In “The Broken Man,” the GoT writers once again rose the stakes without bothering to tie up even one of this season’s many storylines.
The episode’s biggest surprise had to be the appearance of Sandor Clegane. We haven’t seen the Hound since Arya Stark left him for dead after what looked like a fatal duel with Brienne. We find Clegane seeking atonement, or maybe just some peace and quiet, in a picturesque valley with a group of peaceful civilians—including their leader, Hippie Ian McShane—in the process of settling the land.
When a band of raiders drops in under the auspices of keeping the peace, Clegane gets to see the other side of a scene he has participated in countless times: the rape and pillage of a defenseless settlement. The Hound won’t stand idly by when the people who have kindly taken him in are slaughtered. Like Arya and other characters before her, Clegane tries to assimilate to a new situation but fails to change his nature. One of the most vicious warriors is back in the game— and I, for one, am ready to see the Clegane brothers battle to the death.
Even more exciting: Arya Stark has been stabbed! The Faceless Girl easily slips beside Arya and knifes her twice in the gut before Arya escapes by Parkour-ing off a bridge. We see Arya emerge from the waters, climb back ashore, and make her bloody way through the streets. It seems likely that she will come across a healer who can save her—why would they draw out her death? We know Arya’s a fighter, and I expect nothing less of her than to overcome two measly stab wounds. However, this does probably mean that her passage home will be delayed. Maybe she’s being set up to convene with Daenerys, Tyrion, and the Greyjoys in Meereen.
Everyone else, including the fleet-thieving Yara and Theon, are still playing the Game (of Thrones) in the traditional sense. Only Jon Snow, Sansa, and Ser Davos Seaworth are planning for the more important fight against the undead. The trio wage an understandably difficult and slow campaign to get other Northern houses to rally for their cause. This mission is hampered by the fact that the bulk of their army consists of Wildlings—more honorable than the Free Folk, and more obvious a pedagogical irony than most anything else on the show.
Still, things are going way better up North than they are down in King’s Landing. The High Sparrow is making threats left and right, emboldened now that King Tommen is “officially” on his side. Margaery plays the part of the penitent exceptionally well, but does the High Sparrow see through it? Does Tommen? The latter probably doesn’t, since he’s a little dense, but I wouldn’t put anything past the High Sparrow who, for all his preaching, seems to be as cruel and manipulative as the rest of them. (Obvious pedagogical irony is obvious.)
I’ll be sad to see Grandma Tyrell go, especially after she nailed Cersei to the wall with that sendoff. Grandma Tyrell really nailed the Lannisters’ recent decline. In fact, outside of King’s Landing, it seems as though Tommen’s and Margaery’s reign has no weight at all.
I’m so ready for the end of the season. It’s hard to believe there are only three more episodes to wrap up so many loose ends.