“Bargaining with oath breakers is like building on quicksand.”
“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” English playwright William Congreve wrote that. He was an intelligent man. The women rule in “The Broken Man.” Not the visual spectacle as recent episodes past, but one that certainly moves the pieces around the board in a timely fashion, as well as giving the “fairer” sex their rightful place at center stage.
Let’s start in King’s Landing and the drawn out saga that is “The Trial of Margaery Tyrell.” Queen Margaery has been stuck in the cell for what seems like years, at the mercy of the High Sparrow and his burlap sack. Her actions and last episode’s seemingly relenting to the Sparrow’s way of thinking have made people question what her plan will be. She has shown through the series that her long con game is second to none, and it’s proven once more after meeting with her grandmother, Olenna, to ask her to return to Highgarden, she slips her a drawing of a rose (her family’s crest), revealing she has in fact not been brainwashed, and a reckoning is most likely coming to her grubby captor. (Though, it’s worth noting, that when you think you have situation figured out, a character usually dies a horrible death, so perhaps the writing is on the wall for Mrs. Tommen Baratheon.)
Jon Snow’s quest to find reinforcements for the siege on Winterfell to (hopefully) rid the earth of Ramsey Snow has mixed results. He successfully recruits the remaining Wildlings, with the help of Tormund and Wun Wun, the latter solidifying his vote by standing up and grunting out, “Snow.” A less favorable outcome comes at the door of House Glover–former Stark enthusiasts who leave Snow out in the cold. To atone for the Jon’s lack of confidence, Sansa writes on a piece of parchment, asking for help. But to whom? The easy answer is Littlefinger, leader of the Vale who has a considerable army behind it. Baelish was the one who led Sansa to the rapey arms of Bolton, so you can imagine the strength it took to reach out and ask for help. With added force the Vale provides, it should be enough (they do have a giant for pete’s sake) to take down the sitting Warden of the North. How injecting Littlefinger back in the game will affect the goings on of Westeros remains to be seen.
Oh, and I’ll take a little more of Lyanna Mormont, please. The niece of Jorah, and granddaughter of Jeor (the fallen Lord Commander of the Wall) is a volcano of sass. After the trio of Jon, Sansa, and Davos travel to Bear Island to seek aid, it is only the soft words of Ser Seaworth who tames the tiny spitfire, which makes sense given his connection to the tragically fallen Shireen. Lyanna promises the swords of House Mormont to join the fray–all 62 of them. Let’s hope they’re all as ferocious as Jeor and Jorah.
Arya, for all of her strengths, makes a critical error, underestimating (somehow) the power of the Many-Faced God and his Waif. After booking passage back to Westeros, she gloats on a bridge before being attacked by her nemesis under the visage of an old woman. She barely escapes, falling over a bridge into the water below, then drags herself to shore, bleeding heavily, and looks suspiciously at every passerby. Logic points to her seeking shelter with the actress who portrays Cersei. How she’ll help from an entity who can take any human form is another question.
Finally, Yara and Theon are hiding out in a brothel, on the run from their uncle Euron. While Yara and her loyalists enjoy ale and some naked women, Theon sits sullenly, until his sister snaps him out of it, demanding he guzzle his drink and basically (wo)man up. They’re still in a world of trouble, but Theon being right of mind gives the siblings a better chance of survival, especially seeing that they’ve decided to trek across the sea and meet up with Daenerys and her ever expanding horde.
“The Broken Man” could be any one of a dozen characters on the show. Jaimie being stripped of his title and sent to the Blackfish to reclaim the castle formerly held by Walter Frey; Jon not yet quite possessing the conviction needed to overthrow Ramsey Bolton; Tommen still not having sex with his wife. But the literal and figurative answer is our mystery guest, Sandor Clegane.
Our scarred anti-hero returns unexpectedly (let’s not forget the golden rule of television deaths: if you don’t see someone actually die onscreen, their fate may not be as certain as you’d think), in the helping arms of Ian McShane’s Brother Ray. We last saw the Hound in the season four finale, “All Men Must Die,” laying beaten and bloodied, bone sticking out of his leg, after losing a brutal battle to Brienne. He seems to have found some sort of peaceI, along with everyone else, most likely thought that McShane would stick around more than one episode, but if he and his followers death at the hands of some unnamed toughs is a way to get the Hound back to his old ways, I’m all for it. Sandor Clegane is a formidable guy in a series chalk full of them. Even with a limp, he’ll be taking out his pent up rage quite potently methinks.
• GAME OF THRONES did a funny thing with the intro this week. While anticipating the familiar opening credits, instead we are sent right to the countryside where Brother Ray and his followers are erecting a church. GOT has done this a few times in the past (Ned Stark’s sword, Ice, was smelted down into two new blades), and it’s an effective way to reveal something monumental to the story.
• Before he’s hanged, it was humorous hearing Ray talk about the many religions in the realm and the absurdity behind them all.
• With all the in country fighting going on, once the final battle for the Iron Throne takes place, it’s going to be a tiresome affair to sort out who’s fighting for whom.
• Davos mentions that Jon’s camp is the one that Stannis used before his failed siege. How long before he realizes or is told that Shireen was burned alive at the stake by the Red Woman and his friend?
• Interesting to see the change in Margaery’s dress as a cause of her current ordeal. Margaery has never been one to shy away from some revealing outfits, accentuating her assets, but in “The Broken Man,” her dress is long, and goes up right to her neck.
• Sadly, no flirting between Tormund and Brienne. My fingers are crossed for next week.