How many horses do you think HBO have hired throughout the years? A hell of a lot, that’s for sure. Hopefully the network didn’t fly these stallions first class, that would surely have blown the show’s lucrative budget. Perhaps they’re volunteering. After all, Game of Thrones is arguably the world’s favourite TV show and getting your hooves seen on the small screen would surely secure a chance of getting the lead role in a Black Beauty remake.
Back to the shows human contributors, and this week sees the resurrection of old life and the damaging of new ones. We start episode sevens “The Broken Man” with a surprise no one surely expected – the return of the Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann). Beaten and broken by Brienne, we last saw the hound at the end of season three begging Arya (Maisie Williams) to end his life. Fast forward and audiences can expect the return of Sandor’s satirical wit we were once so accustomed to.
While his conflicting empathy were focused on during the end of his storyline, we jump back in with confirmation of his new found humanity. Saved by Ray (Ian McShane) while on the verge of death, the hound has almost fully recovered and is earning his stay with Ray and a small group of people. Ray believes all should try and spread a little “goodness” into the world with the time we have left – and the hound certainly has his ears pricked. Teasing a new found sense of goodness in Sandor, his warming heart is soon re-frozen when witness to the murder of Ray and all his followers. Picking up an axe, the hound knows the world of Westeros has always been without mercy. A warm welcome back to Rory, his realism was missed.
Down in Kings Landing, Margaery (Natalie Dormer) is settling into her new found faith, while looking a whole lot cleaner than she did the earlier half of the season. With the aligning of the faith and crown, the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) informs Margaery she must produce an heir if she is to truly please the gods. Citing a lack of desire the reason for not re-producing, Margaery is then allowed to visit her grandmother back in the Red Keep. Threatening Unella with bashings from her guards, the queen of thorns attempts to coerce her granddaughter prove futile, but Margaery isn’t simply a mindless follower of the faith. Slipping Olenna (Diana Rigg) a piece of paper, Ms Tyrell urges her grandmother to return home before the High Sparrow chucks her into a cell.
Later unfolding the scribbling of a rose, Olenna knows her granddaughter is far from lost. Preparing to depart the city, the head of house Tyrell crosses paths with Cersei (Lena Headey) and the two exchange words: “The High Sparrow rules this city because of you. Our two ancient houses face collapse because of you and your stupidity”, Olenna begins. “You remember the way you smirked at me when my grandson and granddaughter were dragged off to their cells… I do”, she continues. “You’re surrounded by enemies, thousands of them. You’re going to kill them all by yourself?” she finishes. Again, another flawless choice of words courtesy of the shows superior writers.
Diana Rigg puts away Olenna’s unbothered façade in favour of a more worrisome aura this week. We should all start worrying the day the queen of thorns sheds her dismissive stance, things are looking grim. Further up north, the recently re-united Jon (Kit Harrington) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) are still recruiting men for their imminent attack on Winterfell. With Jon successfully recruiting the free folk he let through at Castle Black, a trip to house Mormont is next on the agenda. Jon, Sansa and Davos (Liam Cunningham) do their best to convince the ten year old head of house, eventually managing to secure sixty two men for their forces.
You’d think after returning from the dead, Jon might possess a little more enthusiasm for revenge, but we guess the nearly five years of de-sensitisation Sansa endured propped her up to be the most authoritarian of the Stark clan. Challenging the head of the house, Sansa’s infant confidence fails to get house Glover on board the vengeance train, and when Jon tells her they are out of options, Sansa looks to outsource support from who we predict is Littlefinger and the Vale’s forces – who Sansa earlier declined help from. Sophie Turner’s graduation into a dominate version of Sansa is welcomed, we’ve been waiting for Sansa to repay all those who’ve made her suffer. Too bad Joffery’s already six feet under.
Taking on his sister’s advice, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is on the king’s road and heading to Riverrun. Shutting down the Frey’s amateur attempt of a siege, Jaime confronts the Blackfish and threatens to kill Edmure if he doesn’t give up the castle, though Catelyn’s uncle is less than threatened: “As long as I’m standing, the war is not over” he begins, “This is my home, I was born in this castle and I’m ready to die in it.” So the plot thickens and retribution for the Starks resurface. While we thought the betrayal of Ned and Catelyn was almost forgotten, Blackfish’s potent distaste for Lannister’s and Frey’s reminds us all that the “North remembers”.
Last but not least, we’re over in Braavos with a rogue Arya. After last week saw her shed her “no one” persona in favour for the needle wielding vengeful version of herself, this week sees her attacked by the ruthless waif (Faye Marsay). Preparing to depart for home, Arya may miss her ride as the waif stabs her repeatedly while disguised as an old woman. Escaping her strikes by throwing herself into a canal, Arya walks through Braavos bloody and without aid. Will she make it back to Westeros, or does Essos spell the end of the road for her? We highly doubt she’ll die, she’s been afforded far too much screen time this season only for her to bow out as such.
Only three more episodes remain of Game of Thrones’ acclaimed sixth season, and like most seasons of the George R.R. Martin adaptation, the final stretch always proves climatic. We doubt Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) will reach Westeros by the seasons end, though we wonder how Meereen will react to her return. Will the Sons of the Harpy make an appearance? Will Petyr respond to Sansa’s plea for help? Will Olenna fall victim to the faith militant? Or what most of us are likely aching to know, will Arya make it out of Braavos alive? Next week will surely tell.