The seventh episode of Game of Thrones season six called ‘Broken Man’ had plenty of broken men in focus – Then Greyjoy who is actually broken, Jaime Lannister who is trying hard to become the man he before he was broken and surprise, surprise (or was it, considering all the fan theories?) the return of the broken and battered Sandor Clegane aka The Hound.
But the strongest parts of episode belonged to women, and one rather ferocious (and instant fan-favourite) girl. Margaery and her grandmother Olenna Tyrell in King’s Landing and Bear Island’s 10-year-old chief Lyanna Mormont were the real winners.
First things first, Lyanna Mormont is awesome. She is also the head of one of the strongest Northern houses, House Mormont. And if that name sound familiar, among the many, complicated House names in the series, it's because it belongs to the family of former Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch Joer Mormont and Khaleesi’s former right hand man Jorah Mormont. But the 10-year-old girl is double the men they are as she firmly and sassily questions Jon Snow, Sansa Stark and Davos Seaworth’s mission to remind the North.
Eagle-eyed fans may remember her as the one who put down Stannis Baratheon's call to arms with a one-sentence note - "Bear Island knows no king but the King in the North, whose name is Stark,” back in Season five. But while she doubts Jon and Sansa’s ‘Stark’ credentials, she responds to Seaworth’s threat of White Walkers. Ser Davos also emphasises on an important point we mustn't forget– the war is not between Houses, it’s also a war against the Undead and 'Winter is Coming!' However, not all Houses are willing to be allies, and not without cause. It’s not only loyalty to the Wardens, the North also remembers Robb’s failed campaign and the destruction it caused.
On a side note, Jon and Sansa seemed like school children when confronted with questions about their war. Earlier, Tormud had to speak up for Jon to the Wildlings, and while the siblings have a way with words, they don’t quite have the quick timing for it. That’s not how you will get Winterfell back from Ramsey Bolton, a little more confidence please! By the end of the episode, at least Sansa has decided to step up things and has sent a raven, presumably to Petyr Littefinger Baelish, who she sent away in an earlier episode. Desperate times call for desperate measures, indeed.
On the other side of the map, a girl got stabbed – another reminder that Starks can’t have good things for long. Having booked passage to Westeros, Arya was gazing wistfully at the Titan of Braavos statue, a bad idea as she is on the run from a dangerous group of faceless assassins. As expected, the Waif attacks her but she manages to escape alive after feigning death. As a bleeding girl walks through the streets, one can’t help but wonder – can they actually *kill* another major Strak. Unlikely, but this is Game of Thrones after all.
Speaking of, there is a fun little game going on at King’s Landing and as we suspected, Margaery is playing the High Sparrow. After continuing the reformed, demure act, she showed her true loyalties by slipping a sketched rose – the sigil of House Tyrell – to Olenna, following the Sparrow’s not-so-subtle threat to the Queen of Thorns. As Olenna prepares to return to Highgarden, Cersei asks her to join forces, and true to her moniker, she delivers a sharp and her best line so far –
"I wonder if you're the worst person I've ever met. At a certain age, it's hard to recall, but the truly vile truly stand out."
Yeah lady, we have all wondered that, ever since the first episode when she and Jaime tried to kill Bran.
Incidentally, Jaime seems to be back to his bad guy ways. After being banished, he has marched to Riverrun to confront Brendyn ‘Blackfish’ Tully. Reunited with the witty Bronn, he takes command, lays siege, slaps the Freys effort and threatens the Tully chief all in a matter of hours. Last week we wrote how Riverrun will be a central battleground during the latter half of the season and from the interactions between Blackfish, the Freys and Jaime proves that there is a lot more action to be seen here. (Fun fact: Jaime’soath to Cateyln Stark, to protect her daughters, is mentioned and we wonder if that is foreshadowing about a certain Lady?) But, Brienne will be here soon, in direct rivalry with her former companion, and unless we are mistaken so will The Hound.
And now to the titular ‘broken man’. The start of the episode was different, it didn’t begin with that intense theme, but instead with a scene of happy peasants building a structure lead by a pious gent (look, it's Ian McShane) as suggested by his necklace. As we wonder what are these smiling people doing in Game of Thrones, we see a man, carrying a bulky log, walk in focus. Is this? Could it be? Yes it is! WE knew it!
The Hound is not dead and we go into the opening credits seeing Rory McCain’s name. After intermittent philosophical conversations with his religious rescuer and a threat from the Brotherhood without Banners, we see his peaceful world destroyed and we see the beast within him return. He is out for revenge and hopefully this journey will eventually lead him to his brother in King’s Landing so that we can final see the ‘Cleagnebowl’ we have been promised right from Season one.
Brothers brings us to the Greyjoy siblings, who steadily continue to invert gender roles. They have reached Volantis and, armed with their ships, are en route to Mereen as Yara plans to partner with Daenerys. Last week’s review pointed out how conveniently things are laid out – one needs ships, the other has plenty – and we might just see the two parties align to go to Westeros. We also get to see Yara finally get through to her brother -- she tells Theon to either die as Reek or choose to stay alive as the Ironborn he is. This pep talk seems to bring the erstwhile villain and current broken man to his senses. If the Greyjoys are to have any say in this story, Theon needs to be back to his former confident and devious self, and honestly we have seen enough of Reek.
While this episode was not as high on drama and action as we have been used to, Hound's return, Riverrun politics, Stark's mission and Arya's attack has set up things for the final three episodes, which promise to be action-packed. The next episode is titled ‘No One’ and has us wondering, again, about what happens to Arya. We hope a girl is safe. Till then, here’s the teaser for it: