We’ve reached the midway point of season five of “Game of Thrones,” and fittingly some very important characters make some very important decisions that have kingdoms hanging in the balance. We also get some some dark Bolton family history, a reminder of what makes the North great, and find out exactly what boy needs to die in an excellently focused, extremely tense and foreboding episode five. Find out more after the break.
Our Queen of the Dragons is a bit miffed at the loss of Barristan Selmy, not only her trusted advisor, a man who “traveled across a continent to serve” her, and a friend, and she decides it’s time to put the smackdown on some Harpy heads. And since she can’t find those, it’s up to the heads of the old Meereenese houses (who benefit most from the Harpy reign of terror) to take the fall. I’m not sure if Dany’s decision to play hardball will pay off, but it was good to see the old Daenerys Stormborne – the one who torched the Astapor slaver when she obtained her Unsullied – back in action.
Even better to see her turn towards Missendei for help wrestling with the final decision, even if the young translator’s answer was something from some generic Naathian self-help manual. It does seem like Dany is taking the right course, admitting she was wrong, agreeing to opening the fighting pits, and ordering Hizdahr zo Loraq to marry her. Despite last week’s action, Dany’s plotline had stalled a bit, so it was great to see it moving forward again.
It was also great to see the almost forgotten relationship between Missendei and Grey Worm heat up. The two actors ( Nathalie Emmanuel and Jacob Anderson) have a great chemistry. Even though you know their love is guaranteed to mean someone’s going to die (this is GoT after all), it will be interesting to see this play out. It also begs the question, when your killing machine starts gaining humanity, what impact does it have on the machine? Does it make it less effective?
Lots going on around here, including more hints of the R+L=J theory. I mean, c’mon. Jon shows up the moment Maester Aemon starts lamenting the idea of a Tagaryean being alone, without family to counsel her! It just seems too convenient, and I’m starting to wonder if our showrunners are pulling a Joss Whedon on us.
Also wondering what kind of future Aemon’s advice to “Kill the boy and let the man be born” foreshadows. Jon certainly is making some unpopular (if necessary) decisions, and I wonder what the outcome of freeing the Wildlings and agreeing to bring them back from Hardhome will be. Still, watching him face down Thorvald, stand before the other Night’s Watch and argue his position, and most of all, explaining to a heartbroken, young Ollie why they need the Wildlings shows you he’s the Lord Commander these times need.
And I suppose Stannis Baratheon is the King these times need too (you know, if there weren’t a Queen waiting across the ocean). I LOVE this new Stannis, and his scene with Samwell Tarley showed both sides of the Man who (probably) won’t be King. His praise of Sam’s father (who had wanted to kill his fat, bookish son) showed the old, warrior side; but his appreciation of Sam’s work, the understanding that swords and horses are no protection against the coming death were all new Stannis.
His sudden decision to head to Winterfell seemed new Stannis too, and it looks like he is the only one who thinks it’s a good idea. A hesitant Davos was one thing, but I don’t think the glum look on Melisandre’s face was just because her hypno-boobs failed to catch her a Snow. There’s a definite sense of foreboding in both Jon’s trip north to bring back the Wildlings and Stannis’ army’s march out of Castle Black.
Though I suppose that foreboding is simply because we know the Boltons are expecting them. Down in Winterfell, things are getting tense. On the one hand, we see that sadistic Ramsay still lurks beneath the surface. The scene at the dinner table, as he tortures Sansa with the mere presence of Theo Greyjoy (who she thinks killed her brothers), is agonizing. Sansa is in a dark place, again surrounded be people who have wiped out her family, with no Tyrion or even a Littlefinger to keep the dogs at bay.
But she’s not entirely alone, because the North remembers, and Brienne is right outside the castle, waiting for a sign that she is needed. I have to tell you, I really thought Brienne’s decision to trust that random servant with a message would end badly (see what this show does to you!), but when Sansa’s servant delivered the news she was not alone, I almost cheered.
Jorah and Tyrion
Our brief interlude with one of our other road odd couples revealed a lot. For one, Tyrion gets to see his first dragon and the look on his face as Drogon flies overhead was priceless: wonder and fear intermingled perfectly. This is why Peter Dinklage wins all the Emmys.
Unfortunately, his near drowning at the hands of the Stone Men almost cut short the Emmy parade. It was nice seeing he and Jorah establishing some common ground, both before and after Tyrion nearly left the mortal coil. Though I guess Jorah’s own case of greyscale (does it really hit that fast?) means their new friendship isn’t going to last very long.
Misc Stuff and Next Week
Does the Miranda storyline seem forced and maybe a little duplicative? Miranda as a meaner Shae? I guess the whole Sansa storyline parallels her time at Kings Landing. Maybe the idea is we’ll see how she handles the same situation differently?
And sticking to the Boltons, Ramsay sure took the explanation of his heritage in stride. Then again, when your family’s sigil is a flayed man, I suppose finding out your father raped your mother and executed her husband because they left him off their wedding invite short list is somewhat par for the course.
The costume and makeup people do such great things on this show. Kit Harrington looks like he’s aged ten years in the past two episodes as the weight of responsibility has already begun to wear down the new Lord Commander. At this rate he and Maester Aemon will look like twins by the end of the season.
Next week looks like we get a return to Dorne and a look at Arya’s assassin training. Can’t wait for that!