Valar Morghulis my friends and welcome to Season Six of Game of Thrones. Every week, I will recap Sunday’s episode and answer any questions that readers may have in a midweek mailbag that I will update as questions come in right up to when the new episode airs. Send all questions to @FawkesCulture, @Matwellsays, FawkesDotCom@gmail.com(awful email, I know), or post them in the comments section below. You could also catch up with all of Fawkes’ GAME OF THRONES coverage here.
One of the biggest differences between movies and television – and a privilege of the TV medium – is the amount of time a show has to develop characters. Obviously, character development is stopped short for some, like Eddard Stark who never made it out of Season One. But for the character’s in Game of Thrones that we’ve been following now for years, character development lends itself to the audience seeming to know a character, understanding their worldview and how they would act in certain circumstances. Now, obviously in GoT, there are plenty of externalities that force change in characters, such as being stabbed in the back (and front) by your sworn brothers. But, again, the audience sees this happen. They understand why the character changes the way they think and why they act how they do.
This was clear in Sansa’s storyline this week. Sansa is hellbent to get some semblance of revenge on those that have wronged her and her family and that starts with Ramsay Bolton, who arguably has done more to harm the Stark family than anyone else still living. Sunday’s episode, “The Broken Man” sees her set out with Jon and Ser Davos to find remaining allies in the North. The group finds less luck than they had hoped, securing pledges from the Wildling army, House Mormount, and a few other minor Houses. Upon the realization that they are significantly outnumbered, Jon and Sansa argue on their best course of action. But Jon adamant that the makeshift army march upon Winterfell and Sansa wanting to attempt recruiting further allegiances, she sneaks off to send a secret raven out requesting backup because she is bent on revenge no matter the means. Who did the raven go to? I’m sure her frenemy Petyr Baelish will receive one, as well as the remaining Northern Lords.
I surmised last week that there was a strong possibility that more characters that were presumed dead may make their return to the show and I was right on one account (and still think we’ll get at least one more this season). Sandor Clegane returned, after having never really been dead. Book-readers were well aware that there was a strong possibility of this happening and after the title “The Broken Man” was announced, it became all-but-certain.
“The Broken Man” refers to one of the best speeches in the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, delivered by Septon Meribald to Brienne and Pod as they scoured the Riverlands for The Hound. The speech details the difference between outlaws and men who are beaten and broken due to the ravages of war as the Septon leads the company to a small group of penitents, atoning for their past sinful lives through vows of silence. After the title, I was expecting a scene reminiscent of this from the books that would bring Sandor back into play. However, what we got was something far more resembling Hugh Dancy and Aaron Paul in Hulu’s The Path as we find Sandor in a group of merry smallfolk led by their preacher played by the meteoric Ian McShane.
At any rate, the preacher and his merry band are slaughtered by members of the Brotherhood Without Banners. Knowing the nature of The Hound, I’m sure this will spark Sandor back into action from his short stint of peace and repentance. He is currently in the Riverlands, one of the areas most decimated by the War of the Five Kings, widely run by outlaws. Will he run into his old friend Brienne of Tarth? Or will he return to his old goal of bringing his brother’s life to an end, even if the Mountain is currently a frankenstein-like figure? Por que no los dos?
The happenings in King’s Landing this week always produced an event that was not all that surprising when reflecting on the character’s past development. Many speculated that Queen Margaery’s newfound devotion was all an elaborate ruse to dupe the High Sparrow and find a new way to control Tommen’s actions. This would make sense, as we have seen Margaery to be a skilled manipulator in the past, pulling the strings in convincing Joffrey to renounce his marriage to Sansa and take her hand instead and through her stunts with the poor of Flea Bottom. It was revealed that her piety is in fact nothing more than a mummer’s farce this week, as she hands a piece of paper to her grandmother, Lady Olenna, containing a singular rose. The rose is the sigil of House Tyrell and signifies that Margaery continues to put her House before all else. This may also explain her hesitancy to give Tommen “Baratheon” heirs as the High Sparrow pushed her to do so this. Does he realize this as well? I am skeptical as to whether the High Sparrow totally believes Margaery, as he has done well to recognize those trying to deceive him in the past.
In the meantime, another master manipulator, Cersei, attempted to convince Lady Olenna of the necessity to attack the High Sparrow to free Loras Tyrell. Rest assured, Cersei cares about Loras about as much as she did her late husband. Lady Olenna, having confirmation that Margaery knows what she is doing, sees right through Cersei’s charade and is content to pack her things and take off for Highgarden, but not without a few parting shots and words of advice for the former-Queen.
Elsewhere, Jaime has arrived to set up the siege of Riverrun with Bronn as his right-hand (man). The much-anticipated showdown between two legends, the Kingslayer and the Blackfish, did not disappoint this week. Although they did not meet swords, their words were just as cutting, especially the Blackfish as he declared Jaime to be a disappointment. The Riverlands are currently a powder-keg, with many big personalities, including Brienne and Pod, converging on a single castle. The last few episodes should come to a head at some point.
Somewhere across the Sea, Theon and Yara continued their trip to Mereen but made a quick stop in a nice little island whore house. The scene was filled with an egregious amount of breasts and some dialogue that easily could have been written in a college frat house, complete with probably the worst motivational speech ever from Yara to her baby brother. What remains to be seen, is what exactly the Greyjoy siblings plan on offering Daenerys once they arrive in Slaver’s Bay. Is it just ships? Obviously, Theon is not fit to be offered in a marriage pact and having the Iron Islanders on your say doesn’t exactly legitimize your claim to the Iron Throne or strengthen your ally-potential as their viewed as a glorified group of pirates and pillagers through much of the Seven Kingdoms.
While the writers of Game of Thrones have been true to characters for the most part, there have been several big holes in their development. Last Season, Littlefinger, the man who has his power and pride because he knows more than anyone else in Westeros (other than perhaps Varys), somehow was unaware that the infamous tormenter Ramsay Bolton was also a serial rapist. Now, of course there is a chance he knew and was resigned to leave Sansa to her faith, but there has been nothing to indicate that this is the case.
But, what could potentially be the worst hole in character development came this week in Braavos. Following her departure from the House of Black and White, Arya had to know that she would be hunted by the Faceless Men and that they very well would be wearing a disguise. Let’s keep in mind, Arya is now a trained assassin adept at using all of her senses to sense things before they happened and stay constantly vigilant. So, you’re going to tell me that this girl, who has survived through absurd circumstances to get to where she is now, is just going to stare off into space and allow someone to approach her unimpeded and then viciously stab her in the stomach? No way.
However, I will wait a week to hold off on final judgment as could well be an elaborate trap that Arya has set up for the Waif, which would be remarkably true to her character. A girl is far too smart to allow the Waif to attack her this easily. She also flaunted her gold and desire to board a ship with Westeros rather uncharacteristically directly before the attack and there is other evidence by the part-time GoT theorists out there that supports Arya has a set a trap for the Waif. I have to assume that this is the case or Weiss & Benioff are beginning to hang themselves with the slack I gave them at the beginning of the Season.
What did you think of the episode? Are you hype for the potential #BastardBowl2K16 & #CleganeBowl2k16 that could be fast approaching? Are you confused about anything that happened? Send all your comments my way in the comment section below or via Twitter @matwellsays & @fawkesculture.
By Matt Atwell