For the second week in a row ‘Game of Thrones’ seemed a bit underwhelming, giving us what many would call another “bridge” episode. And while it does seem like a good amount did happen in the episode (just not much action), a lot of the time was dedicated to the return of the Hound as the show caught us up on his physical and mental state following his defeat by Brienne.
Diving in, the episode, in a rare cold open, showed us the construction of a structure in Westeros being worked on by a number of people, and while I instantly thought we were seeing the building of Winterfell and being given some essential piece of the show’s mythology (hence the cold opening), eventually you see a massive man lifting a log all by himself, and it is revealed to be the Hound, alive seasons later after we all thought Brienne and Arya had left him for dead. It was exciting, but not cold opening exciting in my opinion, especially when I learned after that they only did the cold opening so fans would not see the actor’s name in the opening credits. Anyways, the Hound is helping a country sept named Brother Ray build a new holy structure with his community, recovering both mentally and spiritually as the holy man speaks to him about violence in general and how he can always start over in life.
Over in King’s Landing, Margaery is visited by the High Sparrow and they discuss scripture passages, as Margaery is rapidly becoming a scholar of the religion, much to the enjoyment of the Sparrow (does he suspect she is faking? Is she faking?) Next, he broaches the subject of her marriage with the King, as apparently Tommen has been complaining to the Sparrow that he and Margaery have not slept together since they had been reunited (God Tommen is such a whiner. And it is very weird to complain to a priest about your sex life). The Sparrow reminds Margaery that it is her duty to the crown and the gods to sleep with Tommen, as they need an heir to keep their bloodline going. She agrees, and then is told by the Sparrow to reign in her grandmother, the High Sparrow pretending to be worried about the Queen of Thorn’s safety should she remain in King’s Landing. So Margaery goes to speak with her grandmother, who is bewildered by the Queen’s support of the High Sparrow and reluctantly agrees to head back to High Garden. On her way out, Margaery slips her grandmother a piece of paper with a drawing of a rose on it, secretly letting her grandmother know that she is still a member of the family and can be counted on (and potentially letting the Queen of Thorns know that she has a plan for saving Sir Loras). Before she leaves King’s Landing, though, Lady Olenna is visited by Cersei, who too little too late has come to ask to team up with the Queen of Thorns to stop the High Sparrow. In an honest and frank conversation, Lady Olenna blames Cersei for giving the Sparrow power (and Cersei surprisingly admits that she made a mistake), and then the old woman says her only solace in this mess is that Cersei has lost, and has no allies left in the city.
At Riverrun, Jaime arrives with Bronn in tow just in time to see the Freys threaten the life of Edmure Tully, demanding that the Blackfish stand down or else they will kill his kin. The Blackfish (rightfully so), states that Edmure will probably be killed anyway, and does not give in to the Frey’s demands. Jaime orders Edmure be cleaned up and fed, and takes command of the rinky-dink Frey siege of the castle, as he and Bronn can tell the whole affair is being woefully mishandled by amateur soldiers. The Freys attempt to retain their command at first, but Jaime stands his ground and reminds them that he was sent by the King, and they eventually fall in line. Meanwhile, Jaime demands a parlay with the Blackfish, and the two meet just outside the castle. The Blackfish informs Jaime that there will be no terms, that he has provisions to last 2 years and he does not think the Lannister army will be able to maintain their blockade that long. Jaime informs the Blackfish that if he surrenders he will spare the Blackfish’s men and prevent hundreds (thousands?) of deaths, but the Blackfish does not care, and claims he only agreed to the parlay because he wanted to meet Jaime.
In Volantis, the Greyjoys are taking a break from fleeing their mad uncle and saving their ships by visiting a brothel. Not for Theon (clearly) but for Yara, who apparently enjoys women as much as Theon used to. She notices his misery and realizes it is time for tough love. She demands he drink his ale, tells him that he is safe from Ramsay and is never going back there, and then basically tells him that he needs to either kill himself by slitting his wrists, or get over what happened to him and become the brother she needs. She then reminds him of their plan, which is to go to Mereen and offer their ships to Daenerys, who will help them retake the Iron Islands as she is reconquering the rest of the seven kingdoms. Theon seems to find himself at last as he looks his sister in the eyes once more, and we realize that we might be seeing the Greyjoys join the dragon army.
In the North of Westeros, Sansa and Jon have started their recruiting tour for their army to take back Winterfell, and it is not going as well as they would have liked. They manage to convince the Wildlings to join on the merit of Jon Snow’s character and the fact that the Northern houses will come after them anyway without Jon’s support, but their next target on Bear Island proves more difficult. The 10-year-old Lady Mormont remembers vividly what happened when her parents threw in with Rob Stark, and worries about protecting her own people and not getting involved in another Stark war. Luckily, Davos is there to remind her about duty and the fact that this is everyone’s war, and that the North will need to be united under a Stark in order to survive the impending attack by the Night King and the White Walkers, which is enough to convince Lady Mormont to send them 62 men, all the small island has to give. Their last stop is House Glover, who owes a debt to the Boltons for helping to drive off the Iron Born who had invaded their castle during the war of the 5 Kings. He is bitter that while Rob Stark made stupid mistakes and got himself killed in the South, no one was there to help him fight off Yara’s army, and refuses to fight for the Starks anymore, even after an impassioned plea from Sansa reminding him that he swore an oath to the Stark house. With the Glovers out, their army is still a bit small to fight the Boltons, but Jon does not want to be caught in bad winter weather the way Stannis’ army was, and wants to attack Winterfell now, without even waiting to see if Brienne returned with forces from Riverrun. Sansa is against the idea and wants to wait for more men, but Jon is in charge of the war for now and she knows it. Luckily, she has an ace up her sleeve, and she sends out a raven to an unknown ally (though we are all pretty sure it is a letter to Littlefinger, asking for help from the Vale).
Meanwhile in Braavos, Arya is working out her escape plan now that she has betrayed the House of Black and White once more and knows they will be gunning for her. She manages to book passage home using stolen funds, but while crossing a bridge back to her hide-out, she is accosted by an old woman, who stabs her many times in the stomach, and is revealed to be the Waif. Arya, taken completely by surprise, manages to escape by diving off the bridge and into the waters below, but there is a lot of blood coming from her. She washes ashore a little ways down the canal and stumbles down the street looking for shelter, knowing any passing stranger she meets might just be the Waif in disguise, but still all too aware that she is in desperate need of medical attention.
And lastly, back to the Hound and Brother Ray, who continues to speak to the Hound about the gods (and higher powers in general), and how he could change his life. The small group is visited by three men from the Brotherhood without Borders, who are clearly looking for food or money, and they are rebuffed by Brother Ray, who will not give them anything but does invite them to dinner. The Hound knows those men will be back and warns Brother Ray to prepare to defend himself, but Brother Ray will not (apparently he used to be a violent man and does not want to back to his murderous ways). Later, as the Hound is off in the woods he hears screams, and he returns to the encampment to find everyone dead, and Brother Ray hanging by the neck from inside the new sept he was trying to build. Looks like the Hound will be back to his violent ways after all as he avenges his new people.
GAME OF THEORIES:
– How will Brienne make it through the Siege to Riverrun? Will she use her relationship with Jaime to get close?
– How well would Danereys get along with the Iron born? Will Tyrion be against Theon on the principle of knowing that Theon betrayed the Starks?
– So clearly the Hound is going to avenge Brother Ray and company, but could he be turning over a new, non-violent leaf following that? Or will he still be violent and just become a hero?
– When Daenerys comes home she will certainly have a lot to catch up on, especially if the Iron Born have arrived by then.
While I love the Hound, I think devoting this much of an episode to his return, especially this late in the ‘Thrones’ saga is kind of a waste, as the other storylines at this point are far more interesting, all of which makes me wonder if the showrunners are just stalling for time as they have finally begun to run out of material and story (it was just announced that the 7th and final season will only have 7 episodes). Either way, I am looking forward to a (hopefully) more action-packed episode next week! See you then!
Nick is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, who belongs to the privileged few who enjoyed the ending to ‘Lost.’ For more of Nick’s thoughts and articles, follow him on Twitter.