Well, here we are – the end of an eventful season filled with ups and downs. One would hope that the tenth episode of a ten-episode season would tie up all the loose ends but also set up a nice amount of story in order to entice viewers for the next season. Does this episode live up to some excellent episode tens of seasons past? Read on! But beware of some super intense spoilers.
We begin the episode with Lady Melisandre in Stannis Baratheon’s camp. The icicles are melting, which is surely a sign from the Red God to whom they sacrificed Shireen Baratheon last episode, in one of the worst moments of the season. Unfortunately half of Stannis’ army have deserted, probably as a result of him burning his only heir. And furthermore, Stannis’ wife Selyse has hung herself in the forest. And even worse, sensing defeat, Melisandre has ridden off away from the camp, abandoning Stannis. He is truly alone, with Davos gone to Castle Black. Nevertheless, he decides to press on to Winterfell, despite these bad omens.
Back at Castle Black, Jon and Sam are having a chat about Hardhome and the terrible things that happened there in episode eight. Jon tells Sam about how the Valyrian steel of his sword saved the day. Sam says that he wants to go to Oldtown with Gilly and Baby Sam in order to learn how to become a Maester and eventually save the world from the White Walkers. Sam tells Jon that he had sex with Gilly and Jon seems happy for them, which is nice. Sam says he will come back eventually (maybe in like two seasons’ time). He, Gilly and Baby Sam head off. Like Stannis, Jon is now alone at the Night’s Watch, with very few friends left.
Stannis’ army marches forwards to Winterfell, and Sansa escapes her room with the strange contraption that we thought she would stab Ramsay with. In a surprising turn of events, we finally see Brienne and Pod again, as Pod sees Stannis’ army marching. Brienne and Pod head to check it out just as Sansa goes to the top of the Broken Tower to light her candle in the window, signalling that she needs assistance from those loyal in the North.
Stannis and friends are sussing things out and he says that the siege will begin at dawn. However, the Bolton army is actually riding directly towards them because they knew he was coming. Stannis is ready however it’s clear through seeing the battle from above that he is outnumbered and outmaneuvered. Stannis takes out his sword to fight, and Sansa watches from the tower as it happens, eventually leaving the room as she knows this is her chance to escape whilst everyone is distracted.
Then, in a classic Game of Thrones move, we see the Baratheon army after the battle. They have been ruined by the Boltons and Stannis himself is battle-weary as he confronts two soldiers. He kills them both, getting wounded himself. Although we do finally get to see Stannis in battle which was great. His leg bleeding profusely, Stannis leans against a tree. Then, in what is the most ridiculously awful moment for a friend of Stannis like myself, Brienne approaches. Initially Stannis thinks she fights for the Boltons, but Brienne states her piece – she fights for Renly, and Stannis acknowledges that he killed Renly with blood magic. Brienne states that in the name of Renly Baratheon, the true king (really?), she sentences Stannis to die. Stannis’ last words are “Go on, do your duty” (these words are important), and she swings her sword, presumably chopping his head off, but it cut to another scene so we didn’t get to see that happen.
Now, when I watched this episode for the first time I was pretty pissed, I stood up and yelled a couple of expletives. However, upon reflection, I really don’t think Stannis is dead and I feel quite zen about the whole thing. We didn’t see Stannis die, and we didn’t have anyone else confirm that he’s dead. Kind of like the Hound last season, who I’m also quite sure is still alive. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. Although it actually may be more painful to see these dickface showrunners assassinate his character in a further season.
Seriously, don’t worry everybody. I’ve created a list that proves that Stannis isn’t dead. Here’s a list that I found of the major characters that have been killed and/or died in the series so far:
- King Robert Baratheon – visibly wounded, died on his bed
- Ned Stark – beheaded publicly
- Joffrey Baratheon – poisoned publicly
- Catelyn Stark – killed publicly
- Robb Stark – killed publicly
- Renly Baratheon – visibly stabbed
- Mance Rayder – burned publicly
- Old Mormont – visibly stabbed
- Drogo – visibly wounded, got visibly killed
- Viserys Targaryen – visibly crowned to death
- Tywin Lannister – visibly shot by Tyrion
- Shae – visibly strangled by Tyrion
- Maester Aemon Targaryen – visibly died of old age
- Barristan the Bold – visibly wounded, visibly dead
Add to that the fact that all the characters who died this episode (and there were a LOT), died on screen where we could see it happen. It doesn’t fit the pattern for Stannis to be killed offscreen. Unless the dumb showrunners are dumb enough to have Stannis be literally the only main character who is killed offscreen, I am pretty sure that Stannis is still alive.
Furthermore, the fact that Stannis’ last words to Brienne were “do your duty”, and judging by Brienne’s conflicted and anguished face after he said that, I am sure that Brienne just chopped her sword into a tree or something and after doing so will head off on her real quest next season – which is to save the Stark girls, as instructed by Catelyn Stark, not to kill Stannis Baratheon. So, this is my official theory and I’m sticking by it until April 2016 and hopefully not proven wrong.
Back to the Boltons, they are officially the victors as Ramsay wanders the sea of bodies, killing those who surrender. Nice.
At Winterfell, Sansa is attempting to escape but confronts Ramsay’s girlfriend Myranda who is pointing a bow and arrow directly at her. Theon/Reek is with Myranda and tells her to do as Myranda says, to go back to her chambers and wait for Ramsay. Sansa tells Myranda to kill her but Myranda reminds Sansa that she can’t die – she will be the Wardeness of the North in the future and the Starks hold the key to power in the North. But Myranda acknowledges that Sansa doesn’t need her non-essential body parts and aims her bow and arrow. In a moment of defiance (finally!), Theon/Reek pushes Myranda off the edge of the castle wall and we see her splatter as she lands (see – an on screen death, no hypotheticals about that one). Theon has finally reclaimed his identity and let go of Reek. Theon and Sansa attempt to escape but come to the edge of the castle wall, with snow down below. With no other way to escape, they hold hands and jump together.
In Braavos, we get to see an extended torture scene of young girls! Which is just great (sarcasm) as it provides further evidence of the showrunners’ obvious love of making their viewers watch the systematic abuse of women. Meryn Trant is hitting young girls in the brothel with a cane, but one of the girls does not respond. The other two run away as Trant decides to focus his abuse on the one. The girl rips off her face and reveals that she is Arya Stark the tiny assassin, here to stab Trant to death. And she does so, stabbing both his eyes (flashback to season four) and all over his torso. Before slitting his throat terribly slowly, she tells Trant that she’s Arya Stark and there to kick some ass. Finally!
She returns to the House of Black and White in a scene that, as usual, is way too dark for my television screen. She returns the face that she borrowed to the creepy wall of faces, but Jaqen appears from behind and tells her that she took the wrong life. Her bitchy co-worker is next to Jaqen, and says she was right all along and that Arya is not ready to become a Faceless Man. Jaqen says a debt is owed to the Many-Faced God, drinks poison and dies. But another Jaqen appears behind her as she rips the faces off the Jaqen that took the poison, revealing many faces, and eventually her own. The Jaqen behind Arya reminds her that she is not yet ready to become no one, and Arya becomes frightened as she realises she is going blind.
Woo! The blindness part already happened in the book but it appears that this may be the main conflict for Arya in season six. This was a good moment but the storyline may have the potential to be tedious next season in comparison with any other crazy stuff that the writers concoct, especially given the ending of this episode.
In Dorne, back to the dumbest and most pointless storyline in the history of the show, Bronn, Jaime, Myrcella and Trystane are heading off back on the ship to King’s Landing. Bronn says goodbye to his favourite Sand Snake, maybe they will meet again. Ellaria gives Myrcella a big awkward kiss on the lips as a way of saying goodbye. Jaime and Myrcella have a chat in the ship, and Jaime struggles to tell her that he is her real father. But she tells Jaime that she has known all along and is happy that he is her father. Jaime is shocked but they hug in a nice moment – that is, until her nose begins to bleed. Myrcella hyperventilates and dies. Back on shore, Ellaria and the Sand Snakes watch the ship sail away. Ellaria has a nosebleed but wipes it away, and the lipstick as well, drinking an antidote to the poison lipstick that she shared with Myrcella when she kissed her. Those damn Sand Snakes done did it again. So that scene in the dungeon with Bronn really did have a point aside from showing boobs!
This scene was pretty dumb because, a) apparently incest is great you guys!, b) the Sand Snakes and Ellaria killing Myrcella puts Prince Trystane at massive risk unnecessarily which is not a good thing for Dorne and puts them at risk, c) it was so obvious that she would be killed, yet another America’s Next Top Model moment as she is given a nice scene before dying, and d) why even recast the actress for Myrcella when the new actress is in the show for a total of five minutes before being killed off? What even is the point? I suppose that’s the general theme of this show now, though.
Meanwhile in Meereen, Tyrion, Jorah and Daario are sitting around wondering what the heck happened after Daenerys rode off on Drogon at the end of last episode. Grey Worm wanders in with Missandei and we learn finally that he’s not definitely dead! Jorah says that Daenerys flew off into the wilderness heading north, so they will go to find her. It is decided that Tyrion will stay behind with Missandei and Grey Worm to rule Meereen. One of them says that “Only the Unsullied can keep the peace in Meereen”, and I have a silent LOL because all we’ve seen of the Unsullied in Meereen is them getting dominated.
As Tyrion watches Jorah and Daario heading off to find Daenerys, surprise!, Lord Varys appears. Tyrion is feeling a bit nervous about ruling Meereen but Varys reminds him that back in season two he actually did a good job of keeping things running fine in King’s Landing as the Hand of the King whilst his father was away. Tyrion has experience that he can use here. Varys tells Tyrion that he will help Tyrion rule Meereen given that he has a vast network of spies, even over in Essos. Very nice. I’m looking forward to this storyline next season.
We finally see Daenerys after she flew off with Drogon. They have arrived at what looks like a roost for Drogon with burnt bones everywhere. Daenerys says they have to go home, but Drogon knows what’s up and refuses to allow her to fly him back to Meereen. Drogon also may be recuperating from his injuries sustained in the Great Pit of Daznak. Daenerys then walks off like an idiot to find some food. After a time she is surrounded by a great horde of Dothraki warriors on horseback. They circle her with a great war cry. The end! For Daenerys at least. This scene was significantly less gross compared to the book where she succumbed to diarrhea and dehydration.
Back to Cersei trapped in the dungeon, she finally feels ready to confess and get out of there. Cersei goes to the High Sparrow and says she wants to be clean and wants absolution. Cersei confesses that she slept with her cousin Lancel Lannister, but denies the claims of incest very convincingly. The High Sparrow believes her, but says the allegations will still go to a trial because she’s only confessed to one of three sins. However, the High Sparrow shows her mercy and allows her to return to King’s Landing – after her atonement. The High Sparrow has her washed and all her hair cut off. Cersei allows it as she knows she will see her son after it’s over. There is some amazing use of the Rains of Castemere music in the background during this scene. Cersei sits, naked and ruined in her cell.
The Sisters lead Cersei out of the dungeon and into the street, where a huge crowd of people has gathered. The High Sparrow announces Cersei as a sinner, having committed falsehood and fornication, and to demonstrate her repentance she will show herself as the gods made her, on a walk of atonement to the Red Keep. Cersei looks up and sees how far away the Red Keep is from where she stands. The Sisters pull her dirty shift off and she is naked before the crowd. The Sisters then push her, and chant “shame”, ringing a bell as she walks through the crowd.
The people in the street initially allow her to walk past, but increasingly call out names, swearing at her, escalating to throwing rotten vegetables and faeces at her, spitting on her face, laughing at her and some threatening her with their own naked bodies. The Sparrows protect her from people approaching, allowing her to complete her walk of atonement. Cersei’s naked body becomes filthy as the walk progresses, and her feet bleed from walking on the streets. The further she walks the harder it gets – Cersei is initially calm, but as the abuse becomes more intense, she begins to crack, eventually crying and sobbing as she finally walks through the gates of the Red Keep. This scene was extremely intense.
Cersei walks in to the Keep and Qyburn throws a cloak over her, covering her shame. Qyburn tells Cersei that there is a new member of the Kingsguard – a huge monster of a man, much taller than everyone else. This person can’t speak, but his eyes and skin beneath the mask look strangely coloured and grotesque. This mysterious man picks Cersei up and takes her to safety inside the Keep. Qyburn says that this Kingsguard will not speak until all of Cersei’s enemies are dead. Surprise! It’s the Franken-mountain!
Some trivia about Cersei’s walk of atonement – she was pregnant when this scene was being filmed, so Lena Headey’s face was pasted on with a very clever and subtle use of CGI. Also, when Lena Headey was walking the streets during filming, she had to wear a body suit in order to comply with Croatia’s public nudity laws. Also, I firmly believe that Lena Headey should win all the awards for this scene and her performance throughout this season. She is absolutely flawless and this scene was so intense as a direct result of her flawlessness.
Our final scene is at the Wall. Davos is finally at Castle Black and meets with Jon, trying to convince him to send troops to help Stannis. Unfortunately, Melisandre arrives, having ridden from the Baratheon camp. Davos knows something bad has happened. She doesn’t confirm or deny whether Stannis is dead, or Shireen when Davos asks, but the look on her face says it all. Melisandre walks on.
Next, Jon is reading letters without Sam’s help and is looking unhappy. Olly calls him outside, saying one of the wildlings knows where his lost uncle Benjen is. Jon walks out to meet this so-called wildling, but unfortunately is greeted to a sign that says “traitor” when the Night’s Watchmen surround him. He turns around, shocked, and Alliser Thorne stabs him first, saying “For the Watch”. All of Jon’s fellow brothers then stab him in a very Julius Caesar-style moment a la Rome. Jon is repeatedly stabbed, but the final kicker is little Olly who also stabs him, saying “For the Watch” even though he’s not a Night’s Watchmen yet. Jon falls to the ground and is left to die, and the last thing we see is Jon’s face as his blood spills out and he dies.
THE END! See you in April 2016! That’s pretty much everything from book five done, everything next season will be completely new. And I’m actually a bit nervous about that, but I am looking forward to it.
Listen everybody, I’m not too worried about this Jon Snow business. Melisandre has just arrived at Castle Black, and the Red Priests of Asshai can bring people back from the dead, which we saw Thoros of Myr do back in season three or thereabouts. I think Melisandre will be reviving Jon next season because he is the Azor Ahai that she’s been searching for for a really long time, but I can’t remember if they’ve mentioned Azor Ahai in the show for a while. Anyway, don’t worry people, he’ll be back! GRRM loves Jon Snow, he’s literally the very last person he’ll kill off. Kit Harington is saying he won’t be back, but he’s just playing shenanigans. We have nothing to worry about.
Was this a good episode? I would say yes. There was a good amount of tension and I didn’t hate myself during the whole thing, even after Stannis died, because I am holding out hope that he’s not actually dead. Fingers crossed. Everyone’s storylines ended in an intriguing manner with some interesting developments to set up next season, even though we book-readers are in the dark from here on out and have no idea what will happen next.
I think I’ll write a big pros and cons list for this season next to try and figure out my feelings about it. Right now I feel a bit flat about it, but at least this episode was enjoyable. Disjointed and oddly paced, but enjoyable. What did you guys think?