Vinnie: Let’s make like a tiny, 12-year old girl with the last name Mormont and dispense with the small talk.
Ben: Oooh, that wretched, impudent child. I was seething. “Lady Sansa is a Bolton… Or is she a Lannister? I’ve heard conflicting reports.” How DARE she? That bargain bin Arya! You don’t know what Sansa’s been through! You don’t know what she’s seen. Where’s Nanny Unella and her wooden ladle when you need her?!
Vinnie: To be fair, Lyannas in the Game of Thrones universe have always had notoriously fiery personality. And [flawlessly transitioning] speaking of fiery, Sandor “The Hound” Clegane is back and the possibilities, unlike Ian McShane’s contract with Game of Thrones, are endless.
But first, let’s talk about Mr. McShane himself, and the cosmic irony that he appeared in an episode, “The Broken Man,” that admittedly featured dozens of tits but absolutely ZERO dragons. As someone who has very little life outside of thinking about Game of Thrones, I feel super validated by that.
Ben: Why do actors talk? That’s all I could think about during those scenes too. To be fair, plenty of actors have expressed indifference to the show after their time on it — and he certainly brought that McShane swagger.
Vinnie: Dude is a fantastic actor, and watching his jovial not-Septon-Meribald pal around with a temporarily spayed Hound was a delight. He was like the anti-High Sparrow, in that A) My eyes didn’t glaze over like Bran having a Warg-seizure every second he was on screen, and B) He understands that whatever gods there are in the Game of Thrones’ universe give literal negative shits about the comings and goings of humans.
“There are plenty of pious sons of bitches that think they know they word of God.” Dang, Ray. It’s a shame he ended up deader than Deadwood before this episode ended, because they’re feeling that shade all the way from King’s Landing.
Ben: He’s completely the anti-High Sparrow! The Low Sparrow — which, let’s face it, is a better name than “Ray,” Which is the one he’s given here, not Meribald. They’re both genuinely devout but in completely different ways.
Kudos to this season for confirming the High Sparrow’s game without ever resorting to a maniacal laugh monologue from him. His threat of Lady Olenna and his new interest in Margaery giving Tommen an heir was enough for us to know that this man wants his power to continue now that the Faith and the Crown are incest-bond.
Oh, can we sidebar to acknowledge that Tommen basically told his pastor that his wife wasn’t putting out after the trauma of being in a dungeon for months? That is Duggaresque.
Vinnie: That was so classic Tommen, the scamp. “The King mentioned that since your reunion you haven’t joined him in the marriage bed. He’s mentioned it constantly. TBH, it’s all he talks about.” For real, though, the local Kings Landing blogs would have a think-piece field day if they caught wind of High Sparrow nuggets of wisdom like “congress does not require desire on the women’s part, only patience.”
It’s so perfectly on-point that Sandor Clegane is so fed up with all that Kings Landing fam-drama that he was content to chop wood in a field until he dies for real this time.
Ben: Um…hurray, everybody: Sandor Clegane is back… At long last…?
Vinnie: I used to have a neighbor who would go out and blow leaves every time he didn’t want to talk to his wife. Could have been the dead middle of summer, this dude was outside with his leaf blower and earmuffs, pretending the world didn’t exist. That’s Sandor Clegane. Fuck the king. Fuck the crown. Fuck duty. Just gonna’ chop this wood and occasionally have Deep Talks with the homicidal Santa Claus from American Horror Story season 2.
Ben: Honestly? I don’t care. He wasn’t a character I particularly needed more of even though I knew this was coming. His journey was tied with Arya and it seems like a long way back to getting them in the same scene again now. Maybe it’s the fact that we now have a giant clock on this entire world (2 shorter-than-usual seasons if we believe the rumors) but I was happy with him presumed dead or content plowing a field.
Vinnie: Well, he was perfectly content with field-plowing until those dudes from the Brotherhood Without Solid Motivations showed up and slaughtered the whole camp for. God, that was such flimsy writing. Was there any actual reason every single person had to be brutally murdered and Ian McShane had to be strung up like the world’s most disturbing Pirates of the Caribbean themed piñata, other than “we have some food and, like, six women?”
Ben: That was pretty weird. I’d get a good ole “we’ll come back at night and pillage you” but this ritualistic killing of everyone was a bit strange. They’re supposed to be petty thieves raiding the Riverlands and taking whatever they want but they seem to be serving the Lord of Light? Which means there’s probably *cough* something that has renewed their religious fervor. And it ain’t Beric. *wink*
Vinnie: But okay, Sandor is about to become DA HOUND again, which is…intriguing.
Ben: ...To some.
Vinnie: Because as everyone including me and all these Cleganebowl t-shirts I had printed (what’s your size again, Ben?) assumed, Clegane was just going to get recruited by the Seven to face his undead brother in a trial by combat. But, uh, everyone he knows associated with the Seven is dead now, but he IS headed to the Brotherhood without Banners. Who, in the books, are rolling with a totally different but equally zombie-like revenge-monster: Lady Stoneheart, formerly known as Catelyn Stark.
Ben: (Medium and I look phenomenal in red.) Dude, Stoneheart is definitely coming. They waited three seasons but everything — including the constant rehash of Robb’s sins and of the Red Wedding — feels like we’re headed that way. I’m not sure what the crowded field of the undead will do for us or if ending another season on yet another resurrection tease will have anyone on the edge of their seat, but I’m curious to see it.
Don’t forget about our Tyrrell girls in King’s Landing. Man, first Tommen and now the fanatics that she so poorly tried to use herself… Margaery keeps taking Cersei’s stuff away! I want to travel back in time to middle school and start a band named “Margaery’s Scheming Eyebrows.“
Vinnie: Oh man, can I play the shame bell?
Ben: I really couldn’t handle seeing Olenna tortured in the dungeons, so I’m glad she’s getting out of dodge after giving Cersei one last deserved licking.
Although, to be fair, QoT: you did preemptively assassinate Cersei’s son, Joffrey, at his wedding when he hadn’t done anything to you or your family. People in glass gardens, yo.
Vinnie: Over in the Riverlands, it was nice to see Bronn return the balls Jaime lost while tailing Cersei around King’s Landing like a pocket poodle for four episodes.
Ben: That was his golden hand he used to slap that ineffectual Frey, wasn’t it? That’s a collapsed septum right there.
Vinnie: Honestly, it warmed my heart to see that Jaime and Bronn are still buds, despite being involved in objectively the series’ worst storyline. That’s the bad pussy bond, the kind that lasts forever. (Are the Sand Snakes still locked in that boat? Haha, it doesn’t matter)
Ben: It’s not so much that they’re buds; Bronn is just forever trapped in a Lannister pyramid scheme where he’s always just one mission away from some actual profits. There’s a Trump University joke in there.
Vinnie: Even better, having the cocksure, quip-swinging Jaime Lannister of early GOT back was the perfect foil for stubborn-ass Brynden “Blackfish” Tully just farting in the general direction of any army outside Riverrrun. I loved Walder Frey’s sons trotting out Edmure Tully as if that was a character anyone’s thought about in four years, and the Blackfish just looking at them like:
Ben: There are family members you care about and then there are Edmures. They played the Blackfish a little closer to “senile old man who will die before he gives up his favorite park bench” than I would have liked… This storyline just feels so, I don’t know, artificially delayed? I didn’t feel that we hadn’t checked in with the Greyjoys for two years but I definitely feel it here.
Vinnie: Hey Ben, remember the months leading up to this season, when the hype surrounding Jon Snow burned so brightly that the dude up in that space station could tell whenever Kit Harington got a haircut? Am I wrong, or has Jon been kind of…the lamest?
Ben: Season 6 of Buffy did it better, for God’s sake. It literally hasn’t changed anything! He’s the exact same brooder as before except now with a manbun, which, historically has never been an improvement on anything. No depth has been added to his character, which feels really wasteful.
Vinnie: I mean, ever since that resurrection that we all saw coming, he’s managed to hang a small child, quit his job on a technicality, and fail spectacularly in building an army to take on Ramsay. There’s just been so much that’s bothered me about Jon this season. Little things.
Ben: …that manbun is enormous, Vincent.
Vinnie: Like, is he still sleeping in the Lord Commander’s chambers even though he quit he Night’s Watch? As a Night’s Watch member sleeping nightly in a literal meat locker next to a Great Wall of China-sized ice cube, I’d think that’s some major B.S,, and I’m not talking “bastard son.”
And, as a Wildling, I would NOT buy Tormund’s reasoning behind joining Jon’s fight. “He died for us…if we’re not willing to do the same for him, were cowards” Uhhhhhhhh no. No, no, no. Unless I have it in writing that Melisandre is willing to bring my ass back from the dead, should I perish storming the impenetrable walls of an evil goblin-monster that skins people alive, this situation is not nearly comparable Tormund. I know you’re all hopped up on Brienne lust and Wyndham Rewards, but you’re talking nonsense here.
Ben: Apparently, even Melisandre is over it. Where even is she? She was way more fanatical over Stannis who she DIDN’T bring back to life. This one, she’s just, eh, seeing how it will play out. “You go recruit: I’ll be taking off my necklace support bra in my tent.”
Vinnie: Meanwhile, Sansa is sending out distress ravens like someone today sends out #Reply Tweets, because she is a Queen, she is a Stark, and she is not cool with the idea of throwing 62 Mormonts and one giant against the walls of Winterfell like the junior-varsity version of Stannis’ army last season.
Ben: Remember: she turned Littlefinger and the knights of the Vale away two episodes ago. I’m guessing that was a backtrack to everyone’s favorite creepy uncle/lover. I do like that she and Jon are portrayed as two very different strategic thinkers here but, oh, Sansa… I worry so about you.
Vinnie: Does anyone else get the feeling the Faceless Men are way less clever at assassinating people than they so obviously think? Follow-up Q: Can anyone tell me what advantage the Waif gained by taking the time to put on the makeup from Robert Egger’s The Witch and calling Arya a “dear girl” as opposed to, you know, just stabbing her while she stared at the river? Nevertheless, if Arya truly does die she…really kind of deserves it?
Ben: What? …NO, you monster!
Vinnie: Come on, girl. You just betrayed a secret murder society who, despite having suspect planning skills and a shoddy training program, are definitely masters of disguise. Don’t go walking around all willy-nilly during the daytime, acting like people don’t get murdered in the Braavos marketplace every single day.
Ben: First off, we’re talking about a secret murder society of exactly two people. Her odds were pretty good. Two seasons in, we’ve only seen two actual members and some cleaning staff. I don’t know why that bugs me so much, but it really does.
Beyond her cartoonish resilience to being chived, I really liked how that scene ended. It’s the first time that we get the sense that she is in a completely foreign land where she can’t trust a single face. I love scenes that occasionally remind us of the books’ first person perspective. Arya is truly alone, mortally wounded, and it’s terrifying–even though we already know she’s not going to die.
Vinnie: Yeah, Arya’s definitely not going to die. I’m thinking either she runs right into the care of that acting troupe and Lady Crane, who we spent way too much time with last week for them not to reappear. Or, OR–and I’d recommend getting out your finest tin foil for this portion of today’s recap, ladies and gents–she ends up in the care of some Lord of Light followers, and we just go ahead and mash together Lady Stoneheart and Arya into one, sort-of-trained undead Stark zombie with a revenge-list a couple of names long.
Ben: Arya triumphs over the Waif, and the season ends with her on a boat on her way back to Westeros. Along with Tyrion and Dany — and Jon — she’s not a character whose longevity or triumph you have to worry about. It’s still fun to watch, though.
Vinnie: Speaking of fun, I enjoyed Yara Greyjoy doing a spot-on impression of my ex-girlfriend by screaming “drink the ale!” and mocking someone’s inadequate genitalia.
Ben: I, um, wow… I don’t get paid nearly enough to deal with this. Stick to the material, Mancuso. So, those Ironborns, uh?
Vinnie: You’re the Yara to my Theon as always, Ben. But I do have to call into question the cavalier attitude of the Greyjoy siblings, which is almost Arya-levels of naively confident. Yara, uh, you do know that a fleet of massive ships with krakens on the sail is the exact opposite of inconspicuous, right? And you are aware that your uncle Euron, now literally your king, is some sort of super-pirate/possible-warlock who probably knows what towns you like to stop in to get your prostitute fix, correct?
Ben: That’s your bookreader coming through. This definitely isn’t the book’s Euron: There’s no super-pirate, magical horn, or blue-lipped shenanigans at play here. He’s just another Greyjoy that talks too much about his cock.
Yara: “I know you’ve had some bad years… but I’m tired of watching you cower like a beat dog.”
Oh, my god, yes. Preach, you prostitute nipple nibbler. Finally. Theon’s guilt over these two nameless farmer boys had gotten truly ridiculous. How many nameless farmer boys die per episode? We lost like 17 in this episode! Nobody cares. Let it go.
Although, yet again, I’m back to wondering what Theon looks like down there. Does the scar tissue get pinker when he’s aroused?
Vinnie: There’s a lot of questions I want answered in Winds of Winter and that…is not one of them.
But no, it’s cool Yara, you’ll probably be fine. Keep sailing to Meereen. I’m sure Daenerys Targaryen–whose family is known for being insane and burning people to death with their fire dinosaurs–will be uber pumped to see you.
Ben: Well, she needs 1,000 ships if you hadn’t heard.
Vinnie: Speaking of Dany…did we miss her? Did we miss the Dothraki? Anyone out there having a tough Monday because you didn’t get your weekly verbose Dany speech from atop a dragon?
Ben: Eh. I’m curious to see what Dany does next, which can’t be said of the first half of her season. (Unlike Bran, who can just keep drinking rabbit blood, off-map.) It’ll be interesting to see her, presumably Tyrion, and some Greyjoys interact… and I do wonder how she’ll speechify her logic in bailing on Meereen.
Vinnie: Probably exactly like this –
Dany [on a dragon]: I sort of just needed a vacation! Fire! Boats!
10,000 Dothraki [clearly not understanding]: Yeahhhhhhharghhhhh!