SPOILER ALERT! There are small things the past few weeks have worked into it without actually throwing in any can't-miss action into the mix.
Okay, so last time we talked about Game of Thrones, Dany set some Dothraki goons on fire, gave a speech, Ramsay stabbed wildling lady, and Sansa Stark and Jon Snow were reunited.
Since then? Okay, we learned how Hodor got his name, time travel is kind of sort of a thing, Bran is officially the Three-Eyed Raven, The Faith Militant run this b*tch in King's Landing, Arya's not quite cut out to be a faceless man/girl, Direwolves are 0-4, and Tyrion's down with Red Priestesses representin'.
So there's a lot. That's sort of the can't-miss action you look for, but it's nothing like what we've come to expect from episode 8 in any given season.
You know episode 8 is probably gonna be lit, and we'll talk about that later this week.
But we know a lot after last night specifically. Some of this will fold into what such a climactic episode could present, some of this is just general semi-pithy observations about the world of Westeros.
Check it! Remember, if you're not caught up yet, STOP READING.
Go watch it. Then come back.
1. Ian McShane clearly ain't about tits and dragons
I don't know about you, but I was really looking forward to Ian McShane's role in this universe. Especially after his interview where he told people that GoT is "just tits and dragons." He's definitely got a point.
While it appeared to be a veiled (or not) jab at the show, it kind of sucks now that we've both seen him come and go. Yeah, after 6 episodes, Ian McShane finally showed up as some dude named Ray who basically runs a non-profit Faith community somewhere in the hills. Probably outside of The Vale?
But now he's dead, thanks to The Brotherhood Without Banners. D*cks. There's clearly some kind of strugglebus situation between The Faith and The Brotherhood. Of course, The Brotherhood clearly has issues with just about everybody.
Speaking of The Faith...
2. Not a good time for Faith Militant recruitment
Whether it's Margery playin' the High Sparrow, Cersei 'bout to tear into them with the Mountain, or Ian McShane teachin' the hill people how to dangle, it's not a good time to join up with the Faith.
They're getting played from within, butchered from the outside, and just abused in the preview for next week's episode. It just doesn't look good right now. Which, considering how boring everything in King's Landing has been this season, thank god, right?
3. HOUSE CLEGANE IS INTACT
Okay, so you could have seen this coming from a mile away given all of the clues: name of the episode is "The Broken Man," there were shots of feet that probably belonged to him, and Rory McCann, the actor who plays him, was spotted in Belfast where the show's filmed.
But most importantly, PICS OR IT DIDN'T HAPPEN!
THE HOUND IS ALIVE. He was a savage until he met Ian McShane, but now that he's been butchered, he looks ready to settle some scores by way of ax.
But this goes back to an important "I Told You So." Like I've said before, pics or it didn't happen. This is important because who else haven't we seen dead? Namely, Stannis. He's presumed dead. Brienne says she chopped his head off. But real talk, Brienne: pics or it didn't happen.
4. Theon's had a few bad years
Yara. Really? "Had a bad few years" is putting it lightly.
He clearly paid the iron price for his d*ck. Now he's got nothing. That's what sisters are for, I guess.
5. House Stark needs to work on its pitch
Sure, Davos is a good closer when it comes to drawing the empathy of 10-year-old girls, but that was already in his wheelhouse.
If that's your closer, and all of your other pitches to get people to join up in your army include rehashings of war history and reminders that Robb totally screwed up when he married the foreign homegirl, then you need to go back to the drawing board.
My main thing is this is a half-assed sales team. Like, Sansa doesn't know anything. She's been locked up down South, on the run for murder, chillin' in The Vale, and gettin' married off (don't forget the rape. There was an awful lot of rape) to Lannisters and Boltons.
She's not really the ideal person you want pitching this idea. She's too out of touch.
6. Arya is still a dope little ninja
Okay, so I, and I don't think I'm alone, am getting tired of this story. First, we have to deal with her training for a whole year. Then we have to deal with her losing her sight. Then she gets that sh*t back and decides to dip on the whole process. WTF!?
Now you're knifed in the belly and walking around town.
Essential question: Do we care? I mean, that's a really heartless question to ask about a, how old is she? 13-year old girl, but damn, Arya. At some point you get what you deserve, and I think she's definitely getting it.
As for the Waif. Something tells me you've got to double-down and get this sh*t wrapped real quick. We don't know if she's already been forgiven by the Faceless God, and Arya's clearly suffering - something Jaqen told her explicitly not to allow. Methinks he saves the day again.
7. Jaime sort of does have honor?
There were shots in that episode that had all of the makings for the resurgence of "The Man without Honor."
He had at least 5 opportunities to knife The Blackfish on the bridge. It would have been right in line with how House Frey, the people who are supposed to be gettin' The Blackfish, handles situations.
Which, by the way, what the f*ck is up with those hats, boys? Eh?
Either he's completely whipped, lacking confidence in his abilities, or simply not as dishonorable as we'd long thought, something's up with Jamie.
8. Prolific sexy times in House Greyjoy
Remember back in the day when Ramsay made a crack about Theon Greyjoy's "Famous Cock?" Yeah, then he snapped it off. With a knife. Now we've got Yara who's also big into the working ladies of Volantis.
"I'm gonna go f*ck the tits off of that one," was literally something said by a woman in Game of Thrones. Amazing. Sort of...
9. FEMALE EMPOWERMENT
Yo. Okay, so I would never ask "Are they taking this feminist narrative too far?" That's a stupid question that clearly misses the point. I don't have an issue with it, but I have to wonder how well it actually resonates with the audience and if it rings as authentic or forced.
It has all of the makings of being reactive to the history of the show. Women get naked, raped, stabbed in the baby, burned at the stake, have their throats cut, get treated like sh*t, and just are generally marginalized in every possible (EVERY POSSIBLE WAY) way throughout the show.
That's been the trend. That's the expected outcome for almost any woman who shows up. And we've been torn. We had to question it last year when they zoomed in on Theon's face when Sansa got raped by Ramsay Bolton: Why take it there, why equate how he might be feeling in that moment with how she's actually getting treated, and why are we just now curious?
Only later did a 9-year-old girl get burned alive. Then we get to Arya, and she can't even stab a violent sexual predator's eyes out of his face without losing her own sight.
So, having not read the books, are these optics; the gradual reparations for every terrible thing women endured on this show, are these text-based or are these reactive to the mythology of the show? It's a fair question for women who haven't gotten fair treatment.
Do women have any real agency in this world? Even Daenerys "Watch the Queen Conquer" Stormborn?
Does she have agency despite only making progress through burning sh*t down? and that seems like a fundamental trapping of this world; one that thrives with violence, nakedness, and fire rather than one that tidies things up for the sake of real-world sensibilities.
Again, I'm all for it. Just asking about gender equality in Westeros because it doesn't seem like a concern in this world we're watching.