Game of Thrones: “The Broken Man” Season 6 Episode 7 Review

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Game of Thrones is in an awkward spot right now where this speedy season has actually already done most of the legwork in setting up this year’s various climaxes. So where does that leave “The Broken Man?” Like the reemergence of a fan favorite in the episode, it wasn’t exactly a chore to watch, but it did feel oddly out of place.

If Thrones episodes were titled like Friends episodes, this one would be “The One Where the Hound Comes Back.” We move through his return as quickly as we dealt with Jon’s resurrection. It had to happen, no question. But episode seven of one of the show’s best seasons is an awkward spot to do that. With the Battle of the Bastards and all the other climaxes of the season on the horizon, the Hound’s return is a forced-in fresh start that this show usually does well in the first episode or two of a season. But here it just interrupts the slow of this so-far astounding season.

The return itself is worthwhile. Since Brienne wrecked him in “The Children,” he’s been revived by an old religious man (the great Ian McShane) who runs a small community. This lets the Hound play hero a bit as the group’s muscle. But when he’s chopping trees down for fire wood, the entire community gets murdered. How the Hound’s revenge quest will play into the season’s bigger plot threads, if at all, might be interesting. But as great as it is to have the Hound in the game again, it does feel like just another character separated from all the rest that we now have to follow.

Luckily, the potential for a giant gathering of characters in the North still looks to be happening very soon. When not catching up with the Hound, “The Broken Man” spent most of its time putting the pieces in place for Jon’s fight to take back Winterfell, which may or may not end up including Jaime and the Blackfish. It was fun to see Jon, Sansa, and Davos’ successes and failures in bringing the North together. But even more fun was Jaime’s standoff with the Blackfish. As the Kingslayer claims the war is over, the Blackfish just scoffs at him, declaring the war not over. That said, this episode put a lot of roadblocks in the way of the Blackfish turning up to join the Starks while the Lannisters join the Boltons. Maybe that was too much to hope for, but there’s still some time before all hell breaks loose.

We also spent a decent chunk of time in King’s Landing this week. Where this storyline is going at this point is anyone’s guess, but the High Sparrow’s victory last week and Margaery’s false allegiance to him has rejuvenated this end of Westeros a bit.

Arya, meanwhile, is in full escape mode. All of the tension was in Braavos this week, even if Arya’s scene was short. A fight between her and the Waif is brewing, and the rivalry saw some massive escalation this week in a brief moment of horror for Arya fans. As the Waif stabbed her on that bridge, Game of Thrones for a split second looked like it might rip another Stark away from us. Luckily, she got away, but the fight isn’t over.

The last check-in we got this week was with Yara and Theon as they travel to Meereen to convince Daenerys to conquer the Iron Islands. The siblings have a lovely moment where Yara does what she can to pull the old Theon back out. It was a brief but necessary check in for one of season six’s surprisingly stronger storylines.

So the smaller moments of “The Broken Man” mostly worked, but as a whole it felt a bit out of place in a season full of big, rewarding episodes. Thrones will undoubtedly bounce back as season six hits its end game in the last three episodes, but this entry was a notable notch down from the rest of this great season. Grade: B

Some Other Notes:

  • Where on the map exactly is the Hound? Seems really nice and warm there.
  • I get why Ian McShane had to be killed off in his first episode, but that doesn’t mean I’m happy with it. The veteran actor left in impact on every scene he was in.
  • Won’t Arya always be on the run from Jaqen even if she kills the Waif? Or will he just let her go or something?
  • I know there were some bigger character returns this week, but man did I miss Bronn.
  • The Queen of House Mormont is the absolute best and deserves her own show where she and Ser Davos go on all kinds of cooky adventures.

By Matt Dougherty

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