What is that old saying about the pot calling the kettle black? Or would a more accurate representation of tonight’s events be “those who live in glass houses should not throw stones?” Actually, I think the most accurate cliche is those who have bastard children with their sibling and sleep with their cousin should not arm religious zealots and send them after people practicing homosexuality(you use that one all the time, don’t you). We all saw this coming didn’t we? Cersei’s shortsighted strategy of getting her house’s main “allies” thrown in prison all so she could pretend to be queen a little longer was bound to get her eventually. Especially considering the High Sparrow didn’t seem like the kind of guy who would differentiate between sexual sins. And did Cersei truly think that Lancel, the doormat turned holy warrior, hadn’t said anything about their time together from back in season 2?
Along with Cersei’s demise, tonight’s episode brought the first meeting between Daenarys and Tyrion, the plotting of the Queen of Thornes and Littlefinger, a Sand Snake seduction, and Sam and Gilly!!! (nice to see some consensual sex this week).
Jon and Thormund are making their preparations for their mission to Hardhomme, the island where the remaining wildlings are and everyone has an opinion about it. Some opinions come from the eyes of the men of the Night’s Watch, such as the disgusted look Ed gives when he uncuffs Thormund. Allister Thorne says it out loud, believing this mission to be an insult to those who have bleed fighting the wildlings for years.
After Jon rides off, the story at the Wall shifts to Sam, first showing his reaction to the death of Maester Aemon, who died of the rarely seen “natural causes” explanation for death on Game of Thrones. Ser Allister, continuing his truth-telling tour of Season 5, informs Sam that his friends are all gone. And while Thorne is a douchebag, he has a point. Sam gets to see just how alone he is when he walks in on two members of the Night’s Watch as they try to have their way with Gilly. Boldly, Sam pulls his sword only to quickly be knocked down. But just when it looks like we must endure another rape scene that wasn’t in the books, Sam stands up and bravely tells the men to let her go again. As the two men turn towards Sam, in walks Ghost (must be some sort of “Ghost” signal one must light in order for Ghost to appear, kind of like the bat signal, because he always seems to appear at the perfect time). Rightly frightened of Jon Snow’s direwolf, the two men run away. The rest of the night, Gilly takes care of Sam, cleaning his wounds for him and taking Mr. Tarley’s virginity in their long anticipated intimate encounter. The Samwell who protected Gilly at his own expense and had sex with her is a far cry from the one who last season sent her to Mole’s Town for “protection.”
Theon/Reek enters Sansa’s room with breakfast. But before he can sneak off, Sansa pleads with him to help her. You can see the bruises on her arm as she begs Theon/Reek to light the candle she was encouraged to light should she ever need help earlier in the season. Unfortunately, Theon/Reek is completely loyal to Ramsey at this point, telling his master immediately. The old woman from earlier in the season is presented to Sansa flayed. I was concerned with how the show was going to balance the new found boldness Sansa has shown this season with the effects her abusive relationship with Ramsey would have on her. I thought the show did a great job with it this episode. While it was clear Sansa is suffering in her marriage with Ramsey, she still can speak her mind in a way she wasn’t able to do before, like when she questioned Ramsey’s legitimacy once his father has a new, true born heir.
Good to see Stannis back this week, and he’s as stubborn and determined as ever. You may have noticed the snow in Winterfell coming down harder than it has at any point previously there. The Starks have been telling us that “Winter is Coming” for awhile now and it appears to be arriving, which is very bad news for the “true king” of Westeros as he tries to march through it. Davos informs him that 40 horses have died, food is running out, and 500 sellswords have left because of the conditions. But despite Davos’s pleading to turn around and head back to the Wall until the snow stops, Stannis insists they must push forward. He’s all in to be king and there is no turning back at this point. Melisandre’s solution to these problems, of course, is fiery death. She wants Stannis to sacrifice his daughter, believing her “royal blood” will please the Lord of Light. She is right to point out that the leaches back in Season 3 did predict the deaths of Joffrey and Robb Stark, but Stannis will have none of this. All those character moments we’ve seen with Shireen this season may be coming to a head as Stannis mulls over the decision to sacrifice his own daughter for the sake of being king.
Jorah and Tyrion experience life as slaves as Mr. Eko (I don’t even care what his show name is) presents them for auction. Now, it looks pretty clear to me this is an underground event, with a handful of slaveowners not adhering to Daenarys’s ban against slavery. Eko presents Jorah, exaggerating the true feats he told them last week (don’t they know it takes black magic to slay Khal Drago, not a knight of Westeros). A man (who I believe is named Yezzen) wins the auction and is about to leave without Tyrion. But the halfman thinks on his feet yet again, claiming to be a fighter as well and beating the man holding him with the chain he is tied to. Yezzen takes Jorah and the other men to a small fighting pit (think of it as the minor leagues or the Arena Football League version of fighting pits). The purpose is to impress here so you can go on to the major league fighting pits in Meereen. But Yezzan is unaware that Hizdahr (Dany’s fiancée) has brought her to watch today. And Jorah, who was being saved for the major fighting pit, here’s men bowing to his Khaleesi. So Jorah armors up, knocks his new slave master out of the way, and joins the fight, easily handling all the minor league fighters. Dany is impressed, but her face changes when Jorah unmasks. She wants him removed from her sight, but Jorah begs her to reconsider because he has a gift (ladies and gentlemen, your show title) and out walks Tyrion, who presents himself to the queen. I found it bizarre that Tyrion, who was chained up and trying to free himself, was freed by a random large man who was supposed to be working for Yezzan. But I don’t really care how much that scene lacked sense, because now Tyrion and the Mother of Dragons are in the same place!!!!
Our five minutes in Dorne this week begins in Jamie’s cell, even though it’s a very nice looking cell. I get the sense that Doran Martell does not want their to be any question of how he intends to treat a Lannister he has in custody. Areo enters with Myrcella, who informs Jamie that she didn’t need to be rescued and is happy where she is. And the girl does have a point. Normally, I would be opposed to allowing the whims of teen love to influence decision making. But she is definitely better off here in Dorne than she would have been in King’s Landing.
The rest of our time in Dorne is one of the best scenes we’ve seen this far south so far. Dorne has been the worst part of the season because the producers have given it very little time to develop. And considering we’ve never been to this part of Westeros before, shouldn’t we give it more than five minutes every third episode to develop? But the cell scene with Bronn and the Sand Snakes did more for Oberyn’s daughters than any other of their 7 minutes on screen this season has done. Bronn is singing and Tyene is impressed. What follows is a series of insults from Bronn about how beautiful the women of Dorne are, despite the Sand Snakes. Tyene decides to put this to the test, seductively stripping and showing herself to Bronn. I am not sure if she could purposely time this, but it was at this moment, with her clothes completely open, that Bronn’s poison kicks in. Apparently, Tyene takes after her late father and poisons her spear when she fights. She also has the antidote that would cure Bronn around her neck, but he must say she is the most beautiful woman in the world. Bronn agrees and receives the antidote before the poison can do him anymore harm. This scene finally convinced us of what the show has failed to do up to this point: the Sand Snakes are very dangerous and Doran is wise to have them locked up right now in their current mindset.
Much like last season, the real featured attraction of this episode was King’s Landing. The Queen of Thorns and the High Sparrow kick things off and the banter is fantastic. I also love that the High Sparrow, the man who is leading the church right now, is playing the servant and cleaning while he talks with Lady Olenna. Her talk with the Sparrow gets her no closer to freeing her grandkids, but a letter from Littlefinger just might. It was good to see Lord Baelish reflecting on the wreckage of his once prosperous business. And while their conversation is mostly covered up threats of “We killed a king together and could be doom for the other,” a very important development emerges from these talks. Littlefinger says he has a gift (there’s the title again) and strongly hints that a certain lover of Loras Tyrell is it. Does this mean things are not looking so good for Olyvar, the man who testified against Ser Loras?
Meanwhile, back at dysfunctional house Lannister, Tommen is having a very bad week. Not only does he not get to have relations with his beautiful queen, but he also must feel emasculated that, despite being king, he can do nothing to save her. Cersei tries to comfort her son and tells him she would be happy to go and speak with the High Sparrow on (wink, wink) Margaery’s behalf.
If you are a fan of smug Cersei and her passive aggressive ways, enjoy these next few moments. For who knows if we will ever see her that way again. She goes to visit Margaery, pretending to be there to comfort her. Of course, Margaery sees right through it and tells her to get out. Smug Cersei then makes her way to the High Sparrow under the guise of pleading for Margaery and Loras’s life. My conclusion here is Cersei means for Margaery and Loras not to die, but confess their crimes and receive a punishment that would shame them in a way that Cersei would come out more powerful than they are. But then the High Sparrow starts talking about a troubled young man who came to them broken (alarms should have been going off in Cersei’s head at this point) but was now healed of the transgressions he committed. The light bulb finally turns on for Cersei when Lancel steps out. She tries to escape, but a septa (Septa Unella) is blocking the door and proceeds to grab hold of her and throws Cersei in her own cell. Cersei believed her willingness to help the High Sparrow would buy her his allegiance. I guess that was a miscalculation. Also, it was interesting to see the very pious High Sparrow use calculating tactics here to arrest Cersei. He had to have know about Cersei’s past sins from the first time they talked. But knowing he didn’t have the means to apprehend her, he waited until the perfect moment.
-So after five seasons, Winter appears to be making it’s arrival. Of course, it hasn’t appeared in all of the Seven Kingdoms yet, but my guess is it won’t be long. And remember, the seasons in Westeros do not have a predetermined time. They could last any number of years, which is why Stannis felt he could not simply wait out the snow.
-Sam handed Jon some dragonglass as he left for Hardhomme, a nice reminder of the White Walkers, who sure seem to be taking their sweet time making their way to Westeros.
-Maester Aemon, before he died, made several references to Aegon, his younger brother who became king. Aegon is featured in the “Tales of Dunk and Egg” series. It is also the name of four other kings of Westeros and of the baby Targaryen who was killed during the sack of King’s Landing (“You raped her, you murdered her, you killed her children.”)
-The flaying of bodies Ramsey has practiced this season is an old practice of House Bolton. They do it when interrogating prisoners and it is the basis for their sigil.
-In the fifth book, Yezzan, the man who buys Jorah and Tyrion, is much fatter and kinder to his slaves than this version of him was. In fact, if Jorah and Tyrion are going before the queen next week, that might be a very quick end to the story of an important minor character from the book.
-Each of the last two weeks, the Queen of Thornes has used the threat of withholding food from the fertile reach, keeping it out of King’s Landing. But the High Sparrow, in response this week, seemed to hint at peasant rebellion, correctly pointing out that poor workers far outnumber members of noble houses.
-I found it interesting that the Sand Snakes and Bronn (a sellsword and three bastards) were put in far less luxurious conditions than Jamie. I do not believe this was a mistake by Doran Martell (who I hope at some point you get to see on screen for more than two minutes this season).
-How will Littlefinger’s “gift” play a part in the impending trial of Loras and Margaery?
-And with so many queens locked up and Tommen have no power to speak of, who exactly is running King’s Landing right now?
-Will Daenarys welcome back Jorah? And how will she receive Tyrion, a man from the same house as the one that had her niece and nephew brutally murdered?
-Brienne still has an eye on Winterfell. Will Sansa light the candle next week?
-How will the Wildlings receive Jon Snow on Hardhomme? And what kind of atmosphere will greet Snow when he returns to the Wall?
-Will Stannis truly sacrifice his daughter for the sake of victory at Winterfell?
Just three episodes left this season and things have definitely picked up as we move towards this season’s conclusion.