The fifth episode of Game of Thrones season five is a bittersweet departure for longtime fans of the show that have been resting on their Song of Ice and Fire book knowledge. All of sudden everyone who saw the Red Wedding coming two seasons ahead are finding themselves actually surprised! This of course makes those same viewers realize just how much this show is all about set-up, and payoff. In this episode we see Daenarys Targaryen dole out justice to Yezzan and the Yunkish noble houses, Jon Snow make some surprising decisions regarding his wildling prisoners, and Tyrion Lannister realize just how far away from home he is. Major spoilers and fan theories after the jump!
Kill the Boy could easily be called “pwn the noob”. It’s a story about letting go of your child mind, of preconceived notions about right and wrong, and about standing up for what you believe in. This is a really adult concept to grapple with, and in true Game of Thrones fashion, it asks the audience to wrestle with their own ideas about conviction and pride through the experiences of the characters in the show. Sounds cool, right? Well, not so cool and not all the time. You see on the one hand you have characters that make leaps and bounds in the personal growth department, but not always for the right reasons. Similarly, there’s a bunch of characters who are within arms reach of person growth but instead just shit the bed because they’re doomed to fail. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – what exactly happened to G.R.R. Martin in his childhood that birthed this beautifully fucked up world?
So turns out Grey Worm isn’t dead, which everyone named Misandi is really happy about. You see they are in love with one another, and stuff or whatever. Honestly this plot is super boring unless you admit you sometimes wonder how a eunuch has sex, and then also admit this is the second time you’ve considered that question since this show has been on the air. Hegemonic masculinity aside, the real tragedy here is the death of Ser Barristan Selmy aka the Silver Fox. Daenarys Targaryen is super pinched about his death, so she decides to gather up a bunch of dudes and take them to a barbeque in the dungeons. Talk about tradition! This one is a family favorite from her dad, the Mad King. Is someone messing with you and your family? Cool, burn them with dragons breath and then let your little pretties nom their hearts out! Eventually Khaleesi realizes she can’t just go around burning nobleman because she suspects them of being Sons of The Harpy, and instead jumps to the major conclusion that she has to open the slave pits and marry that one guy – BECAUSE REASONS!
Everytime you see a cut-to sequence that involves Daenarys Targaryen, Jon Snow, and Aemon Targaryen, a film editor working in the narrative motif earns their wings. Seriously if you haven’t figured it out by now, Jon is kinda probably almost certainly a Targaryen-Stark love-child. “A Targaryen alone in the world, it’s a horrible thing” says Aemon as Jon walks in to his counsel – genius, and totally deliberate! Jon is looking to enlist the help of the captured wildlings in order to bring the remaining free folk down from the north out of fear that when they fall, they’ll become white walkers and go all Thriller on the Wall. This totally makes sense, but the Nights Watch isn’t stoked at all. Can you blame them? Last season they spent an entire IMAX episode fighting these punks off, AND THEY KILLED GREN AND PIP! Jon isn’t sure if this is a good plan, but Aemon (or should call him Great-Uncle Aemon) delivers the title drop trope and tells Jon to “kill the boy inside you, and let the man be born” aka grow a pair, make the decision that feels right, and deal with the consequences. Stannis and his crew decide to leave the Wall, and ride on Winterfell. Jon is able to loan out some boats from the Baratheon fleet in an attempt to save some free folk.
The whole sequence in Moat Cailin really throws the title drop for a loop. There are now four major character convergences taking place in one area; Sansa Stark, Brienne of Tarth, Ramsey Bolton and Reek. That is a lot of growth in either direction! Ramsey is seemingly in control at Moat Cailin. His father is Warden of the North, he’s to be married to Sansa Stark, he has a side-piece named Miranda who’s bat-shit-fucking-crazy, and a dog-man who pours him wine. But Ramsey is an idiot, and his convictions are taking him further down a dark path making it easier to hate him and understand his insanity. Of course the moment you’re ready to write him off as a monster, his dad tells him the story of his birth and you realize he’s actually a monster who loves his dad, who is also a monster and that monsters love each other and it’s creepy. Killing the boy in Ramsey’s case means diving further into the deep-end of crazy.
Poor Sansa is tits-deep in Bolton crazy sauce, and spends a lot of the episode reacting and being targeted by the aforementioned Miranda. We want more of badass Alayne Stone with black hair who makes out with Uncle by marriage. She needs to come back and side-eye the Bolton’s into line, maybe slap around Reek too. We have a feeling that’s the long con with this plot, which explains the continual friend-zone that Brienne and Podrick are stuck in so far. She’s their backup, and will be manning the Underground Railroad if shit gets real. If you are hoping for a Ramsey/Brienne showdown by the end of the season, you are not alone! Once again longtime Song of Ice & Fire readers now fully respect the set-up/payoff game that is so often played on this show.
It doesn’t take long for the audience to realize that Tyrion and Ser Jorah Mormont aren’t in Volantis any more. Their waters are deep, and smoky. Literally the moment Jorah said “Valyria” everyone logged into HBO Now gasped so hard their wifi buckled. The Doom of Valyria was a catastrophic event that happened centuries earlier, and wiped out an entire civilization. Landmasses were shattered into pieces, and the surrounding sea became molten and smoky. All of the Valyrian culture and history was lost, except for House Targaryen. In present day Game of Thrones everyone avoids this part of the world, for fear of being lost at sea, or worse – its real world equivalent being that of a Bermuda Triangle. We’re told that some cultures, such as free folk of the north, send those who suffer from greyscale to live among the ruins of Old Valyria, and are called stone men. The initial shock factor of this scene is that its the first time, for both viewers of the TV show and longtime readers of the books, the audience has seen anything happen in Valyria.
Tyrion and Jorah behold a dragon in the sky flying over them, presumably Drogon but at this point unconfirmed. While they’re in awe we can see stone figures moving the background, at which point the characters are under attack by stone men. This scene is probably one of the more intense moments in the series thus far, on par with the first time we see the white walkers. Tyrion gets pulled down into the waters, and Jorah saves him only to discover that he’s been infected with greyscale during the scuffle.
With no boat, and no means of transportation they begin the long to walk Meereen. Seems as though much of the books Jon Connington/Griff plot will be played out through Jorah. This of course begs the question of whether or not the show will introduce the “Young Griff” plot – queue the internet speculations!
Dear Ice & Fire Book Readers – yes, there are times when you want to scream at your TV and ask the question “is this show just all set up!?” The truth is that most of the non-book reading viewers have been yelling that same question at the screen for four seasons. This show is good enough for you to keep coming back, and we hope you do. Game of Thrones seasons five is hitting its stride, and if next week’s preview is any indication you’ll be as glued to the seat as everyone else. Dornish drama? The House of Black and White? Littlefinger back at the capital whilst the Sparrow runs amuck? Order your pizza delivery now, you won’t want to cook.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays on HBO.