Game of Thrones – “The Broken Man”: Ain’t nothing but a hound dog

This week, we saw the return of Sandor “The Hound” Clegane, who was defeated by Brienne and left for dead. We learn that he was saved by Brother Ray, who nursed him back to health (while fully expecting him not to survive).

While Sandor seems content to live out his days chopping wood, it seems the gods have bigger plans for him. Brother Ray tells him as much, but the holy man misunderstands the world they are living in. The gods in Game of Thrones are rarely merciful. As the Hound tells Ray, it was hate that kept him alive. And, as he picks up that ax an heads back into the world, it is hate the drives him once again.

Ned Stark was acting in the name of truth and justice and he was beheaded. His son Robb followed his heart instead of his head and was slaughtered because of it. (A fact we were reminded of this week as we saw that some northerners are no longer loyal to the Starks after seeing their people killed for Robb’s mistake.) This is not a world where kindness and honesty are rewarded. The meek are not inheriting this earth. Brother Ray misunderstood that and his people were killed because of it. The Hound understood the realities of their world all to well. And I have to imagine that, whatever he does next, it will involve a lot of bloodshed.

I always love seeing Ian McShane. I thought he was fantastic in the role. I particularly loved his big smile at the revelation that Sandor was defeated by a woman. And McShane’s voice was made for long, passionate speeches. The storyline as a whole was a bit predictable (and felt very reminiscent of the X-Men’s use of Magneto), but I’m excited to have the Hound back. The shot of him picking up the ax was fantastic.

While the Hound’s story reminded us of the dark world these characters are living in, the rest of the episode featured a lot of characters playing the titular “Game of Thrones,” with mixed results.

Sansa, Jon and Davos went on a recruiting mission to raise an army, which was not as fruitful as they had hoped. I loved every moment of their pitch to the young Lady Lyanna Mormont. Davos, who spent a lot of time with Stannis’ daughter, clearly knows how to talk to Lyanna and is able to secure her 62 men. The actress they found to play Lyanna was amazing and the whole scene was so much fun. Her putting up her hand to wave off her maester was just a great character moment.

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I’m curious where the show is heading with the tension between Sansa and Davos. She raises some fair points about Davos’ allegiance to Stannis, but it seems unfair to attack someone who lead the charge on bringing Jon back to life. Of course, that tension seems like nothing compared to the tension between the wildlings and northerners in Jon’s army. They need a common enemy to fight soon or the whole thing will implode.

We also saw Sansa writing a letter to send via raven. It’s pretty safe to assume the letter is headed to Littlefinger. The move makes sense, but once again she is keeping Jon in the dark, which seems odd at this point. It made sense to not tell him when she didn’t want Littlefinger’s help, but why not fill him in on the potential support now?

Meanwhile, we see plenty of gamesmanship happening between the Blackfish and Jaime at Riverrun. Jaime and Bronn clearly show up just in time to save the hapless Frey army, who fail quite spectacularly at their bluff to kill Edmure. They clearly underestimate the Blackfish’s resolve, as does Jaime, who is surprised at just how poorly their “parlay” goes.

Jaime clearly has a massive army and could possibly take the castle with enough brute force. But it won’t be an easy task. The home field advantage, and the will to win this, clearly go to the Tullys. I’m also curious to see how things go once Brienne shows up to further muddy things. (I feel a bit like Brienne likely will in this conflict; I want the Tullys to win, but also want no harm to come to Jaime, who I am quite fond of.)

And finally, in a questionable bit of gamesmanship, we discover that the Greyjoy’s plan is essentially to steal their uncle’s plan to offer Danny their ship. Danny, as we know, is a conqueror, so she may enjoy a tune up fight on the Iron Islands before taking on King’s Landing. But there’s no guarantee she’ll agree to work with them, the Greyjoy siblings definitely don’t have a thousand ships and they’re headed to the exact place their uncle will go. It doesn’t seem like the best plan.

This episode was light on action, but I enjoyed a lot of the little moments in it. Ian McShane did a phenomenal job making a big impression in a small cameo. As did Bella Ramsey in her role as Lyanna Mormont. (Though I certainly hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen as Ramsey.) And we definitely seem headed for some big action in Riverrun and in wherever the Hound heads next.

And another thing …

  • The way Davos broke up the fight between the wildling and northerner felt very “high school principal” to me.
  • I expect more from Arya. She was walking around in a crowd in broad daylight when she knows the Waif can disguise her appearance to look like anyone. It just seemed ridiculously sloppy. And now she’s in bad shape. I really hope she gets out of Bravos alive, but she really needs to get her act together.
  • I’ve been using “tits” and “dragons” as two of the criteria to rate the episodes this season. This is thanks to Ian McShane, who gave away a bit too much information about the character he’d be playing, which lead people to figure out he would be paired with the Hound. His response, amazingly, was, “I was accused of giving the plot away, but I just think, ‘Get a fucking life.’ It’s only tits and dragons.”

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Written by Joel Murphy. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact Joel at murphyslaw@hobotrashcan.com

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