As the final hours of Game of Thrones Season 6 begin to unfold, we are now having to savour every moment of the Seven Kingdoms upon our screens.

Following last week’s sensational spell – “Blood of My Blood” (full review here) – which saw a long-lost resident of House Stark emerge from the dark night, this week’s outing is furthering the longevity and nobility of the great Northern name.

After much emotional turmoil and signature gut-punches, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss brilliantly shift the pace with this seventh encounter; enabling “The Broken Man” to heighten narrative details, render our ever-developmental characters, and bring back some faces you’ve so sorely missed.

Oh, and talking about savouring moments…the very best of this episode really is saved until last.


The Title: “The Broken Man”

What Does It Mean?

The Riverlands are integral to this season, serving as the building block for a vast quantity of progressive storylines. We claim our title this from a particular resident who has found work and sanctuary just shy of the unfolding drama at Riverrun: the one and only Sandor “The Hound” Clegane.

Left for dead by Brienne of Tarth and Arya Stark, “The Hound” has failed to make an appearance in Season 6 thus far, but his return here is entirely timely. We find him stationed with Ian McShane’s unorthodox septon and his followers who are building a sept – a Westerosi church – in the plush green land. The septon discovered Sandor following his bitter defeat, where the cold hand of death was only inches away.

He nursed him back to better health, and has enabled the good in this often cold warrior to surface. He is however, a broken man. Beaten, detached and vulnerable.


The honour in “The Hound” is quick to fade however following an altercation with brigands from the Brotherhood without Banners. Itching and ready for a bout, the septon talks down that fearsome rage; a decision he and his flock will forever regret.

Attending to his axe as he chops firewood, Clegane hears horrifying cries from the village, and returns to find every man, woman and child slain. Peppered with arrows, littered with stab wounds. It is a massacre. And the crowning jewel in this monument of horrors is the kind-spirited leader hanging from a noose in the sept framework.

Eyes burning with vengeance and hate, he pulls a nearby hatchet and storms onwards. Those days of chopping wood have ended, and maybe, just maybe, our hopes and desires for “Cleganebowl” will happen after all…


Most Shocking Moment:

We must head downstream to Braavos to unveil this week’s most slack-jawed sequence, which interestingly precedes the previously discussed.

Following the events of “Blood of My Blood”, a girl is no more. Arya Stark did not complete her mission assigned by Jaqen H’ghar, she is not – nor ever – going to become truly Faceless, and she gathered “Needle”. Unfortunately for her, training partner / unhinged psychotic The Waif caught her in the act backstage.

Using her confidence and street smarts, she talks a fellow Westerosi into placing her upon his ship which is departing in the coming days. Tossing bags of stolen coins into his reach, she proclaims that she doesn’t want to merely board the boat: she wants a cabin, and that he’ll be leaving at dawn.

Her strutting and swagger does her little good however as she is soon approached by an old women. Smiling and accommodating, she comes towards Arya bearing a gift; one which she most certain does not want.

Disguised as an old hag, The Waif plunges a dagger into her stomach three times, flushing back harrowing memories of her elder brother Robb Stark’s wife at the Red Wedding. Fighting for her life as her trainer pulls off the face and reveals herself, Arya climbs over the bridge wall and tumbles into the flowing waters below.


We hang patiently as a cloud of claret red bubbles to the surface, but a girl does not.

Thankfully, it is too soon for Arya to die: even by Game of Thrones standards. After panicking, she pops up a distance away from her drop zone and gathers her bleeding body onto a stairwell.

Drenched, suffering, and most importantly, anxious, Arya passes through the waves of Braavos market-goers and residents, flinching at every passer by. Which one is The Waif? Which one is Jaqen? Just how many of these so-called townspeople could be Faces from The House of Black and White? The tension is palpable.

This brutal and shocking scene serves as a chilling reminder that we cannot assume anything in this show. The common notion was that Arya would of course flee The House and not entirely commit her allegiance, but that she would kill The Waif too. Whilst this still very much could happen, she is not invincible, and a seriously dangerous presence is hot on her tail. That ship really does need to leave the dock at dawn…


Biggest Agenda:

A journey back to the Riverlands is required now. All landscapes across the Seven Kingdoms are ferocious and complex: the politics of place, legacy and leadership are what render the many houses so densely, and few this week are quite as impactful as the land of Catelyn Tully.

The Tully banner was proudly raised alongside Robb Stark’s when he was the King in the North; a reign brought to a bitter close at the Red Wedding. Both houses were ravaged by the same betrayal when House Bolton and Frey orchestrated the slaughter, killing the King and the King’s Mother, and taking Catelyn’s brother Edmure hostage.

But in the wake of such horror, Catelyn’s uncle, the Blackfish, has returned and retaken Riverrun. Arriving at the foot of the castle simultaneously, Ser Jamie Lannister, Bronn (yes Bronn is back! Rejoice!) and his army are met by a gaggle of unorganised and totally clueless Frey soldiers.


When one of the Frey men threatens to cut Edmure’s throat if the Blackfish fails to vacate the castle, he merely scoffs and wanders off, telling him to do it. He is calling their bluff and engaging his power play.

Jaime gets a little further as he is at least granted a conversation. The Blackfish lowers his drawbridge and allows the “Kingslayer” to advance. The Lannister reminds Tully that the castle belongs to the Freys, and if he and his men do not exit the grounds, iron will be drawn.

Fearless and thoughtful, the Blackfish shuts him down brilliantly. This is a man whose allegiance to place – to the castle itself – runs deeper than sentiment. He’d rather see the Tully name and legacy go down fighting with honour, with dignity, rather than simply surrendering to the Freys.

With Brienne on her way to Riverrun too, ready to pledge allegiance to the Blackfish in the fight against Ramsay Bolton in Winterfell, the ever-shifting momentum here continues.


Best Overall Moment:

As we have mentioned before this season, we are seeing the true resurgence of House Stark; building from the embers of past horrors and heartaches. They must reclaim their rightful home from the grasp of Ramsay at whatever cost. In order to do this successfully, former Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch Jon Snow needs an army.

His loyal friends – and publicly loathed – Wildlings have joined the fight, and now he and sister Sansa Stark, alongside Ser Davos Seaworthy must rally the fellow Northern houses and ensure they pledge to fight for the true house.

But really, the fight ahead isn’t actually all about slaying the living: it’s about keeping the dead buried. We’ve seen them already this season, and the impact of Hardhome is forever imprinted on the brain. The Night’s King and the dead are coming.

The trio arrive at House Mormont and must negotiate with their tough and no-nonsense leader; Lady Lyanna Mormont, who cannot be anything older than ten years.


Despite her youth, she is feisty and intelligent, not filtered from the nightmarish landscapes they all reside within. She is not willing to sacrifice her men for the sake of another’s war. Both Jon and Sansa burn in her intensity – with her sharply commenting on Sansa’s evolutionary surname. “I’m pretty sure you’re a Bolton, or perhaps a Lannister. I can never tell” she scorns.

Ironically – and beautifully intrinsic to his connectivity with Stannis Baratheon’s late daughter Shireen (who taught him how to read) – Ser Davos is able to chill the preteen inferno. He explains to her that the war is with those who should remain buried, how this war isn’t theirs, but everyone’s, and that if House Mormont’s men are as vicious as she, the Boltons will stand no chance.

She embraces Seaworth’s way, and grants her wagons to the Starks, even if they only gain a mere 62 men from the exchange. The overall number of fighting men in Jon’s army is significantly inferior to that of House Bolton, and Sansa fears for their success; so much so that she writes a letter, sealed with the wolf of her name and preps it for a raven. That message is only going to one singular source: “Littlefinger”.


The Verdict:

Although not as break-neck as last week’s episode, “The Broken Man” was still as riveting, thrilling and enticing as any hour this season.

The deep-rooted connections that span the North, and the endlessly-progressive landscape that is the Riverlands serve as two of the most profound in all the Realm. What is bound to unfold in these locations in the final three episodes will be remarkable I’m sure.

Plus the return of “The Hound” and Bronn was so vastly welcomed, leaving Arya so openly vulnerable was deeply harrowing, and we even bared witness to Theon Greyjoy being forced to drink a pint of ale by his sister whilst she gets her jollies in a brothel. That wasn’t a sentence we expected to pen…

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Chris Haydon
Chris' love affair with cinema started years ago when school teachers would moan to his parents that he spends too much time quoting & not enough working. He has a degree in Film Studies now so how do you like those apples past teachers and doubters? Despite being a romancer of all things Woody Allen & Michael Haneke, Chris has favourite films in the majority of genres and is a complete sucker for bumbling indie types. He's also prone to gazing at beautiful actresses - particularly Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence & Scarlett Johansson - for overly long periods of time. Just thought we'd warn you ladies...