Episode 57 “The Broken Man”
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Directed by Mark Mylod
And on the third day, he was risen, broken and beaten but alive. For a kind retired soldier did take him in, feed him, clothe him, and give him work, and he was humbled. I am of course talking about none other than our favorite hardened, vicious, lovable softy, The Hound (Rory McCann).
Cue electric shocks, black and white screen, melodrama organ, and the ever unforgettable HE’S ALIVE! We all like to say that we knew he wasn’t dead, even though we can’t imagine how he was able to survive the brutal beating by Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), but let’s face it, we all assumed that he was as dead as they come.
Naturally, he didn’t miraculously heal like the mutant Wolverine; he had the help of a kind old man named Ray (Ian McShane), who took him in and nursed him back to health. We first see him as he carries a log by himself, whilst the other smallfolk need four people per log. They are a peaceful people, building together a small community that is fairly new and are in the midst of constructing a Sept, for what we assume is for The Faith of the Seven. While Sandor is chopping up a log he is confronted by Septon Ray lightheartedly joking about how he nearly died. Ray asks him who it was that cut him down, to which the Hound replies, “Just one… A woman.” The septon speaks to the Hound about gods, and not really knowing who is the true God, or gods, or even what their real names are, and maybe they are all the same thing, but he does believe in something greater than them, and there is a plan which is why The Hound still lives.
It’s interesting that through this whole series, we have seen several versions of religion presented and they all seem to be real, with unexplainable miracles happening, like the Many Faced God and the servants that can change their faces, or the Lord of the Light helping to create an assassin shadow child, and so on and so forth. It makes one wonder, what is the real religion in Game of Thrones if all have evidence of truly existing? There is an underlying point to why these religions were created but what that point is, I’m not sure. It’s something to keep in the forefront of our minds, for I believe these conflicting religions will play a major role in putting the rightful heir on the throne.
Speaking of religions, we find Queen Margaery (Natalie Dormer) adorned in her finery and crown; note that she is not in her typical revealing attire but in a more modest full sleeved gown. She stands in the Sept of the Seven reading from the Book of the Mother when the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) enters and quizzes her on some of the verses to which she recites without looking. The High Sparrow is impressed at how quickly she has learned. They speak of having the Mother’s Mercy, which many don’t seem to have. The Sparrow then turns the conversation to the literal meaning of mother and inquires as to why she has not lain with the King since her atonement? Margaery keeps to her humble and quiet ways, which has to be hard, for if it were me, I would have asked why it was the Sparrow’s business who or when I was having intimate relations. Instead of blowing up on him, she very subtly tells him her desires no longer fuel her like they used to. The Sparrow tells her that desire has nothing to do with it and that it is her duty to the King and the gods to create an heir. Once again, we find another religion that has very sexist views on what women must and must not do. Margaery apologizes and promises to fix this mistake of hers. The High Sparrow turns the conversation to her grandmother Olenna (Diana Rigg), and subtly threatens her if she is not brought into the Seven. We see fear creep into Margaery’s eyes, and hope rises in ours that perhaps she is in fact playing along to stay in the good graces of the High Sparrow. It is apparent that he has more power than anyone ever thought possible, and is a man to be feared.
Margaery doesn’t hesitate to meet with her grandmother, in the company of Septa Unella (Hannah Waddingham) who seems to follow Margaery around like her righteous guard dog. Olenna does not like the Septa one bit and threatens to have her bashed about by her men, and we all silently pray that she would. Instead Margaery calms Olenna down and urges her to depart King’s Landing and soon. Olenna will have none of it and inquires what is to be done to Loras (Finn Jones). Margaery regretfully explains that if he repents and atones, he will be sent back to Highgarden stripped of his title and will remain a penitent. Once more, she urges her grandmother to go home. It’s obvious Margaery can’t say more in the presence of Unella, so she secretly slips a note to her grandmother. Surprise alights in Olenna’s face, as she realizes that Margaery isn’t completely loyal to the Seven. She listens to Margaery and leaves, and for a split moment we see the strong facade of the Queen crumble, and the weight of what she must continue to do is evident, but just as quickly as it came it is gone and she puts on a brave face.
Once Olenna is alone, she opens the note to find a simple drawing of a rose, the Tyrell sigil, and she smiles. There aren’t words so we don’t know what the exact meaning is, but one can assume that Margaery is attempting to illuminate where her true loyalties lie, which is the Tyrell House. In a kingdom surrounded by crazy zealots and rebel royalty, Margaery needed to reach out to someone, to tell someone that she was still her, and not one of the lunatic fanatics. Unfortunately the one person she can confide in and look to for help, she must send away for fear of their safety. The road the Queen must continue on is going to be a hard one, but she is a strong and cunning woman and I have no doubt she will be the undoing of the Seven.
In the North, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) meets with the Wildlings, and asks for their help, to join him in the fight for Winterfell. He is at first met with anger, for this was not the deal they had made. Jon speaks as plainly as he can, but it doesn’t do much in the way of convincing until Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) gives his thoughts on the matter. He reminds them that Jon fought for the Free Folk, and no one else had done that. He reminds them that Jon died for them, and that if they can’t risk their lives for him, then they are cowards. Wildlings don’t stand being called cowards, it’s a sure way to get them on your side, and it works. The Giant stands and utters one word “Snow” before stomping off. It is enough to convince the others to join. Now that he has the Wildlings on his side, the hard part of getting other Houses in the North to join begins.
In the Red Keep Olenna is busy writing in preparations to depart and head back to Highgarden, when she is interrupted by Cersei (Lena Headey), who is always accompanied by The Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson). The Queen Regent attempts to convince Olenna to stay and fight with her, but the Tyrell woman will listen to none of it, even going so far as to label Cersei as the worst person she has ever met and the cause for all that has happened. Cersei attempts to guilt trip her into staying for her grandchildren, and not even that works on her. Olenna smirks, telling her “You’ve lost, Cersei” for she does not have any family left to help her, she is despised, and without any supporters. That if she were to leave the Red Keep she would be killed by the masses. Cersei knows this to be true, which is why she keeps the Mountain so close to her, as he is the only one she has left. Things are not looking good for the Lannisters, and even though Cersei has retained her old fire, she doesn’t have the muscle to back up her chops. I have a feeling the last three Lannisters in Westeros don’t have much longer before they are snuffed out.
On the other side of Westeros, the Lannister army marches to the aid of the Freys, who have a poor lack of perimeter and proper trenches. Bronn (Jerome Flynn) rides alongside Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and does not take to the idea of being in charge of properly erecting the siege against the Blackfish. He grumbles about being promised land, wealth, and a woman, and every time he has been close to having it he is pulled away by Jaime. The Kingslayer attempts to recite the universally known “A Lannister always pays his debts” but Bronn cuts him off telling him not to say it and rides on in a huff. Bronn’s lack of care for whom he is speaking to is just one of the many things that we enjoy about him.
Down at the gates of Riverrun the Frey sons, Black Walder (Tim Plester), and Lothar (Tom Brooke) attempt to ransom Edmure’s (Tobias Menzies) life for the Blackfish’s surrender. Jaime and Bronn watch on, intrigued. The Blackfish watches on in stoic silence after being given several chances to surrender or Edmure will hang. When that doesn’t work they threaten to slit his throat, reminding the Blackfish how they slit the throat of his niece, Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley). Jaime looks a little amused and slightly baffled at their empty threats. Nonchalantly, the Blackfish breaks his silence and tells them to go ahead and slit his throat, and walks away. The Freys are dumbfounded and aren’t quite sure what to do, as the only hand they had to play had zero effect and they need Edmure alive.
Jaime approaches them, and the Freys are surprised by his arrival, for which he scolds them on their terrible attempt at setting up a perimeter, and starting a siege. He begins ordering them about, and they push back, until Jaime tears them down for being fools with empty threats, and to prove his point, he punches one. That got the message through pretty quickly, I’d say. They take to his orders without further disobedience, and Bronn sets up a parley for Jaime and the Blackfish. Bronn asks if it is to be a true parley or a fight. Jaime scoffs saying he could defeat the old man, to which Bronn reminds him of his one hand, and his money is on the old man. Again, you have to love Bronn and his lack of care given to whom he is speaking to.
In the bid for soldiers to join forces, Jon, Sansa (Sophie Turner), and Davos (Liam Cunningham), meet with House Mormont, and House Glover. On Bear Island they meet with the head of House Mormont who happens to be a ten year old girl, and quite possibly the most hardcore character we have met yet. While Jon is accustomed to talking plainly with bearded old men, he is out of his element with Lady Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsay), named after his supposed Aunt.
Sansa compares her aunt’s beauty to young Lyanna’s Mother’s and that she will carry on that namesake well, to which the young leader replies that her mother was no beauty and neither is she, but a great warrior she will be like her mother. This response shows just how very different these two women are, other than age of course. By shutting down the typical compliment given towards women, and one that Sansa would have fallen for, Lyanna makes her stand as a fighter and one not to be trifled with. They are shocked by Lyanna’s quick wit, hard demeanor, and no nonsense attitude. They ask for her help in the fight, and she reminds them how she became an orphan the last time her people fought for the Starks. Jon and Sansa are lost on how to approach this strong and fiery young girl, when Davos steps forward and sympathizes with her new found position. They have a brief conversation in which Davos reveals that the dead are their true enemy and this is everyone’s war. She agrees to join the Stark’s forces with sixty two of her fighting men, it isn’t much but it’s a start to their army.
They receive the opposite result when met with Robett Glover (Tim McInnerny), who turns them away after finding out Jon’s army consists mainly of Wildlings. House Glover had just won back their home after it had been taken by the Greyjoys. They had been aided by the Boltons, and would not turn their back on those that helped them, no matter if they are undeserving of Winterfell. Glover dismisses them, and they go to their encampment, where Stannis (Stephen Dillane) had previously bunkered down. Sansa asks if it is wise to follow in Stannis’s steps as he fell in his attempt to take Winterfell. She has a good point, there’s bad juju in following a failed so-called-King. Jon and Davos agree that they need to to march against the Boltons soon, even if they don’t have enough men yet. Sansa disagrees but Jon cuts her off, telling her they don’t have the time to elicit the help of the Tully’s. Since they will not listen to her, she takes matters into her own hands and sends a raven with the Stark sigil to what we assume is Riverrun. We can only hope that the Blackfish gets it in time and is willing to leave the siege to help his niece. I have my theories and they aren’t good for the Starks.
In Riverrun Brynden ‘The Blackfish’ Tully (Clive Russell) meets with Jaime on the drawbridge and refers to him as Kingslayer, letting Jaime know how little respect he has for him. Jaime does his best to convince Lord Tully to yield peacefully so no blood be shed. The Blackfish turns him down at every threat, he does not fear death, and would rather die defending his home, than run away from it. He will sacrifice hundreds of his men, and even his nephew Edmure to keep his home. When it is evident that the Blackfish will not yield no matter what the consequences, Jaime inquires as to why he even bothered meeting him, to which he replies that he wanted to get the measure of him and that he was disappointed. He turns back to his keep, and Jaime is left without anything to use against him. Now we wait and wonder if Sansa’s need for the Tully army is enough to get Brynden out of Riverrun, or if he must sacrifice her as well for his cause, though by sacrificing her he is not ending the war that he claims still rages on while he lives.
In Volantis, the Greyjoy fleet is docked, and the Ironborn enjoy the company of naked courtesans. Theon (Alfie Allen) is visibly uncomfortable, as his manhood is gone. His sister Yara (Gemma Whelan) acts just like the men around her, drinking, and imbibing in the company of women. The first real lesbian character is revealed in Game of Thrones and it is not met with that much surprise; in fact it is quite refreshing to see a woman comfortable in her own skin around those she trusts, which is a big deal in this world.
Meanwhile, Theon looks as if his skin is crawling by the mere sight of all the naked flesh. Yara grows tired of his sulking and brooding, calling him a beaten dog. She uses the only method she knows to get him out of it: tough love. Yara tells him if he is so broken then he should cut his wrists and get it over with. He doesn’t and she forces him to drink ale, reminding him of who he is and that he is not defeated. She asks for the real Theon for he is needed to sail with her to Meereen to meet with the Dragon Queen and make a pact. He drinks his ale, and when he locks eyes with his sister we see a spark of the old Theon. While I am excited for Theon to become himself again, my mind is focused on the fact that they are going to use their uncle’s plan. A bad plan at that! Why Yara thinks Danaerys (Emilia Clarke) will take her up on her offer is beyond me, but maybe it will work out. After all Danaerys is going to need ships to sail to Westeros, and Yara could be the hero she needs.
Somewhere in the Riverlands, Ray is preaching to his small congregation, with the Hound in the outskirts of the group listening in. Ray reflects on his time as a soldier and the terrible things he did. He tells the group that it is never too late to stop killing, to stop thieving, and to start helping people. He looks at the Hound as he says this, and it seems to strike a chord with him. Three men on horseback ride up, and are revealed to be part of The Brotherhood without Banners, but unlike what they are supposed to be comprised of they come off as unfriendly. The Hound attempts to appear just one of the crowd but it seems as if the Brothers recognize him. Ray meets them with kindness and tells the Brothers they are a peaceful congregation, and they are welcome to join them for supper. The head Brother smirks and tells them to stay safe, but in a very ominous manner. Ray gives them the farewell of the Seven, and the Brothers respond in the dismissal of the Lord of the Light. The Hound isn’t convinced that the men don’t mean them harm, and tells Ray so. Ray is done with fighting and causing violence, he does not heed the Hound’s words.
Arya (Maisie Williams) walks the market place of Braavos, without Needle. First off, why does she not have Needle? She knows there is a contract out on her and for her to think she can just meander around the city and be safe is dumb. I had higher expectations of her. Arya overhears a man talking about the Iron Fleet docking in Volantis and she learns that he is from Westeros. She books passage on his ship to sail at dawn to go back home. She walks to the canal and peers out to see. An old woman approaches her with a “sweet girl” and immediately begins stabbing Arya, before she can even attempt to defend herself. The old woman is revealed to be Waif (Faye Marsay), and Arya jumps into the canal as her only path to escape, leaving behind a cloud of bloody water. Waif, satisfied that Arya had died, walks away, and we all hold our breath waiting for Arya to surface, silently swearing that if Arya dies, we riot. Just when one begins to fear the worst, Arya bursts through the surface gasping for air. She painfully drags her bleeding body out of the canal and walks fearfully through the streets, clutching her abdomen as blood drips onto the pavement. People stare at her but do not offer any help, not that she seemed to want any for fear that any of them could be faceless men there to finish her off. The scene cuts out from Braavos, leaving Arya’s fate undetermined, and it doesn’t look good.
In the Riverlands, the Hound is alone in the woods chopping up more trees for the Sept when he hears a scream in the direction of the commune. He runs to find everyone had been slaughtered, including Ray, hanging from the rafters of the unfinished sept. Anger comes over the Hound and he grabs a nearby axe following the retreating hoof prints. It is assumed that the Brotherhood without Banners massacred the people, but this wouldn’t make sense as they were created to defend the small folk. For them to kill a peaceful community is against everything they stand for. It is my assumption that they recognized the Hound and they are still sore for not getting to fulfill justice in killing him, so they killed the people to send a message to him, and it worked.
Poor Sandor, after having a near death experience that changed him and he had finally found a place that wasn’t violent, and required him to kill anyone. After living a life where that was all he knew, he was beginning to believe that he wouldn’t need to live like that anymore. That thinking was short lived when the people were killed and hadn’t even put up a fight to defend themselves. It is proven that living peacefully is short lived at best, for there are monsters who will kill because they can. So when he picked up that axe to kill and not to cut down a tree, he reverted back to who he is.
Something that I found interesting was that the episode in which Arya’s fate is left undetermined is the same episode that the Hound is brought back after being fatally wounded and presumed dead. It is logical to assume that Arya will die from the wounds she inflicted. Just like when Jon Snow, and the Hound’s fate were left in a frustrating cliffhanger, so too is Arya’s. Maybe she will be lucky like the two before her and make it, or maybe she will die for nothing and we will be forced to riot (cough cough HBO cough cough). If they thought we were praying hard for the return of Jon at the end season five, HBO hasn’t seen praying yet.
Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights at 9/8c on HBO.