Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 10 “Mother’s Mercy” Review
***Full book and show spoilers. You’ve been warned!***
Yup, I know, I’m late.
Quite late. Blame E3. Blame me. But, ten weeks ago I started this, and I’m going to finish it.
The finale of season 5 of “Game of Thrones” started with probably the most cock-tease of cock-tease moments the show has ever done. Let’s just throw Benjen (Joseph Mawle) in the ‘previously on’ section! Let’s see just how much fire we can light under those tinfoil hats! Book readers will go nuts! NUTS I TELL YOU. LET’S DO IT.
Alas, we got nothing more than Benjen-blue balls. Le sigh.
The episode kicked off with Stannis (Stephen Dillane) and the Great Thaw of 2015, no doubt brought about by the Kentucky-Fried Shireen (Kerry Ingram) incident from last week. In a not-so-surprising turn, half of his men have left him, probably equally afraid that he might decide to just start throwing ANYBODY on the fire in hopes of stopping the cold. Stannis also loses Selyse (Tara Fitzgerald), who hung herself. (Argument over if hanging or being burnt to death is a worse day to die in the comments only, please). Team Stannis the Mannis is dropping like flies.
Melisandre (Carice van Houten) finally is starting to realize that she might be wrong, and also decided to get the hell out of dodge. Hi ho Shadowfax! Take me away from this loser!
The more interesting thing here is how the show handled this. D&D went on spin control last week around Stannis and the great burning, but only an episode later the show swung back and punished him for the mistakes he made. It seems to lessen that blow when the creators feel the need to come out and address everything that happened…only for the show to right itself the next episode. Let the show do the talking for its own story…and stop giving the silly weekly outrage cycle fuel for its own fire.
The three northern plots also finally lined up, with Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), Stannis, and Sansa (Sophie Turner) all running around doing THINGS during the Battle of Winterfell.
It was (AGAIN) needlessly silly to have Brienne sit outside that tower and wait for Sansa to light the flame, especially when it’s quite clear that my head canon of the whole lighting the tower plot being another one of Ramsay’s (Iwan Rheon) cruel games is much cooler than it actually being a thing from Brienne.
Either way, we got a bit of the Battle of Winterfell, only for the show to skip most of it and cut to the aftermath. Brienne (who, I called weeks ago) finds Stannis, and kills him.
Or does she? It was the first of the show’s sloppy and needless cut-away shots, trying to use some fakery to build up interest in next season. Did Stannis die or not? What happened to Brienne? WE WON’T KNOW FOR A YEAR. Or maybe they can’t tell us yet. Either way, it’s left unresolved and just felt cheap…especially when the show then goes on to do it a few more times…
Like with Sansa. I’m a little sad to see Myranda (Charlotte Hope) go, as that kills my shipping of her and Sansa, but is there any reason to leave the viewer hanging over if Sansa and Reek (Alfie Allen) successfully land in a giant snow bank? They aren’t going to somehow die from that fall. Again, it’s sloppily building up tension where there isn’t a need for it. They’ll land. We know they’ll land. Let’s not be coy.
The show then jumps (and doesn’t make us wait a year to see the landing!) to Arya (Maisie Williams) and Trant (Ian Beattie), who apparently also enjoys beating up on little girls, aside from just fucking them. He is still coming off as such a one dimensional and rushed character, but the show needed a way to try to remind people why he is bad and deserves to die, I guess.
Of course, it was Arya wearing a mask, but it was a little disappointing that they went for the shock of having her disguised instead of going into how the masks work. There still seems to be a hung jury from non-bookers if the masks are just magical or actually the skin of dead people…and that’s somewhat of an important point for the show to leave unexplained. The way they had the masks slip on and off was a cool effect, and then Arya went blind, further finishing exactly how I’ve been predicting her plot to go down. Go me! I win a half-moon cookie.
Oh Dorne. Oh, my sweet, sweet, sweet Dorne. It’s one thing to take away a plot where the Dornish try to crown Myrcella (Neil Tiger Free) queen, but it’s a whole other ball of wax to then make them try to kill her instead.
Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Myrcella leave on a boat, but not before Myrcella gets a kiss of death from Ellaria (Indira Varma). Those snakes and their poisonous bites.
Jaime hasn’t learned anything from his sister apparently. She told Twyin (Charles Dance) of their incest right before he died. Sure, I thought for a second it was going to be Jaime that was going to die, but nope. That would be too interesting for show-Dorne to do.
Oh, and of course, because this is sloppy Thrones, we had another mysterious cutaway. More on that whole Myrcella being poisoned thing next season! And now…frizzies at 11.
The show then jumped to a Dany-less Mereen, where Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), Jorah (Iain Glen), and Daario (Michiel Huisman) squabbled over exactly what to do with the Mother of Dragons gone.
It was weird (though there seemed to be a few hidden meta jabs, given how the characters kept talking about how some of them shouldn’t even be here at this moment), mostly because I don’t see why anybody would really care about Grey Worm, at least enough to leave him in charge.
Of course, we did get a little drop-in from Varys (Conleth Hill), and while it wasn’t the shocking drop-in from the novels, it did give us a little hint at where the show is taking Tyrion. Who could possibly be smart enough to fix this mess? Tyrion is!
Meanwhile, somewhere in the middle of Green Greens, Dany (Emilia Clarke) is with Drogon (CGI), and SOMEHOW a whole giant khalasar sneaks up to her. She drops a ring…and then the show gives us…ANOTHER silly cliffhanger. Hazah! Sigh.
In King’s Landing, Cersei (Lena Headey) finally confessed, but denied the incest and the other really meaty bits that would get her into big trouble. She had to atone before her trial though, leading to the Great Walk of Nudey-dum.
Cersei’s naked walk was long, but rightfully so. It isn’t suppose to be easy to watch, and I’m really curious how people will feel about her character now. Almost all of the bad decisions have been (directly or indirectly) the results of Cersei’s actions, and while many characters in the world get death, instead Cersei is stripped of literally everything and laid bare before both the audience and her entire kingdom. Some may say it’s a fate worse than death, but it’s an interesting figurative (and literal) stripping of her character. In a world where characters are often punished for their actions, I still find it puzzlingly interesting that this is the retribution that Cersei is given from Martin.
At the end, of course, in the show’s worst kept secret, the Mountain comes back as Ser Robert Strong (not sure who is playing him?), and she vows her revenge. Cut to next season!
And last in the episode, but probably most talked about: Jon (Kit Harington) at the Wall.
The awful Benjen cock-tease ended up just being a reminder of who the character was, so Oly (Will Tudor) could use the name of one of the book’s most mysterious loose ends to lure Jon out and kill him. Kill him dead. For the watch!
Of course, the show seems to have really tipped its own hand here, with Mel showing up at the wall right at the right time. Sure, she looks defeated, and she isn’t used to being wrong, but she knew that she had to burn Shireen for some reason…maybe she just had the wrong person.
Harrington has assured the world that he won’t be coming back next season, and there’s been so much ink over this already, but here’s pretty much what I see the options as:
-Mel brings him back to life. (or he comes back somehow)
-He’s actually dead.
Again, it seems all the more likely that it’s the former, given the show making sure to have Mel be there at just the right time. It’s also worth noting that in the books Mel and Shireen are still at the Wall, so I’m guessing in the books the burning will play out like that: Jon dies, and Mel uses Shireen to bring him back. The show is adapting that a little bit, but for some reason seemed to make it more Stannis-centic. Maybe we’ll find out in “The Winds of Winter.”
And with that cliffhanger, we wrap season 5. Yup, it’s the same cliffhanger book readers have been arguing over for years, but it also came with a bunch of unneeded smaller cliffhangers that made everything feel a bit cheap.
It didn’t really help the show finish strong, and season five ended up being one of the weakest (read: maybe the worst, but at least the second worst) seasons of the show. Excusing it simply because it was working with some of the book’s worst material seems premature, especially since the show – more so than ever this season – has shown that it isn’t afraid to move away from the source material.
And that’s FINE, at long as the show is doing it in smart ways. But just look at the handling of Dorne to see that the show is spinning its wheels, and is struggling to find interesting things for fan-favorite characters to do, while removing the core of what actually made “A Feast For Crows” unique in the first place.
Until next season. FOR THE WATCH!
Notes & Quotes:
-Mostly, THANK YOU to everyone who has been reading along all season, and again, super sorry for being so late on this one. The podcast, and written reviews, will be back next season. Until then, make sure to check out everything else 8 Bit Awesome is working on. Ciao 🙂
-No LSH. Pretty much given up hope. Sad face.