara and Theon Greyjoy spending their last night on land at a whorehouse. Yara does her best to put some confidence back into her mutilated brother, confidence he’ll need if they are to join forces with Daenerys. After force feeding Theon some ale, Yara proudly announces that she plans on “fucking the tits off” a good looking girl that has caught her attention. There are times where I truly love this show.
The biggest shock of the episode involves Arya. After successfully booking passage back to Westeros, Arya is attacked by her former sparring partner from the Faceless Men. She approaches Arya disguised as an old woman before stabbing Arya in the gut repeatedly. Arya falls into a canal and pitifully wanders away trying to prevent her insides from spilling out of her body. I seriously doubt that will be the end of her and I hope she wreaks havoc on the Faceless Men before sailing west. The episode draws to a close with a moment that was inevitable from the start. Some local warriors raid the commune where the Hound has been living. Unfortunately, he is off chopping wood during the attack and returns to find all of his friends already slaughtered. Very emphatically he grabs an axe from a tree stump just before the credits roll. The Hound is very clearly back in the thick of things. So that’s it for another week of Game of Thrones. The teaser which I’ve attached below has me very fired up for episode 8. It looks like the Mountain will finally throw down with members of the Sparrows and that Brienne will get involved with the standoff taking place at Riverrun. Whatever happens, sign me up. For all of its ups and downs, Game of Thrones remains my favorite show on television.
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