Spoilers for the season six, episode seven of Game of Thrones are below.
How about this week, huh? Some great moments, a couple returns, Ian McShane turning up – pretty solid – and it kept us moving towards the wars (note the plural) that are most assuredly coming, as Ser Davos made clear.
Here’s what happened.
Surprise – It’s A Cold Open: The way things normally work is you get the “Previously on Game of Thrones” and then the opening credits, but not this week. Nope, Sunday night we got a bunch of smiling folks in the meadow building what looks like a church and a massive human being bringing up the rear.
It’s The Hound, who was left for dead after Arya refused to put him out of his misery and seems to have survived. Welcome back, Big Man!
After the opening credits, The Hound and Ian McShane’s character, who seems to be the leader of these free, happy folk building a church in the meadow, let’s The Hound know how he found him and that he expected him to die numerous times. But why didn’t he?
“Hate,” is what The Hound answers, adding something along the lines of “I’m a big bastard and I’m tough to take out,” both of which are true, clearly.
King’s Landing: A trio of two-person meetings picking up from last week’s team-up between the High Sparrow and King Tommen.
The High Sparrow meets with Margaery, concerned that she’s not sleeping with Tommen since being released. She says she doesn’t have the urge; he tells her women don’t need to have any desire, just patience. Following his sex tips, he urges Queen Margaery to send Lady Olenna home because he “(fears) for her safety,” which comes off as ominous as you think it does when said by a religious fanatic with a bunch of violent followers.
Margaery meets up with Lady Olenna and pleads with her to go back to High Garden, slipping her a drawing of a Tyrell rose on the sneak. It’s a nod to both her grandmother and the audience that despite appearances, Queen Margaery is still on Team Tyrell.
Lady Olenna then gets a visit from Cersei and lays into her for causing all of this mess, which is completely legit. Cersei not only takes every verbal jab, she agrees and says, “ We need each other right now.” There’s no rage, no fire, just calculating Cersei and Olenna is on board, but not before pondering whether Cersei is the most horrible person she’s ever met.
Riverrun: Another return! Welcome back, Bronn!
With Jaime arriving in Rivverrun to help the helpless Freys reclaim the castle from The Blackfish, he needs a right-hand man (pun very much intended) and it’s our old pal Bronn, who comes with the jokes right away. Good to have him back.
As Jaime approaches, sauntering right in with thousands of troops, the helpless Freys are trying to coax The Blackfish out of Riverrun by threatening to hang Edmure, then putting a blade to his throat. The Blackfish says “get it over with” and the helpless Freys are forced to show they had no intention of actually killing Edmure.
Jaime rolls in, backhands one of them with his golden hand, and orders Edmure bathed and fed, directing Bronn to request a parlay with The Blackfish.
They have their convo at the edge of the lowered gate. Jaime threatens to kill Edmure and everyone else, which prompts The Blackfish to admit Edmure is probably dead either way and they can hold up in Riverrun for two years. The Blackfish had no interest in relenting; he just wanted to see Jaime up close and he was kind of disappointed.
Out In The North: Team Stark is trying to rally people to their side, starting with the wildlings. Some aren’t keen, but after Tormunde gives Jon his backing, Wun-Wun makes it clear he’s on board and the rest follow, because are you really going to go against a giant?
Then it’s off to Bear Island and House Mormont, where 10-year-old Lyanna Mormont is at the helm. She’s the niece of Lord Commander Jeor Mormont and the cousin of Ser Jorah Mormont of the Friend Zone, as well as being named after Ned Stark’s sister. She’s also a complete badass.
While she told Stannis that House Mormont only recognizes the King of the North, whose name is Stark, but with Jon and Sansa roll up to ask for help, she’s quick to point out that his last name is Snow and her’s is Botlon… or is that Lannister, I can’t remember?
Thankfully, Davos saves the day by explaining the war that is coming is not just the fight between the Boltons and the Starks over Winterfell, but more importantly, between the living and the dead and the dead are coming. She’s swayed and pledges her men… all 62 of them.
The last stop is House Glover, where they’re turned away because of Robb Stark’s previous mistakes, which led to Glovers being killed and their castle being taken by Iron-born, leaving Team Stark a little thin.
Still, Jon wants to fight, but Sansa urges him to gather more men before writing a scroll that seems to be a “we need your help” missive.
The Last Port Before The Storm: The Greyjoys and their sailors have docked for drinks and wenches, where Yara and Theon have a heart-to-heart. She needs her brother by her side, but “The Old Theon,” not this meek, broken version sitting before her.
She tells him to slit his wrists and let go if he can’t return to being the Theon she needs by her side during this journey to find and team up with Dany. The speech rallies him and it looks like Theon’s back too! It’s a night of returns!
Braavos: Arya is strolling the port looking for a way back to Westeros, procuring it without much trouble, but as she gazes out at the sea and old lady rolls up, jabbing a shank into Arya’s belly several times. It’s The Waif!
Arya jumps into the water to escape her would-be assassin, emerging from the water to stagger through town, holding her wounds, nervous about everyone that looks at her, fearful that The Waif is waiting to finish her off.
Out in the Riverlands: Brother Ray – that’s Ian McShane’s character – has a philosophical discussion about violence with the free, happy folk that are building the church. He speaks about redemption and The Hound seems to be taking it all in, unsure why he is still alive and wondering what his new purpose is.
Three rogues representing the Brotherhood Without Banners roll up, looking to pillage the people, but as Brother Ray shoos them away, the leader offers them a warning about the night and The Hound’s Spidey-senses tingle. He knows they’re looking for trouble, but the once violent, now peaceful Brother Ray dismisses The Hound’s desire to kill those men to protect the others.
Off chopping more wood, The Hound hears a scream and returns to the camp to find everyone cut down and Brother Ray hanging in the middle of the church he was building. As The Hound starts to walk away, he picks up an axe.
Takeaways & Talking Points
The Hound is out for vengeance; simple, plain, honest vengeance and I’m okay with that. Arya may have cross him off her list, but he’s got some scores that need to be settled and the violent nature to do it.
Arya getting got, even partially, wasn’t surprising because Jaqen H’ghar told The Waif to kill her and she can camouflage into anyone. Arya should have known better and been more cautious, but she’s still alive and that’s what matters most.
Sansa’s scroll has to be for Littlefinger, who pledge the Knights of The Vale before she told him to piss off. This is his chance to make it right; now let’s see if he takes it.
The battles that are coming – Starks vs. Boltons for Winterfell; Lannister/Frey vs. Tully/Brienne for Riverrun; living vs. dead for the entire Seven Kingdoms – are all going to be awesome.