Game of Thrones: 607 “The Broken Man” Review
Reviewed by Mark McCullough.
Firstly apologies for the delay in this review going up. I know that I warned it would be a bit late but was still hoping to have been able to do it last week but never got the chance. Now that exams are over though I’m free to cover the episode meaning this review is the first I’ve ever written where I’ve already seen the next episode and the one I have had the longest time to settle on a rating.
Rather unusually this week, the show opts to place a scene before the opening credits. This confirms one of the series worst kept secrets: The Hound is back. Those four words basically sum up the bulk of the narrative as the show devotes a lot of time to him this week. We learn what has happened to him in the interim since we last saw Arya leave him for dead. We are also introduced to Brother Ray (Ian McShane) who has taken the Hound (along with a group of others) and has built a small community. The majority of the scenes are used to paint this idyllic community as a better future for the Hound. Naturally this being Game of Thrones, it was not to last as a group apparently from The Brotherhood Without Banners (confirmed in the next episode) murdered the entire group after appearing to recognise the Hound. Had this been last week I would have speculated that this could have suggested Lady Stoneheart, something I’ve really wanted to see in the show for ages, but alas it was not happen. The episode ends with the Hound discovering their fate, picking up and axe and going for revenge, no longer the titular Broken Man, this was the moment the Hound was well and truly back.
Up north the final preparations for Episode 9’s The Battle of the Bastards are well and truly underway. We see Jon, Sansa, and Ser Davos travel to recruit men into their army. After struggling to even ensure that the Wildlings are onside, initially they go to House Mormont where Davos is given a chance to shine in persuading the young Lady Mormont to pledge men to their cause. Despite this victory the number of men seems so insignificant that you have to worry for the protagonists. This is compounded further by House Umber’s refusal to support the cause, instead declaring that they are happy with the Boltons. Despite this Jon decides to hurry proceedings and moves his army to the same spot where Stannis camped. Another underpowered army camping in the same spot is surely not a good omen for Jon and his goal of taking back his family home and rescuing his brother. This prompts Sansa to write a secret letter (no prizes for guessing to whom it is sent) which robs her of yet more of her agency, something the showrunners appear to be fond of doing. Perhaps it is justifiable this time as I suspect her family and home would mean more to her this once. Something else of note is Ramsay’s absence from proceeding over the last few episodes, this is quite clever because it is suggestive if the fact he may actually win and outdo himself in terms of being hated after his next appearance in Episode 9. The show loves to remind us how evil he is, so I do find it odd they haven’t been lately
Riverrun is introduced following the many references in the previous episodes, this gives us our first look at returning character The Blackfish who is facing a pitiful siege by the Frey men. We see his refusal to budge as the Freys threaten to hang Lord Edmure unless the castle is handed over. In Stark contrast to Sansa he stands firm with his pride and tells them to go ahead. As per Jaime’s punishment for approaching the High Sparrow last time out he arrives and is quickly able to establish a proper siege and calls for a meeting with the Blackfish in order to try to negotiate a quick resolution so that he can get back to Cersei. The Blackfish however just uses it as an opportunity to taunt Jaime and reiterate his desire to do whatever it takes to hold onto the castle.
In King’s Landing we learn that Margaery is playing a game with the High Sparrow and the faith. This is hardly a surprise as Margaery is one of the best players in the ‘game of thrones’ possibly only bettered by Littlefinger himself. Whilst it is unclear at this stage what her plans are she is keen here to get her Grandmother out of King’s Landing suggesting that something big is planned. Elsewhere we see Cersei approach Olenna asking for her help. The latter uses it as an opportunity to taunt her over the events and to blame Cersei for it all. One gets the sense that this scene represents Olenna’s final victory over Cersei as something tells me the two may not meet again now that Olenna is leaving King’s Landing.
The only other location to discuss is Braavos where Arya having decided to give up on her quest to become a Faceless Man, try to make her way home. Initially we see her use bags of gold to book passage on a ship. She is so blasé about the fact that I got the sense that she was trying to bait out the Waif who was obviously in pursuit somewhere. This may have been the case but we never got to see that far as Arya is attacked whilst standing exposed in the middle of bridge (as you do when an assassin is after you). She is stabbed in the stomach several times but manages to escape by throwing herself over the bridge. We then see her walking through the streets covered in blood. There were lots of good fan theories about this, and all of them turned out to be much better than what we actually got. Commenting on this episode only, it is very hard to believe how Arya could have been so foolish. Not good writing!
As an episode it was nothing special. It was a satisfactory reintroduction for both the Hound and the Blackfish and served to set things up well for the final three episodes of the series. As with most of this series there were gaps in the logic of the show at times, but aside from with Arya these didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the episode. Apologies again for this review being up so late after the airing of the episode!