Spoiler spoiler everywhere, be wise or you’ll be in for a scare!
What’s that coming over the hill, chop-chop-chopping wood as he goes? It’s not… can it be… The Hound!? It’s a bold first shot for this week’s episode (can you believe that we’re on week seven already!? Where is the time going?), but depending on how much of a social media denizen you are, you may or may not have already seen some compromising theories pertaining to such over the peat week or two. I’ll link the Cleganebowl theory HERE should you be as much of a speculative and nosy and self-spoiling obsessive as I.
It transpires that The Hound (Rory McCann) has been living the simple life with septon Ian McShane and his travelling band of merry followers, who keep themselves to themselves and peacefully tend to the land. Having happened across a dying Sandor Clegane after Arya left him for dead back in season 4, McShane’s septon took him in and nursed him back to health, with the hope of enlightening the former knight along the way. How well that went down is left for us to guess, as the Hound is still far more suspicious and sceptical than the company he currently keeps, and who can blame him? He’s spent years of his life in Kingslanding, after all. So when three armoured horsemen of the Brotherhood Without Banners trot into their camp, he is more than a bit wary, especially when they declare that “The night is dark and full of terrors”.
The Hound’s penchant for chopping wood goes to fare him well however, as upon returning to the camp following their cries he finds every men, woman and child slaughtered and the septon hanged. He grabs a hatchet and marches hot on their trail; perhaps Clegane is not so reformed after all.
And talking of reformed individuals, Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) is spreading her newfound enlightenment for all to share, her current victim of choice being her grandmother. Following a conversation with the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce), he convinces the queen that the Queen of Thorns needs to repent. Margaery pays her a visit – along with the delightful Septa Unella – but as can be presumed, Olenna (Diana Rigg) is hardly amused by her show of religious devotion. Grabbing her by the hand, Margaery begs her grandmother reconsider… and slips her a note. It appears our slippery queen hasn’t completely lost her gall after all, and when Olenna opens it later, she finds a drawing of a rose, the symbol of House Tyrell. Hopefully, Margaery intends to play the High Sparrow at his own game.
Complying with her granddaughter’s wishes, Olenna packs for High Garden, but not before one last visit by the king’s mother. It seems Cersei (Lena Headey) is feeling the pinch; her allies are either being dispatched elsewhere or dropping like flies. It’s a good job that she has the Mountain to look after her. Olenna bluntly admonishes her by stating that the mess they all currently find themselves in is one solely of Cersei’s making and that the only satisfaction she gets from it is watching the Lannister suffer.
Following the brief return of Walder Frey in last week’s episode, we return to the Riverlands to find some of his many sons brandishing their hostage Edmure Tulley – aka: the groom of the Red Wedding – at the battlements of Riverrun where his uncle, The Blackfish (Clive Russell), has taken the longstanding Tulley castle from the sly Frey’s. Apparantly, Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is the most suitable candidate to sort this mess out, alongside everyone’s favourite unallied knight Bronn (Jerome Flynn). The pair ride through the camp and take control of the Fray army before Jamie goes to parlay with the Blackfish. Not that it goes well, for for all Jamie’s talk, the Blackfish declares himself “disappointed” in finally meeting the Kingslayer, and who can really blame him. Jamie is hardly commanding the situation here. He seems to be perpetually cursed by being a trier, but ultimately leaving a lot to be desired when the pivotal moment comes.
Up in the North and Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Jon (Kit Harington) have their own mess to sort, for whilst Jon and Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) convince the Wildling army to support Jon and Sansa’s venture to take back Winterfell their army is quite a bit smaller than required – by a lot. They head to visit the Northern houses that have not pledged allegiance to the Boltons, starting with the Mormonts of Bear Island. After all, who can argue with a declaration as strong as “Bear Island knows no king but the King in the North, whose name is Stark”.
One would presume it be a home run, but upon being admitted to an audience with Lyanna Mormont (actress Bella Ramsey STEALS the show!),the trio – joined by Ser Davos – are a bit taken aback. The young leader – a mere ten years old – is frosty and tough; she doesn’t want to lose more men following an ill-advised Stark then the Mormonts did when they followed Robb south previously. She boldly questions whether Sansa can even claim to be Stark, having been married to both a Lannister and a Bolton. Ultimately, it is left to Davos to save the day, placating the situation and convincing young Lyanna to back their cause. Not that there are many men to spare; they are pledged a mere 62, and whilst Jon seems hasty to head to Winterfell with what they have, that is by no means enough for Sansa. She sneaks off and pens a letter to an unrevealed recipient and seals it with the Stark seal. One can only assume it is intended for Littlefinger and his Knights of the Vale…
We only get a brief flit to Braavos this week, which is all very well following Arya’s (Maisie Williams) rediscovery that a girl is far better being someone in this world than being a no-one that answers subserviently to a god that also cannot decide who or what it wants to be. Her reclamation of Needle was a good start, but it hardly seems like she is on the down low, and definitely not when she struts about town throwing her pick-pocketed cash at merchants for board on their ship.
Perhaps Arya actually wants the attention. She knows Jaqen well enough that she is always being watched, so what if she wants to play them at their own game? As she is soaking in some sun on a bridge, she is approached by an old woman, and before we know it the Waif is plunging a dagger into her abdomen over and over and over again. Somehow, she escapes the wretched Waif’s clutches, throwing herself over the bridge and into the canal below. For a few moments you begin to question whether that is really the end of the bullheaded Stark, yet she reemerges downstream and somehow drags herself from the water, dripping blood as she goes on a quest for help.
If the Waif thinks Arya is dead then will Jaqen? Will Sansa get the raven that she is hoping for, or will it be intercepted by Ramsay on the way to the Vale? What is Margaery’s game, and are the cogs of Cleganebowl in motion?
Meet you on the other side.
PS. I am so ready for Lyanna Mormont memes. Ready.