6 Jun 2016

Game of Thrones "The Broken Man" Review

This post includes spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 7, "The Broken Man".


After some major plot twists from last episode, this week's events focused more on the fallout of stuff that's happened all season long. Jon and Sansa visit Northern houses to gain support for their cause. In the riverlands, Jaime confronts Brynden Tully, while an old face makes a reappearance nearby. As always, I shall split up my review by focusing on each location/storyline.


King's Landing

After pledging her faith and the crown to the Seven last week, we see just what Margaery's new routine is. She becomes devoted to prayer and has seemingly given up the loyalty to her family. That is, until the High Sparrow tells her that her grandmother is an unrepentant sinner. Of course, later it became apparent that Margaery is tricking the Sparrows, and wanted to get her grandmother out of King's Landing for her own safety. She's playing her own game here, for the sake of her family, as she has been doing for the past five seasons. Remember that House Tyrell's words are "Growing Strong", meaning they may appear to be weak, careless and fragile, but they're using that as a ploy to grow stronger. Margaery is very good at playing on others' emotions, and we've seen her do this before with the smallfolk or with Joffrey. She might very well be one of the most cunning people in the capital, and I think the High Sparrow knows this. It might be a "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" type of deal between them.

I have to admire Olenna's sass, too. Her reminder of the smug smile Cersei gave her when her grandchildren were arrested was sincere, but she knows how to deliver a comeback or two. Cersei got brutally put in her place; this might have been our Queenbowl. I must also make a comment about the subtle costume changes. You may have noticed that Lannister hair isn't as golden as in earlier in the show, whereas Margaery's hair seems to have been lighter ever since her faithful conversion. Ultimately, this could either be a symbol for power or purity, maybe both. But I wouldn't exactly call Margaery "pure".

The North

We begin to see some of the problem's the Starks will face in the battle to come. Namely, the clash between wildlings and noble houses has come into question. Lord Glover doesn't want his men fighting alongside them, and even reminds Jon about how Robb essentially ruined the Stark name by making the bad decision to marry someone else (that may or may not have been a Lannister spy, but that's a theory for another day). We are reminded that the situation in the North has changed, and not many houses will want to fight for the Starks, especially with the Boltons holding so much power. They managed to get 62 good Mormont men (Lyanna Mormont's actress killed it, by the way. Perfect casting.) so that's a good start, I guess.



Sansa made an interesting decision this episode. She's aware they don't have enough men to fight at Winterfell. Upon rewatching the Season 5 finale, I noticed Stannis' army must have only had a couple of thousand men; about the same amount as Jon has. Sansa witnessed this battle, and saw they got slaughtered by Ramsay's forces. So, she writes a letter to someone. Who? Well, the answer would be Littlefinger. A couple of episodes ago, he approached her with an army of men from the Vale, but she refused because she could no longer trust him. He's a man who knowingly married her off to a rapist and a monster. Could you ever trust someone like that again? Even if he was being genuine, the damage has been done. So, it's a really desperate move to seek help from him at this time. Sansa realises he is their best hope to retake Winterfell.


Essos

The Greyjoy hype is on! Yara and Theon will go to Dany and she'll have the ships she needs to sail to Westeros. I'm really excited to see where this leads because we know that Euron is high on their tail and has the same goal in mind. It looks like it'll be a Greyjoy vs Greyjoy fight in Meereen. It was sad to see Theon, who might be the more subtle titular "broken man", finally trying to embrace the Greyjoy name once again and coming to terms with the state of his family. Also, Yara likes girls. Cool.




The scene with Arya was probably the weirdest of the whole episode. The first time I watched it, I was concerned for Arya. Like, "holy shit the Waif just cut her guts open and now she's gonna bleed to death!" - but then I rewatched the scene because something didn't quite sit right with me. Let's analyse this:

Arya, who is basically a fugitive of the House of Black and White, confidently prances around Braavos with her nose held high, openly flashes coin around (where did she even get it?), and then decides to stand on a bridge and watch the Titan of Braavos on the horizon. Considering the events of the past season, I really doubt Arya would be this stupid and allow herself to be caught off guard. It's very well possible that it's not actually Arya, but a faceless man posing as her. Perhaps Jaqen has something else in store for her, and this is really a test for the Waif. Or maybe Arya put her "death" on show just so the faceless men would not go looking for her again. It's hard to say at this point and I dare say we'll know more in the next episode.

The Riverlands

The meeting between Jaime and Brynden was very close to the books, which I admired considering the number of recent discrepancies between the two mediums. We see these two great soldiers come face-to-face, and it's one of the tensest parts of the episode. It reminds us that while Jaime has become a much more rounded, believable and "redeemed" character, the majority of the cast still see him as the Kingslayer; a man who broke his honour and struck down the man he swore to protect. Jaime will never be rid of this title, so he just has to learn to get around it with words. He is no longer a warrior of the sword, but a warrior of politics. We get a taste of this when he orders the Frey men to wash and feed Edmure. He is not the same person we knew several seasons ago.

In what was perhaps the biggest surprise of the episode, we finally saw the return of Sandor Clegane! Cleganebowl is a thing. Get hyped. So he's not quite a gravedigger but he is finding peace in this quiet community run by Brother Ray (played wonderfully by Ian McShane). We finally got to see how the Hound has "died" so Sandor can live again. It's a fitting end to his story, one that was filled with hate, anger and destruction, so if anyone deserves a happy ending it's this guy. But as the Greyjoys say, What is dead may never die, and Sandor has accidentally found a reason to fight again following the murder of Ray and his disciples at the hands of the Brotherhood Without Banners. It's a sad poetic irony that he must come out of peace to pick up a weapon again. Both Clegane brothers are now "back from the dead", and there's only road left to take now...




If you'd like to know more about the Cleganebowl theory, here is a link to it.

Summary

This episode was full of gorgeous cinematographic choices, especially in the Riverlands. Seeing the peaceful countryside really helped us get into the right frame of mind with Sandor, which only makes the ending much more tragic. I'm interested in seeing where this takes us from now; as Sandor is on a hate-fuelled revenge trip, while the Starks gather up more armies for the impending Snowbowl. With only three episodes left, there's going to be some exciting and catastrophic conclusions.


Overall I'd give this episode an 8/10.

In Memoriam

Ray
His villagers

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