After two weeks of rapidly accelerating plot and details about the characters I love, “The Broken Man” felt like a bit of a let down.
To be fair, “The Broken Man” primarily focused on the politicking in Westeros, which as I’ve mentioned before seems very unimportant in the face of the dramatic events happening in Essos and north of the Wall. Because of that fact alone this episode dragged for me. But hey, it wasn’t a total loss. We learned that Sandor Clegane lives! He’s far from my favorite character, but when that reveal happened my Twitter timeline exploded (thanks for the spoilers, folks) and there’s been dozens of memes spawned in less than 24 hours.
Outside the fact that he’s alive, Sandor’s plot also dragged. We got Ian McShane, who’s a pretty well known actor, in a relatively small role and killed off before the episode ended. I guess we can only expect a guest-starring role from an actor of his caliber. His words were supposed to be inspirational for Sandor and set him on a path of redemption, but I was too distracted trying to figure out what this weird little cult of people was building to be wowed by his epic speeches. Shame. I’ll have to watch again because, man, it’s Ian McShane. Dude has talent. and it’s worth a second watch since I didn’t appreciate it the first time around.
The part of the “The Broken Man” that both excited me and frustrated me the most was the confirmation that Yara likes women. However, when I expressed this feeling, friends were eager to point out that this means she’ll probably die soon. The year 2016 has been unkind to queer women. Please, Game of Thrones, I beg you to not add onto the ever growing list of dead queer women. With the show’s reputation for pushing boundaries for shock value, I don’t see this turning out well for Yara. But hey, Game of Thrones, it won’t be all that shocking because The 100, The Walking Dead, and tons of other shows beat you to killing off the lesbians this year. Furthermore, considering your penchant for taking actions for the sake of shock value, you really can’t shock us anymore. We expect the worst.
Also, as excited as I was to have one of my favorite characters confirmed as queer, it was strikingly obvious that the scene was written by men, directed by men, primarily for men. I’m not making a broad statement that women couldn’t have enjoyed that scene as well. I’m sure there were some. But it was primarily shot strongly through the male gaze. I suppose the argument can be made that Yara is “one of the guys” so framing the scene in that way is appropriate. Sure. I don’t agree, but sure. It doesn’t change the fact that a scene between two women was written for male consumption and that makes me uncomfortable. Still, queer Yara is excellent. I love her dearly. So despite the flaws, I consider her scenes in “The Broken Man” to be an overall net good.
Another major incident in “The Broken Man” was Arya’s stabbing, which frustrated me to no end. I was happy to finally see her plot get some direction and was hoping she’d become relevant to the overall story again, but then she went and got stabbed. Dammit. And let’s be real; a knife to the gut isn’t a minor injury. Especially after you dive into a river that will no doubt lead to infection. Arya needs to find a doctor or some sort of witch stat because that’s not a superficial wound. It’s pretty fatal and I’m not sure how they are going to write themselves out of this one. An infected stab to the gut was how King Robert went out, so this stuff is kind of serious.
Speaking of badass young women, hands down the best moment in the entire episode was the introduction of Lyanna Mormont. She’s instantly become a fan favorite because, despite her age and gender, she’s taken up the role as head of her house with poise and a ferocity befitting of a northern family. Unlike Joffrey, she knows when to listen to her council and take advice. She’s fierce and intelligent and surprisingly level-headed for a child. Sadly, we probably won’t see much of her going forward. She gave her 62 men (which, if they are as fierce as she is, should count for 620, really) and that’s as far as I see her plot going.
It still pains me to talk about Jaime, but he did have a moment in “The Broken Man” worth noting. His confrontation with Blackfish Tully is one of the most faithfully adapted segments in many many episodes. I hope the Tullys get to keep Riverrun. They’ve stated they can hold out for two years, so let’s make things get resolved by then. Blackfish is one of the most solid characters in the series, and it’d be a shame to see their house fall like so many before them. Stick it out, guys. Your stubborness will win this war.
Meanwhile in King’s Landing… boring stuff is still happening. Margaery, your spark has been dulled! It’s a tragedy. Also, please Gods be good and let Lady Olenna get out of the city alive. And Cersei… is still there trying to politic around like she always does. Honestly, her post-Walk-of-Shame attitude is worthy of a lengthy analysis, but that’s probably better suited for its own article. And can someone in King’s Landing please pay attention to the White Walker issue like yesterday, please. Nobody is going to care until Wights are knocking at their door. And y’all are going to deserve that mess when it happens because you’re acting like a bunch of fools. Come on now.
Overall, this wasn’t that strong of an episode despite it having some really stand out moments. It’s not an episode I’ll be purposely rewatching unless I’m showing someone the entire series for the first time or I’m looking specifically for a piece of information (or to just listen to Ian McShane talk, of course). Not every episode can be a winner, especially after two exciting plot-heavy ones.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.
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