Green fields. Blue skies. Chirping birds. Happy folks.
Wait, are we watching the right show?
Game of Thrones season 6 episode 7, titled “The Broken Man,” opened with such a serene sequence that made the audience wonder whether they were tuned in to the correct channel. It was quite jarring to see tranquility in a show known for its violence and gore, and it could honestly cause quite a whiplash. But the audience’s doubts were immediately assuaged when Sandor Clegane, the Hound, was shown, chopping wood blocks and apparently leading an unexciting life after Arya Stark left him for dead in the season 4 finale.
The Hound was living with a small peaceful community led by Brother Ray, a sellsword turned septon. Ray was the one who found the Hound in the Vale, and mistaking him for dead, covered as he was with bugs, he resolved to bury him. The Hound suddenly coughed, though, signaling he’s alive, and so Ray took him and nursed him back to health. Several times it seemed the Hound won’t make it, but he survived, and eventually, he recovered enough to help Ray and his followers build a sept on a hill.
Ray was an interesting character; he was a man of faith who was not afraid to admit that he did not have all the answers, in glaring disparity to the Faith Militant’s High Sparrow. He didn’t know who the gods really were, and he told the Hound that what was important in the end was that there was a higher power out there somewhere. During their talk, they were interrupted by three members of the Brotherhood without Banners, and Ray told them that he and his people have nothing to give. The Brotherhood left; Ray refused to fight them despite the Hound’s argument to the contrary. Exasperated, the Hound decided to chop some wood for what would be a cold night. Ray came to invite him to supper, which he refused, and the septon said he’d save him some ale nonetheless.
Later that evening, however, after an unsettling quiet, the Hound elected to go check on their camp.
It was sacked by the Brotherhood, it seemed, and every one of Ray’s followers was viciously killed. The Hound found Ray’s body hanging from the rafters of his unfinished sept, and in that moment, the Hound’s resolve was reignited. He took up an ax and walked off, seemingly to get his revenge.
In Riverrun, the Freys had set up the noose for Edmure Tully’s neck in a desperate attempt to get back the stronghold. They did not anticipate the Blackfish’s lack of care for his wayward nephew, and he refused to rise to the bait despite Lothar’s and Black Walder’s taunts regarding the night of the Red Wedding.
Watching this unfold were Jaime Lannister and the sellsword-turned-knight (sellswords could become a great many things, obviously) Ser Bronn of the Blackwater. Jaime noted the Freys’ lack of military and political know-how, especially concerning taking back such a necessary castle. He seized command of the operation, with the Lannister army behind him, and he then asked to parley with the Blackfish himself.
The talk did not go well, that is, on Jaime’s side. The Blackfish did not intend to ever surrender, and he had the provisions to last them years should the lions decide to wait for the castle walls to fall. And Blackfish even mocked him, saying that meeting the Kingslayer disappointed him. The comment seemed to land quite a blow on Jaime’s ego (though it was admittedly smaller than it was in the beginning).
Down in the capital, another Lannister was having a not-so-good day. Cersei tried to talk Olenna Tyrell into keeping their alliance, but the Queen of Thorns was having none of it, brutally rebuffing her and saying that all the mess their houses were in was Cersei’s fault. Olenna was now preparing to return to Highgarden, after a tense conversation, under the watchful gaze of Septa Unella, with her beloved granddaughter. The only reason she was even persuaded to go back home was that before they parted, Margaery furtively slipped a piece of paper on the Tyrell matriarch’s hand, which later was revealed to be a sketch of a rose, House Tyrell’s sigil. This proved that the Young Rose was playing the long game, practically conning the whole of King’s Landing into believing her reformation and taking control of her own fate.
Up north, the remaining Starks were having trouble rallying the houses to their cause. They came face-to-face with the ten-year-old head of House Mormont, Lyanna. The girl was smart, resolute, and direct, clearly not having the patience for small talk and false pleasantries. She was quick to point out that though House Mormont was indeed loyal to House Stark, neither Jon nor Sansa was truly a Stark as the former was a bastard and the latter was married to Winterfell’s usurper.
In the awkward silence, Ser Davos interjected; the fight was not just for Winterfell but also for the realm. Retaking Winterfell meant a solidified North, and a solidified North meant a stronger chance of defeating the White Walkers. Ser Davos’s no-nonsense way of explaining things proved once again why he was such a good right-hand man to Stannis Baratheon, the most practical man in Westeros (until his demise, that is). Lady Lyanna seemed to agree as well, and she declared that her house would be standing with the Starks on the battles to come as it had for the past thousands of years.
Jon also got the support of the wildlings. The Free Folks were hesitant at first, for the war was not something they signed up for. Tormund, however, reminded them that Jon fought for them and died for them, and if they weren’t willing to do the same, then they were cowards. Wun Wun, the giant, echoed this sentiment by grunting “Snoooow.” This appeared to be enough for the Free Folks, who then promised they would fight.
Afterward, Jon expressed his doubt to Tormund. He wasn’t sure whether the wildlings would truly march with him. Tormund addressed this by saying that the Free Folks did not have the smarts of the Southerners; if they said they’d do something, then they would.
The Starks then went to House Glover, where they were met with blatant refusal and hurtful reminders. King Robb’s shortcomings left pain and agony in his wake, and now his siblings were challenged and repudiated because of him.
Needless to say, the Starks were at a severe disadvantage should they decide to attack the Boltons, which was something Jon was resolved to doing immediately. He was adamant that they not wait any longer despite Sansa’s reasoning with him that what they had won’t be enough. Frustrated with his stubbornness, Sansa went to her tent and decided to write a letter, signing it as Sansa Stark and using House Stark’s sigil in the wax, supposedly asking for help, though from whom was not yet revealed.
Across the sea, in Volantis, the Ironborn were making merry in a whorehouse. Yara gave Theon an ultimatum of sorts—be her brother again, the real Theon, or kill himself. Should he choose the former—which he did, barely—they would then set sail for Meereen, taking a page out of Uncle Euron Greyjoy’s book to strike up an alliance with the Dragon Queen. (Just in time, for didn’t Dany just extract a promise from the Dothraki that they sail with her to take the Iron Throne?)
And in Braavos was Arya Stark, going through the city and making deals and carrying large pouches of money and basically making herself so visible that the Waif, tasked with killing her, had no trouble doing so. Arya was looking out the waters when an old woman sidled up next to her—and surprise! She’s the Waif, and she stabbed Arya brutally in the stomach before Arya tumbled into the river.
Later, Arya emerged from the water and walked in a directionless path, leaving behind a trail of blood.
The next episode, with the title “No One,” has the following synopsis:
“While Jaime weighs his options, Cersei answers a request. Tyrion’s plans bear fruit. Arya faces a new test.”
What would be in store for them?
The preview showed Lancel Lannister—Kevan Lannister’s own son now deep in the religious cult and also remembered as a placeholder in Cersei’s bed when Jaime was a prisoner of war—and the Faith confronting Cersei. Brienne met the Blackfish, and she finally met Jaime again. Tyrion’s eyes were wide with awe. Podrick was in danger (again!). The Waif and Arya (though her face was not seen) were on a chase.
Would Jaime decide to actually attack Riverrun? Would he heed his sister’s words and act rashly? Or would reason win out? His meeting with Brienne would appear to be strained, burdened as they both were with the promises they made.
Brynden Tully seemed surprised at whatever the missive that Brienne brought said, and perhaps he really would help out his grandniece.
Would Cersei be provoking the Faith Militant so brazenly? She seemed to be approaching her son’s throne, but wasn’t that also the High Sparrow’s place, beside the boy king?
Would Tyrion’s gamble with the masters and the Red Priestess be good for them all? Would the Dragon Queen be returning then and approve of what her hand (admit it, Tyrion was basically the Hand of the Queen) had done in her absence?
The episode’s title, unlike the previous ones, seems to speak for itself."A girl must become No One"—this is a phrase that the Kindly Man had been continuously drilling into Arya since she appeared in the House of Black and White and decided to be a follower of the Many-Faced God as a member of the Order of the Faceless. To truly become faceless, Arya must forget she was someone, and becoming No One was hard for the most inherently Stark of Ned’s trueborn children; she repeatedly failed in shedding the Wolf that she was. But what tests would she be facing now? Would she finally be a true No One, or would she prove, once and for all, that she would always be Arya Stark of Winterfell?
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