Game of Thrones restricts the narrative to a few locations and the expanded screen time works wonders for the featured characters.
Let’s bitch it out…
As we cross the half-way point of S5 (it’s crazy how quickly it’s passing), GoT focuses on story lines at The Wall, Moats Collins and a few brief scenes in Meereen. The result is a series of scenes that are allowed to play out at their leisure and while I always miss Cersei and Arya when they’re not around, a week off allows some of more underutilized characters a chance to shine.
Here are your top three power moves this week:
1) Jon (Kit Harington) makes a deal
Jon asks Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) to become the leader of the Free Folk in an effort to save them from the White Walkers north of The Wall. Tormund agrees on the condition that Jon travels with him as the Lord Commander, but the men of the Watch aren’t as easily persuaded. As Jon predicted, this proves to be a divisive strategy, but one that both he and Sam (John Bradley) know must be made in order to prevent the rise of more White Walkers. The presence of Ollie, the young ward that is training, makes the decision that much more personal. I’ll freely admit that I’d completely forgotten about the scene last season when we saw the wildlings attack Ollie’s village (it’s been ages!), though his displeasure with Jon suggests that this will come back to haunt Jon.
Then there’s the ominous music that accompanies Stannis’ (Stephen Dillane) departure. It can be interpreted in two ways: 1) Stannis is headed for doom in his quest to reclaim Winterfell or 2) his absence will hurt Jon because now the young Commander now lacks a strong ally. Despite their disagreements, Jon and Stannis were good for each other.
2) Discontent at Moat Collins
Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) is trying to stir up support from the locals by referencing Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner). Not that she necessarily needs to, as the maid demonstrates when she reinforces to Sansa that there are still people who remember the North. At this point, it’s probably nice for Sansa to have something positive to hold on to; Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) engages her in mental torture by forcing her to interact with Reek/Theon (Alfie Allen), going so far as to force Reek to give Sansa away at the wedding. It’s a petty move, but as we learned long ago, Ramsay is relatively simple in his motivations.
The following scene is interesting in light of Wanda Bolton’s news at dinner: she and Bolton (Michael McElhatton) are having a child, which immediately makes Ramsay fret for his position as the Bolton heir. The surprise announcement continues season five’s theme of exploring parenting. Bolton assures Ramsay that they will work together to hold Stannis off and retain the North. It would almost be a proud moment if it didn’t concern two cold-blooded madmen.
3) Daeny (Emilia Clarke) makes a compromise
In response to last week’s savage attack, Daeny (Emilia Clarke) roasts and feeds one of the wealthiest men in Meereen to her dragons. It’s a lovely demonstration of her power, but it doesn’t do what it needs to do since she comes no closer to soliciting the information that she needs. I can’t believe the appearance of those beasts doesn’t cause more fright! Seeing someone flambéd alive would certainly make me a bit nervous.
Eventually she solicits the advice of Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), the sole member of her entourage whose thoughts she never requests. As a good servant/personal assistant knows, there are times to keep your opinions to yourself, and Missandei makes the wise choice to reinforce that Daeny is actually pretty competent most of the time. This encourages Daeny to strike a compromise with Hizdahr zo Loraq (Joel Fry): she will not make him dragon chow and she will open the fighting pits to freed men…if they marry.
It’s a pretty unexpected development. Their marriage certainly has the power to do what she wants to accomplish, but I’ve got to think that Daario (Michiel Huisman) is going to be absolutely pissed. Can’t wait to see him respond to this latest development.
- Shall we cheer for the return of sexposition? Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) chats with Miranda, the jealous cattle master’s daughter, about his forthcoming marriage to Sansa as a kind of mean-spirited foreplay filled with boobs and buns.
- The scene where Stannis encourages Sam to continue investigating the White Walkers is one of those scenes that makes me completely confident in Weiss and Benioff: it’s quiet and it doesn’t seem to carry a great deal of importance, but it’s a lovely showcase between two characters who may need to depend on each other in the near future when Winter finally arrives.
- The scenery as Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Mormont (Iain Glen) approach the ruins of the Targaryeon city is stunning. The camera languidly flows behind the small boat as they approach the narrow crack that conceals the Grayscale attackers. It’s capped with a visual designed to awe: Gorgon flies overhead. It’s a majestic final touch to the tale of the fallen lords of Westeros.
- In the closing moments of the episode, we learn the sad fate of Mormont. His desperate plan to return to Daeny’s good graces comes crashing down with a close-up on the Grayscale mark on his wrist that results from the episode’s lone action sequence. As Tyrion suggests, the best solution for those who suffer from the disease is death…which means that another of Daeny’s kingsguards is headed for a sad ending.
- Finally, guess now we know why we spent all that time talking about Greyscale last week…
- Peter Vaughan’s Maester Aemon (when Jon asks how he’s feeling): “Like a 100 year old man slowly freezing to death.”
- Tyrion (chatting up Mormont): “Long sullen silences and the occasional punch in the face: the Mormont way.”
Your turn: is Jon weaker or stronger with Stannis gone? Is Jon’s divisive decision to ally with the Free Folk going to return to haunt him? Will Stannis win back Winterfell or will Bolton and Ramsay prevail? Did you expect something terrible to happen to Sansa in the kennels? Are you sad that Mormont is infected? Were you awed by the visuals from the boat? Sound off below, but please refrain from posting spoilers from the books.
Game Of Thrones airs Sundays at 9pm EST on HBO. We check back in with Arya, Cersei and Dorne when Game Of Thrones continues