Spoiler Alert: The following discusses plot points from Sunday night's Game of Thrones Season 6 episode, "The Broken Man," written by Bryan Cogman and directed by Mark Mylod.
(Check out last week's recap here if you missed it.)
In short: The assumed-dead Sandor Clegane is revealed to be quite alive and living among a rural religious enclave. Margaery proves to be playing the High Sparrow's game to perfection until her grandmother Lady Olenna's safety is subtly threatened. Jon Snow and Sansa cover some miles trying to get the Houses of the North to join their cause to take back Winterfell, but their success is very iffy. Same can be said of Jaime Lannister's bid to force the Blackfish of Riverrun to surrender to his army. The Kingslayer gets dissed mightily. Yara Greyjoy forces the old Theon to wake up from deep inside his Reek shell. And Arya's intent to book passage back to Westeros looks to be doomed as her House of Black and White rival sneaks up and inflicts a destructive wound.
Hello, Hound! The show gave us a rare cold open to reveal that Sandor, whom Arya left for dead in the middle of nowhere seasons ago, was alive and chopping for Ray, the most reasonable religious person in all of Westeros. We quickly come to understand that Ray was a former assassin who changed his ways and found the greenest, prettiest little valley in which to live humbly with his flock of hippy followers. It was Ray who found the presumed-dead Hound and nursed him back to health. Actor Rory McCann shows us another side of Sandor, a humble bewilderment that fate has given him a second chance. A less salty Sandor plays well against Ian McShane's affable Ray, who certainly goes in the opposite direction of the High Sparrow when it comes to having others see the religious light. While I'm disappointed that Ray barely lasted an episode, it was pretty apparent from the start that the character, and the bucolic glen they inhabited, were not going to last long in this awful world. The Hound needed an inciting incident, and boy did he get one. Nothing like a genocide of the completely innocent to give Sandor a new purpose, one based on his old skill set of death. Red Guard, your days are numbered.
Can we just hand actress Bella Ramsey an Emmy for her terrifyingly fantastic portrayal of Lyanna Mormont? I've never been so mesmerized by an officious 10-year-old. Makes you wonder what it's like to live in Bear Island. I'm pretty sure that kid's never played a day in her life. Good for her, though, as she stood up for her people and threw mighty shade at Jon and Sansa for trying to pull House Mormont into their war. Luckily, Daavos, the precocious girl whisperer, knew to step in and go all 100 with Lyanna about their real nemesis -- the Night King and his army of dead. She bought Seaworth's truth and pledged a whopping 62 men to the fight. Best. Punchline. EVER. Plus, Lyanna is with her men for the fight, so we get more of this saucy small fry in the future.
It was nice to get confirmation of my theory that Queen Margaery is indeed playing the smart, long game with the High Sparrow. Her hidden smirk said it all when she piously spouted scripture to an impressed High Sparrow. The zealot even got a little laid back with Margaery, questioning why she hasn't lain with King Tommen to try and produce an heir. Of course, the shoeless wonder would mansplain to Margaery that her desires to have congress are beside the point and she needs to get on her back already like a good girl. Can the lucky person who eventually takes him out please, please be a woman?
Speaking of the Tyrells, the Queen of Thorns really spiked Cersei this week before she skedaddled from King's Landing. Diana Rigg's been given far too little to say this season, but she made up for it in her scathing confrontation with Tommen's mom. The Sparrow may have clipped Olenna's wings, but there's no stopping her tongue as she made it very clear to Cersei that she might be the worst person alive and she's reaping what she's sown. I even winced for Cersei. Can we get a spinoff show with Lyanna and Olenna? I can imagine the epic takedowns already.
Up north, let's send some praise to the VFX team again for their stellar work with Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun. Every time the giant fills the frame, I forget he's not real he's just that damn convincing a CGI character. The Warcraft movie should have taken notes. And this episode also proves Wun Wun's a loyal giant, as his utterance of "Snow" convinces the rest of his Free Folk brethren to heed Jon's humble call to help him unite the north. It finally hit home for everyone that there's no other way they will be able to survive the coming onslaught. Brienne's boo -- my man, Tormund Giantsbane -- also gets some love for his passionate support of Snow. How can you not love him, Brienne?
Technically, Theon can't grow a new pair, so Yara Greyjoy tried the next best thing. She made her little brother suck down some ale and shake off the Reek. Understandably still damaged by his Bolton experience, Theon's only done the bare minimum in regard to speaking up for Sansa and then Yara. He's pretty much been a shell of Theon. Knowing she's going to need Theon's swagger back to defeat Yuron, Yara finally laid it out to him: Either you kill yourself, or you dig deep and get it together. The look on Theon's face seemed to say that his redemptive arc is truly on like Donkey Kong now.
Bronn's back! That's enough right there. That he cut Jamie off before he could utter the Lannister family mantra once more was gold.
As I've said before, Arya seems to have gotten short-shrift with her narrative this season with the ultra-accelerated nature of her House of Black and White adventures. When Jaquen assigned the Waif to go after Arya, I expected that to play out over time and with more suspense. For the Waif to don an old woman face and level a "surprise" mortal knifing to Arya was underwhelming. Not to mention that it made Arya look pretty stupid, which is far from what Ms. Stark is. She learned much from the House, including that they take other people's faces to administer death. So hello? Why would she just smile at some kindly old lady when she knows there's going to be a price for her betrayal. Weak.
Jamie's posturing with the Blackfish at the castle drawbridge felt like padding to me. We got when the older Tully had no problem letting Edmure die to win a stalemate that this isn't going to be an easy fight. I guess Jamie just needed to hear it. Or they're stalling for something truly revealing.
Our boob quotient must have been low up to now this season, so luckily we got plenty of eyefuls in that brothel scene. Yes, that's sarcasm.
Things to Ponder ...
I'm starting to think the bulk of the Outlander supporting cast is going to show up in Westeros. Tonight we got Tobias Menzies, Clive Russell and Tim McInnerny. Maybe Tormund's got a ginger cousin Sam Heughan can play?
Who did Sansa send a raven to? Is it the expected Balish payback? Or could she be reaching out to someone far more unexpected?
Who is going to help Arya survive her gaping gut-wound? Will the Waif follow the blood trail to finish her off? Or perhaps the grateful actress Arya saved will save her savior in turn. Or maybe it's Gendry! He had to have landed somewhere by now, why not Braavos? If not, that bastard Baratheon must have some Popeye style guns.
What did you think of "A Broken Man"? Did all of these familial moments put you in a good place?