Features and Columns · TV

Game of Thrones: What Returning to The Riverlands Could Mean

By  · Published on June 1st, 2016

Game of Thrones

Bronn is Back! The Blackfish is Back! Plus a Theory About Howland Reed and The Glovers.

Jaime Lannister looking sharp in his dad’s armor.

It’s Wednesday, which means HBO has released a slew of new photos from the next episode of Game of Thrones. Episode 7, “The Broken Man,” will include a return to the Riverlands and the return of a few beloved characters. It’s high time that we break down what’s going on in these photos. Here’s your spoiler alert: this will include some book knowledge and reckless speculation. You’ve been warned.

Above, Jaime Lannister and Bronn lead a small force of Lannister soldiers into the Riverlands. In George R.R. Martin’s fourth book, A Feast for Crows, this is a big storyline for the Kingslayer. After learning of Cersei’s affairs with their cousin Lancel (the revelation that led to her walk of shame), Jaime and Cersei effectively break-up and he looks for something to occupy his time. This leads him to Riverrun, the holdfast of House Tully (Catelyn’s family), where Cat’s uncle Brynden “The Blackfish” is besieged on all sides by Lannisters and Freys. In the books, Jaime uses Edmure Tully as a bargaining chip to eventually take the castle, though he loses track of the Blackfish, who ends up swimming down river. Based on the episode 7 preview and the fact that we were re-introduced to Edmure last week, it would appear as if the show is going to remain faithful to the story in the books. Though even though we know how it’s going to turn out, seeing The Blackfish (he of “I’ve seen wet shits I like more than Walder Frey” fame) and Ser Jaime do some contentious verbal sparring will be worth the trip.

Don’t remember what The Blackfish looks like? Here he is, played by the ever-grizzly Clive Russell:

If we are back in the Riverlands and back with the Tully crew, it feels awfully likely that fans of the books might finally see the Brotherhood again and maybe get a little bit of Lady Stoneheart. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but it’s not wrong to get a little hype. At the very least, a return to the Riverlands means a return of some very charming men of Westeros having wry conversations about honor.

Elsewhere in the heart of Westeros, we’re going to get the fallout of last week’s big socio-political movement in King’s Landing. Now that the Millennials have taken to religion, it’s up to the Rebellion Baby Boomers to figure out how to stop all this devilish religion. This includes a chat between a re-crowned Queen Margaery and her grandmother, Lady Olenna, supervised by a stern-faced Septa Unella. I guess the Shame Dame and the Queen are BFFs in the Light of the Seven now:

And a conversation between Lady Olenna and Cersei, likely blaming each other for the loss of their families youngest, brightest hopes to the grips of the High Sparrow and his movement of the people:

Not-so-bold prediction: Olenna and Margaery are still working in the shadows to complete the takedown of Cersei (and possibly the High Sparrow). Which Olenna will be happy to see Cersei’s Trial By Combat go poorly for the lion queen, she’s also not really a big fan of the uprising of the poor. Remember, she’s among the richest 1% of the 1%. Westeros’ version of the Koch brothers, smashed together into one person and given a healthy dose of patriarchy-busting ‘tude.

In Braavos, Arya Stark ponders life, liberty, and the pursuit of murders that suit her own hyper-specific moral code. Will she make a break for Westeros right away? Is there a confrontation with The Waif in her near future? And even if she does escape, will the Faceless Men follow her to the ends of Earthyros to ensure that a debt is paid?

Random note of praise: The show has done a wonderful job giving us different angles of the Titan of Braavos, one of the nine wonders of Martin’s world. It’s based on the ancient wonder The Colossus of Rhodes and if Arya leaves Braavos soon, we may not get another look at this beautiful skirted man.

Enter Howland Reed?

Finally, in the North: Sansa, Jon, and Davos go on their goodwill tour of The North to rally support against the Boltons. This shot is from Deepwood Motte, the seat of House Glover. We’re going to meet Robett Glover, played by Tim McInnerny.

In the books, Deepwood Motte is a castle taken by Theon’s sister during the reaving of the North by the Ironborn. Eventually Stannis comes along and takes it back, but the Ironborn make off with the Lady Glover and her children. It’s not likely that they will go through with that storyline, as Stannis is gone and the Ironborn have moved on, but there is another interesting Glover-centric storyline that could emerge.

In the books, Galbart Glover (Robett’s older brother) is tasked by Robb Stark with seeking out Howland Reed – Meera’s father and Ned’s accomplice at the Tower of Joy – and obtain his help in taking back Moat Cailin from the Ironborn. Glover and his companion Lady Maege Mormont go missing in their quest and have not been heard from since. If the show is looking to bring a present day Howland Reed into the fray, the Glovers are the key to opening that box.

This could be fan wish fulfillment – especially considering that Howland Reed might be one of the only people alive who knows the truth about Jon’s mother – but it would be a neat way to bring Howland into the show’s present storyline. We know that Jon and Sansa will be visiting the Glovers and the Mormonts, both of whom may seek their lost kin who went searching for Howland. The show did include Galbart Glover, played by Mark Coney, as one of Robb Stark’s bannermen in season one.

Don’t be surprised if the show begins to set up the return of Howland via the Glovers and the Mormonts. It may not happen – after all, Efficiency is Coming – but it could be interesting.

We’ll know more when “The Broken Man” airs this Sunday.

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Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the One Perfect Shot TV show (currently streaming on HBO Max) and the co-host of Trial By Content on The Ringer Podcast Network. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)