The second half of season five of “Game of Thrones” has hit the airwaves, and I can’t shake this sick, hollow feeling from the pit of my stomach. A slow burning affair, that very slowly ratcheted up the tension and ended on a heart-breaking note that will change many characters lives and may impact my ability to enjoy the show going forward. Find out more after the break.
We start off the episode beneath the temple of the faceless men. Arya solemnly washing corpse after corpse, her face set as she finally seems to understand the importance of her task and her new role in the world. Only for a moment, though, because soon enough, we see old Arya, tapping impatiently on the bier as people come for the corpse, just a wonderful little signal from Masie Williams that shows that Arya is playing a role.
Not good enough, though, when she erupts in frustration at not knowing what lies behind curtain number one, at wanting to hurry up. “I’ve been washing these corpses for weeks,” she laments, as if becoming a face-changing assassin can happen in mere weeks. But her lessons finally start to be taking hold, to become someone else, your truth must be flexible. And when she finally learns that, finally tells the beautiful lie that brought a suffering child peace, Jaqen decides that – while she’s not ready to become no one – she is ready to become someone else.
And here we get one of the best reveals of the show. The faces the faceless men wear are those of the teeming dead, thousands of them who have paid their respects to the god and now occupy a place beneath the temple. I wonder whose face Arya will wear first.
Jorah and Tyrion
Across the narrow sea, the Tyrion and Jorah show continues as they walk across a continent on their quest for Mereen. These two have an interesting chemistry going, part bickering odd couple, part mutual admiration society. There are lots of little things to like in their scenes here in episode six, from the wistfulness in Jorah’s eyes as he explains why he is dedicated to Dany… it’s not just unrequited love. Same for the look of anguish when Tyrion drops the bad news about the senior Mormont (and how good are Tyrion’s little birds… wasn’t he in jail when Mormont fell to mutineers at Craster’s Keep?)
One thing we haven’t seen is Tyrion really in fear of his life, and the slavers that captured them had him near a panic. Loved the quick thinking and the relative importance of keeping dwarf junk attached to the dwarf to ensure quality. But again, Jorah stole that show too, with his Eastwoodian recollection of killing a Dothraki bloodrider way back in Season one convincing the slavers that the fighting pits was their best destination. This is easily Iain Glen’s best work on the show. It’s hard to figure out how things are going to play out, but I think he’s going to be retiring the Ser Friendzone moniker very soon.
Our second of three buddy roadshow couples, Jaime and Bronn have made it to Sunspear just in time. This plotline is by far the weakest, perhaps in the entire series. It’s a shame, really, because it has all the elements of greatness, but whether it’s the portrayal of the Sand Snakes, the lack of chemistry between Jaime and the sell sword, or just that it deviates from the books and characters so much, but it’s just not working. One plus, Hotah as portrayed by Deobia Operei..
… is a charisma machine, and now that the silly non-plan is up, maybe we’ll see some of the great character interplay and tense plotting this show is known for.
When “Game of Thrones” is over, I want a spin off featuring Oleanna Tyrell But only if Dame Diane continues to play the role. Just a marvelous entrance that probably took two days to set up and shoot a scene that lasted about 10 seconds, but 10 seconds that perfectly establishes her character and her disdain for the capital.
Lena Headey can be part of it too, because I could watch the two of them sit across from each other and play this little game for hours. It seems Cersei may have gotten the better of the Tyrell’s for now, and I was surprised that her plot has worked so well, so soon. The High Sparrow has a lot of lawyer in him, and the way he set Margaery up really points to a lot more cahooting with Cersei, but I can’t believe the grand lady of High Garden doesn’t have a few things up her sleeve.
I really wish Sansa had something up her sleeve, like maybe a dagger or knitting needle or a dire wolf whistle. I knew this was coming, not because of the books (we’re waaaay off the reservation there), but there was no getting around it, no way to avoid this wedding, and its aftermath. I had hoped something would happen, Brienne would come in and save the day, but that would have been bad storytelling.
So I knew it was going to come to this. And I still couldn’t handle it. Sansa’s off-camera rape at the hands of the psychotic hobbit has changed the show for me, her anguished cries of grief and pain echoing off the stone walls are still making me sick almost three hours later. I can only hope the look of horror on Theon’s face means Sansa will soon have an ally who can help her string Ramsay’s balls on a necklace.
The insults to Sansa continue as Littlefinger reveals his long game. Is there any real surprise that he sells out Sansa to Cersei almost before he sits down? I’m really hoping the Faith Militant psychos have a chance at him before he slithers out of Kings Landing.
Loved the symbolism of the color running out of Sansa’s hair. And loved her putting Myranda in her place, showing she does know the rules of the game. I’m not sure if I like that they are continuing to parallel Sansa’s Kings Landing storyline, how about you?
Will every episode going forward require some character to say the title. I know it’s the Martell house motto, but please showrunners, we can read. You don’t need to remind us. Or maybe its just because the Sand Snakes say it… easily the weakest depiction of a book character yet.
One theme throughout the episode seemed to be the importance and power of lies. Arya going against every Stark impulse, Tyrion’s impromptu lies, the lies Jorah told that led him to this point, Margery’s lies to save her brother, Littlefinger’s Gordian Knot of lies, each one twisting around the other… even Theon’s continued lie that he is Reek.
Speaking of which, any significance to Theon using his own name during the wedding ceremony?
Finally, will any lovers on this show ever live happily ever after? Tristan and Myrcella look to be honestly happy, in love, and would be a couple that could ultimately help both their houses. And here you go with forces pulling them apart. I really want them to be happy, like a Westerosi Romeo and Juliet…
So next week, episode seven. Looks like Jon’s trip is going to meet some resistance, Stannis has big plans, and we’ll see what the Tyrells can accomplish without a bunch of Kettleblacks to screw things up for Cersei. Hope I’m ready to watch again by then.