7:10pm PT by Hanh Nguyen
'Game of Thrones': Arya Takes a Stab at Returning Home
[Warning: This story contains spoilers for episode seven, season six of HBO's Game of Thrones, "The Broken Man."
Hubris, thy name is Arya Stark (Maisie Williams).
The youngest Stark daughter may have decided to reclaim her birthright, but heading home to Westeros won’t be that easy. After all, you can’t just train with notorious assassins and expect the Faceless Men to let you walk away from your duties.
In a horrifying twist during Sunday's "The Broken Man" episode, Arya was stabbed repeatedly by her former sparring partner, the Waif (Faye Marsay) and left to stumble off. Her future appears bleak since she’s all alone and surrounded by enemies who are masters of disguise.
The hour also featured the return of The Hound as Ian McShane's top-secret role was finally revealed. Here's a look at how the action played out.
In the Quiet Isle
Well, hello, Ian McShane! We finally find out what the acclaimed actor is doing on Game of Thrones, as the episode opens with a gorgeous green valley where many people are building a large wooden structure. Elder Brother (McShane) is the leader of former warriors in the Quiet Isle who have now become penitent, upstanding citizens who just want to live in peace and help others.
But that's not the only exciting face we see. One of those people laboring in the valley is none other than Sandor "The Hound" Clegane (Rory McCann), whom last we saw supposedly dying after Arya refused to give him a merciful death following his battle with Brienne (Gwendoline Christie). As predicted, he's likely "The Broken Man" in the episode title, saved by Elder Brother.
The Hound doesn't seem so broken here since he's wielding an ax with vigor and declares that he survived his wounds through the power of his burning hatred. It sounds like he has a hit list with one name on it: Arya Stark. But he may be adding some more names soon. After three riders who are followers of R'hllor — possibly in the Brotherhood without Banners — visit, The Hound returns from chopping wood to find all of the peaceful denizens (including Elder Brother) massacred. The Hound stomps off with ax in hand, purpose in his step and murder in his heart.
In King's Landing
Meanwhile, Margaery (Natalie Dormer) continues to give the appearance of the ardently faithful, even quoting from the Book of the Mother to the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) and revealing that she's been so overcome with emotion that she hasn't been doing her duty in the royal bedroom. She even goes so far as to encourage her grandmother Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg) to do the right thing and go home to Highgarden, but then slips her a note under Septa Unella's (Hannah Waddingham) watchful but unsuspecting eye. It's a drawing of a rose, the symbol of House Tyrell. No surprise that we see where Margaery's true loyalties lie, and it's not with the High Sparrow.
In the North
Jon Snow must convince the wildlings to come and help him defeat the Boltons, and Tormund points out that Jon had literally died for them, which really is the trump card for any argument about loyalty. Wun Wun the giant is the first one won over, and the rest follow suit.
The campaign for fighting forces continues as Jon, Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Ser Davos (Liam Cunningham) go to Bear Island to petition the allegiance of House Mormont, but it's being led by a young and very unimpressed little girl named Lyanna. She's not thrilled about the idea of sacrificing more of her people to a lost cause since even her mother died supporting the murdered Robb Stark, but Ser Davos proves again why he was chosen to counsel Stannis (Stephen Dillane). His empathy and eloquence convince Lyanna to keep their faith with House Stark and even offer up 62 men to fight for them.
Despite this small victory and the pledges of a few other houses, their luck doesn't hold elsewhere since many, such as House Glover, don't want to fight alongside wildlings or lose more people. Sansa doesn't take this lack of support quietly and decides to determine her own fate. This time she sends off a raven and neglects to tell Jon Snow another part of her dealings yet again.
Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and the reluctant-knight-former-sellsword Bronn (Jerome Flynn) have arrived at Riverrun just in time to see Lord Edmure Tully (Tobias Menzies) about to be killed outside by the Freys unless his uncle Brynden "The Blackfish" Tully yields his castle. The Blackfish either doesn't care for his nephew or decides to call their bluff, saying, "Go on then. Cut his throat." They don't.
Jaime, annoyed by the Freys' lousy handling of the siege, takes command and even demands proper treatment (a bath!) for Edmure. The Blackfish actually deigns to meet Jaime face to face but refuses to back down, claiming to have supplies enough to last two years if Jaime dares to attack.
En route to Meereen
While Yara (Gemma Whelan) and the rest of the Ironborn that escaped Pyke are drinking and wenching, Theon (Alfie Allen) is wildly uncomfortable, especially since he no longer functions like the libertine he once was. Good ol' big sis gives him a great pep talk though, which involves telling him to drink and kill himself if he's given up, and soon you can see that Theon fire back in his eyes. They are off to see the khaleesi now, and it's just a matter of time before they run into their uncle Euron (Pilou Asbaek) who is also bound for Essos.
Arya Stark, the girl formerly known as "a girl," books passage to Westeros, confidently tossing bags of money at a ship's captain. But just as she's standing on a bridge to gaze at the backside of the Titan of Braavos as if to say goodbye, she's approached by an old lady who is of course the Faceless Man known as the Waif in disguise.
The Waif slashes at Arya with a knife and then brutally stabs her repeatedly in the stomach. Somehow, Arya finds the strength to fight back and then escapes by rolling off the bridge and into the water below. She surfaces and makes her way through the crowded market, clutching her belly the whole time.
Her fate seems uncertain since she's weak and doesn't have any friends in Braavos. Or does she? She did make one ally recently who knows a thing or two about disguise.
What did you think about "The Broken Man"? Sound off in the comments below. Stay tuned to THR.com/GameOfThrones for full coverage.