Somewhere in the Riverland/Vale
The episode starts out with some people building what seems to be a Sept. We are also introduced to Ian McShane’s character, who is a Septon of the Seven, overseeing the construction. It all seems non important, until we catch glimpse of someone long thought dead: The Hound! And he is not killing people! Brother Ray (McShane) is apparently responsible for saving The Hound; who is under the belief that the Hound is still alive for a reason, and Brother Ray explains that he is more of the belief that some God exists no matter what we call it. The Hound then wonders why the Gods haven’t punished him, but Brother Ray tells him that they already have.
Later in the episode Brother Ray tells a story of his life when he was a soldier. He explains that he followed any order given, regardless of how horrible it was. He kept up until he felt the shame of what he had done, and then turned his life around. They are interrupted by members of the Brotherhood without Banners, who come to demand money, weapons or food. I’d like to point out here, that the Brotherhood is one of the least explored villains in the story. Yes, they are villains. While they try to claim being Robin Hoods, they are merely thief and murderers who avoid killing the peasants who can hide them. In a following scene there is a small discussion between the Hound and Brother Ray, who is reluctant to ever use a weapon again, even to defend themselves against the Brotherhood.
In the final scene of the episode the Hound is in the woods when he hears screaming, only to come back to camp and find everyone has been slaughtered by the Brotherhood. In his anger, he picks up an axe and seemingly heads out to kill the members of the Brotherhood.
It would seem that there is not going to be a Cleganebowl this season, as I doubt The Mountain will ever leave Cersei’s side. It seems like The Hound might manage to kill Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr though, or try to.
Margaery is reading the Book of the Mother and is visited by the High Sparrow. They talk about how Margaery hasn’t wanted to try and get an heir with Tommen, which the High Sparrow is worried about. The Sparrow then drops a subtle threat about Oleanna to Margaery, who then visits Oleanna in worry followed closely by Septa Unena. Oleanna tries to discuss what they have done to Margaery, and what they plan to do to Loras: he will return to Highgarden as a penitent, leaving the Tyrells with no heir. Margaery is seemingly pushing her grandmother away, and reaffirms her trust in the Faith. When it all seems too true, we see the play Margaery is making, as she passes a note to her grandmother deceiving Septa Unena. The parchment is a drawing of a Tyrell rose.
We all knew Margaery was not going to give in to the High Sparrow, but now we see how she is playing him. It will be interesting to see, just how Margaery plays the Game, and who else is helping her.
Oleanna is planning to leave, but before she does receive a visit from Cersei. Oleanna blames her for everything that has happened since giving power to the Faith Militant. As Cersei tries to assert her power, Oleanna reminds her that she has already lost: Jaime is gone thanks to the High Sparrow, Kevan won’t back her, the people hate her, and her son is listening to the advice of her enemy. Cersei did not look happy about that.
The North – The Gift, Bear Island, and the Glovers
The Wildlings are initially not up for retaking Winterfell for Jon, but after Tormund makes a good point about how Jon literally died for them, and Jon reminds them that the Bolton’s will not let the free folk live, they throw their lots in with the Starks.
Jon, Sansa and Davos arrive to talk to Lady Mormont of Bear Island; this is probably one of my favorite characters introduced so far this season, the 10-year-old girl who denied Stannis as a king. Jon tries to gain her support by asking for the allegiance given to the Starks, to which Lady Mormont replies that Jon is a Snow, and Sansa is either a Bolton or a Lannister depending on which marriage is valid; she also asks them why should she let her people fight their war. Davos saves the day, by pointing out that they need to unite the North because the White Walkers are coming. Lady Mormont then gives them 62 men. Jon is a little discouraged at that, knowing the odds are all against them.
The second castle the Starks visit is with The Glovers, who have only taken their home back from the Iron Born with the help of the Boltons. Lord Glover asks about how many houses have joined them, but Jon can only tell him that the army is mostly wildlings. This particular event shows the primary issue with raising a Stark army in the North at the moment: the north will not fight alongside the Wildlings, and the ones who suffered from the Iron Born will not go against the Boltons who likely helped them get their homes back, and there are those not willing to fight for Jon or Sansa, regardless of them being Starks.
Back at the Wildling camp, Jon decides it is time to attack. Sansa realizes that Jon is not willing to go ask for help no one will give, and then she notices the messenger Ravens, and writes a small message. It is obvious she is calling for help. Of the three choices: Brienne, Blackfish, and the Vale; it is most likely she is calling for the help of The Vale, who are already geared towards helping her. The only question is: is she writing Littlefinger? Or is she writing to Robyn Arryn directly?
As Jaime and Bronn arrive to Riverrun, they find the siege that the Frey’s have started is nothing that would give the Blackfish any worry. Bronn, though only there because he is a knight and has been ordered; immediately notices that they need to dig better trenches, and fortify their defenses well. They walk into the Frey camp, only to find them trying to bait the Blackfish by threatening to kill Edmure, which they know they cannot do; and clearly so does the Blackfish. Jaime and Bronn walk over after watching on the sidelines. Jaime takes command immediately as the Freys are not that idiotic to try and go against the Lannister army; Bronn gives the orders to the Frey men, and then Jaime asks him to send word to the Blackfish for them to talk.
Jaime rides to the Riverrun gate, and parleys with the Blackfish. The Blackfish then reminds Jaime of the one oath he never fulfilled for Catelyn Stark about bringing her daughters home safely; but as Jaime tried to order him to give up the castle, the Blackfish then lays out his side: Edmure is dead no matter what they do, he will not give up the castle he calls him, and he will not make a deal with Jaime. He tells Jaime that he has enough food to last them two years, and that in trying to breach the castle they will likely lose more men than the Blackfish. Jaime then questions why talk to him if he was never coming to any agreement: The Blackfish answers that to get a measure of his opponent, and he has been disappointed. While we really want the Freys to lose, I actually hope Jaime finally gets a win.
The Iron Born are enjoying a small break, and Yara lays out the plan we already knew was happening: They are going to make a pact with Daenerys and take back their home. This short scene did nothing unexpected, but allowed us to see Yara trying to get the old Theon back.
Arya buys passage back to Westeros, and plans to sail the next morning. She stands on a bridge in the open looking at the statue of the Titan of Braavos, when she is approached by an old lady, who slices her stomach and stabs her. The old lady is revealed to be the waif. Arya then pushes her away, and jumps to the water. The waif waits, but when Arya doesn’t resurface walks away. Arya resurfaces on the banks after a few moments, and tries to put pressure on her wound. She now realizes that the faceless men can attack her at any moment, and she cannot know who is a friend and who is an enemy. It also didn’t feel right that she didn’t see it coming, and her guard was completely down. It will be interesting to see how she gets away at all. I am inclined to believe she will kill the waif, and Jaqen will let her go.
Overall: 8.0 Good, but not up to Standards. While the Hound’s return is certainly a nice moment, it was not a satisfying plot, considering his current storyline is actually pretty boring (we were expecting CleganeBowl and all). There is also the fact that last week’s Benjen return was more shocking than this one. Among the other standouts is Jamie facing off against the Blackfish, Sansa finally calling for help from the Vale, and the knowledge that Margaery does have a plan going. Sadly, the boring plot about the Hound, and the unreal idea that Arya would just let her guard down make the episode’s misses. In the neutral zone: the scene with Yara and Theon, which aimed at emotional, but only delivered something we already knew.
Next week: Brienne and Jaime might face off, Sansa might get her uncle’s help, Arya runs for her life, Dany might be back, and CERSEI UNLEASHES THE MOUNTAIN