This is a recap of the Game Of Thrones episode “The Broken Man” (season 6, episode 7).
Non-spoiler summary: “The High Sparrow eyes another target. Jaime confronts a hero. Arya makes a plan. The North is reminded.”
See below for full SPOILER-ific recap!
I saw this episode as breaking down into two parts:
Part One: The Hound is back and more haunted than ever!
Part Two: Let’s watch characters have a series of Meetings!
I will discuss each of these separately below!
1) The Hound is back and volunteering with Habitat For Humanity!
I gotta admit, I think I shouted “The Hound is alive!” with more joy this episode than when I shouted “Jon is alive!” earlier this season. Anybody else with me on this one? Is my soul more disfigured than the Hound’s face?
Ser Sandor Clegane is alive and has joined up with some sort of Habitat For Humanity (or I guess, Churches For The Seven?) run by Sexy & Rugged Jimmy Carter aka Sugged JC (played by guest start Ian McShane).
We learn that like the Hound, Sugged JC has a tortured past where he regrets the wrong that he has done but has found solace in becoming a devotee of the Church of the Seven. It’s easy to conclude that this episode’s titular “broken man” is poor Sandor Cleagane.
The Hound and Sugged JC have some great exchanges in this episode, that nicely frame the opposing moral philosophies that govern the GoT universe, such as:
Sugged JC: I reckoned you’d die, but you didn’t. What kept you going?
Hound: (pause, thinking) Hate.
Sugged JC: Nah, there’s a reason you’re still here.
And then later:
Sugged JC: Violence is a disease. You don’t cure a disease by spreading it to more people.
Hound: You don’t cure it by dying either.
Roughly speaking, I see this as a tension between the moral philosophies of Justice vs Revenge, a distinction explicitly stated later in the episode between Theon and Yara (see below). Justice and revenge look an awful lot alike, but they are different. Justice seeks to heal, but revenge seeks to cause equal (or greater) damage to the offending party. Revenge begets the need for further revenge, an eye for an eye and all that. What makes Game of Thrones the incredible story that it is, though, this simple dichotomy is complicated even further, as we see that life is messy, and even those people who want to escape the cycle of violence they find themselves trapped in are not always able to do so…
As such, the Hound seems almost content in his new of life chopping wood. His strength and work ethic are being put toward creation instead of destruction (what a visceral relief to see a structure being built instead of burnt to the ground on this show!). We briefly feel hope that he has found peace from the demons that chase him, but this being GoT we know that this won’t last…
2) Badness happening to the Hound’s new idyllic life is foreshadowed
In Hound Storyline Scene 2 Of 3, the Hound listens on as Sugged JC preaches that “it’s never too late to come back.”
But then bad music swells and three Lord Of Light Bullies ride up, ask for payment for protection like mafia thugs, and then ominously depart with the words “the night is dark and full of terrors” (which we have heard from Melisandre previously) .
3) Badness happening to the Hound’s new idyllic life happens
In Hound Storyline Scene 3 Of 3, the Hound is out doing his new favorite past time of chopping wood when he hears cries back at camp. He returns and sees that his entire new life has been brutally massacred.
4) The Hound has an “And my axe!” moment
It’s Hate that kept the Hound alive so far, and it looks like it will be Hate that sustains him to take revenge.
This episode brings up another interesting dichotomy we see played out again and again in the GoT universe: the difference between revenge and justice.
The episode ends as Clegane goes Gimli and picks up his axe, a tool that can be used to build a church or kill an enemy, to carry out revenge or justice. It’s up to the one who wields it to decide how it will be used.
Now, turning to the other storylines in this episode, aka Characters Have Meetings With Other Characters! There are a lot of these, so let’s power through:
5) Margaery meets with the High Sparrow and he threatens her Grandma Olenna
Margaery impresses the High Sparrow with her new found devotion as we see her back in Baelor’s Sept, but with her rags replaced with her queen attire.
The High Sparrow seems impressed, but then is like “yo, why aren’t you doing sex with lil’ Tom anymore?” and she is like “that is weird he talked to you about that, but tbh I’m just not feeling it” and then he’s like “well, just lie there and take it, or else I’m going to hurt your Grandma” and she is like “okay, dude, I’ll talk to my Grandma.”
6) Margaery meets with her Grandma Olenna and secretly warns her about the High Sparrow’s threat
I had a feeling that Margaery was faking her faith in order to pull one over on the High Sparrow, and it was so gratifying to finally get confirmation of this.
Margaery talks loudly to her Grandma “Queen of Thorns” Olenna about her faith in earshot of the Septa Unella, then clandestinely slips a crumpled piece of paper with a rose on it, the symbol of House Tyrell.
Sidenote: did anyone else think that the sound effect of the paper crumpling as she passed the note was actually the sound of Margaery breaking Olenna’s old lady bones as she squeezed her hand too tight? Anyway…
Fuck. Yeah. Margaery.
I’m very excited to see the full measure of what Margaery is up to in the remaining episodes this season.
7) Cersei meets with Grandma Olenna and she done gets told
While Marg’s transformation in the Sept was fake, we see that perhaps Cersei’s experience has genuinely caused her to turn over a new leaf: she admits that she might have made a mistake! That’s big for her. But her admitting that she messed up handing control of King’s Landing over to the Faith Militant doesn’t stop Olenna from delivering some sharp barbs that make it clear why she deserves the nickname Queen of Thorns:
— Olenna Tyrell, season 6 episode 7
“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 do stand out through the years. You remember the way you smirked at me when my granddaughter and grandson were dragged off to their cells? I do. I’ll never forget it.”
Cersei replies that the only truth she knows is that she loves her son, her last remaining child, a possible justification for her horrible behavior over the years. Yes, Cersei has done some vile things to make her the worst person that Olenna has ever met, but if those vile things were done out of love, does that justify them?
8) Jon, Sansa and Davos meet with the Wildlings and ask for support to fight
The Wildlings are reluctant, but they’re convinced to give their support and go fight with Jon to take back Winterfell from the Boltons in order to unite the North against the coming army of the Night King.
What convinced them? Was it the giant Wun saying “Snow” before lumbering off? Was it Tormund calling them cowards for not being willing to give their lives for Jon after he gave his life for them? Or is it Jon’s simple logic that although it’s not fair, this actually is their fight, too.
9) Jon, Sansa and Davos meet with Lil’ Lady Mormont of Bear Island (your new favorite character) and ask for support to fight
Holy shit, Lil’ Lady Mormont is everybody’s new favorite character. This ten-year-old Lord of Bear Island rules so hard, I love it.
Jon and Sansa aren’t able to convince her, but you know that Ser Davos knows how to talk to little girls of a certain age and make them feel like they’re being respected (I meant this as a nice thing referring to his relationship with Stannis’s daughter Shireen, but seeing it written out it seems creepy).
In the end, she pledges her 62 men to fight alongside House Stark. Sansa is not impressed (Mormont’s snarky comment about her being not a Stark but a Lannister or a Bolton didn’t help, either).
10) Jon, Sansa and Davos meet with Lord Glover and ask for support to fight
Jon convinced the Free Folk to join and fight.
Davos convinced House Mormont to join and fight.
Will Sansa be able to convince House Glover?
Things aren’t going well, and Sansa speaks up about House Glover’s pledge to House Stark. It does not go well. Turns out the Glovers are still mad that after they went to fight for Robb Stark, he went and slept with a “foreign whore” and got himself and most of his supporters killed.
Since Sansa wasn’t able to contribute to the team like Davos and Jon, it makes sense that later in the episode she feels compelled to do something. But what she does is questionable: behind Jon’s back, she sends a raven.
Did Sansa write her uncle the Blackfish at Riverrun? Or did she break down and ask Littlefinger for his help with his Knights of the Vale?
Either way, we are left with the feeling that dishonesty doesn’t suit House Stark well, and seeing the seal of the Direwolf on top of a message sent from a point of deceit will not bring good.
11) Jamie and Bronn meet with the Freys leading the Riverrun siege
In what is undoubtedly the funnest exchange of the episode, Jamie and Bronn show up with their army at the seige of Riverrun to take over for the two Frey brothers who have so far not succeeded in taking back control from the Blackfish.
They threaten to kill their prisoner, Edmure Tully, but then don’t follow through. And as Jamie explains with the back of his hand, only fools make threats they’re not willing to follow through on.
Also, big ups to Edmure for his two episode streak of not having any lines but making very sad prisoner faces. How many eps can the streak go???
12) Jamie parleys (a fancy word for ‘meet’) with the Blackfish about the Riverrun siege
Jamie’s strong words might have worked on the Freys, but they have no effect on the Blackfish.
In this exchange, we see that like the Hound, Jamie is also a broken man of sorts. He literally is missing a hand, of course, but there is also something fundamentally broken about him being a Man. A man is as only good as his word, and over and over again throughout the series we have been reminded that people don’t trust Jamie because he is an oathbreaker.
He stabbed the king in the back he was sworn to protect, and as the Blackfish reminds him he swore an oath that in return for his freedom from the custody of Catelyn Stark, he would return to her Arya and Sansa from possession of the Lannisters, something he failed to do (it was outside of his control, sure, but just like you shouldn’t make a threat you can’t follow through on, you shouldn’t swear an oath you’re not sure you can keep).
The Blackfish tells Jamie that in addition to sieges being dull, the reason he agreed to meet was to get a measure of the man that Jamie had become. He tells him he was disappointed.
Can Jamie ever restore himself? Or is his honor forever broken?
Wow, that was a lot of meetings! But we’re not done quite yet!
Just to tie up a few more odds and ends:
13) Theon needs therapy but instead plays a drinking game in a brothel with his sister Yara
Theon is yet another broken man. While Yara is getting it on with a shapely prostitute (they don’t make up like this in the Iron Islands!), Theon clearly is suffering from some serious PTSD. Yara makes a joke about his castration, then she softens up a bit and tries to be a good big sister, which includes forcing him to chug a beer and then telling him to either stop whining or kill himself.
Yara: “Now listen to me. I need you, the real Theon Greyjoy, not this ratshit pretender.Can you find him for me? Drink! You escaped, you hear me? You got away and you’re never going back. We’ll get justice for you.”
Theon: If I got justice, my burnt body would be hanging over the gates of Winterfell.
Yara: Fuck justice then. We’ll get revenge. Drink!
Not the best model for how to help someone suffering from mental issues, but in Theon’s case, it seems to do the trick. Perhaps he is still Iron Born after all.
Oh yeah, Yara also mentions that they are stealing Euron’s plan and are heading to Meereen to make a deal with Dany in order to take over the Seven Kingdoms with her.
14) Arya arranges for passage to Westeros, but gets shanked by the Waif before she can leave
Just like the Hound can’t escape the disease of violence that seems to follow him wherever he goes, Arya is also unable to escape her former path.
The Waif shanks her in the stomach, but she is able to escape. I think we’re supposed to wonder if she is going to make it, but come on, obviously she is going to make it. GoT is of course not afraid to kill off characters we love, but when they do it, they do it.
Perhaps next episode the actress she spared, Lady Crane, will save Arya’s life?
That’s all for now! Thanks for reading and see you next week!