Title: Game of Thrones – “The Broken Man”
Air Date: June 5, 2016
Before we begin – Yes, there are Game of Thrones spoilers ahead. I will not celebrate every twist and turn, but if we are going to talk about what we like, we have to discuss the great scenes. Stop reading if you do not like spoilers. You have been warned!
Another “pieces in motion” episode this week, setting up for some (hopeful) payoffs in the final episodes of the season. “The Broken Man” felt a bit more urgent than last week’s “Blood of My Blood,” and really helped nail the support in place for a few fiery finales. The return and redemption of a long-awaited character, a near death of a show favorite, some serious heads being butted across the map, and some serious armies being raised left us wanting this week, but we did not get any true payoff… yet.
I’m sure I’ll catch flak for not being sure of this, but is this the first time, besides the pilot episode, that Game of Thrones has shown a scene before the title sequence? And with such a good result: the return of the Hound along with the debut of the long-awaited Ian McShane (as Ray). The Hound had some great scenes this week, as he is clearly a tortured soul trying to redeem himself. By the end of the episode, however, he seemed like he was destined to return to the life he already knew. The Hound clearly has beef with the Brotherhood without Banners, and might bode well for another fan favorite from the books making an appearance in future episodes. This was also an episode full of great lines, with the Hound taking many of them. “Hate” is what motivated him to survive, and he also asked Ray about the gods: “Why haven’t they punished me?” “They have,” was the delivered response. Game of Thrones is a show that routinely blurs the line between good and evil, redemption and damnation, and Sandor Clegane may be the new standard bearer of that shade of gray.
Speaking of great lines, the Queen of Thorns had some great things to say this week as well. Her threatening of Septa Unella was marvelous, as I just picture her chanting “Shame. Shame. Shame.” as Unella is tortured. But seeing that Margaery has a plan is very important and very scary. The High Sparrow has become crazy powerful, and Margaery seemingly has everyone convinced, including King Tommen, that she is all in with the Faith of the Seven. It will be very interesting to see how the pieces fall when Margaery finally reveals her hand and makes her move to get revenge against the High Sparrow and, hopefully, Septa Unella.
The Queen of Thorns also met with Cersei this week, revealing her intention of leaving King’s Landing. Cersei uncharacteristically begged her to stay and help her fight, and the eldest Lady Tyrell attacked “you and your stupidity,” as well as bluntly stating, “I wonder if you’re the worst person I have ever met.” The Queen of Thorns has clearly had her fill of the hotheaded Cersei Lannister, and I honestly thought that Cersei might attack Olenna Tyrell before the scene was done.
Cersei’s other half also got some great screen time this week, as Jaime returned to his roots and got to leading the Lannister army against Riverrun. We got some other returns with Bronn and the Blackfish joining the screen with the golden-handed Game of Thrones twin. Essentially, Jaime’s scene taught us a few things: the most important was the reminder that House Frey is full of fools. Even the way they dress clearly separates them and demonstrates that they do no belong. Jaime has the sense to treat Edmure Tully with the respect and dignity afforded to a man of his position, while he only has snide comments and a metallic backhand for the Frey who dares to question him. The other thing it taught us was that the Blackfish is a formidable foe to the rehab of Jaime’s character, and the situation will only get worse when Brienne makes it to Riverrun with reports of Sansa Stark.
Both Arya and Theon/Yara got a brief shout out this week. Theon and Yara have already made it around the south of Westeros and across the Narrow Sea. I guess those Greyjoy ships are fast. They plan on allying themselves with Daenerys before their mean Uncle Euron can get there. We got a glimmer of the old Theon back, but no real clue where that storyline might end up. I would be extremely surprised if Dany joins forces with the Greyjoys. Arya is trying to escape Braavos alive, but she clearly forgot that a creepy old lady who approaches her with the greeting “Sweet girl,” is not to be trifled with. Arya clearly needs to have it out with the Waif, and soon. It is tough to imagine Arya dying after all she has been through, but it is also tough to imagine how she could possibly win against an attack that could come from anyone, anywhere, at any time.
Finally, biggest development (and best scene of the episode) occurred in the North, as Jon, Sansa, and Davos struggled to recruit swords to their army. The Wildlings were no problem, but House Glover wanted no part in fighting alongside them. The group’s encounter with the fierce little bear in charge of House Mormont was the best scene of the episode, as this scathing little girl talked circles around three of the seeming “heroes of the story.” Watching her hold up her hand for silence, cut off the seemingly important characters, and finally sympathize with Ser Davos was capped off when she offered only sixty-two men to support the battle against the Boltons. Jon is ready to go to war, but Sansa is clearly throwing one last Hail Mary. We can surmise she was writing to Littlefinger, but will he show up with the knights of the Vale? And will Sansa be glad if he does?
Similar to last week, “The Broken Man” was a setup heavy episode of Game of Thrones. Also similar to last week, it was a good episode, bolstered by impactful returns and strong character interaction. Next week will need to start paying off, however, or season six may start to lose some of that great edge it has honed so far.
- Characters: A few good returns this week with the Hound, Bronn, and the Blackfish. Everyone feels like they are moving into place for some serious impact over the final three episodes of the season.
- Story: King’s Landing is returning to its conspiratorial form. The Hound’s development is fascinating. Jon and Sansa are raising an anti-Ramsay coalition.
- Cinematography: The scenes at Riverrun had some excellent shots, especially demonstrating the power of the Blackfish and the difference between the Lannister and Frey army. The scene in House Mormont was also shot perfectly.
- Acting: Lyanna Mormont. Olenna Tyrell (The Queen of Thorns). Ian McShane’s debut (and dismissal). The Blackfish. Powerful scenes from some small time players highlighted this week.
- Ian McShane's Ray and the Hound
- Lyanna Mormont's awesome scene
- The Queen of Thorns
- Margaery's plan
- Jaime and the Blackfish
- Ramsay is still alive
- Second "moving the pieces" episode in a row
- Arya's stupidity. Trust no one, especially creepy old ladies!