by Melissa Parkin
Guess who’s baaaaaack?
Only in Westeros can the dead come back to life and have the show kill off an anticipated newcomer all in one shot. In a rare turn, GoT doesn’t immediately roll its opening credits following its weekly recap. Laboring in the open fields, men construct a wooden structure as women prepare food. Lead by Septon Ray (Ian McShane), a group of workers arrives on the site bearing large logs. The camera settles on one particular man’s back just before he turns around. It’s the Hound.
Sandor Clegan is hardly surprised that the other men are afraid of him, but Septon Ray seems unmoved by his menacing stature. He comes to speak with the burnt brute as the Hound vigorously chops wood, recounting the day he found him within an inch of his life. When Ray asks him what kept him going, the Hound declares it was hate. The Septon, however, sees things differently, believing the Gods have a greater purpose for him. The Hound asks why these so-called Gods haven’t punished him? Ray simply replies, “They have.”
Queen Margaery is found reading the Book of the Mother when the High Sparrow seeks her out. Though impressed by Margaery’s great progress, the Sparrow says he still fears for her grandmother. He declares Lady Olenna to be an unrepentant sinner and expresses his fear for her, both spiritually and physically.
Margaery goes to see the Queen of Thorns with the Septa shadowing her every move. Olenna is far from pleased by her granddaughter’s apparent brainwashing, threatening to bash the prudish Septa’s head in if she doesn’t leave the room. Margaery insists on her presence, assuring Olenna that the High Sparrow will set Loras free…but only on the condition that he repent his sins and forsake his name and title. Lady Olenna becomes furious at the proposition, but Margaery discretely slips something into her hand when the Septa isn't looking, begging Olenna to leave King’s Landing. Olenna, now wise to her granddaughter’s game, agrees to the terms. Once she finds herself alone, Olenna unrolls the crumpled paper Margaery slipped into her hand. Inside rests a drawing of a rose, the sigil of the House of Tyrell.
Jon and Sansa struggle to find Northern support in their quest to take back Winterfell. Tormund convinces the Wildlings to join the fight, but the Houses aren’t so easily persuaded. Davos goes with the siblings as they meet with 10-year-old Lyanna Mormont. The meeting goes south quite quickly when the pint-sized Lady of the Bear Island expresses her disinterest in small talk. Lyanna cuts to the point and asks Snow and Stark why her House should sacrifice one more Mormont life for someone else’s war. Davos comes to their aid by declaring this war to be everyone’s, as it will soon wage between the living and the dead. If the North remains divided, it will most certainly fall. Lyanna consents, pledging the Bear Island to the Starks, and offers 62 men to fight alongside them.
Their luck however doesn’t improve when the Glovers turn them down. Not only is Glover disgusted by the fact that the Wildlings make up a majority of Jon’s army, it was also the Boltons who helped the Glovers reclaim their castle from the Ironborn. Sansa reminds the Lord that he is sworn to the Starks, in which Glover angrily replies that the “House of Stark is dead.” Jon, Sansa, and Davos return to their ragtag army, currently camped in the mountains. As they look upon the abysmal number of men, Sansa says they need more support. Jon tells her that there isn’t any more time. They need to fight with the men they have. After sunset, Sansa signs a letter, stamping it with the House Stark’s sigil before sending it off with a raven. If she’s calling upon Littlefinger, I swear to God….
Jaime Lannister and Bronn arrive in Riverrun with an army trailing behind them. Approaching the front lines of a rather pathetic siege, they find the Freys threatening to kill Edmure Tully if the Blackfish doesn’t surrender. Standing on the castle wall above, the Blackfish calls them on their bluff and walks away with not so much as a glance. Jaime confronts the men leading the siege, informing them that he will be taking over from here on out. His first command: to have Edmure bathed and fed. Jaime then sends out word to the Blackfish, wishing to parlay. He meets the man at Riverrun’s drawbridge, offering him a chance to surrender and therefore spare his men that will certainly die otherwise. The Blackfish shuts him down by simply pointing out that “bargaining with oathbreakers is like building on quicksand.”
Meanwhile, Arya books passage to Westeros. Giving the captain more than fair compensation, she informs him that they will be leaving Braavos at dawn. Happy and hopeful to be returning home, she takes a moment to look out at the magnificent Titan of Braavos statue in the distance. An old woman walks up behind Arya, and suddenly stabs her repeatedly. The crone tears off her face to reveal she is in fact the Waif. Arya manages to break free from her clutches and throws herself off the bridge into the water below. Not until the Waif leaves does Arya resurface. She stumbles through the streets, wet, alone, and bleeding out.
Septon Ray recalls the shame he felt during his days as a soldier. He spreads his words of wisdom to the other members of the camp, declaring it’s never too late to find redemption. Just as he concludes his speech, three men ride up on horseback to the group. The men claim to be protecting the people, asking for horses and food. Ray offers them a place at their dinner table, but the men turn to leave. The Hound warns the Septon that the riders were from the Brotherhood. He then leaves to continue chopping wood offsite. Later on, the Hound hears noises in the distance and runs back to the camp to find the entire group murdered and Septon Ray hung by the neck. Sandor pries an axe out of a block of wood and walks away. Better watch out, Brotherhood...