War looms over the houses of Westeros. The Seven Kingdoms face the inevitability of a final battle in the seventh episode of season six of “Game of Thrones.” “The Broken Man” features each storyline on the brink of an impending conflict. The Hound returns set on a new path of redemption, only to be caught in the crossfire of someone else’s war. Sansa and Jon prepare for combat, on the brink of taking back Winterfell from Ramsay Bolton. While Cersei and Margaery are caught in conflicts with the High Sparrow, Arya finds herself running from a confrontation with the Faceless Men.
In an icy moment, Lyanna Mormont criticizes Sansa’s past disloyalty, highlighting how these choices could hinder Sansa and Jon’s attempt at reclaiming Winterfell. Sansa and Lyanna represent two varying views of female power in the political structure of Westeros. Lady Lyanna, taught by her “warrior” mother to value the physical aspects of war and politics, uses a traditionally masculine type of power through combat and duels. On the other hand, Sansa has employed a tactic that involves not physical power, but the inherent authority she has within the social structures of Westeros as a woman. She uses her beauty and family name as a means to survival, which leads Lyanna to question Sansa’s loyalty to her own house.
As Jon and Sansa prepare to wage war in the North, Margaery also finds herself caught in the middle of an ongoing conflict with the Faith. Now that the High Sparrow has control of King’s Landing through his allegiance with Tommen, he has begun to seek the Tyrell’s power in Highgarden. The High Sparrow has virtually ignored Loras despite being the Tyrell heir, seemingly acknowledging that Margaery is more capable than both Loras and Tommen by seeking her out to obtain control of House Tyrell.
Margaery, like Sansa, has exercised her femininity to her advantage throughout the series, using it to control men in power like Joffrey and Tommen. The Sparrow traps her within her femininity, calling her to fulfill her duty as queen and bear an heir to the Iron Throne. Though unable to use her sex appeal to control him, Margaery is patient and unyielding in convincingly embracing the act of a woman devoted to the Seven. She plays her part well as a queen devoted to the Faith and, with time, she could successfully rescue Loras and take down the Septon.
Arya faces her own enemies in Braavos. Defying the Faceless Men for the last time, Arya finds herself a fugitive once more. Despite being accustomed to running from potential danger, Arya is uncharacteristically calm as she strolls through the streets. Her carefree demeanor leaves her vulnerable to the Waif’s attempt to assassinate her, who, despite being warned by Jaqen H’ghar, fails to do so in a humane manner.
But things aren’t always as they seem: Arya’s reckless behavior, suspicious acquisition of a substantial amount of silver and the absence of her sword Needle at her hip has led to speculation that the person stabbed by the Waif was not Arya Stark at all. These inconsistencies have caused some to fans believe that the person wearing Arya’s face was Jaqen or another faceless man, sent to test the Waif’s ability to objectively terminate her. Other theories have arisen, including one that suggests Arya and the Waif are the same person, with the Waif as a separate personality of Arya’s. Arya’s scenes in “The Broken Man” are suspicious at the least, but it will remain unclear who is truly bleeding out on the streets of Braavos until next Sunday.
Battlelines are being drawn as each character prepares to confront their most fearsome strife. With only three episodes remaining in season six, chaos will surely unleash in the coming weeks. As tensions surge, the women of Westeros rise to the occasion. Brewing conflicts prove to create environments where female power can flourish. With Sansa and Lyanna using their own prowess in the Northern conflict, Margaery and Cersei separately conspire to take down the High Sparrow in King’s Landing. In this war, it seems that victory lies with the women.
Contact Dani Sundell at [email protected].