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“The Broken Man” continued last week’s rising action exposition dump, but once again managed to do so in an interesting and engaging manner. While the return of the Hound was almost as poorly a kept secret as Jon’s return from the dead, seeing him and a few new faces this week kept Game of Thrones‘s momentum going leading up to the final three episode of season six.
As has often been the case this season, the episode’s title could easily refer to any number of characters spread across the episode. It’s most obvious connection, naturally, was to the newly docile Hound. Sandor Clegane, as you may remember, was soundly defeated by Brienne and left to die a slow and painful death by Arya way back in season four. But, much like his brother was saved by the machinations of Qyburn, Sandor is back on the Westerosi chessboard, and apparently hellbent on vengeance at the death of so many innocents.
I’m thrilled the Hound has returned, as his transformation from a cold-hearted killer to a man who would protect young Arya Stark from the dangerous of the countryside was a thing of beauty to watch. But what intrigues me most about this development is that it coincides with the Brotherhood Without Banners apparently making a complete heel turn. You might remember the Brotherhood from back season four, when they were led by Beric Dondarrion (who died a lot) and Thoros of Myr (the Red Priest who was resurrecting Beric long before Melissandre figured out how to do it). Back then, the Brotherhood was journeying throughout the countryside protecting the lower born folk from the vicious nature of the war surrounding them. They even put the Hound on trial for his crimes (which he survived by beating Beric in combat). So, while they might not have been loyal to any House, the Brotherhood certainly weren’t bad guys. But based on their actions last night (assuming that it was indeed the Brotherhood), things have changed. What this means going forward is anyone’s guess (ok, if you are a book reader, you probably have a pretty clear idea as to what this might actually mean). But since the Hound appeared ready to throw down at the episode’s close, I suspect this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the Brotherhood.
We checked in with another broken man this week in the form of poor, useless Edmure Tully. While it was lovely to see Tobias Menzies back in Westeros now that he’s spending most of his time over on Outlander, good old Edmure might just be the most miserable person in all of the show: a pawn that has almost no value. We saw back in season three that Blackfish had little to no use for Edmure then, and he appears to have even less use now. Blackfish also made it clear to Jaime that the Tully forces expect to survive a long siege (and Jaime certainly doesn’t have two years free to wait them out). I suspect the arrival of Brienne next week with Sansa’s plea for troops might change the face of this particular battle a bit more. While I can’t see Blackfish giving up Riverrun, I also can’t see him abandoning his niece in her hour of need.
We were also given a brief moment with Theon, yet another broken man. Although that scene served more as a way to build up the character of Yara (turns out she has a pretty excellent plan- get her ships to Dany, which serves the dual purpose of keeping the Iron Born plotline relevant and giving Dany a means to get to Westeros sooner rather than later), it also made great strides toward getting Theon back on track. And, once they reach Meereen, Theon can have a chat with Grey Worm and Varys about how you can have a very fulfilling life, despite certain shortcomings.
Finally, our last broken man this week was poor Arya. In this case, it was a broken Faceless Man, but still, it works. Now, as with Jon’s stabbing last season, I don’t believe for a second the show is about to kill Arya. Perhaps Lady Crane knows a great doctor? But Arya is on the cusp of getting back into the main action of the series, and she has a new set of nifty skills. Yes, Game of Thrones is know for being the show where anyone can die. But we haven’t had a major character killed off (and had it stick) for a long time. I don’t think this is the way Arya goes out of the game. She’s the queen of vengeance. There’s more for her to accomplish still.
— I’m throwing my support for the next queen of Westeros to Lady Lyanna Mormont. That little girl is fierce and won’t take shit from anyone. And the fact that she trusts Ser Davos just proves how smart she is. If her cousin Jorah had half the gumption she has, he would have found a cure for greyscale and married Dany already.
— I’m glad Jon and Sansa have had to work as hard as they have to rally the North. While the North may remember when the beloved Ned ruled, Robb and Catelyn’s failures should not be forgotten. I’m also glad that Sansa realized the necessity of sending a raven to The Vale. While she (and us) know that Littlefinger’s aid will come with a price, the old Sansa wouldn’t have had the forethought to swallow her pride (and pain) to ask. That is the sign of a strong leader.
— I’m sad to see the Queen of Thorns exit the stage, but it was time for the King’s Landing plot to start paring down the participants. I suspect the Margaery has bitten off more than she can chew with whatever scheme she is enacting (it seemed a bit like she was trying to make the High Sparrow doubt Tommen?), but she’s a big girl and her grandma has taught her well.
— I think it’s safe to say that Cleganebowl is going to go down, right?