PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Television

Game of Thrones: Season 6, Episode 7 - "The Broken Man"

Mark W. Pleiss

The seventh episode of Game of Thrones season six featured the return of two of the show's most curious and charismatic characters.


Game of Thrones

Airtime: Sundays, 8pm
Cast: Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Sophie Turner, Iain Glen, Maisie Williams
Subtitle: Season 6, Episode 7 - "The Broken Man"
Network: HBO
Air date: 2016-06-05
Amazon

The seventh episode of the sixth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones lulled as it meandered around its principal storylines, but it stood out for the reappearance of two beloved characters and the potential -- although unlikely -- death of a third.

The episode opened with the return of Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann), also named The Hound, who had been left for dead by Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) in an earlier season. The Hound represents an important return because he is one of the show’s great monsters.

His name, The Hound, expresses his animalistic features and foregrounds his preference for instinct over reason. Moreover, The Hound suffers from a characteristic physical abnormality. His brother burned him with an iron at a young age, and he still wears the scars on his face and head. However, like all the best monsters, he has endearing, loveable qualities that attract and fascinate viewers.

Firstly, he's a character of great contrasts. He possesses an immense body, an incredible skill at fighting, and a nihilistic vision of reality, but he repeatedly becomes a guardian angel for children. He did the ruthless bidding of Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) before he abandoned his post and eventually became the protector of Arya Stark. During his time with Arya, he repeatedly attempted to sell her for ransom, but that didn't keep him from establishing a meaningful relationship with the girl and protect her on numerous occasions.

Moreover, there's a subtle but comic dimension to The Hound. Physically, the burns on his face have left him with an unfortunate bald spot that he covers with a bad comb over, and his walk, which often has a limp, at times recalls the cartoonish movement of great comedic characters.

He also has a memorable sense of humor. Like his use of the sword, the wit of The Hound is quick, blunt, and jarring. He doesn't speak often, but when he does, he uses only the most vulgar and offensive language to disavow kings, honor, social structures, women, and anyone or anything else he's been hired to defend.

He doesn't fear retribution for the way he speaks, even while standing before Joffrey Baratheon, because The Hound doesn't fear death. More than any other aspect of his character, the hound’s utter indifference toward his own mortality is what makes him a character we want to be.

This isn't something the character tells us; instead, The Hound shows us the feeling of liberation that comes from not caring about how you look or what others think about you. He's a character who's accepted the senselessness and absurdity of the social world and therefore lives by a different code, one that isn't always apparent, but one that seems to make sense for a character like The Hound.

The second character to return was another protector, Bronn (Jerome Flynn). The once defender of Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) is now the right-hand man, in the most literal sense possible, for Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Also like The Hound, he has an asymmetrical physical appears from an early act of domestic violence: his parents beat him as a child and eventually broke his nose one day with kitchenware.

He differs greatly from The Hound, however, in most every other way. He fights with skill and speed rather than blunt force, and he enjoys rubbing elbows with high society. He may have accepted that social life is meaningless, but unlike the nihilistic Hound, Bronn laughs before the absurd.

Further, he's a hedonist who gravitates naturally toward food, wine, and sex, and represents the much-needed comic relief that keeps the show palatable for a wide audience. He fleshes out the humanity in all the people he meets through his humor, charm, and weakness for temptation. He attracts us because he also is a person we all want to be: embracing the vicissitudes of life and making sure one's time on earth isn't wasted.

It's curious, therefore, that in an episode so driven by male protectors Arya would be attacked and presumed dead. If there's one thing the show has taught us, however, it's that a death is never truly a death until the body is on the slab (and even then there's exceptions).

The Waif (Faye Marsey) finally catches up to Arya for abandoning her training and stabs her multiple times in the stomach, but Arya fights back and escapes. It’s hard to believe this will be the end of Arya, but her situation is dire. She’ll likely need some type of magic to survive, but that doesn't seem out of the question after seeing the resurrection of both The Hound and Jon Snow (Kit Harington).

Speaking of Snow, he's not a gifted recruiter. His road trip around the north to recruit armies recalls Chris Farley's initial (unsuccessful) attempts to sell brake pads in Tommy Boy. Meanwhile, Margaery (Natalie Dormer) has something up her sleeve for High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce), but that storyline will likely drag until the final episode of the season.

Hopefully, we'll see Tyrion in the next episode.

Game of Thrones is available on HBO Go and HBO Now.

6

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.