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SPOILER WARNING: If you have not watched Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 7: “The Broken Man,” do not read on.

“The Broken Man” is a brisk, compact episode of Game of Thrones, bringing fan favourite characters back from presumed purgatory, and acts as a focused entry in a season that has been packed with a conglomerate of story lines.

Sandor Clegane, aka The Hound, returns, still ugly as ever, brutish and invincible while slightly honorable. He is traveling around the Riverlands with a mercenary turned religious leader named Brother Ray — played by grizzled veteran actor, Ian McShane. Ray found The Hound half dead after his battle with Brienne and took him in. Both men appear to understand each other. They’re both fighters by nature.

A trio of men belonging to the Brotherhood Without Banners threatens Ray’s group; The Hound warns their weary, born-again leader that the Brotherhood will return and potentially harm them, but Ray swears to never use violence again. As Sandor sips water at a near-by river, he hears bloodcurdling screams in the distance. Brother Ray’s camp has been slaughtered — Ray himself swings back and forth, his dead eyes are frozen in a bulging, horrified look. The Hound gives that ferocious look we’ve always known before he picks up an axe and heads off, surely going after the murderers who killed off his rescuer.

And that’s all there was to The Hounds return, unsubstantial, albeit focused, like much of “The Broken Man.” We didn’t see The Hound’s body after Arya left him behind, and in a show like Game of Thrones, a character that’s left to die off-screen won’t be dying at all. Especially a brute like The Hound, he’s been burned, stabbed, slashed and beaten. But he keeps coming back. And it’s damn nice to see him. Where will his story will go now? How he will play a part in the endgame of the series? It’s anyone’s guess. Still, I can’t wait to see him hack away at folks in the coming episodes.

On the topic of characters defying death, Arya slips up in Braavos and ends up repeatedly stabbed by the Waif. She seems chipper, ready to sail back to Westeros and live it up, but she lets her guard down before the Faceless Men attempt to snuff out the young Stark girl. She barely makes it out alive, jumps into a river and limps around Braavos disoriented, paranoid and alone. The chances of her dying are nil, she’ll likely fall into the lap of a random saviour like Bran did last week when he met with Benjen Stark. Killing Arya off would be a shock and awe gambit for the writers, but I don’t see why it can’t happen. She’s not that important anymore, and hasn’t been for quite a while.

Jaime and Bronn (Welcome back, Bronn!) confront the Blackfish at Riverrun, just in time to see the Frey’s idiotic attempt at bluffing the old Tully warrior. They threaten to cut Edmure throat if the Blackfish doesn’t surrender the castle, but it seems the rightful Lord of Riverrun has no attachment to poor Edmure, and encourages them to kill their only bargaining tool. Jaime takes full control of the siege and meets with the Blackfish. After a long, threatening conversation, the Blackfish vows to die in his home, no matter the cost, telling Jaime that, although the Tully’s would lose hundreds of men, the Lannister’s will lose thousands in a brutal siege that could last years.

In the North, Sansa and Jon have a difficult run at convincing the other Houses to join them in taking back Winterfell. They manage to convince the Wildlings, and the small, yet proud House Mormont, which is lead by the youthful, charismatic Lyanna Mormont. Unfortunately, House Mormont can only offer them 65 fighting men. House Glover still remembers King Robb’s failure, and coldly refuse to join Sansa and Jon. Sansa is last seen writing a letter to an unknown party, probably Littlefinger, in a last desperate attempt for a bigger army.

Although the situation at King’s Landing can’t possibly get worse, Queen Margaery appears to be fooling the High Sparrow. She convinces her grandmother Olenna Tyrell to leave King’s Landing before the Sparrows can capture her, reassuring us that she is not a brainwashed extremist.

Cersei refuses to leave, she wants to protect her son, but even King Tommen is now her enemy. It’s hard to not feel for Cersei, even though she brought all this on herself with her wickedness, I’m beginning to root for her and Jaime. It is them against the world. A world full of cultish fools, wights, axe-wielding Hounds, and Dragon Queens.

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About Nicholas Olsen

Nicholas Olsen is a journalist operating out of Toronto, Ontario. He has held a passion for movies ever since his father showed him Pulp Fiction back in the late 90s. Since then he's been devouring films whenever he can, using his background in writing to appreciate the arts on a critical level.

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