Honestly, up until the last 10 minutes or so of this episode, I could not believe I had just watched so much ‘Game of Thrones’ with so little actually happening. Sure, characters interacted, some made decisions, but for most part, it was a pretty quiet episode, but I think the ending made up for a lot of it.
The episode opens in Meereen, where we see Missandei standing watch over Grey Worm, worried sick about her strange love. When the man does eventually waken, he confesses shame, and when she asked why he felt ashamed when he was wounded and badly outnumbered, he tells her his shame was not in dying in battle, but rather shame that his last thought was fear, fear of never seeing her face again. Touched by his sentiment, Missandei climbs into bed with Grey Worm. Ser Barristan though, is actually dead, and Daenerys is pretty pissed off about it. He was her trusted advisor, and though he always cautioned her to be merciful, she has had enough of these Meereenians. She gathered the heads of every old and rich family in the city, and brings them down to the dragon dungeon, forcing them to march toward their doom. She means business, and even pushes one of them into reach of Viserion and and Rhaegal, who burn the man and rip his body in half before they begin their meal. Terrified, the remaining heads of families are shown mercy, especially Hizdahr zo Loraq, who tries to maintain his calm by telling Daenerys “Valar Morghulis.” Daenerys struggles to decide what to do next, even turning to Missandei for advice, who rightfully points out that Daenerys has only viewed the options presented to her by her councilors, but not tried to figure out her own solution. The Mother of Dragons sees the truth in this and comes up with a plan. She visits Hizdahr zo Loraq in his cell, freeing him (and ostensibly the other family heads) and tells him he was right, and that she will re-open the fighting arenas, her only caveat being no slaves, only free men are allowed to fight. Furthermore, she says to cement her relationships in Meereen she needs to marry a family head, and she has picked Hizdahr zo Loraq.
At Winterfell (where the majority of tonight’s episode took place), Brienne sends a secret message to Sansa through a series of intermediaries, basically informing her that if she ever needed help, she could find it. An offer which I’m sure Sansa kept in mind over the course of the episode, especially after Ramsey’s mistress persuaded Sansa to check out the kennels, where she came face to face with the killer of Bran and Rickon (though not really), Reek AKA Theon Greyjoy. Miranda (the mistress) is annoyed that Ramsey is marrying Sansa and finds her attractive, but Ramsey will have none of it. During their nude love scene, he reminds her that jealousy bores him, and that she knows what he does to people that bore him. She bites his lip in foreplay, drawing blood, reminding him that she is never boring, and it is clear they are quite happy together, both being a little bit crazy. Reek informs Ramsey that he was spotted by Sansa in the kennels, and during a dinner later that night, Ramsey forces Reek to apologize to Sansa for killing her brothers, a twisted scene where Sansa realizes that her new fiance is a jerk (potentially her worst one yet!). In the midst of the uncomfortable dinner, Roose Bolton announces his wife is pregnant, and that they believe the child will be a boy, a fact that unnerves Ramsey. He and his father discuss the news later, with Roose telling his son the story of his conception, and how Roose almost dumped Ramsey in the river. However, it is almost a touching scene, as he claims that when he looked at the boy, he knew it was his son, and decided to keep him. They discuss the coming of Stannis Baratheon, and Roose says they will need to stand together to face the army, though it is clear that Ramsey still worries that a new baby boy might threaten his inheritance, especially one born of the Bolton and Frey lines. I wouldn’t be surprised if something bad happened to Walda during her pregnancy…
At the wall, Maester Aemon and Jon have a conversation about Jon’s plan to make peace with the wildlings, with Aemon basically telling Jon to man up and do what he feels is right, and stop worrying about the brothers who would get mad at him. Seeing his point, Jon meets with Tormund and they hammer out a plan to bring all the Wildlings south of the wall, though Tormund says they’ll need to borrow Stannis’ fleet to get everyone from the north, and that Jon himself would have to come along to prove to the Wildlings that it was not a trap. The Night’s Watch is understandably pissed when Jon tells them the plan, with many questioning the decision after the Wildlings killed so many of their brothers. Stannis does not weigh in, except to point out grammatical errors, as he has also made a decision, and decided it was time to march down to Winterfell. He brings his whole family with him, including his daughter Shireen, who had bonded with Davros and who Davros worries about being there. As Stannis and company leave Castle Black, we see Shireen glance back in farewell to Gilly and Sam, another bond of friendship she had made.
Lastly, we have the Tyrion story of the evening, which involves more banter between him and Jorah Mormont as the two prepare to sail through the ruins of Valyria. They briefly discuss the “doom” that met the city and its inhabitants (which sounds a lot like a volcanic eruption, unless they were destroyed by their own version of white walkers, maybe flame walkers?). The city looks vast and ancient, with Tyrion asking how long it would be before their civilization was capable of making cities like this one again. He then spots Drogon flying through the air over Valyria, and stares in wonder at the dragon. (Let’s not forget Tyrion was very skeptical of dragons and magic back when he was the King’s Hand in the comfort of King’s Landing in Season 2). No sooner does Drogon pass out of sight than their boat is attacked by stone men, men cursed with greyscale who have lost their minds and been banished into the ruins of Valyria. It’s an intense battle, as Jorah reminds Tyrion not to let the stone men touch him, as the disease is highly contagious. While Mormont is holding his own against one of them, Tyrion is trapped in the back of the boat, his hands still bound. Seeing no escape, he jumps overboard, but cannot swim due to his constraints. We see hands grab him from below (wait a minute, I think I’ve seen this scene in ‘The Two Towers’) and Tyrion is pulled down into the debts. The screen goes black….. end credits? No, not just yet. Tyrion awakens on a beach outside Valyria with Mormont standing over him, clearly having saved his captive from the depths. He finally cuts Tyrion’s bonds, but the knife seems to be the only possession he has left. All of his armor and equipment were lost in the boat. They decide to walk the rest of the way to Meereen, and after ensuring Tyrion was not touched by one of their attackers, Mormont walks away for a moment, pulling down his sleeve and revealing to the audience that had contracted the disease. End credits.
GAME OF THEORIES:
– I’m hoping Daenerys will take pity on Mormont and find a way to save him from grey scale, that is unless he is already too far gone by the time they get to Meereen.
– I suspect we’ll see Sansa send up the sign for help at around the same time that Stannis’ army reaches Winterfell, an almost “Paul Revere” type moment.
– I think Reek will confess to Sansa that her brothers are still alive at some point, to at least help atone for all the trouble he caused the Starks
– Plenty of bad blood toward Jon Snow, I’m hoping his time away to get the Wildlings will not give his enemies time to form a coup.
In the end, not a bad episode, but the first 5 episodes of this season have felt equal parts stalling and building, and I really hope the back five are more action packed, with more plot going on. I enjoy how many stories are going beyond the books, but I hope that the parts being extended are actually integral to the story, and not time fillers till Martin finishes book 6. What do you think of Season 5 so far? Feel free to share your opinions in the comments below!