That was likely the funniest episode of Game of Thrones in recent memory and it still ended with a massacre.
But, seriously, I chuckled quite a lot in this rather slight almost-hour, especially for an episode without the usual wit masters, Tyrion, Varys, and Littlefinger. The latter’s machinations were still a presence, though. Did Sansa send him a raven asking for his army? Did Littlefinger really wedge a splinter between Sansa and her half-brother Jon Snow?
Perhaps. But all I can do is cheer because Ian McShane was a guest star. LET ME HAVE THIS.
Major episode spoilers ahead.
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I honestly don’t know who I was happier to see: Al Swearengen or the Hound. You see, the gods are not done with the actors of Deadwood.
Well, except Ian McShane didn’t last long in Westeros. Seeing as the actor kind of spoiled his whole episode in the press, I knew he’d only be around this week and he’d be bringing back a character presumed dead. Since that character obviously wasn’t Jon Snow, it was either going to be the Hound or… that other one from the books. We got our answer quickly enough, seeing that familiar scarred face. Were it not for Ian McShane also hilariously boiling Game of Thrones down to its core of “tits n’ dragons,” I’d be more mad. “Tit’s n’ dragons” is my new superlative for everything in life.
And yet, there were lots of tits in a brothel this week, but no dragons. Take that, Ian McShane.
Between the Hound hiding out with a septon and Benjen Stark’s return as kinda-Coldhands last week—and really so many big story beats this season—it feels like Game of Thrones is just going down a checklist confirming every single fan theory. So while it’s cool to see the show do this, I still wonder how things might go differently in the books.
I kind of preferred Sandor Clegane’s cameo in the books—being noticed but not named by Brienne on her travels—will BookSandor return and… who knows, face his brother in combat one day? Or did BookSandor remain a man of peace? That’d be just as interesting. I could’ve watched more of McShane’s septon. But, like the Faceless Men to Arya, some people are just little detours meant to teach the bigger characters some lesson or other.
Sandor learned that, like Arya last week, he is not “no one” and sometimes it is too late to help people. Also, his hearing is for shit. It’s not like he was listening to his iPod or anything. I don’t believe he’s deaf on his burned side. It’s also not like the leader of those bandits didn’t practically scream “I’ll be back” when he threatened to rob the septon’s flock. Come on. The Hound would just let those three obviously desperate men go?
And where will Clegane go? Will he cross swords with Brienne first? Or will he meet someone else who could be behind these corrupted former Brotherhood Without Banners members?
Will the Hound’s hate prove useful in service of faith? Or the Faith?
The Faith is resting comfortably in King’s Landing since the king’s big announcement. I was really starting to wonder if I was wrong about Margaery faking it, right until we saw her secret missive to Olenna, warning the Queen of Thorns to tuck tail and run. This is a Severus Snape-worthy performance. But what’s Margaery’s end-game? Is this just an act until her trial of faith is over? Will she really allow Loras to be stripped of his title? And why is she avoiding making an heir with Tommen?
“Congress does not require desire on the woman’s part?” Ugh. Yeah, I mean, what else was he going to say there? But still. The High Sparrow can shut up now.
In the North, Jon and Sansa are having a hell of a time uniting all those little houses under the Stark banner. I’m kind of not blaming the Mormonts and the Glovers for being hesitant. Their people died for Robb Stark, including his poor decisions that left the smaller houses vulnerable after Robb himself got killed. And how can Jon convince every other Northerner to overcome generations of hatred of Wildlings in enough time?
I didn’t get a good feeling watching Sansa and Jon argue. Jon should know that when he’s upset, he doesn’t think clearly. It’s a terrible trait for warfare. He is not ready for Winterfell yet. Sansa’s got the right of it—they need the Vale’s help. Which plays right into what Littlefinger needs. Very risky.
At Riverrun, Brynden Tully is so beyond caring about repercussions from the crown, he is prepared to die fighting for his ancestral home. He’s prepared to let Edmure die. In his defense, Edmure is pretty worthless. How Jaime handles this siege can be a real gamechanger for the Kingslayer.
But I’m with Bronn: always bet on Blackfish. Especially when Brienne shows up on his side.
- Quote of the night: “Sixty-two.” Everything Lyanna Mormont said was just golden. Dany’s got the wrong Mormont at her side.
- Speaking of spitfire little girls… what the hell happened with Arya? Did she get bored waiting in her dark room for the Waif to come? She felt confident enough to openly stroll around the wharves looking for a captain to hire? That was really unwise and unlike her training. Now I suppose she’ll have no choice but to get to the acting troupe for some help.
- For an episode called “The Broken Man” and featuring Ian-fucking-McShane as a septon, we didn’t get this wonderful speech from A Feast for Crows about the toll war takes on people’s psyches. The only broken man we saw this episode was Theon. It was an odd choice for episode title.
- Oh, yeah, amid all the boobies, we learned Yara’s fleet is indeed headed for Slaver’s Bay, pursued by Euron. It really feels like Game of Thrones is nearing the final season; the players are all moving into their expected places. Why do I feel like this season will end with Dany getting her ships, one way or another?
- Next week: “No One.” Who will help Arya stay alive? Who will help Edmure stay alive? That was a rhetorical question. No one cares about Edmure.
Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights at 9PM E/PT on HBO.
Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to Tor.com covering TV, book reviews and sometimes games. She’s also gotten enthusiastic about television for Boing Boing. Send her a raven through Twitter.