TV REVIEW: Game of Thrones - The Broken Man
Is it really episode seven? This season has absolutely flown by, and has to be one of the most consistently brilliant so far, with The Broken Man, which is another great episode. And it doesn't waste any time in reintroducing a great character from previous seasons who had been theorised to return; The Hound aka Sandor Clegane, who is found being part of a religious commune building a sept. The show had taken Sandor on an interesting journey previous, having shifted not only loyalties but morality, with a somewhat different take on things after being paired with Arya.
Here, Clegane's story is given significant heft, with the episode structured around his story, itself a sad reminder of the inevitability of war in the world of Game of Thrones, and its effects on everywhere - nobody is safe, no matter how far, remote, or peaceful they are. And for a man with a history of violence, it's almost impossible to escape. He seems content as part of the commune, if still as cynical as ever, but it's fascinating watching his conversations with the leader Ray - played by Ian McShane - who has had seemingly as dark a past as Sandor. McShane's casting is a masterstroke, bringing wonderful gravitas and depth to a tiny part (in the scheme of things) which has a crucial role in reintroducing Sandor.
The warrior's attempt to get away is shattered by the Brotherhood of Banners, who kill everyone in the commune for no discernible reason - something we're unfortunately used to seeing in Game of Thrones. Joffrey may have become the king we all loved to hate, and Ramsay is doing a similar job, but they both did cruel and inhuman things not for tactical or leadership reasons, but because they wanted to and they had the power to do so. The episode ends powerfully, with Sandor finding the bodies of the commune members strewn across the field. In his scenes he was shown to be chopping wood with an axe, almost as a redirection of power from his previous use of similar items, but the final shot has him picking up the axe from a tree stump, his motivation clear.
Speaking of Arya, she's not having a wonderful time trying to escape Braavos and the faceless men, and after booking passage on a ship she was approached by an old lady who, hugely predictably, turned out to be the waif. It was a bit uncharacteristic for Arya to let her guard down like that, but it was after a little moment where it felt like was saying goodbye to the city - and ready to become a Stark again. She was stabbed quite a few times, although while the episode left her looking bleak, you know it's not going to kill her off (it doesn't help that you see her in the preview for the next episode afterwards). The other Starks aren't getting on particularly well either: While Tormund was able to rally the wildlings to Jon's cause, House Glover had no interest, and while House Mormont pledged their allegiance, they only have sixty-two men. Nevertheless, the young leader of House Mormont was a charming girl of ten years old who happily talked smack to Jon and Sansa, with Davos eventually getting through to her, possibly thinking of Shireen.
Things in King's Landing are beginning to pick up, and we finally have a bit more of an idea of Margarey's plan after she secretly passed a drawing of the Tyrell rose to her grandmother, confirming her allegiance under the watchful eye of the faith militant. Olenna had a brilliant scene with Cersei where she just absolutely railed against her leaving her absolutely struck dumb, and hopefully she'll stick around in the show even though she's back off to Highgarden. Cersei undoubtedly has something up her sleeve, and chances are the theorised "Cleganebowl" is about to come true with Cersei choosing zombie Gregor as her champion, and The Mountain versus The Hound sounds like a fantastic way to go.
PS. Yara likes the ladies. Never saw that coming.
You can read Charlie's look at previous episode, Blood of my Blood, here.