Saturday, May 30, 2015

Game of Thrones 5.05: "Kill the Boy"

“Kill the boy, Jon Snow. Winter is almost upon us. Kill the boy, and let the man be born.”
-Maester Aemon

Quite a lot happened in this episode of “Game of Thrones,” but I appreciated that the episode seemed more focused than typical. We spend a significant amount of time on about four plotlines instead of constantly switching between stories and spending only a few minutes with each character. I appreciated that the episode wasn’t as disjointed as these middle-of-the-season episodes can sometimes be. I enjoyed having enough time to get immersed in the story before moving on to the next. This was achieved by spending no time in King’s Landing or Braavos. We instead only spent time in Meereen, Valeria, Castle Black, and Winterfell. That’s still a lot, but not as chaotic as some episodes have been. I enjoy my King’s Langing intrigue as much as any “Game of Thrones” fan, but the focus of this episode made up for the lack of King’s Landing.

I found the Northern plots in this episode to be the most compelling. At Castle Black, Sam tells Maester Aemon about the troubles Daenerys is facing in Meereen (more on that in a bit), and the Maester, who is a Targaryen himself, laments that once he dies, Dany will be the only Targaryen in the world. Jon interrupts this conversation because he needs the Maester’s advice. He wants to make an alliance with the Wildlings, because he thinks that is the only way he will have sufficient numbers to take down the White Walkers. Maester Aemon encourages Jon to be bold in his leadership, so he approaches Tormund, the new leader of the Wildlings. Jon offers the Wildlings land south of the Wall in exchange for their help. Tormund is open to the idea, but he says Jon is going to have to present the idea to the Wildlings himself. There’s a contingent of the Night’s Watch that really hates the idea of negotiating with the Wildlings, but Jon is determined to move forward with the plan. As Jon and his contingent head north to speak to the Wildlings, Stannis and his army decide to head south and march on Winterfell.

We also spend a decent amount of time at Winterfell in this episode. It’s kind of nice to be back in Winterfell, which figured so prominently in season one and then tragically fell in the second season. I think this might be sort of how Sansa feels in this episode. She’s very happy to be home, although she is disconcerted by the fact that her home is now populated with completely unfamiliar people. Anyway, Brienne and Pod are staying at a place just outside of Winterfell, and she asks an old man to smuggle a message inside the castle for her. When we see Sansa, she’s in her chambers, and an elderly woman, perhaps a maid, delivers the message to her. She tells Sansa that someone wants her to know she’s not alone, and if she ever needs help, she should light a candle at the top of the broken tower. This gives Sansa comfort that I’m not sure she realized she needed.

Meanwhile, we also meet Ramsay’s lover, Myranda, in this episode. She is the kennelmaster’s daughter, and she is definitely the jealous type. Ramsay also isn’t the type to let his plaything go just because he’s supposed to marry somebody else to preserve the Bolton family dynasty. We also see that Ramsay’s sexual proclivities run towards the more . . . dominant end of the spectrum. Anyway, Sansa is standing outside the broken tower, contemplating the message she received, when she is approached by Myranda. Myranda says there is a surprise waiting for her at the very back of the kennel. Sansa goes along with this for a reason I don’t quite understand. At the back of the kennel, she finds Theon, now in Reek form. Theon later tells Ramsay about this encounter, and he cowers because he knows Ramsay will not be happy about this news. Ramsay tells a sobbing Theon that he “forgives” him.

The Boltons hold a “family” dinner, including Sansa, and Ramsay decides that Theon should serve as wine bearer. Ramsay makes a big show of how he has changed Theon into Reek, has Theon apologize to Sansa for killing Bran and Rickon (if only she knew what really happened), and says he will give her away at the wedding. Roose thinks his son is getting a bit too full of himself, so he uses the opportunity to make a big announcement himself. His (fairly new) wife, Walda (née Frey) is pregnant, and the Maester thinks it will be a boy. This is a threat to Ramsay, because he was created heir, for most of his life, he was a bastard. A trueborn son could have a real claim to the Bolton holdings. Later, Roose and Ramsay talk about this, and Roose makes it clear that Ramsay will continue to be heir as long as he behaves himself.

Romance is (sort of?) in the air as Dany and her followers mourn the death of Ser Barristan. Missandei has been watching over Grey Worm as he recovers, and when he wakes up, she tells him the news. Grey Worm admits he feared he would never see Missandei again, and Missandei silences him with a kiss. As she looks on as Ser Barristan lies in state, Dany decides to take decisive action in response to the latest attack. She orders representatives from all the great Meereenese families, including her (disgraced) advisor Hizdahr, brought to the caves where she keeps her dragons. She gives a demonstration of the power of the dragons by burning one of the men from the great families, and she asks them all whether they would like for the dragons to serve out justice.

After the dragon demonstration, Daenerys continues to struggle with whether she should punish the Meereenese or show them mercy. She asks Missandei’s advice, and Missandei basically tells her to trust her instincts. Dany visits Hizdahr, and she tells him that she is finally going to take his advice and reopen the fighting pits. Dany gives a big speech to the Meereenese, where she announces that the fighting pits will be reopened, but only free folk will be allowed to fight. There will still be no more slavery. Furthermore (and more surprisingly), she announces that to further solidify her bond with the Meereenese, she is going to marry a member of one of their great families. As in Hizdahr. Because that will end well.

Finally, Jorah and Tyrion are still on their way to Meereen, where Jorah intends to deliver Tyrion to Dany and win back her favor. He decides to navigate their boat through old Valerya, Dany’s ancestral homeland. He says that pirates usually stay away from Valerya, so it’s a good choice and not related to wanting to impress Dany at all. Dany’s dragon, Drogon, flies overhead, which I don’t think either of the men expected. They also didn’t expect to be attacked by a band of Stone Men who have been infected with greyscale, the most feared disease in Westeros (and Essos too, I suppose). Jorah fights the attackers, but Tyrion is still tied up, so he ends up getting pushed overboard. Jorah rescues Tyrion and gets them both to shore. When he gets a moment alone, though, Jorah examines his wrist and discovers that he also now has greyscale.

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