This week’s Game of Thrones broke from tradition and had a pre-credits opening. While it was a little strange, having being accustomed to the opening credits after the HBO title card, it was worth the confusion when The Hound returned to our screens!
Just like the Jon Snow return, this was a ‘fists in the air’ moment, as one of the show’s best loved characters turned up alive and well. (Gendry next yeah?)
This opening scene also introduced, the ever wonderful, Ian McShane in to the Game of Thrones universe, and he would go on to be one of the standout performers in the episode.
McShane’s Brother Ray character was loosely based on the book characters Septon Meribald and the Elder Brother of the Quiet Isle. It is always beneficial to both the TV and book audience when the show deviates from the source material. It helps keep things separate but intertwined all at the same time.
It’s a shame that his character came and went so quickly, McShane is a brilliant actor, and his performance was spellbinding. They really have done well with some of their casting this season when it comes to big actors playing small, one-off parts.
The one question it leaves now is, who killed the congregation? It leads you to believe that the Brotherhood Without Banners are behind the attack. But as this seems out of character from what we know from the show, there might be an unseen enemy that are the ones truly responsible for the massacre. Either way, it has brought The Hound back in to the game, and we cannot wait to see where his vengeance takes him.
The episode’s other main story followed Jon, Sansa and Davos as they attempted to rally the houses and send their soldiers to the fight against the Boltons.
It started well enough, with Tormund and Wun Wun convincing the Wildlings to fight alongside the newly re-established House Stark.
Next on the tour was a trip to Bear Island and to House Mormont, where young Lady Lyanna Mormont rules. It’s safe to say this will be a scene talked about for years to come, as this child ruler took no prisoners and did not hold back with her sharp, but humorous retorts.
Lady Mormont was wise and steadfast in her convictions, and it was only thanks to Davos that she agreed to lend her men to the fight. All 62 of them. This was a nice comedic beat to end the scene with.
This child ruler instantly became a new fan favourite, and the show has added yet another strong and powerful female character to its ranks. This truly is a season that is focusing so much on creating powerful female characters. These characters are on a prime-time show and no one is up in arms because these roles are mainly being taken up by women. The writing is so good, so compelling that you are hooked and invested. The actors are so good that you are behind them fully and wanting them to do well.
Game of Thrones has shown TV executives that having large shows filled with compelling female characters is accepted by a massive audience. Let’s hope that this is just the start of this kind of thinking, and that we begin to see better equality in prime-time TV and films.
Things didn’t go to plan with every house though. The head of House Glover, played by Blackadder star Tim McInnerny, refused to help having felt betrayed by Robb Stark when he “abandoned them” and left them vulnerable to an attack by the Ironborn.
With the numbers low, and conflicts seemingly rife in the camp, Sansa sends a raven with a letter, branded with the Stark seal. Who did she write for help? Theon? Her uncle the Blackfish? Or could she possibly be retracting her refusal of Littlefinger’s offer of having the Knights of the Vale fight alongside them?
Elsewhere, we were treated to a great scene between the Blackfish and Jaime, as they tried to come to an agreement that would end the siege. While Jaime is under orders to take back the castle, we know that Brienne is on her way to Riverrun to recruit House Tully. The impending reunion of Brienne and Jaime is eagerly anticipated, and could be a turning point for Jaime. Will his character finally get that redemption arc that we have wanted for so long?
We also got to see the return of Bronn, who is a personal favourite of ours. And in the little time we saw him, he was able to justify his role in the cast as a character who should be getting a lot more screen time.
In Braavos Arya books passage back to Westeros, acting more like a Lannister than a Stark. Throwing her, stolen, money around she is able to book a ship ready to set sail the following day.
Her confidence betrays her moments later when the Waif, disguised as an old lady, manages to stab her multiple times in the stomach. After taking a dive off the bridge, Arya manages to escape but is seriously wounded.
Bleeding out and being ignored by all the bystanders, she walks through the market place and you are left wondering what will happen to her. She is in desperate need of medical help, but where will she find it? Will another returning or familiar character appear and come to her aid? We will have to wait and see.
We also go a touching scene between Yara and Theon in a brothel. While Yara clearly had other things on her mind, she managed to help convince Theon of his true worth.
This was a nice scene between brother and sister that further helped to solidify Theon’s redemption as a character. He needed that last little push to get some of his confidence back, and he will need to be at his best should Euron Greyjoy catch up with them.
Back in Kings Landing, Olenna Tyrell put Cersei in her place and Margaery finally confirmed to us that she is indeed faking it. What will her end game be though?
What this episode lacked in action, it made up for in pure brilliant storytelling. We are truly lined up now for the final push and all the impending battles and hardships.
Season Six is really starting to take shape of the best series of Game of Thrones to date.
Tell us your thoughts about this episode in the comments below!