Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 7: ‘The Broken Man’

PrintE-mail Written by Hayden Mears

In the past, Game of Thrones has refused to show its hand until the final stretch of each season. The earlier seasons were slower, more controlled burns while the latter seasons interspersed their multi-layered character arcs with satisfying action sequences and exciting developments designed to keep viewers invested. However, with its explosive, revelatory sixth year, the show pulls no punches and holds nothing back; here is a season that doesn't flinch or falter when destroying the conventions created by preceding seasons. Last week's episode, titled Blood of My Blood, set the stage for something really special, but nothing, not even an hour of set-up, could have prepared us for The Broken Man. Dark and shocking, this powerful seventh episode finds a number of beloved characters backed into some serious corners, raising its stakes sky-high and taking the ever-growing tension to a degree that's both dangerous and exciting. All is not well in Westeros, but that just means we get some crazy good television out of whatever horrifying thing happens next.

While Jon Snow, Sansa Stark, and Tormund Giantsbane busy themselves with rallying up Stark loyalists for the inevitable battle against the Boltons, Jaime Lannister finds himself dealing with the Blackfish and the Tullys at Riverrun. In Volantis, Yara and Theon Greyjoy plot their next move, and Arya seeks passage out of Braavos and away from Jaqen H'ghar and his Many-Faced God. At King's Landing, Cersei plots to reclaim her son from the High Sparrow and his fellow zealots.

The Broken Man is a game-changer. While there are no earth-shattering revelations or gruesome deaths, a number of fan-favorite characters step back into play, presenting new angles to pre-existing conflicts and adding depth and dimension to said conflicts. It's Game of Thrones at its best, at its most confident. It knows where it's going and how it's going to get there, but thankfully saves the juiciest bits for later. That's not to say that the showrunners don't give us some tidbits to chew on while we wait to get slammed with payoffs. A number of storylines reach a point where anything can happen at any point, and that's exciting. We once thought that certain characters were safe; this episode gleefully proves us so very wrong. Arya's arc gets exciting really fast, throwing her fate into the realm of uncertainty and worrying fans the world over. That's what we want, though. Even if we don't realize that we want it. We want to see these characters roll, risk, and reap the rewards that might follow, but we also want to see them struggle. The Broken Man gives us plenty of struggles and strife, even daring to bring a beloved character so close to death that it's unclear if that character will make it next time around.

Not only is The Broken Man one of the strongest episodes the show has given us so far, it's also one of the most nerve-wracking hours of television in recent memory. Here's to hoping that some of this week's excitement spills over into next week's episode.

Game of Thrones returns next week with No One.

 
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