Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Old Friends, New Plots

"The Broken Man" may not be to everyone's taste--no big fights, for instance--but it's one of my favorite episodes this season on Game Of Thrones.

We start with something I'm not sure we've ever seen--a pre-credit sequence.  We're in a place we don't know, watching people we don't know, building something we don't know.  Then we see Ian McShane, who's never been on the show before.  He's Ray (I looked that up--I'm not sure they say his name), the leader of this group, and apparently a religious man, so maybe they're building a sept.  Then he walks by someone.  It's the Hound!  What a glorious moment.  And it explains why it's at the start--so we don't first see the actor's name in the credits.

The Hound was left, dying, by Arya at the end of season four, but I don't think too many fans believed he was finished.  I certainly didn't.  You don't leave a major and beloved character to die, and not see him die, if he isn't coming back.

Ray and the Hound have a nice talk.  The Hound was close to death, but somehow pulled through.  The Hound says he's alive due to hate, but maybe it's really for love--of Arya.  In fact, now it's almost impossible the Hound or Arya will die until they meet up again.  That would be as big a reunion as possible.  (It would be a bigger moment than Arya meeting any of the ever-growing members of the Stark family.) Ray suggests "the gods aren't done with you yet." Is this Lost?  I suppose Sandor will eventually fight his brother--though it sure would be quick if it's part of Cersei's trial, since I don't think the Hound would want to return to King's Landing any time soon.

At King's Landing, Margaery is reading the scriptures when the High Sparrow enters.  They talk about religion and morality, though the question is how much are they hiding.  These are two of the most powerful people in Westeros, but we don't believe Mags believes in this religion, and while the Sparrow does, he seems to know a lot about political maneuvering.  The Sparrow wants her to sleep with Tommen again to bear him an heir.  And he's worried about her grandmother--she may not be safe.  That's a pretty clear message.

Sure enough, we're now with Margaery and Lady Olenna.  Septa Unella sticks to Mags like glue, so we can't be entirely sure if she's saying what she believes. She does tell grandma it's time to leave town, which is good advice--with crown and church allied, the Tyrell army doesn't stand a chance.  Then she secretly slips Olenna a piece of paper, which we soon discover is a drawing of a rose--the sign of their House.  So we know where Mags stands.

Up in the North, the team of Jon, Sansa and Davos are gathering recruits.  First they meet the Wildlings (or Free Folk, if you want to be nice) who are camped south of the Wall.  Jon has done a lot for them (including getting killed), and he also notes they won't be safe if they don't take down the Boltons, so soon the Stark side has Tormund and his 2000--including some giants, who are pretty helpful in battle.  (I thought Jon already had them, but you've got to be sure.)

By the way, though Davos doesn't say anything, why didn't the Wildlings take notice of him?  This is the jerk who rode in with Stannis and destroyed them all.  In fact, Shouldn't Davos have stayed away from this meeting?

Now we're back with Olenna.  Cersei comes in (with the ever-present Mountain) and states that, apparently, Olenna is hightailing it back to Highgarden.  Is she taking Mags' advice to heart, or is this a ruse?  Anyway, Olenna takes a few shots at Cersei, but Cersei notes they need to work together to rid themselves of this turbulent priest, not to mention all his followers (you know, all those people she invited into King's Landing).  They don't like each other, but it would seem the two houses need to get together to have a chance. But Olenna at present is suggesting retreat to Cersei.  Jaime is gone, and took the Lannister army with him--get out of town while you can.

And now we see Jaime approaching the Frey army, which is laying siege to the castle (I think it's Riverrun) taken by the Blackfish.  And with him is Bronn!  Once again, the heart leaps.  An old friend has returned, one we were worried we wouldn't see any more.  They're both disgusted by how hopeless the Frey fighters are.

Closer to the castle, Lothar and the Frey people threaten to kill Lord Edmure, but Blackfish doesn't give a damn.  I'm not sure if he just doesn't care about his relative (we sure don't), or knows it's an empty threat.  So their bluff is called and nothing happens.  Jaime strides in and takes over, showing them how to operate like a real army. (What does he expect when their dad is Walder Frey?) The first thing he does is request a parley with the Blackfish. (He also wants Edmure treated well--he's been a POW, he knows how it feels).  By the way, this show is complex enough that I have no idea who we're supposed to root for in this fight.

Back to Jon, Sansa and Davos at Bear Island (sounds like a Disney attraction).  The leader is a child, Lyanna Mormont.  We've seen this before when Bran ran Winterfell.  But Lyanna, who's supported Stannis in the past, is a hardass, and won't sacrifice her men to fight in a dangerous cause that means nothing to them.  And the House Stark?  Jon--even if he fought with a Mormont in the Night's Watch--is a bastard and Sansa is a Bolton or a Lannister (and Rickon is in a dungeon).  Davos speaks up this time--the Mormonts have an interest in taking down Ramsay, since Winter Is Coming--excuse me, the Night King Is Coming--and he will destroy everyone if the North doesn't unify. Davos may not have a fancy education, but he knows how to make a case (like he made for Stannis at the Iron Bank--are they going to request Davos pay them back yet?)  But the punchline is the Mormonts only have 62 fighters. (Too bad Tyrion won't send a raven letting them know Jorah is alive--I bet Sansa would pardon him if he'd help out.)

Jaime has his parley. (By himself, not even Bronn to protect him. I guess he figures everyone respects a parley. There ain't no parley like a Kingslayer parley.)  Blackfish is not impressed with the Kingslayer, and has no intention of giving up the castle where he was born. Any attack would cost Jaime many more men than he'd capture or kill, and the castle has provisions for two years (Blackfish claims). Is it really worth it?

J, S and D are now talking to the family Glover, who are pledged to the Starks, but no more.  The Boltons helped rid them of the Ironborn, while the Starks have an army of Wildlings (and the previous King Stark married a foreigner and lost his war).  They loved Ned, but they've lost too much and no amount of talk from Sansa will make a difference.  So Jon talking worked, Davos talking worked, but Sansa strikes out.  Does she get it?

Next we find out where all those Ironborn ships have gone--the whole gang is whoring it up (including Yara) in Volantis.  Except Theon, of course.  As some (including me) have guessed, they're on their way to Slaver's Bay to make a deal with Dany, who needs ships.  Hey, they stole that idea from Euron--whom they know is chasing after them.

Big sis gives a pep talk to Theon. Stop whining and be a man again (even if you're missing some parts).  This is always good advice to anyone in an adventure story--characters who sit on the sidelines, moaning and groaning, are no fun.  Now get in the game or kill yourself. Theon used to be obnoxious, sure, but at least he was wasn't such a gloomy Gus.  And now that it looks like he's coming back, he may slit Ramsay's throat yet.

In the J, S, and D camp, they discuss plans.  Alas, the Houses they've convinced to join them have less than 500 fighters combined, so they're far short of the Bolton Army.  Now we're asking ourselves why doesn't Sansa mention Littlefinger's offer already?  She says nothing, but sends a note off by raven.  We don't know the content, but what else could it be about?  (It's not to Riverrun, is it?  I mean, she sent off Brienne there, so what would be the point?)  I still think it's silly she didn't jump at Petyr's offer right away, even if she had trouble with him.  Ramsay is her main enemy, and he won't be easy to beat, holed up in Winterfell.

Now we're back in the Valley of the Hound (have no idea where it is, though it's probably not that far from the Eyrie).  Ray is giving some speech about the tough, nasty soldier he used to be, but how he's put that all behind him (and unlike Margaery, he means what he says).  Then three horsemen ride in asking for food.  Ray greets them, even if he believes in the Seven and they're the Brotherhood Without Banners, followers of the Lord Of Light.  The men ride away when they discover they can't get much here, but the Hound's antennae are up--he's been through this sort of thing before and it usually doesn't end well.

Later the Hound is chopping firewood, and Ray asks him to dinner.  Sorry, too much work to do.  The Hound states they need to fight these guys, but the Septon will have nothing to do with violence.  I wonder who's going to win this argument.

We cut from the Hound to Arya, as it should be.  We're in Braavos, of course.  Arya, now a free agent, meets a Westerosi captain (who's talking about the Ironborn fleet in Slaver's Bay, so Yara and Theon's plans are known) and pays him to get her back home.  She may seem a street urchin, but she knows how to handle herself.

Or does she? Standing on a bridge, looking at the Braavos colossus, an old lady approaches.  She turns out to be the Waif.  Come now, Arya must know they're after her--she can't trust anyone.  Why isn't she hiding at all times?  The Waif stabs Arya in the stomach a few times--Arya wouldn't be the first Stark to go out that way--and twists the knife (wouldn't a slit throat work better?--guess she wants Arya to suffer--she should have listen to Jaqen regarding that).  Arya escapes by head-butting the Waif and jumping into the water.  The Waif looks down and doesn't see Arya surface, so she leaves.  A bit downstream, up pops Arya.  She makes her way to the crowded street, seriously wounded.  What will she do next?  Who can she trust?  We'll find out next week.

And we cut back to the Hound.  Chopping away, he hears screams.  He runs over and the whole gang has been slaughtered, presumably by the bad guys from the Brotherhood.  Ray has been hanged. I think it's great that they hire a big name like Ian McShane so they can introduce him and kill him in the same episode.

In any case, it's time for the Hound to move on.  He grabs his axe and it looks like there'll be fun ahead. End of show.

We're glad the Hound is alive, but just as good, we're glad he didn't find religion.  We want action and we want the real Hound.  Just like we're glad Ayra hasn't become faceless, and is on her way home. The show is getting back on track.

Who was missing?  Quite a few.  No Qyburn, Pycelle, Tommen or Loras. (Maybe it's time Loras died--do we really need him?).  No Bran or Meera or Benjen.  No Melisandre--I'm not even sure where she is--did they leave her at Castle Black?  (And does she have to die for what she did to Shireen?)  No Edd.  No Dany or Daario or Drogon. No Jorah.  No Brienne or Pod.  No Ramsay. No Euron.  No Littlefinger. No Sam or Gilly. No Sand Snakes (thank you).  No Jaqen.  No Varys or Missandei or Grey Worm. Most shocking of all, this is the second week in a row we haven't seen Tyrion--I don't believe that's ever happened before.

Only three episodes left. Is that possible?  There's a lot of ground to cover.  Here's what will probably happen in the next three hours.  The biggest fight will be the Starks versus the Boltons--they'll probably give a whole episode to that.  Cersei's fight against the Sparrow will come to a head.  The siege of Riverrun will end one way or another.  The Sand Snakes will likely make another move.  Dany will finally make her way back to Meereen, meet her Dragons plus her pals, and maybe meet with Yara and Theon (and Euron?).  Arya will either get away from Braavos or die. (Okay, she'll get away.  But will she see Jaqen again?) Sam will get to the Citadel (not that exciting, but I'd like to see what it looks like).  Bran will finish his vision of the Lyanna story and maybe deal with some White Walkers.  Will Jorah meet a good doctor who knows how to deal with greyscale?

So there's plenty more to look forward to.  In fact, I don't think they can fit it all in--we'll have to wait till next season for some of it.

3 Comments:

Blogger New England Guy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:33 AM, June 07, 2016  
Blogger New England Guy said...



{deleted previous for typos]
Well one thing struck me in this episode but it was crude so I thought I'd someone else raise but no one has taken the bait. Hey Theon- Your sister doesn't have one and look at all the fun she's having. Get with the program already!

Also when HBO showed "Previously on Game of Thrones" (the pre-pre-Credits), they showed a scene with Jon and Sansa and others which I don't recall having ever seen before- like a boring exposition that was cut from a final episode but included here to set up the viewer for the fact that they'd be visiting all the northern houses. ( I wish I could remember the scene better maybe the "previously" trailers are available on the on-demand playback). Anyway they wouldn't pull something like that, would they?

10:34 AM, June 07, 2016  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I can't answer your question because I go out of my way to avoid "previously on" for Game Of Thrones, or, indeed, any show. I've written about this before. I like to be surprised at what's coming up, and those short bits give away what the new episode will cover. This is especially bad for a show like GOT, where there are so many plotlines it's a big deal knowing if a character will appear that hour.

The only thing worse is when they show actual snippets of scenes that are about to happen just before the show airs

10:47 AM, June 07, 2016  

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