Warning: spoilers for Game of Thrones season 6, episode 7 “The Broken Man” follow…
Game of Thrones has been doing something interesting this season. Well, the HBO series has been doing several interesting things this season — most notably creating a propulsive feel by introducing about 17 WTF/water cooler moments per episode and playing with the structure and pacing.
In addition, the series has been toggling back and forth between those who are concerned with the “small war” — the battle for the Iron Throne, for power, for wealth — and those who are at the front line of the larger war. The one that is building between the dead things emerging from the North — bringing winter with them — and the fiery power of dragons, dragon glass, and Valyrian steel.
Now for some, those fights are intertwined. Jon Snow and Sansa Stark both want Winterfell back, but he's got the long game in mind here. And the name of that game is the survival of men and life as they know it.
Others aren't as caught up with what's truly at stake, here. It's interesting to watch the political machinations play out while we can see that there are far more significant stakes in play. This week focused more on the “ground level” fight. If was fascinating because Ian McShane showed up for just long enough to deliver a gorgeous indictment of war and dogma and then — of course — die because he's too good and reasonable for this world.
Here's what's amazing about McShane's appearance: He spoke for all of us in that his character was able to see that blood is being uselessly spilled as the greedy vye for status that, ultimately, doesn't bring any happiness with it. “Violence begets violence,” he cautioned. And we all agree with his wisdom. We're watching as pride drives swords into guts again and again. YET, when the Hound finds him hanging like so much meat you can't help but rub your palms in anticipation of the vengeance that Sandor Clegane will mete out.
That's what's so incredible about this series: It highlights the inanity of the baser elements of human nature — revenge, violence, avarice. And yet even as we see how dangerous and foolish those impulses are, we feel them cathartically for and with the characters.
After all, we are all Arya's smile as she watches Joffrey die in that play…We all have those we are rooting for and others that we'll relish seeing die badly.
Side note: If the Iron Throne is still in play I think we've found the only acceptable candidate in the young bada*** Lyanna Mormont. More of her please.
Here, Alan Sepinwall and Roth Cornet talk about this big episode of Game of Thrones, and how things will move forward from here…
Take a look in the player above or below and chat with us here or on Twitter.