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Game of Thrones: “The Broken Man” Review

Game of Thrones: "The Broken Man" - Review

Hide the Chickens – Guess Who Back in ‘The Broken Man’

SPOILERS FOR THIS EPISODE OF GAME OF THRONES DOWN BELOW

Season 6 of Game of Thrones is quickly approaching its climax with only three episodes left. With storylines coming and going on a whim, show creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have chosen no better time to answer the fate of one of the show’s long-term favorites in this week’s The Broken Man. So hint hint, hide all the bloody chickens in Westeros.

The Broken Man opens with a cold open in the Vale, but to be perfectly honest it does take a while to gather your surroundings. We see some sort of structure being built, presumably a watchtower and characters we’ve never met on Game of Thrones. Rumors have been circulating alll season that Ian McShane (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) would have some sort of role this season. And after six episodes, one was beginning to put him in the same boat as so many other long-lost storylines on the show (cough Lady Stoneheart).

McShane plays Septon Ray, the leader of a band of villagers, who’s been nursing Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann) back to health. The last time we saw the former Lannister lap dog was during the Season 4 finale, The Children, where Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) left him for dead before heading out to Braavos. Despite nothing locked down in George R.R. Martin’s recent novels, the writers made it no secret, especially in the last season or so that The Hound was eventually coming back. All that talk of Cleganebowl hasn’t been in vain.

The Hound still feels guilty for his sins and I don’t blame him, considering all he’s done over the course of the show. Though, by the climax of Season 4, he was more of a fan favorite antihero during his road trip with Arya. With Septon Ray’s guidance, he’s trying to find peace in the Vale. McShane’s insertion into the series is a breath of fresh air. Even though he’s one of those Septons like those in the Faith Militant, he doesn’t come off as a smug holier than thou type. Yes, High Sparrow I’m looking at you.

Unfortunately, McShane’s role is a blink and you miss it type of deal in the overall scheme of things in Game of Thrones. The Brotherhood Without Banners, who we haven’t seen in a couple of seasons, make trouble for Septon Ray and the villagers, ultimately killing them. You have to feel sorry for The Hound, who was just starting to get away from it all is thrown back into the fray. Then again, this is one step closer to Cleganebowl.

Elsewhere in the North, Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Davos (Liam Cunningham) spend most of their screentime, rallying the troops to their cause for the upcoming Bastard Bowl 2016 in two weeks. After thrown to the sidelines last week in Blood of My Blood, the Starks are back in the forefront. Jon Snow hasn’t had much opportunity to shine the last few episodes. You’d think after that resurrection arc early on in Season 6 that the writers would break him out of the mopey bastard persona with next to nothing to do.

Fortunately this week, he along with Sansa and Davos steal Littlefinger’s infamous teleportation device (not really, but you know how things have been speeding along as of late). Persuading the Wildlings is an easy task for Jon, who has the loyalty of Tormund (Kristofer Hijvu). Wildings are nowhere near enough for the Starks as they head next to Bear Island, which is unquestionably one of the most beautiful locations to date on the show. There they come across a feisty Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey), who requires a few extra pushes to oblige. She even gets under Sansa’s skin, who she’s not sure to label either a Lannister or a Bolton, based on her mulitiple marriages. Even as a little 10-year-old, she holds her own, flanked by her counselors. And her age shouldn’t come as a surprise as child leaders are a dime a dozen on Game of Thrones.

So there’s another 62 men to their cause. Yes, 62. And I guarantee someone out there is probably already thinking up a meme for this cute scene from last night. Their final trip to House Glover proves to be the most difficult. Sansa reminds Lord Glover (Tim McInnerny) that he still owes his allegiance to House Stark. He claims House Stark is dead. And that moment, you get that gut feeling that Sansa will finally take up Robb’s mantle, but nothing comes of it unless it’s being saved for one of the final three episodes of Season 6. Some believe that Sansa is backtracking this episode, sounding a little entitled when it comes to dealing with the different houses, but it’s more about pledged loyalty if anything.

Down south in King’s Landing, Queen Margaery (Natalie Dormer) continues prove that she’s one of the most formidable players in the game. On the surface, she appears to be brainwashed by the High Sparrow’s (Jonathan Pryce) agenda, citing passages out of the Faith’s holy books. After a season of being broken and stripped of practically everything, she’s back in her fancy clothes, free to move around thanks to last week’s shocking alliance. All the High Sparrow ask of her is to keep converting more of her family, which includes her grandmother, the Queen of Thorns (Diana Rigg) herself.

Deceiving the Faith Militant is no easy task as Queen Margaery is under surveillance with her Septa, refusing to leave her side. Even during as meeting with her grandmother, Margaery is forced to slip a message into her hand assuring her that she hasn’t been converted. It was pretty obvious last week this was a ploy, but for anyone who needs proof. It’s right in front of you this week.

Building off of last week’s House Frey subplot, the pitiful excuse of Frey forces attempt to force Blackfish Tully (Clive Russell) to surrender his castle. His nephew Edmure (Tobias Menzies) remains a captive of the Freys and isn’t much of a bargaining chip as the Blackfish is fine wth them killing him. Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) burst onto the scene and take charge of the situation. Like with the Freys, the Blackfish isn’t threatened by Jaime either, who boast that they have two years worth of provisions to hold them out.

The Riverrun subplot will take more hold next week when Jaime’s old travelling buddy, Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) joins in the confrontation. With her loyalties still to House Stark, Brienne and Jaime could be butting heads like old times. After Jaime’s adventures in Dorne, it’s a plus to see the writers circling back to the books and tackling Riverrun, but it’s nothing of substance at moment. That is, unless this ties into the aftermath of Bastard Bowl 2016. Remember, House Tully is related to House Stark and somewhere along the line, the two houses will end up converging in the battle to come.

Across the Narrow Sea, it looks like the Greyjoy siblings also got their hands on Littlefinger’s teleporting device, jumping leaps and bounds from escaping the Iron Islands to already end up in Volantis. While Yara (Gemma Whelan) gets it on with one of the local women, the scene focuses more on her brother Theon (Alfie Allen), finding his spark again. Saying that Theon’s been through a lot the past few seasons is such an understatement it’s not even funny, but Yara finally gets him back on track, bringing back the old Prince of the Iron Islands. Even though, The Broken Man title seem ambiguous and could be about Jon or the Hound, it describes where Theon is. It’s still a race against time the Greyjoys as they need to get to Dany (Emilia Clarke) and form an alliance before their uncle does. The new story arc does resemble the one in the books, but with a different Greyjoy relative with the same motivation.

Now the biggest WTF moment of The Broken Man comes from Arya’s storyline in Braavos. She’s desperate to escape Braavos, knowing all-too-well that failing to kill the stage actress has put a price on her head. Fortunately, she persuades a captain to leaves for Westeros at dawn, but is almost immediately stabbed in the stomach by the pesky Waif (Faye Marsay), who still has it out for her.

The way the episode is broken down is tricky. It ends with the Hound returning to the slaughtered village, which nicely bookends the episode. However, this is the more shocking cliffhanger. The scene goes on for just a minute too long and would’ve been more effective if the episode cut to black after Arya got stabbed and fell in the canals. Yes, it would’ve devasted audiences for a week just like Jon Snow’s death at the end of last season or Hodor’s sad end two episodes ago.

The Broken Man is a massive improvement over last week’s slightly disappointing episode, circling around and progressing the more important storylines on the show. In the overall course of things, the Hound’s sudden return is a bit jarring, but we’ve come to expect that from this season after House Frey and the Iron Islands returning out of nowhere. Next week’s major payoff is the ever-building Arya vs. the Waif showdown, which this episode teased so well.

Next Week’s Preview:

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Written by
Matt Marshall has been reviewing films since 2003, starting with "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King." He specializes in home media, including 4K UHD, Blu-ray as well as box office analysis. He has a B.A. in Communications/Journalism from St. John Fisher College and resides in Rochester, NY.

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