‘Game of Thrones’ szn 6, ep.7: “Smithers! Release the [redacted]!”

“The Broken Man” went with a cold open, electing to pull attention right in with a major reveal prior to the title sequence. I believe the only other time we’ve seen this on GOT was the very first episode where the white walkers made filets out of those poor, horny Night’s Watchmen. The big reveal in this episode wasn’t much of a reveal at all as I’ve gotten the sense that most expected The Hound to return at some point given that we didn’t actually see his death on screen (and that the only thematically ripe conclusion for him is fighting his brother, The Mountain). Left by Arya to die slowly, the Hound was lucky enough to be found by a septon named Ray and his small band of followers.

The REAL reveal is that Ray was the mystery character played by the great Ian McShane. Since McShane’s casting had been announced, countless folks (or maybe just me?) speculated as to who he could be playing. It turns out he played arguably the most down-to-earth character on the show; a warrior turned preacher who surmises that all the different gods folks carry out vile acts in the name of are probably just the same dudes. Al Swearengen, always the reasonable one*.

*Al Swearengen is the name of the character McShane played on HBO’s Deadwood, a show every bit the equal to the usual suspects when listers rattle off the best dramas ever (The Wire, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, etc). The moral compasses shown by the folks on Deadwood make the lords and ladies of Westeros look like choir boys.

Back to the Hound, a self-described “hard man”. He’s always had a relatively noble heart and, like Arya, he’s always had a shit list. The Mountain may sit at the top but the Brotherhood without Banners are certainly climbing. After they slaughtered an innocent group of commoners (and hung Ian McShane!), the Hound rips the ax from the log as if it were Excalibur and gives the classic “I’m on a mission” walk. GOT has always done a nice job of finding cool ways to show the Hound’s size. This week we saw him carrying a large tree branch that required five normal-sized people to lift. It also helps that actor Rory McCann is 6’ 6”.

I’m happy to see the Hound again but I do wish GOT would stop using the grey area surrounding the deaths of its characters as a narrative crutch. It’s fantasy and that’s what fantasy does. I get it. But so much is happening at any given moment on GOT that it doesn’t need to be that way. Surely the newfound presence of the Hound and Benjen/Coldhands has book-readers thinking a certain thought-dead character may actually be returning after all (let’s assign this character the pseudonym of Lady Rock Organ for now).

Checking in with Bronn of the Blackwater, week 7

BRONN IS BACK. Ring the alarm. Sound the conch. Gather the whores and vagrants. Our favorite sellsword/knight is helping Jaime with the siege of Riverrun, and he brought his trademark cynicism to boot. I couldn’t contain my laughter when Jaime began to say “A Lannister always pays…” and Bronn cut him off.

They did a nice job with the siege of Riverrun, blending set work with some digitally-enhanced shots of the castle. The incompetence of the Frey men was certainly something. They give the Blackfish an ultimatum, he calls their bluff, and then they don’t kill Edmure Tully. Maybe those Frey maesters misunderstand the concept of leverage in negotiations. It’d be very boring if this siege lasted two years, but lucky for us Brienne is on the way. This means a Brienne-Jaime reunion, and more importantly, a Bronn-Podrick union. The brothel keepers of Riverrun have no idea what they’re in for. Hopefully they’re training their employees on the intricacies of the Meereenese Knot.

Capture

In Volantis, Yara and Theon are stocking up in supplies for the Iron Fleet while finding time to imbibe. I don’t get what the writers are doing with Theon. Yara gives him a little speech about manning up and her plan to beat Euron to Daenerys. I’m confused. Is THIS supposed Theon’s moment of clarity? At first I thought that came when he saved Sansa, and then when he gave an impassioned speech in support of his sister when she made her claim. Does Theon just have random moments of courage and then remember he’s lacking in the peen department when it’s convenient for another character’s arc?

Speaking of which.

Was there any peen this week?

No. I think I’m going to retire this section. Clearly GOT cares not for gender equality issues. Shameful. I thought it was 2016. To be honest I only kept it going this long because “peen” is funny to me. Peen.

Jon, Sansa, and Davos are making the rounds in attempt to rally the Northern houses to their side and take back Winterfell. Of course the Wildlings were going to join the cause. After all, Jon is the sole reason they’re not currently White Walkers. Next they visit the Mormonts (house to former lord commander Mormont, and current lord friendzone Mormont). Their current leader is a remarkably competent young lady named Lyanna. They were able to sway her thanks to Davos’ ability to converse with her, a result of all the time he spent with Shireen Baratheon. Davos would make quite the grade school teacher if he could, you know, read.

On that note, why are Jon and Sansa so intent on taking Winterfell right now? Rickon is there, but if the goal is to really prepare for the impending White Walker attack, why does Winterfell matter? As a fortress, it doesn’t seem all that effective (especially when compared to Riverrun). This is why I found it important to have House Glover reject Jon’s proposal. If you’re a Lord or Lady of some random Northern house, why the hell do you care about Winterfell given all that’s happened and all that’s inevitable? The Starks seem to care a whole lot more about the Stark mystique than anyone else. And like Lord Glover said, Sansa isn’t really a Stark anymore, as cruel as that may sound. Ramsay took her purity. Sansa certainly believes in someone though, as she sends a raven out. My guess, that raven will be intercepted by someone working for Varys, and news of her predicament will end up in the hands of Dany/Tyrion, even if that wasn’t her intention.

The “Daenerys Sucks Diaries”, week 7

Daenerys was not in this week’s episode. Nor were any of her goons. Thus, no chance for her to suck.

In Braavos, Arya appeared set to return to Westeros until that damn Waif found her, brutally sticking her in the stomach multiple times. Arya managed to escape by hurling herself into the bay; but the episode ended with her staggering the streets, bleeding from the abdomen. Not ideal. Perhaps this is a test and Jaqen will find her. Perhaps a significant stranger will come to her aide. What I do know is that this delays her ultimate return, which is lame.

Capture

The best moments of this episode came in King’s Landing. Every time Cersei and Olenna share a scene the results are fruitful. They’re bizarrely similar. Both extremely intelligent and well-versed in long conning; but both often blinded by conditional love for, and confidence in, their last names. It’s neat how the show has used the Church to bring these two cunning puppeteers together to a certain extent. It’s at least given them a common enemy. Cersei wanted Olenna to stay and help her fight the religious zealots. Olenna, or Margaery I should say, had other plans.

I say that because (I think?) Margaery revealed that her religious awakening was a bunch of bullshit and she’s still playing a game on behalf of the Tyrells. By slipping Olenna a picture of the Tyrell sigil, she gave her first hint of honesty all season. Margaery has always been difficult to get a read on because she’s never exposed anything genuine other than her desire to be THE queen. Her allegiance shifted from Renly to Tommen without as much as a tear. She runs a mean PR game. While we once thought Margaery was wholesome, she looks more and more like a young Cersei every season. This is probably why Cersei has never been comfortable around her. Margaery is Cersei when Cersei was the most desirable lady in all the Seven Kingdoms before the years of scheming, incest, and wine began to take their toll.

Tweet of the Week

CaptureSeems like a bit of an overreaction IMO.

“The Broken Man” was a decent enough episode. It didn’t touch the last three but bringing the primary focus back to the Seven Kingdoms was important. As heavy as Dany’s eventual attack and the White Walkers weigh, this is a show still very much about the inner-workings the Seven Kingdoms. To continue to keep Jaime/Cersei/The Tyrells/etc on the backburner (as we’ve seen for much of this season) would be a mistake. It’s also funny to see those characters so focused on keeping their current power when other characters have realized that none of that is going to matter soon enough.

And we had Bronn.

Arbitrary Ranking of the Week

In honor of Ramsay not being in this episode, living characters whom I don’t need to hear from ever again, ranked.

  1. Ramsay (we get it, he’s a sick fuck. Either do something with the character or kill him.)
  2. Daario (he’s on the show to give Dany the D and that’s it. The guy they originally cast as the character was much better and just played the villain in freakin’ Deadpool)
  3. Edmure Tully (still had sex that one time at the Red Wedding, nice)
  4. Tommen (literally everyone knows he’s dying this season so just get on with it)
  5. Missandei/Grey Worm (they’ve essentially written the romance between these two out of the show, and with Tyrion by Dany’s side now, they’re only there to make Dany look like the great white savior a la Kevin Costner in every Kevin Costner movie)
  6. Hot Pie (just kidding, long live Hot Pie)

Five Random Notes

  1. It was revealed this week that NEXT season of GOT will only have seven episodes. The optimistic half of me thinks this is because the writers have tightened up the story and will waste less time; the cynical side of me believes HBO just wants to save a few million.
  2. This episode was directed by Mark Mylod, who did episodes 3 and 4 last season and is married to Amy Westcott, one of the GOT costume designers.
  3. Via IMDB, this marks the second straight episode with no Tyrion, a first for the series.
  4. Fuck Johnny Depp.
  5. *patiently sitting back waiting for the upcoming albums from YG, ScHoolboy Q, and Pusha T so I no longer have to play strictly Kanye spawns and Atlanta teenagers to feel hip amongst rap listeners*

Until next week.

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