Correction: This is the correct updated tally for episodes left. Season eight will occur, according to the show runners:

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In an exclusive interview with Variety, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss said they are weighing wrapping up the Emmy-winning saga of Westeros and the battle for the Iron Throne with just 13 more episodes once this sixth season is over: seven episodes for season 7; six for the eighth and potential final season.

“I think we’re down to our final 13 episodes after this season. We’re heading into the final lap,” said Benioff. “That’s the guess, though nothing is yet set in stone, but that’s what we’re looking at.”

Only eleven episodes are left. HBO announced that the seventh and final season of Game of Thrones will only be seven episodes long. Yikes! With each episode this season, the material has noticeably, and more noticeably, been rushed. Entire characters and plot lines have either been cut from the books or completely changed (see: Dorne). The show’s very dialogue has suffered; every conversation is terse and simplistic compared to any of those in the previous five seasons. So what kind of crazy rush to the finish line (of GRRM’s unfinished books) can we expect to see in the last four episodes of this season? We’re going to find out here, starting with tonight’s episode “The Broken Man.”


There’s nothing like close-up shots of men on a beautiful green day building... a yurt? Are they building a yurt?

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No, it’s a castle? A church? It doesn’t matter. The foreman has a special-looking necklace, and that’s all that matters. If you build it, and bring the bling, they will come...

And carrying an entire log... The Hound! He’s alive, scarred, and looking healthy and stronger than hell. And he is mad that “it was a woman” who brought him down, as revealed in a conversation with the foreman. The foreman had found him, several days after Brienne destroyed him in one-on-one combat, stinking and covered in flies. The foreman cared for him, seeing him almost die repeatedly, for weeks.

“What kept you going?” asks the foreman.

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“Hate.”

“There’s a reason you’re still here... Gods aren’t done with you yet.” Yup, it’s a church. We could all tell the foreman was some sort of preacher, right? That constant smile, the condescending yet charismatic kind?

A religious conversation ensues. He’s a Westeros agnostic, admitting he doesn’t know The Absolute Truth, calling those who claim to know it “pious sons of bitches” and saying that he doesn’t even know the gods “real names.”

“Maybe it is the Seven. Or maybe it’s the old gods.” Sardonically he follows that saying, “Maybe it’s the ‘Lord of Light.’” He is an excellent foil to all of the devout religious lead characters we have met (such as the Red Priestesses), but especially The Sparrow. A rural, agnostic preacher with no apparent desire to rule over men makes an excellent foil for The Sparrow and his dogmatic, cruel, power-grubbing behaviors.

The preacher simply says he believes that “Maybe they’re all the same fucking thing. I don’t know. What matters, I believe, is that there’s something greater than us.”

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Finally, a religious Game of Thrones character that you don’t want to punch in the nose! (Or makes you piss yourself what with the blood magic and child-burning.) And he prophesies that Sandor Clegane has things left to do. Ominous.

The Hound asks “If the gods are real, why haven’t they punished me?”

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In response: “They have.” It looks like The Hound has paid his penance and is ready to get back into the game. I hate, despise, dog-fighting. But in this case, I will make an exception.

The Sparrow and Maregary appear as the foil to this conversation. They quote a bunch of crap at each other. It’s clear that these two are playing a game of power and trying to consolidate the power between themselves.


Oh! And he threatens Marg’s grandmother, the fantabulous “Queen of Thorns” (Olenna Tyrell). After all, that wise old woman has not let go of her power to The Sparrow. She is, as he says, “an unrepentant sinner.” Let all those who have doubted that The Sparrow is nothing but a power-mad individual using dogmatic religious doctrine to gain control of King’s Landing now admit that they were wrong. He is taking them down. One. By. One.

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To quote The Sparrow: “You must teach her the new way. As she taught you the old. Or I fear for her safety, body and soul.” It’s not even a veiled threat.

And Queen of Thorns, Olenna, is not happy! She speaks of “bashings.” She recognizes it for what it is, bowing to a religious “fanatic.” She urges Marg to flee th city. Marg says in kind for her to flee! Is Marg getting rid of her as a power player, or is she keeping her grandmother back home as a safety move?

The truth is revealed: Marg has slipped her grandmother a note depicting a rose. What this means, I have no idea. Sorry. Please inform me in the comments below. I am rather thick at times. I assume it means: “Gather an army to storm the city while I keep the peace with a false face here! We will kill this bastard religious nut together!” But it could also mean that she wants her grandmama to spend more time gardening. (You tell me!)


Back to The North! Finally! We see the remains of the wildlings as Jon tries to rally them.

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Jon Snow gives a speech to the devastated remnants of the warrior Wildlings. It’s concise and to the point. (Dany, please take notes.) They rally behind Jon Snow. The wildings pledge to follow that bastard Jon Snow into any battle because “he died for us” as Tormund says. It’s short and to the point. And there’s a giant (our favorite giant). He stands up at one point and walks a little bit. That’s about it.


Yikes. Cerise with her Frankenstein guard to see Olenna. Ah! Yay. Cersei wants to make an alliance, admitting that it is her fault for bringing the religious fanatics there in the first place. She admits: “We need each other.”

The best line of the night is what we get in response: “I wonder if you’re the worst person I’ve ever met. At a certain age, it’s hard to recall. But the truly vile do stand out through the years.”

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Olenna wants nothing to do with Cerise’s plans. Who would? She has a terrible track record and stabs all of her “allies” in the back. Big O makes it quite clear how she feels and prepares to leave. She has trained her granddaughter Marg quite well and has confidence in her, not Cersei.


The Lannister army from King’s Landing arrives at Riverrun to face Blackfish and to witness the burnt out remains of House Frey’s last siege upon the castle. The castle must be returned to House Frey. Jaime and Bronn, his bad-ass sidekick and self-proclaimed “upjumped sellsword” have a quite a funny conversation about Bronn’s thoughts about being “an anointed knight” versus his old mercenary gig:

“You’re an anointed knight,” says Jaime. “There’s quite a difference.”

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“Aye, knights don’t get paid,” says Bronn.

“You have better instincts than anyone in the Lannister army.”

“That’s like saying I have a bigger cock than anyone in the Unsullied army.”

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Jaime wants Bronn to take over and lead the troops here at Rivverun as “the right hand (he) lost.” Jaime plans to lead the all of the Lannister forces on every fronts “before long.” Bronn reluctantly accepts after giving Jaime shit about the unfulfilled promises of “a lordship, a castle, and a highborn beauty for a wife.”

Jaime responds: “And you’ll get all three. A Lannister always-”

Bronn cuts him off immediately: “Don’t say it. Don’t fucking say it.” After all, Bronn is being the voice of every viewer. By this point, we know that it’s utter bullshit that “a Lannister always keeps his promises.” So, yeah, Jaime. Don’t even fucking say it. Especially not to Bronn. Hell, at this point, Bronn might even be to good for you, so don’t give him that old line.

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Lord Edmure is strung up on a noose. They threaten to hang him unless Blackfish yields the castle back to House Frey. Cold-blooded as the fish of his namesake, Blackfish responds, “go ahead and cut his throat. (I think we’d all like to see Edmure die horribly after “The Red Wedding.” So let’s get to killing him already!)

Jaime takes command of the pathetic siege situation run by House Frey. He orders House Frey’s leadership to bathe and feed Edmure. He then (beautifully) slaps the Frey idiot in charge and takes command.


Finally, the dynamic Stark duo of Jon Snow and Sansa arrive at Bear Island in order to recruit their next army. House Mormont on Bear Island, of course, is now led by a very young girl, Lady Leanna.

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And she’s a badass. She cuts straight to the point after Jon tries to butter her up for maybe one whole minute: “I think we’ve had enough small talk. Why are you here?”

Lady Leanna isn’t having any of their “begging for their men, for their army” bullshit. Ser Davos (who ought to be given the title “Ser Davos, the Perennially Wise and Cool Ser) steps in because Jon and Sansa are quickly and clearly pretty crappy at formal negotiations and begging for armies.

Davos uses his background as one who finds himself in a position he never thought he’d been in to show that this young girl ruler and he are kindred spirits in that manner.

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Davos convinces her, pointing out that this is about uniting the North against the Night King and the White Walkers from the North, as well as pointing out how amazing Jon Snow is (something that Jon is terrible at doing himself).

Leanna concludes: “House Morment has kept faith with House Stark for a thousand years. We will not break that faith today.”

Jon Snow, in this episode, is getting his second army. Thanks to Ser Davos.

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There’s a small catch, though, a very small one. She only has 62 men to offer. Jon Snow seems like a kid who’s going door to door in his neighborhood trying to get enough magazine subscriptions so that he can go to math camp this summer.


Back to Jaime, who wants a parlay with the Blackfish. He is allowed, alone, to the edge of the castle’s drawbridge. Jaime says he will kill every last one of them unless they peacefully surrender. Blackfish will have none of it. The two men take measure of each other. Blackfish is unimpressed by “The Kingslayer” and states he only parlayed with him because he was bored. He has two years of provisions and has no intention of a peaceful resolution.

Jon continues on his quest to get more magazine subscriptions from the neighborhood, um, I mean beg each house for soldiers for his army. Next up is Lord Glover, whose answer is: “No.” The Boltons helped his House Glover retake the castle and ancestral home, and he will not fight against the Boltons. He scoffs at Jon’s attempt, especially upon directly learning that Snow’s army is almost only consisted of wildings.

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But! Sansa steps in, reminding Lord Glover of his sworn fealty to House Stark. And... it doesn’t work. Glover rips Sansa a new one, reminding her of her father’s failures and states emphatically that “House Stark is dead.”


We transition back to the massive fleet of ships taken by the runaway Greyjoy brother and sister, Yara and and Theon. They have landed in the city of Volantis and are indulging in drink and whores at a brothel. Yara is having a blast (and we learn that she is definitely into the ladies, go girl!), while Theon looks very upset for reasons having to do with... PTSD and the loss of his own very personal family jewels. Tara focuses on her brother and tries to comfort him and get him drunk.

Yara forces him to drink and implores him to find his true self. She gives him a pep talk about being amazing guy and moving forward because she “needs” him. Otherwise she tells him to commit suicide. She wants him, and shows love for him, and makes it clear that she wants Theon by her side to sail to Mereen “to make a pact with this Dragon Queen” and retake the Iron Islands.

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Her acting is great. She inspires Theon for the first time since possibly ever, clearly showing her love for brother before getting up and spotting a woman and stating with no doubt that she is “going to to fuck the tits off this one.” Could she be more awesome?


And we’re back to the Starks. Sansa and Jon get into a sibling rivalry fight back at their icy camp before planning to move out with their limited troops to begin to retake the North.

Sansa goes behind everyone’s back with a note set for a raven.


Finally, we are back to the hippie country preacher with the Hound in his flock. He preaches to his sitting congregation, deploring his own murderous and horrible past. He is full of regret and recrimination.

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He states that he can’t change the terrible things he’s done, such as kill a child and watch his mother mourn: “Now, I know I can never bring that lad back. All I can do with the time I’ve got left is bring a little goodness into the world. That’s all any of us can do, isn’t it?... It’s never too late to come back. It’s not about waiting for the gods to answer your prayers. It’s not even about the gods. It’s about you. Learning you have to answer your prayers yourself.”

And, since the is GoT, immediately after he says those words, three nasty looking killers on horseback arrive to the congregation and Mafia-style demand “protection money” or food because you never know what terrible things can happen to those who don’t pay for protection in the dead of night.

And the Hound, in the background, looks upon it amongst the crowd.

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A jump cut to a later scene shows us The Hound chopping the absolute shit out of wood again. An interesting debate between The Hound and the preacher ensues.

The gist of it is (even though they both admit to having been skilled killers in the past) is that The Hound feels he should protect the congregation with violence against the mafioso horsemen bandits.

The preacher’s response: “I’m done with fighting... Violence is a disease.You don’t cure a disease by spreading it to more people.”

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“You don’t cure it by dying either.”


Arya! We are finally back to “the girl” who is no longer “the girl” after abandoning her mission to creepy cult of the Many-Faced God. She is no longer in her spider hole. She is waling about freely the town and wants to book passage home. She books herself (with bags of coin) a cabin on a ship that leaves at dawn.

It finally looks like everything is going to be alright for Arya after escaping that creepy cult!

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Right?

Oh. No. Arya is grabbed by her nemesis/assassin and stabbed several times in the gut. She escapes by throwing herself off a bridge into a canal.

Climbing from the water, she is bleeding from the stomach and wet and cold, wandering through the market. Why didn’t she stay in her spider hole with her sword Needle?!?


Meanwhile, The Hound returns from chopping his firewood to see every single member of congregation slaughtered. The preacher has been hung.

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So much for non-violence in the GRRM’s world! Let’s be honest: as soon as that hippie preacher thought non-violence was a good idea, we all knew that his whole little church/yurt congregation was going to die horribly.

Those who don’t constantly kill and scheme always die in GRRM’s universe.

At least The Hound has healed. And now he’s more bloodthirsty than ever. The final shot was him ripping his firewood chopping axe from a stump. There is no better image to end this episode.

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The Hound is reborn and ready to ‘axe’ some questions. I’m pretty damned sure what the answers to those will be.


This is another episode with very little action. The whole of it can be broken down into two parts: 1) The gathering of armies. 2) The personal stories of The Hound, Yara and Theon Greyjoy, and Arya.

Personally, I’m glad for this. This season has rushed through so much material that it needed time to breathe. We needed to see how the attempt to build up the armies truly was going. And it’s not going well for anyone. In the North, the Stark kids can’t really get it together. As for Jaime, his city is being ruled by a religious fanatic.

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On the other hand, we see the character development of the characters of The Hound, Arya, Yara, and Theon. These are big players about to get back into the Game of Thrones.

It’s an exciting time, and it’s all leading to all-out war, with our favorite characters getting back into the mix of things.

I’m happy this was a slow episode. Considering that so much has been happening so quickly, it was great to have a bit of a breather to see where our lead characters are: how they are succeeding, but mostly how they are failing.

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We only have eleven episodes (maybe ten now?) before it all comes to an end.

I have no clue how the show runners will pull off the inevitable battle in such a short time frame. They cut out a lot of plot lines and characters, so that will help. But how will the series end? Will it be a climax in the last few episodes of next season? Or will they be able to squeeze in the climax during the last episodes of this season and the first episodes of next, leaving some sort of satisfying epilogue in the final episode or two of season seven?


I am very short on time here, so I can only leave you for now with this recap and a few bits of thought and analysis.

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I plan to add more to this, more critical analysis and thoughts as soon as I have the time.

*Edited for misreading how many episodes are left and thinking that the eighth season was not going to happen. My bad.