“Time to recap this week’s Game of Thrones…”
“Leave me alone.”
“You’ve got a job to do, let’s go.
“Can’t, too depressed, go away.”
“Uncurl yourself from the fetal position, get out from the corner, and sit in front of your damn computer, NOW!”
“Fine… but not until after the break.”
<Sigh> Sometimes I hate this show.
Stannis and Shireen
So… let’s get right to it. Things got very dark very fast, didn’t they? I had a feeling our adorable, scaled little moppet was in trouble since her little heart-to-heart with Dad back in episode four. But I didn’t think the show would go through with it. Because Stannis wasn’t a monster. Because Davos wouldn’t let it happen. And because you just don’t burn little 10 year-old girls at the stake.
But this is “Game of Thrones,” and the fact that I waited for Davos to defy his King one last time and burst from the crowd – much like I waited for someone to save Ned way back in season one – shows that I ain’t learned nothing. And instead, Davos follows order and walks off, Stannis embraces his supposed destiny, and we got to hear the death cries of a little girl as she died one of the most painful deaths imaginable.
But I have to give the writers some props here, because they really went a down the unexpected path. They could have taken the easy route, and staged the rescue or a Stannis change of heart. Hell, I thought for certain Shireen was a goner, but it would happen completely off camera while Stannis was n the field. The camera choices are just dead on. We see nothing graphic, everything happens off camera, and you’re still torn apart by the little girl’s screams. And the dark path was the right path, because it is in Stannis’ black and white nature. And because the night is long and full of terrors.
Hats off to Stephen Dillane, who perfectly portrayed a man who just took that last step into damnation. His look of haunted grief as he hugged the daughter he was willing to sacrifice was chilling. Now the question remains: who will really follow him?
The brief visit to the wall didn’t seem to serve much purpose, except to get Jon and the Wildlings back in Castle Black. Still, great work by Owen Teal, especially on the wall as his Thorne’s emotions and instinct, duty and knowledge warred across his face. And it looks like Jon knows he’s lost his biggest fan in young Ollie. I have a feeling this will be important next week.
Finally, something to do! It was nice seeing Doran being princely, Jaime coming clean about the threat to Myrcella, and the interaction between our dewy-eyed young lovers when Doran’s decisions were announced. Later, a really great scene as Ellaria Sand bends the knee (foreshadowing to something in Kings Landing, perhaps?). But I thought her scene with Jaime needed a little more. I couldn’t tell if she was there to poison him or seduce him, and it ended so abruptly I couldn’t really tell whether it mattered. Even more so the scene with Bronn. Unsure what the punch to the jaw signified, nor the sister’s taunts of Nym. Sorry, still not feeling this one.
Interesting turn of events in Arya’s training, as she passes up the opportunity to kill the Thin Man when she spots Mace Tyrell and Meryn Trant (on her list for the murder of Syrio, among other things). Arya’s character has some real depth, as we watch a young girl who has killed several men without remorse, but seems to have second thoughts about fulfilling her contract on the crooked insurance guy. I’m guessing it has to do with motive. Arya needs to feel that anger or hate, to have been wronged by the person she needs to kill. Maybe she won’t make such a great cold-blooded assassin after all.
She also needs to work on her tracking skills, because Trant noticed her several times. And while he may not know she’s Arya Stark (it’s been a few years), at a minimum he’s going to know he’s being tracked and get his guard up. Then again, he seems like he’s paying more attention to being a pedophile (yes, there we go, dark again). I’m a little worried where this is going. You can see the ideas swirling in Arya’s head about how to get close, just hope it works out for our little faceless girl.
I have to confess, I would have loved this storyline a lot more in another episode. One in which I wasn’t either anticipating or recovering from Shireen’s demise. As it stands, I feel the spectacle was almost wasted on me. Still, the intensity of Jorah’s love for the Queen (Iain Glen has just nailed it this season), her own conflicting feelings as she watches him almost fall again and again, the great level of obvious disdain her entire entourage has for Hizdahr So Loraq, all made for some compelling watching, despite a vast collection of fighting pit clichés (fighter about to be killed, gets saved by another fighter; throwing a spear into the box to kill an approaching Harpy)
And of course, Dragons can cover many a flaw, and Drogon’s appearance, while unsurprising (thanks to some leaked photos earlier this year), was awe-inspiring and reminded us what having dragons on your side can mean. It also reminded us that these dragons are still young, and if Dany thinks they’re going to be very helpful in reclaiming Westeros, well I’ve got a Dragon Horn and a false heir to sell you.
What does Arya’s successfully lying to Jaqer indicate? That she has progressed in her training, or does Jaqer’s enigmatic glance show he knows the truth?
Much like I can’t imagine anyone following Stannis after he sacrifices his daughter to the red god, what’s going to happen with Dany. She essentially abandoned her people, including her lover, her new advisor, and her beloved translator to fly away on a dragon. And while she did it to save Drogon probably more so than saving herself, will the folks still on the ground feel that way?
Things I got wrong department I. Never guessed Lady Selyse would be overcome by maternal instinct at the final hour, and I’m not sure I like it. I can buy Stannis’ turn to the dark side, but having Selyse have second thoughts at the end – while interesting because it adds to the anguish and heartbreak – just seems too much of a switch. Truthfully, when I was guessing how Shireen would die, I had Selyse holding the torch.
Things I got wrong department II. Hizdahr Zo Loraq wasn’t a Harpy? Seriously, all that “I was arranging things” was a red herring? Points to your house, Game of Thrones. I would have lost a lot of money on that one.
Is there really just one episode left? How are they going to resolve all these plotlines? Will Davos really be able to serve a King who’s turned to darkness (coming attractions seem to say yes). Will there be a brand new Wildling army at Stannis’ back. Where do Dany and Drogon land? And what’s going to happen to our jailed Queens, will either of them take the walk of shame? Perhaps together? I guess we’ll find out next week when “Mother’s Mercy” hits the airwaves.