On this week’s episode of
Everyone Gets Stabbed Game of Thrones, a character is introduced and brutally killed within the span of 60 minutes, a fan-favorite returns despite looking mostly dead two seasons ago, Ser Davos shows that he seriously is great with kids, and (surprise!) someone gets stabbed. Much like last week, viewers were again treated to an episode comprised almost entirely of setup for what’s to come. Things are about to get really interesting.
Warning: Spoilers are coming.
Just as last week‘s episode began with the reappearance of Benjen Stark, long thought to be dead, this week featured an opening that included the return of none other than The Hound. Viewers last saw Sandor Clegane lying at the bottom of a rocky crevasse after getting his ass handed to him by Brienne of Tarth, but it appears that he was found by Septon Meribald, the leader of a small commune. Meribald’s arrival has been hyped from the time of Ian McShane‘s casting, so a bit of that mystery was finally put to rest. More on the Hound and his new, pious friend later.
In King’s Landing, things aren’t going too well for the Lannisters or the Tyrells, their political battle against the High Sparrow dealt a fatal blow with Tommen’s new allegiance to the Faith. Margaery has managed to escape imprisonment in the sept, but she’s still trapped by the rules of piety that the High Sparrow expects of her. During a conversation with the High Sparrow, he reveals that he intends to go after her grandmother, Olenna. Margaery goes to Olenna and tells her to go home, sending a not-so-subtle warning that the Faith Militant will come knocking sooner rather than later. With the shame-bell slinging Septa Unella listening in on their every word, Margaery has to use a bit of subterfuge to get the message across to her grandmother that she has not fallen blindly into the clutches of the High Sparrow. Margaery is still a player in the Game of Thrones, and she’s not about to let some barefooted preacher stop her from being the Queen. This episode marks the first time Lady Olenna has ever looked genuinely afraid, which proves just how dire the situation in King’s Landing is for those who once held power.
Despite being concerned for her well-being, Lady Olenna is still the Queen of Thorns (and sass) and has a showdown with Cersei shortly after her meeting with Margaery. Cersei tells Olenna that she can’t leave, that her grandson is imprisoned and the Lannisters and Tyrells must fight together to free him. Lady Olenna then proceeds to verbally bitch-slap Cersei back to the age of Old Valyria. She details how Cersei’s incompetence and stupidity are the cause of all of their troubles, and how she remembers Cersei’s smirking face when Margaery and Loras were imprisoned. Olenna is a true manipulator, an expert at surviving and thriving in a world of political intrigue. Cersei can never hope to be as cunning as the Tyrell matriarch, and her fears about losing everything to a younger, more beautiful queen are looking to come to fruition.
Up in the cold, barren North, Jon Snow and Sansa Stark are trying to find allies to take back Winterfell from the Boltons. First, they must convince the wildlings to fight for them. The wildlings are reluctant at first, though a stirring speech by Tormund and the endorsement of Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun convince them to rally behind Lord Snow. Next, they’re off to Bear Island, home of the Mormonts. Former Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch Jeor Mormont and his son, Daenerys’ right-hand man Jorah Mormont, hail from Bear Island. Through the ravages of war, Bear Island’s ruling heir is a young girl of about ten, Lyanna Mormont. After Jon is shut down for being a Snow and Sansa is rebuked for being a Bolton, Ser Davos saves the day by using his awesome way with kids to convince young Lyanna that joining the Starks is in her best interest. She agrees, and the Stark forces grow by a grand total of 62 fighting men. They also try to recruit House Glover and are told in no uncertain terms that House Stark is dead to the Glovers. Concerned about their lack of men, Sansa sends a letter by raven to someone asking for aid. It’s most likely Littlefinger, who could bring the might of the Eyrie to Winterfell. Whether he comes running to Sansa’s beck and call is anyone’s guess, though the former Master of Coin is still pretty in love with Sansa.
In Riverrun, Jaime Lannister has reunited with sellsword-turned-knight Bronn, who doesn’t seem particularly pleased about leading a siege. After two of Walder Frey’s useless offspring threaten to kill Edmure Tully if the Blackfish doesn’t surrender, Jaime takes command of the siege entirely and tells the Freys to bathe and feed Edmure. He then treats with the Blackfish, which goes about as well as Jon Snow and Sansa meeting with House Glover. The Blackfish informs Jaime that he’s not surrendering because the war is not over as long as he stands, and that’s that. The Blackfish also tells him that they have two years’ worth of supplies, so good luck with that siege effort.
Back to the Hound. He survived the wounds sustained both from his fight with Brienne and falling off a small cliff, was nursed back to health by Septon Meribald in his fantastic little hippie colony in the Riverlands, and things are actually looking alright for him for once. Septon Meribald tells the Hound that the gods have plans for him and that his survival means something. During dinner, the colony is approached by three men from the Brotherhood Without Banners, who try to coerce the peaceful commune-dwellers to give them whatever they have of worth. The septon tells them they have nothing of value, but that they are welcome to stay for dinner. He blesses them in the name of the Seven, which doesn’t seem to sit too well with the three, as they are followers of R’llhor. One of the men threatens the septon, warning him that the “night is dark and full of terrors” before they ride off.
Later, the Hound hears screams while chopping wood and discovers that everyone in their community has been brutally slain, the septon hanged from the rafters of the sept they were building. He grabs his ax and heads toward the men’s tracks, bound for vengeance.
In true piratical fashion, Yara and Theon take a break from fleeing for their lives to party it up with their loyal men on the Long Bridge of Volantis. The Ironborn revel in the pleasures of wine, women, and more wine and more women. We see Yara seduce a buxom lady for herself, and Theon seems put off by all of the carnal revelry going on around him. Yara pauses long enough to give her brother a particularly brutal pep talk, and for all of her gruff demeanor, she seems to help raise his spirits. While the title of the episode is primarily in reference to Hound, Yara describes Theon as a broken man as well. She begs for the return of her warrior sibling and shows that she has indeed learned to lead violent men through difficult and violent times. We learned a lot about Yara this episode, and while her sexual preferences shine some light on her character, it’s not the most interesting thing about her. More compelling is her commitment to her mission, her devotion to and affection for her wounded brother, and her vision for the Ironborn as agents of change in the wider world, not merely on the coast of Westeros. She could succeed, as long as she and her fleet can outrace the raging storm of chaos about to descend on the world and make it to Slaver’s Bay before Euron Greyjoy and his fleet.
Down the coast in Braavos, the girl-formerly-known-as-the-girl-who-has-no-name-who-was-formerly-known-as-Arya-Stark strides proudly out of her bolthole long enough to find a Westerosi captain able to carry her back to Westeros across the Narrow Sea. After booking passage by showing off a heavy purse and strong-arming her way into a next day departure, Arya is ambushed by Waif, who wears the face of an old woman. The scuffle is short and Waif mercilessly stabs Arya several times before the younger, would-be assassin manages to escape by hurling herself over the bridge and into the water. Seeing the cloud of blood pooling in the water and satisfied that she has given back what Arya stole from the Many-Faced God, Waif smugly Picard-Maneuvers her corset back into place and leaves the scene. When Arya does surface in the market, she looks pale and wretched. Shambling through the streets and grievously wounded, Arya is adrift in a sea of unkind and terrified-looking faces. Braavos is a brutal city, but she is not without friends to hand. Given the kindness she showed to Lady Crane in the last episode, Arya is likely to make her escape in the company of the troupe of players. If she’s facing down enemies who can change their faces at will, it’s a good thing she has friends who have so many costumes and disguises on hand.
Last week’s question of “Who is the Broken Man?” has been answered, and the return of Sandor Clegane means that fans might actually get a chance to see the fan-theorized “CleganeBowl” on television. Fans have long awaited a battle between the Hound and his tormentor, elder brother Gregor (known better as “The
FrankenMountain”). CleganeBowl is a theory so beloved by fans that there is an entire subreddit dedicated to it. With the Hound out for vengeance and feeling like he might have a little divine righteous fury, his returning to King’s Landing to help out the Faith Militant isn’t that far fetched. The Hound and the Mountain are two of the biggest, nastiest s.o.b.’s in Westeros and Essos, and seeing the two of them battle it out (especially over Cersei’s continued survival) would be super exciting. Get hype.
Fan theories about the return of Catelyn Stark as Lady Stoneheart (which has happened in the books but not the show) are also starting to look more feasible, as the Brotherhood Without Banners is wreaking havoc throughout the Riverlands, Jaime and Brienne are both going to be present, and we still haven’t seen the return of Thoros of Myr despite his being listed as a returning character this season. Lady Stoneheart will probably be the final shot of next week’s episode, which would be so very satisfying.
With regards to the “next week on” segment, next week’s episode looks to be a doozy. Cersei’s ready to take on the Faith Militant with violence, Brienne and Jaime reunite in the Riverlands only for Brienne to inform Jaime that she might have to fight him, there’s lots of quick cuts and fighting, Brienne and Pod ride a boat somewhere, the Hound removes someone’s head from its shoulders, and all of the tension that’s been building the past two episodes is about to come to a head. Tyrion’s back as well, and looking up at a shaking ceiling that is probably being walked on by a dragon or two, and likely carrying their mother.
If the world was just and right, Yara and Theon will meet Dany in Meereen and offer their ships; Arya will start traveling with the mummers; Jon Snow and Sansa will take back Winterfell (probably with Littlefinger’s help at the last possible second); and Bronn, Davos, and Tormund will team up for a spin-off show about being the best snarky sidekicks ever. Pod can be their mascot.