So much good set up, but so many frustrating cliffhangers!
Jon Sansa and Davos are camping on their march towards Winterfell. The Free Folk Elders, many of whom we met at Hardhome are still not completely won over to Jon’s cause. This is a war of southerners to them still. They have been reduced to almost nothing and if they make war now, they could be the last generation of Free Folk ever. But Ramsay’s made it clear to them. If the Boltons keep ruling the North, the Free Folk won’t survive anyway. Jon Snow was killed by his own men for sticking up for the Free Folk. If they don’t fight for him, for their future now, they’re cowards. At least Tormund says so.
The Giant Wun Wun stands. All around the camp fire fall silent. “Snow,” He grunts. WUN WUN HAS SPOKEN! Love it!
The Free Folk may be behind Jon but he could use more help from the rest of the North. So this is Bear Island, Jorah Mormont’s home? We heard of the little Lyanna Mormont (another Lyanna Stark tie-in). She wrote to King Stannis saying that Bear Island knew only a King in the North who’s name is Stark. That was last season. Time to see what the North remembers.
Lady Mormont’s a no nonsense Lady! She welcomes Jon and Sansa, though she tells them right off that she’s reluctant to commit more men to a war that ended with Robb Stark, in her mind. Davos is empathetic to Lady Mormont. They both have had responsibility for the lives of others thrust on them. The North cannot hold out against the coming Dead of Night while the Boltons divide and subjugate the North. With a bit of perspective and buttering up from Davos, Lady Mormont announces that their allegiance to House Stark will continue.
Sixty two? SIXTY TWO?! They better be at least have as ferocious as their Lady!
Lord Glover has just taken back his castle from the Ironborn, with the Bolton’s help by the way. Lord Glover is even more bitter about Robb losing the War for the North. So many Houses lost lords and ladies and men at the Red Wedding. He’ll also not join an army of wildlings.
Best stop those Northerners and Free Folk from fighting in your damn camp Jon! Why are they camped where Stannis was? This place must be drowning in bad luck! While the men get rowdy over who knows what nonsense, Sansa makes use of the camp’s ravens.
She’s calling upon Littlefinger to bring the knights of the Vale. Has to be. There’s no other move she could be making in secret. She better come clean to Jon about this soon.
Very good scene with Yara and Theon in Volantis. Yara is partial to the women folk after all! Theon looks like he should have come here before Ramsay castrated him. But Yara’s more worried about his mettle. She tries, in a big sisterly Ironborn way, to rouse the reaver Theon out of him again. Theon may get another opportunity to prove himself to his sister again if Euron follows through on his threat to hunt them down.
Going to make a pact with Daenerys themselves? Good move! I’m sure Daenerys and Yara would make one hell of a team.
Margaery is doing a good job as a new holy queen, reading about how the Seven are big on traditional gender roles. Speaking of, Tommen has confided to the High Sparrow that he and Margaery haven’t been getting it on since Margaery’s release. The High Sparrow says it’s Margaery’s duty, to her husband, her king and her country, to bear Tommen children. That willingness on the women’s part isn’t required for sexual congress. ULGH!
He also says that Lady Olenna needs to be taught the new holy way, or “I fear for her safety, body and soul.” Uh oh.
Olenna’s thorny wit is in full force when Margaery and Septa Unella come to visit. “Does it move or talk?” You can see the panic in Olenna’s face when Margaery goes on about the wisdom of the Faith and the crime in marching against them. Marching for her, Olenna rightly points out. She gets particularly incensed when Margaery agrees that Loras will have to atone too. But Margaery does suggest that Olenna leave for High Garden herself, despite her insistence that she will stay by Margaery’s side.
Margaery makes a move to kneel before her grandmother and take her hand in hers, along with a crumpled bit of paper. I KNEW IT! I knew Margaery was acting! Olenna gets the hint. They say a veiled goodbye. As Olenna exits, Margaery turns to Unella with a perfectly matter-of-fact “Shall we pray?”
But what is the note? A rose. The sigil of House Tyrell, showing where her true loyalty still lies. Olenna permits herself a smile.
If this really is all an act by Margaery, then there must be some real reason why she’s not sleeping with Tommen again yet. Why? Is she still making sure that her position and façade are shored up? Is she waiting to clue Tommen in to her scheme or will she settle for subtly controlling him.
Cersei isn’t keen on Olenna leaving, no doubt she’s conscious of how few allies she has left. But Olenna is not putting up with any more conniving or even olive branches from Cersei now. The trauma her grandchildren have been through is all Cersei’s fault. No two ways about that. Olenna calls Cersei the vilest person she’s ever met. Sheesh. Olenna (and the fans) have plenty to be angry at Cersei for, but nobody delivers a barb like the Queen of Thorns.
Despite Cersei’s insistence that they need to defend their children together, Olenna is bouncing. With no support from the people or her family, she suggests Cersei do the same.
Jaime and his 8,000 strong army arrives at Riverrun while the Freys are mounting a pitiful siege of the castle. Hey it’s Bronn! Did he get even snarkier?
“You have better instincts than any officer in the Lannister army.” Jaime tells him.
“That’s like saying I have a bigger cock than anyone in the Unsullied army.”
Bronn will clearly stick with Jaime as long as there’s profit for him in it, but his patience is running short.
Walder’s sons have Edmure Tully standing on a gallows with a noose around his neck, threatening to hang him if Brynden Blackfish doesn’t surrender the castle. The Blackfish sneers down at the pitiful siege with his nephew hostage and says “Go on then.” Edmure lives for now. They Freys aren’t actually prepared to kill their hostage.
Jaime gets right to whipping the Frey siege into shape. They have no weapons set up, no trenches, no formation. In one shot it even looks like they have a whoring tent sent up in the middle of camp. They also let an unknown army just march right to their camp. Good thing the Lannisters are on their side.
While the siege is built up Jaime parlays with the Blackfish at the castle’s rear moat. At least a dozen crossbows are aimed at him while the Blackfish approaches. He’s got a quite a bit of cheek to taunt Jaime with the old vow he made of returning Sansa and Arya to Catelyn, or that Jaime would want to surrender himself to loyal Stark forces again. The Blackfish will not surrender. He’s prepared to die defending his home. He only treated with Jaime to break up the monotony and get a good look at the Kingslayer now. He knows Edmure’s a dead man no matter what. So what’s Jaime’s next move?
Arya has a new set of clothes and is looking to book passage out of Braavos yesterday. She lays too hefty bags of coins at a sailor who says he’s form Westeros and insists on leaving first thing in the morning. Good enough.
WHAT THE F&%@#&%@!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That might have been the worst jump scare in Thrones history. The Waif slices Arya open in the gut on a bridge in the guise of a wrinkled old woman. Arya knocks her off and hurls herself into the water. Does the Waif think she’s dead? If not so much for not letting Arya suffer!
Arya beaches herself on the canal. Drenched and bleeding, there’s no blending into the crowd now. What the hell is she going to do? How is she still walking? Where is Needle? Not okay Game of Thrones.
Hopefully this will lead to some Assassin’s Creed style cat and mouse between Arya and the Waif next episode.
You knew it was going to be a big moment when they show a scene before the opening credits. I mean, here’s a complete new group of characters (plus Ian McShane!) in a pastoral scene right out of The Witness. This time we have the reintroduction to the Hound! He’s looking even gristlier than the last time we saw him, thanks to Brienne. He’s still limping from when a branch tore through his leg in that tumble.
McShane’s Sept is probably the least pretentious of the faithful we’ve seen. He’s also a penitent man, used to be a soldier for some House. Followed his orders whether they were to kill commoners or burn villages. Now he’s leading a small village community building a sept of their own perhaps. He doesn’t much care who or what the gods really are, but he believes that there is something greater than man. He knows who Sandor Clegane is, and he’s heard stories about what he’s done.
“If the Gods are real, why haven’t they punished me?” The Hound asks.
“They have.” He says it’s never too late to stop hurting people and start helping people.
They may keep punishing him yet.
While the Hound is away chopping wood because he’s good at it, the Brotherhood without Banners raids the village and kills every one. They hang Ian McShane. All it takes is one person giving into tribalism or material want or fear to set off and endless cycle of violence. All his lessons of peace and helping people will be no use to the Hound now. Where’s he going with that ax? Ugh! It would have been so much better if we got some idea of why the show reintroduced the Hound. Is he going to go after the Brotherhood? Hope it doesn’t end up being a waste of McShane’s character and village.
Strange thinking that the two most frustrating parts of the episode were each about Arya and the Hound, who used to share an arc. And strange thinking that there are only three more episodes left in the season! Jaime and Brienne! Please don’t fight!