Beloved Throners! I’m so happy, I don’t even know where to begin.
What a spankingly delicious episode of Game of Thrones. I just adored every minute of it. Even now my cheeks are flushed with pleasure, my teeth are sparkling like they’ve just been through a minty fresh car wash, and I just want to run into the wild, spin in circles and sing like Maria Von Trapp on nitrous oxide.
This may have been somewhat inspired by the hillside setting for the Hillsong Church, headed by none other than Ian ‘Al Swearengen’ McShane himself, finally turning up as a reformed fighter turned pastor in a rare pre-credit sequence.
Not since The Pillars of the Earth have I been so chuffed to see Ian McShane hanging around a cathedral construction site.
It was too bad it all ended so soon, as I was looking forward to having those baby blue peepers around for a while. But then, he had a role to play, and that role was to let a certain doggy off the leash.
Damn all of you who said The Hound wasn’t dead. He was left for dead. He looked pretty dead. I was CERTAIN he was going to be dead. But then I also thought Ned Stark was going to find a way off that chopping block right up to the point where his head was snicked off so we all know how much my opinion’s worth.
We’ll get back to our remix of the Baha Men’s 2000 classic shortly, because it was just one glorious strawberry on the cream pie that was this episode.
Kate Middleton and roses! Olenna slagging off Cersei! Jon and Sansa’s Magical Mystery Tour! Captain Darling! Yara the Power Lesbian! The Kingslayer V The Blackfish! Bronn! F***ing Bronn, people!
Yes, it was an episode in which all of our broken and beleagured heroes slowly started putting themselves back together - or open themselves up to a bit more damage.
S6E7: The Broken Man
Let’s deal first with that reveal of The Hound of the Axe-O-Skills. The pre-credit sequence showed hearty country folk doing the Westeros equivalent of an Amish barn-raising: building a new sept. It was like the start of a Disney movie, with apple-cheeked kiddies playing with daisies, and women probably named Daisy chopping up apples.
As groups of men strode past hoisting wood on their shoulders, we noticed one man powering along solo, a mighty log on his back, not even vaguely troubled by its weight.
Eventually he drops it, looks up, and turns, to show first the burnt side of his head, then his face.
It turns out The Hound, as opposed to dying where Brienne left him after their fierce battle at the end of season four, was picked up by Ian McShane, who thought he was dead until he coughed.
Somehow Sandor Clegane survived, which Ian McShane has interpreted to mean the gods still have plans for him.
He’s a refreshing sort of preacher, this one, as unlike the High Sparrow he doesn’t pretend to know all the answers. He even suggests the Seven - whose pointed star he wears around his neck - may not be the “right” god/s. Such blasphemy does not offend Clegane, someone who spits on the concept of religion. However Ian McShane is not demanding penitence, or naked shame walks, or converting others. He just wants to spread the good in the world. And for someone with so much hate in them (he even credits it for keeping him alive), that’s a bit of an eye-opener.
Sadly all this positivity (and did you notice the musical score under that pre-credit sequence was the Game of Thrones theme in a major key? So. Freaky.) could not last. Not even for more than one episode, dagnabbit.
For the Brotherhood Without Banners came a-calling, and despite the Hound’s warnings, Ian McShane did not take any precautions to protect his flock, even offering to break bread with them.
You have to wonder what would have happened had Clegane been there when the raiding party arrived, as opposed to being off chopping firewood like a man possessed. He probably could have taken out a fair few of them, but eventually he would be cut down. Instead, he has to look upon the corpses of the men, women and children - simple, unarmed folk - and know their deaths must be paid for. As he stood staring into the bulging eyes of the dead septon, his purpose in life all of a sudden became clear - justice. Or if not justice, revenge.
In the Game of Thrones world, being broken ain't necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes that break gives you the ability to do things others can't, or won't.
With no Brienne in sight, Tormund has finally started speaking with comprehensible words again, as opposed to casting goo-goo eyes in the direction of the warrior from Tarth and seductively gumming a meat tray.
He’s totes backing Jon Snow in as the Lord of the Man Bun appeals to the Wildlings to join their fight against the BOO HISS BOLTONS. The Wildlings are worried they’ll be wiped out, meaning no more Free Folk. Well, says Tormund, Jon Snow died for us, so he’s basically Jesus, and if we don’t reciprocate, maybe we should be the last Free Folk. Oh, (ginger) snap.
Stampy signals his approval with a grunt and a walk-off, and the other red-headed Wildling shakes Jon’s hand. It’s a deal, and with that Jon, Sansa and Ser Davos are off on a whistlestop tour to recruit more warriors to their cause.
Their first stop was Bear Island, where the revelation of Lady Mormont as a teeny wee girlie was quite possibly the best visual gag ever seen in Game of Thrones.
Jon, Sansa and Davos all looked suitably embarrassed to be seeking an audience with a One Directioner, but Lady Mormont quickly put their prejudices to rest by going 100 per cent Hermione Granger on their collective ass.
“My mother wasn’t a great beauty, or any other kind of beauty,” she snaps, rejecting Sansa’s proffered compliment that she would grow up a looker. “She was a great warrior though. She died fighting for your brother Robb.”
Jon doesn’t fair much better when he tries bigging up her uncle, the late Jeor, Commander of the Night’s Watch.
“I think we’ve had enough small talk. Why are you here?”
My beloveds, I just fell in love - in a totally age-appropriate way, may I add - with Hermione Granger. Such sass. Such authority! I am more than *ahem* times her age and can only dream of such badassery. She makes Hillary Clinton look like Sleeping f***ing Beauty. Say No to the Bernie Bros: Lady Mormont for President!
Hermione Granger was in no mood to truck with idiots wanting her to sacrifice the good people of Bear Island to some foolish squabble between noble houses. It took Davos Seaworth, once again showing why he’s King of the Kids, to bring her around.
The Onion Knight cited his own recent conversion to the way of the warrior, and summed up by saying that Jeor Mormont and Jon Snow knew the truth: that the only war that mattered was between the living and dead. “And make no mistake, my lady, the dead are coming.” OoooOOOOoooh, drop mic, DJ OK.
Once Davos convinced Lady Mormont that recapturing Winterfell was the only way to ensure a united North, which was the only way to stand a chance against the White Walkers, Jon asked how many fighting men they could expect from the noble Bear Island.
There was a pause as the punchline came looming up towards us like a drunken grizzly, the word PUNCHLINE shorn into its shaggy coat, and a half-eaten Salmon Rushdie pun dangling from its mouth. But that didn’t stop the confident reply of “62” producing such gut laughter in me, I’ll be drinking Yakult for days to replenish.
Still, they fared better with 62 Fighting Bears (good name for a gay club, by the way) than they did on their next stop: Deepwood Motte, the home of the Glovers.
My foster kittens were rather startled when about two seconds after Lord Glover appeared onscreen I started yelling “Darling! Captain Darling! Look, it’s Captain Darling!” like a mad woman. Yes, it appears Tim McInnerny, aka Lord Percy from Blackadder II and Captain Darling from Blackadder Goes Forth is the latest familiar face from the British acting fraternity to strap on a leather jerkin and step into Game of Thrones.
If I can just have an aside - I know Fawlty Towers is technically flawless and I know Yes Minister is the sharpest satire ever, but Blackadder still has my heart as the best British sitcom of all time. Sure, it has an unfairly maligned first season, and sure, it ticks all my particular history buttons. But with characters like Queenie and the baby-eating Bishop of Bath and Wells, and Prince George and his Enormous Trousers, and General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett KCB and Lord Flashheart and lines like “I have a cunning plan” and “Great Boo’s Up” and “I trust you didn’t forget to remove the crumpet” - come on, people. It’s gold.
Anyway back to Lord Glover. He’s a bit of a sourpuss grumpy face, which is probably attributable to the fact that his house sigil is a fist emoji. It’s possible he’s going for the Hunter S. Thompson gonzo journalism feel, but it looks more like they’re saying “Cross us, and we’ll fist you!” which is too sexually adventurous to be completely intimidating.
I mean really, a glove? For Glover? Given the Direwolf of Stark and the Flayed Man of Bolton, it really is an unimaginative effort.
Sansa tries to pull the old “You pledged your honour to the Starks, bitch, now whaddup?” to get him to come onboard their Anti-Bolton Crusading Coalition (ABCC) but Glover isn’t having it. He’s seen his stronghold captured by salty Ironborn, his family tortured and his brother slain on the altar of Robb Stark, and he’s had enough. All in all, Glover’s refusal basically boils down to the phrase “I’m getting too old for this shit,” which is pleasantly ironic indeed.
Back at camp, Sansa is so unimpressed with the motley crew they’ve assembled you’d think she’d be happier with the actual Mötley Crüe. At least Tommy Lee could have made some interesting home videos.
She wants to keep pressing the flesh with one-time Stark bannermen, but Jon is adamant that they attack Winterfell before they lose momentum. Of course, he then has to stop their conversation to go help Davos break up a fight between some random soldier jocks, because the testosterone is running rampant in the cold weather. Yes, don’t stop that momentum whatever you do, Jon.
The Magical Mystery Tour concludes with Sansa penning a message to someone, with the camera helpfully obscuring the “To” part of the note. But all we have to do is listen to that musical underscore - yep, it’s the Petyr Baelish theme. Earlier, Sansa had responded to Lady Mormont’s rebuke that she was a Lannister or a Bolton by saying she did what she had to do to survive. Now, despite her best intentions, she’s having to do it again. Careful Sansa. You have been healing and fighting so well. I would hate to see Littlefinger slip between your cracks. Oh wow, I meant that line to sound ominous and foreboding, but I’ve just creeped myself out.
There was a touching scene in wherever the hell it was the Greyjoys were this week (Lys? Volantis?). Many touchings, in fact, as it was revealed that Yara is a Power Lesbian, aka Dyke From Pyke. I felt somewhat conflicted as I cheered on her heavy petting of a prostitute. I mean, I love that she’s a take-charge babe, but she could have been a tad more respectful. Lead by example Yara. But then I suppose Theon was always quite the aggressor with the ladies, so maybe it’s just genetic.
Not that Theon’s feeling the party vibe much, which prompts Yara to send her bit of rumpy-pumpy away for a moment so she can have a Moment with her baby bro. Yara wants to get away from their marauding Uncle Euron as fast as possible, strike a deal with Daenarys first, then scurry back to retake the Iron Islands. She needs the real Theon, not the broken Reek, to be by her side to make sure justice is served. When Theon flinches, she changes the name of the game. Revenge, not justice.
Spurred on by Yara’s drinking game, Theon skulls his ale until finally he meets her gaze steadily for the first time since they reunited. There’s an amazing transformation in Theon’s face, and Yara seals this renewed connection with a sisterly kiss on the forehead. Then she cheerily announces she’s off to “f**k the tits off that one”. Stay classy, Ironborn.
In King’s Landing, the High Sparrow is getting rather personal with Kate Middleton, who apparently isn’t doing enough by learning the Book of the Mother off by heart - she should be actively trying to become a mother herself. Yes, the High Sparrow chastises her for her chasteness, which she explains by saying her conversion has knocked her for sex. I mean, six.
In praising her, Big Bird warns that her grandmother Olenna, the Queen of Thorns, ought to follow her lead to live a more noble life, as she’s an out and out sinner. Margaery seeks to bestow some of this wisdom to her Gran at a subsequent meeting, which Margaery’s unsmiling jailer Septa monitors like a teacher at a school dance full of 14-year-olds.
Finally, in pleading with Olenna to go home to Highgarden, Margaery finally confirms what we’ve all suspected/known as plain as day - that she’s in the middle of the most intense method acting preparation since Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln. Wore those stove pipe hats everywhere, he did. Even got himself shot at the theatre for realism. Also because he was seeing a production of Cats at the time and BOOM take that Cats you jumped-up excuse for a show.
Anyway, it was a joy to see that little spark in Margaery’s eyes as she buried a scrap of paper into Olenna’s lap. Outside the room, the Queen of Thorns unwrapped it to reveal a rose, growing strong, as always. Margaery is the reed, ever bending, never broken. Like grandmother, like granddaughter.
As Olenna makes plans to get away before the “shoeless zealot” can throw her in Black Cell, Cersei makes another attempt to butter her up, apologising for unleashing the Faith Militant on them all, and pleading that they work together.
Olenna’s speech in reply is a searing, savage takedown of Cersei that would have left a weaker person on the floor in a gibbering mess. I know I was, and it wasn’t even aimed at me. It’s something of a tribute to Cersei’s ego that she can hear slings like “I wonder if you’re the worst person I’ve ever met… the truly vile do stand out through the years” and “You’ve lost Cersei… it’s the only joy I can find in all this misery” and not collapse in a heap. Still, Olenna seems intent on leaving Cersei to fight it out alone. Except Cersei, as we know, has The Mountain. Now there’s a Humpty Dumpty success story.
All hail the return of Bronn! Everybody’s favourite everything is back, as quippy as ever, as just as comfortable in his bromance with Jaime as he was with Tyrion way back when. Geez, imagine if those three ever team up again. I don’t think the fan fiction writers could handle it. And by fan fiction writers, I mean me. Yes, that’s right, my soaring self-published opus Sexy Game of Thrones Characters Have Sexy Times While You Watch will be out soon for 89 cents a download.
As a newly minted knight, it’s Bronn’s duty to accompany Jaime and 8000 Lannister men to the Riverlands to retake Riverrun from Brynden Tully. The former sellsword is not super impressed by this turn of events, particularly since Jaime tries to wheel out the old “A Lannister always pays his debts” excuse for why he can’t yet have his fancy house and posh bride.
On arrival, they discover the Freys carrying out the most disappointing siege since Steven Seagal circa 1995 (On a train? Why, Steven, why?)
Not even the threat of killing Edmure Tully moves the Blackfish. He doesn’t really care about Edmure anyway, and besides, the Freys are all bluff.
Jaime, however, is more serious. He takes charge of the blockade and organises a parly with the Blackfish, which occurs in splendid fashion on the very drawbridge protecting the castle.
Brynden is ferociously calm, a study in carefully calculated risks and the wariness engendered by a lifetime of fighting entitled morons. “We’ve got supplies to last two years… do you?” he growls at Jaime, who can’t understand why his opponent agreed to a discussion when he had no intention of surrendering. “Sieges are dull,” is the Blackfish’s droll reply. “I wanted to get the measure of you… and I’m disappointed.” It must be all very frustrating for Jaime, whose name and reputation used to mean a damn thing around here. Now he’s just a toy soldier, performing dumbshow.
Unless he decides to get the trebuchets out next week. Then it could get interesting.
I remain conflicted about how the Riverrun stand-off should end. I’m certainly pro-Blackfish and would hate to see the Freys back in charge, but it would also be nice to see Jaime have some kind of win here. Or at the very least, for him not to be punished too much for not taking the fortress back.
Over in Braavos, a happy Arya Stark, freshly reunited with both name and Needle, is looking for a way to get back home.
She happens upon a Westerosi sailor and throws him a few heavy bags of coins to ship out at dawn and have a cabin at the ready for her. Everything is coming up Stark House.
Meanwhile, all we’re doing is searching the faces in the crowd and wondering which one will be the Waif, game face on, ready to stabby stabby. It turns out to be the fragile old lady, because of course it is. Arya cops a nasty few stabs to the abdomen, before thankfully fighting back and hurling herself off the bridge. Seeing enough blood in the water to lure Jaws out of retirement, the Waif is happy with a job done. But Arya emerges, gasping, conveniently near some steps onto the bank.
Dripping with blood and shivering with cold, she walks through the streets, past market stall holders and shoppers, with everyone staring but nobody helping. What is to become of her? Her stab wounds looked pretty serious - we know she is tougher than a rhinoceros hide attempting to sing “Roar” by Katy Perry at karaoke, but still, she’s not immortal. OR IS SHE? No really, that’s not a joke, I’m genuinely interested in whether her induction into the Faceless Men gave her any sort of Wolverine-style healing factor.
Yay! Best Moments
Clearly Hermione Granger crushing all before her was platinum slay.
Zing! Best Lines
Jaime: Get word to the Blackfish. I want a parly.
Bronn: A parly or a fight?
Jaime: He’s an old man.
Bronn: You’ve got one hand. My money’s on the old boy.
Everything about the Freys is just skin-crawlingly gross. It’s like the whole family’s money goes on supporting Walder Frey’s disgusting tribe of offspring that they all wear hand-me-down clothes and roll in mud for a bath. When Jaime turned up at their siege HQ - aka a bog field on the banks of the Trident - I couldn’t have cheered more when he slapped the Freys in charge down, both figuratively and literally. Get some deodorant and braces, you skeevy bastards.
No Tyrion two weeks running? Surely there is some sort of law against an absence of Tyrion for that long? Also no Daenarys and dragons, no Sam and Gilly, no Bran and Benjen? Also - does anyone remember Dorne? There was a power shift there early on this season, but we’ve not heard much of it since. Oh well. Onwards, to next week!
Thank you so much for joining me again this week. I can't wait to read your comments and thoughts, either here on the 'Burger, or via my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/nataliesthrone
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