Show: Game of Thrones
Watched: Episode 53 – May 8, 2016
Summary: Decent transitional episode
NOTE: SERIOUS SPOILER WARNING. This review/discussion contains tons of spoilers about the episode and even ones crossing over from the books. It’s really my free-for-all musing given all the information at my disposal.
Plot threads are unraveled and discussed one by one.
Jon – As usual, the episode opens where it left off. In this case, with Jon Snow’s resurrection — or more accurately Davos watching it. Somehow he knew to come back to the room so he could check out Jon in his third week straight naked on the table. As Ghost and Davos watch, he sits up, then stumbles off the table, only to be caught by Davos. The Red Lady also returns (did someone send out a memo?). Much like with The Body, one of the best episodes of Buffy, up to this point, there has been little/no dialog, which is about the only way something like this can avoid being cheesy. But the director pulls it off. Then Melisandre starts asking Jon about the afterlife, so Davos politely kicks her out and continues the interrogation, with a touch more tact. I was waiting for Jon to seem “changed”, but while he is shocked, he seems Jon-like enough. Interesting realizations, as he says “I did what I thought was right and I got murdered for it.” He isn’t the first person this happened to, but the whole coming back and getting someone’s perspective on it is a “rarity.”
Next a (newly dressed) Jon walks outside to greet the assembled Night’s Watch, who all must have gotten that memo. Tormund greets him warmly (I guess former enemies make the best friends), and then Edd.
Much later in the episode (at the end), Edd leads Jon out to the courtyard again where the four traitors are lined up on the gallows. Unlike Caesar’s assassins, they didn’t have time to go raise an army. Jon asks them for their last words and Thorne proves he’s still a principled prick. I do think the guy was fairly sincere, if a “tad” colored by his dislike for Lord Snow. Olly just gives Jon the usual stink eye — so Jon uses Longclaw to whack the rope and lets them dance at the hangman’s ball. Good riddance to both Thorne and Olly — particularly the later, as he did kill Ygritte!! Interestingly Jon does not “use the words” (i.e. “in the name of… I sentence you to die”).
After, he gives his Lord Commander’s cloak to Edd, announces his “Watch has Ended” and walks off.
And if you take the Night’s Watch oath literally, “Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death,” Jon isn’t even an oathbreaker.
Sam & Gilly – At long last we return to the show’s only genuinely romantic couple. Although not so romantic this week as their ship is tossing in a storm and Sam is puking into a bucket — multiple times. Gilly, however, seems in great spirits. The dialog is mostly expository, reminding us that they head for Old Town, and why Sam wanted her and the baby to come. Apparently no women are allowed at the citadel, so he wants to drop her off at his family estates. I suspect drama ensues. Meanwhile, their exchange, in which Sam explains his motivations and how much he cares for Gilly is quite tender. I particularly like how he admits he doesn’t “really” care for people in general. It’s just so Sam.
Bran – is dreaming again. Non book readers will take a minute to know who’s in this scene but I knew the second I saw the Tower of Joy. Young Ned, who apparently didn’t change his haircut in 20 years, pulls up with Howland Reed and some men to confront Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning and Gerold Hightower. For those of you who don’t know, both were part of the Mad King’s Kingsguard and tasked by Rhaegar to guard “something” (aka someone, aka Lyanna Stark) in the tower. The story was we know it is that Eddard Stark defeated Dayne during the rebellion. Anyway, Hightower dies fast enough but Dayne makes devastating use of his double sword skillz to take out most of the group and disarm Ned. Only when a wounded Reed stabs him in the back of the neck is victory assured. Ned, peeved not to have won in a fair fight, finishes Dayne off out of mercy and heads toward the tower. Interesting parallel with Ned’s season 1 fight with Jaime. Also fascinating, Bran calls out after his father and Ned seems to respond. Then Max von Raven warps them back to the present, much to Bran’s chagrin. So is it possible Ned heard Bran? What does that even mean with a vision of the past? The Raven brushes it off and scolds Bran, telling him he must learn — apparently in a cryptic, episode by episode manner.
A great scene. Even young Ned is still Ned, although possessing only a shadow of Sean Bean’s gravitas. And the dual wielding sword fight was badass. Of course we really want to find out what the deal with Lyanna is.
Dany – Is marched back to Vaes Dothrak amidst a horde many times the CGI size of the season 1 horde. After a brief convo with the new Khal, she’s shoved into the crone’s hut to confront her “peers.” The old lady priestess, who looks a touch like the witch from season 1, is actually fairly sensitive about informing Dany of her predicament. Seems hanging out with the old ladies is about the best she can hope for, since she didn’t come right away after Drogo died, the Khalasar needs to vote on her fate.
We need a good rescue or some dragon on horde action soon. Dany’s thread is dragging. There isn’t much drama because we “know” she will get out of this by Dragon or Knight (or both).
Varys and Ty – An overheated Master Spider uses his “charm” to interrogate the prostitute who murdered a bunch of Dany’s men for the Sons of the Harpies. He exercises trademark style to carrot and stick her in an efficient way, getting his answers (off screen).
Meanwhile, Ty, Mis and Grey Worm have a very odd conversation in which Tyrion attempts desperately to get the slightest entertainment value out of their presence — apparently he fails. But Varys returns with the news that the masters of the cities Dany took in season 3 and lost again have been funding the rebellion in Meereen. Mis thinks they only understand violence while Tyrion advocates some kind of message/lesson.
Qyburn – is hanging out with a bunch of Vary’s former young spies. It’s an odd scene, and I don’t totally understand how some candy bribes are going to get excellent intelligence out of them. Jaime, Cersei, and Franken-Gregor stomp in and Cersei demands he use his “little birds” to ferret out every secret in the kingdom. Best part here is Franken-Gregor.
Small Council – Pycelle, Kevan, Mace Tyrell, and the Queen of Thornes are pow-wowing, perhaps about to take a crack at figuring out how to get Margaery back. Jaime, Cersei, and Franken-Gregor enter again. Jaime wants his seat on the Small Council back. The Tyrell/old Lannister alliance marches out and leaves them the room. About all we learn is that they know about the coup back in Dorne.
Tommen – goes and pays the High Sparrow a visit, with guards. He’s developing at least a small sack so now wants his mother to be able to see his sister’s grave. The Septon has his reasons why that can’t be so, but they disarm by sending their respective soldiers off. The Sparrow then uses his charisma to really work Tommen. He’s perfectly reasonable, yet unyielding. Tommen has a hard time arguing and is drawn into his point of view — to what degree and end we don’t know.
Arya – is back in the house of black and white experiencing a training montage. In this series of shots she is alternately beaten with a stick by the Waif and questioned about her past. She channels Jaqen H’ghar to speak about herself in the third person and explain how she got here. Like all good montages, she improves from shot to shot until she is finally able to parry the Waif’s blows. Jaqen H’ghar shows up and offers her a tasty drink from the temple pools. The statue of the Old Gods looks on and she — knowing it could be fatal — takes a swig and gets her sight back.
Certainly this sequence was the best of the three, as something actually happened. Now a serious initiate, and possibly having (mostly) left Arya behind to become “no one”, we’ll have to see what kind of murderous mischief she gets up to in future episodes.
Ramsay – A carriage with the Umber sigils approaches Winterfell. Ramsay and Karstark entertain a young lord Umber. The guy isn’t buying Ramsay’s “My poor dad died of poison” story, but doesn’t care. He has that amusingly frank GOT tone as he refuses to swear to Ramsay — for what good would it do — they’re already both Oathbreakers. He has a gift, Osha (long time no see) and a MUCH bigger Rickon. It would be hard to tell if he’s even the same actor, but I think he is. Oh, and sadly, a hot dog on a stick in the form of the Direwolf Shaggydog’s head. Sigh. So many bastards in this show. Now only Ghost, Summer, and Arya’s forgotten wolf are left.
So Overall, a good episode, not as great as last week’s, but better than the first. Typically in GOT, after one of those bigger pivot episodes (like Home) there is one more about positioning, and this is it. We got medium focus on a medium number of threads. Sansa, Pyke, Littlefinger etc are all missing, although the scenes let us know they are returning next week.