Warning, if you have not seen last night's episode, there will be spoilers. The Hound (Rory McCann) lives! Game of Thrones Season 6 is going full throttle resurrecting characters. We never saw The Hound actually die, so it makes sense he would return at some point. His entrance prefaced the opening credits of episode seven, The Broken Man. It was a jaw-dropping reveal to say the least. The Hound seems destined to play a major role in the forthcoming conflicts. The battle lines are being drawn as multiple characters shore up allies.
The Hound survived under the benevolent care of a wandering septon, Ray (Ian McShane). He found him near death and nursed him back to health. Ray's community of free folk are working to build a settlement. As The Hound labors by cutting wood, he recounts his defeat at the hands of Brienne (Gwendoline Christie). Ray laughs at the idea that a lone woman was powerful enough to best The Hound. The character of Ray, who preaches non-violence and redemption, looks to be the TV adaptation of Septon Meribald. From the start I knew that anyone this kind would meet a terrible end. Game of Thrones doesn't suffer kindness.
At King's Landing, Margaery (Natalie Dormer) continues her spiritual rebirth. The High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) pressures her to return to Tommen's (Dean Charles Chapman) bed. Saying it's her duty to produce an heir. He then pivots to her grandmother. He wants The Queen of Thorns, Lady Tyrell (Diana Rigg), to leave the city. Margaery obliges, meeting with her grandmother under the watchful eye of Septon Unella (Hannah Waddingham). Just as Lady Tyrell is about to have Unella removed, Margaery begs her grandmother to leave, secretly passing her a message. The pair locks eyes and the truth dawns on the Queen of Thorns. Outside her chamber, the note is a drawing of a rose. Margaery has not become a zealot. She is manipulating The High Sparrow and Tommen.
Jon Snow (Kit Harrington), Sansa (Sophie Turner), Ser Davos (Liam Cunningham), and Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) are at the Wildlings encampment. Their effort to draw them into the battle to retake Winterfell initially does not go well. Tormund reminds them Jon Snow died for their freedom. They owe him their lives. Jon talks of the impending invasion of The White Walkers. They are doomed without Winterfell. The giant Wun Wun (Ian Whyte) barks "Snow" in approval. The Wildlings are with them.
Cersei (Lena Headey) confronts Lady Tyrell about leaving King's Landing. She is stupefied that Lady Tyrell would withdraw with Ser Loras (Finn Jones) still in the dungeon. The Queen of Thorns acidly rebukes Cersei for her actions. She reminds Cersei of the smirk on her face when her grandchildren were being imprisoned. Cersei will find no ally here.
Jaime (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau) and Bronn (Jerome Flynn) lead the massive Lannister army to the siege of Riverrun. They scoff at the pathetic attempt by the Frey army to surround the castle. They watch as Walder Frey's inept sons threaten to kill the Blackfish's (Clive Russell) nephew, Edmure Tully (Tobias Menzies). The Blackfish tells them to go ahead and the threat rebounds spectacularly. Jaime slaps Frey's eldest son, Walder Rivers (Tim Plester), then tells them to clean up Edmure. He takes command of the siege. Bronn whips the men into action by building trenches. Jaime requests a parlay with the Blackfish.
Jon Snow and company continue in their efforts to build an army. The next stop is Bear Island, home to House Mormont. They are surprised by the skill and directness of ten year old Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey). The young actress steals the show with her stern response. She had written Stannis when he was encamped at Castle Black, swearing her loyalty to House Stark. But she is not won over by a bastard son and twice married Sansa. Ser Davos steps in and speaks a hard truth. The North will be destroyed by The Night King if they don't capture Winterfell. Lyanna is convinced, and then pledges all of sixty-two men.
At Riverrun, the Blackfish and Jaime have their face to face. The Blackfish openly mocks him. Riverrun is his home, he will die for it. They have two years of supplies. Jaime threatens his army will destroy them all. The Blackfish has no fear or trust in Jaime. He reminds him that it was his duty to bring back Sansa and Arya (Maisie Williams). The Kingslayer has no grounds to ask him anything. Jaime is summarily rebuffed.
The Stark begging party continues to House Glover. This time around their reception is icy. Lord Glover (Tim McInnerny) isn't having it. Sansa tells him that House Glover had sworn loyalty to House Stark for a thousand years. Lord Glover bitterly upbraids her. His family was tortured, people murdered, all because of Robb Stark's stupidity. His house owes no fealty to the Starks.
Yara (Gemma Whelan), Theon (Alfie Allen), and their men unwind in a brothel. Yara has an eye for the ladies and revels in the sea of flesh. As Theon continues to cower, Yara has had enough. She forces him to drink ale. It's time for him to stop being broken. Slash your wrists now if you don't have the courage to fight. It's tough love, but Theon guzzles his drink. She tells him of the plan. They will take their ships to Mereen and forge an alliance with Danaerys (Emilia Clarke). The plot does indeed thicken.
Back at their camp, Jon and Sansa have a falling out. She does not trust Ser Davos or believe they have enough men to drive Ramsey Bolton out of Winterfell. Jon knows that winter is upon them. They must attack now or be thwarted. Sansa secretly pens a letter. We don't know where she is sending the crow, but logic dictates it's meant for Littlefinger. They need the army of House Arryn.
The Hound listens as Septon Ray talks of his evil past deeds. He preaches that violence is not the answer. That it will only begat more violence. On cue, three riders approach the free folk. They inquire if they have food and horses. Ray offers them a meal, but says they need their supplies. The riders warn that the night will be dark and full of terror.
In Braavos, Arya makes preparations to sail back home. She leisurely takes in the sea while on a bridge and foolishly lets her guard down. An old woman approaches her begging, then savagely stabs her in the stomach. It is the Waif (Fay Marsaye) from the House of Black and White taking revenge. Arya falls into the water, her blood billows up. The Waif waits, but Arya doesn't surface.
The Hound cuts wood ferociously in the forest. Septon Ray beckons him to come for dinner. Sandor says they are fools if they ignore the riders threats. Ray continues his talk of redemption and peace. He promises to save him a bowl, then leaves The Hound to his task. What comes next was obvious from the first scene of the episode. The Hound walks back to the camp. He finds the people brutally slaughtered. Septon Ray is hanging garishly from a noose.
The Broken Man ends with Arya climbing out of the water, she is hemorrhaging blood. Arya stumbles through the streets of Braavos clutching her bleeding belly. The Hound walks away from the dangling septon. He grabs an axe. There is no escaping violence or death in this cruel world. The weak are doomed, as are the men that killed Septon Ray and the free folk.
The return of The Hound brings back a formidable player. He is the ultimate wildcard. Who will gain his loyalty? Arya is in bad shape, but it's doubtful she's in danger of dying. And even if she does, the show brings back the dead like a video game. Littlefinger's forces will surely join the Stark army against Ramsey. I'm curious how the impasse between the Blackfish and Jaime will turn out. It's a stretch to imagine them combining forces, but the Lannisters certainly have no real allegiance to Walder Frey. I can't wait to see the Greyjoy's unite with Danaerys. Hopefully we'll see the dothraki horde on the steps of King's Landing as Game of Thrones continues Season 6 on HBO.