Saturday, August 22, 2015

Game of Thrones 5.10: "Mother's Mercy"

“I’m glad the end of the world’s working out well for someone.”
-Jon Snow

In its first few seasons, much like other HBO shows at the time, the final episode of “Game of Thrones” served as a denouement after significant action in the penultimate episode. This year, however, the season finale had plenty of action in its own right. The death toll increased significantly, regardless of whether or not every death sticks, there was still a lot of death. Several characters also faced punishment short of death for their actions. And so help me this episode even made me feel a touch sorry for Jaime and Circe Lannister. That pair are pretty much on the bottom of my list as far as characters I like on the show (I find them both to be kind of hateful), but they both faced tragic, intertwining circumstances in this episode. The episode tries to touch on every plot that has been ongoing this season, so it’s a bit haphazard, but it did include several memorable moments.

We begin this episode in the North, in the aftermath of Stannis killing his daughter to gain an advantage in the upcoming battle with the Boltons over Winterfell. Melisandre tells Stannis that the ice and snow are thawing thanks to his sacrifice to the Lord of Light. Things quickly go downhill, though. Stannis finds out half his army has deserted, and his wife is found hanging in the woods. At that, Melisandre flees. At Winterfell, Sansa takes advantage of the excitement over the upcoming battle to sneak out to the Broken Tower and light the candle to summon Brienne. Brienne doesn’t notice it, though, because she knows Stannis is near, and she wants her revenge for Renly’s death. She gets that revenge, or at least it appears Stannis is dead at her hand, but at what cost? Sansa is confronted at the Tower by Theon and Myranda, but Theon has finally had enough of Myranda, and he pushes her into the courtyard to her death. The Bolton soldiers are returning victorious from battle, so Sansa and Theon have to choice but to jump from the Winterfell ramparts together, hoping to survive the fall and escape.

We next head to Braavos, where Arya finally got to affirmatively cross one of the names off of her kill list. As you would expect, though, it came at a high price. Arya disguises herself as a girl who recently died at the House of Black and White, and she goes to the brothel where Meryn Trant is testing girls by lashing them. Arya is the only one who doesn’t cry out, so he chooses her. Arya quickly turns the tables, though. She pulls off her disguise, reveals that she is Arya, and stabs Meryn to death. Back at the House of Black and White, she is in serious trouble for taking a life that wasn’t hers to take. Jaqen threatens Arya with a vial of poison, but then he ends up taking it himself. Arya is devastated, but then the person who had been restraining her takes off a mask and appears to be Jaqen. Arya is horribly confused, pulling mask after mask off the dead body (that appeared to be Jaquen) as she goes blind herself.

Our next stop on the season finale tour is Dorne, where Jaime, Myrcella, and Trystane are about to head back to King’s Landing so that Myrcella and Trystane can be married. Prince Doran, Ellaria, and the Sand Snakes see them off, and Ellaria gives Myrcella a big kiss as they depart. It appears that Ellaria is trying to get back into Doran’s good graces by showing affection for Myrcella, but if you remember back to what happened to Bronn a few episodes ago, it’s obvious that all is not as it seems. Aboard ship, Jaime and Myrcella share a very tender moment where Jaime says that it’s lucky Myrcella’s arranged marriage seems like it will work out so well, and he admits that he is her father. Myrcella says she already knew, and she is very glad that Jaime is her father. They embrace, but then Myrcella falls dead from Ellaria’s poison. Back in Dorne, we see Ellaria wipe her lips and drink some antidote for good measure.

In Meereen, Daario, Grey Worm, Jorah, and Tyrion all try to figure out their next move now that Dany has disappeared. Grey worm is rather upset to see Jorah there, considering Dany banished him twice already, and he keeps coming back. Daario thinks he could be useful in the search for Dany, though, so he’s staying, at least for now. Grey Worm is still wounded, so much to his chagrin, he Missendrei, and Tyrion are going to stay behind to govern Meereen while Daario and Jorah go searching for the missing Queen. Tyrion isn’t thrilled about being left behind, either, but as Daario points out, he’s the only one of the bunch with any governing experience. Dany, meanwhile is in the middle of a sea of grass, helping Drogon nurse his wounds when she is suddenly surrounded by a Dothracki horde. It’s hard to tell if this will turn out to be a good thing or a bad thing.

Cersei is still imprisoned by the Sparrows in King’s Landing. Septa Unella finally convinces a broken Cersei to confess her sins to the High Sparrow. She only confesses the affair with Lancel, not incest with Jaime. The High Sparrow says that she may return home to her son rather than face another trial only if she atones for her sins. This atonement involves having her hair chopped, then taking a naked walk around King’s Landing while Septa Unella chants “shame” and rings a bell repeatedly behind her. At first the whole thing is quiet, but soon the townspeople get rowdy, and they start throwing food and feces at her. By the time Cersei gets to the Red Keep, her feet are bloody. Qyburn quickly moves to cover her up, and a huge “new Kingsguard” (aka a reanimated Mountain, I presume) picks her up.

We end this episode (and season) at Castle Black. Early in the episode, Jon and Sam have a heart-to-heart chat. Jon tells Sam about the horrors of Hardhome, and Sam tells Jon he wants to go study to be a Maester. He thinks that will keep himself, Gilly, and the baby the safest. Jon doesn’t really want to be separated from Sam, but he’s a good friend, so he acquiesces. Davros tries to convince Jon, once again, to lend men to Stannis to fight the Boltons. In the middle of the argument, however, Melisandre arrives and announces Stannis’ defeat. Davros of course asks how Shireen is, and when Melisandre won’t answer, he knows the worst has happened. That evening, Olly bursts into Jon’s chambers, telling him that some Wildlings have information about his uncle Benjen, who has been missing since the first season, I believe. When he arrives in the courtyard to hear the news, however, Jon is met with an ambush of his own men. Night’s Watch brothers, including Ser Alliser and Olly himself, stab Jon repeatedly until it appears he is dead. I have a funny feeling this death won’t stick, but we’ll have to wait until next season at the earliest to find out.

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