RIP Old Flaydy.
Season 5 of Game of Thrones has indeed been a rollercoaster of mixed emotion to some. Whilst certain areas have most definitely dipped due to bad writing, directing or acting, I think that it is important to note that the good outweighs the bad. After season 4’s GO-GO-GO action packed attitude, it’s easy to look at 5 as being nothing but filler. It’s slower, definitely, but not slow. Personally, I thought that this episode was one of the better – they seem to be going in a bit of a pattern: good, ok, good, ok, good etc. The title The Gift is a bit of an odd one; it’s apparent that towards the end of the episode numerous characters have mentioned “gifts” – Ramsay’s ‘gift’ to Sansa, and obviously Jorah’s gift of Tyrion to Daenerys. However, the Gift is also the name of a stretch out land south of the Wall given to the Night’s Watch by an old Stark king. Funny that that wasn’t mentioned at all.
Let’s kick off by addressing the death of a fondly looked upon character, Maester Aemon. By now, we all know that Aemon was a Targaryen, so I thought I would provide a bit of information on his background, and “Egg.” At the beginning of A Game of Thrones, Aemon is already one hundred years old – an outstanding age to reach even by today’s standards…even more-so in cutthroat Westeros. Aemon was the third son of (who would later be king) Maekar Targaryen, who himself was a fourth born and only became king due to a string of unexpected family deaths. As a third born son, it was unlikely that Aemon would inherit the throne (that, and the Targaryen family tree is so complicated that there were tens of potential heirs). As such, he was sent to Oldtown, to the Citadel, to train to be a master at the age of nine or ten. When he completed his training, Aemon was sent back to sit on his father’s small council. However, good natured Aemon thought that this would undermine the current Grand Maester, and so he retired to Dragonstone to serve his older brother, Daeron. After Daeron’s death, many urged that Aemon take up the throne and become king. Aemon refused, and the recommended the crown go to his younger brother, Aegon (or “Egg” for short). Aemon then took himself to the Night’s Watch, thus quelling any uprising or rebellion that might be sparked in his name against his brother. Aemon served in the Night’s Watch for over fifty years, seeing many commanders rise and fall, including Brynden Rivers, a Targaryen bastard, who went on to become the Three-Eyed Raven (Crow in the books) that Bran seeks out. Aegon’s adventures can be read about in George R. R. Martin’s prequel novellas Dunk and Egg. So, all in all, Aemon Targaryen was a very nice man who gave up the throne and heard about the decline and decimation of his house from thousands of miles away. And now his watch has ended.
Further on south, we see the Sparrows orchestrating their own decline and decimation of not one, but two great houses. Whatever the outcome of these trials, you can bet your bum that the Tyrell’s name has been tarnished, as emphasised by Olenna’s lack of words during her exchange with the High Sparrow, who is revealing himself to be an extremely dangerous man. If found guilty, Loras and Margaery will be given the Mother’s Mercy, whatever that is. Additionally, if found guilty, I imagine that that’s the end of Margaery’s queenship right there! Similarly, the Lannisters now find themselves in a similar pickle. You may remember that cousin Lancel has a lot of beef on Cersei – including their own incestuous relationship, as well as hers and Jaime’s. This is where the religion of the Seven falls slightly short, though, as Targaryen families would often wed incestuously (causing some ill-fated offspring), and no one really bat an eyelid…not openly, anyway. If the accusations against Cersei prove true (I mean, we know they are), then you can bet your other sweet bum that Tommen’s kingship will be null, resulting in the throne passing to Stannis. This is purely speculation, as the books haven’t gotten that far yet, but I can’t help fearing a little for Tommen’s life. Myrcella’s too, though she is protected in Dorne and I don’t really care about her because this new actress is a bit pants. If Stannis is declared rightful king though, how will the Sparrows respond to his newfound Red God religion…? Either way, karma’s a bitch, Cersei.
As a side note, the terrifying women that imprisoned Cersei are known as the Most Devout. These are different from the Silent Sisters, who you may or may not know about: Silent Sisters are women who take a vow of silence and swear to serve the Stranger – the god of death. We have seen them quite a few times throughout the show’s history, tending to the dead. Usually they dress themselves in robes and bare a standard with the seven-pointed star on it. If you rewatch the series, have a look at the background detail and see if you can spot them. Make a game out of it. Most Devout, however, are the ruling council of the Faith. They used to serve the High Septon, but since his imprisonment they have become supporters of the High Sparrow. The only named Most Devout in the series so far is Septa Unella, the one that actually grabbed Cersei. Think of them as strict nuns.
Before I end, I think it’s important to comment on Theon/Reek’s position and why he told Ramsay about Sansa. Reek isa broken man – completely. We have seen this multiple times throughout season 4, such as when he was shaving Ramsay and Ramsay told him about the Red Wedding, or Yara’s awful rescue mission which I pretend never happened (she should have taken a leaf out of Sansa’s book and shouted “YOU ARE THEON GREYJOY!!!”). Theon is petrified of the Boltons. We know what Ramsay did to an extent – physically – but the emotional damage goes a lot deeper. He’s trained Reek like a dog: rewarding good behaviour, but severely punishing any sort of bad behaviour. This is why, I think, he has not told Sansa that Bran and Rickon are still alive – he knows what will happen to him if Ramsay finds out he told. Bad things. Very bad things. But Sansa is strong. She has endured this much, and with Stannis coming in from the north and Brienne watching from the south, I am really hoping that she gets what can only be described as a Game of Thrones happy ending.
That’s all for this week – nothing else really needs to be touched on. Jorah and Tyrion’s escapades were pretty self-explanatory, with the slavery and fighting pits mirroring that of ancient civilisations such as the Romans (see Gladiator). Meanwhile Stannis continued to become more and more likeable by refusing to burn his daughter. What a nice guy. Though I’m still certain that his batshit wife is going to do it. And Sam…..Sam became a man! Oh my. And even the Dorne scenes weren’t too bad this week! Of course, the real MVP is that brute that cut Tyrion free and Dany’s perfectly ironed dress.
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.
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!