All aboard the Hype Train! In preparation of Season 8 of Game of Thrones, Kelly is doing a rewatch for the greater good to refresh our memories, catch the things we might have forgotten, pick up the things we might have missed, and maybe make predictions! Hold onto your fur rugs from Ikea and AWAY WE GO.
Rules of this series: We’re deep diving into these episodes and I’m watching them on a per-episode base because I like digesting the episodes. Spoilers lie ahead. As much as I can, I am going to try and keep things episode/season specific. It’s out of respect to the narrative as well as the later seasons. Onwards!
5.10 Mother’s Mercy
We’re here! The season finale of the last season to have the source material steering the course of events. Let’s enjoy while it lasts.
Overall, I don’t think Season 5 was bad per say- it just moved a lot slower than previous seasons, especially considering its predecessor was offing people left and right, while kindly poking you in the ribs with all of its villains. Season 5 was, for the most part, a set-up season to get the ball rolling on the post-Tywin, post-Freefolk fallouts and I think it was mostly successful. Minus Dorne and Meereen, generally speaking, the Tyrell/Lannister feud was really entertaining and cutthroat, Arya’s training was interesting and slow burning with a huge payoff, and all the stuff in the North and at the Wall was great.
Now that I’m at the end of Season 5, I must say- I think Season 6 makes Season 5 look worse than it actually is. As I’m trying to do this rewatch while forgetting all the things that come after, my mentality is “Oh, this is gonna be good.” The Season 6 payoff from the events that stem in Season 5 make this one seem directionless and overall, worthless. The plots set up here don’t really get to go anywhere or get what they deserve. Dorne is just dropped. Meereen and the Sons of the Harpy are just dropped. The North gets squandered away. The only people with any sort of consistency to their stories- where it’s still building towards something or makes sense- are probably Cersei and Jon. While Season 6 ends with a bang, everything leading up to that is just… meh.
Let’s get on with it, shall we? Mother’s Mercy is a general term that’s often used in the faith of the Seven Gods, specifically, the mother. It’s taken from what people typically pray to the Mother for, one of those that’s like, “Ok, I admit to doing something wrong, may the mother have mercy on me.” I can dot in a few references to some specific mother figures or moments of mercy in the episode but truth be told, I have a monster headache right now.
Fittingly enough, the episode opens on Melisandre, who is positively giddy at the snow and icicles that are melting around Camp Stannis. It looks like the sacrifice of Shireen has paid off but Stannis is clearly still troubled by what he decided to do. He brushes Mel off to get ready, but he can’t- half his men have left, probably because you can’t trust a king who kills his own daughter in favor of some sort of prophecy that only one person in the camp can see. Not only that, but Stannis’ wife Selyse, most likely overcome with grief and guilt surrounding her daughter’s death, has hanged herself.
And upon this news, Mel decides to abandon Stannis. Not sure if it was the news that Camp Stannis was understaffed or what, but she leaves and it’s not a good sign. Stannis sticks with his original plan even though all the signs are plainly telling him that he is not meant to win the battle against the Boltons- if he doesn’t go, he’s throwing away the fact that he actually killed his own child.
Up at the Wall, Jon recounts to Sam how the Night King resurrected all of the dead Freefolk and that the Army of the Dead is fucking huge. Jon needs a mountain of dragonglass- a dropped sentence from Stannis that Sam has already forgotten about, great- or Valyerian steel. As both are limited resources, Jon knows the outcome against the White Walkers is very slim. Sam works up the courage to ask Jon for permission to train as a maester, meaning he would have to leave for the citadel (along with Gilly and Sam), but as Sam is Jon’s trusted counsel and possibly the only person who has the patience for Jon anymore, Jon refuses to let him leave. Sam’s like, “Wait, but I might be able to learn about the White Walkers and how to heal, and Gilly and Sam might get killed, and did I mention I can learn about healing?” Jon, wishing that Ygritte had never died in the Night’s Watch/Freefolk squabble, recalls how she died in his arms and lets Sam leave.
Horseless, starving, and chilly, Stannis and his men march onto Winterfell, where the Bolton men are also gearing up. Sansa picks the lock of her door with an old tool she found in her previous episode and begins to slip away as all the men are distracted. Across the way, Pod spots Stannis’ army on the move and notifies Brienne, who is still watching the tower for Sansa’s candle. After some debate, Brienne lets her memories of Renly get to her and leaves to find Stannis, the man who killed her king.
But Sansa is about to get to the tower- WITH A CANDLE IN HAND. Bah!
Stannis commands his men to get ready for the siege, but his right-hand man taps him on the shoulder and says, “Sorry buddy,” as the Bolton army rides forward and pretty much decimates the remainder of his army. Sansa watches from the tower as the Bolton army stretches out, boxes in Stannis, and then rides through Stannis’ army.
We don’t get to see much more after that, but Stannis somehow ends up in the woods with slain soldiers around him. He’s downed by a sliced tendon or two, when Brienne approaches and announces who she is. Guys, if you look real close under Stannis’ right leg, you can see a laptop cord. Stannis admits that he killed Renly with magic, tells Brienne to “Do your duty,” and after three seasons, Brienne avenges Renly. “But we don’t see the death on screen,” whine some- fucking deal with it. Brienne did it, it’s done. Stannis is not a faceless man walking around with Brienne’s face. So long Stephen Dillane- they didn’t use you nearly as well as they should have.
I’ve always seen Stannis lopsided loss as a gigantic middle finger from the Light of the Seven- specifically for throwing Shireen under the bus and sacrificing a pure soul. The mother has absolutely no mercy in this event- it’s pure wrath. It’s what Cat would have done had she gotten her hands on Walder Frey or Cersei Lannister. (I MISS YOU, CAT.)
Ramsay is cleaning up the last of Stannis’ men and taking his time getting back, so Sansa is uh… wandering around Winterfell seeking an exit, I assume. She runs right into Myranda, who has an arrow pointed at her. Theon and Myranda offer to escort Sansa back to her room and Sansa’s done. She’s done with Ramsay and being raped and she’d rather die facing death than have him use her for pleasure and power. Myranda notes that Ramsay doesn’t need her really- just her reproducing parts. Myranda’s more distracted with her hate for Sansa and takes her eyes of Theon, who finally musters up the courage to knock her aside and off the causeway. Myranda’s dead. Then, Ramsay’s finally arrived so Theon grabs Sansa’s hand and they jump off the wall of Winterfell together and into the snow below.
Over in Braavos, Ser Meryn has a few young girls in front of him and he begins to whack them with a switch. Two cry out in pain but the third doesn’t make a sound at all. He sends the other two out, while beating the third and when the girl lifts her head, it’s Arya! She pulls out a knife, stabs him in the eyes, and proceeds to stab him in the chest a few times. Arya declares that Meryn was always the first person on her list, announces that she’s Arya Stark, and slits his throat.
Arya heads back to the HOBAW to return the stolen face of the girl, when Jaqan informs her that she took the wrong life and that the life has to be repaid with another life. He downs a poison and Arya is upset until the Waif removes her face to become Jaqan #2. Arya begins pulling faces from Jaqan #1- it’s an old woman, a young man, and old man- and then suddenly her own face. Jaqan says that faces are as good as poison, but this all gets swept under the rug because Arya then goes blind.
Wow, this is so cool! I wonder where they are taking it! Does this mean that all the Faceless Men are linked? Do they share memories? Is it a collective thought kind of deal? Physical stature also changes? How does Arya go blind? Are the Faceless Men just assassins for hire and not actually serving justice out to people? And how- LET’S GO TO DORNE. No wait, I wasn’t- NO, WE’RE GOING TO DORNE.
Ellaria gives Myrcella a smooch before sending her off with Jaime and this didn’t really need to be on the lips. It’s just Ellaria being dramatic. Bronn leans over to his naked Sand Snake who tells him he needs “the bad pussy” and playfully bites his ear and- again, is this like a political professional farewell or a “See you next Thanksgiving!” kind of thing? It, and all the other Sand Snake dialogue, just feels very forced. Like it would have said more and less at the same time for Tyene to wave goodbye while suggestively touching her neckline.
Speaking of necklines, what’s the deal with the Sand Snake flowing and ultra gowns? Is this ALSO some form of their punishment!?
Sailing away, Jaime tells Myrcella that Trystane seems like a nice boy and that this arranged marriage might actually be a happy one, in which case Myrcella is lucky. Jaime is compelled to tell Myrcella the truth about their relationship, saying “We don’t choose whom we love,” a sentiment first said by Ellaria- but Myrcella reveals that she already knows that Jaime is her father and she’s totally cool with it. It’s even better that Myrcella says that she’s glad Jaime is her father- because this means that there has been someone as a witness to all the good in Jaime and the good that he’s tried to do. And so, Jaime lets his guard down and allows himself to be genuinely happy in a very meaningful way.
But then Myrcella’s nose starts bleeding and she goes limp.
The next shot is of Ellaria on the docks as her nose also starts bleeding and she drinks an antidote from her necklace- it’s the same poison Tyene cut Bronn with prior. This would have been a great cutaway except for the fact that the ship is still really close to Dorne- Jaime could have turned around and had Ellaria’s head right then and there.
Even so, you can’t help but feel for Jaime- he’s a changed man, he’s begun to embrace who he is and find real purpose and meaningful interactions, and the one time he chooses to be himself and completely open to judgment- and is accepted wholly and purely for the first time by his daughter, she dies in his arms. Brutal.
Over in Meereen, Tyrion hangs with Jorah and Daario, because the Sons of the Harpy apparently did shrug and move on after Dany flew out of the fighting pit. Whatever. Tyrion’s oblivious to his audience, dropping a “You love her, don’t you?” to no one in particular. It could be either of them. It could be to himself. Anyway, they all start arguing over who should be the one to rescue Dany, because it’s been a while since we had a dick measuring contest in the name of a woman, but Daario and Jorah opt to leave Tyrion behind because he’s kind of useless in the wild, he’s not good on a horse, and he’s good at talking. Tyrion’s better off in Meereen, helping Grey Worm govern while the Queen is away.
Because apparently Grey Worm is the only person Meereen will listen to… and half the city would consume the other half because… that’s not what they were doing while Grey Worm was patrolling, and… only the Unsullied can keep the peace in Meereen..?
Did Meereen go through some period of peace with the Unsullied that I’m not aware of? Was Grey Worm palling it up with everyone and playing poker? Did the Sons of the Harpy just up and leave? WHAT. DID. I. MISS.
Tyrion peers down at the two strapping heroes that he’ll never be the likes of, when Varys finally pops up again. The Road Trip is back on! At least we got that back!
On the outskirts of Meereen, Dany’s been dropped off because Drogon has chosen to feast on some poor livestock. Dany keeps repeating that Drogon has to take her home because all Dany is good at is repeating lines, hoping they’ll stick, and not elaborating on reasons. Drogon’s just as fed up as I am, and bucks Dany off, refusing to move. Then she tries to ask him to hunt for supper and… she’s just… I can’t. I can’t. Ygritte or Gilly or Arya would have found me a five-course supper.
Dany wanders off and finds herself surrounded by a Dothraki horde. She drops a ring she’s been wearing, in hopes to signal someone that she had been there before she gets carried off by a pretty massive khalesar. They begin to ride in a huge circle around her because we need something that looks cool.
In the dungeons of King’s Landing, Cersei is desperate to see Tommon, as she finally relents and says she will confess to the High Sparrow. She confesses to sleeping with Lancel, but not Jaime, outside of her marriage. The High Sparrow allows her to leave for the Red Keep and go home, but insists that she must still stand trial- and be atoned for her sins.
Cersei is stripped and washed roughly by septas, and has her hair chopped off by Septa Unella. Cersei’s blonde hair was a sign of her wealth and family name- a mark of pride and identity. She’s brought to the front of the Sept of Balor, where she’s stripped in public and forced to walk all the way back to the Red Keep, nude and humiliated as Septa Unella walks behind her chanting shame and ringing a bell.
The public, of course, begins yelling obscenities at Cersei and soon, they begin throwing food and excrement at Cersei, spitting on her, and smearing blood on her. It takes Cersei about half the walk for her to break down and begin crying and her feet bleed the rest of the way. When she finally arrives at the Red Keep, the Kingsguard and Lannister soldiers bar the walkway but no one moves to offer her sympathy. Kevan and Pycelle just look on, as Qyburn rushes over to wrap her in a cloak.
Cersei sobs until Qyburn presents her with a large member of the Kingsguard and her expression changes to steely resolve.
Back at the Wall, Davos begs Jon to ask the Wildlings to fight for Stannis- if they want to live in Westeros, they should fight for their King and Jon refuses, claiming that the Stannis-Bolton fight isn’t theirs. It’s true. Stannis is technically a dude squabbling over who should be king, not the king himself. On paper. Anyway. Mel arrives back at Castle Black because she knows Stannis probably lost and she refuses to talk to either of them. She’s so distraught that her god has failed her or that she saw the wrong thing or that she was lied to- one of those.
At nightfall, Olly summons Jon with the promise of news on Uncle Benjen and Jon immediately rushes outside. Hopeful music swells and Jon pushes through some members of the Night’s Watch to find Benjen- only to find a sign with “traitor” written across. He turns around and Alliser and the other men stab Jon repeatedly while chanting “The Lannisters send their regards” “For the Watch.” Olly is the last person to drive his knife through Jon and he does so- right through the heart.
Jon falls back in a pool of his own blood as the life slowly drains from him- and the episode ends. He’s not dead-dead, but he’s definitely dead enough for the episode to end on a cliffhanger.
We kick off Season 6 [grumble] next with: 6.1 The Red Woman