May 11, 2015 by kbaldy15
“Kill the Boy”
Season 5, Episode 5 Review
Two things stood out for me in this week’s episode. Firstly, nearly every story has some major book deviations (some of which I like, some of which I don’t, and some of which I’m still waiting on). Secondly, it was excellent. The midway mark of the season had to accomplish two things: give some closure on the events of the first half, and set up where the rest of the season is headed. Thus, it makes sense that we pick up where we left off last week, in Meereen, with Dany dealing with the aftermath of the Sons of the Harpy attack. Barristan the Bold lies dead and Grey Worm is in full recovery mode–as a quick sidenote, I want to say how torn I am on the Grey Worm/Missandei love story. Yeah, it’s nice and it helps flesh out those characters, but do we really need screen time of an added story when we hardly have room for major characters to get their time in?–Anyways, Daenerys has no control over her city, and decides it’s time for her to demonstrate her power as a reminder of why people should listen to her. Her decision to round up the heads of the major families makes sense, as one of them, if not more, is presumably the “Harpy” that has been giving her so much trouble. However, the decision to send one of them, who is potentially innocent, to a fiery grave sends out echoes of the story Barristan had told her just one week prior. The Mad King also burned people he believed to be his enemies alive, and trusted only his own judgment in deciding who those enemies were. It was an effective scene in demonstrating Daenerys’s style of ruling thus far; she’s got power and isn’t afraid to make big decisions, but she’s always teetering dangerously close to incompetence. Maybe, just maybe, Daenerys isn’t as cut out to rule as she’d like to believe. However, there is hope. Her decision to reopen the fighting pits to free men seems like a good one, and her decision to marry Hizdahr in an attempt for peace demonstrates that she understands the political game that needs to be played, even if the decision seemed to come out of left field*, and left me feeling about as incredulous as Hizdahr looked in his cell.
Jon Snow is going through similar leadership growing pains at the Wall. While the men of the Night’s Watch haven’t openly rebelled against him like the Sons of the Harpy have against Dany, they seem like they may be well on their way. Sadly, some of the members aren’t as willing to forgive and forget past actions as Jon is, so his decision to open the gates to the Wildlings isn’t met with much enthusiasm by the men who have been fighting, and seen brothers/family killed by, the Free Folk*. It’s frustrating that they can’t understand Jon’s logic–less dead Wildlings mean less White Walkers (fewer–sorry, Stannis). Tormund’s response to Jon’s plan puts the Wildlings in a much more sympathetic light than the Night’s Watch, and I’m looking forward to him and Jon heading out to Hardhome*, even if a rescue mission for Wildlings is sure to cause some anger amongst the watch. However, Jon’s willingness to make the tough decision and follow his gut is admirable, and shows that he’s heeding Aemon’s advice to “Kill the boy and let the man be born.”
In other Wall news, Stannis is heading out, but not before reminding Sam of the importance of reading, dropping a reminder that he’s got a bunch of dragonglass available, and telling Davos that he’s not leaving his wife, child, and Melisandre at the Wall with a bunch of criminals. This was all pretty set-up heavy for Stannis; he’s headed to Winterfell, which will surely create some of the most exciting scenes going forward this season. I’ve got a couple ideas on what may happen, so I’m just going to give a big *** and say read below if you want to see some potentially spoiler-y thoughts on the matter.
At Winterfell, Sansa’s surrounded by terrible people, which could really just summarize her story since about season 2. Ramsey is torturing both her and Theon by making them see one another, and delighting in it at every turn (at least more than Myranda is delighting in Ramsey seeing Sansa…). I have to admit, I really find Iwan Rheon’s performance as Ramsey excellent, and Ramsey’s demented glee at most situations is pretty funny to watch. Still, it was nowhere near as hilarious as the look Sansa gives Ramsey after Roose drops the bombshell that Ramsey may have some competition as heir to the North pretty quickly. The scene between Roose and Ramsey was also a brilliant foil to the scene between Stannis and Shireen last week. While Stannis has one of the show’s sweetest moments with his daughter, Roose tells Ramsey about how he raped his mother. Still, somehow, both scenes end with a “you are my son/daughter” line and a reaffirmed sense of family between the characters, which could spell trouble for Stannis as he marches on Winterfell. Sadly, the Boltons aren’t all Stannis may have trouble with once he gets there. Brienne appears ready to play the “lie low” game for now, waiting for an opportunity to rescue Sansa. That opportunity may be through Stannis*, but will that matter to Brienne? Or will her oath to avenge Renly take precedence?
Finally, we get Tyrion and Jorah’s adventures in Valyria, which sound every bit as wondrous as Valyria looked, but turned out to be not the greatest trip (I know some people have been complaining that Valyria wasn’t still burning and “ruled by the Doom” and all that, I appreciate the “ruins” look that director Bryan Cogman went with. It’s not like the entire peninsula would still be one big fire, especially not the parts on the water). After reflecting on just how massively powerful the Valyrians were (think Roman Empire), reciting some awesome poetry, and staring up in wonder at a soaring Drogon, Tyrion and Jorah are the unfortunate victims of all the Greyscale/Stone Men exposition we’ve been getting in recent weeks. As the demented, zombie-esque Stone Men attack their boat, Tyrion finds himself begging to be unbound during a fight for the second time in the series. Jorah’s got his own hands full, however, so Tyrion does the only thing he can do and rolls out of the boat, sinking into the Stone Men-filled waters as the screen fades to black…
Fortunately, we weren’t left with that cliffhanger, and Tyrion opens his eyes to a soaking Jorah. Tyrion thanks him, they both say they don’t have Greyscale, and Jorah walks off to enjoy a stunning sunset…and to check out the spot on his wrist that’s got Greyscale affecting it*. It would seem that the sun may be setting on Jorah as well.
So while we didn’t get any King’s Landing, Arya, or Dorne this week, we did get a lot of set up for the other storylines, giving this so-far superb season a sense of direction moving forward, and also some hope for major character interactions in the near future. The pieces are in motion, and we’re really beginning to get a sense of what the puzzle is supposed to look like.
Spoilers and Speculation:
*Not really a spoiler or anything, but I’m really not a fan of Dany coming up with the idea to marry Hizdahr. It gives her more agency in the situation, and I enjoy the way that she’s kind of a pawn in her own political game in the books. It may turn out to be a good thing that Dany has a little more control, and help to work against the tedium that her story hits in the books, but we’ll see.
*A few notes with Jon’s story moving forward. Firstly, this episode has practically confirmed for me that Olly and Edd will be two characters involved in “For the Watch.” Whether that takes place at Hardhome or at the Wall remains to be seen. Here’s my personal theory for what’s happening the rest of the year with him–they go to Hardhome and the mission fails dreadfully due to White Walker interference. Nearly everyone that goes on the mission dies, the boats Jon promised Stannis go down, and Jon barely escapes with a few other Wildlings/Night’s Watch and gets back to the Wall. There, people are pissed off that Jon sacrificed so much for an ultimately unsuccessful Wildling rescue mission. Then Jon receives some version of the Pink Letter from Ramsey (still unsure on how the Battle of Winterfell is going down, so the contents of that letter remain to be seen). The Letter makes Jon decide to head south and try to take Winterfell with Stannis and use that as defense against the rapidly approaching White Walkers. Night’s Watch doesn’t like it, and “For the Watch” happens.
**Additional theory here: During the Battle of Winterfell, Stannis goes down (possibly by Brienne, although I still like the idea that Stannis will capture her somehow and Brienne will realize Stannis is her best bet at protecting Sansa). Melisandre panics and decides to sacrifice Shireen as an attempt to revive R’hllor’s chosen hero. She does her magic, and the season ends with Jon’s eyes opening. This way, it doesn’t matter that Mel/Shireen aren’t at the Wall, and makes Jon’s revival have even more shock value.
*Already touched on it, but I’m hoping Brienne and Stannis link up at some point and Brienne struggles with which oath she’s more bound to, which is a nice callback to her time with Jaime. She decides to protect Sansa, and Stannis attacks as a way to create a diversion for her to go rescue Sansa.
*This is essentially confirmation that Griff/Young Griff is being cut. Jorah will take on Connington’s role, pushing for Dany to head to Westeros ASAP so that he can see her take the throne before he dies. Trystane Martell may take on Young Griff’s reveal and keep the character alive that way, but his story will obviously be drastically different. Part of me hopes that Jaime somehow ends up in a Connington-esque role in that scenario, but it’d probably take Cersei doing some absolutely ridiculous stuff that Jaime gets word of while in Dorne.