If you’ve been stubbornly consuming every Game Of Thrones-related interview then the opening gambit of ‘The Broken Man’ will have come as no surprise to you.
Yes, Sandor Clegane is back (it’s TV 101; unless you actually see that person die, they’re probably still alive. We eagerly await Stannis Baratheon and Syrio Forel’s returns), although not as ‘The Hound’; now, he’s trying to find his place in the world, which involves trying to establish a community led by Ian McShane’s retired warrior.
It’s all sunshine and green meadows – which in true Game Of Thrones fashion, is allowed to flourish before being brutally shattered and Clegane forced back into the same world he was trying to escape from.
Ostensibly, the title of the episode refers to him, but in all honesty it could apply to any of the characters. It could be Theon, who Yara attempts to pull back into himself with the aid of a brothel. It could be Jaime, who finds himself mocked by the returning Blackfish (Clive Russell once again owning his every scene). Or it could be Jon Snow, who finds himself wandering at the head of a disparate army vastly outnumbered by their opponents.
Generally, the episodes leading up to the finale have been the calm before the storm in previous seasons, but here, the general mood seems to be ‘darkest before the dawn’. Then again, as the show has repeatedly underlined by now, The Lord Of The Rings this ain’t; if you’re expecting a happy ending, you really haven’t been paying attention.
But what a dawn it’s going to be. Before, things were generally set up for one climatic battle: here, the theatres of war are all over the kingdom. Even as the chess pieces line up for the battle for the north, King’s Landing’s own power play looks to be heading in an interesting direction. As we suspected, Margaery’s conversion wasn’t entirely sincere, even if the finer details of her plan remain elusive.
So we have Sansa with a pen, Margaery with a scrap of paper, Sandor with an axe, and Jaime with an army. Put them together, and the result will likely prove to be something truly memorable.