Is it just me or does Game of Thrones feel like a different show in its sixth season? It's light on its feet, both in its tone and momentum. Arya Stark got stabbed -- multiple times! -- and instead of feeling that sense of dread I felt when Roose Bolton plunged his dagger into Robb Stark's heart, I was completely calm. How could David Benioff and D.B. Weiss kill off Arya so callously when she's been a main character since Season 1? Arya Stark has clearly been chosen to make it to the end, and while that doesn't guarantee her overall survival, it does influence the way we react to these "surprising" events.
That's not to say I don't enjoy it. For the most part, Sunday night's episode was a welcome breeze -- and that final, morose scene was meant to serve as a brutal reminder of the bloodshed to come.
Once again, Game of Thrones gave us more questions than answers in Season 6, Episode 7 ("The Broken Man"), and since it is MTV News's duty to trek through the muck of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series to answer your weekly inquiries, let's get to it. But first, a message from our bear:
OK. Now let's get to it!
Who did Sansa address that letter to?
It had to be Littlefinger. He offered her the Knights of the Vale before she and Jon had embarked on their Northern Apology Tour. She cooly declined. But after failing to rally the North behind House Stark in the Battle For Winterfell, Sansa probably decided it was time to take Littlefinger up on his offer and add the Knights of the Vale to their side. It's not like they don't need the extra resources. Sixty-two men from House Mormont, 2,000 free folk, and one giant just aren't going to cut it on the battlefield. However, I don't think Jon is going to appreciate Sansa going behind his back on this one, especially when he finds out it was Littlefinger, the Cockroach of Westeros, who sent the knights.
Is Cleganebowl going to happen?HBO
Cleganebowl is the popular fan theory that the Hound, otherwise known as Sandor Clegane, will have to fight his brother Gregor Clegane, a.k.a. The Mountain, to the death. Given the way the Hound stormed off with a literal ax to grind at the end of Episode 7, you can see why there's a lot of Cleganebowl hype among fans. With the Hound currently wandering through the Riverlands and the zombified Mountain serving at Cersei’s side in King’s Landing, it might take some time before Cleganebowl actually happens. Then again, we know Cersei's trial is approaching and that she will choose a trial by combat. Could the High Sparrow call upon the Hound to fight for the Faith and therefore face his big, bad brother in the ring? After all, who else is going to be tough enough to cross blades with that monster? At least Sandor has a reason for hating his brother. The Mountain is the one who burned the Hound's face as a boy -- by purposefully holding his brother's face in a fire -- and the Hound has been looking for his revenge since.
How did Arya survive her wounds?HBO
We know Arya survives the Waif's attack because the Season 6 trailers suggested that we'd see more of Arya. (She's seen jumping from a building here.) But the girl formerly known as A Girl did not look good the last time we saw her, staggering through the streets of Braavos while losing a lot of blood. So how did Arya survive the attack? Some theories include that the stabbed girl wasn't really Arya, but Jaqen H'ghar in disguise. Seeing as he gave the Waif the order to kill Arya, I don't think this is likely. I also don't think Arya would have sent someone else out into the streets of Braavos wearing her face because, as we saw last week, the Stark girl isn't so down with killing innocent people. Some people even think that Arya will be resurrected by a Red Priest, but I don't think it's that complicated. Arya survives because she's tough -- and hopefully, she ran into Lady Crane because, judging from those looks she received, Crane is the only person in Braavos who gives a damn about A Girl's survival.
What is Margaery's plan?HBO
Surprise, surprise: Margaery Tyrell is a faker after all. Not that Queen Margaery's loyalty to her house was ever in any doubt. When Margaery snuck Lady Olenna a drawing of a Highgarden rose -- the House Tyrell sigil -- it basically confirmed my suspicions that all that penitence and prayer hasn't truly reformed her character. Margaery is no saint; she's a double agent. And she's still the most conniving player in the game (next to Littlefinger). However, it's hard to decipher Queen Margaery's game plan. In fact, it may be the biggest question mark in the entire series. Thanks to the High Sparrow, we know Margaery has refused to join King Tommen in the marriage bed, which is undoubtedly her way of manipulating the naïve king. Will she ultimately turn King Tommen against the Faith Militant? Or will she find a way to bring down the High Sparrow without the useless king's help? Personally, I'd like to see Margaery team up with Cersei. As someone once said, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
Who was Brother Ray?HBO
Poor Brother Ray. The man just wanted to build a church! In "The Broken Man" we learn that the Hound -- broken, bloody, and near death -- was rescued by a man known as Brother Ray (played by Ian McShane), a reformed killer and leader of a hippie cult in the Riverlands. In the books, this all plays out a bit differently, as there's no specific Brother Ray character. There is, however, an Elder Brother, a leader of a small community on the Quiet Isle. In A Feast For Crows, he is reputed to have powers as a healer. There's also another secondary character in GRRM's text, Septon Meribald, who delivers a "Broken Man" speech to Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne while they're traveling in the Riverlands. Brother Ray seems to be a hybrid of Septon Meribald and the Elder Brother.
In the episode, Brother Ray preaches against violence, a philosophy that ultimately gets him and his happy hippie congregation killed by the Brotherhood Without Banners. As the Hound is brutally reminded, those who don’t fight aren’t long for the world of Westeros. But all that talk of peace and love was nice while it lasted.
What happened to the Brotherhood Without Banners?HBO
The last time we saw the Brotherhood Without Banners, they were an outlaw group who made it their mission to protect smallfolk from any force preying on them, regardless of which king or lord they supported. So why did they attack Brother Ray and his happy hippie commune? Under Beric Dondarrion's management, the Brotherhood was never this ruthless.
Now, it's important to note that the Hound never saw the men who slaughtered Brother Ray and his followers, so it's possible another group is responsible for the massacre. (Possibly the Freys? They do love slaughtering people.) Assuming, though, that the Hound was correct in his assumption that those three riders were from the Brotherhood Without Banners, it really doesn't sound like the Brotherhood we once knew. Brother Ray and his followers were precisely the kind of people the Brotherhood had vowed to protect, which makes me think this bloodthirsty new Brotherhood is under new leadership. And if Beric Dondarrion is really dead this time, that means the Red Priest Thoros of Myr must be dead too. Either showrunners Benioff and Weiss are trolling us, or Lady Stoneheart is here to wreak havoc in the Riverlands. (They have been raiding the Freys' supplies. Could they be readying themselves for a battle?)
Where are the Manderlys?HBO
It seems strange that Jon and Sansa would stop at Bear Island (House Mormont) and Deepwood Motte (House Glover) without personally stopping to say hi to the Manderlys in White Harbor. There's no house more loyal to the Starks than the Manderlys, so I have to know: Where the fuck is Wyman Manderly? In George R. R. Martin's A Dance With Dragons, it’s revealed that House Manderly operates a secret resistance to House Bolton and House Frey with a few other Northern lords. Given that the Manderlys have yet to declare their allegiance to Ramsay Bolton, it's possible that they’ve been trying to unite the North on the DL. But if they want to help the Starks take back Winterfell, they're kinda running out of time. Come on, guys. The North remembers!
Can Lyanna Mormont just take the Iron Throne already?HBO
Yes. Yes she can. Lyanna Mormont, Queen of the North, can do anything she wants to do.
Can't get enough of Game of Thrones? Listen to this week's "Game of Crones" podcast, featuring MTV News pop culture writers Rachel Handler, Teo Bugbee, and yours truly, Crystal Bell.