(Spoiler alert: Do not keep reading if you have not seen this week’s episode of “Game of Thrones”)
This week’s “Game of Thrones” opened with the appearance of Ian McShane, but before we could learn exactly who he’s playing, a familiar face popped up alongside him: Sandor “The Hound” Clegane (Rory McCann).
The Hound is fully recovered and living at the Quiet Isle, a small religious community. That would make McShane the Elder Brother, the leader of that community. He found The Hound near death and brought him back.
He speculates that the gods must have some purpose in mind for The Hound for him to live after nearly dying. It is wonderful to see McCann in the role again, bringing his trademark gruffness back.
In King’s Landing, Margaery (Natalie Dormer) is still playing the pious devotee of the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce). He tells her that she must convert the Queen of Thorns (Diana Rigg) to their cause.
She and Margaery talk, with Margaery slipping her tart-tongued grandmother a note when no one is looking. It is a drawing of a flower, the sigil of House Tyrell.
Far to the North, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) tries to rally the remaining wildlings to fight for him to retake Winterfell. They are hestitant, but Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) speaks up for him and they agree to join his army.
He then travels to Bear Island, the seat of House Mormont. The young Lady Lyanna Mormont rules now, but she has little patience for Jon or Sansa (Sophie Turner). Only Davos (Lian Cunningham) is able to get through to her, much like he did with Shireen in earlier seasons.
Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and–another return for a fan favorite– Bronn (Jerome Flynn) arrive at Riverrun. The Freys are ready to kill Edmure (Tobias Menzies) if the Blackfish (Clive Russell) won’t surrender. Blackfish won’t budge, but the Freys decide not to kill Edmure. Jaime takes control of the Frey army as well and tells Bronn to get word to Blackfish that he wants to meet.
They meet at the gates of Riverrun, and the Blackfish shows his resolve is stronger than steel. He lets Jaime know in no uncertain terms that he will die before he will surrender the castle.
Jon meets with the head of House Glover, but he will hear none of Jon’s talk of fighting against the Boltons. But Sansa steps up and demands their loyalty in the name of House Stark. Lord Glover is still bitter over Robb losing the war, and declares House Stark dead.
Sansa continues to surprise this season, as she speaks up to Jon to tell him that they need more forces, but Jon insists on marching on Winterfell with what men they have. She composes a message in secret and sends it by raven to an unknown recipient.
Theon (Alfie Allen) and Yara (Gemma Whelan) are hiding out from their uncle, and Yara tries to get Theon to grow a pa–step up for himself. They agree to sail to Meereen and make a deal with Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) to retake the Iron Islands.
On the Quiet Isle, the Elder Brother shares stories of his past life as a soldier with the community. Three men from the Brotherhood Without Banners ride up and make some vague threats. The Hound tells him they should fight, but the Elder Brother says he is done with fighting.
Across the sea, Arya books passage home. Suddenly, the Waif (Faye Marsay) surprises her and stabs her several times. Arya escapes, but is left wandering the streets slowly bleeding.
While the Hound is out chopping wood, he hears a scream from home. He goes running back to find the entire community dead and the Elder Brother has been hung. The Hound takes up an axe and storms off.