Welcome to week 5! As this season’s plot thickens, it’s been fascinating to see the show diverge from the books – I think it’s safe to say that we are dealing with two different organisms at this point. Clearly whatever books Mr. Martin does finish will differ greatly than the show, but here’s what I want to know: will the end game be the same for both? Paths diverge, and different characters die, but do all paths lead to the same person on the Iron Throne?
Confirmed from last week’s sneak preview, sadly, is Sir Barristan Selmy’s death. Oh, Barristan the Bold. I really liked him! One of the truly good people left in the seven kingdoms. This is one of the most confusing show deaths for me, as in the books he still has a significant role to play. Sure, as we have seen with other characters that role could be filled – I am guessing here by Daario Naharis, who is a much more sympathetic character than in the books – but in my humble opinion, they’ve already cut so many people from Daenerys’ storyline that it didn’t seem like a necessary death. Fueling her motivations with spite and anger, perhaps? Doesn’t Dany’s story have enough anger and spite? Isn’t it enough that she can’t protect or properly rule her queendom, her husband is dead, the Sons of the Harpy are killing her people and she can’t control her dragons? Gotta kill off advisors one by one too?
I think it may serve to raise up Daenerys as a more empowered leader, as opposed to one who leans on her counsel, as she does in this episode. I’m a little fascinated by the scenes between Daenerys and Hizadhar. He’s a little more passive than I recall in the books (I believe he proposed to her), but we’re still eking our way to the points he and Dany reached. The fighting pits will reopen, Dany will get married (still remains to be seen if Hizdhar will accept, but I’m fairly certain he will). Motivation is a little less clear than in the books – other than a generic “uniting” of people because of a strategic bond between local political power and all-powerful ruler, other reasons haven’t been presented as of yet for this bond to be necessary. There’s a bit more extenuating circumstances laid out in the books between Hizdhar and Dany that makes the match seem a bit more crucial, albeit dangerous. (They have gone to (possibly strategic) lengths in the show to display that Hizdhar is not dangerous).
P.S. I am glad Grey Worm is alive, but not because his plot survives for Missandei kisses.
At the Wall, mentions of Oldtown and the Citadel seem to confirm that we will get some book continuity with Sam Tarly and Maester Aemon. Aemon delivers one of the more (in my opinion) speeches from the books, telling Jon Snow to “Kill the boy, and let the man be born.” This, amazingly, is delivered almost word for word from ADWD.
Jon’s still dealing with the difficult task of deciding to kill all the Wildlings, or try to convert everyone to a more peaceful plot. Sure, in theory it makes sense to try and save as many people as possible while growing the number of able-bodied fighters on his side, but who are we kidding? If even Dolorus Edd is against this plot, it’s going to be hard for Jon Snow to watch his own back, let alone run an entire Watch that disagrees with him. Jon Snow doesn’t accompany Tormund to negotiate with the free folk in the books, but I think that little trip will just be some battle-y show filler, and they’ll all end up in the same place as the book by the end of the season.
Stannis won’t be around for nods of approval anymore. (BTW, he further solidifies his position as the Internet’s favorite, by again reminding us of the difference between “less” and “fewer.” Stannis the Mannis, grammar police.) His party finally moves on to take over Winterfell. I wonder if it is significant (note: it probably is) that they keep referencing Shireen’s safety, being they are off to battle, her mother doesn’t seem too keen on her, and there is a priestess who keeps mentioning power in king’s blood.
Stannis’s march on the North is an important one, now that we have Starks, Boltons, Baratheons and Brienne and co. converging at the same place. I’m dying to know how that is going to play out – will Brienne meet Stannis and get her chance for revenge?
I am not convinced that the message Brienne requests the innkeeper to deliver is the same one that “The North Remembers” old lady passes off to Sansa, but it could be. I mean, it seems likely, but it also could just be disgruntled Northerners ready to rally around the Starks. Sansa is going to be safe from a sack at Winterfell, that much I think we can guarantee. But will she be safe from the Boltons in the meantime?
Not if Myranda has anything to say about it. God Sansa, do you just trust everyone? “Go down this dark kennel with angry dogs.” “OK!” I half expected to see a malnourished direwolf, but enjoyed the sick reunion between her and Theon. And further enjoyed Ramsay making Theon apologize. Sansa, everyone around you is a crazy murder-fiend. Except maybe poor fat Walda.
Theon does give away the fake Arya in Ramsay’s wedding in the book… And then at Ramsay’s bidding participates in/witnesses some seriously beyond unsavory behavior. Hopefully the aisle-walking is the only part of that story that makes it to the screen – after all Sansa has been subject to, I would hate for the show to add that to the pile. I do hope, however, that Theon instead earns her trust by confessing that her brothers are alive. That could definitely make any subsequent siege/capture/battle extremely interesting.
Finally, we catch a glimpse of the Stone Men who have made so many conversational appearances this season. Jorah has definitely taken on the role of Jon Connington, who contracted grayscale by saving Tyrion in the books. What, all that build up to that? Now we get to wait and see if Jorah will survive the grayscale, or turn into a mad zombie-like Stone Man.
I loved the scene of Drogon flying over Jorah and Tyrion, and what it might represent to each of the men. For Jorah, hope of redemption, and perhaps a reminder of his guilt? For Tyrion, a confirmation that dragons do indeed exist and that he is headed to serve the right family?
Sooo… no Young Griff, then? That plot must not have been important to the show writers (and here I thought all along, they were building up to a reveal of the three heads of the dragon theory). Speaking of the three heads of the dragon, for those who know that theory, I’d love to engage a discussion about it! Perhaps once this season is over, I’ll host a forum about the future of the Iron Throne! Stay tuned.