Everyone’s favorite brother-sister loving, skin flaying, backstabbing, dragon flying, dead walking, high adventure is back for season six! Come here every Monday morning for Pressure Life’s review and recap of HBO’s Game of Thrones season six! Make sure to let us know your favorite scenes in the comments section below!

There were many broken men featured on the selfsame-titled seventh episode of Game of Thrones this season. A rarity in Game of Thrones, “Broken Man” started with a pre-title cold open as a means to re-introduce the audience to the Hound right out of the gates. It’s been over a season since we last saw Sandor Clegane bleeding out on a rock after getting thoroughly dismantled by Brienne. Unlike his return in the book, he was not brought back from the dead, rather saved just before death by a ragged band of penniless worshippers. This was a smart change. With Jon Snow, Benjen Stark, and countless resurrected by the White Walkers this season, another Lazarus might be more than the suspension of disbelief can hold.

We can see the extent of change that has affected the Hound since his recuperation. He is a penitent man. He is quieter, more patient and humbled. When the affable septon, played by Ian McShane, delivers his sermon, insisting, “It’s never too late to stop thieving, to stop murdering. It’s never too late to come back.” he is speaking directly to the Hound’s fractured soul. Sandor openly faces his past sins and wants to be a better man, or at least one that can put the violent past behind him. Unfortunately, that is not the world he lives in and try as he might, he cannot deny that part of him. After the Brotherhood without Banners rolls through and decimates the small camp while Sandor is away, unceremoniously hanging his friendly septon friend, the episode closes with Sandor wrenching his axe free and storming off, hot for vengeance. The world will not allow him to be a man of peace, but with his newfound moral recalibration maybe he can be a man of violence but with a righteous new direction.

All I can say about the Brotherhood without Banners is that y’all just messed with the wrong melon farmers.

In what I would assume is not far away, Bryndn Tully, better known as the Blackfish, holds down the main castle at Riverrun. Located in the Riverlands, Riverrun is the ancestral home of the Tullys and it has been until the Red Wedding Massacre when it was bequeathed by the Crown to the Freys for their part in helping slaughter the Starks, of whom the Tullys were sworn allies. The Blackfish is one cold customer. When the Freys threaten to kill his only son, Tully offers only the mildest disaffected “meh” possible. He is entrenched and far outmatches the incompetent Freys.

Cue Jamie Lannister and Bronn of the Blackwater as they lead 8,000 Lannister troops to rally around the Frey’s bungling siege and take control of the debacle. One golden backhand to an insubordinate Frey later and Jamie is now calling the shots. He wastes no time calling for a parlay with The Blackfish, hoping to come to bloodless terms of surrender. The Blackfish will have none of it. Despite his current anti-hero status enjoyed by show watchers, much of the older generation of Westeros has not been privy to Jamie’s path of redemption over the seasons and still regards him as an opportunistic Kingslayer and untrustworthy oathbreaker. There are a lot of moving parts in this storyline and we haven’t even lit the fuse yet.

A different war of attrition is playing out in King’s Landing. After fusing the Crown with the Faith, the High Sparrow assumes to have Queen Margery under his thrall. The High Sparrow goes as far as working as wingman for King Tommen, attempting to guilt and pressure the Queen into having sex with King Tommen, even when she expresses no desire to do so. This, coupled with his following thinly-veiled threat of bodily harm to Margery’s octogenarian grandmother, only goes to further prove that while he may be an unquestionably pious man, he is far from morally sound.

Knowing the dangers, Margery sends her grandmother back to Highgarden, but not before secreting a private message with her. A simple rose (House Tyrell’s sigil) scrawled a slip of paper signifies that Margery is not under their spell but working a very calculated, cold and methodical long con. In passing the rose from one generation to the other, Margery has symbolically declared herself the lead matriarch of House Tyrell, staking her claim with this latest cerebral power play; and Grandma couldn’t be prouder. What comes next is unknown but I’m reminded of the best laid plans of mice and men…

Speaking of broken men, Theon Greyjoy is nursing his beer, feeling rather useless at a brothel. I’ve read online that this was supposed to be the free-city of Volantis, in Essos. If that is the case, (and the architecture, citizenry, and rampant whoredom looks to support that claim) then Yara is captain of the fastest ships on earth, having circumnavigated Westeros in what could be no more than a few weeks. Yara has really come into her own these past couple episodes. After the shrewd escape with the Iron Island’s best ships, she treats her crew to a night of ale and wenches as a reward for their bravery in abandoning their new king and in preparation of their long voyage. She intends to parlay with Daenrys in Meereen, pledging their ships to her cause in aims to retake Pike. To do this she will need her little brother at her side, not Reek, Theon Greyjoy. With tough love only a fellow Iron Islander can muster, Yara finds the dwindling spark of Theon buried deep in the fractured soul of Reek and rekindles his true heritage, all in between motor-boating a prostitute.

Could we see a Dany/Tyrion/Theon&Yara coalition forming? We all knew she would have Dothraki, Unsullied and sell-swords in her legion, but drawing great houses like Greyjoys and exiled Lannisters to her cause really makes a case for an effective siege of Westeros, especially if more houses follow suit once they’re standing in her dragon’s shadow.

As Yara seeks the aid of her brother in the war to come, Jon Snow has been making the rounds, seeking much the same. The new Stark alliance won over the rest of Wildlings with the help of his BFF, Tormund Giantsbane, but had a harder go of it with House Glover. Having just retaken their castle from the Ironborn with the help of House Bolton, the Glovers are reluctant to turn against their new benefactors. Sansa reminds Lord Glover of their vows made to House Stark, which are rebuked on the grounds that the vows led to the deaths of many of Lord Glover’s family. I’m sorry, I didn’t know these vows (that they claim to have honored for centuries) were null and void when the times got tough. Isn’t that what makes it a vow in the first place? Ned wouldn’t have stood for that rebuke.

You’ll find more honor in the ten year old heir to Bear Island, Lyanna Mormont, her people’s pint-sized protector. She was not be impressed with Sansa’s flattery or Jon’s idle chit-chat stewarding for her uncle, Lord Commander Mormont at the Wall. It was Daavos’ honest and unreserved talk that won her over. Speaking to her, not as a child but as a peer, Daavos made the familiar argument that if they allow the Boltons to continue to splinter the Northern houses, then they will be in no shape to combat the real threat of the White Walkers. While only pledging 62 fighting men, Lyanna insists each one is equal to ten mainlanders. Given her moxy, somehow I believe her.

The scant recruitment is not enough to pacify Sansa, who borders on obsessive in her desire to route Ramsey from her home. She has not the battle experience Jon has and does not appreciate the fact that you cannot wage war with the troops you wish you had. To this end, she sends off a raven with a message. One would have to assume it is heading for Littlefinger, beseeching him for the Kinghts of the Vale he promised were hers to use in battle. While this is clearly a deal with the devil, even reminiscent of Theon’s betrayal of Robb before his crucial battle, there’s no telling that after the Knights of the Vale ride into battle (if that’s what they end up doing) that Sansa doesn’t have someone cut off Littlefinger’s head all the same. Sansa’s tutalege of the ways of the world have come from the likes of Cersei, Tyrion, Littlefinger and Ramsey Bolton. She is not as soft or as naïve as people seem to think her.

As always with Arya Stark, out of the frying pan and into the fire. She walks the streets of Braavos, not as a Faceless novice or any other alternate disguise, but as the true Arya. Once she picks up on someone speaking in fluent Westerosi, she books passage on the next boat out of town. She even has a bit of swagger as she does so, but her cheer is short lived as she gets caught sleeping on a vengeful Waif who sneaks up on Arya while wearing the face of an old crone. The vengeful Waif gets in several grisly stab wounds before Arya can throw herself over the bridge in an escape attempt. While the wounds do look very severe, the fact that the showrunners close the episode with Arya climbing out of the waters and staggering through the streets, injured, but still on her feet, attests that her adventures are far from ending. I still feel that there is something under the surface at work in regards to the interplay between Arya, the Waif, and Jaqen Hagar. I’m not sure who, but someone in this triangle is being played false.

A compelling episode that treated viewers to locales often neglected within the canon the television series. With only three episodes remaining this season, the final pieces are being put into place for what is sure to be a wildly compelling battle for Winterfell as well as Riverrun.

 

Winner of the Episode: Yara Greyjoy (She’s got a real ‘Cap’n Jack Sparrow’ quality to her this week. She’s making bold moves and upsetting the older generations’ power plays and breathing new life into the series.)

Loser of the Episode: Arya Stark (While I don’t fear for her life, you can’t argue that she didn’t let her guard down. And furthermore, where the hell was Needle in all of that?)

 

Quotes of the Episode:

Jamie Lannister: “Only a fool makes threats he’s not prepared to carry out. Now, let’s say I threaten to hit you unless you shut your mouth but you kept talking. What do you think I’d do?
Random Frey: “I don’t give a rat as—
Jamie Lannister: SMACK!!

Septon Ray: “There’s plenty of pious sons-of-bitches who think they know the word of god, or gods. I don’t. I don’t even know their real names. Maybe it is the Seven, or maybe it’s the Old Gods, or maybe it’s the Lord or Light, or maybe they’re all the same fucking thing. I don’t know. What matters, I believe, is that there’s something greater than us.”

 

 

 

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  • Adam Dodd

    Content Strategist, novelist and prolific roustabout who drinks entirely too much coffee. You can find him on Twitter @therealadamdodd

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