Each week, twins Adam and David Shimer analyze the latest episode of Game of Thrones from the perspective of a non-book reader. This week they discuss “The Broken Man,” but first they would like to assign some weekly awards:
Tywin Lannister Memorial Award for Best Political Maneuvering: Ten year-old Lyanna Mormont dominating her conversation with the Stark ‘rebel leaders.’
Honorable Mention: ‘Pious’ Margaery’s smooth note passing.
Eddard Stark Memorial Award for Worst Political Maneuvering: The witless Frey duo can make anyone seem clever, even Sansa and Jon.
Honorable Mention: Arya focusing on a pretty view rather than on how to avoid the master-of-disguise assassins that she betrayed 5 seconds ago.
Brandon Stark Award for Most Boring Storyline: Theon’s soul searching.
Honorable Mention: The Glover soap opera.
Jaime Lannister’s Right Hand Award for Best Fight Sequence: The Waif Talisa-ing Arya (Talisa-ing = a stab in the stomach from behind).
Honorable Mention: The Hound effortlessly chopping firewood with a perfect combination of grace and aggression.
AS: The High Sparrow has outmaneuvered many of King’s Landings’ finest — Cersei, Jaime, Olenna — not to mention the Lord of Highgarden himself, Mace Tyrell. But it appears that Margaery has found a way to manipulate the High Sparrow, just like she did with Renly, Joffrey and Sansa. Cersei could not escape her Walk of Atonement last season, but Margaery managed to do so not through the use of a powerful army, but by playing the game. She knows how to read people, which has allowed her, at least for now, to gain the confidence of the High Sparrow. Olenna used to enjoy explaining her grand schemes to Margaery, but now their roles have reversed. After examining Margaery’s crumpled note, a confused Olenna finally realized that the Tyrell house remains her top priority. While Margaery plots, however, Cersei continued to bumble around, desperate for friends in a city that, as Olenna described it, is filled with thousands of her enemies. It was fitting that the Cersei and Olenna scene began directly after Tormund said, “we’re not clever like you southerners, we say we’ll do something and we do it.” Without Tyrion and Tywin around to pull the strings, Cersei’s plots have backfired one by one. So it is hard to disagree with Olenna’s statement that Cersei has lost, especially since she said it while scribbling away on parchment — a move out of Tywin’s playbook.
DS: In an episode focused on “broken men,” Cersei stood out. She wanted to be a man, to lead, throughout the first few seasons. But many wars and deaths later, she has lost her spirit. And unlike Theon, the Hound, and others, she has shown few signs of regaining her former self. These days Cersei always appears close to tears, and she keeps making avoidable mistakes. As Olenna noted, although Jaime loves Cersei, she let him depart for Riverrun without putting up a fight. Maybe she wanted to put distance between her lover and the dangers she has created. Maybe that is giving her too much credit. Cersei must know that her life is at risk — Olenna made sure of that — and yet she refuses to leave King’s Landing. The only thing keeping Cersei going is worst-king-of-all-time Tommen of the House Baratheon, whose days are more numbered than hers. At this point, death would be a relief for the Queen Mother.
AS: Speaking of broken men, the Hound is back! What an exciting reappearance and priming for him to reenter the fray. The Wise Man’s message about giving up violence for a quiet life of good works and pacifism was nice, but it’s never a good sign in this show when there is an innocent group of men chopping wood and women ladling soup during the day, followed by everyone gathering for quiet story and self-reflection time. That whole fairytale was going to last about as long as it took for Ned to die and Jon to come back to life. The Wise Man’s message about living peacefully came in an episode in which everyone else was preparing for violence. Jaime began his siege of Riverrun, Sansa and Jon scoured the North for an army, and Yara plotted against her uncle. It is ironic that for all the people getting ready to fight, the only ones that actually experienced violence this episode (other than the girl that used to have no name) were those that were only seeking to “bring a little goodness into the world.”
DS: Sansa has another goal in mind: to stamp out evil from the world. Considering her past weaknesses, Sansa has done an impressive job so far this season. It would be unfair to expect her to rally tens of thousands of soldiers instantaneously, or to make the right move at every turn. Should she have turned Littlefinger down secretly before rushing back into his arms rashly? Probably not. But she also has amassed an impressive list of accomplishments — escaping from Winterfell, finding her brother, convincing him to retake their home, and standing up to lords much older and experienced than she. Back when Sansa travelled with Littlefinger, the showrunners loved to talk about how much he had taught her. I didn’t buy it. But I do believe that with each passing episode, a liberated Sansa is truly developing into a leader, both fiercer and wiser than Catelyn.
AS: Random Thoughts —
-Jaime entering Riverrun and declaring that he was in charge of the siege was like one of those movies when the FBI shows up and pretentiously takes over a hostage situation.
-This may have been the least violent episode ever in terms of actual action.
-Olenna’s jabs at Cersei used to at least be subtle — nothing demonstrates Cersei’s fall from grace more than the Queen of Thorn’s ability to call her “truly vile” with no repercussions.
-Did anyone recognize the actor playing the Wise-Pacifist-Man who saved the Hound? It’s because he was the bad guy in Agent Cody Banks.
-The Hound said hate kept him alive — hate for whom? Arya? Definitely not. Brienne? Maybe. The Mountain? Far more likely.
-Brienne is currently on a top-secret diplomatic mission to Riverrun, which is where Jaime happens to be leading a siege. Reunion here we come!
-This season has included a host of new, awesome characters — ten year-old Mormont girl, the actress that plays Cersei in the acting troupe, and Sam’s mean father. (Honorable mentions: Euron Greyjoy, the Hound’s mentor this episode, and Jon Snow 2.0)
-Bronn is finally back — inexcusable that it took seven episodes.
-It is anxiety-inducing that Ramsay hasn’t appeared in so long.
M.I.A. this episode: Bran and Benjen, Tyrion and Varys, Dany and Daario, Gilly and Sam, Tommen, Ramsay, Brienne, Dorne, Rickon, Littlefinger, and Drogon (he wasn’t needed for an over-the-top speech this episode)
Not M.I.A. The Hound!!