We start off in what looks to be the Riverlands, where a group of people are building something – possibly a sept? It must be – there is a man wearing a seven pointed star who seems to be in charge. And who do we have carrying a log, seeming to struggle a bit? Could it be who I think it is? Yes – the Hound has returned!
The septon comes over as the Hound (or is he just Sandor now?) is chopping wood. He asks how many men it took to cut him down, and Sandor admits it was only one. The septon says he must have been “some kind of monster” forcing Sandor to reluctantly admit it was a woman. The septon laughs at that. He hasn’t seen Brienne though – she’s no ordinary woman.
They ring the bell for supper, and as Sandor is eating the septon tells him some of the men are afraid of him; that’s nothing new to Sandor. The septon says he thought he’d been dead for days when he found him, and that he would die several more times after that; he asks Sandor what kept him going. “Hate” is his response (for whom I wonder? Brienne? Arya? His brother?). The septon tells him there is a reason he survived – the gods aren’t done with him. Sandor asks if the gods are real, why haven’t they punished him? “They have,” the septon replies.
Off to King’s Landing where Margaery has been cleaned up and looks very modest for a change. She is reading from the Book of the Mother as the High Sparrow comes to talk to her. Margaery looks very pious as she talks about her past – how she pretended to love the poor, but she only pitied them.
The High Sparrow gets awfully personal, asking why she hasn’t attended her husband in the marriage bed (poor Tommen). Margaery replies that her desires have changed, and the High Sparrow tells her she doesn’t need desire to do her duty – she must give the king an heir. The High Sparrow says she has made great progress, and that he hopes her grandmother will follow her lead. She is an unrepentant sinner, and Margaery must teach her the new way (good luck with that!).
Margaery goes to visit her grandmother Olenna, and the Queen of Thorns is as thorny as ever as she insults the prune-faced Septa Unella and berates Margaery for falling into the clutches of the Faith. Olenna asks about Loras, and Margaery says he will be freed once he repents, but stripped of lands and titles. Olenna is livid, saying he is the heir to Highgarden and the future of their house. She tells Margaery to leave for Highgarden, but Margaery refuses as she has a duty to the king. Margaery says Olenna should go home however, and secretly presses something into her hand – a drawing of a rose, the sigil of House Tyrell (I knew Margaery was faking!).
Back in the North, the wildlings are reluctant to fight Jon and Sansa’s war for them. Tormund tells them they’d all be dead if it weren’t for Jon. The other wildlings reply that their numbers are so few now, and if they lose, that’s it for them – all the free folk gone. Jon counters, saying if he and Sansa lose, they’re done. The Boltons will wipe them out. Jon says he knows it’s not their fight, and it’s not the deal they made, but they need each other to survive. Tormund adds that Jon died for them, and they are cowards if they aren’t willing to do the same. Wun Wun the giant stands and says “Snow,” appearing to support Jon – the rest of them fall in line (because who wants to cross a giant?).
In King’s Landing, Olenna is writing a letter and preparing to head home to Highgarden. Cersei walks in with Zombie Mountain (hopefully not planning to use him right now!) and tells her she can’t leave with Loras still a prisoner and the Faith in charge. Olenna replies that all of this is Cersei’s fault – her stupidity put both of their houses in jeopardy. Cersei swallows her pride and accepts the blame (surprising Olenna, and the rest of us), but says they need each other if they are going to win. Olenna wonders if Cersei is the worst person she’s ever met, and says she is leaving before the High Sparrow can throw her into a cell. If Cersei is smart, she’ll do the same. Cersei says she’ll never leave her son, but Olenna tells her she has lost and is surrounded by enemies. Is she going to kill them all herself? The look on Cersei’s face tells me yes, yes she is.
Over in the Riverlands, the Lannister forces approach Riverrun. Bronn observes the sorry attempt the Freys have made at a siege, and Jaime tells him he should instruct them on the proper way to do it. Bronn laments being a knight, as a sellsword at least he got paid. Bronn asks about the castle and highborn lady Jaime promised, and Jaime says he’ll get them – a Lannister always….yeah yeah we know the rest.
The Freys are attempting to lure the Blackfish out by threatening to hang his nephew Edmure outside the castle walls. The Blackfish appears on the ramparts and gives them a challenging look. The Freys take the noose off and threaten to cut Edmure’s throat. The Blackfish just stares, then says to go on and do it and walks away. He has called their bluff, and they put down the knife.
Jaime and Bronn walk up and berate the Freys for allowing 8000 men to come into their camp unchallenged. Jaime tells them to feed and bathe Edmure (and hopefully let the poor guy talk – he hasn’t had one line since he’s been back). The Freys say that he is their prisoner, and Jaime gives them a smackdown (physically and verbally). He tells them he is now in charge of the siege, and if they don’t like it they can go home.
In the North, Jon and Sansa visit Bear Island and House Mormont (and the cutest, fiercest little warrior maid – Lady Lyanna). Sansa unsuccessfully tries to flatter her, and Jon attempts to use her uncle, Jeor Mormont, to win her trust. Lyanna isn’t having any of it and demands to know what they want. Jon reminds her of the letter she wrote Stannis, that House Mormont know no other king but the King in the North, whose name is Stark. Jon says House Stark need her support and allegiance more than ever.
Lyanna confers with her maester and guard, and replies Jon is a Snow and Sansa is a Bolton (or a Lannister). Sansa says she did what she must to survive, but that she will always be a Stark. Jon adds that Ramsay Bolton has their brother Rickon, but Lyanna wants to know why she should sacrifice any more men for someone else’s war.
Davos jumps in to save the day, by telling her that the real war is between the living and the dead, and the dead are coming. Lyanna’s uncle knew it, and so does Jon. If the Boltons hold the North, it will remain divided and they will never survive. Lyanna finally relents and pledges 62(?!) men to their cause, but each one fights with the strength of ten. Davos replies with the best line of the episode, “If they’re half as ferocious as their lady, the Boltons are doomed.”
Back at Riverrun, Jaime parleys with the Blackfish. He asks if Jaime is there to fulfill his vow to Catelyn by bringing Sansa and Arya, and Jaime is forced to admit he doesn’t have them. The Blackfish then asks if he wishes to resume his captivity. Jaime replies that he is there to take the castle back for House Frey. The Blackfish sneeringly asks if they will kill Edmure if he doesn’t surrender, and says Edmure is marked for death no matter what he does. Jaime tells him they will storm the castle if necessary and hundreds will die. “Hundreds of mine…thousands of yours” is the Blackfish’s response.
Jaime tells him to surrender and he will spare the Tully men, on his honor. The Blackfish retorts that “bargaining with oathbreakers is like building on quicksand.” Jaime says the war is over and there is no point in fighting for a lost cause. The Blackfish says the war isn’t over as long as he lives, Riverrun is his home and he’s prepared to die there, and that they have enough provisions to withstand a siege for two years. Jaime asks why he bothered to treat with him if he had no intention of making a deal, and the Blackfish responds that sieges are dull and he wanted to get the measure of Jaime. “I’m disappointed,” he says (and the book readers all agree).
Jon and Sansa are still making the rounds up North, this time at House Glover. Lord Glover has no interest in helping the Starks, as the Boltons helped them win back their castle from the Ironborn. Jon says the Boltons are traitors, and Lord Glover interrupts asking who else is fighting with the Starks. Jon reluctantly admits that wildlings form the bulk of their force, and Lord Glover refuses to fight with them. Sansa reminds him that they were pledged to the Starks – Lord Glover admits they served the Starks and followed Robb as King in the North, but Robb was no help to them when they lost their home. Robb got himself and his men killed – House Stark is dead.
Over in Volantis, Yara and Theon are in a brothel. Theon looks miserable, and Yara appears to be a lesbian now? Or bisexual at least? She is enjoying the company of one of the whores, and jokingly asks Theon if that doesn’t interest him anymore (which is pretty cruel of her). She then apologizes, saying she’ll never hurt Theon. Theon asks if Euron is hunting for them, and Yara admits he will as long as they live – they are a threat. She urges Theon to drink, and stop cowering. Yara needs the real Theon to man up and help her win the support of Daenerys to take back the Iron Islands.
Jon, Sansa, and Davos are still camped in the North – apparently where Stannis once made camp (uh oh Melisandre, I think Davos will find out what happened to Shireen soon). Jon says they won’t stay long; they need to march on Winterfell before the snows come. They discuss the small number of men under their command, and Davos assures them they still have a chance if they are careful and smart.
Davos walks off to break up a fight, and Sansa questions Jon about Davos being his most trusted advisor. Jon replies that Davos served Stannis for years and Jon wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for him. Sansa argues that Stannis lost his battles and his head, and they need more men. Jon tells her there is no time, and he goes to help Davos (who isn’t being very successful with the men – not a good sign). Sansa looks over at the raven cage and decides to send a letter – to whom, we don’t know. Littlefinger perhaps?
Down to the Riverlands again, and the septon is talking to his flock. He tells them he used to be a soldier who blindly followed orders, no matter how despicable. He wasn’t brave, he was a coward. He recounts a story about killing a young boy as his mother screamed, and how ashamed he was. He says he will hear her screaming for the rest of his life. Sandor is listening intently, and he seems to understand how painful that can be.
The septon goes on to say he can never bring the boy back, but he can do some good with the time he has left. It’s never too late to turn your life around. He looks directly at Sandor and says it’s never too late to come back. He tells everyone that they shouldn’t wait for the gods to answer their prayers, but to start answering them on their own.
Just then some men ride up (outlaws? Members of the Brotherhood Without Banners?) and demand to know if they have horses. The septon says no, and no gold or steel. They ask for food, and the septon invites them to stay for supper but that they have hungry mouths as well. The men tell the septon to stay safe, and that “the night is dark and full of terrors.”
As Sandor is chopping firewood, he talks to the septon about the danger they are in from the Brotherhood. The septon asks what Sandor wants to do – fight them? Kill them? He says his people don’t know how to fight. Sandor says the septon can fight, but the septon is done with fighting – it’s a disease that you don’t cure by spreading it. Sandor replies that “you don’t cure it by dying either.”
We head over to Braavos, and Arya finds a Westerosi sailor. She requests passage home, and shows him two bags of coins. Arya demands that they leave at sunrise and takes the money with her. As she stands on a bridge, an old woman walks up behind her. Arya turns and is slashed across the belly and then stabbed by the woman, who turns out to be the Waif. Arya fights her off and jumps into the water. The Waif looks over to see blood in the water and no sign of Arya. Appearing satisfied, she walks off – which doesn’t seem to be a good technique for an assassin. Shouldn’t she have made sure Arya was dead? Jaqen probably won’t be happy with no face for the hall either.
Arya isn’t dead (yet), and gasps as she surfaces. She climbs out of the water and walks down the street, bleeding heavily. She looks around at nothing but unfriendly faces. No one wants to help her. I have a few questions here: Why is Arya walking around undisguised, broad daylight, knowing she’s now a target of the Faceless Men? Jaqen told the Waif not to let Arya suffer, but she did – and shouldn’t she have made sure Arya was dead? Won’t Jaqen be angry that the Waif didn’t take her face for the hall? Something tells me this is either bad writing, or not all is as it seems…
Back in Westeros, Sandor is still cutting wood. He finally takes a break, and hears screaming in the distance. When he returns to the camp, he sees everyone has been slaughtered. The septon is hanging from the sept, dead. Sandor grabs an axe and walks away. I suppose he isn’t done with fighting – and killing – yet.
All in all, this was a decent episode. I wish there had been more dialogue from the books for the septon (especially the Broken Men speech given the episode title). I enjoyed Riverrun and the North however, and Lady Olenna is always a pleasure to watch. What are your thoughts about The Broken Man?