Remember folks, don’t read the recaps unless you’ve seen the episode, as there are some SERIOUS spoilers in this.
And there it is. Yet another shocking finale, the third in a series of powerful, epic episodes that capped season 5 that honestly should silence any naysayers calling this a “boring” season. If you’re not enthralled by episodes like this, you’re not watching the right show.
Let’s start, as the show does, in Stannis’ camp, where in the aftermath of the man’s brutal murder of his daughter, the snow has finally begun to melt, causing a smug Melissandre to put on her “I told you so” face. Unfortunately for her, there were some details of the future she was not privy to. Such as over 1/2 of Stannis’ army (including all the horsemen) abandoning the King in light of his monstrous actions, or the fact that the Queen hung herself from a tree for her part in the death of Shireen.
Melissandre seems to guess the jig is up, so she bolts back to Castle Black, leaving Stannis to face Winterfell without her. And the man is stubborn, even unto death. He marches his troops right up to Winterfell, a ragtag band, that immediately discovers the Boltons are waiting for them, with what looks liked an army mounted on horses over 3 times as big as the remnants of Stannis’ army.
At the wall, Sam and Jon discuss the goings on for each this season, as well as the White Walkers that attacked Hardhome, with Sam excited that Valyrian steel can kill the Walkers as well. He also reveals to Jon the loss of his virginity, which makes Jon smile. Sam then asks Jon for permission to take Gilly and little Sam and travel to Oldtown, where Sam can train at the Citadel to become a Maester, wherein he can then return to Castle Black and act as the new Maester to replace Maester Aemon. Jon reluctantly agrees, as Sam is the only man left in the castle whose advice he can trust, which is already setting off warning bells for anyone who has read the books, or been paying attention this season. Sam and Gilly head off by wagon, and we can at least take solace that for now, those two are safe, and will make it to Season 6.
Meanwhile, Sansa has used the corkscrew she stole earlier to pick the lock to free herself from her room (sorry everyone hoping she would stab Ramsey with it), and then she makes her way up to the tallest tower to light the candle for Brienne. Unfortunately, right before Sansa sends out her candle message, Pod lets Brienne know that Stannis’ army has reached Winterfell, and Brienne finally sees a chance to avenge Renly. Abandoning her post, she takes off, leaving Sansa’s candlelit window unnoticed. We see Ramsey and his men finish up the last of the enemy combatants, and then we cut to Stannis, defeated but stubbornly still taking down Bolton men in the woods outside Winterfell. He collapses, his only real injury a stab wound in his leg, but we can see he is defeated nonetheless. Just then Brienne arrives, and we realize Stannis is done. She makes him confess to killing Renly using blood magic, and then proclaims she will take his life as justice for the regicide he committed. Stannis recognizes the honor in what she is doing, and tells her to get on with it. We cut away before we see her take him out, but we can be pretty sure Stannis is now dead, and Brienne is now two-for-two in terms of killing major characters in two consecutive season finales.
Sansa leaves the tower and decides to attempt an escape on her own, but is stopped by Reekion and Myranda, the latter of which is holding a loaded bow at Sansa. Sansa tells Myranda to go ahead and kill her, but Myranda reminds her that Ramsey needs the parts of Sansa that can have children. Once boys are produced, then they’ll peel off the rest. She is about to shoot and begin cutting off non-essential pieces of Sansa, when Theon finally acts, somewhat redeeming himself by throwing Myranda off the ramparts, where she hits the ground below with a satisfying crunch, blood and remains littering the floor. Unfortunately for Sansa and Theon, Ramsey and his men have just returned from decimating Stannis’ army, and it is clear Myranda’s body is the first thing they’ll notice upon their return. Theon and Sansa know they have to escape, and quickly, and they end up standing atop the outer walls of Winterfell, looking down at the mounds of snow below, praying it will be enough to break their fall. The childhood friends clasp hands, and they jump, with the show leaving their fate to be decided next season. (Brace yourself people, this was the happy, lighthearted part of this hour).
In Braavos, we see Ser Meryn back in the brothel, whipping young girls to satisfy his sexual deviancy, only one girl, that we do not recognize, is not crying like the others. Meryn sends the others away so he can focus his attention on the stubborn girl, and then we see her face, and recognize her as the girl Arya persuaded to drink the deadly waters in the House of Black and White. Alone with her prey at last, Arya rips off the false face and stabs Meryn in the eyes, and then repeatedly in the torso. She ensures he knows who is killing him, and then finishes the job by stabbing Ser Meryn one last time. Her task completed, Arya attempts to return the stole identity to the Hall of Faces, but is caught by Jaqen and the girl that others are calling ‘The Waif.’ Jaqen tells her that Meryn’s life was not hers to take, and that one life can only be repaid by taking another. He takes out a vial of poison, and while we at first think he is going to make Arya drink it, it soon becomes clear that is not the case. He drinks it himself, with Arya crying out as Jaqen collapses to the floor, dead. The Waif asks her why she is crying, and when Arya turns to explain that Jaqen was her friend, she sees that the Waif has become Jaqen, meaning the man on the floor was an impostor. Arya rips off all of the false faces on the fake Jaqen, ending with a face exactly like her own. Jaqen explains that putting on another face when one is not ready is similar to poisoning yourself, and in that moment, Arya finds herself blind, crying out that she cannot see.
In Dorne, the ruling family bids farewell to Jaime, Myrcella, Bronn, and Tristane as they board a ship for King’s Landing, with Lady Ellaria giving Myrcella a particularly inappropriate smooch right before taking off, which already set off warning bells in my head, especially as both Ellaria and the Sand Snakes seem otherwise to amicable to the party from King’s Landing at this point, and I could not really believe they would end their rebellion so easily. The boat takes off, and Jaime and Myrcella find themselves alone in her quarters, discussing recent events. It seems Jaime is trying to broach the subject of her parentage, which Myrcella then surprises all by saying she already knew, somehow had always know that Jaime was her father. She is perfectly fine with it, and in fact seems grateful that Jaime is her dad and has struggled to take care of her all of this time. And right after that heartwarming moment, in true ‘Game of Thrones’ style, blood starts leaking from Myrcella’s nose, and we realize she has been poisoned, and is mostly likely dying. We cut back to the dock, where Ellaria watches the ship in the distance, blood dripping from her nose as a Sand Snake hands her a handkerchief. Ellaria wipes her nose, takes the poison antidote that she wears around her neck, and confirms her kiss is what killed the princess.
Meanwhile, somewhere in Essos, Daenerys and Drogon are perched on a clifftop, with Daenerys unable to convince her recovering dragon to take her back to Meereen, as he seems content to sleep off his injuries and heal. Realizing she was fighting a losing battle, Daenerys decides to explore the plains to forage for food. Unfortunately for her, she hears the sound of horses approaching, and we realize she is being overtaken by a band of Dothraki, which is not the best scenario for a woman alone in the wild. She drops one of her rings on the ground (a la Pippin in ‘Lord of the Rings’) to help anyone who might be tracking her, and prepares herself once again for the hospitality of the Dothraki people.
Back in King’s Landing, Cersei finally decides to confess, though even then we can tell she is merely using the “confession” as a ploy to get out of those cells. She confesses to sleeping with Lancel Lannister, but says nothing about the accusations of having murdered King Robert, and flat out denies the accusation of being incestuous with Jaime. The High Sparrow appreciates her confession, but assures her there will be a trial nonetheless that will deal with the murkier parts of her confession. Mercifully, he tells her he will allow her to return to the Red Keep, but only after her atonement, which instantly worries Cersei. As we watch, she is stripped naked, her glorious locks shorn from her head, and then marched out to the stairs of the sept. It seems her atonement is to walk naked back to the castle, with all of King’s Landing watching and berating her. The walk is long and arduous, cruelty at its worse as townsfolk cry out “whore” and “slut,” and one of the septas walks behind Cersei, ringing a bell and shouting “SHAME” every couple of seconds. Food and excrement (i think) is tossed at Cersei, and before long she is filthy, her feet bloodied from the rough road, her pride ruinously damaged by the ordeal, which we can tell is excruciating for the woman. Even if you hate Cersei, no one deserves treatment like that, and you cannot help but feel for her. When she finally arrives at the Red Keep, she is clothed in a robe by Qyburn, and then carried by her new servant/protector the Franken-Mountain, whom Qyburn claims has taken an oath of silence until he destroys all of Cersei’s enemies. The zombie Mountain looks terrifying, his skin pallid and grey behind his mask, and I cannot wait to see what the show plans on doing with him next season. Our last shot in King’s Landing is a relieved Cersei being carried off by her new protector, and it is clear she will not only survive the ordeal, but will be back with a vengeance next season.
In Meereen, the survivors gather in the throne room, with Tyrion, Jorah and Daario discussing who should be sent to find Daenerys and Drogon. Despite Tyrion’s insistence that he be allowed to go, it is decided that Tyrion, Grey Worm and Missandei need to stay behind to run Meereen, with Tyrion being the most experienced at running a city, the Unsullied and the city itself liking and respecting Grey Worm the most, and with Missandei being the person Daenerys would trust the most, therefore ensuring they ruled in a manner that would suit the Mother of Dragons. Jorah and Daario set off to find Daenerys, which will make for an awkward adventure for the two men who love her. Later Tyrion is visited by Lord Varys, who has not only found his way into Meereen, but also into the ruling pyramid, right onto Tyrion’s balcony. The two converse, with Varys pointing out there is no one with more experience at ruling a dysfunctional city than Tyrion, with Tyrion admitting that he missed his friend, and could use his help.
Finally, at Castle Black, Melissandre returns as Davos and Jon Snow are in heated negotiations about supplies, with Davos immediately realizing what has happened. He asks her about Shireen, and Melissandre cannot even find words to speak of her failure with Stannis. Later, we see Jon at work in his office, going over scrolls the ravens have brought, when Olly enters, claiming to have news about Jon’s uncle, Brandon Stark. Jon follows Olly down to the square below expecting to find his uncle, and instead finds the words “traitor” written on a wooden board. Brace yourselves people, this is it. Jon turns around and is stabbed by almost a half-dozen brothers of the Night Watch, each stating “For the Watch” as they drive their daggers into Jon’s torso (including Alister Thorne, the bastard… no pun intended). The final one to stab Jon is Olly himself, who Jon attempts to plead with, but the youth does not care. Jon collapses into the snow, with the show leaving no question as to the final fate of Jon Snow. His blood pools out around him, and we realize we have lost another epic character, potentially the hero we all thought would be the savior of Westeros. Cut to black, end credits.
Season 5 is officially over.
GAME OF THEORIES:
– Now that the show has finally caught up to the books in Jon Snow’s story, here are the most prevalent fan theories about Jon: He is going to Warg into Ghost, to be resurrected later. Melissandre’s return to Castle Black means she is going to use the power of the Red God to bring Jon back to life. Jon’s body will be burned, and his secret Targaryan blood will cause him to be reborn in the flames, bringing him back to life. Or that Jon is really and truly dead, which would sadden SO MANY FANS.
– Could the Mountain be a secret White Walker? They’re both zombies, technically….
– Is it the same band of Dothraki that Daenerys started with? or another clan? Would it matter either way?
– Assuming Theon and Sansa survive their jump, will they find Brienne and Pod and escape the Boltons? I still want to see Brienne chop off the bastard’s head (again, no pun intended).
– Does Myrcella’s death mean war will spring up between King’s Landing and Dorne?
– Will book 6 come out before Season 6?
Excellent finale, and though I’m sad about the loss of Jon Snow, it is exciting now that the show is completely caught up to the books in terms of major story-lines, and we can start preparing at long last for the end game. It’s been a lot of fun recapping ‘Game of Thrones’ this year, and I look forward to coming back for Season 6! See you next year!