At the beginning of this episode, as Jon Snow and Tormund Gianstbane began prepping their horses and readying to head out north of The Wall, one fact became evident: We haven’t seen Ghost at all this season. Thankfully that omission was finally remedied; perhaps HBO had been saving all of their budget for the dragons this season, but hopefully we’ll be seeing more of Ghost now that he’s back in the game. In Dorne, Myrcella rejected Jaime’s instruction that she return to King’s Landing — naturally, because she’s a teenager in love and her stupid uncle knows nothing about her anyway. Elsewhere, Stannis rejected both Davos’s proposal that they turn back to Castle Black and Melisandre’s proposal that they somehow use Shireen in another of her magical spells. Team Stannis on both accounts: Davos is wrong and Melisandre is crazy. Stannis’ character development and humanization has been one of Season 5’s highlights, so while he’s a stubborn pain in the ass, we hope that he continues down this road.
Most Magical Moment
With Jon Snow north of The Wall, Sam was left in a somewhat precarious position. He knows none of the other members of the Night’s Watch like him, just like many of them don’t respect Jon Snow’s rule. This episode Sam was tasked with caring for a severely ill Maester Aemon, who sadly succumbed to his age and passed away. Was this the first natural death of the entire series? That in and of itself is pretty magical. At Aemon’s funeral, Alliser Thorne, who had been left in charge of Castle Black, leaned over and whispered, “You’re losing all of your friends, Tarly.” Later that evening, Gilly was approached by two members of the Night’s Watch who, having not seen a woman in ages, got the idea in their heads to take advantage of her.
Let’s take a moment here and point out that it’s been only a week since the last episode, in which Sansa’s rape caused great controversy, leading to many fans to quit watching, some websites to declare that they would cease coverage of the show and plenty of Internet commentary both condemning and defending the choice on the part of showrunners to have Ramsay rape Sansa on their wedding night. So, many viewers were still reeling over that fact when two Night’s Watchmen decided to assault Gilly, right after beating Sam semi-conscious. They were going to rape her right in front of him. Were it not for this week’s most magical moment — the return of direwolf Ghost — she certainly would have been another victim to the show’s obsession (yeah, we’re going to go ahead and call it an obsession at this point) with sexual assault. But the show then followed it up with perhaps the most chaste sex scene in the history of the series, leading Sam to finally get some and cry out the most adorable, “Oh! Oh my!” in the history of television.
Wit of the Week
In Meereen, Jorah was finally sold into slavery and Tyrion managed to get himself bought by the same slaver through an epic beatdown by the man holding his chains. Daenerys and Daario had one of their post-coital political conversations, where he questioned why the Sons of the Harpy would stop their murderous rampage simply because she’d marry one of their leaders. He proposed that she round them all up and slaughter them all, but Dany reiterated the fact that she’s not a butcher. “All rulers are either butchers or meat,” Daario said, echoing the season’s theme of choosing sides, and deciding how far one should go to achieve power.
But here, when Hizdahr organized a showcase at the fighting pits for Dany, Jorah finally decided to make his move, and fought his way through the dying slave and presented himself to Daenerys. She wanted him out of his sight, but Jorah had a gift: Tyrion Lannister.
For the Book Nerds (May Contain Spoilers from “A Song of Ice and Fire”)
In the novels, Daenerys and Tyrion never actually get to meet. In “A Dance with Dragons,” Tyrion arrives at the fighting pits just as Daenerys is leaving, in a most extraordinary fashion that shall remain a secret in this review — just in case HBO actually ends up still using it, because it is too exciting to give away. That said, it was immensely satisfying to witness these two meet. Daenerys has been incredibly separated from the rest of the series for more than four seasons now, so having her interact with someone from the other side of the world, and the other side of the story, is a definite turning point in the show. Not to mention the fact that two of the characters who most fans root for have finally come together might mean some advancement for the good guys.
Great Moments in… Feminism?
So Bronn is certainly a great singer. And he’s been a lovely and comedic addition to the season. But what the show is doing with the Sand Snakes hasn’t been great. First, they suffered from a lame case of over-exposition and grand gestures that swayed into the realm of cheesiness. Then, they were given a fight scene that somehow fell a bit flat on execution. Now, they’re locked up as a result of their rebellion, and while Obara smartly remarked that they’ve defeated plenty of men who have sworn never to fight women, these awesome ladies are getting rather shafted. So what are we to think when Tyene opens her top, revealing one breast at a time, teasing Bronn from their adjacent cells? As it turned out, the tip of her dagger was dipped in something called The Long Farewell, but she provided Bronn with the antidote anyway because…he told her she was pretty? That topless bit was certainly important to the scene, right? The Sand Snakes deserve better.
Who’s the God of Tits and Wine?
We’re not really sure what Olenna Tyrell’s plan is going forward, but having her on the scene, and Dianna Rigg playing her with verve, makes any episode of “Game of Thrones” infinitely better. She’s powerful enough that she can simultaneously threaten and conspire with Littlefinger, but she also manages to secede with grace when she knows she’s lost, but then move onto her next fight. Her wit makes the show worlds more engaging.
Most Poised to Take the Throne
The High Sparrow has made his move, and Cersei Lannister, for the first time, hasn’t come out on top. While her devotion to her children this season has been evident, and even led to a few genuinely emotional moments, Cersei’s goal has always ultimately been power. But her move with the Faith of the Seven has backfired. Since Lancel had found his faith, it’s obvious that he confessed his former sins, including his time in Cersei’s bed. As a result, it was the High Sparrow who came out on top, but with Cersei threatening her captors: “Look at my face. It’s the last thing you’ll see before you die.”
It is Known
After last week’s controversial episode, fans of the show have been waiting to see exactly how the aftermath of Sansa’s rape would be handled. When Theon brought her breakfast, the situation became clearer: Sansa is locked in her room all way, prohibited from leaving, and raped again every night. She begged Theon to light the candle in the broken tower, alerting Brienne to her need, but “Reek” refused. “You betrayed my family,” Sansa begged. “Your name is Theon Greyjoy. Promise me…”
Sadly, it seems like the assumption that Sansa’s rape was all about snapping Theon out of his funk is true. The aftermath is all about him. Yet even that hasn’t worked just yet. Instead of helping her, Theon turned on Sansa and reported her request to Ramsay, who then had the old north woman flayed, threatening Sansa once again. At this point, we’re hoping that Sansa quits relying on Theon to help her and finds a way to take action on her own, either lighting the candle herself, or… you know slaughtering Ramsay.