Before we begin – Yes, there are TV spoilers ahead. I will not celebrate every twist and turn, but if we are going to talk about what we like, we have to discuss the great scenes. Stop reading if you do not like spoilers. You have been warned!
For the Watch.
It feels like we say this every time a season of Game of Thrones comes to the final episodes, we talk about how “this was the most difficult one to watch yet.” Ned’s death, the Red Wedding, Shireen’s death last week, the very difficult sexual violence the show inflicts on us, Theon’s never-ending torture… This season finale, “Mother’s Mercy,” bombarded us with one difficult scene to watch after another. It was not just characters we like facing down difficulty, it was the whole gamut of types on Game of Thrones. We finally culminated in one of those awful “I can’t believe we have to wait 75% of a year to find out what happens next.”
It seemed like things were looking up this week. Stannis committed an awful crime last week, but it appeared to be working. The north was thawing and Stannis was preparing to march. Things quickly turned for the worse for the chosen one of the Red God, as he was told half of his army had deserted in the night and his wife had committed suicide. Even worse for his chances, Melisandre fled from his camp shortly thereafter. Still, Stannis is nothing if not stoic, and he continued his preparation to siege Winterfell. However, even that plan fell apart when he saw the full might of the Boltons bearing down on his ragtag army.
Stannis did not seem to have his fire this week, did he? He was pushed over the edge by his actions, and when he saw it was for nothing, he basically gave up. Even while he was fighting off his final two attackers, it almost seemed like he wanted them to kill him. Not enough that he actually would let them kill him, but he wished they were important enough to. Enter Brienne of Tarth. She is finally able to get revenge for the death of her beloved Renly, and instead of finding a fighter or a begger, she found someone ready to accept punishment for his crimes. On Game of Thrones, we usually see the deaths of major characters, so there is no telling that Stannis is truly dead. With his family gone, his advisors deserting him, and enemies everywhere, Stannis may not be dead, but he is done. Broken. Whatever made him Stannis has burned out of him. So maybe Brienne did actually kill him. That would be a bit more fitting for what he had become.
Brienne’s revenge got a bit rushed, and so did Sansa’s plan. We will probably never figure out exactly what her plan was, since Myranda and Reek (or is it Theon again now?) cut her off. It was amazing to FINALLY see Theon take action and stand up against Ramsay. Game of Thrones gets those “stand up and cheer moments” right better than pretty much any show. I expected Theon to stop Myranda from shooting Sansa. I did not expect him to fling her over the railing to splat on the ground below. The escape was cut off a bit too soon, as it would have been nice to see whether or not the two were hurt after their jump, alive after their jump, or what they were planning on doing. Another loose thread for next season.
Cut to Ser Meryn Trant. He is basically Ramsay Jr., and we got to see the extreme pleasure he took in physically abusing extremely young girls. I expected the third girl to be Arya, but I did not expect to see her exact the bloody, monologuing revenge she got as quickly and easily as she did. I expected her to wake up, realizing she was having a pleasant dream. Watching her stab out Trant’s eyes, gag him, take her time with him, and finally reveal her identity to him before slowly slitting his throat was equal parts satisfying, disgusting, and frightening. You knew she was in trouble upon her return to the House of Black and White, though.
Arya had the rug pulled out from underneath her in a few different ways. First, she had the horrible realization that she had been caught and had let her friend and teacher down. Even more horrible than that, she had to watch Jaqen die in front of her. The worst part of all for her had to be realizing that Jaqen was no one all along. Jaqen was just another faceless man. There is no telling whether or not he was ever truly who he pretended to be. On top of all that, Arya lost her vision on the spot. What use will she be to the Many-Faced God now?
Finally, something interesting happened in Dorne! It was a bit obvious that Ellaria had gone Poison Ivy as our Lannisters sailed away, but we got a touching scene beforehand. Jaime and Myrcella had a great scene together as she accepted her role as his daughter and he accepted his role as her father. Naturally, just as we started to like Myrcella, she had to go. The poisoning before she left Dorne took effect very quickly, and I’m surprised to see that they did not do any more with Dorne this week, especially since Bronn had seen this exact poison before. Trystane is most likely in grave danger onboard that boat, but I was surprised we did not see that ship turn immediately around to exact some revenge on those smug Sandsnakes. Again, maybe next season.
If anything was a little off this week, it was the action over in Mereen. It was humorous seeing how lost everyone was without their fearless dragon queen, but we spent a bit too long with characters that peaked last week. Remember Grey Worm? Still care about him?
It was great to see Tyrion handed the reins to the city, and the awesome reappearance of Varys (where did he come from? Just walked up and started talking, like he was never gone. Even Tyrion seemed unsurprised to see him). Their conversation was full of the witty barbs we are used to seeing between these two men. But it would have been nice to see closure on some of our other storylines and just a little less time in Mereen.
As far as Daenerys herself, she is obviously in trouble. Her dragon is hurt and she is back where she began five seasons ago: held captive by an angry Dothraki khalasar. She was smart enough to drop her ring so her fearless saviors can find her, but two men, no matter how badass, will not be able to rescue her from and angry horde of Dothraki. That is, if those two ever even make it. Can they put aside their differences and work together, or is one looking to rid themselves of a rival out in the wilds? Do not be surprised if Daario and Jorah wind up at each other’s throats.
In King’s Landing, Cersei had finally had enough. She broke down and confessed all her crimes to the High Sparrow. By all her crimes, I mean the one that the High Sparrow already knows. Her walk was extremely difficult to watch, both because of how emotional it was and how long it was. Again, it brings us to the wish of some more finality for some of our other storylines; Cersei’s storyline this week would have been just as impactful if cut a little shorter.
However, we would not have seen zombie giant knight of the Kingsguard (made out of parts of The Mountain, no doubt) if we had not followed Cersei all the way to the Red Keep. It is difficult to remember just how big this man is, and watching him pick up Cersei and cart her away for healing (and seeing the look of sheer determination in Cersei’s eyes) also led us to believe that this story is far from finished.
A quick word about the High Septon: I used to think he was a “good guy.” There were certain aspects of his character that made me think he truly believed only in the gods and treated everyone the exact same. Jonathan Pryce has played the High Sparrow masterfully this season, and this week showed that he has some awful malice hidden beneath his humble exterior. The look in his eyes as Cersei walked away showed how pleased he was that he was inflicting pain on a noble. He and his Faith Militant appear to be an extreme version of the 99% movement, trying to bring down the rich in any way they can.
Finally, the big stomp in the heart for the week: the death of Jon Snow. Murdered by his own brothers after being lied to. And all because he is the only one who sees the big picture. People will undoubtably claim that Jon is coming back. Melisandre is in Castle Black (after deserting Stannis!), and she will resurrect him. Just like Thoros did for Beric back in the day. But man, that scene was heartbreaking. The absolute look of shock on his face as man after man stabbed him; Jon Snow did not expect any of this to happen to him. And, for Olly to strike the killing blow… Let’s just say that there were not too many dry eyes in the viewing party here. Once again, we expected something to happen just before the cut to black: hands coming in to take the body, even Jon’s eyes becoming an icy shade before the final cut. The final image of season five, instead, was Jon’s blood trickling out into the snow.
Who knows what lies in store for season six? Especially since there is no indication that the sixth book will be released before the next season. Season five ended with a powerful and difficult to endure episode; it raised just as many questions as it answered, and it thinned out the cast considerably. The questions it raised are sure to stay burning in our minds for the next year as we wait for answers: What’s going to happen to Arya? Is Stannis dead? Is Jon going to stay dead? What about Sansa and Theon? What is Cersei’s plan? What will Jaime do about the betrayal of Dorne? So many questions, and so long to wait for answers. This season has been a great ride, especially these last three episodes. We have plenty of time to debate what will happen. Until then, remember: the night is dark and full of terrors.
– Powerful scenes all over
– Almost everyone got some screentime
– Arya’s kill
– Feeling for Cersei
– Giant zombie Kingsguard
– Dorne was finally interesting
– Return of Varys
– Few too many cliffhangers
– Spent too much time with a few stories
– Some predictable beats
What did you think of tonight’s episode? What worked? What didn’t? What do you think is going to happen with all these characters? Let us know in the comments below.