When I saw the title of this episode was "Kill the Boy," my assumption was that Cersei's Sparrow-centered schemes would get her other son (this time Tommen) killed. But instead, Mother's Day spared Cersei such heartache, which is a bit surprising because you might recall that Lannister patriarch Tywin bit it brutally on Father's Day.
"Kill the boy, Jon Snow … and let the man be born."
Instead, "Kill the Boy" was advice bestowed on Jon Snow by Maester Aemon Targaryen, who's basically saying, "Time to grow up, Jon." And he does! After much waffling on what's right, Jon made some seriously bold decisions this week. He defied the wishes of most of his men by setting Tormund Giantsbane free so he might set off to collect all the fled Free Folk, essentially with amnesty. Then Jon announces he will leave his post at the Wall to join Tormund. And off-screen he even managed to convince Stannis "Bend the Knee" Baratheon to lend him a fleet to do it!
I've spent years rolling my eyes at Jon Snow and wondering why he has so many fans. But this episode is officially a turning point! Jon got most of the good lines! Like "I don't want them to kneel to me. I want them to fight with me." And "Maybe you're not proud. Maybe you're a coward." And "We can either learn to live with the Wildlings, or add them to the army of the dead." After much sad face and indecisiveness, Jon Snow was kicking ass and taking names, and I am into it!
Which brings us to our big theme of the week: redemption of the outcasts. Of course, Jon Snow's whole arc is about living up to the high standard of Stark honor that being a bastard innately denies him. But this was all around a big night for the outcasts of "Game of Thrones." So, let's head a bit South, to Winterfell where Ramsay Bolton is no longer feigning civility toward Sansa.
"Reek will give away the bride."
Ramsay promised Littlefinger he wouldn't hurt Sansa. Maybe he just meant physically, because that dinner scene was nothing if not abuse. First he parades out Theon, knowing full well Sansa thinks Theon killed her little brothers. (When -- remember! -- he knows full well they are alive.) Then, Ramsay has that heinous eureka moment, suggesting Theon give Sansa away at the altar. Just he and Joffrey could come up with a scenario this cruel. Theon is radiant with agony; Sansa shivers with rage. And Ramsay smiles like a cat who got the canary.
I was surprised he could restrain himself from licking the tears right off her face. But it's little wonder where he gets this shit from, as Roose responds by announcing Walda's pregnant, meaning he'll soon have a real legitimate son. He acts surprised Ramsay is bothered by this, but why else would he have brought it up then and there? It was a reprimand. 'Be the son I need you to be, you maniac. Or else.'
Not far off, Sansa has a friendly shadow. Brienne lurks nearby with a doubtful Pod still in tow. And she is growing in her people skills! Realizing that an old man this far North is likely was a Stark loyalist, she manages to get a message of hope through to Sansa. And for a brief moment, we see Dark Sansa's guarded demeanor melt away to reveal that spirited, sweet girl who left Winterfell so long ago. But it's a brief respite, as soon she's got that malicious Miranda toying with her under the tower where Bran took his fateful fall. It's a terrible thing to be as alone as Sansa is. Also ...
"A Targaryen alone in the world is a terrible thing."
Meereen is drenched in blood, thanks to the Sons of the Harpy. Dany's refusal to reopen the fighting pits cost her her most trusted adviser. (R.I.P. Barristan the Bold!) On the fringe of the world, she's still stumbling in how to be queen. But like Jon, she made some major strides this ep. Where just a few weeks ago she ran away from her imprisoned children, now she's using them to "discipline" her subjects. My mom used to send us to our room, but having a guy burnt to a crisp and eviscerated by dragons definitely is totally a solid way to go.
Still, Dany feels lost without Barristan, and betrayed by Hizdahr zo Loraq, who was all 'throw me to your dragons. Whatever.' I was a bit surprised she didn't talk to Daario about all this, but maybe that's because she already knows his opinion. (Kill the masters.) So, instead she turns to meek but observant Missandei, who basically says, "You got this." And so she does. A compromise: The fighting pits will be reopened -- to free men only. And to firm up the loyalty of the Meereen people, she'll marry one of their sons. Namely, Loraq, who looked not thrilled about it.
Yeah, dude, just wait until Daario and Jorah hear about this.
Speaking of everyone's favorite disgraced lord, Jorah is taking a risky route to Meereen, steering through the heart of the doomed city of Valyria. It's the first we've seen of this place that made invincible steel and houses the dreaded and contagious Stone Men. It's beautiful in its decay, and earns a moment of bliss involving shared poetry and a breathtaking appearance by Drogon. But no sooner has Tyrion looked up in awe that something wicked his way comes!
Props to director Jeremy Podeswa, as the attack of the Stone Men has been the scariest sequence on "Game of Thrones" all season -- what with Jorah bellowing, "Don't let them touch you," and Tyrion frantically scrambling across the boat, his hands still bound! Then, it hits its climax with Tyrion's dive overboard, before being gripped from below by those terrifying beasts! Fade to black, and a long black. The kind that made me think that might be the episode's cliffhanger! But then Jorah's face comes into focus. And phew! All is well. Or not. Jorah's been touched by the Stone Men. Which not only means this fan-favorite character is facing a dark fate (that he didn't in the books!), but also that he's potentially bringing a plague to the doorstep of his adored Dany.
What will this mean for her and Meereen? Will Jorah be able to keep this stony secret from Tyrion? And where the hell is Varys? And for that matter - what's going on at King's Landing? In Dorne? In the House of Black and White!?
Here's hoping we'll get some answers next week.
- I love the idea that Maester Aemon is getting news of his great-niece from half a world away. But how?
- When Tormund calls Jon "Lord Commander," he says it in such a brilliant sense of scathing that is really sounds more like "fuck you for always."
- I want a feature film of just Jon Snow and Tormund Giantsbane's buddy road trip to the North. Like Trains, Planes and Automobiles, but with way more brooding. And shirtlessness. Please.
- I still hate Ollie for killing Ygritte. He can pout off camera. I don't have time for this.
- "Jealousy bores me. You remember what happens to people who bore me." So Ramsay's a sadist in the bedroom too. Shocker.
- "This isn't a strange place. It's my home. It's the people who are strange." I want Sansa to burn the Boltons to the ground, then dance on the ashes with Podrick.
- Just in case you were wondering, Ramsay Bolton is not above making fat jokes.
- "I'm your son until some better alternative comes along." Yes. Yes you are.
- Ramsay's Origin Story: his mother was raped under the tree where her husband was lynched for the crime of marrying her without Roose's consent. Then she brought him to Roose and "died." Where the hell were the Starks on that one?
- Sam may be a disappointment to his big soldier dad (apparently the only man to ever beat the late Robert Baratheon in combat), but Stannis is encouraging him in his chance at legendary redemption! Dragon glass. Figure it out. (Stannis the Mannis is growing on me.)
- I found Grey Worm and Missandei's song.
- The shots of Stannis leaving were weird, right? Like those kind of "goodbye forever" shots. Then Melisandre gave Jon a knowing look, but what kind of knowing look. Those five seconds have given me much anxiety.
- "Long sullen silences and an occasional punch in the face. The Mormont Way." I want a T-shirt of this, please.
- Just for fun:
— Joanna Robinson (@jowrotethis) May 10, 2015