Previously on Game of Thrones: Sansa and Jon left Castle Black to start recruiting Northern families to their army; Jaime got kicked out of the Kingsguard and sent to re-take Riverrun, which is also about to be beset by Freys; Arya ditched the Faceless Men; and Margaery was released after apparently becoming SUPER devout.
Hey! Pre-credits sequence! Have we had one of those before? Some guys are building something out in the middle of nowhere. It’s rough still, but it’s going to be a sept. Ooh! Ian McShane! He appears to be the man in charge, urging the others on and looking up proudly at the rising building. Men carry heavy logs toward the building site; one of them is able to carry one of the huge logs all by himself because he’s…The Hound! All sorts of resurrections this season.
Speaking of resurrections, let’s welcome Riverrun back to the opening credits.
Ian approaches the Hound, who’s chopping away at some wood and comments on the man’s obvious strength. He asks how many men it took to bring the Hound down and the Hound honestly replies it was just one woman. Ian chuckles and walks away.
Later, the Hound eats alone. Ian brings him something to drink and tells us how he found the Hound nearly dead and managed to nurse him back to health. He doesn’t think the gods are done with him yet. Ian, it seems, is a sort of priest, but a really humble one and doesn’t appear to subscribe to any particular religion. He’s a Westrosi agnostic, I guess. He thinks whatever god/s there are have plans for the Hound, who counters that he’s done some pretty awful things, so probably not. Ian remains hopeful.
High Sparrow finds Margaery reading the Book of the Mother at the High Sept. It’s worth noting she’s about 300% more covered up than we’ve ever seen her before. She admits that she spent years pitying the poor but also feeling disgusted with them. Sparrow says that’s fairly common, then creepily switches subjects to Margaery and Tommen’s sex life. Apparently it’s been non-existent since she was released. He tells her to give Tommen an heir tout de suite, even if she feels no desire to do so. He also urges her to start turning her grandmother to their cause, hinting that Oleanna could wind up in prison herself if she doesn’t ‘repent’.
Oleanna, however, clearly hates the Sparrow’s followers and takes it out a bit on the hard-faced septa who follows Margaery around everywhere. Margaery tells her grandmother that Loras must be made to repent if he’s to be released. And upon his release, he’ll have to renounce his name and title and live the rest of his life as a penitent. Yeah, that’s likely. Oleanna reminds her granddaughter that he’s the heir to House Tyrell. She further urges Margaery to leave for Highgarden immediately. Margaery says that her place is beside her husband, but Oleanna should really think about returning home. She takes her grandmother’s hand, as Oleanna protests that she’ll never leave Margaery, and slips something into Oleanna’s hand. ‘Go home,’ she says, firmly. Oleanna takes the hint and promises to see Margaery soon. As she leaves, she opens the note Margaery handed her. It’s a drawing of a rose, the symbol of House Tyrell. Margaery’s not quite so sold on the Sparrow as he thinks, it seems.
Some of the wildlings aren’t pleased by the idea of following Jon into battle to wrest back control of Winterfell, even with Tormund throwing his support behind the former Lord Commander. Jon warns them that the Northerners will come after the wildlings and slaughter them, if they don’t stand and fight. Tormund adds that Jon actually died for them, so they should at least offer to do the same for him. Fair enough. The giant amongst them stands up and says, ‘Snow,’ which I guess means, ‘I’m with ya, buddy.’ The other wildlings follow suit. Jon seems relieved. But he might also just be relieved the giant didn’t stomp him. One can only be resurrected so many times.
Cersei, trailed by the Mountain, goes to see Oleanna and express surprise that Oleanna’s leaving with Loras still locked up. Oleanna says that all of this is because of Cersei and her stupidity. Yep, sounds about right. Cersei agrees that she really messed up here, but now they need to band together to fight these fanatics. ‘I wonder if you’re the worst person I’ve ever met?’ Oleanna muses. She promises never to forget how Cersei smirked when her grandchildren were dragged off to the cells. She’s decided to take Margaery’s advice and get lost and suggests Cersei do the same. Cersei refuses to leave Tommen. Oleanna reminds her that she has pretty much nobody and nothing at this point, so why stay, really? ‘You’ve lost, Cersei, It’s the only joy I can find in all this misery,’ says Oleanna. Heh.
Riverrun is so pretty. It must have been rough for Cat to trade it for Winterfell, back in the day. Jaime and his army are marching towards it, along with Bronn. Bronn! Where’ve you been? Bronn scorns the Frey soldiers already in place, so Jaime tells him to go ahead and take everyone in hand. Bronn’ll only do it in return for a castle, title, and lovely highborn wife. Done.
The Freys bring Edmure to the outskirts of the castle and threaten to hang him or cut his throat if Blackfish doesn’t hand Riverrun over. The Blackfish comes up to the battlements and pretty much says, ‘go ahead.’ They really don’t know what to say to that. They do not cut Edmure’s throat. Bronn and Jaime try not to roll their eyes too hard.
Jaime and Bronn approach the Freys and tell them their perimeter clearly has more holes than the guests at the Red Wedding. Jaime orders them to have Edmure bathed and fed and when the Freys sulk, Jaime backhands one of them. They scramble to do his bidding and Bronn starts firing off orders. Jaime pulls Bronn aside and tells him to send word to the Blackfish, telling him Jaime wants a chat.
Jon, Sansa and Davos arrive at Bear Island to meet with Lady Mormont, who’s all of about ten years old. I’m guessing this is Jorah’s former home? Sansa tries to butter the kid up, but this girl isn’t having it. She’s actually pretty tough, and awesome. She puts an end to the small talk and asks them what they want. Jon asks her for her house’s allegiance. She has a word with one of her maesters, then says that Jon’s a Snow and Sansa’s either a Bolton or a Lannister, so there are no Starks here. Sansa says that she’ll always be a Stark. The kid dismisses that and correctly guesses they want fighting men. She says she’s responsible for the people of Bear Island and isn’t interested in sacrificing more men for someone else’s war.
Davos steps forward and tells her this isn’t someone else’s war, it’s their war, and it’s between the living and the dead, and that’s pretty damn scary. She asks Jon if it’s true the dead are coming and Jon confirms it. Davos continues that the north is currently divided, and a divided north won’t stand a chance against the Night King. She agrees and offers them 62 men. Well, that’s better than nothing, I guess. Davos comments that, if they’re half as ferocious as she, the Boltons are doomed. True.
Jaime meets with the Blackfish on the castle drawbridge. Jaime orders him to surrender the castle, warning the Blackfish that hundreds will die if they attack the castle. He offers to let Blackfish’s men live if he surrenders. Blackfish tells Jaime this is his home and he’s prepared to die there, so they can either attack, or try to starve them out. They’ve got provisions for two years, so it’ll be a while. As a parting shot, he tells Jaime he’s disappointed in him.
The next lord, Glover, flat-out refuses to help Jon, telling him they only just got the castle back from the Ironborn, and the Boltons helped them do it. He wants to know who else has pledged for Jon and Jon admits he’s got the Mormonts and a lot of wildlings. Lord Glover sends him on his way. Sansa coldly reminds the man that his house is pledged to House Stark, sworn to fight when called upon. Glover tells her that his family faithfully served the Starks for centuries, but when the Ironborn showed up and killed all their people, where was Robb Stark then? Off doing his own thing and getting himself killed. Meeting adjourned.
Yara and Theon have reached a safe harbour and are sitting down in a brothel, which seems to have Theon pretty tense. Yara, on the other hand, is enjoying some comely female company. Yara sends her girl away for a bit, pokes fun at Theon for being incapable now, and then apologises. Theon worries about their uncle finding them but Yara says he’ll have to search for a while. She pressures him to drink, even though he doesn’t want to. She says she’s tired of seeing him cower like a beaten dog and bullies him into drinking. When he does, she says she needs the real Theon Greyjoy back. She says they’ll get revenge for whatever happened to him. If he’s too far gone to help her, he should go ahead and end it all now, but if he can pull himself together, they’re going to sail to Meereen, make a pact with Dany, and take back the Iron Islands. It looks like Theon’s starting to rally a bit. Aww. Yara embraces him, then goes to have a bit of fun.
Davos, Jon and Sansa ride through their camp and talk about what to do next. Jon thinks they need to march on Winterfell soon, before more storms hit. They’ve managed to collect a few more men, but not many. Davos says it’s not what they’d hoped for, but if they’re clever, they can make it work.
He goes to break up a fight, which gives Sansa a chance to be a bit bitchy about Davos, sneering that he doesn’t seem up to the task of being Jon’s right-hand man. Jon reminds her that he’s only living because of Davos, and that Davos served at the side of Stannis, who was, after all, a pretty fierce warrior. Sansa says they need more men but Jon says there’s no time to get them, so they have to fight with the men they have.
Sansa eyes a master taking some ravens off a cart, watched by little Lady Mormont.
She then sits down and starts writing messages, signing them with her name and the wolf seal of House Stark.
Ian tells his followers how he was a soldier once and considered very brave, but he wasn’t. He just followed orders, and there’s no bravery in that. He did some terrible things, and eventually started to feel ashamed and really couldn’t do it anymore. So, now he just wants to bring a little goodness into the world. He tells them that it’s never too late to come back, and start helping people. The Hound really seems to be absorbing this.
Three men come galloping up and Ian goes to greet them. They claim to be protecting the people. Ian asks them what from and they just smirk and ask if there are any horses. Ian tells them there aren’t. They also don’t have anything else worth stealing, but they’re welcome to stay for supper. The guys eye them for a bit, then urge them all to stay safe, for the night is dark and full of terrors. They ride away.
Later, Ian finds the Hound chopping wood. Hound scorns Ian for being so pacifist with them, when he knows the guys’ll probably be back for whatever they can lay their hands on. Ian points out that one man, even one as big as the Hound, against three is pretty poor odds. He tells the Hound to come get some supper but Hound wants to keep on chopping. Ian promises to save him a bowl of soup.
Arya walks the streets of Braavos, listening to gossip. She finds a Westrosi man and tells him she wants to book passage home, tossing him a heavy bag of coins. Where’d she get that? Steal it? He tells her they leave in two days and she can have a hammock in steerage. She presents another heavy purse and says she wants a cabin, and they’ll lave at sunrise.
She goes to a bridge and just stands there, guard down, dreamily gazing out, which seems incredibly stupid. Did she really think the Faceless Men would just shrug and let her go? Sure enough, an old woman wanders up to her, slices Arya across the middle, and stabs her several times in the belly, twisting the knife at the end. The woman removes her face, revealing the Waif, of course. Arya fights her off and jumps off the bridge. She does not resurface. At least, not right away. She manages to swim somewhere rather sheltered and pulls herself out of the water, gasping in pain and bleeding. She walks through the crowded streets, soaking wet, bleeding, and only gets a few odd stares from the locals. This is such a strange place.
The Hound’s still hard at work. He briefly takes a break and hears someone screaming in the distance. He rushes towards the sound and finds all the people who were working on the sept dead, slaughtered as they ate. How far away was he? He walks amongst the bodies and finally finds Ian, hanging from the exposed rafters of the sept they were building.
And now…the Hound is MAD. He grabs his axe and gets ready to slice some people in half.