‘Game of Thrones’ Season 5, Episode 10: Mother’s Mercy

Above: 'Game of Thrones' ended season 5 with a devastating cliffhanger. But is Jon Snow really dead?

Every Monday, our resident Game of Thrones fanatic E. Spencer Kyte will recap the previous night’s episode. Here’s his take on Season 5, Episode 10 — Mother’s Mercy.

Warning: what follows is a review and analysis of what happened on Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones. If you haven’t watched it and don’t want to encounter spoilers, we suggest you go read something else on this site. Consider yourself warned.

This show… this show is just so damn good.

What differentiates Game of Thrones from just about everything else on television now and since the dawn of what is the current “Golden Age of Television” is that literally no one is safe. There is no one you can throw your support behind knowing that when the series ends, they’ll be left standing because (a) George R.R. Martin feels no loyalty to any of his characters and has regularly killed off favourites and (b) the show is poised to overtake the books, so the showrunners can opt to off whomever they want from here on out and given what transpired on Sunday’s finale, do you really feel safe proclaiming who will be left sitting on The Iron Throne once this series has run its course?

Here’s a look at what happened in the Season 5 Finale, Mother’s Mercy.

Camp Baratheon

Following the events of last week – you remember, when Stannis lost all the good guy points he’d accrued during the season by offering up his daughter, Princess Shireen, as a sacrifice to the Lord of Light – things on the road to Winterfell have taken a turn. Sure, the merciless winter has abated, but half of Stannis’ army has left him, including the sell swords, who took all the horses with them too. When mercinaries for hire aren’t willing to stand by you, it’s pretty clear you made a serious mistake.

On top of that, Queen Selyse took her own life as well. Oh yeah, Lady Melisandre got the hell out of dodge too, fleeing the scene once it was evident that her promised results hadn’t fully materialized and things were going sideways.

Still, Stannis was ready to march on to Winterfell, except once they arrived at where he wanted to set up camp and prepare the morning’s seige, Team Baratheon was greeted by a much larger army – including many on horseback – and the Boltons and their men laid waste to the men looking to sack their northern strong hold.

Podrick, off gathering wood and trapping rabbits, saw Stannis’ men marching and alerted Brienne, who gave up her “hoping to see a candle” vigil and approached the fracas. She ultimately arrived upon a wounded and weary Stannis, identifying herself as a member of his brother Renly’s guard, got him to confess to killing him with a demon created from a blood spell and sentenced him to death before carrying out his punishment.

Back in Winterfell

While all this was going on, Sansa was trying to take advantage of Ramsey’s departure, but since Brienne was otherwise occupied, she missed the whole “I need help so I’m placing a candle in this here window” signal. As she headed back to her chambers, the panicked Stark girl is stopped by Theon/Reek and Myranda, the kennel master’s daughter-slash-Ramsey’s maniacal play thing, and she’s aiming an arrow at Sansa.

Well aware of who and what Ramsey is, Myranda pulls a Bond villain type move, laying out his plan for Sansa and Theon/Reek – he’s going to keep abusing Sansa, knock her up as many times as it takes for her to produce a couple of male heirs and then he’ll do to her something similar to what he did to Theon/Reek because that’s what a sick, twisted whatjob he is.

Sansa basically asks Myranda to just get it over with, but Ramsey’s fellow nutjob won’t do it. Like her bedfellow, she’s more interested in torturing Sansa, so she lines up an arrow and… Theon/Reek hip checks her and tosses her over the railing where she falls to her thudding death on the stone floor below.

Just then, the horns sound and the gates open. Ramsey is returning, meaning Sansa and Theon/Reek have to split. Holding hands, they jump off the top of the wall into the white below.

So Long for Now, Samwell Tarly

After Jon tells him about the events at Hardhome, Sam asks Jon to allow him, Gilly and Baby Sam to depart for Old Town, so that Sam can study at The Citadel and become a Maester. The way he sees it, he’ll be more useful in that capacity and getting Gilly and Baby Sam out of Castle Black will save their lives.

Jon asks Sam who will be left that he can trust and turn to for advice, but knows that his friend wants his blessing and a chance to become who he believes he’s supposed to be, so Jon gives Sam his blessing. They share a laugh about Sam having lost his virginity to Gilly post-beating and then the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch sees them off.

Revenge in Braavos

As predicted last week, Arya stands in for one of the “young enough” prostitutes before Ser Meryn Trant, taking the lashings he doles out, causing him to dismiss the other two candidates. Once they’re gone, Arya reveals herself and stabs Ser Meryn in one eye, then the other, stuffing his mouth with rags and stabbing him repeatedly. She asks if he knows who she is, stabs him a couple more times and then proclaims that she is Arya Stark before slowly slitting his throat.

Upon returning to the House of Black and White, she is approached by Jaqen H’ghar and the other “Girl in Training,” who address that she has taken a life that wasn’t her’s to take. Those kinds of actions have consequences and as the other “Girl in Training” holds Arya still… Jaqen H’ghar drinks a vile of something and collapses to the floor.

Arya falls to the ground in tears when a familiar voice asks why she is crying from behind her. It’s Jaqen H’ghar. Arya is confused and starts pulling faces off the fallen body until she comes upon her own. “The faces are as good as poison” to someone who is not ready to be no one, explains Jaqen H’ghar and suddenly Arya’s vision starts going. She’s panicking. What’s happening? Why can’t she see?

Oh my Many-Faced God she’s blind.

Departing Dorne

After last week’s peaceful resolution to the Lannister-Martell conflict in Dorne, Jaime, Myrcella and Bronn say their goodbyes to Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes. Bronn has a playful goodbye with his Sand Snake, Ellaria gives Myrcella a kiss and everything is nice and pleasant.

Sailing out of port, Jaime and Myrcella have a heart-to-heart and as Jaime tries to find the words to explain, “Oh by the way, I’m not just your uncle…” Myrcella tells him she knows. She’s kind of known all along. Even better, she’s happy he’s her father.

It’s touching. It’s sweet. It’s… too good to be true.

Blood starts running from Myrcella’s nose. She collapses into Jaime’s arms.

On the dock, one of the Sand Snakes hands Ellaria a handkerchief; she’s got a little blood running from her nose too. After wiping it away, she wipes her lips clean as well, tossing the handkerchief into the breeze before swallowing a few drops of serum from the bead on her necklace.

In Meereen and Out in the Wilderness

With Dany having literally flown the coop on Drogon’s back to end last week’s episode, the remaining members of the Meereen small council – Tyrion, Daario Naharis, Jorah, Missandei and Grey Worm – try to figure out what to do next. It’s determined that the warriors, Jorah and Daario, will go search out “The Mother of Dragons” while the remaining members will stay and govern the city, ensuring it doesn’t collapse in Dany’s abscence.

Watching Jorah and Daario leave, Tyrion is joined by Varys because of course Varys was able to track him down. What good is a network of spies if they can’t help you find the guy you smuggled out of King’s Landing? They have one of their usual sarcastic, enjoyable conversations and seem to have once again joined forces.

Meanwhile, Drogon is done flying and feasting and needs a nap, except Dany wants a ride back to Meereen. Unfortunately for “The Mother of Dragons,” Drogon is more of an “on my schedule” kind of dragon, so he’s going night-night and she can figure things out for herself.

Opting to hike into the valley below where her dragon is catching 40 winks, a hoard of Dothraki encircle Daenerys. She takes off one of her rings and drops it in the field, wondering like the rest of us what comes next.

Prisoner Cersei and the Walk of Shame

After days (weeks?) in her cell, Cersei finally cracks and opts to confess to the High Sparrow. She admits to having sex with her cousin Lancel, but once again denies the rumours about her and Jaime and their incestuous, bastard children. Pleased with her confession, the High Sparrow agrees to allow her to return to the Red Keep after she begs to see her son, but only after she’s completed her act of atonement.

The fanatical nuns strip her, wash her and chop off all her hair. She’s brought out before the masses, who are told of her sins. She’s then stripped and forced to walk back to the Red Keep through the crowd, with her angry nun nemesis ringing a bell and shouting “Shame” every five seconds and an envoy of the militant fanatics she empowered clearing a lane for her.

It starts peacefully enough, but a few steps in, the crowd starts in on the Queen Mother, shouting insults, throwing food and fecal matter, stripping and antagonizing her. Every step, another insult, another handful of spoiled food, more filth. Her feet are bloodied. She’s trying to fight off tears, but they still escape.

She finally arrives at the Red Keep and is met by Qyburn. As she collapses to the floor, she is introduced to the newest member of the King’s Guard – a massive human being whose face is shielded by a helmet, but whose skin looks grey. Qyburn’s science project version of The Mountain. He’s pledged not to speak until all of Queen Cersei’s enemies have been vanquished.

Back at Castle Black

Melisandre rides in looking absolutely crushed. She’s lost her flare. Davos asks of Shireen and is met with an exhausted, “everything has failed” look.

Jon is told that one of the Wildlings knows something about his long-lost Uncle Benjin and when Jon rushes to find out what the man knows, he finds out it’s a set-up. There is a sign that reads “Traitor” and as he turns around, Aliser Thorne plunges a knife into his belly.

“For the Watch.”

One by one, several members of the Night’s Watch repeat the act until Lord Commander Snow is on his knees. The final dagger comes from Olly. Jon collapses to the ground. His blood rushes out of him into the snow.

Fade to black.

Roll credits.

# # # # #

Let’s start with Jon’s death and work our way backward to the beginning.

First, is he really dead? At the very least, he has died, making the question, “Will he somehow be resurrected?” It certainly helps that Melisandre has arrived at Castle Black with all her “Royal Blood” powers, but who knows. Chances are we won’t know until we either see Jon’s body being burn by the traitors in the Night’s Watch or him being brought back to life.

Second, as much as Jon dying sucks, it’s awesome from a “keep you hooked” stance. Right now, all you want is for Season 6 to begin next week so you know what happens to one of the most beloved and important characters in the story. He felt so central to everything that was happening and grew so much from when we first met him as Ned’s bastard son that seeing him die – at the hands of the Night’s Watch no less – is a bitter pill to swallow, but exactly what is so terrific about this show. No one is safe.

Cersei’s walk back to the Red Keep wasn’t “Princess Shireen being sacrificed” rough, but it was still a powerful scene. As much as this heinous women deserves punishment and the hatred of the mob, to see someone literally stripped down and paraded in public as pennance for their sins gets to you, even if you don’t like Cersei. Now, you know the vendictive Queen isn’t going to forget this come Season 6 and having a reanimated version of The Mountain ready to do her bidding should mean serious carnage, but still – watching that scene was another tough stretch.

Oh yeah – she’s also going to have to deal with the fact that her daughter is dead and Jaime once again failed to protect anyone. I mean seriously – how do you let Ellaria Sand give Myrcella a kiss goodbye? Are you kidding me, Jaime? There was no way Ellaria and the Sand Snakes were going to simply give up their quest to avenge Oberyn’s death and let you leave Dorne. You should have seen this coming and you can be sure Cersei is going to go ballastic once he gets back to King’s Landing.

Your guess as to what’s going to happen with Dany and the Dothraki is as good as mine. They kind of flaked on her after Khal Drogo kicked it in Season 1 and they’re not exactly the most civilized lot, so lobbying to their understanding about government and power probably won’t work, which leaves three options:

(1) They recognize her as a khalessi and join her army
(2) Drogon wakes up from his post-buffet snooze and barbecues them
(3) She gets kidnapped and/or something worse happens to Dany

Fingers crossed for No. 1.

Arya being blind is nuts, but fitting, given that she stabbed Meryn Trant in the eyes and the Many-Faced God doesn’t like when you use one of the many faces to kill someone who hasn’t been chosen for death. Again, how this is resolved is beyond me since I haven’t read the books, but I will say this: Arya has long been my dark horse candidate to end up on the Iron Throne, but those chances just took a serious hit with the whole “I can’t see” things that happened here.

I can’t see Sansa and Theon/Reek jumping off a massive wall into the white below ending perfectly, so chances are someone emerges injured and/or mortally wounded once Season 6 kicks off. It might be an easy “Thanks for helping me, Theon” goodbye moment if he’s mamed and my bet is that Brienne and Pod finally convince Sansa to take off with them. If that’s the case, Sansa’s chances of ending up on the Iron Throne will skyrocket.

But we won’t know anything for another six months at the earliest and probably more like eight months.

This is the blessing and the curse of Game of Thrones – it keeps you hooked for 10 weeks straight and then disappears from your life for 9 months.

Until then…

Tags: Game of Thrones, HBO

Related Posts

Previous Post Next Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *