Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 5 “Kill The Boy” Review
What makes somebody a “good” person?
It’s an ever increasingly difficult question to answer in Westeros, and it’s one of author G.R.R. Martin’s great tricks; he’s able to take character we think we hate and make us feel for them, and take characters we love and put them through the ringer so much we barely recognize them once everything is said and done.
Without turning this into an philosophy argument where it’s just me talking and no discourse (and, if that was the case, I’d argue that book-Davos is the only ‘good’ character in the series), the idea of right and wrong and good and evil are lines that are continually shifting, if not, at least blurring, and often our characters are given the choice between wrong and wrong…er.
“Kill The Boy,” the strongest episode of the show yet this season, took a more streamlined approach: We had few(er!) settings and characters to deal with than normal, as the show itself wrestled with what it means to be a good character with no good choices left to make. It isn’t play time any more, and it’s time for people to grow up or get out.
The struggle came to full light with Danny (Emilia Clarke), as the show opened with her for the first time this season. The show is falling into a pattern of minicliffhangers that are resolved in the opening of the next episode (a trend it even mocked in the ending this week), and it’s a habit that it hopefully doesn’t continue to fall into.
With Barristan (Ian McElhinney) dead, Danny now finds herself alone, in a strange land, and with no supporters from Westeros. She decided to show the Wise Masters just how she got her whole “Mother of Dragons” name. A “good” mother never gives up on her children, even if they are giant, monstrous fire-breathing animals that rip and tear people apart.
I’m usually not audible during an episode of TV, but there were several moments that actually got me to be super lame and shout at the screen. The dragons ripping that guy apart after setting him on fire. WOW. That was simply an awesome scene.
Compare that to the powerful shot of Danny from behind with each of the dragons framed on either side of her. Really good stuff this week! She’s not taking shit from anybody.
Given how long it took the show to finally pay real attention to Hizdahr (Joel Fry ), I wasn’t entirely sure they were going to stick with the same marriage plot. BUT, they are, just with a little twist: The marriage is Danny’s idea this time, and with less implication that the Loraq (as I like to call him) had involvement with the Harpy movement. It makes it more of a savvy political move that Danny decides to do, instead of the last ditch effort to cling to power that it was in the books.
Either way, I’m sure Daario (Michiel Huisman) won’t be too happy with this decisions….
(Also, before I run the risk of repeating myself, I’m not giving any ink to that horrible Mereen love pair. I fear it has taken up enough time already. Be gone with it.)
From Mereen we jumped to the wall, and the majority of the rest of the episode focused on events up North.
Jon (Kit Harington) struggled with what it meant to be a good leader, knowing that the ‘right’ thing to do was join with the Wildings, not fight them. A good person doesn’t let people starve and freeze to death just because they are different than he is.
It’s another smart set up: If Jon hadn’t gone North and been sent undercover with the Wildings, and didn’t fall in love with every ginger he meets, his Brothers probably wouldn’t be so suspicious of him inviting a bunch of wildings down for tea and crumpets.
It also wouldn’t set him up so well to treat with the Wildings, either, though. He convinced Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) to lead a group to Hardhome to convince the rest of the Wildings to come south.
Another great shot this week: Tormund softly rubbing his wrists after Jon let his cuffs off.
Tormund agreed to go to Hardhome, as long as Jon came with him. Of course, the Brothers of the Watch aren’t exactly happy about this. It’s an interesting real world parallel here: After fighting each other for generations, how do you convince each side to put down their arms and join for the greater good? How do you convince these men who have fought and seen their brothers die at the hands of these people that this is what’s for the best of everybody? It’s questions that have real world ripples throughout history, and one this fake history must deal with as well.
The Brothers can’t see the bigger picture, and Jon is right here. If the Wildings die, they will rise back up as White Walkers, and that’s just not good for anybody. It’s a tough call, but Jon made the right one here.
There was a small, but important, scene with Stannis (Stephen Dillane) and Sam (John Bradley), that mentioned Old Town (pretty blatant foreshadowing) and dragon glass, and helped solidify Stannis and Sam as two of the only people in the show who are actually worried about the right things and taking some steps to try to protect people from the fucking ice zombies. Yup. Dragonglass stock is about to skyrocket, I think.
Stannis also finally departed from Castle Black, on his way to bring war to the Boltons in Winterfell. There was an eerily foreboding music change during Jon and Stannis’s farewell, which means it’s probably bad new for one (or both!) of them.
(My current running theory is this: Melisandre (Carice van Houten) is going to convince Stannis he needs to burn Shireen (Kerry Ingram) to assure victory against the north. This happens, bye bye Stannis and company. Meanwhile, Jon returns from Hardhome, gets a letter Stannis is defeated, and then is stabbed. End season.)
And then, on this week’s installment of “Better Off With The Boltons (On NBC, Thursday nights!):
We’re introduced to Myranda (Charlotte Hope), Ramsay’s (Iwan Rheon)……girlfriend? Sex slave? Toy? Partner? I’m not really sure at this point, but SHE is super duper jealous of Sansa (Sophie Turner), so there seems to be some sort of deeper attachment and care that Miranda feels toward Ramsay. I wish this wasn’t the first scene we were introduced to Miranda in though because it’s still a little hard to grasp exactly what her dynamic with Ramsay is. I’m going to go with she’s there by choice and has SOME level of ‘da feelz’ for Ramsay, especially given her new bout of jealousy.
She seems to share many of Ramsay’s lesser qualities though, and was totally OK in tormenting Sansa and introducing her to what became of Theon (Alfie Allan), who Ramsay then paraded in front of Sansa at dinner with the in-laws. We got another really smart shot here: the camera puts us in the first-person view of Sansa as Theon apologizes, placing us directly in her shoes.
The show is actually doing a great job of subverting expectations around Ramsay. We know what he is capable of, so when he asks for Theon’s hand, or when he’s at dinner, or even with Miranda, we are just waiting for him to snap and do something totally terrible. Instead, he’s been on his (fairly) best behavior so far, but with a new baby on the way, it looks like that might not last long.
(Also, for you super book readers out there, I was expecting some mention of Ramsay’s eyes from Roose (Michael McElhatton) and there wasn’t any. So that axes that theory, for the show at least.)
And then we were back to one and a half men, one boat.
Stonemen! And dragons! AND Valyria! I was pretty damn giddy through this scene, as Valyria is a place we never get to explore in the books (always talked about), and I’m sure taking these two close to it is going to be received controversially.
Personally, it was a great way to really bring Valyria to the front of viewer’s minds, even if it was a little more green and lively than I expected it to be. I expected more fire and more ash and more death, but perhaps Valyria isn’t really as bad real estate as people are spreading tales of. Perhaps it’s some secret hideaway for the super elite of Essos and they just don’t want dragons coming in and shitting on their lawn. Valyria: The Snoobiest Homeowner Association this side of Pyke.
Sadly, the show has never quite gone into Tyrion’s (Peter Dinklage) dragon lust, which is a shame, because him seeing Drogon could have been a really big moment. As it was it was undercut by the attack by the Stone Men.
Probably for the best, it seems that Jorah’s (Iain Glen) contraction of grayscale is the last nail in the coffin for Young Griff. Let’s take a moment of silence and celebrate for what we can all agree was a useless red herring! It might also end up being Jorah’s death sentence as well. Or it will turn out that Jorah is really a long lost sibling to Danny’s and we’ll have TWO incestuous couples on the show.
And that wraps “Kill the Boy.” Great moments, great direction, and a simplification of plots all helped make it a great episode, and the best episode yet in season 5.
It was missing Dorne (boo), and felt a little weird without any scenes in King’s Landing, but now viewers know how book readers feel with all those chapters with nonvital characters! I kid.
Anyway, until next week, when we all learn to bow with “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken.”
Notes & Quotes:
-Jeremy Podeswa is directing next week too, and I’m excited, because he had a lot of awesome camera work this week*.
-“Like a 100-year-old man slowly freezing to death.”
-“Of course I do, I’m not blind.”
-“I’d rather have a mother.”
-“The Mormont way.”
-“People who drink need to keep drinking.”
-Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg) is coming back next episode, and if that isn;t news for celebration, I don’t know what is.
*Edit: I originally had Bryan Cogman down as the director. He wrote the episode, not directed.