Another Sunday, another Game of Thrones. Release The Hound!
This episode starts off different than the rest. Instead of our usual open we’re somewhere in a field in Westeros. Huh? And Ian McShane is there…you know… filthiest mouth in the Old West Deadwood guy. Only now he’s some kind of traveling nomadic priest. And he’s having the good simply country folk building him a sept, hauling long wooden beams from far and wide to do so. Takes about three or four guys to carry one beam–and it don’t look easy. But there’s one guy holding his own beam. He’s carrying it himself, on some massive shoulders. Pretty big dude. And as he comes into focus…wait a minute… it can’t be… then he turns around.
It’s the damn HOUND. Say whaaaat? I was like this guy.
Was just last week that someone responded to my last blog and brought the possibility of The Hound being alive–something I hadn’t given much thought to. So what do we learn from this ladies and lords? If we don’t see you die on GoT, you ain’t all that dead.
More on him later.
At King’s Landing, the recently freed Margaery has taken up her role as Queen in the new theocracy. She’s at the Grand Sept of Baelor reading from one of the holy books of The Seven, when our Bernie Sanders-ish High Sparrow shows up. That dude is all over that place. He asks Margaery what she’s reading and she tells him it’s about serving the poor, even quoting it from memory. She claims that she had pitied the poor previously, but hadn’t truly loved them. The High Sparrow says, “eh, the poor ain’t so bad.” Plus they’re hard to love because they’re generally dirty and smelly and thus remind the wealthy of where they could end up. Not exactly a flattering image of the proletariat.
The High Sparrow then asks if he can speak on something more personal. It seems Margaery ain’t been doing much in the marital bed with the boy-king Tommen. And he’s run and told the High Sparrow about it. Seriously my dude? Margaery confesses she just hasn’t felt the desire she once had–maybe, oh, because Tommen’s weak ass left her imprisoned by a bunch of religious fanatics. At any rate, the High Sparrow tells her that desire doesn’t play into it. She has to perform her wifely duties, whether she wants to have the sex or not. Umm. That’s not cool bro. On the way out, the High Sparrow also says she gotta tell the Queen of Thorns to leave the city–because the elder lady is a sinner, and something bad and zealot-ish could happen to her.
Taking the not-so-veiled threat, Margaery goes to see the Queen of Thorns, her grandmother Olenna Tyrell. They don’t have much privacy because the scariest looking nun in the world is standing there watching. Nevertheless, Margaery tells her grandmother that she needs to leave. Olenna Tyrell says “not a chance”–not without her grandchildren. She’s shocked when Margaery starts sounding very pious, spouting Faith Militant rhetoric. At one point Margaery gets on her knees, pleading with the Queen of Thorns to leave the city–and stealthily slipping something into her hands. Olenna Tyrell finally realizes that Margaery is playing at some long game, being as crafty as she’s taught her to be. She agrees to leave then departs the room to see what her granddaughter slipped into her hand. It turns out to be a sketch of a rose, the standard of House Tyrell. Make of that what you will.
Sometime later, as Olenna Tyrell sits writing, she’s visited by none other than Cersei shadowed as always by The Mountain. Cersei tries to maintain the brief alliance she’d made with the Queen of Thorns, pointing out they have to stick together to defeat the High Sparrow. Olenna Tyrell however ain’t having it. She reminds Cersei that it was she who stirred up all the trouble that led to the power of the High Sparrow. Yup. And says she will always remember the smirk Cersei gave her when her grandchildren were arrested. Mmm hmm. She points out that Cersei ain’t got no allies, not even her son. Tell It! Olenna Tyrell in the end says she’s leaving the city, and about the only good thing out of all this misery is that she gets to see how completely screwed Cersei is. Made. Bed. Lie In it.
Shade Level: Boss.
While we’re on the incest twins…
Jaime Lannister has arrived at Riverrun with a big ass army. He’s accompanied by our favorite mouthy sellsword Bronn who is (as always) pretty mouthy. They’re there to take back the castle from Brynden Tully, the Blackfish, one of the few survivors of the Red Wedding. When they arrive, there’s pretty much a clown show going on. The inept Freys are attempting to get the Blackfish to surrender by threatening to kill their in-law and hostage, a bedraggled Edmure Tully. But Brynden Tully gives them a Kanye level shrug, calling their bluff and walking off. Jaime decides he’s seen enough. He introduces himself, orders Edmure Tully be clothed and fed, mouth slaps one of the Freys (with the wooden hand) and takes over the siege.
Later, he sets up a parley with the Blackfish–hoping to persuade the old man to give up the castle peacefully. Brynden Tully agrees, meeting and addressing Jaime derisively as the Kingslayer. They never gonna let that one go. Jaime takes it in stride, and points out he’s there on behalf of the king and that the Blackfish has to give up the castle. Old dude is like “nah.” Jaime says if he doesn’t, thousands will be killed in a siege. Even bigger Kanye shrug. Blackfish is like, do what you gotta do. But I ain’t going nowhere.
Looks like it’s gonna be a war.
Meanwhile, Jon, Sansa and the Onion Knight Ser Davos Seaworth are out doing a tour of the North, trying to rally folks and houses to their cause. The first stop is with the Wildlings. They’re skeptical, recalling that they first came here with Mance Rayder as a mighty army and have been reduced to almost nothing. But Tormund Giantsbane speaks up, reminding the Wildlings that Jon came to save them. What’s more, he actually got shanked and died for them. They owe him. The decision is made when an otherwise quiet Wun Wun rises to his impressive giant height and utters one word of support, Snow. Jon’s got the Wildlings.
It’s a little harder when they tackle the houses. The first they visit is House Mormont, the same house of the former Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch Jeor Mormont and the exiled Ser Jorah Mormont. There they encounter the current ruler of House Mormont–the ten-year old Lyanna Mormont. Don’t let the age fool you. Lyanna is a shrewd Lady and gives Jon and Sansa a hard time. She’s like, Sansa, are you a Bolton or a Lannister? I can’t keep up. Daaamn kid! They’re saved by Ser Davos, who interjects to tell the young noble that this is about more than saving the Starks. This is about the coming war between the living and dead. And the dead are coming. Don’t we know it! Lady Lyanna relents, offering all of 62 men to the cause. Better that than nothing.
Things don’t go as well as at House Glover. In all of the mayhem during the War of the Five Kings, House Glover had fallen prey to the invasion by the Iron Isles and were only saved by House Bolton. They don’t respect or recognize Jon, and pretty much dismiss the request–especially when they find out his army is mostly made up of Wildlings. When the Lord turns to leave, Sansa reminds him sharply that House Glover is sworn to House Stark. The Lord turns back at that. Getting up in Sansa’s face (I mean he was up in it) he angrily tells her that he had long been loyal to the Starks. They cried at her father’s death. They went off to fight with Robb. But where was Robb, he asks, when the Ironborn came? And his wife and child were imprisoned? And his people brutalized? Robb, he says, was out making poor relationship decisions and getting everyone killed. He says he served House Stark once. But now, House Stark is dead. Ouch.
We later see Jon, Sansa and Ser Davos trying to come to terms with their small army. They have all of 2000 Wildlings and just a few hundred men from small houses. It’s much less than they need, but Jon says they have to move soon–before the Boltons can gather their forces. Sansa disagrees, saying they need more soldiers. Their debate is cut short as both he and Ser Davos have to go put out a minor squabble between the gathered fighters. Sansa takes this time to go off and write a note to be put on a raven with her official seal. We can’t see what it is, but very likely it’s a plea for troops. And I’ll bet you Iron Bank money, that letter is going to our friend Littlefinger.
Somewhere across the sea, Yara and Theon are enjoying themselves sampling the local sex-workers at a bordello. Well, Yara and her sailors are doing most of the sampling. Theon who has since been umm…snipped…is mostly just sitting with his head down, looking seriously uncomfortable at all the naked flesh. A far cry from the guy we first knew. Yara tries to engage him, but he says they shouldn’t be there, especially since their uncle Euron Greyjoy is hunting them. Yara says they have fast ships and will stay ahead of him. What she’s worried about is Theon. He’s got way too much Reek still left in him, and if he’s going to help her defeat their uncle and take the Iron Isles back, she needs Theon back. After forcing him to chug some ale, it seems she manages to stir awake her brother. She also reveals where they’re heading–to find a certain Khaleesi and her dragons to help her come back and take Westeros.
Everybody wants Dany.
In Braavos, Arya Stark is reveling in her recent decision to abandon that Faceless Man life. She finds a Westerosi sailor and offers him some serious money to take her back home. They’re to leave at dawn. Satisfied on her plans, she heads out to stand on a ledge above a river to look out on the city she’s set to depart. An old woman stumbles up behind her and gets her attention. “Sweet girl” the old lady says–then slashes Arya with a knife. Da Fuq!? Before Arya can figure out what’s going on, she’s getting stabbed in the belly! The old woman it turns out is creepy girl! Wearing one of the masks! It seems that you don’t just get to leave the House of the Many-Faced-God. Arya only survives by pitching over the ledge into the river. She surfaces elsewhere, and drags herself, bleeding onto the street. The last we see, she’s staggering, holding her bleeding stomach as Braavosi simply watch–as if that’s about the most normal sight in the world. What this adds or subtracts from the Arya-Tyler Durden theory is anyone’s guess.
So back out in the Westeros countryside, The Hound is busied doing…whatever it is those folk are doing out in the middle of nowhere. We learn that he was found by the nomadic priest after Arya had left him for dead. The wandering priest had expected The Hound to die, but somehow he survived and was nursed back to health. He also knows precisely who The Hound is, because your big ass can’t hide all that! When the wandering priest tries to get The Hound on the spiritual side, the former guard dog answers derisively, pointing out there’s no repentance for the things he’s done. If there are gods, The Hound asks, why haven’t they punished him? The wandering priest retorts: “they have.”
We learn later that the nomadic priest was also a soldier, who had done terrible things. He tells his flock that he found salvation in letting go of all of that. The Hound seems to be moved by this–until several men show up. They’re on horseback and armed. They claim to be protecting the land and demand food, horses or steel. When the wandering priest turns them away (politely) they leave, but it doesn’t look like we’ve seen the last of them. The Hound tells the priest that those men are members of The Brotherhood Without Banners. And that his flock is in danger. The priest however says that he’s abandoned fighting and violence–as it only breeds more violence. He appears to be leaving their fate in the hands of the gods.
Turns out the gods are merciless. While The Hound is out busting up the chifferobe he hears a scream. He runs back to find the wandering priest hanging by a rope from the frame of his church. All around him are the bodies of his slain flock–every last one. Faith, it seems, is a poor defense for the injustice of this world.
The last scene we see is an enraged Hound grabbing an axe. And he don’t like he’s getting ready to pray.
Till next week, in which The Hound has some theological points of contention with the Brotherhood Without Banners.