Warning: contains spoilers!
Last week, Game of Thrones took a breather. This week, with the season coming close to an end, the pace has picked up and the characters are on the edge.
Game of Thrones is a show that takes precious lives away, but this season is turning out to be the season of returns. Today’s episode didn’t bother with the opening credits sequence – instead, we see guest star Ian McShane, a septon leading the construction of a tower. Before the confusion settles in, he appears, lugging around some timber: Sandor Clegane, the Hound himself. That’s right, bitches. The Hound is back! But what is the purpose of his return?
We last saw him badly wounded by Brienne of Tarth; Arya had refused to kill him and left him for dead on the side of a mountain. He seems to be living a completely different and simple life. He’s still a grumpy man, choosing to stay separate during meals. However, the sept is adamant to reach out to him. “What kept you going?” the sept asks. “Hate,” Sandor replies. The holy man, named Ray (of light, right?), wants to save him and reminds Sandor he has been punished for his sins after being wounded by Brienne.
With the topic of salvation in the air, the episode cuts to Queen Margaery reading from a holy book, looking clean and regal. The High Sparrow pokes her with questions on whether she will be serving her duty as queen to Tommen (in other words, give him a little bouncing baby). He’s probably as sceptical about her conversion as we are. He also picks at Margaery’s grandmother, the Queen of Thorns, claiming she is a sinner who must be converted. If she’s been acting all this time, she’s doing a hell of a job. We get a glimpse of this when the queen tells the Queen of Thorns to leave but not before placing something in her hand – it’s a note with a drawing of a flower, the noble sigil of House Tyrell.
Before the Queen of Thorns leaves, Cersei intercepts her to reach a mutual understanding. The Queen of Thorns has no time for Cersei’s pressing of Lannister-Tyrell unity. “I wonder if you’re the worst person I’ve ever met,” she sneers at Cersei before listing all the things lined up against Cersei. “You’ve lost,” she reminds her, urging Cersei to leave King’s Landing as she had before. But Cersei will hear none of it, believing she is in the right. Her bitterness has been strong since the beginning of the season.
As for the other twin, Jaime is has been sent off to Riverrun to deal with Brynden “Blackfish” Tully. The Freys are already there,
threatening to kill the Blackfish’s nephew, Edmure, if he does not surrender. “Go on then, cut his throat,” the Blackfish says as he stares at Edmure. So much for family. At this point, Jaime and his right hand man, Bronn (where have you been, buddy?) jump in. Jaime smacks some dudes around and barks orders to have Edmure bathed and fed. The siege is under Jaime’s command now, under the King’s name, and he wants to parley with the Blackfish.
The Blackfish agrees to meet with Jaime, who urges the elder Tully to surrender. But the Blackfish is adamant that Riverrun is his home and he will die here. The Lannisters and Freys can siege the castle or starve them out but it’ll take two years if they go for the latter. “Do you have two years?” the Blackfish asks Jaime, taunting the Kingslayer before strutting away.
In the North, Jon attempts to rally the Wildlings to fight with him. They’re sceptical, but our ginger babe Tormund speaks up for Jon, who plays the death-and-resurrection card to convince them. This convinces the giant, who simply utters “Snow.” This seems to be enough for the Wildlings to join the cause.
First on the agenda is Bear Island, the home of House Mormont. Jon and Sansa have approached House Mormont who is run by the young Lady Lyanna Mormont, a young pocket rocket of tough talk. She sees through their pleasantries and demands they make their case. Ser Davos goes to argue on the Starks’ behalf. He relates to Lyanna, both of them in positions they never thought they’d be in. He drive the point of their case quickly: the war is not between the houses, but between the living and the dead. With the North divided, they don’t stand a chance against what lies over the Wall. “It’s our war… The dead are coming,” he says ominously. This convinces House Mormont, who gives the Starks 62 fighting men. “If they’re half as ferocious as their lady,” Davos says, “the Boltons are doomed.”
— JohnyActionSpacePunk (@JohnyAction) June 6, 2016
Next up are House Glover, who refuses to help as they have Wildlings in their army. Sansa reminds Lord Glover of his oath to House Stark. But he isn’t having it. “I served House Stark once, but House Stark is dead,” he snaps at her. This moment is important for Sansa, who has been on a fierce streak since escaping Ramsay’s grasp. What will she do with her first rebuke?
Sansa presses Jon about his decision to march on Winterfell immediately, even with 2000 Wildlings and handfuls from various Northern houses. Jon is determined to march as there may not be another opportunity. Sansa meets this with silence, her pride wounded, but we see her writing a letter to be sent by raven. It is possible she is asking Littlefinger for his help, after all.
— skywalker (@superwhofreak) June 6, 2016
Catching up with the Greyjoys, Yara, Theon and their men are
at port and spending the day with prostitutes. What else would you be doing? The once promiscuous Theon appears to be extremely uncomfortable, aware he cannot partake in the activities around him. He doesn’t have the urge or ability to do so anymore. He can’t even drink the ale in front of him, which Yara will not deal with. She wants her brother back and they will have revenge for him. She gives him a choice: end his life or join them and return to his old self. The plan is to sail to Meereen and meet with the Dragon Queen to make a deal and take back the Iron Islands. Theon nods – he will be Theon again.
Back in the countryside with Ian McShane’s holy man and the Hound, the cleric confesses about his violent past, how he killed a young boy and he’ll be forever haunted by the sound of the boy’s mother screaming his name. The message of his sermon is not lost: it’s not too late to start helping people and do some good in the world. The message seems to resonate with the Hound just as a group of the Brotherhood Without Banners appear (without Lady Stoneheart). They threaten the peace of the village and the Hound warns the septon to be prepared for bloodshed. But the septon isn’t enthusiastic to partake in more violence.
Eventually, we end up in Bravvos where Arya books passage home to Westeros with money she’d stolen. As she watches the horizon, an old lady approaches – and it’s the Waif in disguise. The Waif swiftly slashes Arya before stabbing her gut.
Just as it looks like another Stark is about to die, she manages to escape by jumping into the water below. She’s alive and breathing, but her blood is spilling quickly as she wanders the streets of Bravvos with her hands clutching her stomach.
Walk it off Arya, walk it off. #GameofThrones
— Harry (@floydhe) June 6, 2016
We cut back to Sandor, chopping wood (did not mean that to be a pun). He takes a short break only to hear an unusual sound… nothing. He runs back and our fears are confirmed: The entire village had been slaughtered while he’d been away. He finds the septon hanging in one of the wooden structures they were building. That’s all he needs. The peace Sandor had found in the village is gone.
The Hound is back and he’s seeking revenge, this time with an axe.
Stay tuned for more Game of Thrones recaps!