Earlier this year, I had planned to begin adding recaps to this blog – just to be able to get out my thoughts on the shows that I watch in between recording episodes of the Sci-Fi Party Line Podcast. Unfortunately, my laptop had other plans and I have been without it for the past few months. However, tonight’s season finale episode of Game of Thrones was such a damn doozy that I had to borrow my daughter’s laptop just so I could get some of what I am feeling down. So, let’s get to it (and if you hadn’t already guessed, there be spoilers here).
The episode begins in the North. After the horrific event that took place in Stannis’ camp last week, we find the self-proclaimed King ready to take on Winterfell. Melisandre looks triumphant as she informs him that “the Lord of Light has made good on his promise” by melting the snow and making the weather favorable for them to move forward. She tries to be encouraging, but after sacrificing his daughter Shireen for these “good tidings”, Stannis is in no mood for small talk or good tidings. Melisandre tells him “you will receive what is yours by right.” In hindsight, those words were so appropriate…
Stannis storms out of the tent and is met with the news that half of his army defected during the night and took all of the horses with them. Not some, all. Melisandre hangs her head and begins to look scared. Almost immediately, another soldier comes to Stannis with more news, but he hesitates to tell the King. Stannis prods him by saying, “Speak up; can’t be worse than mutiny.” Oh, but it can Stannis – it can. The soldier leads Stannis to a clearing in the forest, where his wife Selyse, in her grief over allowing Shireen to be sacrificed, has hung herself. Stannis (at least) has the decency to look shocked – and maybe even a bit upset – at the vision of his wife dangling from a tree. After instructing his men to cut her down, yet another soldier comes with more news (bad news always comes in threes, right?): Melisandre has tucked tail and run her ass out of camp. So now Stannis finds himself on the brink of battle with no wife, no daughter, no advisor/mistress, low on men, and low on morale. I guess this means he can only go up from here, right?
Jon Snow and Sam Tarly are talking about the White Walker battle, and Jon makes a keen observation. “The first Lord Commander to sacrifice sworn brothers to protect Wildlings”. Sam asks Jon to grant him, Gilly and Baby Sam leave to Oldtown, so that Sam can study to be a Maester, which he feels is his true calling. Jon and Sam have a light moment when Jon realizes that Sam is no longer a virgin. It’s a nice moment between the two, with Jon saying “I’m glad the end of the world is working out for someone.” They toast to Sam’s return, and Sam and company ride off, leaving the cruelty of the NIght’s Watch behind.
Stannis marches towards Winterfell, with soldiers who looks battled, bruised and without much energy. At the same time, Sansa has found a way to escape from her locked room and makes her way to the North Tower, candle in hand. Podrick, gathering food and wood, realizes that Stannis is marching toward Winterfell and runs to inform Brienne. Brienne has a moment of conflict where she has to make the decision to continue keeping watch for Sansa, or to go confront Stannis. She leaves to go after Stannis, and just as she does, a candle is lit in the tower.
Stannis gives orders for a foraging party, with the plan to seige against the Boltons at sunrise but the Boltons have other plans. Their army marches out, and marches out strong. From the aerial view given, it looks as though Stannis’ army is outnumbered 10-1. This is not going to end well for the last true Baratheon. Stannis unsheaths his sword but you can tell by the look on his face that he knows this will not end well. The battle begins, and the next shot we see is of Stannis limping through the forest. He is attacked by two men, whom he still has the strength to kill. He sits down, and when he opens his eyes Brienne of Tarth is standing before him. “Bolton has women fighting for him?” Brienne gives him a basic introduction and lets him know that she witnessed Renly’s death at his hand. She sentences him to die, and I will say this much for Stannis: he never backed down from who he is. He tells Brienne to “go on, do your duty” and Brienne takes a swing with Oathkeeper.
Ramsey Bolton is dispatching the last of Stannis’ army and makes his way back toward Winterfell. The hills are littered with dead men. Sansa is rushing back towards her room, when she is confronted by a bow held by the crazy Miranda and a meek-looking Reek. Sansa summons some courage, “I know what Ramsey is, I know what he’ll do to me. If I am to die, let it be while there is still some of me left.” Miranda makes it clear that she is not to die, that she only aims to mutilate Sansa, but before she can do any damage, Reek (Theon) apparently grows back some of his balls and throws Miranda over the landing to her death. Theon and Sansa climb over the castle battlements, and jump into the snow.
Back in Braavos, Ser Meryn Trant is getting his rocks off by caning three young girls in the brothel. When he gets to the third girl, she does not utter a sound. She gives him a defiant look as he dismisses the other two young girls and begins to beat her. When she raises up and reveals her face again, we see that it is Arya as she jumps up and plants a knife into both of his eyes and gags and stabs him. She tells him of her death list, and how he’s been on it for awhile. She reveals her true identity to him, and he looks scared as the realization that he is about to die takes hold. Arya very calmly slits his throat.
Arya returns to the House of Black and White, and Jaqen tells her that she was wrong to take one of the faces and killed the wrong man. He drinks a poison, “to give back the life she took” and when she realizes that he has not died, he gives her a great reveal. Since she was still “Arya Stark” when she took a face from the wall, the face was as good as poison. Arya begins to lose her sight, and her eyes turn white as she goes blind.
In Dorne, Princess Myrcella, Prince Tristane, Jaime and Bronn prepare to leave for Westeros. Ellaria Sand send Myrcella off with a kiss and well wishes. On the ship, Jaime and Myrcella have a heart-to-heart about marriage, love and Jaime uses this opportunity to try to tell Myrcella the truth about her parentage. Myrcella, in a move that shows how much she has learned in Dorne, tells Jaime that she knows he is her father and that she is glad about it. She hugs her father and the look of acceptance on Jaime’s face is priceless. However, this is to be the last happy moment for them both, as Myrcella begins to bleed from the nose and starts to shake. Ellaria, it seems, has kissed Myrcella with poisoned lips, and Myrcella dies in her father’s arms. Illaria and the Sand Snakes stand on the shore, and Illaria wipes the blood from her own nose, wipes the poison from her lips and drinks the antedote, all with tears in her eyes. She did not want to punish the child, but she wanted her revenge for Oberyn more.
In the Throne Room in Mereen, the Crew That Dany Left Behind are still taking in the events of the fighting pits. In typical Tyrion fashion, Jorah and Daario are being lectured about the impracticality of their love for Daenerys. As Missandei and Grey Worm enter the room, they discuss the course to take to find Daenerys. After some bickering about the fact that Jorah should not be in the city (and a nice Tyrion/Missandei exchange in the Valyrian tongue) it is decided that Jorah and Daario will go after Daenerys, while Tyrion will govern and bring order to the city with the help of Missandei and Grey Worm. As Tyrion watches the men leave, who should join him on the balcony buy Varys. (I had been wondering where he was). The wordplay between these two is gold as always, and it makes you realize that these two are a great pair. Even Tyrion acknowledges it: “I did miss you.” Varys answers, “Oh, I know”.
On some remote mountaintop somewhere, Dany and Drogon are disheveled and bruised. Dany tries to order Drogon to take her back to Mereen, but Drogon is wounded and tired and not hearing it. He literally knocks Dany from his back and settles down for a much-needed nap. Dany lets the dragon sleep, and wanders off on her own. As she walks to search for food, she hears a horse in the distance. As she turns to look, several Dothraki riders appear on horses and ride towards her. She takes off the ring on her finger and drops it into the ground, just as a full Dothraki heard of several thousand riders begin to surround her.
Back in Westeros, Cersei is in her cell. She finally decides to confess to the HIgh Septon, and hoping that she will be freed. She admits to fornication with her cousin Lancel, but flatly denies any relationship with her twin. She asks for forgiveness and the opportunity to see her son, King Tommen. The High Septon agrees to let her return to the Red Keep, but only after absolution. Cersei is then stripped down and roughly bathed by the other septons, and then her glorious blond hair is savagely cut from her head. She is then presented to all of King’s Landing for her Walk of Shame. Shorn, naked and humiliated, Cersei is made to walk through Westeros, barefoot and naked, while being escorted to the chant of “Shame, Shame, Shame.” The people of Westeros have a field day with this, throwing food and objects at Cersei and calling her names (and worse) as she continues to walk, with the Red Keep in her sights. She founders just once, and in tears she forces herself back onto her bloodied feet to finish her walk. At the end of the walk, she is properly shamed, in tears and downtrodden.
Cersei walks into the doors of the Red Keep and is greeted by a few Kings Guardsmen, her Uncle Kevan, Grand Maester Pycelle, and Qyburn (Dr. Frankenstein). Frankenstein covers Cersei, and as she continues to break down he introduces her to the newest member of the King’s Guard. Even though he is in armor, anyone with half a brain can tell (by the size of him), that Sandor Clegane, The Mountain, has indeed been delivered from the brink of death. In what condition, we don’t know but by the look of the blue/purple eyes, it’s not good. He picks up Cersei as she is informed that The Mountain has taken a vow of silence and plans to destroy all of her enemies. The shame and humiliation have been all but removed from Cersei’s face as she begins to look like the old Cersei once more.
“All Men Must Die”, and you know Game of Thrones is not going to give us a few bad deaths without taking a good one too. At the Night’s Watch, Ser Davos and Jon Snow argue about the Wildlings assisting in the war. At that moment, the gates are opened and Melisandre rides in. With no words, she conveys to both men that Stannis and Shireen are dead. The look on Ser Davos’ face at the death of Shireen in hearbreaking. Back in his room, Jon is reading through correspondence when Olly comes into the room saying that a Wildling has news of his uncle Benjin Stark, who is (supposedly) still alive. Since we got a glimpse of him in the recap at the beginning of the episode, I’m starting to have hope that Thrones will give us some sense of hope for a good ending for a change. Stupid, stupid me. Jon walks with Ser Allison Thorne to talk to the Wilding, only to find a sign that says, “Traitor”. As he turns around, Jon is attacked by his men one-by-one (starting with Thorne of course) as they stab him while reciting the words, “For the Watch”. As Jon falls to his knees, Olly comes up to him. Jon makes a last plea, “Olly”, and then Olly delivers the final blow. As Jon falls to the ground, the rest of the men turn away and leave Jon Snow to die in the snow. Our final shot of the Lord Commander (and of Season 5) is of a river of blood leaving his body.
Now, a few of my thoughts on the finale (edited for morning-after musings):
Stannis got exactly what was coming to him, and it was so satisfying for me that Brienne was the one to actually finish him off (especially since her character was ridiculously underused this season).
Theon grew some balls! He helped Sansa to escape – I just hope that they both survived that leap off of the walls of Winterfell and got the hell on, because once Ramsay sees that his crazy girlfriend is dead…
After refusing to rid herself completely of her old life (she buried Needle within a wall of rocks instead of throwing it into the river), we all knew that Arya was not ready to become “no one”. But I did not expect her fate. Let’s hope she learns from her lesson and her sight can be restored, because Arya is one of the more interesting characters on the show.
Am I the only one suffering from Natalie Dormer withdrawal?
Cersei’s walk of shame was also satisfying, right up until the end. By that time I began to feel sorry for her. And then she saw The Mountain. And then all traces of remorse are gone. Hell hath no fury like Cersei shamed…
It was sad to see Myrcella die, especially after such a touching (and still gross) moment with Jaime. I will say though, it’s good to see that Illaria wasn’t just all bark and no bite. I really hope that we see more of Dorne and the Sand Snakes next season, because I really feel that aside from the interactions between Bronn and Obara, the hype for them this season did not deliver.
By the way, I totally ship Bronn and Obara.
Jon Snow. JON. JON. JON. I don’t even know what to say about that. Jon Snow was one of my favorite characters, and one that I will sorely miss. Not having read the books yet, I had no clue that this was coming, but I had such hopes for his character, and now they are gone. (I know that Jon’s story in the books may possibly continue on, as it’s been said that he may have died, but according to this interview, his TV character is done.)
Also, WHERE IN THE HELL WAS GHOST????????
The Night’s Watch is going to have a hard time getting more men when word gets around that they have intentionally killed not one, but two Lord Commanders. Good thing Sam got the hell out of dodge.
Also, that kid Olly has to go. He’s killed both Jon Snow and Ygritte!
At this point, I think it would be best to not get attached to anyone else. They all just die anyways. Now we have to wait until next April to find out who dies next.