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.
Littlefinger….what is your endgame? You crazy man.
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken, or, Burning Cersei, is the sixth episode of season 5. Gosh we’re already over half way through! Interestingly, this is the third episode to feature a house’s words as its title, the first being the very first episode Winter is Coming, and the second being the end of the first season Fire and Blood. Fun fact. Anyway. Whilst some argue that season 5 has been a bit slow, I think the biggest disappointment is some of the plot changes. Now, this isn’t a book-fan complaining because there are changes; this is a book-fan complaining because some of the changes are absolute crap. For example, Loras’ trial. I have already expressed how they have ruined this bad-ass knight’s character, but what the hell was the trial? Granted, the outcome is interesting, and leads itself into a book-based plotline. However, the way it was executed was absurd: let’s listen to this one lower-class brothel worker against the whole of the royal family. Squires may be required to bathe their knights, which is a perfectly plausible reason for seeing this birthmark. The whole scene just felt rushed for the sake of moving the plot along. And what will happen to OlyvAR now that he has confessed? The Sparrows are ridiculously militant – which means that they should probably kill or torture him (the latter being part of their confession technique, in a fashion). And what was OlyvAR’s motif for confessing? Perhaps Cersei (or maybe Littlefinger?) paid him off? Nevertheless, one man against the entire royal family with no real proof? Not even the Sparrows are that insane. Guess we will see how this plays out… We alsoOl once again got to see how wet Tommen is, bless him.
My next aggression is with the Sand Snakes, again. Bronn aptly sums it up: “oh, for fuck’s sake”. These daughters of Oberyn are just ridiculous. Book Sand Snakes, whilst equally annoying, do at least have some logic behind what they want to do – albeit flawed. These guys? No idea. Oberyn repeatedly said that in Dorne, they do not hurt little girls. What do the Sand Snakes want to do? Hurt Myrcella. I think. I don’t even know. What I do know is that fight scene was all a bit too silly. Yes, yes, we understand that these are your trademark weapons, you two-dimensional shits, but really? A whip? REALLY? And Obara, the spear one…Jesus it’s just a bit cringey really! And if that cut somehow festers and kills Bronn, I swear down…! They’re misguided, I get that, but to the extent that I just want them all to die – Ellaria included. The Martells are my favourite family…in the books, but now it just seems to be show-Doran I like. Their resilience, patience and cunning has been replaced by misplaced vengeance and bad acting. As a side note, the setting of the Dornish scenes, the Water Gardens, is a small palace just down the road from Dorne’s capital, Sunspear. Oh, also, how the hell did Jaime and Bronn sneak into the Martell’s PRIVATE gardens in blood stained uniforms? JUST as, coincidentally, the Sand Snakes were doing their…thing. God I’m angry.
Moving on. Tyrion appeared to be the voice of reason, raising many good points as to how Daenerys would probably suck at ruling in Westeros. Jorah’s luck seems to go from bad to worse; not only did he learn about the death of his father, but has also contracted greyscale and been captured. ‘Tis not a good day to be a Mormont (though not as bad as Stark….). If you remember, the reason why Jorah fled Westeros to Essos was because he sold poachers into slavery – so it’s a somewhat ironic twist of fate given the position he is now in. His father was Jeor Mormont, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Jorah’s crimes brought dishonour to his family, much to his father’s disappointment. In fact, the sword that Jon wields, Longclaw, was originally Jorah’s before he left.
Some quite interesting parallels can be drawn between Cersei and Tywin in this scene. Firstly, we see that she has taken up residence in his old office (is she acting as Hand of the King now…?). Additionally, during her scene with Olenna, the Queen of Thorns (yay!), she uses the Jack Donaghy technique of making her opponent wait, mimicking Tywin’s letter writing performance. However, this doesn’t stop her from getting burned by both Olenna and Littlefinger!
Before we discuss the ending I thought that I would touch on the Faceless Men. Essentially, these guys are elite assassins. This makes me doubt the Waif’s (the other girl in the House of Black and White) story, as Faceless Men cost an arm and a leg to employ. Only the richest can afford them. They can be hired to kill anyone, but at a lofty price. Furthermore, there is a theory that the Jaqen we see here is not the same as the one Arya met before; rather, Jaqen is just one of many faces! Oooh!
The climax of the episode (no pun intended) saw an emotional end to Ramsay and Sansa’s dream wedding. Poor Sansa can’t catch a break. Her character has gone a long way since she was last at Winterfell – to the point where she is beginning to become a player. We saw how brilliantly she handled Myranda earlier in the episode. Whilst the consummation of the marriage was awful, I think that she knew what was coming (no pun intended). Now, I’m in no way saying that what we saw wasn’t rape; it was, and it was horrible. But I think that it is important to note that Sansa, to quote producer Bryan Cogman, “isn’t a timid little girl walking into a wedding night with Joffrey. This is a hardened woman making a choice and she sees this as the way to get back her homeland.” It was horrible, unfair and quite emotional to watch (give Alfie Allen an emmy!) but she isn’t a silly little girl any more…she knew what to expect. The next question is, how will she react? I am just thankful that they changed this scene from the books, in which Ramsay makes Reek sexually…interact with his new wife (a cut character), which is extremely disturbing.
To conclude, it seems like episode most counterbalance one good scene with one bad. As I said before, I’m completely happy with a lot of the changes being made (you know, because my opinion matters), just not when they are replaced with flawed, badly written shite. Bring on episode 7, which looks a lot colder…
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.
It’s that time of year again! I thank you for taking the time to visit. Like last year, I will be writing spoiler free (beyond this episode) episode companions for Game of Thrones season 5. These companions will serve to clarify certain points in what can often be quite a convoluted plot. Now, George R. R. Martin has actually gone out and said something along the lines of “book readers are going to hate this season because it’s so different”. Personally, I’m excited to see where the show deviates from the book – it will be exciting to see new and interesting things and spoilers that I’m unaware of…so, I will try try try not to fill these reviews with WELL IN THE BOOKS THIS HAPPENED!!!. Try. I won’t be able to help myself a bit.
One of the first things you may notice in The Wars to Come was a little addition to Winterfell in the opening credits: it now displays the flayed man sigil of the Boltons. Lovely detail. The episode kicks off with a flashback from Cersei’s childhood, in which she meets a witch called Maggy the Frog (not Osha!). This is the first actual flashback we have seen in the show so far. Interestingly, the books are full of ‘em (see, I can’t help myself), and show headers Benioff and Weiss went on record to say that they wanted no flashbacks, dreams or prophecies. Yeah….that’s…that’s never going to work. For those who didn’t pick it up, Cersei was supposed to marry “a prince” (Rhaegar Targaryen). Maggy says in her prophecy that Cersei won’t marry a prince; she will marry a king. Which she did, in Robert. That is, until a younger, more beautiful comes to take her place (Margaery Tyrell). Robert will have twenty children (all of his bastards), but Cersei will only have three (Joffrey, Tommen, Myrcella). If you think back to season 1, Cersei mentioned to Catelyn that she and Robert had a son that died in infancy – whether this is a show continuity error, or whether Cersei was simply lying to Cat, we shall never know. One thing they omitted in this scene from the books was a third piece to Maggy’s prophecy, which I shan’t ruin in case it pops up….but it seems pretty important in the books so here’s hoping. #Valonqar. In real time, Cersei appears to be becoming more and more paranoid – emphasised in a strong scene between her and Jaime, degraded only by Twyin’s omniscient googly-eyes.
Sticking in King’s Landing, we once again are reunited with Lancel Lannister. Lancel was Robert’s cupbearer in season 1, and played a part in his death. In season 2, he bedded his cousin Cersei before suffering a wound on the Blackwater. He has now cut off his luscious blonde locks and found religion. We also see the return of Kevan Lannister, Lancel’s father and Tywin’s younger brother. Kevan, like Lancel, appeared in seasons 1 and 2 but was omitted in 3 and 4. Thankfully, he’s back, with the same actor playing him. With the Lannister name now in peril, how will this new family dynamic affect their future? There was also mention of the Sparrows, who are a group of pious folk, who we will see more of in future episodes. My qualm with this episode follows Loras’ scene. Loras Tyrell’s sole purpose in the show seems to be that he is gay. It defines his character. In the books (sorry), he is one of the best knights in the Seven Kingdoms. After Renly, his love, his killed, he becomes angry and seeks to avenge him by joining the Kingsguard. He is arrogant, rash, and a total bad-ass, looked up to by Tommen – somewhat mirroring a young Jaime. He’s still a homosexual, but it is nowhere near as prominent as it is in the show…and there is no OlyvAR either. But it has enabled me to use the word ‘qualm’, so I guess I’m thankful for that.
Across the Narrow Sea, we know have two main characters! I’m glad to see that Varys is travelling with Tyrion – hopefully we get to see some super dynamic adventures between the two of them. They arrive in Pentos. Cast your minds back to the very first episode. Pentos was the place where Viserys and Daenerys lived, before they went off with Drogo. The “colleague” that Varys mentions, Illyrio Mopatis, was the large man from season one: a magister in Pentos. It is revealed here that Varys intends to put Dany on the throne. Will be see some Dany and Tyrion action? Goodness I hope so.
Speaking of the Mother of Dragons and so on, what a heartbreaking scene that was, with the Unsullied that just wanted to be cuddled. They are eunuchs – castrated at a young age – so they feel little to no sexual desires towards the women….they just want someone to hold. Which raises questions about Grey Worm and Missandei’s relationship; again, another show-only inclusion as she is about 10 in the books. It’s a nice relationship, don’t get me wrong, but I think it will backfire if they add a sexual aspect to it. The man that killed the Unsullied was a member of The Sons of the Harpy – the Harpy being the animorph for the slave Masters or Meereen, a statue of which we saw being destroyed at the beginning (along with half of the CGI budget – though did anyone else notice the rope graciously caressing the harpy’s bottom? No? Just me. Moving on). The Sons of the Harpy are, as you would imagine, quite angry at Dany for abolishing slavery. Ruling isn’t easy, but at least she has sexy Daario to suggestively stroke his dagger hilt at her. Emilia Clarke’s acting seems to have improved slightly too, which is a plus. Oh, and the others two dragons’ names were finally mentioned in-show: Viserion and Rhaegal, named for Daenerys’ brother and son respectively.
There were some scenes around the Vale of Arryn with Sansa, Littlefinger and Brienne and Pod…but that’s all quite self-explanatory. Young Robin Mumbreast has been left in the care of the Royces, a family sworn to the Arryns, in order to make him more lordly. And to remove him from Littlefingers plans. Which leaves us with the events at the Wall. With proposals for a new Lord Commander imminent, and the captured Wildlings getting restless, tensions are high…not entirely helped by the arrival of the one true king, Stannis the Mannis. As a side note, Janos Slynt, the guy that follows Alliser Thorne around everywhere, ex-captain of the City Watch in King’s Landing, seems to have been given the stereotypical coward treatment. In da books, he was a buffoon, but not a coward (and often referred to himself in the third person, yes he did). Someone on reddit compared this to The Hobbit’s dreadful display of “the funny coward”…I can’t even remember that character’s name as I have blocked it from memory. Anyway, The Wars to Come ends with the execution of Mance Raydar, the King Beyond the Wall. A scene that gave me chills, I have to say. Up until the recent emergence of the White Walks, Mance was the biggest threat to the Seven Kingdoms. He was able to unite the Wildlings under one king; a feat that has not been achieved in…well, ever. Though different from the books, I loved Ciaran Hinds portrayal, and am sad to see him go. This scene, however, was significantly altered from the books, and it seems like they have omitted an entire future storyline because of it. A very cool story line. They have also butchered Stannis; he seems to just care about conquering the North, whereas book Stannis was a lot more conscious about the threat of White Walkers. I’ve said before, but it’s important to be aware that the books and series are very different – it’s an adaptation – but that doesn’t stop me from wallowing in pity and crying “BENIOFF AND WEISS WHYYYYYYYYY”. Either way, Jon Snow’s actions of mercy killing him old friend will have consequences I’m sure. Also I’m putting money on him and Melisandre getting it on. He does have a thing for red heads…
Next week (or a few days ago, if you were naughty and watched the leaked episodes online), we get to take our first trip to Dorne, home to my personal favourite house, the Martells. See you then and stuff!