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Recap / Game of Thrones S6E7: "The Broken Man"

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In the Riverlands, we see peasants building a new sept. Among them is revealed to be Sandor Clegane. He has been saved from a slow death by Brother Ray, who leads them. Still, while Sandor helps them he remains sullen and apart, in spite of Brother Ray's effort to reach him, claiming the gods have a plan for him. Sandor wonders why, if the gods are real, he hasn't been punished. Brother Ray replies that he has. Later, Ray tells the group how he was once a soldier, who pretended to be brave. Inside, he was afraid, but didn't want anyone to see. Whatever orders he was given, he followed-to burn people's houses, steal their food, or murder their sons to stop them taking up arms to fight. Finally, he was shamed by a woman calling him and other soldiers animals for seizing her son. After he killed him, Brother Ray was overcome with shame, hearing her cries even now, and will for the rest of his life. Brother Ray says he devoted himself to doing good, and says it is never too late, looking significantly at Sandor. A group of riders approaching interrupts him. Their leader asks if they have horses, steel, or food, to which Brother Ray replies only the last, and offers them dinner. The riders depart, and Sandor berates him for his response, warning that they will come back. The septon refuses to fight if they do, saying he has renounced violence. Later while he is out in the forest cutting branches, the sound of screams come from the camp and Sandor rushes back to find everyone has been massacred. Brother Ray is left hanging from a beam of the new sept. In a fury, he takes up his wood ax.

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At Riverrun, Jaime arrives with a Lannister army to aid the Freys' siege. Both he and Bronn criticize the poor setup of the Frey army. The Frey brothers attempt to coerce the Blackfish into surrender by threatening his nephew Edmure, but he refuses to budge. Jaime berates the Frey brothers for making a threat which they won't carry out, taking control of the siege. He goes to negotiate with the Blackfish, offering him a chance for surrender without bloodshed. The Blackfish categorically refuses though, and is wholly unimpressed by Jaime.

In King's Landing, Margaery meets with the High Sparrow in the Great Sept. He urges that she counsel her grandmother into repenting, and warns she is not safe in body or soul while within the city. When she meets with her though, Lady Olenna characteristically scoffs and refuses. Further, she is incensed when Margaery says Loras will not be released except if he renounces his title and becomes a penitent. However, Margaery slips a small piece of paper into her hand while urging her to leave for Highgarden, bearing the rose symbol of their family, which pleases Olenna to see. Cersei comes to visit her, admitting her terrible mistake in giving the High Sparrow power, saying they have to fight him together now. Olenna is understandably displeased with her, and bitterly vents her feelings about Cersei. The only thing which gives her any joy is to see Cersei has lost.

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In the North, some of the wildlings have grown reluctant to follow Jon. They complain they signed up with him to fight the wights and White Walkers, while he means to fight his fellow "southerners". However, with Tormund's help Jon convinces them that if he can't stop the Boltons and the others who follow them, they'll kill the wildlings, and they agree to follow him after the giant Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun show his support for Jon. Later he visits Bear Island to seek aid from the Mormonts along with Sansa and Ser Davos. Lady Mormont, a girl of ten, is a very tough sell, with both Jon and Sansa's entreaties failing to move her. At last Ser Davos eloquently convinces her to take their side, although the Mormonts have only sixty two fighting men. Next they visit Deepwood Motte, though Lord Glover refuses to aid them. Lord Glover says he just took back the castle with Bolton help, and demands to know who else is aiding them. He is unimpressed to learn only House Mormont is with them so far. When Sansa reminds Lord Glover of his oath to her family, he retorts that their house died with Robb. They return to their camp. Jon says they must march on Winterfell now before the snows come, despite their small numbers. However, relations are tense between the northerners and wildlings in the camp. Sansa writes a letter to someone, but seems reluctant to send it.

In Volantis, the ironborn under Yara and Theon have entered port to visit a brothel in the Long Bridge. Theon, naturally, feels out of place in the setting. Yara, it transpires, likes women, selecting a pretty female Volantine prostitute. She pushes Theon to drink at least, and crawl out of the pit that he's been living in. If he's really too far gone to enjoy life any more, she says, he ought to take a knife and end his own suffering - it's no way to live. But if Theon Greyjoy is still in there, she needs him - because together, they're going to beat their uncle at his own game, give Daenerys her fleet, take back the Iron Islands, and maybe even exact some payback from one Lord Bolton while they're at it. Perhaps resonating with the ironborn inside of him, Yara's Tough Love pulls Theon out of his funk if just for a little while, and he looks her in the eyes with a resolute nod. Smiling, with honest relief written on her face, Yara pulls Theon into a hug and gives him a sisterly kiss on the forehead before leaving to conclude business with her chosen lady.

In Braavos, Arya finds some Westerosi sailors, paying them well to bring her home. On a bridge, however, the waif catches up with her disguised as an old woman, slashing Arya and stabbing her twice. Arya manages to break free and jump into the water, making the waif believe she is dead. She wanders through the streets paranoid that anyone could be a Faceless Man come to finish her off, while no one around will come to her aid.


This episode contains the following tropes:

  • Absentee Actor: No Brienne or Melisandre, despite the fact that the latter is travelling with Jon, Sansa, and Davos, who were a major part of the episode. This could be excused as wanting to avoid alienating the Northern lords with a priestess of yet another non-Northern religion. So instead they were sent to recruit Blackfish as their last episode plan was.
  • Adaptational Sexuality: In the books, Yara (well, Asha) is a very sexually adventurous woman as well, but she's attracted to men. Of course, it hasn't been ruled out as a possibility that both versions of the character are bisexual.
    • Someone actually asked George R.R. Martin about this via his blog and he responded: Word of God, Book-Asha isn't bisexual and hasn't even experimented with women. The TV version is simply different. No word yet on why the TV writers chose to make this shift.
  • Adaptational Wimp: In the novels, Lame Lothar Frey and Black Walder Rivers are some of the most dangerous of Lord Walder's brood. Lothar is The Evil Genius and one of his father's Co-Dragons along with Bastard Walder Rivers, while Black Walder Frey is The Brute who gets the Mallisters to bend the knee to the Iron Throne. By taking the place of Ryman and Edwyn Frey, Lothar and Black Walder can't even mount a proper siege of Riverrun and their threats to execute murder become a bluff, like Ryman in the novels.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the novels, Robett Glover remains a staunch Stark loyalist and is working to overthrow House Bolton. Then again, the liberation of Deepwood Motte is carried out with the aid of Stannis and the northern mountain clans instead of the Boltons.
    • Blunted by the fact that his criticisms of Robb Stark are presented as entirely rational, and he doesn't seem happy about the decision he's making.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: In possibly her first open, unashamed gesture of love for her little brother, Yara kisses Theon on the forehead when he affirms that he's there — for her and for himself.
  • All There in the Manual: The Viewer's Guide reveals the name of the Brother (Ray), the leading bandit of the Brotherhood (Lem Lemoncloak), the Lord Glover (Robett Glover), and the wildling leader (Dim Dalba).
  • Apathetic Citizens: Apparently it's normal to do nothing as a wounded girl wanders the street in Braavos, besides gawk and stare. It's not unlike how they completely ignored the Waif beating a blind beggar with a staff for some time a few episodes prior, so it seems to be a trait of the city. Given the city is home to the House of Black and White, they may well be used to seeing people cut down in the street.
  • An Axe to Grind: Literally, as Sandor picks up an axe after finding Brother Ray's community slaughtered. He won't be using it to chop wood.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Davos takes over negotiations the moment Lyanna Mormont asks "So why should I sacrifice one more Mormont life for someone else's war?"
  • As the Good Book Says...: When Margaery stands alone in a room reading The Book of the Mother, the High Sparrow comes in and starts reciting the chapter. Margaery walks away from the book and continues the words, showing the pleased Sparrow a token of her new devotion.
  • As You Know: Sandor is informed of his own story in conspicuous detail since we last saw him, since he's not likely to be talkative about it on his own.
  • The Atoner: Brother Ray was once a man much like Sandor, who burned, robbed and murdered. Now he's trying to help people as a means of penance.
  • Badass Boast: The Blackfish's "As long as I'm standing, the war is not over."
  • Big Brother Is Watching You: Anywhere within earshot of a Sparrow, septa, or religious smallfolk isn't safe to talk openly in King's Landing.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: The waif manages to catch Arya completely flatfooted, gets a few painful-but-not-debilitating stabs in... and then stops to grandstand and pull a Dramatic Unmask. Arya gets away thanks to the delay.
  • Break the Cutie: Sansa ends up getting hit with the cold reality that the Starks aren't as beloved in the North as she believed.
  • Broken Pedestal: The Starks, and Robb Stark in particular, end up being this to the both House Mormont and Glover. They both make it known that they hold Robb responsible for their Lords dying during War of the Five Kings, particularly the Red Wedding.
  • Butt-Monkey: Davos finds himself becoming this. The wildlings and Northmen have no loyalty to him, Sansa is following Brienne's example of mistrusting him, and even his crucial diplomatic assist at Bear Island only secures sixty-two warriors for the Stark alliance. It's best exemplified by the Funny Background Event below.
  • Bystander Syndrome: Despite Arya walking through the streets all wet and bleeding, nobody bothers to help her. Not that Arya would want their help due to the Waif likely being hidden among the crowd.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Sandor Clegane returns! He's been missing in action and presumed dead since the Season Four finale. He now has a grudge with The Brotherhood Without Banners, who make their return after a three year absence.
    • In a lower key, Bronn is back, and it turns out Jaime has yet to fulfill the promise he made Bronn (a lordship, and keep, and a highborn wife) before the Dorne expedition last season.
    • The wildling leader (Dim Dalba) first appeared in "Hardhome".
    • Absent since The Red Wedding and after receiving some mentions in the previous episodes, we see the Blackfish made a final bus stop inside Riverrun.
  • Bus Crash: It is confirmed that Lady Maege Mormont and Lord Galbart Glover — who had minor appearances in Season 1 — died during the War of the Five Kings.
  • Butch Lesbian: Yara has sex with a female Volantine prostitute. She may also be a case of Bi the Way; her actress seems to think this is the case.
  • Call-Back:
    • Lady Mormont echoes her previous message to Stannis: "Bear Island knows no king but the King in the North, and his name is STARK."
    • Theon is clearly having vicious PTSD at the sight of naked women, likely due to the Honey Trap that was involved in his emasculation.
    • Arya finally uses the sack of silver that she stole from the (then-dying) Hound. From the same episode, it turns out that a huge guy like Sandor really would be useful doing mundane work like chopping wood.
    • Wun Wun pronounces his support for Jon by uttering his name, much like he did with Tormund in "Hardhome".
  • Call That a Formation?: Jaime and Bronn don't mince words when assessing the Freys' siege of Riverrun.
  • Canon Foreigner: So far, in the novels there are no characters named Flynn or Morgan among the ranks of the Brotherhood Without Banners.
  • Character Development: Sandor's time with Brother Ray and his flock has transformed him from a barely-moral killing machine into a much better man. When Sandor chooses to take up his axe and go back to killing at the end of the episode, he only does it to exact justice for the people who gave him a chance at a new life.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: House Mormont's current ruler Lyanna Mormont is only ten years old, and already growing into her role.
  • Composite Character:
    • Brother Ray seems to be a combination of the Elder Brother of Quiet Isle and Septon Meribald.
    • Lame Lothar Frey and Black Walder Rivers take the place of Ryman and Edwyn Frey as the leaders of the Frey army in the Siege of Riverrun.
    • Yara takes the place of Victarion in planning to reach Daenerys to ruin Euron's plans.
    • A minor one: Margaery and not Cersei is the one who returns to the Red Keep accompanied by a septa to watch over her.
  • Continuity Nod: As Lyanna Mormont points out, Lady Sansa is still a Lannister despite ostensibly being a Bolton. Tyrion is still alive, after all.
  • Cool Old Guy: Brother Ray seems like a decent, down-to-earth guy, especially since other religious leaders so far have usually been fanatics and zealots. A shame he doesn't live.
  • Could Say It, But...: Margaery very subtly tells Olenna to leave King's Landing, letting her know that the High Sparrow is targeting her next.
  • Cycle of Revenge: Given a nod by Brother Ray, who says violence is a disease and you don't cure it with more violence. Sandor counters that dying isn't the best cure, either, and is validated when Ray and his followers are slaughtered in Sandor's absence.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Sandor Clegane returns, and for the first time, he is given his own storyline without any other established character in a supporting role.
  • Death Seeker: Theon is implied to be this. When Yara promises they'll get justice for what Ramsay did to him, Theon bitterly retorts if there was justice, he'd be dangling above Winterfell's gates for his crimes.
  • Deconstructed Trope: Sandor's story looks like a good opportunity for Training the Peaceful Villagers, but they don't want to so they are all killed.
  • Demoted to Extra: Averted with Septa Unella: unlike in some previous episodes, her presence in the scene where she is present is so strong that she can't be counted as a background element, even though as usual she actually has no lines.
  • Dispense with the Pleasantries: Sansa and Jon at first try to flatter Lady Mormont by comparing her to her namesake Lyanna Stark and talking about her uncle Jeor, but she will have none of it and demands to know what they want.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Yara orders Theon to do this.
  • Enemy Mine: Averted. Cersei tries once more to ally with the Queen of Thorns, only to be brutally rebuked with a "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • Exact Words: Yes Lyanna stands by her words that she has no king except a Stark but Jon is a Snow and Sansa is a Lannister and Bolton by marriage.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Although he's clearly terrified, Edmure Tully holds himself together when he's about to be executed by the Freys.
  • Face-Revealing Turn: The strong man in the opening reveals himself to be Sandor when he turns his head to the camera and displays his familiar scars.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: In Play!Tyrion's final monologue to the audience, he declares he's going to flee across the Narrow Sea to do more treachery, this time to them. "Fear me!" (exit with Evil Laugh)
  • Funny Background Event: Davos is talking with Jon and Sansa when a fight breaks out in the background between a wildling and a Northerner. He excuses himself to break the fight up; when the camera cuts back, both men are going after him, forcing Jon to step in and bail him out.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: It's possible to make out some of the contents of Sansa's letter by flipping and inverting the still where she holds the back to the light:
    [You] promised to protect me. Now you have [a chance] to fulfill your promise. [The Knights] of the Vale are under your command. Ride [north] for Winterfell. [Lend] us your aid and I shall see to it that you are [rewarded].
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Yara gets Theon to snap out of his major PTSD episode at the brothel.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Davos invokes this to Lady Mormont, pointing out that the North is divided, and thus easy prey for when the White Walkers and their army of the dead descend from the North. In his words, if they don't band together, none will survive.
    Davos Seaworth: This isn't a war between squabbling houses. This is a war between the living and the dead...and make no mistake, my lady, the dead are coming.
    • Realizing that their initial plan to rally up the North has mostly failed, Sansa resolves to accept Littlefinger's aid, even though she understands that, more likely than not, it's a bad idea.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: The basic appeal of Team Sansa+Jon to the wildlings and the smaller Northern houses. Sansa also sends a raven to an unknown party (likely Lord Baelish) for assistance.
  • Good Shepherd: Brother Ray, who rescued Sandor. He's a good, kind man who oversees a new sept being built, atones for his past misdeeds, and refuses to use violence. Unfortunately, he meets other men who do use it.
  • Guttural Growler: Robett Glover's voice is low and raspy.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Downplayed, but it's clear there's a good deal of distrust toward Sansa in the North thanks to her marriages to Tyrion Lannister and Ramsay Bolton (whereas the audience knows she was very much a victim of both those arrangements). The Stark name also is tarnished by Robb's disastrous indiscretions.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Yara intends to make her own alliance with Daenerys before Euron can, which she only thinks to do because Euron boasted of doing so before she took off with the fleet.
  • Identical Stranger: Lady Lyanna's military adviser bears a startling resemblance to Stannis Baratheon.
  • Idiot Ball: In contrast to last episode, where she was armed and hiding in the sewers, Arya displays a lack of awareness and caution that allows the Waif to catch up with her and nearly kill her.
  • Implied Death Threat:
    • The High Sparrow not-so-subtly tells Margaery that Lady Olenna is his next target, speaking in that same grandfatherly way he always does.
      High Sparrow: You must teach her the New Way as she taught you the old, or I fear for her safety. Body and soul.
    • The Brotherhood "advises" Brother Ray to "stay safe" after he refuses to help them.
  • Ineffectual Death Threats: The Freys threaten to kill Lord Edmure, first by hanging and then by slitting his throat when that fails to elicit a reaction. The Blackfish is unimpressed. As Jaime lampshades, their bluff was pretty transparent.
  • Insult to Rocks: Brother Ray recounts a story of how he murdered innocent young men while working as a soldier. One of their mothers called him an animal for his deeds, which made him realize he was worse than an animal, because animals stay true to their nature while he was betraying his own.
  • Iron Lady: 10-year-old Lady Lyanna Mormont is definitely one in the making. The Mormonts are one tough people... She even joins the Northern-Free Folk army instead of just sending a vassal to command her forces.
  • It Amused Me: Why the Blackfish agreed to parley with Jaime at all. "Sieges are deadly dull."
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Lady Olenna openly shows her contempt for Unella as the septa oversees her meeting with Margaery.
    Lady Olenna: Does it move or talk?
  • I Was Beaten by a Girl: Averted by Sandor, which Brother Ray finds Actually Pretty Funny.
  • Jerkass: Yara continues to show little patience or understanding for her brother's severe trauma. However, she does apologize when her comments dip too close to the subject of his emasculation, and some of this is very likely a case of Deliberate Values Dissonance as it is unlikely any of Westeros, let alone a culture like the Ironborn, has any understanding of the psychological effects of trauma.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • The High Sparrow is a devious schemer and a remorseless zealot, and his lecture towards Margery regarding her "Duty" as a woman just drips with misogyny. Still, as seen both in the show and in real life, whenever the king dies without an obvious heir, the resulting political instability can wreak havoc throughout the entire realm. Just the mere question of Joffrey's legitimacy touched off the War of the Five Kings. For Westeros to have any hope of recovering from the recent devastation, the King needs to have a legitimate heir standing by, if not several just to hedge his bets (medieval politics being what they are).
    • Lyanna Mormont and Lord Robett Glover have valid reasons for not wanting to back Jon and Sansa; the last time their houses followed a Stark leader, Robb made several terrible decisions and they ended up losing people they loved at the Red Wedding, plus Glover had his castle taken from him and only got it back with help from the Boltons (as well as being justifiably terrified of what will happen if Ramsay finds out about their current meeting). Lyanna also rightly points out that she has little reason to trust Jon, who's a Snow rather than a Stark, or Sansa, who by all appearances has allied herself with both the Lannisters and the Boltons in the past.
    • A retroactive one with Twyin, who told Cersei she wasn't as smart as she thought she was, and never acknowledged or trusted her input. Given Kings Landing is now falling apart because of Cersei's blatantly stupid schemes, he's been more than proved right. (And had he still been alive never would have let her idiocy get that far along).
    • Well, he's not as much of a jerk as he used to be, but Sandor is absolutely right when he tells Ray that if he refuses to fight even for protection, he is going to get killed. That is exactly what happens at the end of the episode.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: The Queen of Thorns acknowledges having lost the fight against the High Sparrow and is preparing to leave for Highgarden before the Faith lock her up and throw away the key.
    Olenna: I am leaving this wretched city as fast as I can before that shoeless zealot throws me in one of his cells.
  • Lack of Empathy: Subverted with Yara. While her "drink or die" advice to Theon is rather harsh, this is legitimately her way of showing empathy. Given the setting, she probably simply doesn't realize the nature of Theon's PTSD anyway.
  • Last of His Kind: Tormund points out that the wildling force is a fraction of what it used to be under Mance. It probably won't survive the winter, unless they work with Jon.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall
    • Davos mentions that the place where they camped is the same location used by Stannis the previous season and they likewise mention the absence of the blizzard, an obvious hint that Jon is retreading Stannis' plot from the previous season and the books, and that Melisandre's sacrifice to hold back the cold is still in effect.
    • Blackfish tells Jaime Riverrun can hold out for a two year siege and asks him "Do you have two years?", alluding to the show's planned final two seasons.
  • Lie Back and Think of England: The High Sparrow gives Margaery this advice when she expresses reluctance at sharing the king's bed. In his Straw Misogynist view, it is irrelevant for wives to desire or enjoy sex, only their compliance and resignation. As noted in Jerkass Has a Point, his intent is for the king to have an heir as soon as possible, so he's not wrong on a practical level.
  • Little Miss Badass: Lady Lyanna Mormont lives up to the tradition of hard Mormont women, if not quite a warrior herself. She even rides off with the rest of Team Jon+Sansa, despite having the option to delegate her troops to a vassal commander.
    Davos Seaworth: If [Mormont soldiers] are half as ferocious as their lady, the Boltons are doomed.
  • Made of Iron: Sandor's wounds were so bad that he should not have survived and yet he seems to have made a complete recovery. His leg was broken so badly that the broken bone pierced his skin and yet he is now walking without even a limp. According to Brother Ray, on more than a dozen occasions they thought that he had finally died from his wounds, but each time he pulled through. Now, he is not only not a cripple but has recovered most of his strength and can do the work of four other men.
    • Arya suffers severe stab wounds, but does not die instantly (unlike 99% of her fellow characters who get stabbed), being able instead to flee through the village without dropping dead.
  • Moral Myopia: Lord Glover blames Robb (and all Starks via Guilt by Association) for the Red Wedding rather than the Boltons and Freys for breaking Sacred Hospitality in a naked power grab, even describing Robb's actions as "getting himself and those who followed him killed", which essentially justifies his betrayer's actions as "Why Did You Make Me Hit You?"
  • The Mole: Margaery hasn't really bought into the Faith of the Seven, covertly passing Lady Olenna a paper with their house sigil drawn onto it and urging her to head home. To his credit, the High Sparrow doesn't seem completely convinced of her loyalty, as her meeting with Olenna is supervised to prevent any obvious scheming.
  • Never Heard That One Before: Bronn complains that he hasn't seen the handsome reward that Jaime promised him, and Jaime's attempt to reassure him is not received well:
    Jaime: A Lannister always pays his--
    Bronn: Don't say it. Don't fookin' say it.
  • Never My Fault: Olenna blames Cersei for the High Sparrow ruling King's Landing and the imminent collapse of both their houses, ignoring that her assassination of Joffrey and scapegoating Tyrion for it is what set off the chain of events that allowed Cersei to form an alliance with the High Sparrow in the first place.
    • Except Cersei wasn't actually motivated by Joffrey's death or Tyrion escaping: She empowered the Faith Militant in order to take down House Tyrell and Margaery because she was jealous of their control over Tommen and being usurped. (And may well have acted similarly even if Joffrey was still alive). The most impact Olenna had was indirectly causing Tywin's death, who was the only person who could have pulled Cersei into line. The main problem was no one foresaw what a moronic ruler Cersei was going to be, which Olenna lampshades.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Thanks to Robb's actions during the war, Robett Glover refuses to support Jon and Sansa when they ask for his help to fight the Boltons.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: The whole Faith Militant mess - which now includes the High Sparrow controlling the city, Tommen being a puppet king in the hands of a zealot and multiple nobles having been imprisoned - was caused because Cersei wanted to take down Margaery and was too stupid to foresee the consequences of her plot. Olenna spells this out for her and it's a sign of how badly she stuffed up that Cersei can't even argue back.
  • No Name Given: Brother Ray never says his name, nor does anyone in the camp address him by it. Supplemental material reveals it.
  • Not Quite Dead: This episode reveals that Sandor is still very much alive.
  • Not So Different: Ser Davos manages to connect with Lyanna Mormont by pointing out he's also been thrust into a position of leadership.
  • Perfect Pacifist People: Ray and his people. It doesn't end well.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Upon taking charge of the siege at Riverrun, Jaime orders that Edmure be bathed and fed.
    • As uncompromising as her approach to her brother's PTSD might be, Yara makes it unequivocally clear in this episode that she really does love Theon, making an effort to rein in her characteristically rough, harsh-tongued behavior and get through to him.
  • The Power of Hate: The Hound directly states this is how he kept living.
  • Pragmatic Hero: The Blackfish acknowledges that Edmure is as good as dead no matter what happens to Riverrun, so he has to cut him loose.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Olenna invokes this, stating the only joy she can find in her current situation is that Cersei's meddling and incompetent plans have destroyed her as well.
    Olenna: You have no support, not any more. Your brother's gone, the High Sparrow saw to that. The rest of your family have abandoned you, the people despise you. You're surrounded by enemies, thousands of them - you're going to kill them all by yourself? You've lost, Cersei - it's the only joy I can find in all this misery.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The haphazard alliance that Team Sansa+Jon is putting together is too small to retake Winterfell (for now).
  • Reality Ensues:
    • It was not a surprise that Brother Ray and his group were all going to be slaughtered without fighting back due to their pacifist ways. Ray told Clegane even if they wanted to fight they'll lose since they are just regular commoners not bandits and former knights.
    • Davos was right that the North for all their loyalty won't walk against the Boltons for a desperate cause. Robett Glover even brings up that fighting for the Stark cost him his castle and his brother.
    • Olenna leaves Cersei to fend for herself after Cersei so thoroughly sabotaged the Lannister-Tyrell alliance. She won't fall for Cersei's words again.
    • As popular as the Starks might have been while they were in power, it turns out that not all of their former allies are willing to fight for them again. Considering that Jon and Sansa's army is heavily outnumbered by the Boltons and the bulk of their force is made up of Wildlings, it's not much of a surprise.
    • A big point in the novels is about honor and reputation: the Lannisters, Boltons, and Freys succeed by betraying people and killing men under a flag of truce, and consider themselves clever for it. The inevitable result, however, is that no one will ever believe a word they say again, meaning that instead of an easy peace, the remnants of their enemies would all rather fight to the death than trust any offer of surrender. The Freys threaten Blackfish's garrison at Riverrun that they'll kill Edmure if they don't surrender - given that the Freys literally killed men who were guests at their own table, breaking Sacred Hospitality, Brynden has zero reason to believe them - if he surrenders they'll probably just kill Edmure anyway.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Lady Olenna bluntly tells Cersei she's a screw-up and a terrible person for allowing this situation to come to pass.
    Olenna: Loras rots in a cell because of you. The High Sparrow rules this city because of you. Our two ancient houses face collapse because of you and your stupidity [...] I wonder if you're the worst person I've ever met. At a certain age, it's hard to recall.
  • Recycled Premise: Just like Arya in season 2, Sandor loses his only friend after the man refused to cooperate with a bunch of armed men on horseback.
  • The Remnant: Riverrun is the last real cohesive fighting force which fought for the King of the North and the Riverlands.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The Brotherhood Without Banners appear to have taken up murder and robbery to gain their supplies, preying on the people who they claim they're protecting.
  • Running Gag: This episode basically confirms that bitchslapping people is in the Lannister blood.
  • Scenery Porn: We only get a short glimpse of the nature surrounding Bear Island's main castle, but it sure looks beautiful. Riverrun castle is also not without its charms.
  • Screw Your Ultimatum!:
    • The Freys threaten to hang Edmure if Blackfish doesn't surrender the castle. He answers them with silence. Then they remove the noose and threaten to slice his throat, making their empty threat pretty transparent. Blackfish just tells them to do it and walks off, so they lose their nerve.
    • Blackfish does it again to Jaime, who offers to let his people leave peacefully or slaughter them all if they refuse to. Even though Jaime's threats aren't nearly as idle, Blackfish would rather die than abandon the castle.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: Margaery is back in regal attire, but apparently her revealing, opulent dresses have been banned to the back of her closet. Instead she goes for modest, simple garb now.
  • Speak Ill of the Dead: Memories of the late Robb Stark are not universally positive. His wife Talisa comes in for it even worse, being called a "foreign whore."
  • Spoiler Opening: Rather awkwardly averted with only the fourth pre-credits scene (and the only one outside a season premiere) in the show's history so we could see Sandor before Rory McCann's name in the credits. note 
  • Stepford Smiler: Margaery pulls her "got religion" shtick so flawlessly, even the Queen of Thorns is fooled by it.
  • Suicidal Pacifism: Besides the Hound, nobody in Brother Ray's camp can or is willing to fight. They get massacred while Sandor's away.
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: Sandor's new community and its charismatic leader get mercilessly butchered by the Brotherhood, giving the Hound a strong motive for revenge.
  • Talk to the Fist: Jaime backhands one of the Freys to prove his point about issuing threats. The moment is known as the "Golden Bitchslap" to some fans who read that scene in the books.
    Jaime: Only a fool makes threats he's not prepared to carry out. Now let's say I threaten to hit you, unless you shut your mouth, but you kept talking. What do you think I'd do?
    "Black" Walder: I don't give a ra—
    Jaime's Golden Fist: *CLONK*
  • The Teaser: The episode begins with a rare pre-credits scene. Enter the Hound, roll titles. Had a cold opening not been used, the Wham Shot revealing Sandor Clegane is alive would have been ruined by Rory McCann's name appearing in the credits.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: Arya is paranoid after she gets stabbed, since the Waif could be literally anyone she asks for help. Properly paranoid, as it turns out, given her pursuer's reputation and power.
  • There Are No Therapists: Theon is still struggling dealing with the torture he suffered at the hands of Ramsay, and Yara is not the best therapist.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Brother Ray's flock lives a peaceful, downright pastoral life. Unfortunately, this is Westeros, and they're all dead by the end of the episode.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: It's implied (and confirmed in supplemental materials) that the Brotherhood Without Banners carried out the massacre at the end, which is a far cry from their M.O. back in Season 3.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Sandor is less of a jerkass (at least outwardly) since we've last seen him, and genuinely seems like he's left killing and stealing behind. Sadly, this is Westeros...
  • Tough Love: Because of the culture of the Iron Islands, Yara has a hard time actually empathizing with Theon, who is still suffering from PTSD from the torture he suffered. Yara's advice is either for him to drink and suck it up, or kill himself if he can't deal with it. Interesting enough, she is not even saying this out of malice either. In fact, as she notes by saying she never struck him, she's the kindest Ironborn he's seen in quite some time, if not ever.
  • Tranquil Fury: The Blackfish as the Freys taunt him about the Red Wedding.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot:
    • The Stark party travels within a single episode from Bear Island to Deepwood Motte to the location of Stannis' former camp — while the distances aren't that long, it is snowing all the way, so the march should actually be a bit too slow to be feasible.
    • On the other hand, Yara's party went all the way from the Iron Islands to Volantis between the last episode and this one... on wind-powered longships.
  • Troll: The Blackfish repeatedly jabs Jaime with some thorny facts and finally declares he only agreed to talk because sieges are boring and he wanted to assess his disappointing adversary.
  • Understatement: During her Tough Love approach, Yara mentions that she knows that Theon has had "some bad years". Theon can only repeat the statement with stunned incredulity.
    Theon: Some bad years?!
  • Undying Loyalty: Riverrun under the Blackfish is still loyal to King Robb Stark, dead or alive. Subverted with some of the other Northern houses as they're still mad at him for the death of their family members, and Zig-Zagged by House Mormont; initially, Lady Lyanna is reluctant to support their cause, but thanks to Davos she changes her mind and reaffirms the Mormonts' loyalty to House Stark.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Even Brother Ray doesn't seem sure how Sandor survived. He even brings up that his broken bone was piercing out of his skin yet he doesn't even limp.
  • Unreveal Angle: "Unreveal focus", actually: there is a close-up shot of the letter Sansa has written, but due to the very shallow focus used, only the sign-off "Sansa Stark" is legible.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: No one brings up the issue of a member of the Night's Watch, the Lord Commander no less, being involved in a matter of the realm. If they know he's dead, neither Lady Mormont or Lord Glover brings it up, either. Granted this had been some crazy years.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • While the High Sparrow's lecture towards Margery regarding her "duty" toward her husband may label him as a Straw Misogynist by today's standards, in the time before modern medicine and technology, the mortality rate was such that women really did need to have children at every opportunity. This was especially true for the royal families, since line of succession is all the more important and the show itself has shown what even a little doubt in that process can create.
    • Yara's drink-or-die approach to Theon's mental illness comes across as amazingly harsh, but considering how wildly out of step Ironborn culture is with that of the rest of Westeros, let alone the real world, it isn't surprising; the fact that Yara even broaches the subject candidly, without malice, is noteworthy on its own given the sort of world she comes from. Furthermore, it wasn't that long ago at all when real shellshocked soldiers, coming home from World War I through Vietnam, were given more or less the same advice by their own society. Until very recently PTSD wasn't even diagnosed, let alone treated, so her reaction isn't really surprising. Counts as Deliberate Values Dissonance, given it goes to show how divorced the Ironborn are from the concept of empathy that this is the best she can do. This probably counts for Westeros as a whole, as well, since it's unlikely the concept of PTSD is even understood there. Word of God from the showrunners in the Inside the Episode video is that they don't think medieval people, particularly the ironborn, really know what PTSD is - so they figured it was more realistic to show Yara being kind of rough ("she's not a psychotherapist"), though underneath she does care about Theon.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: The Hound's new community, including Brother Ray, gets eradicated in the same episode that introduces them.
  • Wham Shot: We open with a teaser featuring some smallfolk building what looks like a sept. One man approaches holding an entire log, sets it down, and the camera reveals this man is Sandor Clegane.
  • What Were You Thinking?: The Queen of Thorns says this to Cersei as she blames her for the return of the Faith Militant.
    Olenna: Our two ancient houses face collapse because of your stupidity.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Invoked by Olenna, who indicates she's perfectly willing to have her people beat the crap out of Septa Unella essentially for kicks.
    Olenna: [addressing Unella] You're not in your sanctuary now, my dear. All I have to do is whistle and my men will stroll in here and bash you about until I tell them to stop...if I tell them to stop. You could use a good bashing!
  • Yoko Oh No: Lord Glover confirms that the late Queen Talisa is mostly remembered by the Northerners as a "foreign whore" who turned their king into an idiot. To be fair, Robb was repeatedly warned marrying her was a stupid idea, but he didn't listen.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Yara gives Theon an inspirational speech with admonishments for him to drink his ale.

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