Sandor Clegane (The Hound) is seen helping a small group of people build and live outside of the violent kingdoms, led by a man (Ian McShane) who desires peace. When a band of Red Guard arrive and kill the group, the Hound decides to enter that violent world once more. In the North, Jon, Sansa, and Davos convince the Wildlings and the Mormont family to join them against Ramsey, however the Glover family refuses leaving Sansa to send a secret letter, presumably to Littlefinger for help. Across the sea, Arya books passage to return to Westeros but is attacked by the waif but escapes, though she’s seriously injured. At King’s Landing, Margaery convinces Olenna to return home with a hidden message that she’s still a Tyrell at heart even though she’s acting a part with the High Sparrow. At a port, Yara convinces Theon to be the man he once was as she plans to take her fleet to Daenerys first before Euron in hopes of an alliance. At Riverrun, Jaime and Bronn arrive and parlay with the Blackfish who intends to keep his castle no matter what, leaving Jaime with no choice but to take it as ordered.
No doubt everyone will be doing a song and dance as the Hound makes his triumphant return, a very popular theory that has now been spoiled by the show. This leads of course to the internet’s determination that he’ll eventually find his way back to King’s Landing and take down his brother, the zombie knight when Cersei’s trial by combat goes down. If that’s not unspoken vengeance for the Red Viper to have at this season finale, I don’t know what else would work. Tonight’s episode goes through the motions in convincing us that Jon is struggling to gain his army and Sansa, though pushy, is also desperate to make sure they succeed. It’s unfortunate she’s calling on to Littlefinger after what she put him through and I can only fathom how this may backfire on her in the future. Arya’s attack had all the elements of a crazy moment, yet her survival seems off considering the amount of short stabbings she took and is still walking. It stands to reason she’ll recover, but it feels like there’s something else going on.
The Hound’s return is something of a prophecy built in part by Martin’s clues spread out in the last two books. It’s daunting when you don’t see a character die and have to put up with years of wondering if he or she is truly dead. In this case, we see a transformed man, someone who is genuinely trying to be a part of something non-violent, and like most stories of this nature, he’s dragged back into it by those who never change. And when he picked that axe up, you knew a bloody massacre will soon follow. If we’re fortunate enough, he’ll carve his path back to King’s Landing when he learns of his brother’s mysterious acceptance into the King’s Guard. Or maybe he’ll just end up there again because he’s got nowhere else to go. Either way, he indeed has a purpose left to fulfill.
Giving the Greyjoy’s a race is something that they needed as their escape from the Iron Islands didn’t leave them with a lot of options to find a conceivable purpose in the war to come. This way, they can find Dany first, and whether they do or not will be interesting because they’ll be crossing paths with characters they’ve never met before. Theon and Tyrion have met, albeit in brief moments back book 1/season 1, that’s about the only connection there will be. If Euron gets there first, which is unlikely as his fleet still has a lot building it needs to go through. Yet, Yara doesn’t have a thousand ships. Will she be able to convince Dany to sail back to Westeros with barely half that amount? Tough call to make given the short amount of time this show has left.
Cersei is in a bad spot and she knows it, yet Olenna won’t give her the time of day which also puts Margary in her path, as usual, something that still hasn’t culminated into a finale which I’m hoping draws to some conclusion by this finale. I would hope it’s safe to say that the political and religious conflict surrounding the Tyrells and Lannisters needs to wrap up in order to make room for more pressing plots and concerns. Cersei’s trial will still merit a grand event, but it’s not about her for us, it’s about vengeance over what happened to the Red Viper as well as vengeance for anyone who had been wronged by Cersei ever. Olenna had the right things to say and said them at the right time. She has to look out for her own family and can’t lie in bed with the enemies any longer.
That initial shot of seeing the Hound. This season has given us moment after moment of positive energy, something very against the grain of how they tend to draw us in. Whether it leads to a darker finale than we’re used to seeing we simply don’t know, but seeing the Hound return was a catharsis of events that we as viewers appreciate. He wasn’t forgotten and now he’s back with a purpose.
It should go to the Hound, simply because he really did try and form a new life for himself, something against his own nature given the amount of freedom he had. He was simply too broken and injured to remain selfish and self-absorbed. Now it doesn’t matter because the peace was taken away from him as easily as a life. How he’ll return to his old ways we don’t know yet, but if he ever finds his old armor and helmet, he’ll be riding into King’s Landing with it so he can finally face his zombie brother.
It’s good that they showed us that Jon still has a giant on his team. He’ll make a tremendous impact with the fight to come, and though I imagine he’ll be taken out by the conclusion, I’m glad they still offered to show us they had a powerful and large ally.
Littlefinger’s inclusion into Jon’s plot should be more complicated than it seems to be as we don’t have definitive proof that Ramsey wrote the letter to Jon in the first place. If that doesn’t matter then Littlefinger still has to decide if his support should cost something, namely a position in the new house or something even grander. If everything goes south, he’ll reveal he’s already sided with Ramsey and that will lead to a Stark betrayal if you know what I mean.
This can still lead to a surprise alliance with Dorne if the sun-sisters are anyone to be trifled with. I can’t expect they’d travel that far north to help out, but I could see them taking King’s Landing after Olenna and the Tyrell army leave the premises. Who would be left to defend the kingdom? Olenna made sure to tell us and Cersei that she had no more allies and everyone was against her. That’s not food for thought, that’s a foretelling that things are inevitably going to get worse for her.
Deciphering the conundrum at Riverrun is tough. Jaime is looking for a peaceful solution, but Blackfish Tully is having none of that and even condemns Jaime for seeming too civil to begin with. Jaime could swallow his pride or he could also storm the castle and see what the troops are really made of. It’s probably something we won’t witness, but given Brienne still hasn’t arrived there yet, I have to imagine her reunion with Jaime will be the catalyst for whether or not Jaime truly stays a villain, or sides with the north and helps Jon take Winterfell. This could be crucial.
Where Arya will end up is also anyone’s guess. Until now, I always figured she would accept her new role, becomes a faceless assassin and find her way back to Westeros under a new identity and mission to kill someone familiar. Now, that theory is out the window, unless her killing of the Waif is and always was a test, far greater then simply being told to assassinate someone. That’s by the book, that has a tactical checklist, but here, she has to be resourceful and cunning on her own. Why wouldn’t that be the true test that Jaqen set on her? The Waif is likely going through the same ordeal as the two are lobbying for the same spot. I don’t think Arya will fail, but I also don’t think she’ll just leave as she is now without truly transforming into this new master-assassin character. Nor do I think her injuries will kill her. That’s be just cruel and mean to the audience far worse than Jon, okay maybe “as” bad.
8 out of 10. Glad to see the Hound back. Cersei is continuing to reap what she sow, Jon and Sansa are struggling to gain their allies as expected, Jaime is under the gun to do as he’s told, and Arya is fighting for her life and in great danger. We’re making great steps and every episode has been pushing us through a relatively harmless yet exciting season. By not knowing what’s going to happen, we’re always on the edge of our seats, cheering when he made the right theory and booing when they decide to kill someone else we liked. It’s a great time to be a fan of the show, and though it still feels slow, you can rest assured the last two episodes will hopefully be more epic than any season we’ve witnessed thus far. Get hyped and thanks for reading.
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