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Game of Thrones: “The Broken Man” Reviewed

June 7, 2016


For all the great metal clanging crescendos produced by Game of Thrones, this show remains at its best when wonderful wonderful actors just look each other in the eye and talk.  “The Broken Man” has many of these moment.

Grandma Tyrell gets to tell Cersei just how much she truly madly deeply hates her.  And Cersei has to just stand there and take it.   I have grown up with Diana Rigg.  When someone refers to “The Avengers” in conversation, it’s Diana Rigg that I think of.  Part of me is waiting for Olenna Tyrell to take on the High Sparrow with a breathtaking display of high-kicking martial arts.  Every one of Olenna’s barbed comments has the beauty and precision of one of Emma Peel’s perfectly executed kicks.

Though I wonder if I too wouldn’t be seduced by High Sparrow.  Jonathan Pryce is so hypnotically sincere and his humility is just so well performed.  Even washing your face is, apparently, an affront to the Gods if you’re High Sparrow.  There is such strange love in his eyes.  What he offers is the temptation of a utter simplicity.  In the world of King’s Landing he’s a ray of supreme clarity.  Just let go.  Everything will be all right.

Ian McShane’s superb (just one episode, only contracted for one episode mind) guest star performance is subtly different.  He’s a far less ambitious septon, content to save people one at a time.  He has saved The Hound, who should of course have died but apparently has not, and is now aggressively chopping wood for a small pacifist community.  There’s no ambition to scalp Heads of Houses and change the world – only introduce a bit of redemptive kindness and corrective justice into a wicked world bit by bit.  “Why haven’t the Gods punished me?” asks the Hound and Ian McShane and several million viewers around the world reply “they have”.

These nice folk all get slaughtered.  The Hound is going to have to go back to killing people.  Lots and lots of people.

Yara and Theon are on the run from their uncle, but Yara is in good spirits entertaining her brother in a brothel of all places.  Tact forms no part of Yara’s therapeutic vocabulary. If you’re not “coming back” you should take a knife and  “take a knife and cut your wrists”.  If you want to live – then live.

It’s unsophisticated stuff but it’s still more sensitive and nuanced than Dr Phil.

The northerners are still recruiting and finding it difficult to get anyone to fall in line alongside wildings.  Princess Lyanna (tough as nails ten year old) from Bear Island offers just 62 soldiers but apparently they’s be absolutely BRILLIANT.  Yet again, it’s Davos who saves the day with a speech that neither Jon nor Sansa can rival.  It’s Davos who puts everything back into perspective by saying that who sits on which chair in which castle is looking increasingly irrelevant as the swelling army of the dead plot to mow down all that lives in the coming apocalypse.

Gary Cooper defined acting as looking someone in the eye and telling them the truth.  This episode has been a delicious triumph for Gary Cooper acting.

Oh, and Waif Attack!  We knew it was coming, but it was horrible and scary.  And I have to say that Arya Stark’s university experience at the House of Black and White makes her the unhappiest student I’ve ever seen.  Can things possibly get any worse for her?


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