Yesterday, before I watched this episode, I was wandering around Twitter when I came across one retweet from the official Game of Thrones’ account, of a man who said that the fifth episode of season 5 was one of the best episodes of the series so far. After watching said episode, I have to strongly disagree. When it comes to adaptations, there are three possible reactions to a change in the plot of the original source material: satisfaction (“I’m glad they’re doing something different”), curiosity (“I wonder where this is going and how it ties in with the spirit of my beloved material”), and genuine frustration (“I can’t believe they would do this, it makes no sense”). If you’ve read volume five of A Song of Ice and Fire, A Dance With Dragons, you might have experienced the same kind of reaction that I had watching this episode: the third one. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves too much. Shall we begin?
A good mother never gives up on her children. – Dany
In Meereen, while Missandei watches over an unconscious Grey Worm, Dany stands near the corpse of her devoted Barristan Selmy. Her heart is broken and so is ours. Hizdhar zo Loraq comes in with his most “sincere” apology. Daario Naharis suggests retreating into the pyramid and cleaning out every alley of the city until every Son of the Harpy is annihilated. Dany chooses otherwise: she asks that the heads of the great families of Meereen be rounded up and brought to her. Dragon time? Dragon time! Dany has the heads of the families gathered in her beloved dragons’ cage, accompanied by enough armed guards that none of the Meereenese even thinks of trying to escape. She then has them slowly pushed forward and makes them understand that they are very, very bad kids who’ve upset their mother. So, you know, she has to punish them. She then gives the order for Daario to throw one of the family heads on his knees, just a few feet ahead of the group. Viserion and Rhaegal roast him up and snack off his charred remains. The family heads are scared shitless, but none of them talk, not even Hizdhar zo Loraq. Dany throws them back in their cells.
Kill the boy. And let the man be born. – Maester Aemon
At Castleblack, Sam reads a intel message about Daenaerys to Maester Aemon, who is quite upset that he is unable to help his last live relative in any way. Jon enters and asks to speak alone with the Maester. He wants his advice on a certain order he has to give, that might make half of the men hate him. Maester Aemon tells him that a, half of the men probably already hate him and b, he should do whatever needs to be done. Yup. Leadership ain’t fun. Maester Aemon then says his most famous quote from the books (as seen above this paragraph). I am very happy that they kept it, but I’m honestly a bit disappointed that they didn’t let him tell the story that came with it. Story Times in Game of Thrones are my favourite. Oh well. What is Jon doing now?
Ah, yes. Jon is going on with his plan. We find him talking with Tormund Giantsbane. Jon wants the wildlings to join the Westerosi side of the Wall. He asks Tormund to go north, gather the remaining free folk still there and bring them back. He promises to find them land to live on, if they’re ready to fight with him when the time comes. Tormund insists that the free folk will murder him and everybody else before they surrender to the crows, until Jon calls him a coward. Touché. Tormund accepts, provided that Jon Snow tags along.
Cut to the men of the Night’s Watch giving hell to their Lord Commander for wanting to rescue the wildlings. Their arguments basically go along the lines of “you’re insane, we hate those guys, let them die.” Sam tries to help, but fails miserably. Even some of Jon Snow most loyal followers, like Dolorous Edd, have a hard time wrapping their heads around his decision. This said, Jon has a really good point: they have the choice between saving the wildlings or letting them become wight walkers. Pretty easy choice if you ask me.
Later on, Olly brings some sustenance to Jon Snow. Seeing that the boy is upset, Jon tells him to speak his mind. Olly doesn’t want to believe that Jon would help the wildlings, despite Jon’s explanations. He starts giving his master the cold shoulder.
Who do you serve? – Brienne
Winterfell! Pod joins Brienne in their room. Brienne is still concerned about Sansa’s safety. Pod thinks she shouldn’t be. I’m with Brienne on that one – she is with the Boltons and she doesn’t even have Littlefinger to help her. I do want to see how Sansa is going to survive on her own, but it would probably be better if Brienne and her big ass sword were around. Some old dude enters the room, carrying water. When she learns that he’s a true notherner, loyal to the Starks, she asks him to deliver a message to Sansa.
Cut to Miranda’s angulous yet lovely naked figure as she stares out the window after some probably kinky intercourse with Ramsay. Miranda is jealous of Sansa, who managed to get her lover’s attention, on top of, y’know, being promised to him in marriage. I mean, c’mon lady, you’re cute and all but we’re talking about the 4th most attractive woman in this show here (it goes Natalie Dormer, Natalie Emmanuel, Emilia Clarke, then Sophie Turner, in case you were wondering). Ramsay is quite annoyed with Miranda’s temper tantrum and gets up – HI IWAN RHEON, to give her what amounts to the Ramsay Bolton’s equivalent of comfort, which involves hands, open threats, and aggressive sex-having in front of an open window. My kind of lazy afternoon.
Sansa receives the visit of an old lady who’s bringing her water. She gives her a message: she still has friends in the north. If she’s ever in trouble, she’s advised to light a candle in the highest window of the broken tower. Sansa immediately visits said tower, or rather she just stands near it and stares up at its highest window. Yes, it’s the window from which Bran fell. Ah, memories. Miranda joins Sansa – I guess she’s done having angry sex with Ramsay. Follows one of the most awkward exchanges in the whole show, as Miranda fails at being compassionate and Sansa seems incapable to say more than six words at a time. Miranda does catch Sansa’s attention though, when she reveals that she has some precious family heirloom to show her. That’s when she brings her to the kennels. You know. Where a haggard, half-insane, presumably dickless Theon/Reek sleeps. So much for trying to hide him from her.
Later, Theon/Reek confesses to his master: Sansa has seen him. For a while, it seems that Ramsay is about to flay his fingers. Instead, he forgives him… then proceeds to have him serve wine at the dinner table. Funny how that comes right after Sansa openly says that everybody around is f*cking weird. Sansa is livid. Ramsay is extremely pleased with his little prank and even takes it a step further. He makes Theon/Reek apologize to Sansa, then decides that since his servant is the closest thing to living kin that Sansa has left, he should give her away at the wedding. Bolton, seeing his son so chipper, decides to use the occasion to give some good news about Walda #58 and himself. They’re having a baby. Here goes Ramsay’s joy.
Ramsay and his father have a cup of wine together, alone. Ramsay tries to be as mean as possible to Walda, implying that it would be virtually impossible to impregnate her because she’s fat, like we needed another proof that Ramsay is an asshole. In any case, Ramsay is just worried that his father would ditch him in favour of the baby, especially if said baby reveals to be male. Bolton reassures him with a story, telling him about how he raped his mother underneath the tree where Bolton himself hanged her husband, then almost killed her and her baby when she came to present Ramsay to him. It’s like that one Stannis and Shireen scene in last week’s episode, except it’s creepy, disturbing, and I hope they both die horrible deaths.
I’ve seen it, Your Grace. The army of the dead. – Sam
We leave the Boltons to their preparations for their upcoming battle against Stannis and come back to Castleblack. Gilly and Sam are in the library. Gilly is fascinated by books and ashamed of her lack of knowledge. Sam tries to comfort her and ends up revealing his old dream to be a Maester. That is when Stannis comes in. Gilly immediately flees the library. What does Stannis want? Stuff. Things. Reminiscing about Sam’s father and knowing how Sam killed a wight walker. Sam tells him about dragonglass. Stannis leaves – and also decides to leave for Winterfell the same day, along with his wife and daughter, despite Ser Davos’ advice.
And so the king and his men prepare for their journey to Winterfell. Shireen is excited, way more excited than Davos, this even if she’s a little bit sad to leave Gilly and Sam behind. Jon promises Stannis to return his fleet (the one he’s borrowing to save the wildlings) and thanks him for his stiff and grumpy self. The king, his family, and his army leave. Including Melisandre. Huh. Considering this and the fact that Jon is going to retrieve the wildlings himself, this is going to play out quite differently from the books. Consider me intrigued.
I was wrong. – Dany
We are back in Meereen. Grey Worm finally wakes up with Missandei by his side. He is devastated to learn about Ser Barristan’s death, and even more to admit out loud that he was scared that he was going to die in an alley and wouldn’t see Missandei ever again. AND THEN MISSANDEI KISSES HIM. IT’S ADORABLE.
Missandei has a meeting with Dany, who asks her for advice. Missandei doesn’t think she should be asking her of all people, but Dany insists. Missandei basically tells her to trust her own judgment, as she knows when to listen to others and when there’s a better solution. Dany seems to agree. She immediately visits Hizdhar zo Loraq in his cell. The man throws himself at his queen’s feet and begs for his life. Dany announces that for the good of the city, she will reopen the fighting pits, but only to free men. She also decides to marry him. I guess it could have been worse, he could have been a terrible person andunattractive.
A city of a thousand years and all that men had learned was that doom consumed it all alike. And neither of them turned. – Jorah Mormont
Tyrion, there is no wine on that boat. No matter how much you’ll flap your tongue at Jorah Mormont, it won’t make wine appear on the boat. You’re going to have to do without. Anyway. On their way to Meereen, Jorah and Tyrion’s boat passes right through the ruins of old Valyria. It’s quiet, the waters are mirror-like, the remnants of Valyria magnificent, the perfect time for poetry. Then, Drogon passes high above their heads. Yes, Tyrion, that’s a living, fire-breathing dragon. You’re welcome. The beast distracts both companions enough that they don’t notice the Stone Men ready to attack them. It ends with Tyrion trying to get Jorah to untie him while Jorah fights the enemy. Tyrion eventually falls into the water, still tied up.
Tyrion comes back to his senses hours later, on a beach. Jorah is still with him, they’re both soaked, they’ve lost the boat and everything they had with it, but they’re alive. They have to walk to the nearest village in the hopes to find another boat. Meanwhile, Jorah suggests that Tyrion gets some rest while he fetches some firewood. When he’s far enough, he rolls up his sleeve, revealing the first rash of Grey Scale on his wrist. Oh boy.
This is when I take some time to rant a little bit more. This last scene was frustrating. At this point, I’m used to the writers of the show taking shortcuts, but this is on another level. I had a feeling that they were not going to take up the Young Griff storyline, which they didn’t, but it kind of bugs me that they’re leaving that many characters out of the story. It makes me wonder if they’ll even bother with Quentyn Martell’s story, or anything that happens on that side of the Narrow Sea in A Dance With Dragons. Plus, Jorah has Grey Scale now? Why? They already killed Ser Barristan for no reason, and now Jorah is doomed too. Is it so he can somehow crawl to Daenaerys’ feet, covered in Grey Scale, and just die there? Or is she going to cure his disease with love and take him back out of pity? In any case, giving Grey Scale to Jorah is lame, and I’m afraid it means that the Yezzan zo Qaggaz as well as the pale mare parts of the story are probably not going to happen either, at least not at all as they happen in the books. Ugh. Look, I’m all for making the story a bit simpler for television. I am not okay, however, with chopping off half of a book and replacing it with lazy writing. That’s not Game of Thrones. That’s Game of Stones, as in they’re stoning the story to death. Who knows, though? We’re only halfway through this season. Let’s see how it goes.