Sandor is alive. No big surprise. What is a surprise, is that the “Hound” isn’t dead. There’s no Elder Brother or Septon Meribald. Instead, once again, the show abandons book material and we get Ian McShane with the show-only character Brother Ray. He gives a speech to his…I don’t know…murderers anonymous group? It’s fine, but I prefer the broken men speech given by Septon Meribald to Brienne, Hyle Hunt and Pod. What’s more, the Hound is, as I mentioned, still the Hound. There are hints as to his past deeds and behaviors, but in the end, any chance of Sandor Clegane taking a new, peaceful path, is thrown out when a perverted version of the Brotherhood Without banners shows up.
Predictability ensues. Lem Lemoncloak is a member of the Brotherhood Without Banners, a group previously led by Lord Beric. They roam the Riverlands protecting small-folk from groups like the Brave Companions (they chopped off Jamie’s hand), and soldiers. That is, until Lady Stoneheart becomes their leader. She turns the Brotherhood into her own personal army of revenge, seeking out anyone involved in the Red Wedding, as well as anyone who is or is associated with, the Lannister’s and Frey’s. The only way the Brotherhood would have murdered those people is at her command, never under Beric. Hanging Brother Ray also points to a LSBwB, as hanging is her preferred method. I guess we wait and see.
Oh yeah, how can that many people end up slaughtered, with only one scream heard? And by the looks of the bodies, no one tried to escape.
On to King’s Landing. No surprise, Marg is faking her devotion. After a disgusting encounter with the High Sparrow discussing her lack of sexual desire for the King was the main topic, and her Grandmother’s possible punishment was the second, Marg was able to warn Olenna to leave KL, despite Septa Unella never leaving her side. She slipped the Queen of Thorns a drawing of a rose after asking her to leave the city. Olenna later met with Cersei, who admitted all of her sins, but also declined to leave KL when Olenna gave her a bit of sage advice after giving her a dressing down. Now, in the novels, Marg is still locked up, and her future is unknown. If she is released, it probably won’t be due to devotion. I don’t expect Marg to survive. As for Loras, well, in the novels he has been badly injured and is apparently on deaths door. Whether or not that is a rumor, I can’t say. However, on the show, I expect that he may be the Champion of the Seven, and will die fighting UnGregor.
One of the highlights of the episode was the return of the Blackfish. It’s very close to the book, in all regards except for Jamie and everything to do with his character. Jamie does travel to Riverrun. The Frey’s are constantly threatening to hang Edmure, and Jamie does despise the Frey’s. In the novels, Bronn is not with Jamie, and Jamie is not hell-bent on returning to KL to be with his precious Cersei. It’s the exact opposite of this. He has refused Cersei after finding out about her numerous affairs (she is the only person he has ever been with), refuses to be her champion against the Faith, and does not threaten to kill as many Starks and Tullys as it takes to return to her. He actually makes appoint in stating he promised Cat that he would never take up arms against the Tullys or Starks. In the novels, he is on a road to redemption, so to speak. On the show, Bronn suggests Jamie challenge the Blackfish to a duel. In the novels, Jamie suggests a duel, and Blackfish turns it down, as he doesn’t trust Jamie to keep his word if he wins. He wants to go out with as much Lannister blood on his sword as possible. It’s evident he is ready to die if need be, and so are his men. At least this made it to the show.
Next up- the North does not remember. While Bella Ramsey as the young leader, Lady Lyanna of House Mormont, is a delight, in the novels her mother Maege is still alive, as is Alysanne, her older sister (who leads troops to join Stannis). In the novels, Deepwood Motte is now held by Stannis, and the Glovers are in support of Stannis. However, it is Davos who is party to the North remembers speech, but it is while visiting the Maderly’s in order to garner support for Stannis. The Manderly’s fake-behead Davos, and we learn Wyman, aided by Robett Glover, is secretly planning something. Wyman Manderly then sends Davos to Skaagos to find Rickon. So while he is playing a very important part in the Stark’s heir returning to Winterfell, it is for Stannis, not Jon. Jon is definitely relying on Davos here, which is not something book Jon would need to do- yet. In the novels, Jon is a close advisor to Stannis, completely capable. Not here. They have completely skipped over the mountain clans. Jon dismissing Sansa’s request to travel to castle Cerwyn, because they don’t have enough time, is just another example of how there was plenty of book material left for the show to use, there was never a need to rush past the books. Both the mountain clans and the Cerwyn’s would have lent support, as they do in the novels. There wasn’t even mention of the Bolton’s flaying the family Lord Cerwyn and his wife. Of course they would want revenge! This allows the false tension between Sansa and Jon to build, as she takes this as an opportunity to reach out to LF.
What about Rickon? These houses are blasting them for not being Starks, and they leave out a freaking male Stark of Winterfell in their pleas? And the fact that not only is he alive, but Bran, the actual freaking heir, is as well? Why not mention that? Why? What about the letter? They bring up her marriages as well. Sansa was forced to marry Tyrion, but she did willingly travel to Winterfell and married Ramsay, that can’t be disputed. However, her torture and rape make none of that a valid argument in a case against Sansa or the Starks. Oh, and had they brought up the letter, anyone doubting which house Sansa belongs to would have been informed that Sansa took off.
And where is Ghost? Remember when Robb was trying to get the North behind him as King? Who was at his side backing people the eff up off of Robb? Greywind. Ugggghhh. For now, Jon has Wildlings and a handful of houses that are small in number.
The character assassination continues in Volantis, where Yara and Theon have taken a pit stop. In Dance, Victarion does make a stop in Volantis with the Iron Fleet on his way to Slaver’s Bay, however, he isn’t being chased by his psycho brother Euron, as Yara and Theon are. This is so stupid. This isn’t a mistake Asha would make in the novels. Well, in the novels she’s in the North with Stannis, and Theon. They’ve also decided that Yara is a lesbian, which irks me, not because Asha is straight in the novels, but because here it’s done for shock value rather than authenticity. Her comments are this episode’s Dothraki banter. Poorly written. OH! How could I forget the exchange between Theon and Yara? To paraphrase- “Drink the beer or just kill yourself.” Umm, what? For fucking real?
On to Braavos. So we have Arya traipsing through Braavos, throwing around money, dumb enough to stand around in town and talk to old ladies, making sure everyone knows she’s from Westeros… WITHOUT HER SWORD! Stop it. Just stop. There’s probable a twist. She could have stuffed her shirt with pig’s blood bladders, and is walking through town so people see her bleed, which is really dumb. Leave it in the water and escape, dummy. Or it’s actually Jaqen, taking one for the team. The worst theory I have heard is that the Waif doesn’t actually exist, and this is some Mr. Robot bullshit, aka, a Fight Club rip off.
This is a very strange season. As this season goes on, it’s more and more apparent that there wasn’t a need to pass the books or announce shortened season for the final 2. There would have been plenty of material available for 2 full seasons, had they actually stuck with the books. Dorne, for one, had material that could have made it into the show. Cersei’s antics in Kings Landing were way more interesting than what is going on right now on the show. More importantly, that material sets Jamie on his path of redemption. Tyrion’s travels with fAegon and JonCon are more interesting than the poorly written banter between himself, Greyworm and Missendei. And, of course, there’s Lady Stoneheart. Plenty of violence and sex to go around, and it lacks the cringe worthy “bad pussy” type dialogue this season has been plagued with.