Another Sunday another Game of Thrones. Well, the season finale actually. And true to form, it left viewers crying out to the Old Gods–and the New. In which would-be kings fall, a girl gets her revenge, a Khaleesi finds herself alone and the The Night’s Watch…well… “These Crows Ain’t Loyal.” Let’s just do this.
We start out somewhere at the camp of dreary Lord Stannis Baratheon, the would-be king of the Seven Kingdoms. Last time we visited, Stannis had burned his daughter Shireen alive at the behest of the Red Lady Melisandre. This sacrifice of king’s blood, she told him, would assure a victory over Roose Bolton at Winterfell. And it seems that she might be right. She says as much, pointing out that the snow that had trapped his army is melting. The Red God has spoken and the path is now clear for Stannis.
That is, until the omens start appearing. The first happens when one of his army commander shows up and nervously reports, “Your Grace, your men deserted in the night.”
“How many?” Stannis asks.
Half?! Half your army took off? That already battered looking army? All the mercenaries? And they took your horses? So you’re an army with no cavalry? Stannis takes the news with shock but regains his stoicism. He knows, and we all know, the reason for the desertion. Those men watched you burn up your only daughter up! They saw that sh*t. And they wants no parts of your child-burning, daughter-slaying, willing to sacrifice everything and anyone to get your goals, Iron-Throne-obsessed ass. You don’t come back from that!
Before Stannis can fully recover, another of his men show up. He looks even more nervous than the first guy. Stannis says, “Speak up. Can’t be worse than mutiny.” But dude is like, naaaaww. You gotta come see this sh*t. Stannis follows him to what we know is waiting–the body of his wife, Lady Selyse. She’s hung herself by the neck from a tall tree, likely haunted by her daughter’s shrieks and screams as she was being BURNED ALIVE! That’s omen two, my dude.
This finally shakes Stannis’s smooth composure. Takes a moment to prepare himself. But resigned, he orders his wife’s body cut down. He barely has a moment to breathe before more bad news–Lady Melisandre was seen riding out of camp.
Oh. Damn. He done lost the Red Lady. The link to the Red God R’hllor. That’s the third omen. And when omens start hitting three shots, it’s pretty damn bad. Stannis seems to be at a loss for a moment, but then, with a resigned look, gives the order to prepare to march. They’re going to take Winterfell–no matter what.
As good as his word, Stannis marches his cold, hungry, beaten and busted no-horse having army to Winterfell. And man, they look hurt-up. Like they ain’t ready to fight nobody. But Stannis tells them to get ready, the siege is about to begin. That is until his commander says there’s not going to be a siege–because an army is marching from Winterfell right for them.
Yeah, you know what happens when the snow stops building long enough for you to march your busted army to Winterfell? The other guys army can marshal together on the field as well. And it’s a big army. Three times as big or more than Stannis’s. They don’t look busted at all. They got horses. They came to fight. And as the larger army moves to literally “swallow” the smaller one, we know Stannis’s fate is sealed. Too many bad omens old chap. This is not your day.
The next we see of the battle, it looks like a complete disaster. The bodies of Stannis’s men litter the field, while the House Bolton men (including the always sadistic Ramsay Bolton) butcher them in glee. Stannis himself is still standing–barely. He manages to finish off two attackers, reminding us he got skills with a sword. But he gets a cut to his leg that leaves him slumped and bleeding out, sitting against a tree.
When he looks up he finds he’s been found by someone. He at first thinks its one of the Bolton men. But it’s no man. And it’s no Bolton. It’s Brienne of Tarth! Earlier, we’d seen young Podrick witness Stannis’s army’s arrival—and run to tell it to Brienne. Now she’s here, standing over him. And she’s come to handle some old business.
She names herself–as a guard once sworn to his brother Renley Baratheon. She charges Stannis with the killing of his own brother, as she is the only one who ever saw the shadow with Stannis’s face kill him (Renley). Ya’ll remember Lady Melisandre’s nasty shadow baby right?
Stannis don’t deny the charge. At that, Brienne sentences him–to death. She draws her sword and asks if he has any last words. Stannis looks around, at the mangled ruin of what had once been his grand army and ambition. You have a feeling he’s also thinking on all that he’s done to achieve this–from killing his brother to his daughter. Only to be abandoned by the Red God in the end. Then, with that classic stoic resignation, he tells Brienne to do her duty. She does.
So goes Stannis, last of hte Baratheon brothers, and would-be king of the Seven Kingdoms. And obviously, not the chosen of R’hllor. Let this be a lesson to you driven wold be kings. Burn up your daughter and You get nothing, you lose, good day Sir!
Though, well, we never did see her actually take his head did we? It’s inferred. Odd for a show that isn’t one to shy away from the “big kill” scene huh? I mean in the books the fate of Stannis’s army is that it’s left buried in snow; as good as dead and gone. The TV version made that more “final” with a battle. But as in the book, we never see Stannis take the killing blow either. We just…assume. Hmm.
In the midst of all this, the captive Sansa Stark manages to escape her room–using whatever it was she picked up while strolling along the castle battlements earlier to jimmy open the lock and slip away. She arrives to the castle tower and lights a candle, one that unfortunately Brienne can’t see as she’s off getting righteous Renley vengeance. Realizing no help is coming, Sansa takes off–only to be captured by Ramsay Bolton’s psycho girlfriend Myranda, who has a downcast Theon in tow.
A gleeful Myranda holds Sansa at arrow point (she literally has an arrow nocked and drawn), and says she’s here to escort Sansa back to her quarters. A defiant Sansa refuses, saying she knows what she’s going to return to. If she’s going to die, let it happen now. But Myranda laughs, saying she has no intention of killing Sansa. Ramsay is going to want Sansa to have a few children, she says; then he’ll keep her around to torture. Myranda says she’s just going to get a head start on the torturing and perhaps just maim Sansa.
It seems this might just happen–until Theon finally snaps the hell outta his Reek funk. He knocks Myranda off-balance, sending her arrow shot wide. Then he rushes and pushes her over the battlement. There’s a short shriek of surprise, and a tumble before she hits the stones below with a dull SPLAT. Yeah. No more Myranda.
Just about then the gates open. And Theon realizes Ramsay’s coming back. His life as Reek is coming back. He leads Sansa to castle wall where below there’s what looks like endless ice. Then taking her hand, the two share a glance before jumping. What becomes of them? Gotta wait till next season. But hint–moats.
In Braavos, we see none other than Ser Meryn Trant getting his pedophilic wish fulfillment at some brothel. Three young girls stand before him, trembling in fear. And he has a switch. He circles the first girl, switching her so that she cries out in pain. He does the same to the second, enjoying every moment. It’s not until he reaches the third that he gets no response. Hits her again. Nothing. She ain’t even flinching. Again. Breaks the switch. Nada.
Welcoming the challenge, he orders the other girls from the room. When the third girl smooths back her hair to reveal an unfamiliar face, he punches her hard in the stomach, sending her to the floor. Damn dude. That’s a girl. Crumpled, she seems to be catching her breath. But as he watches, she takes hold of her hair and then–pulls it off. Pulls off hr whole damn face! To reveal a new face beneath.
Yep. It’s Arya. And she got a knife.
She does some kinda Wolverine jump, stabbing Ser Meryn right through the eye! Ouch! The got-damn eye! He screams and she goes down atop him, shiving and shanking him the whole time. Then oh! She takes out his other eye! He’s screaming. She stuffs his mouth with cloth to quiet him up, stabbing him a few times in the chest for good measure.
Then she just torments his ass. She asks the sightless Ser Meryn, bleeding from both eyes, bloodied from stab wounds and with a gag in his mouth if he remembers killing her old teacher Syrio Forel? She asks if he knows who she is (stabs him in the gut once) and gives her name before stabbing him in the back and removing the gag. “Do you know who you are?” she asks him. “You’re no one, you’re nothing.” Then she slits his throat. Murked him good.
Arya’s done gone total dark.
Pleased with her act of vengeance, Arya returns to the Temple of the Many Faced God and puts back the mask she stole. But that creepy other girl and the temple priest with Jaqen H’ghar’s face are waiting. They tell her they know what she’s done. That she stole a mask to take a life she wasn’t given authority to take. They say a life must be paid with a life. A girl stole from the Many Faced God. Now a debt is owed. Because only death can pay for life.
Arya is fearful, thinking they mean to kill her. But to her surprise the temple priest Jaqen pulls out a vial of poison, drinks it, and then drops dead. A shocked Arya runs to him, not wanting him to die. But as she sobs over his still body, the creepy girl asks why Arya is even crying? Arya says he was her friend. The creepy girl replies, no, he wasn’t. Someone else says, “He was no one.”
Arya looks up to find another Jaqen. Alive and standing there. She turns back to the dead Jaqen and realizes he’s wearing a mask. She tears it off to reveal someone else beneath. She tears off another reveal someone else. And so on and so on. Each tearing away reveals a new person. Jaqen tells her again that the man is no one, as she should have been. The last face on the body turns out to be her own. Suddenly she realizes everything is going blurry. Dark. I can’t see, she cries out. I can’t see. We watch as her eyes cloud over, and Arya seems to be left blind.
That place is trippy.
Somewhere at a port in Dorne, Jaime is escorting his “niece” Myrcella onto a ship bound for King’s Landing. Prince Doran Martell along with Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes are present as well. Everyone appears to be making nice after all the previous–unpleasantness. Ellaria Sand even says she wishes Myrcella all the happiness in the world, before giving her a farewell kiss–full on the lips. Dorne man.
There’s some banter between the flirty Sand Snake Tyene Sand and Bronn that involves biting and a reference to the need of a misbehaving feline…but that’s not really important. In the ship’s cabin, Jaime has some time alone with his, um, niece, Myrcella. He assures her that her mother will be happy to see her and will (in time) come to accept her arranged marriage to Trystane Martell.
Jaime then awkwardly says there’s something he’s been wanting to tell Myrcella for a long time. He says that sometimes two people can’t help falling in love with who they fall in love with. That there’s nothing that can help it. And you’re watching this thinking, my dude, you ain’t about to say what I think you’re about to say. Nooooo!
After a few fumbling tries however it turns out he doesn’t have to say it. Myrcella says it for him. She knows! Well! The smartest kid in the bunch. She says she’s always known who her real father is and is proud to have him as such. It’s a touching incestuous-derived moment as Jaime embraces her for the first time not as an uncle, but as a father. At least it is until her nose starts bleeding, and she suddenly collapses into his stunned arms.
Meanwhile, out on the Dornish pier, Ellaria Sand and the other Sand Snakes are watching the ship carrying Myrcella and Jaime away. A few drops of blood spill from Ellaria’s nose, and Tyene Sand walks up to offer a kerchief for her to wipe it away. She also wipes away what we now realize was poison on her lips. She done killed Jaime’s daughter! Unstopping a vial about her neck, she downs the contents. The antidote. Then Ellaria Sand, the Sand Snakes following, walk away bold as heck, not a single f**k given, from the deed they’ve just done–likely plunging Dorne into war.
Somewhere in Meereen, everyone is missing a Khaleesi. Tyrion, Ser Jorah Mormant and new-faced Daario all sit on the steps of the throne room. Having survived the assassination attempt of the Sons of the Harpy, none of them have a clue what to do now that Daenerys has taken off on the back of a dragon. Mostly they bicker.
Missandei and a still-injured Grey Worm show up, with the Unsullied pronouncing that Ser Jorah isn’t supposed to be here. But Missandei points out that Ser Jorah helped save Dany, along with the “little man.” An argument starts up between Jorah and Tyrion over who’s to blame for what, and is mediated by Daario. It’s finally decided that they’ll start searching for Dany, who could be anywhere. When Tyrion offers to come along however Daario balks, pointing out he can’t track, fight or ride a horse–just talk. He suggests instead that Tyrion stay and keep an eye on the city. It’s Jorah’s turn to balk, saying Tyrion doubts Meereen will accept a foreign dwarf on the throne. Daario says he won’t be on the throne. He’ll be assisting Dany’s two greatest confidants–Missandei and Grey Worm–who are going to take up the duties governing things until the Khaleesi’s return.
So, finally, they gonna put some black people in charge! And a dwarf. Poor Meereen will probably have a Tea Party by week’s end.
Later we see Tyrion pondering all this, as an unexpected figure arrives. Varys! Love me some Spider! Varys assures a reluctant Tyrion that he can find a way to govern the unruly city. After all, he’s done so with a city in turmoil before. And he’ll have the help of a Master of spies and intrigue. This should all prove…interesting. I nominate Varys & Tyrion for a buddy spin-off.
So where’s Dany? Wherever Drogon dropped her off it seems–his nest of charred bones and blackened earth. She tries to coax the dragon to take her back to Meereen (means she’s gone pretty far) but he’s obviously injured. He turns away from her. When she tries to jump on his back, he twists about until she falls off. Drogon is all about healing his wounds right now. And he ain’t got no time for dealing with her wants.
A frustrated Dany leaves in the search of food. As she walks across a set of green hills she sees a horseman arrive. Then three more. They’re followed by perhaps a dozen–then hundreds. Dothraki. She drops something to the ground, likely to help anyone that’s looking to track her. Then she stands there as what looks like an entire Dothraki clan rides whooping and cheering about her like something out of an old John Wayne flick in the Wild Wild West. Back to the drawing board I guess.
In King’s Landing, Cersei ain’t doing too good. She’s still locked away in poor conditions by the Sparrows, with that burly nurse ordering her to confess. She finally says the right thing and finds herself before the High Sparrow–the very guy she helped make! She tells him she’s ready to confess, to beg the Mother’s Mercy (finally giving us the show’s headline and referencing one of the seven gods) for absolution. The High Sparrow says she has to confess, and she does–to the fornication charge. But the other charges–like sleeping with her brother–she denies vehemently as a Stannis created rumor. To her dismay, the High Sparrow says she still needs to have a trial–on the other charges yet in dispute. But the Mother’s Mercy she will be granted is the right to go back to the Keep–at a price.
That price, is a walk from the Sept to the Keep–completely shorn of sin and naked before God. Cersei is stripped naked, her hair cut away and then, before the entire city, forced to make a torturous walk to the Red Keep.
The crowd gasps at first at sight of the mighty Cersei laid low. The naked and shorn Queen Mother attempts to keep her dignity. She holds her head high as they walk, keeping her eyes on the Keep in the distance. But it doesn’t take long for things to get ugly. At the first insult and cry from the crowd, it seems the whole mass erupts. Cersei is cursed, spat upon and knocked down. People throw things at her (garbage?), jeer at her, taunt her. The walk soon becomes almost unbearable, and her feet are bleeding on the cobblestone. When she finally reaches the Keep’s doors, she staggers through, seeming a broken woman.
There she finds her Small Council just standing there, gazing. The mad scientist Qyburn is the only one that rushes to her, wrapping her in a blanket as she trembles and cries in pain and humiliation. A towering figure appears. A literal giant. Qyburn introduces him as the newest member of the King’s Guard, who has taken a vow of silence until he can slay all of Cersei’s enemies. Holy Hell! That’s Gregor Clegane! The Mountain! He leans down and picks up Cersei, walking away with her. The Queen Mother may have her revenge, yet.
And…at Castle Black. Castle Black… Lord Commander Jon Snow relates to Samwell Tarly what went down at Hardhome. How the Night’s King has an army of tens of thousands poised to descend on the world. Samwell tries to find a glimmer of hope, pointing out they might be able to get some more dragon glass. But Jon knows they’d have needed like a mountain of it. Besides, does dragon glass kill Wights? Samwell also points out Jon killed a White Walker with his sword. But Jon points out what we all know–that sword was made of Valyrian steel, which is so rare might as well try to mass produce swords made of diamonds.
Jon is also troubled that he is now the first commander in the Night’s Watch to ever sacrifice the lives of his own brothers to save the lives of Wildlings. He calls himself the most hated man in Castle Black (dude, you just don’t know) and toasts to his misery. A reluctant Samwell Tarley works up the nerve to ask Jon for a favor–send him, Gilly and the baby away to the Citadel. So that he can become a maester, as he was meant to be. Jon objects, saying he needs Samwell with him. But Samwell says if Gilly and the baby stay here they’ll end up dead, and him for trying to defend her. He says he doesn’t want the last thing he sees in his world the look on her face when he fails her–would rather brave a thousand White Walkers instead. Oh, and he also tells Jon he got some. Crow bros’ high-five. The next we see Samwell and Gilly, they’re leaving Castle Black as Jon looks on–now alone.
That is until the Onion Knight Ser Davos Seaworth shows up. In a scene, we see him arguing with Jon for more men to help Stannis fight. Jon however refuses. Both men are still arguing when someone rides through the gates of Black Gate. It’s Lady Melisandre. A shocked Ser Davos runs up to ask what she’s doing here, but she won’t say. When asked about Stannis, she gets quiet. When a desperate Ser Davos asks about Shireen, she still says nothing. Poor Ser Davos.
We next see an overwhelmed Jon Snow, sitting and reading raven messages–likely detailing what happened to Stannis. Wearied by it all he sits back, until young Olly comes bursting into the room. He’s got some story of a Wilding claiming to have sighted Jon’s uncle, Benjen Stark–the First Ranger who had gone missing since the first season.
A shocked Jon Snow follows immediately, heading outside. There he’s met by professional hater Ser Allister Thorne, now First Ranger, who leads the way. Jon walks up to find a group of men in a circle, holding torches. He pushes past them expecting to find his uncle. But instead all he finds is a wooden cross with the words traitor.
A confused Jon turns around–Ser Allister’s is the first to plunge the knife into him. “For the watch,” he says. A second man steps up and does the same. Then a third. And a fourth. And a fifth. They plunge the knife deep, sending Jon to his knees bleeding in the snow. Olly is the last to show up. He and Jon exchange a long glance. Jon says his name, and Olly plunges the knife in–saying “for the watch.” He backs away with the rest, leaving Jon lying on the snow as his blood pools around him.
So that’s the season, dark and full of terror for just about everyone–especially that most unluckiest of families, the Starks.
I know some of you are losing it already, vowing you’re done (forever!) with Game of Thrones. But, not so fast. Might be some hope. For book readers, this is (more or less) how the last novel ended. It was a shock then. However, there’s no consensus among readers that Jon Snow is really dead. There’s lots of reasons for that I won’t go into. Partly because we know about Lady Stoneheart (if you haven’t read the book don’t look that up; you’ll just ruin it for yourself) and what is “possible.” Partly because we’ve still got our suspicions on Jon’s true lineage and making bets on who is the fabled Azor Hai. In the show, we do see someone curious show up at Castle Black–Lady Melisandre. A worshiper and priestess of the Red God. Think back about what servants of the Red God can do. You’ve seen it before. So you might want to have some faith.
These recaps have been great for the season. Thanks for reading. Till next year, where hopefully the entire Night’s Watch (starting with Olly) are face-eaten by Wights.