Spoilers for everything!
Game of Thrones rarely does a cold open- but this week we are introduced to a scene of builders merrily toiling away. Forging nails! Applying resin! Cooking potatoes! Hauling logs as a team… except… oh… that guy must be strong…
One of the worst kept secrets that the books are still clinging to was revealed just before the credits sequence: Sandor “The Hound” Clegane is alive and well.
Sandor’s new life is a major component to the episode, which also features guest star Ian McShane as the criminal-turned-septon who drives the warrior to question everything about himself. The pastoral scenes are a dramatic cut from the rest of the narrative- the bleak and battle-scarred north, the sailors off whoring before war, the siege. It is a fitting reintroduction to the character left for dead, not only does it present us with lives that contrast the rest of the war and drama, but it sets up Sandor to reintegrate within the greater narrative. Shortening those scenes or having less of them would not work. We needed to see this arc and how its outcome affects a broken man.
With that said – The Hound is now on a warpath. I’m not sure if the Brotherhood Without Banners was responsible for that massacre since it’s totally not their MO… unless Lady Stoneheart is coming into the narrative. I don’t want to give myself that hope though. Either way, The Hound is on the move which means… CLEGANE BOWL GET HYPE. I’m not sure exactly how he’s going to make it to King’s Landing, but with his zombie brother looming and a trial-by-combat mentioned non-stop, it’s going to happen. It must happen.
The Hound reveal was just the first of many questions answered in this episode. We also got a glimpse of old Margaery, who is playing the faith militant and doing so brilliantly. She is able to warn her grandmother of the danger, and is able to get a glimpse at just how much Tommen confides in the Sparrow…Which is apparently quite a lot since he’s bringing up his sex life. Margaery knows what she is working with and she’s not out of the picture yet.
Another question answered- Just how successful will the Jon & Sansa road show be? Answer: debateable. Davos proves his worth as best hype man in the land by wrangling 62 warriors out of Bear Islands formidable Lady- 10 year old badass, Lyanna Mormont. That steely little muffin is my new favorite D-level character, and I hope she comes back.
But all is not well in the Stark camps though. While the Wildlings and a few other northern houses jump on board, the Glovers give a very fair reason for why they will stay out of the mess. They’ve lost enough already, and fighting along Wildlings doesn’t make them itch to lose more. It’s a valid point- the men of the north have been bred to distrust wildlings for thousands of years. Those feelings run just as deep as any pledges of Stark fealty.
Sansa is not impressed by what they have or with the haste that Jon insists on. There are more houses out there. The last we see her she is writing a letter- but to whom? I can’t imagine she has forgiven Littlefinger so easily, and Brienne is already en route to the seige-addled Blackfish. Is she simply writing to the other major houses? Perhaps her cousin in the Vale behind Baelish’s back? Three episodes are left, so we’ll find out soon enough.
And what of the Blackfish and Riverrun? The Frey-led siege is laughably bad but Jamie Lannister arrives to set things right with Bronn in tow.
Oh Bronn, I missed you. Never leave for half a season ever again. I imagine we’ll be blessed with at least a few more weeks of Bronn in our lives. And he has to meet up with Pod again, right? That has to happen.
Anyway, the Blackfish parleys with the Kingslayer just to see him squirm, and brings up a good point in the process. A siege will do nothing but waste the throne’s time. The Tully forces can last 2 entire years- but with how quickly things move in this war does anyone have that long to mess around?
Finally, we get a few quick checks. First with the Greyjoys who solidify their plans. They are stealing Euron’s playbook and sailing for Slaver’s Bay.
Secondly, we meet up with Arya who is finally herself again and yearning for home. She books passage on a ship only to be shanked by the sneaky waif 30 seconds later. Arya cannot possibly be killed. Even with all the crap the showrunners have stunned us with, I can’t imagine years of standalone Arya stories would just culminate in her dying in the street. Will she go to Lady Crane? The actress owes her her life. I’m hoping for a quick recovery just so I can see where our little would-be-assasin goes next.
So many questions! So many things to be answered! So many episodes without Dorne ever being mentioned (which is totally a good thing)!