WARNING: FULL SPOILERS FOR SEASON 5 AHEAD
Okay. Good? You calm? Just breathe. Now, if you haven’t cried yet, go ahead and let it all out. Seriously, let it all go. You’ve earned it. We’ve bonded with Jon Snow for five seasons now, ever since we saw him teaching young Bran Stark how to shoot in Winterfell, as Eddard (Ned, to all of us who care about him deeply) and Catelyn looked down upon them, smiling and happy and very much alive.
Now, in the finale of what is, in my opinion, the weakest season of Game of Thrones thus far, the beating heart of the series is apparently gone. Ever since the final scene of season one episode one, this has been a show that hasn’t been afraid to throw punches and pull the rug out from underneath us. However, even with a run that has consisted of characters dying left and right (there’s no way you had a dry eye during ‘The Rains of Castamere’), the final few minutes of this episode were the only minutes that had me literally fall off my couch and yell at the TV. Similarly, it also made me clench my fist and punch my pillow multiple times while screaming at the top my lungs.
But wait. ‘Mother’s Mercy’ had plenty of eventful content besides those last few minutes, so there is a bit to discuss besides Jon Snow’s demise. First and foremost, how about Cersei? For the past nine and a half episodes, fans of the books have been anticipating her infamous walk of shame, which has been a subject of speculation for months. And while the bulk of this episode was focused on rapping up multiple character arcs (and most of the time, not completely resolving them), the stuff with Cersei in King’s Landing, while brief (compared to the rest of the running time), was actually quite significant and heartbreaking.
Even though I would certainly proclaim Cersei to be one of my least favorite characters (merely in terms of “I hate her actions!” and nothing against the excellent Lena Headey), seeing her make the walk through the city completely naked whilst being verbally and physically attacked did bring me to tears. Similarly, seeing her being welcomed back into the Red Keep by Qyburn and the newest member of the Kingsguard, who goes by the name of “Ser Robert Strong.” But we know exactly who he/it is. Yep, The Mountain is back, and those little Frankenstein’s Monster-esque scenes that payed with our minds earlier this season came around full circle, and even though I’m certainly not Cersei’s biggest supporter, the inclusion of a zombified Gregor Clegane is definitely one of the show’s coolest new arcs.
And while we’re on the subject of Lannisters, how about Jaime, who was finally home free (literally speaking), sailing away with Myrcella and having explained to her his complex relationship with her mother. The sweetest moment (even if Jaime’s actions were/are questionable), is when Myrcella hugged him and told him she accepted it.
“You don’t choose who you love,” Jaime told her, as the blood ran from her nose and the poison took full effect. Poisoning Joffrey was perfectly fine, because the viewers and everyone in the realm collectively hated him and his actions, but killing Myrcella has certainly turned the Martels into antagonists in my book.
The episode certainly didn’t hesitate to make us feel incomplete. It seems that Theon is back and Reek is gone, after he pushes Myranda from the over the railing, killing her to protect Sansa. But what exactly happened with Sansa and Theon (Reek) when they jumped? Did they jump to their deaths to avoid the wrath of Ramsay, or was there something down there to break their fall? Maybe the book readers know, but since I didn’t make it past the first few chapters of A Dance With Dragons, I don’t, and I plan on waiting to find out.
Also, a huge moment this episode was the death of Stannis, who, up until this point, was believed by Melisandre to be Azor Ahai, the prophecied chosen one sent to destroy the Wights with Lightbringer. The broken Melisandre (who, by The Lord of Light, can bring him back to life if he is Azor Ahai), seemed devastated when she stumbled back to the Wall, which leads me to believe that Stannis really is dead. And he went out in spectacular fashion as Brienne finally made good on her intentions and avenged Renly’s death, but not before getting a satisfying confession from him that it was indeed a shadow with his face that killed Renly.
And if Stannis really is dead and he isn’t the prophesied Azar Ahai, then could it possibly be Jon? I’m not entirely sure, but in an episode that gave us naked Cersei walking with shame through the city and Arya finally lunging out and brutally murdering Syrio’s killer with a knife (a big character moment for her arc, as she learns that Jaqen H’ghar never existed and had merely been “no one”), the biggest moment of all was the final scene, which is maybe the most insane “DID-THEY-REALLY-JUST-F**KING-DO-THAT” moment of the entire series. Of course, the top two surprising death scenes, prior to this one, were Ned Stark in ‘Baelor’ and Robb and Lady Catelyn in ‘The Rains of Castamere.’
But, apart from Tyrion and Daenerys, Jon Snow has always been the character. He’s the one that we’ve rooted for, the one that showed love for the direwolves, the one that taught Arya the ways of a swordhandler and perhaps giving her the advice that molded her life and is standing as the reason why she is still alive today: “Stick ‘em with the pointy end.” Now, Arya is alive and has finally become a true killer, a faceless man who moves in and out of places without being seen, and she has no knowledge of the death of her brother. When that time comes, maybe she will avenge his death; the death of the brother that raised her to fight and be smart with her sword. I can already see Arya finding a way to kill Olly, with both of them being in the same age range and Arya being a completely unhinged and intellectual killing machine.
Season five has focused on many things, most of them taking place in the shadows and under wraps, with not a whole lot going on of merit. With that said, I think it’s safe to say that this season has been the most uneventful and my least favorite, with the potential trial of Cersei being a whole lot less interesting than Tyrion’s trial in season four. Still, the final three episodes of this season gave us greatness, with ‘Hardhome’ proving to be one of the series’ best, with the final twenty minutes being nothing but White Walker battle (slaughter) that finally gave us what we needed from the side of the ice creatures. The ninth episode gave us an attempted assassination plot with Dany as the target, which was of course broken up by Drogon, who, in a spectacular moment, carried her off to his lair, finally giving us the fantasy we’ve all had: Daenerys riding a dragon.
I’m not sure where Daenerys’ story is going to go, with her now in the camp of the Dothraki, a welcome return for the race and a strange new direction for the character since her departure from the deceased Khal Drogo in season one. Surely Dany won’t be harmed by them, as Drogon is there to protect her, and it’s obvious that since Drogon’s lair is on the Dothraki’s turf they have seen the dragon with their own eyes. Still, I’m curious to see where Benioff, Weiss, and Martin take this particular arc.
And how cool is it that Tyrion is now ruling Meereen, and with none other than Varys at his side. I’m not sure how he found Tyrion, nor do I care, but one thing is sure: the politics of Kings Landing have moved to Meereen, winter is here, and there may be no hope for our heroes. What a show Game of Thrones has turned into; a heartbreaking piece of brilliance on a massive scale. It’s one of television’s best.