It’s ok guys, it’s ok; there are THEORIES!
So the winner of the War of the Five Kings is….Balon Greyjoy!!! Ah, so another season of Game of Thrones comes to a climactic end. Whilst this season has arguably been the worst (of the best) so far, you cannot deny that the finale had some wonderful moments. Well, depending on your definition of wonderful. As it stands now, essentially every story has caught up or even overtaken the books – save for an entire side plot featuring the Greyjoy family which fans are hoping will make an appearance in season 6. This episode popped in to say hi with pretty much every ‘main’ character, so let’s start in the east and do a little banana shaped trip across Westeros and Essos.
The climactic scene of episode 9 was, of course, Daenerys flying off on Drogon. Now, Drogon is still a young’un and not fully grown, so it is understandable why he was hurt so badly from a few blades. We aren’t exactly sure where Daenerys has landed, but due to the arrival of the Dothraki, you can assume it’s somewhere within the Dothraki Sea, which is north of Meereen. It wasn’t revealed who the Khal of this particular khalasar is, but we know that what remains of Dany’s ties with the Dothraki is limited; will she be greeted with welcome arms, or a sword to the face? In the books, Drogon makes himself a home in a cave, which Daenerys calls Dragonstone after her old home. She also gets very ill and has the poos before she seen by a lone Dothraki scout, who then sends for the rest of the khalasar.
Further east, in Braavos, we saw the concluding chapter for Arya this season. After a bit more overkill with Meryn Trant’s evilness (yes, we get it, he’s a dick) Arya is able to finally act out her revenge, wearing the face of the girl that she helped mercy kill a few episodes ago, which was a pleasant scene to watch! What was interesting here was that we saw, in some form, how the faces actually work. They appear to literally be masks that the Faceless Men can chop and change as they please. Additionally, the show also implied truth behind a theory that many fans already speculated – that Jaqen H’ghar is just a face, not a person. Seemingly as punishment for going against the Many Faced God, Arya is now blind, and even that does happen in the books, but under slightly different circumstances.
Over the Westeros now. The slightly seemingly irrelevant Dorne scene concluded with the unexpected death (we assume, anyway) of Myrcella. It was kind of obvious as soon as Ellaria kissed her on the lips what would happen, but my mind was briefly taken away from thinking about it too much as soon as Tyene Sand said “bad pussy” and I cringed. I mean, really? As if the Sand Snakes couldn’t get any worse…. As mentioned prior, this whole side story differs quite dramatically from the books. To avoid mild book spoilers (for scenes that I am 95% sure will not appear in the show), skip ahead to the next paragraphs. Ok? Ok. Well, for starters, Jaime is off in the Riverlands, and nowhere near Dorne. Mycrella is still there, and is guarded by a member of the Kingsguard named Arys Oakheart. Doran Martell’s daughter, Arianne (who sadly does not appear in the show) seduces Arys and convinces him to make Myrcella queen, seeing as in Dorne, age matters in succession, not gender. The reason for this is to largely defy the Lannisters. Without going into too much detail, someone snitches, and Arianne’s little rebellion fails, with Myrcella losing an ear in the process and Areo Hotah (the big guy with the glaive that protects Doran) killing poor Arys. What do the Sand Snakes have to do with this? Well, not much…they kind of just bang on about revenge until Doran imprisons some of them, whilst Ellaria…also doesn’t do much, and is a lot nicer! So, anyway, the question that arises now is 1) how will Jaime react? And 2) how will Doran react? I’ve said before about how much I like House Martell in the books, and unfortunately they haven’t really shone in the series, but there is still in in season 6!
Right, King’s Landing. It was a shame that we didn’t get to hear of Margaery’s fate; so at this stage we have no idea what the High Sparrow has in store for her. In the books, Loras is off fighting on Dragonstone, and so the whole trial surrounding his sexuality doesn’t happen. Instead, Margaery’s own virginity is taken into question (bear in mind that book Tommen is about 8 or so, so they didn’t seal the deal). Nevertheless, I’m sure light will be shed on her early next season. No, instead, the focus was on Cersei and her brilliantly done walk of punishment. It was horrible to watch, in a good way…and it was just about long enough that you felt uncomfortable and, despite what you may think of the Queen-mother, sorry for her. The question that now of course is how will Cersei respond to this? Will she get revenge, or is she truly broken? As an interesting side note: lads, this was just a body double with Lena Headey’s head CGI’d on. Some people are complaining that it looked a bit rubbish, but honestly I don’t think you would know. We very briefly saw the return of Kevan Lannister, standing with Pycelle, in the Red Keep. Kevan has been acting ruler since Cersei’s imprisonment, whilst Tommen pouts in his room. We were also introduced to a new member of the Kingsguard….who looks somewhat familiar…but I can’t quite put my finger on it….
Everything that surrounded Winterfell was show-only stuff. In the books, we last we see of Stannis is that he is marching…forever marching. He does not engage the Bolton force. Sansa is still in the Vale with Littlefinger – in the series, she has taken the role of a character called Jeyne Poole, who marries Ramsay as a fake Arya. Nevertheless, Theon still steps up and leaps from the walls of Winterfell with her to freedom…only to run into Stannis’ army. Right…let’s talk about Stannis. Despite being a Stannis fan, I don’t feel as upset about his death as I thought I would. It was almost inevitable. He became such a tragic figure, and as I mentioned last week, truly desperate. But, like the man he is, he went down a trooper, in the most stoic, Stannis way possible. So, yes, whilst I am a bit gutted that the One True King is dead (in the series, anyway….), it’s almost a relief. Now, all the legit Baratheons are dead… On the plus side, Brienne finally got her revenge…at the expense of forgetting all about Sansa. Shame we didn’t actually get to see the fight, but I guess a lot of the budget was spent on Drogon and Lena’s head. Now, Melisandre…what is your game? You got the impression that her confidence in Stannis was waning as this season went on, especially after her interactions with Jon. Which brings us on to…
The Wall. Firstly, Sam. Now this conversation is carried out a little differently in the books, and it’s actually Jon who insists that Sam go to Oldtown to become a maester, pretty much as soon as he is elected Lord Commander. Sam also takes Gilly, the baby, and Aemon with him, the latter of whom still passes away, but during the journey. Melisandre never actually goes with Stannis, and stays at the Wall. As do Shireen and Selyse, who are still very much alive. The climactic events happen in a slightly different albeit somewhat similar way too. In the books, the Night’s Watch are annoyed at Jon not just due to his empathy with the Wildlings, but because he wants to attach Winterfell to remove the Boltons from power (and existence). The attack on Jon happens through the teary eyes of the Watch brothers, and is not led by Alliser Thorne. Jon is also not tricked about Benjen either – no, no one has heard from Benjen since A Game of Thrones. Also, Olly isn’t there, because that little bastard is a show only character. Nevertheless, Jon is assassinated “for the Watch”. This is where book readers are; “[h]e never felt the fourth knife. Only the cold.” BUT DON’T WORRY!!! Since this happened in A Dance With Dragons back in 2011, fans have been scrambling together any theories they can on how Jon might have somehow survived this assassination. Now, show Jon looked pretty darn dead to me, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he will stay dead. One theory is Melisandre. She returns to the Wall, but for what purpose? We know she has a bit of an interest in Jon, and know that Red Priests have some sort of power that allows them to bring back the dead – think back to season 3 with Thoros and Beric. I believe that she will use her power to resurrect Jon. This may well change the Stark bastard, but changed Jon is better than no Jon, isn’t it? Kit Harington has said in a very recent interview that Jon is dead…but my argument is that he wouldn’t really turn about and go “nah he comes back”, right? RIGHT?! It also seems kind of weird that they would kill off our only real link to the Wall. Sure, Melisandre and Davos are now there too, but they are more supporting characters. There are also dozens of other theories surrounding Jon, such as his parentage, or whether he is some kind of ‘chosen one’, and whether the title A Song of Ice and Fire alludes to him partially. Also, he had his stare down with big baddie White Walker, the Night’s King in episode 8…surely that was not for nothing….right?! Well, until either The Winds of Winter or season 6 are released (the latter, I’m sure), I guess we can keep on speculating.
Well, now you have just under a year to kill. My advice? The same as last year: read the books. They are phenomenal, and further expand on this world that we know and love. As for me, I need to find some games to review…
So….Meryn Trant likes…kids?
First, let’s take a moment to appreciate Doran’s awesomeness. Finally. After nine episodes, he is finally given his due. Doran is very smart man, and not at all rash like his brother: he bides his time. We see in this episode, though, that despite being in a wheel chair (from severe gout, if you remember) he still holds great power and is well-respected. It is unfortunate that these Dorne scenes have been pretty filler…and pretty awful filler at that, but it least it has nearly concluded without any serious causalities, and has provided us an insight (albeit small) into how Doran rules, and his motives. And Trystane’s weirdly hairy chest.
In all honesty, most of episode 9 was largely self-explanatory, so I’ll just focus on the two ‘big’ scenes of the week: Stannis and Daenerys. Let’s begin in the north. With winter closing in around them, Stannis and his army are truly struggling. Especially when scoundrels like Ramsay come and set stuff on fire. I can’t help but laugh at the irony as Melisandre steps out of her tent to a sea of flames and a Ponyta. How brilliant would it have been if the downfall of Stannis’ conquest was fire? I mean, after this week’s episode, but proxy it just may be! So, yes, Stannis sacrificed his daughter to the Lord of Light. Now I feel it’s important to add here that this has not (yet) happened in the books – book Stannis is currently trudging along in the snows with his army still, whilst Shireen and her mother stay at Castle Black. The main things that afflict book Stannis’ army is the lack of food and endless marching. This whole section of the book is also told from the point of view of a character that hasn’t even encountered Stannis once in this entire series, though whether or not they pop up in episode 10 remains to be seen. Despite not appearing in the books, Shireen’s sacrifice was apparently headed up from the evil mind of George R. R. Martin himself, and not from Benioff and Weiss – which is who most people will turn to blame when something happens in the show they do not like! So, why did Stannis do it? Well, this is my quarrel with the whole thing. We saw that lovely scene earlier in the season between Stannis and his daughter. Then, last episode, he shooed Melisandre out from his tent when she merely hinted at the notion of sacrificing Shireen. I feel that his decision would have been more believable if we had seen one more episode – one more scene even – of Stannis pondering it over, as opposed to this apparent sudden choice. My personal opinion on Stannis hasn’t really changed because of it – he did it because he thinks that it is the only way he can save the realm, essentially, and you could see the pain in his eyes as the execution is carried out. I’m not saying it was right, or even justified, but in his mind it was the only option. The sacrifice itself, I feel, was almost inevitable, what with the amount of time dedicated to building Shireen’s sweet, innocent character this season, as well as the ominously foreshadowing conversation between her and Davos earlier in the episode. Also, Davos said something about hearing about her story “when he gets back”…and from past experience we know that in Game of Thrones, if someone says that, they (or the recipient of the conversation) are going to die… My personal prediction was that Selyse, at Mel’s bidding, was going to go behind Stannis’ back and do it, to which Stannis responds with a firm backhand, but in fact it was her mother’s crying, along with Shireen’s screams, that really made this whole scene very haunting. Stannis is truly desperate. He has made a number of speeches about the needs of the many over the few, and that sacrifices aren’t easy, “that’s why they are sacrifices”, but one cannot help but pause and wonder if the Stannis hype train is really going in the right direction… But then again, he sneakily murdered his brother and has sacrificed countless people in the past, so what’s so different about a daughter…?
Say what you will on the episode as a whole (though I quite enjoyed it), but you cannot deny that once again we were treated to an epic ending. What began with some well-choreographed fighting and a bit of Daario suave ended in what can only be described as slightly-bad-CGI-dragon-epicenes. Meereen, as we know, is plagued by the gang known as the Sons of the Harpy (RIP Barristan). These ex-slaves and Masters loath Daenerys for what she has done to their city, and won’t rest until her head is on the edge of a rusty blade. Apart from that, we still know very little about them, such as whether they have any ulterior motives, or even who their leader is. One of my guesses was Hizdahr, so I was extremely shocked and surprised to see him viciously stabbed to death (and felt a pang of sympathy). Now, there are those on t’internet who believe that Hizdahr’s death was staged, and that he is in fact still alive, and it was all a ruse…but I think it looked pretty convincing. I think he is pretty dead. This scene is somewhat similar to its book counterpart, the key difference being that book-Jorah is somewhere else (and Tyrion, too). Still, Drogon is drawn in by the scent of blood and lands in the pit, singeing all who come near, until Daenerys mounts him and soars into the skies, leaving behind the chaos to her bemused followers. Despite the questionable CGI, I thought this scene provided another brilliant end to a decent episode. Even Jorah’s Dark Souls inspired forward roll kill was pretty epic…though not as epic as the Spartan inspired spear throw. Well done Jorah.
Before we conclude, the word “Graces” was uttered by a character during this final scene – I forget who. Anyway, the Graces are a group of healers or priestesses in the area surrounding Meereen, led by the Green Grace, who acts as an advisor of sorts to Dany in the books. So far, they have been omitted from the series, so it’s interesting to hear their name dropped, even if it was for a second. Will we be delving more into the political side of Meereen next season? I’m also curious about the Unsullied, and how, for lack of a better word, shit they have been this season. The argument here is that they are not trained for this kind of combat, and lack proper field training, but nevertheless they got pretty much butchered by…well, civilians. I hope someone has an answer for this! I assume Grey Worm was resting in bed as this whole shabang went on…
As mentioned last week, The Dance of Dragons’ episode title is taken from the fifth book, A Dance with Dragons. Obviously, the title prominently refers to the climactic Meereen scene and Drogon, but it was also referred earlier in the episode via the book that Shireen was reading. The final episode of the season is titled Mother’s Mercy, so put your speculation hats on now and start guessing what that’s about!
9.9 this episode scored on IMDb! 9.9!! The highest rated Game of Thrones episode (on IMDb, anyway). Interestingly, this episode also featured a wide range of ‘show-only’ content. Which backs up my point that with the whole Dorne thing, book readers aren’t annoyed because it’s different: they are annoyed because it’s bad. Show-only folks feel the same. But this episode greatly restored my faith (which was never really dwindling, I swear) in the writers’ ability.
The book-to-show adaptations this week focused solely on Arya and Cersei’s stories. Cersei’s is pretty straight forward, continuing on from last week’s cliff-hanger. Arya’s, on the other hand, is slightly more convoluted and confusing. The question is, what is Arya actually doing? Well, it seems like she is training to become a Faceless Man, that’s for sure. To understand how to be another person, Arya must live the life of another person. Hence, she becomes the oyster seller. In the books, she talks the name Cat of the Canals – a nod to this can be seen during the scene when multiple cats cross her path. The ‘skinny man’ sat at the desk was essentially an insurance dealer (boo!) who had cheated a family out of their money. Arya has killed before, but for her own reasons, so it will be interesting to see how she deals with taking the life of someone who has done her no wrong.
Breaking away from the books, we are treated to a fantastic couple of scenes between the little Lion and the Dragon. As Tyrion has not yet met Daenerys in the books, this is all original stuff, save the “wheel” speech, which is said to another character. As Barristan is now sadly deceased, it appears that Tyrion will be taking his role (as advisor, anyway, not knight…though that would be good). Tyrion, obviously, knows the political scape of Westeros more than Dany, and doubts she would gain many supporters. However, the Martells were Targaryen supporters until the bitter end, after years of a love/hate relationship between the two. We still haven’t really seen the extent of the Martell’s power, as they tend to keep themselves to themselves…though I’m hoping more light will be shed on them in the final two episodes of the season.
Ok, time for the biggie. Beyond the Wall (which apparently has some sort of magic spell on it to stop Baby Sam from aging??) is a vast wasteland: the Lands of Always Winter. Very little is known about this area, save a few leagues from the Wall where rangers have explored. The Wildlings have scouted further, as far as Thenn, which is where the bald cannibal people from. Beyond that, however, it is largely uncharted, and the map just kind of fades off. Hardhome is a settlement situated on the east side of the Lands of Always Winter, geographically roughly the same distance north of the Wall as the Fist of the First Men (where the Night’s Watch set up camp in season 2). Hardhome has acted as a refuge for Free Folk all over. Leaderless, they have become shambles, and appear to be governed by a group of ‘elders’ representing each faction. We see the (brief) return of a character from season 2: Rattleshirt, or the Lord of Bones, before he is brutally bashed down by Tormund. This not only shows Tormund’s brutality, but also acts as a final nail in the coffin for another character: Mance. In the books, Melisandre puts a glamour spell on Mance, and disguises him as Rattleshirt, and vice versa. So, it’s actually Rattleshirt that dies on the pyre at Castle Black. Meanwhile, Mance goes incognito and heads south on a secret rescue mission. Book-readers may well have hoped that the same happened in the series, but, alas, it’s not to be.
The climactic scene gave us more information about the White Walkers than we have received in the books. Largely, this is due to the fact that this scene is show-only, and a lot of information on the White Walkers comes from gossip and Old Nan’s stories! Exciting times. Obviously, we still know very little about them – such as their motives, their intelligence, community etc. But it’s apparent they are a serious threat, which many Westerosi seem to poo-poo. Suddenly, the tribulations of King’s Landing seem irrelevant, now that we have seen the real enemy! It’s important to note that this isn’t just a ‘medieval Walking Dead zombie apocalypse’; this is full out war. These undead soldiers (known as Wights) are relentless and brutal, as opposed to your classic zombie which survives on instinct. No, these guys want to hurt you. And now we know how easily the White Walkers (also known as the Others in the books) resurrect their undead Wights. Just a simple ‘come at me, bro’ gesture and you’ve got yourself an army. We also got to see how they really do ‘bring the cold’, and the Wight’s sheer determination as they flung themselves off of a cliff in order to kill their prey. Another big reveal was the importance of Valyrian Steel. I think I have talked about this previously, but Valyrian Steel, as the name suggests, was originally forged by the Valyrians (see my post on episode 5 for information about them). It is said to be the strongest, sharpest metal around, and only a gifted few know the secrets of how to forge it. Known Valyrian Steel swords are few: Ned Stark’s massive sword, Ice, was melted down and presented to Joffrey on his wedding day, and to Jaime, who later passed it to Brienne as Oathkeeper. Samwell Tarly’s family also own one named Heartsbane. Littlefinger’s dagger that was used to try and assassinate Bran is also Valyrian Steel. To my knowledge, these are the only blades that have been mentioned in the books. There were many more, but they have been lost to time
This whole final scene was brilliantly shot, with some wonderful cinematography, and, in my eyes has made up for the awful Dorne scenes (especially choreography wise). And the sound; oh, the sound! I’ll be interested to see how the rest of the Watch react to Jon bringing bands of Wildlings and a Giant (whose name is Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun, or Wun Wun for short, if you were interested) to the Wall. Also, I’m awfully suspicious about that hooded figure navigating Jon’s boat at the end. He didn’t even turn round! I was half expecting it to be some sort of disguised White Walker…or, and I had my fingers crossed for this, that we would hear a voice “Jon?” *Jon looks down* “Uncle Benjen?!” BLACKOUT!
Next week’s episode is titled The Dance of Dragons, which is an obvious allusion to the title of the fifth book, A Dance with Dragons. Ramsay also mentioned how he would leave Stannis’ army as “a feast for the crows”, which is a nice little nod to the title of the fourth book, A Feast for Crows. Whether you think this season has been slow or not, it’s definitely apparent that it’s picking up now, with next week’s episode looking pretty darn epic, and episode ten will apparently “break the internet”…! Also, Oberyn died this time last year. Just saying.
This article is to be read after the episode has been seen, as and as a result may contain spoilers up to the episode that it’s covering, but no further. So if you haven’t seen the episode yet, go and watch it. Then come back and read this. Then watch the episode again. Then read this again.
“I’ll never hurt her” – Oh, Ramsay, you bugger. You might not, but your jealous bitches might….
This episode seemed to feature a lot of paths crossing – which is pretty much all A Feast For Crows, the forth book, is. Let’s work our way from north to south, then. Many book fans continue to rejoice this season as we get to see Stannis for the stoic badass he is. He still seems to be all about power, whereas in the book he does actually want to save the Realm, but one thing at a time. Offering Jon the North (and the surname Stark) would grant him a massive number of allies (“the North remembers”). Jon, however, honourable as ever, turns it down. Now Lord Commander, it seems he really has his work cut out for him. He shows great signs of leadership by acknowledging Alliser Thorne’s worth, despite their dislike for one another, and belittling gingers. His choice to execute Janos Slynt was not an easy one – due to TV limitations, we don’t get to see Jon’s inner monologue like we do in the book, but he spends a time arguing with himself about what to do with Slynt; imprisonment, he believes, would lead to revenge and desertion. No, Jon must send a message. A book-famous line in which he calls to Edd “Edd, fetch me a block” was sadly omitted for “Olly, bring me my sword”. It’s one of those lines like “Only Cat” that is somewhat iconic in d’book world. Anyway, Jon follows in his father’s footsteps – “the man that passes the sentence should swing the sword” – and arguably avenges him. Remember back in Season 1, it was Littlefinger that held the dagger to Ned’s throat, but it was Janos Slynt, Commander of the City Watch, who was subdued by gold…the very reason Tyrion sent him to the Wall in the first place. And then, we get that very, very subtle nod from Stannis. Badass.
In the rest of the North, fans cry out in anguish as Littlefinger’s plans are revealed: to marry Sansa to Ramsay. As stated before, Sansa’s book story ends with her departing the Eyrie, so this is all new territory. Book Ramsay actually marries Sansa’s childhood friend, who has been made up to look like Arya, giving the Boltons another key to the North. This will be an interesting turn of events….I fear a bit for what Ramsay might do to Sansa, but Sansa is beginning to come into her own, becoming braver, cleverer, more manipulative. The North remembers. An interesting interaction is seen here between Roose and Littlefinger. Remember Littlefinger currently holds the East in his pocket, whilst Roose governs the North – though Roose clearly expresses that, now that Tywin is dead, he doubts the Lannister’s support. Are we going to see a Bolton/Baelish team-up? A little down the line, Brienne’s story is also new territory and very hard to predict. The main thing we get from her this episode is a bit of exposition and more Pod-love from the audience.
This episode featured perhaps my favourite Cersei/Margaery exchange. The young queen has been taught well, and knows exactly how to get on the Lannister’s tits and penis. Bear in mind that Tommen is only about 12 or 13, bless his cottons. I mean, in the book he’s 8, chubby, and would much rather spend his days stamping letters than ruling. I take back what I said last year, though, about not liking him because he is too old – I think that the direction they have taken his character in is a very interesting one, and allows Margaery to use her feminine wiles to manipulate him, but retaining Tommen’s innocence and charm. As a side note, it’s interesting that an underage actor has been featured in a sex scene like this. Obviously you don’t see anything, but book-Sansa has numerous, erm, encounters of a somewhat sexual nature, but due to Sophie Turner’s age they didn’t show it. So who knows why they have changed their minds…? Maybe it’s a female thing. Either way, I’m sure actor Dean-Charles Chapman had a great and awkward time filming. Margaery gave a li’l dig a Cersei for her drinking too; this feature is much more apparent in the books, as Cersei begins to put on a bit of weight and is never seen without wine, but the show has hinted at this just enough that watcher will go “OOOOHHHH!!!! NO SHE DIDN’T!” Sticking in King’s Landing, we meet the eponymous High Sparrow. So far, we have seen this holy man’s influence spreading in the form of the Sparrows (which Lancel Lannister is part of). The man in the brothel earlier was the High Septon, who is basically like the Pope. The High Sparrow seeks to eradicate the corruptness from the Faith of the Seven and restore it to purity.
So, before we have a quick check in with Arya, let’s look at religion in Westeros. You have the Old Gods, who are nameless, worshipped by the North partially through the Wierwoods. Then there is the Seven, the predominant religion throughout Westeros. The Seven consists of the Father, Mother, Maiden, Crone, Warrior, Smith and Stranger, each representing different parts of existence. Then there is the Red God, R’hllor, the Lord of Light. We see Melisandre worship this deity, as well the Red Priestess at the end of the episode. Then there is the Drowned God, worshipped by the Iron Born. Lastly, we have the Many-Faced-God, “the true face of all the gods”, whose statue can be seen in the House of Black and White. The Faceless Men believe that he is the only god, and he is the god of death. He is the same as the Stranger in the Faith of the Seven. There are many other little religions and cults across the world, but these are the biggest. As (another) side note, I often find that these articles are seven paragraphs long. A sign? A coincidence?
In fact, in the books, over thirty god statues stand in the House of Black and White, though it’s a little harder to make out which ones made the cut in the show. The important thing to remember is that the Faceless Men worship Death. Perhaps just a simple nod or a reveal, but the phrasing that Jaqen used to explain this to Arya was a lot like what Syrio said in Season 1……. To become a Faceless Man, Arya must lose her identity and become ‘no one’. Conveniently, though, she was able to find a hole in a rock just big enough for Needle to fit neatly in, so we won’t be losing that any time soon!
I think that’s all that needs explaining really. Tyrion’s story was quite self-explanatory – though which queen is Jorah taking him too? OoOoOoOoO! Let’s take a quick moment to appreciate the beauty of Volantis, where slavery runs rampant, and home to late Robb Stark’s later wife, Talisa. Now, the actor that played the Red Priestess Tyrion shared a moment with, Rila Fukushima, has appeared in films such as The Wolverine and numerous episodes of Arrow, implying that we may well see more of her. The actress was born in Japan, and is the first Asian person we have seen in the series. This is largely due to the fact that George R. R. Martin’s world’s equivalent to Asia, Yi Ti, largely keep to themselves. They may venture into Essos, as we see here, but rarely Westeros. That concludes this Episode Companion. See you next week!
This article is to be read after the episode has been seen, as and as a result may contain spoilers up to the episode that it’s covering, but no further. So if you haven’t seen the episode yet, go and watch it. Then come back and read this. Then watch the episode again. Then read this again.
Meereen looks a bit like Aku-Aku from Crash Bandicoot in the opening credits.
Let’s kick off with Arya’s story in Braavos. We saw Braavos very briefly in season 4, when Stannis and Davos visit the Iron Bank to ask for money. But now we get to see the city alive. So, Braavos is one of the Nine Free Cities – that is, cities in Essos (the eastern continent) that do not follow a king. Instead, Braavos is ruled by a Sealord. Cast your mind back to season 1, and the wonderful Syrio Forel (“not today”). Syrio was the First Sword to the Sealord of Braavos. Kind of a big deal. Braavos is a bit like Venice with Britain’s weather. It’s built on a load of canals, so boat travel is the most efficient way of getting around. We follow Arya as she finds the House of Black and White, the episode’s namesake. This is home to the Faceless Men: the organisation of assassins that Jaqen H’ghar is part of. OMG book spoiler – the old man in the books is never actually revealed to be Jaqen, though there were theories, so this is an interesting turn of events. Side note: one other thing that I did notice is that Arya’s list has gotten substantially shorter…no more Thoros, Beric or Mel, or Ilyn Payne. Has she forgiven or just forgotten…?
Sticking in Essos (it’s a pretty gosh darn big place), we caught up with Varys and Tyrion on their way to Meereen via Volantis. Volantis is another of the Free Cities, located at the very south of the map (Braavos is pretty north). Notably Volantians include Talisa – Robb Stark’s baby momma. Whilst we wait for Varys and Tyrion to catch up, let’s travel to Meereen ourselves, kids! As you can see, this episode saw Daenerys making a tough ol’ decision. The title House of Black and White may well refer to Dany’s decision of killing Maran…Meren….Maranana…I can’t remember his name. Not important. That guy. Personally, I think she did the right thing, though as we saw, it led to a riot between the old Masters and the freed slaves. Interesting, parallels can be drawn here with both Robb and Joffrey: Robb had to execute Rickard Karstark for killing his prisoners, just like Daenerys. Joffrey had to run from the lynch mob throwing rocks and poo, just like Daenerys (though maybe not the poo). What does this mean? Who knows!
Over to Westeros. Once again, Brienne’s bad track record proceeded her. Though, I can’t help but think that she didn’t try very hard before running off in a huff….though it did prove how bad-ass is she is. Notice as well, Sansa’s bird-like outfits, mirroring Baelish’s mockingbird sigil. Could the title Black and White refer to them too, or is that too tenuous?
In King’s Landing, we see just how highly Kevan Lannister thinks of his niece. Kevan is very much his brother’s brother. He idolised Tywin, so you can imagine that Tywin’s death has affected him pretty badly. But Kevan ain’t no fool. He can see right through Cersei for what she is. Along with complimenting bumbling (but wonderful) Mace Tyrell, Cersei seems to be slowly manipulating what remains of the Small Council. She obviously hates Pycelle (who doesn’t?) and is trying to worm Qyburn in there. I’ve talked about Qyburn before, but we’ll have a quick recap. We first met him in season 3 in Harrenhal, where he came to serve Roose Bolton. After Jaime lost his hand, Qyburn stitched him up and escorted him and Brienne back to King’s Landing. Qyburn is a Maester, like Pycelle, Aemon and Luwin (RIP). However, Qyburn was banished from the Citadel (their HQ) for…unethical experiments. What these were exactly, we don’t know. But we do know that he used his knowledge to potentially save a dying Gregor Clegane (the Mountain) and he had a curious fascination with the dead dwarf’s head…hmmmm.
At the Wall, Stannis finally starts being awesome like his book counterpart, offering Jon Snow the goddamn North. The letter that Stannis received was from Lyanna Mormont, who is niece of Jeor Mormont (the old Night’s Watch Lord Commander) and cousin of Jorah Mormont. The letter is pretty awesome as it declares that, even though Roose Bolton holds the North and Stannis wants to take it, the Northerners bow to one king, and his name is STARK. Frickin’ awesome. One day, I hope that the Seven Kingdoms are ruled by the Starks and Martells. WHICH BRINGS US NICELY ON TO:
Dorne. Hell yeah. Personally, the Martells are my favourite house. About 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones takes place, Aegon Targaryen, known as Aegon the Conqueror, landed in Westeros with his dragons and armies and tried to take over. The whole country bent the knee, apart from Dorne. The Martells words “Unbowed. Unbent. Unbroken.” is a symbol of their resistance. Throughout the ages, the Martells have often been pissed on, but have never faltered and always risen above it. They are a strong house, somewhat isolated (both geographically and politically) from the rest of Westeros. Our first encounter with the Martells was through the fantastic, late Oberyn. We know that he was bent on revenge against those that murdered his sister, Elia, and her children. Elia, if you remember, was married to Rhaegar Targaryen, Dany’s older brother. The Mountain “raped her. Murdered her. Killed her children.” But you know all this. So the Martells are a bit bitter. But do they incite open war? No. Doran Martell – Oberyn’s older brother and head of the family, Lord of Sunspear – is cleverer than that. We briefly meet Doran in this episode. He is pretty much wheelchair bound due to severe gout (caused by the lavish Dornish lifestyle, some say). Doran may seem weak, but he is patient. He will bide his time, like so many Martells have before him. Partially, this is why I am so scared for Jaime and Bronn going to Dorne. I love the Martells, but gosh darn I hope those two are safe (this is a diversion from the books so I have no idea what’s going to happen!). We also briefly saw Myrcella (who has been recast) walking around the Water Gardens with a young man, Trystane Martell. Trystane is Doran’s son. In the books, he has another daughter, Arienne. Unfortunately, she seems to have been omitted from the show, but it appears though Ellaria Sand, Oberyn’s ex-gf, is taking on her character responsibilities. So there’s a little history lesson to wrap up this week’s episode companion. Now, please join me in staring at Daenerys’ ridiculous eyebrows until the sun rises.
This article is to be read after the episode has been seen, as and as a result may contain spoilers up to the episode that it’s covering, but no further. So if you haven’t seen the episode yet, go and watch it. Then come back and read this. Then watch the episode again. Then read this again.
Happy Father’s Day, Tywin.
I bet I’m the first person on the internet to make that joke.
So, Game of Thrones is over for another year. What did we all think of the finale? Whilst I don’t think that it was Weiss and Benioff’s ‘masterpiece’, as they claimed it was, I did thoroughly enjoy the episode. Book fans have been simultaneously reeling from the lack of a certain scene, but actually I am kind of glad that it was omitted. Without spoiling anything, the scene that was expected is the epilogue of A Storm of Swords, which is book three in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. It’s a major reveal – I will say no more than that – and would have made a great epilogue to the series. However, had they included it, there episode would have been too packed, I think. There was a lot going on, and a lot of twists and turns in various story arcs. Had this scene been included, I think that it would have taken away from the rest of the episode. Now, I just hope they include it early in season 5, as the longer they wait, the less impact it will have. But I’m not as angry about it being left out as I thought I was, and actually having the episode end with Arya sailing away was quite a nice way to finish the series.
A lot of events unfolded throughout the 65 minute episode, so I will try and cover as much as I can, ending with a note on where the characters all are at the moment.
I’ll start with a scene that was quite easily overlooked: Qyburn and the Mountain. I’m sure that a normal man would have died by the wounds that the Red Viper of Dorne inflicted…but the Mountain is not a normal man. It is revealed here that Oberyn used poison during his fight with Gregor Clegane in episode 8, and this is what is slowly killing him. Qyburn (who was once a maester, but was kicked out for ‘unorthodox’ practices) is the fellow that escorted Jaime and Brienne back to King’s Landing from Harrenhal at the end of season 3. He has been there since, and Cersei has taken quite an interest in him, it seems. Qyburn promises that, through his ‘unorthodox’ practices, he can save Gregor Clegane’s life, but he won’t be the same. As an interesting side note, Qyburn was first introduced in season 3 episode 1, when Robb arrives at Harrenhal after it had been pillaged. Pillaged by whom, you ask? Well, the very person that Qyburn is experimenting on.
Sticking in King’s Landing, Tywin had a very bad day. Firstly, his daughter tells him that his family is built up on incest, and then his youngest son shoots him whilst he is having a poo. Deary me. The most powerful man in the word…killed on the toilet. Here we see the Lannister’s real decline in power. With the patriarchal figurehead eliminated, what will happen to the family now? We already know that the gold mines in Casterly Rock have all but dried up, and the Tyrells are sneaking around, getting their mits into Tommen to manipulate him. Jaime remains in the Kingsguard, and as a result cannot father any children. Indeed, it seems that the Lannister line is all but drying up! Whilst I really enjoyed how Tyrion’s story was played out, I can’t help but be a little upset with some minor variations from the book – it is obvious that Tyrion is a favourite; not just a fan favourite, but Benioff and Weiss’ too. As a result, I think that they are, for lack of a better term, white washing him. In the books, Tyrion is a lot darker. For example (I think I mentioned this before), he once had a singer boiled into stew for threatening to reveal the truth about Shae. In the series, we sometimes see a darker side to him, but not to this extent. Anyway, my point is that Tyrion and Jaime’s departure in the series was on good terms, whereas in the books it is not, which both influences their characters drastically in the next installment. For those interested, this is how it plays out in the books (if not, skip ahead until after the nice picture).
****** SPOILERS KIND OF-ISH BUT NOT REALLY ****
Do you remember the story of Tysha, Tyrion’s first wife? Long story short, Tyrion lost his virginity to her, and then found out that she was a whore, hired by Jaime to help Tyrion become a man. In response, Tywin had his men rape her, and paid her afterwards. Skip forward to the present, and Jaime comes down to the cells to free Tyrion. He reveals the truth about Tysha: she wasn’t a whore; Tywin lied about it to break up up their un-(in his eyes) holy matrimony. Naturally, Tyrion is mega pissed off, and then proceeds to tells Jaime that he did kill Joffrey, and that Cersei has been having sexy time with Lancel (their cousin, in the first and second series), Osmund Kettleblack (a knight from the books) and “Moon-Boy, for all I know” (Moon-Boy is a court fool). The two part ways, peeved at each other – with Jaime questioning his incestuous relationship, which had been perfect up until now, let’s be honest. Anyway so Tyrion encounters Varys, who’s like “by the way, that’s Tywin’s room up there, jus’ sayin’.” Tyrion ventures up, finds Shae in Tywin’s bed as the show portrays (though he seems to be a lot angrier in the books and pretty much murders her in cold blood) before finding Tywin on the privy. The difference in the scene here is that series-Tyrion seems concerned and upset with Shae, whereas book-Tyrion is hung up on Tysha. He tells Tywin he knows the truth, and asks where Tysha is. Tywin replies “where do whores go?” before Tyrion thwangs him with the crossbow. Like Jaime, Tyrion has this line repeating in his head – “where do whores go?” – heavily influencing his character and the decisions he makes. So, I for one am very interested to see how their future stories play out!
Continuing on – so Tyrion finds Shae and kills her out in self-defence, anger, betrayal and sadness. I’m not sure what the weird “I’m sorry” was about, but the scene was very well done. He then finds Joffrey’s old reliable crossbow and hunts down Tywin, putting a big crossbow bolt shaped dent in the Lannister’s power. Varys, who is so awesome, then helps Tyrion escape. Varys is about to return to the castle, but then realises what an awful, silly place it is, and proceeds to boat trip with Tyrion. He doesn’t accompany the Imp in the books, but I’m looking forward to seeing more interactions between the two next season!
Ummm next we have Daenerys. Her exploits in the finale were pretty self-explanatory: Drogon, the largest and most fearsome of her three dragons, went and flamethrowered a young girl. Daenerys wisely finally realises that dragons are actually pretty dangerous, and, full of emotion, chains them up for the time being, which is probably going to end really well. Well, she chains two of them up – Viserion and Rhaegal. Drogon – the most dangerous muthafuzzer – is out hunting and hasn’t been seen for days…
In the North, viewers were treated to some brilliant exchanges between Jon Snow and Mance Rayder, before Stannis shows up and kicks arse. If you recall at the end of season 3, Melisandre tells Stannis that the “true fight is to the north”. So how did Stannis get to the Wall? Last we saw of him, he was in Braavos, which is to the east of Westeros in Essos. From there, Stannis could have sailed north along the Westeros coast and past the Wall, before docking and unloading his troops. But why is he there? Well, to quote George R. R. Martin, Stannis is realising that he shouldn’t become king to save Westeros, but should save Westeros to become king. It is important, however, to note that the Night’s Watch swear they will not align themselves to a specific family or take part in any wars besides their own. This is A Song of Ice and Fire, and it appears that Ice and Fire are indeed now meeting!
Further north, you may be rubbing your eyelids in confusion as to what is going on with Bran’s story. We know that he is trying to find the Three-Eyed Raven (Three-Eyed Crow in the books) from
his dreams, and he knowsthat it is something to do with a heart tree, which, as I mentioned before, were symbols of the Old Gods (Jon burnt Ygritte under one in this episode too). They arrive at the tree that Bran has seen in his dreams, are attacked by undead, and then rescued by a Lost Boy from Peter Pan. This character is called Leaf, and she is one of the Children of the Forest. Some quick background – the Children of the Forest, though childlike in appearance, are not children at all. They’re kind of like Halfling elfy things. The giants called them “little squirrel people”. They lived in Westeros eons ago, before the First Men settled. When the First Men settled, with their bronze weapons and what not, the Children’s weirwoods were all but burnt down, and what little of them remained went into hiding. That’s just a brief history – you can probably find out more online, as it is quite interesting, but beware, for the night is dark and full of spoilers. Leaf leads Bran, Hodor and Merra (but not Jojen as he is now super dead) to the Three-Eyed Raven, who appears to be a man caught in a tree. His depiction in the books is a lot cooler, but I imagine the CGI budget was pretty much spent at this point, what with all of Leaf’s fireballs, so I guess an old man in a tree will have to do. Suddenly, Bran’s story has become interesting again!
Holy Christmas is that it? Oh, no – Arya. Ok, so book-Brienne never meets Arya, and the fight between her and the Hound doesn’t happen – book-Sandor Clegane becomes weakened by a wound he suffered, then Arya leaves him to die – but this was much cooler, and a pretty bad arse fight scene. Arya has obviously become very suspicious of people, which is why her tone towards Brienne changes as soon as “Lannister” is mentioned. Despite that, she still resents the Hound for killing Mycha (the butcher’s boy), no matter how many whacky adventures they have had. Arya is now stone cold, and instead of giving the Hound the sweet, sweet release of death, she leaves him to die slowly and painfully. She arrives at a place known as the Salt Pans (hence all that salt you saw), searching for a vessel. She is lost and alone in the world, but still has one hope: the coin that Jaqen gave her at the end of series 2. “Give this to any man from Braavos and say ‘valar morghulis’”. And off she pops.
So, as it stands –
Bran and co. are beyond the Wall, sheltered from harm with the Three-Eyed Raven.
At the Wall we have Jon and the Night’s Watch, along with Stannis, Davos, Melisandre and Stannis’ men, whilst Tormund and Mance are being held prisoner.
Reek/Theon is at Winterfell, where the Boltons have made their new home.
Sansa (going by the name Alayne) and Littlefinger are in the Eyrie, preparing to depart on a tour of the Vale.
Ayra is boarding a boat to Braavos.
The Hound is left dying on a rock.
Brienne and Podrick are still in the Vale looking for Arya.
In King’s Landing, Tommen sits on the throne, surrounded by the Tyrells, much to Cersei’s dismay. Qyburn is experimenting on the Mountain, Jaime is still a member of the Kingsguard, Tywin is dead, and Tyrion and Varys are also boarding a boat to who-knows-where.
Across the Narrow Sea, Dany has chained up her dragons and realises that ruling ain’t that easy, whilst Jorah is moping out in the wilderness somewhere on horseback.
Oh, and somewhere in the Narrow Sea, poor Gendry is still probably figuring out how to row his boat.
I think that just about covers everyone? Apologies if I have missed anyone out.
If you’re feeling a big Game of Thrones shaped hole in your heart, I really do recommend you to read the books. At times, they are quite difficult, tedious, and a tad boring, but overall the story is fantastic and exciting, and gives you so much more depth than the series can. Start with the first book – A Game of Thrones – even if you have watched the series thus far, or else you will miss out. Plus, then you can join in the hundreds of theory discussions online, and, more importantly, gloat and act smug to non-book readers that you have read them…not that I do that, of course. Thank you for reading my episode follow-ups, and I hope that you found them helpful and enjoyed reading them, as I did writing them.
This episode was fantastic, in my most honest and humble opinion. Whilst sections diverged from the books slightly, it was all very well written and coherent. My only gripe this week was the Meereen scenes, so we will dust over that first.
Some people are outraged/confused about the whole Grey Worm/Missandei thing. Two arguments have arisen here: 1) THAT’S NOT IN THE BOOKS! And 2) but he is a eunuch! Whilst these are both true, I believe that this little filler story is just a harmless side plot. Firstly, no, nothing like this is in the books – I mean, book-Missandei is only ten years old, for starters. And Grey Worm has no interest in her. In fact, if I remember correctly, the two barely interact. But that isn’t a pivotal plot point, I don’t think, and ergo it can be altered and changed to add some show content. So calm your booky faces. Now, I’m no scientist man, but I think that the fact that he is a eunuch may mean that he has no sexual desires at all – isn’t that the point? So I think that his attachment to Missandei is purely on an emotional level. In the books, it is stated that the Unsullied often go to the brothels to lay with the girls, just for comfort. Perhaps Grey Worm’s infatuation is driven by the same desire? Also boobs. But anyway, that scene wasn’t what let the episode down – no, that honour goes to Daenerys. Jorah’s exile should have been a much bigger deal. I mean, how many “Lord Friendzone” jokes are there out there? In the books, this scene is heart-breaking, and unfortunately I think it is one of those ones that just hasn’t translated too well. I think that this is partly down to the writing for that scene, and partly down to Emilia Clarke’s acting, who seems to be getting progressively worse. I don’t know. I think that she was going for the whole “numb” approach, which is fine, but it just didn’t have the emotional impact that it should have. To add some context, in the books, Barristan and Jorah’s ‘reveals’ happen at the same time: Before Joffrey dismisses him, book-Barristan sat on Robert’s Small Council meetings, and as a result knew about Jorah’s spying from day one. After leaving King’s Landing, he dons the disguise of Arstan Whitebeard – an old man – and seeks out Daenerys. He finds her as early as Qarth, still under the guise, and joins her. For obvious reasons, this couldn’t really be done in a TV adaptation, as we would all know who he was. Anyway, eventually Barristan’s disguise is revealed, and Jorah’s all like “you’re spying on her!” and then Barristan is like “mate, you’re spying on her!” The reason why Jorah is exiled and Barristan isn’t, in a nutshell, is because Barristan comes clean straight away and apologises (Dany still punishes him), whereas Jorah just makes excuse after excuse about his spying and never actually apologises. With a heavy heart, Daenerys banishes him. It’s a shame that this hasn’t been translated well, because obviously it’s quite a big deal, and one that has been bubbling for a while now. I’m starting to think that every episode has one ‘meh’ scene in it…
But there were plenty of good ones to counteract it, s’not all bad! At the Wall, the Wildlings have reached Mole’s Town, and are closing in fast. In fact, episode 9 of this series is going to be another Blackwater-esque episode; that is so say, one fat off battle at Castle Black. According to the episode director, it’s going to dwarf Blackwater. Is that a pun? That might be a pun.
Staying in the north, can we please just take (another) moment to appreciate Alfie Allen’s portrayal of Reek? I know I keep going on about this, but it’s absolutely brilliant. You could see how constantly petrified, broken and terrified he is, especially considering he was this cocky little so-and-so in the earlier seasons. So the story here is that Ramsay wants to please Daddy Bolton by taking the stronghold that is Moat Cailin (we saw it in the opening credits). Moat Cailin is an extremely strategically placed fortress, built in the centre of the swampy lands that separate the Northern Kingdom and the south of Westeros. The Ironborn took it over when Balon Greyjoy decided again that he wanted the North…and just kind of sat there. Reek manages to convince them to leave, promising them safe passage…and then they get flayed. If you were wondering what Reek was muttering through the scene, it was “Reek, Reek, rhymes with meek” – a rhyme (or variation of) that he repeats consistently throughout the book to remind himself ‘who he really is’. Anyway, in a “one day, all of this will be yours” kind of manner, Roose Bolton, pleased with his bastard, rewards him by legitimising him – he is no longer Ramsay Snow, but Ramsay Bolton. And if you didn’t work it out, that castle that there were heading to at the end of their scene was Winterfell – Roose, as Warden of the North, is claiming the castle as his seat of power.
In the Eyrie, Littlefinger is being confronted about Lysa’s sudden, suspicious death. The three people interrogating him are Lord “Bronze” Yohn Royce (who lead the interrogation), Lady Anya Waynwood, and Ser Vance Corbray. The former two are the heads of houses sworn to House Arryn, and the latter is a knight from another noble house in Vale. What’s interesting here is that this may well have been the first time that we see Littlefinger without a plan. Pushing Lysa out of the Moon Door was quite impulsive, I think, and he may not have considered the consequences. For all he knew, Sansa would spill the beans, which would probably have resulted in fox lord Baelish following in his wife’s footsteps… But, luckily for him, Sansa has picked up a few things in her time at King’s Landing, and uses her own weapon – her tears – to defend Petyr. Oh yes, introducing a new player to the Game: Sansa Stark. These two are going to make quite a formidable team, I think – especially when you think about how much combined influence they have together: Petyr Baelish has the Vale (which is pretty darn big) and Harrenhal (also pretty darn big), whereas Sansa is the key to the North (pretty darn biggest). Fun bit of trivia – Lord Yohn Royce’s son, as Sansa mentioned, joined the Night’s Watch. He was one of the first people we saw brutally die in the very first Game of Thrones episode, in the prologue. So that’s nice to know.
Ok, so once again the climax of the episode was King’s Landing, which is generally where shit’s going down. Tyrion’s beetle story was a show-only inclusion, and fans have been baffled about what it meant. There is no right answer, really, so you can decide for yourself – though I think it may allude to how pointless all the killing in Westeros is, and how the gods (if they exist) really don’t seem to care. Another lovely speech though.
On to the main event of “The Mountain and the Viper”…the Mountain and the Viper! In my opinion, this scene was done perfectly. I was worried that Oberyn’s shouting may have been drowned out by
the sound of steel on steel, but the fight was paced very well, allowing intervals of mocking-to-hysterical shouting. It was brilliant, epic and gave me chills. Sure, some of the choreography was different to how it is described in the book, and the Mountain didn’t accidentally slice an innocent bystander in half during the fight (yeah…) but who cares – it was exciting, tense and very impressive. But, alas, Oberyn’s hubris got the better of him. See, he had multiple chances to kill the Mountain where he stood. But Oberyn didn’t simply want to kill Gregor Clegane: he needed a confession. There is a passage in the book where Oberyn says something along the lines of “if you die before confessing, I will hunt you through the seven hells”. The Red Viper of Dorne is a renowned fighter, and it shows – and to take down the Mountain is no easy feat. But unfortunately Oberyn makes one wrong move, and it costs him um…pretty dearly. Whether the Mountain died or not is not yet revealed, although even if he did, Tyrion still lost the trial as his champion died first. What’s important to remember here too is that Oberyn wasn’t just some knight or sellsword; he was a Prince of Dorne…I don’t imagine that his death, despite the fact that he willingly put his life on the line, will go down well back home.
I have seen a lot of posts on t’internet in the last few days in which people have been posting their anger at Oberyn’s death. Not the gruesome, horrible manner of it – but the death itself. People claiming that it was only done for shock value, for example. This is all wrong. Events such as Ned’s death, the Red Wedding, and the outcome of this fight are obviously shocking, but that’s not why they’re there. There are very few “good guys” or “bad guys” in Game of Thrones; pretty much everyone is morally grey. Oberyn, no matter how awesome, died due to his own neglect. In a recent post I read on reddit, one user summed it up perfectly: “the whole point of the Song Of Ice And Fire is that characters face the consequences of their actions whilst playing the game of thrones. Ned died because he was naive and put his trust in the wrong people. Roose/Ramsay are still alive because they are playing the game correctly by being intelligent in regards to their alliances.” There is a much deeper meaning than just ‘GRRM likes to kill off characters’ – there is a reason behind all of their deaths. I just hope that fans can see that, and don’t just look at is as ‘an attempt to top the Red Wedding’.
To tide you over, here is Arya’s slightly maniacal laugh, accompanied by the biggest “….fuck” face I have seen, on the Hound. DON’T READ THE YOUTUBE COMMENTS.
The title of this episode, “Mocking
jaybird”, is an odd one. On paper, it seems to refer exclusively to Petyr Baelish – his homemade sigil is a mockingbird – but usually Game of Thrones’ episode titles have a bit more depth. I’m wracking my brain trying to think of what else this title may refer to (mockingbirds are known to imitate other sounds – could that be something?) but I haven’t really come up with anything, so if you do holla back, gurl.
This episode re-reintroduced us to Gregor Clegane aka The Mountain That Rides. We’ve seen him a few times before, but just in case you can’t remember, here is some Mountainformation. Gregor Clegane is…a beast. He is a psychopathic powerhouse. It is alluded to in the books that he suffers from major headaches due to his size, so is constantly on painkillers (milk of the poppy), meaning that he can probably take quite a beating. As you are probably aware, his brother is Sandor Clegane: the Hound. We first met Ser Gregor (yes, he is a knight) in season one. He fought in the Tourney of the Hand, killed Ser Hugh of the Vale (lance through neck) and was then unhorsed by Loras Tyrell, before getting in a fight with his brother and storming off in a huff. A few episodes down the line, it is reported that the Mountain is out pillaging the Riverlands. Ned Stark, as Hand of the King, puts a bounty on his head and sends Beric Dondarrion to “bring Ser Gregor to justice”. The Mountain actually kills Lord Dondarrion (more than once, I believe – Dondarrion then goes off and forms the Brotherhood Without Banners) and ends up in Harrenhal, when Arya and Tywin are there. This is when we see him next – in season 2. He was recast, so you may have missed him – he was the lanky fellow who didn’t look particularly intimidating at all, pottering about. He wasn’t very Mountain-y. After leaving Harrenhal, Edmure Tully attempts to lead Clegane and his army into a trap (remember Robb scolded him for it?), resulting in the Mountain fleeing back to the King’s Landing area, where we meet him now. Once again, he has been recast. This time, he is played by Icelandic strongman Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (no relation), who seems to represent the Mountains physical build a little closer than his predecessor did. Long story short, the Mountain is a big, mean killing machine. And Cersei has chosen him to be her champion.
And he will be fighting….Oberyn Martell! Nicknamed the Red Viper, Oberyn is a fierce warrior in his own right, but also very intelligent. He blames Gregor Clegane for the death of his sister, Elia: Clegane raped her, murdered her, and killed her children. He also seems to sympathise with Tyrion – we were treated to a lovely, heartfelt speech about how Oberyn and Elia visited baby Tyrion, and how Cersei was…well, a bitch. When Tyrion was born, rumours spread of this monster that Tywin Lannister had conceived – but the truth was, apart from a slightly misshapen head and arms, Tyrion looked relatively normal. This drives home the point that Tyrion made last episode – he has been on trial his whole life for being a dwarf. Oberyn fights for vengeance and sympathy. Some questions have arisen as to why Bronn “abandoned” Tyrion. The truth is, Bronn, as we know, is a sellsword. He never hides it, and in fact not fighting for Tyrion is very consistent with his character: he won’t do anything unless he sees personal gain in it. He has been married off (by Cersei) to Lollys Stokeworth – a noblewoman and daughter of a lord. And then there is Jaime, who, in his current condition, would not stand a chance against the Mountain. Though as Tyrion said, if they were both to die, that would royally screw up Tywin’s direct lineage, as Cersei’s children are Baratheon (in name, anyway).
Whereas the last episode was the first in which we saw zero Starks, this episode gave us another first: the first time we see the Hound without armour! He and Arya were attacked by Rorge and Biter – the two criminals that were in the cage with Jaqen H’ghar in season 2. Arya saved the three’s lives, which is why Jaqen owed her three deaths. So, to tend to the wound left by Biter, Sandor strips down. Incoming symbolism: when he takes his armour off, he tells Arya the story of how he was burned, leaving him both physically and figuratively vulnerable. This is deep stuff.
Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys is still being a shit leader. The scene with Daario was a little haphazard, in my humble opinion. This, I think, is largely down to her age scaling from the books, in which she is – at this point in time – about fifteen. Hence, you can kind of see why she falls for bad-boy Daario quite quickly, and might be prone to making rash, cruel (see: Mad King) decisions. It’s just something that hasn’t translated too well, sadly. It all seemed a bit quick and inconsistent with her character. The following scene with Jorah, however, was very good. Remember, the reason why Jorah fled into exile was because he sold slaves for moneyz to please his at-the-time wife. To try and win back favour, he began to spy on Dany for Varys/Robert, but abruptly stopped when he began to fall for the Mother of Dragons. The idea to take back Yunkai is quite grounding for Daenerys, showing that she can’t just conquer three cities and frolic in sunshine and rainbows.
Lastly, the final scene. Sansa building Winterfell in the snow has been a point of inspiration for Deviantartists everywhere since the books were released, as in its own way it is a very beautiful scene. Though fleeting, this is probably the first time that she has felt any notion of safety since leaving home. The cold, the snow, it reminds her of Winterfell. That is, until Robin comes along and gets all spoilt-child-unhealthily-obsessed-with-the-Moondoor on it. Technically he is the Lord of the Eyrie, though his mother rules in his place until he comes of age. Enter creepy Uncy Pete, who has probably had a thing for Sansa since he first laid eyes on her. By eliminating Lysa, the bat-shit crazy bitch, Baelish becomes Lord Protector of the Vale. So, in his possession, Littlefinger currently holds the Eyrie, Harrenhal (Joffrey made him the lord of it), and Winterfell/the North via Sansa. This guy, guys, this guy. Not sure how Baelish and Sansa are going to get away with this though – looks awfully suspicious. In the books there is a singer in the room with them, who is a bit of a tool, so they just blame it all on him. One thing, it’s a shame that the climactic scene missed out a pivotal line from the books – instead of saying to Lysa “your sister” before pushing her out the Moondoor, he says “only Cat”, which in my opinion is a lot more impactful. To paraphrase a post from reddit, this line is to Littlefinger what “I am your father” is to Darth Vader. They probably omitted it to avoid confusion, as Catelyn isn’t referred to Cat that often in the series, and some watchers may be like ehhh? Same reason why they changed Roose Bolton’s line at the Red Wedding from “Jaime Lannister sends his regards” to “The Lannisters send their regards”, in case peeps thought that Jaime somehow orchestrated the whole thing. Neither changes really took anything away from the scene.
Well there you have it. Another week, another episode. The next episode is entitled “The Mountain and The Viper”, which is obviously a direct reference to Gregor Clegane and Oberyn Martell. Another weird title, and a bit of a spoiler. We also have to wait two weeks for it, due to Remembrance Day in America next week. So, see you then!
It’s taken three and a half seasons, but there it was: arguably the biggest reveal in the series so far. The mystery that started it all: Jon Arryn’s death. A quick recap: Jon Arryn was the Lord of the Vale (the area where Sansa is now), and Warden of the West. He was Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon’s foster father, and was the spark behind Robert’s Rebellion – after Aerys Targaryen, the Mad King, murdered Ned’s brother and father, he demanded that young Eddard be turned over too…because, you know, justice and all that. Jon Arryn declined, and thus the rebellion began. When it ended, as we all know, Robert Baratheon sat on the Iron Throne, and Jon Arryn was his Hand.
Fast forward a good few years, and Jon dies suddenly and mysteriously. Robert rides to Winterfell, and Game of Throne s begins. Cast your minds back to the very first episode. Ned was originally going to decline Robert’s offer, until Catelyn receives a coded letter from her sister, Lysa (Jon’s widow) stating that the Lannister’s murdered Jon. This changes detective Ned’s mind – he wants to find out the truth, and protect Robert. His investigation is the basis for most of the King’s Landing scenes in season one, which ends with his execution after discovering truth about Cersei and Jaime. But the mystery behind Jon’s death was never solved, and although many fans may have forgotten about it, just remember that it was the catalyst that started everything!
So here we are. In case you missed it, Lysa Tully/Arryn/Baelish poisoned Jon under the instructions of Littlefinger. There was probably very little love in the marriage – Jon Arryn was quite a bit older – but would anyone have expected the grieving wife? To cover her back (again, under Littlefinger’s instructions) she wrote the letter to Cat blaming the Lannister’s, who due to their past and nature seemed like the obvious suspects. So, if you needed any more reason to dislike Lysa and her sickly child, just remember that that whole thing with Tyrion’s trial is season one was a farce and she knew it. So this leads us into some new territory – what is Petyr Baelish’s game (of Thrones) plan? He has been the mastermind behind it all: Jon Arryn’s death, eliminating Ned (“I did warn you not to trust me), possibly Joffrey’s death, the alliance with the Tyrells. But why? “He would see this country burn if he could be king of the ashes.” He’s an ambitious so-and-so, and wants the world. This is the first time we have really seen one of the key players, apart from maybe Tywin, of the Game revealed. Eeek! Also, Sansa is now going by the name of Alayne Stone, so that no one knows who she is. Stone is the Vale’s equivalent to Snow or Sand as a surname: it is a bastard’s name. Lysa revealed her inner insanity, and proposed a marriage between Sansa and Robin, her little putrid cousin. Pretty normal stuff, all in all.
Ok, enough of that. What else did we see… Well, there has been some debate as to what the whole Cersei/Margery scene was about, as they seemed very civil with each other. But I think they both know what the other is playing at. But did you notice that Cersei also spoke with Oberyn (was nice to see him in a quieter, less sexy environment) and her father? With regards to the former, she discussed her daughter, Myrcella – a topic that she has hardly touched on. Showing some humanity perhaps? And with her father, she discussed her marriage to Loras – a subject which usually has her all up in flames. And what do Margery, Oberyn and Tywin have in common? They’re all linked to Tyrion’s trial. Oberyn and Tywin are judges, and the third is Margery’s bumbling father, Mace. In my opinion, Cersei is trying to score sympathy, empathy and friend requests from those who hold Tyrion’s fate. You sneaky mummy! We also learnt that the Lannister’s seemingly infinite supply of money is running out, with more references to how scary and powerful the Iron Bank of Braavos is. The Lannister’s running out of money epitomises one of the most consistent themes: power resides where people think it resides. So you can bet your hat that Tywin will do his upmost to keep this little dry spell a secret!
As mentioned before, all of the Wall and beyond scenes in these last couple of episodes have been original show-only stuff, and as a result have some book fans a tad irate. But in my opinion these scenes have been great to further flesh out certain characters: we see how devoted Bran is to his quest when he decides not to inform Jon of his presence. We see Jon’s devotion to the Watch, eliminating his former Brothers out of both vengeance and caution. And we see gentle Hodor (involuntarily) kill Locke, who if you remember wanted to kill Bran on Roose Bolton’s orders, therefore strengthening the Bolton domain over the North. Whilst overall I enjoyed this final scene, I did have some issues. In fact, it was all a very large case of deus ex machina. Firstly, the only indication Locke had of Bran’s whereabouts was that he may have gone to the Wall to see his brother. Locke arrives, and Bran isn’t there…but it just so happens that he has been captured by the very ex-Brothers that Jon now wants to go and eliminate. Bran could have literally been anywhere in the world, and whilst I understand that this is a plot device, it seems a bit lazy how easy Locke’s little hunt was. In the same figurative paint stroke, Karl’s (Burn Gorman) death also seemed very happenstance – it just so happened that one of Craster’s wives was in the hut…and it just so happened that Karl then turned his attention to her, for some reason, forgetting about his armed opponent. Maybe he thought that Jon would fight with honour and not stab him through the back, but I don’t know. Just seemed a little bit lazy on the writing side of things. Well, that wraps up that little sub-plot, ending with Jon lighting what is probably the biggest fire the north has ever seen! Wait, didn’t someone else want to do that? Oh raspberries! That’s exactly what Mance was going to do to signal to Tormund et al to attack Castle Black! Has Jon made a big faux pas, or is this all part of his plan? Or maybe this was just an oversight and I’m looking too much into it…? Tune in next time!
On a side note, this episode also slightly reinforced a certain ‘tinfoil’ theory concocted by the A Song of Ice and Fire fans. In the show so far, only a few Kingsguard members have been referred to by name. Excluding Jaime, others you may have heard are Mandon Moore and Meryn Trant. Ser Mandon was the scallywag whom Pod impaled on the Blackwater after he tried to kill Tyrion. Ser
Meryn is the one that fought Syrio Forel (Arya’s
‘dance’ teacher) and frequently beat Sansa. Why is this relevant? Well, this particular theory states that Meryn Trant didn’t actually kill Syrio – Syrio managed to escape (or killed Ser Meryn and is ‘wearing’ his face). The idea behind this stems from the fact that Syrio was supposedly the First Sword of Braavos…you would think that cruel, boastful Ser Meryn would gloat about defeating this great warrior, wouldn’t you? Additionally, in “First of His Name”, the Hound states that a child could beat Meryn Trant. This may just be Sandor Clegane having a jolly jape, but perhaps there is truth it in. Who knows? Perhaps Syrio did indeed escape and he is still
alive? One extension of this theory is that Syrio was a Faceless Man – the same Faceless Man that was Jaqen H’ghar, the super cool assassin that helped Arya out in Harrenhal in season two. This is all crazy speculation…the kind that happens when readers are left for years between book releases, but it’s pretty cool, no?
Also Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s name was like…first in the opening credits, but Jaime only appeared in the background of one scene. That was weird.
TOMMEN IS TOO OLD.
Sorry. Episode 4.03, “Breaker of Chains”, was definitely one of the weaker episodes as of late, and one of the weakest overall, IMO. I don’t think that anything has stirred the fanbase up so much more than the “rape” scene, but we will touch on that later, as well as how our opinions on certain characters change. I have very mixed feelings about this episode – there were some fantastic scenes such as Tryion and Pod, the sept (pre-rape) and that one bit with Daario…but equally, there were some very disappointing, almost seemingly pointless additions.
Let us begin, as most do, at the beginning. Following immediately after the Purple Wedding (feat. Jack Gleeson as ‘Corpse’), we see Sansa escaping with Dontos, across the water, and into the sly arms of Petyr Baelish aka Littlefinger. It has been heavily implied that Joffrey was poisoned. ‘The Strangler’, it’s called, not to be confused with the 1970’s English punk band. FUN FACT it’s the same poison that Maester Cressen used to try and kill Melisandre all the way back at the beginning of season 2, remember? Probably not. Anyway, if you’re wondering how it got in to Joffrey’s chalice, go and watch the scene again and keep an eye out. It’s awesome. What’s Pete doing out on the sea, you ask? He has recently been made Lord of Harrenhal (that big place where Arya and Tywin were), and needs to “acquire some sons”. He has sailed off to the Eyrie to marry Lysa Tully. Lysa, if you recall, is the late Catelyn’s sister – the one with the annoying breast feeding son. Baelish allegedly took her virginity, and since then she has apparently been infatuated with him, though it seems that he had eyes for Catelyn. Only Cat. So I imagine that that’s where he is taking Sansa – to meet her lovely aunt. I don’t know what he’s been doing since he left King’s Landing almost a season ago though…fishing, I imagine.
Staying in King’s Landing: with Joffrey’s death, his younger brother Tommen is now heir. As mentioned in me last post, Tommen has recently been recast presumably for a more experienced actor, due to becoming a larger character. I have yet to be impressed with this new (see: old) guy, though. For one thing, I think that he is too old. Tommen dans le books is supposed to be about 8 or so. A lot of characters ages have been upped (Daenerys is about 13…) but for them it makes sense: Tommen is supposed to be a podgy, naïve kid who would rather stamp envelopes and play with kittens than rule. Can you see this guy playing with kittens? I can’t. Of course, they may be taking him in a different direction, with his nativity possibly stemming from the fact that, at some point, he needs to get Margery preggos. Poor Margery. I think that she just wants to get laid… Tommen didn’t have too many lines in this episode though, so it’s still quite early to judge. Though I have to say I loved how blunt that scene between him, Cersei, Tywin and dead Joff was – Tywin outright insulting the recently deceased king – his own grandson – in front of Cersei, who remains brilliantly quiet and poker faced. Obviously, Tommen seems like a much nicer chap than Joffrey, and Tywin wants to break him in early. Perhaps Westeros will finally have a good king?
Meanwhile, locked away like the little rascal he is, Tyrion is awaiting trial for Joffrey’s death. The trial will be headed by Tywin, Mace Tyrell (“who will do whatever Tywin tells him to”) and Oberyn Martell. “But don’t the
Lannisters and the Martells hate each other?” I hear you scream at your computer/smart phone/tablet. Well, to an extent, yes. As has been established, Oberyn blames Tywin via the Mountain for his sister, niece and nephew’s deaths. However, Tywin knows that he needs Dorne. Interestingly, this is the first time that we see Tywin actually concerned about Daenerys and her dragons across the world. In the olden days, when Aegon conquered Westeros with his dragons, the Dornishmen were the only nation to resist due to their perseverance and promiscuity (that last one may be speculation…) Tywin seems an alliance with the Martells as completing the so-called Seven Kingdoms, and Oberyn probably sees it as an easy way to eliminate Tyrion Lannister, should he want to. All in all, Tyrion is pretty fuzzed, it seems. The discussion between him and Podrick was heartbreaking, ending with perhaps Tyrion’s only true friend leaving him. The fact that Tryion, who in a lot of ways is quite selfish and scheming, would willingly sacrifice his life (by having Pod ‘confess’) to save his squire’s is a credit to the growth of his character, and indeed their relationship.
So dem’s the good. Now the bad.
The scene that has the internet howling for blood: the rape scene. Some context of how this scene comes about: so in the books, Jaime was not present at King’s Landing for Joffrey’s wedding/death. He arrives afterwards, essentially when this scene in the sept takes place. He arrives to find a disgruntled Cersei, who has been longing for him (albeit sleeping whilst sleeping with about 5 other guys) as much as he has her. The result is a consensual, animalistic sex scene, from Jaime’s POV, next to the corpse of their illegitimate son. Cersei protests at first, as you would if you were about to have sex on your son, but soon gives in. In the series, however, he has already been back for weeks, which completely changes the dynamics. Since he’s been back, Cersei has not touched him. Bear in mind that these two had a super secret sexy relationship before Jaime was captured, so for Jaime to go without for so long, well, one can only imagine! But all he gets is rejection. His blood, and penis, are boiling. Then, when Cersei gives an oh-so-slight, but noticeable, recoil to his golden hand in the sept, that just triggers it. “Why have the gods made me love a hateful woman?”. And then…the series, in my opinion, dun goofed. What follows essentially undoes all of the character building that Jaime did in the last season that made him a fan favourite. But is that such a bad thing? At the end of the day, we have to remember that this is still the man that pushed a young boy from a tower window. This is still the man that attacked Ned in the street and dagger-eyed young Jory. Jaime Lannister is not a good man. But we want to like him, which is why so many book readers are upset over this scene – not just because ‘that didn’t happen in the book’, but because this changes EVERYTHING about his character. Yes, the series and the books are different, but at the end of the day this is still an adaptation of a novel, and changing something this big seems…well, ridiculous. This isn’t like making Sansa a bit more wet, or cutting Strong Belwas (look him up…but don’t read too much) – this is a character defining moment, and as a result, our opinion on (show) Jaime has dramatically changed. Because, as a wise man once said, “rape is never ok”. This isn’t the first time that the show has changed a consensual sex scene into one of rape, however. In the very first episode of the very first series, we see Drogo (who also later becomes a fan favourite) rape Dany on her wedding night. In the books, thirteen year old Daenerys, after a bit of fumbling, let’s Drogo have her way with her. So there’s some food for thought.
Speaking of opinions on characters changing, what about that Hound fellow, eh? That was a dickish thing to do. The point of this (show only) scene was to seemingly show that, like Jaime in many ways, Sandor Clegane is still not a good person. Sorry guys, looks like we won’t be getting that “Arya and the Hound” spin off any time soon! Sandor Clegane just wants to survive, and as a realist (see “everyone’s a killer) he will do that however he can.
Goodness this has been long. Erm what else should be covered… Angry Wildlings? That was a bit OTT, but I guess it just shows their ferocity. These guys are pissed. At the Wall, Grenn and Ed return from the north north, bringing news of what happened at Craster’s Keep. Jon wants to send a party back to Craster’s to eliminate the Night’s Watch Brothers there, who killed Craster, Lord Commander Mormont and several other Brothers. When Jon was travelling with the Wildlings, he told Mance that Castle Black was garrisoned by over a thousand men, when in reality it is only a few hundred. Jon fears that if Mance’s army falls upon Craster’s keep, he will find out – one way or another – from the ex-Brothers there about Castle Black’s real numbers, giving him no reason to hold back: “he’s already got enough to crush us; he just doesn’t know it yet”.
The last scene, and perhaps the most climatic, saw Daenerys at the gates of Meereen. Meereen is the largest city in Slaver’s Bay – the other two being Yunkai and Astapor, which Dany has already, erm, liberated. Meereen is
a lot different, and a lot richer. They send out a rider to defeat Daenerys’ champion in one-on-one combat, which fails when Daario kicks arse and takes names. In the books, the aforementioned Strong Belwas performs the act, proceeding to poo on the corpse of Meereen’s champion, but Daario was a good choice in Belwas’ absence. Daenerys then uses her loud voice and barrels to intimidate Meereen (and, you know, not her three fat-off dragons), causing fear and mutiny in the city. The Mother of Dragons is building her army!
I’ll finish off by just elaborating a bit on something that has been mentioned a few times already: the Iron Bank of Bravos. What is this? Well, pretty much what it says on the tin. The Iron Bank is an extremely wealthy bank…in Bravos…with clients all over the world, including the Crown in King’s Landing. Tyrion, in season three I think, goes as far as saying that the Bank will begin funding the Crown’s enemies if they are not careful, to ensure they get their money back quicker, which is precisely what Davos’ little epiphany was. One way other another, the Iron Bank will have its due.
Well that’s it for this somewhat dark episode. I mean dark as in lighting. Seriously, someone in Westeros should discover electricity. Maybe then they could start distributing music too, and people wouldn’t have to only sing “The Rains of Castamere” and “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”. Maybe that’s why everyone is so angry and aggravated? Ahh I’m so funny.