I don’t even know where to begin.
HBO set us all up for quite a fall. They lulled us into a fall sense of security with the culmination of last week’s episode, “The Dance of Dragons.” Audiences got the cinematic ending they so rightly deserved after patiently waiting all season long for something good to happen. And boy, did it happen.
I, myself, was riding that wonderful wave of excitement into last night’s episode, “Mother’s Mercy.” Mercy, you say? Huzzah! This is a great sign for tremendous things to come!
Settle in, kids. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride. Spoilers a’plenty!
Have you been on the invite list to a really popular person’s birthday party? Yes? First, what’s it like, you know, popularity? My 15-year-old self would like to know. Secondly, do you remember how you felt at that party, surrounded by hundreds of cool people, the promise of a great night, and the inkling that the punch was spiked? It feels pretty great, right? Everyone’s so happy to be there: people are jumping in the pool with their clothes on, couples are sneaking off to play 7 Minutes in Heaven, and life in general just can’t get any better…that is, until the birthday boy goes and sacrifices his only daughter and announces that he’s out of beer. Buzzkill.
You know how it ends. Everyone wants to leave the party, but there’s this really awkward moment of not wanting to bring up the elephant in the room (i.e. child smoldering to a crisp in the corner). Some people start to go, but there’s this really hot redhead in the corner who’s been talking about light and the Lord’s will, and, oh shucks, maybe you should stay, but dammit, there’s no beer left, so you just quietly shuffle off with your friends while birthday boy mopes in his tent.
Needless to say, the morale at Camp Stannis is worse than a writer assigned to a Shia LaBoeuf’s screenplay. Over half of Stannis’ troops have deserted, his wife just hung herself in a tree, Shireen’s ghost is still haunting us all, but hey! The snow is MELTING!
So, Stannis decides to sally forth toward Winterfell, because hey, life can’t get any worse….
…until he comes face to face with a terrifying legion of Bolton troops on the battlefield. It’s clear Ramsay got a text alert from a friend who saw Stannis’ Facebook update, because Team Bolton’s squadron comes at them like bats out of hell. But hey, NOW it can’t get any worse….
Okay, okay…so you’re a little beat up. So, your personal assistant/witch/astrologer/lover flew the coop. Now things DEFINITELY can’t get—
Sorry, Stan. You’re on your own. Just as Brienne raises her sword to kill this season’s Least Likely To Succeed superlative winner, we cut to:
Ramsay’s Fun Time Summer Camp for Boys
Everyone’s favorite bastard is thoroughly enjoying the slaughter, which conveniently leaves Sansa enough time to Houdini her cell, throw on her Invisibility Cloak, and make her way up to the Big Rock Candle Mountain.
But, alas! Just as Sansa lights the candle in the tower, we realize that Brienne and Podrick have meandered off to do some avenging. They never see the candle, leaving that storyline conveniently open for Season 6.
Sansa, realizing that Ramsay is on his way back to the castle, rushes back to her room, only to be stopped by Myranda.
Reek’s with her, too, and she makes is abundantly obvious that Sansa is not going to pass by untouched. Sansa, in a “I probably should have died in Season 3” type of fashion, basically dares Myranda to shoot her right then and there, so she can at least keep some of herself while she still can. Myranda is pleased to hear this, and readies her bow & arrow to do some damage just before…well, uh…this:
Girlfriend goes down HARD. Like, she’s not walking that one off anytime soon. And before the street sweepers can make short work of her, we find Ramsay entering the castle. Sansa looks at Reek. Reek looks as Sansa. They grab hands and jump off the castle wall, falling into…? We’re not sure. Probably not cotton candy.
There’s a farewell party for Jaime, Trystane and Myrcella, which is sponsored by Ellaria and her Sand Snakes. Anything seem fishy here?
Before they can depart on the ship, Ellaria plants a parting kiss on Myrcella’s lips, and it’s all “let’s let bygones be bygones” until that kiss lingers longer than we’re comfortable with. Like, Jaime Lannister-Cersei Lannister uncomfortable.
And speaking of those crazy kids, Myrcella has it all figured out. Once they’ve departed Dorne, Myrcella intimates to Jaime below deck that she knows he’s her father. What’s more, she always known, and she’s happy with it. Jaime looks relieved, Myrcella looks content, and happiness causes nose bleeds, right?
Wrong. Marcella’s nose starts spouting blood like Niagara Falls, and she (seemingly) drops dead in Dad’s arms. We find out that Ellaria has poisoned Myrcella as we watch Ellaria take an antidote while the Sand Snakes look on. But is Myrcella really dead? Only time will tell.
Any guesses? Babysitter Meryn Trant is back at the brothel again, pouring over a new batch of kindergartners. He’s testing their mettle and tolerance to pain, a la Christian Grey, and finally settles on one who doesn’t use her safe word. Turns out, that girl is Arya in disguise. She’s stolen a face from the House of Black & White and wastes no time in crossing off a name from her Bucket Kill List.
Arya returns her face in the Overnight Drop Box, only to be found out by Jaqen and The Waif (the random name generator was down that day). Jaqen’s none too pleased, and asserts that Arya took the wrong life. Another life must be taken to appease the Many Faced God, and for a minute, we think poor Arya’s storyline has come to an end. Jaqen uncorks a bottle, and The Waif (looking very un-Waif-ly) strong arms Arya’s mouth open.
Then, in a shocking turn of events, Jaqen downs the bottle of poison himself. Arya is dismayed to lose her friend, but soon realizes that The Waif is actually Jaqen. Or was Jaqen always The Waif? TRICK QUESTION! There was always “No One,” and there was never a Jaqen or a Waif. If you’re confused as I am, I’m happy to have some company on this storyline. Oh, and Arya goes blind.
Cersei finally wises up and decides to repent, but there’s a price. The High Sparrow decides to grant her the “Mother’s Mercy” (which sounds like a happy hour drink involving kahlua). Cersei is allowed to return to the Red Keep until she must stand for trial. WHAT? C’mon, writers, we’ve been waiting all series for this woman to get what’s coming to her, and you’re simply going to let her return home while she awaits trial?
Oh, by the God of George RR Martin, no flippin’ way.
First, Cersei “atones” for her sins by making a large donation to Locks of Love and taking a sponge bath. Then, she does the (literal) Walk of Shame all the way from the High Sept to the Red Keep fully naked (and probably afraid).
This scene is altogether unsettling and gratifying, all in one delicious bundle of vindication. What’s even more unsettling is wait was waiting for Cersei back at the Red Keep. Qyburn welcomes her back home with an entourage of Kingsguard, but he’s brought a +1 to her Party of Shame: we reunited face-to-face with none other than Gregor Clegane (a.k.a. The Mountain, a.k.a. The Guy Who Oberon Sort of Killed, a.k.a. not on the show this entire season). The Mountain is just plain horrifying to behold (those eyes!), and he’s taken a vow to eliminate all of the Queen Regent’s enemies. I couldn’t find an episode still to showcase here, but suffice it to say that whatever Qyburn did to The Mountain involved a lot steroids, Red Bull, and Artificial Food Dye #2.
This was a 72 minute episode, so I’m running out of steam. Suffice it to say:
- Daenerys is nowhere to be found.
- Daario and Jorah embark on a search party.
- Tyrian, Grey Worm, and Missandei stay behind to govern.
- Varys makes a welcome appearance.
But, we do find Daenerys. She’s making a pit stop for snacks with Drogon, who’s made quick work of several dozen cattle. Dragons, however, only seem to have contracts with the second to last episode of each season, so Drogon calls for a union break. He curls up for a nice cat nap while Daenerys explores the countryside. Almost immediately, she spots a rider on the horizon: Khal Drogo?!?!
Nope. Not Khal Drogo, but hundreds and HUNDREDS of Dothraki riders (who have apparently conquered the art of of ninja hiding). Seriously, how do you camouflage 500 shirtless, enormous riders on horseback carrying death sickles?
Daenerys drops her engagement ring from Hizdahr (RIP) into the grass, watching helplessly has the Dothraki riders perform Zem Zem circles around her.
Sam approaches Jon with a request: he wants to leave The Wall with Gilly and her child. Apparently, Sam wants to become a maester, and this is a great idea because you know nothin’, Jon Snow. So, Jon lets him leave.
Davos arrives shortly thereafter with Stannis’ requests for troops, but Jon turns him down, because, again, he knows nothin’, that Jon Snow (I’m paraphrasing). In the moments following, Melisandre returns, touting a huge pouty lip and less than stellar hair. This obviously means that Stannis and Shireen are both dead, and no one looks none too pleased.
Later, Jon Snow, still knowing nothin’, is approached by Olly, who brings news of a wildling that may have seen his uncle, Benjen Stark, alive. Jon rushes outside of Castle Black, only to find Ser Alliser and a handful of men, surrounding a post labelled “TRAITOR.” As they utter “For the Watch,” each man stabs Jon, with the culminating blow delivered by Olly. Our last shot of Season 5 is a chilling close up of Jon, prostrate in the snow, his blood slowly pooling around his head.
Here lies Jon Snow. He knew nothin’.
Jon’s not dead, right?!? He’ll come back, right??? Whew, that’s another post for another day. What are your thoughts on “Mother’s Mercy”? What will Season 6 bring?