Game of Thrones 5.10: “For the Watch”
Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 10 recap.
Game of Thrones comes to an end, and consequences and uncertainty are doled out to heroes and villains alike. This is a great episode and we’re going full-spoiler, so if you haven’t watched yet, now’s the time to turn around. Otherwise, let’s get into it.
Dorne was pretty much a waste, and the Sand Snakes are horribly disappointing—if you’re looking for an argument against this show re: gratuitous female exploitation, Sansa is not your target, the Sand Snakes are—but at least Ellaria did something interesting. As Myrcella leaves with Jaime and Bronn, she apologizes and wishes the girl well, kissing her before waving goodbye. Thanks to that dumb scene in which Tyene poisoned Bronn, we do know about the Martell women and their poisons, so it’s no surprise when Myrcella dies in Jaime’s arms on the ship. It’s too bad Myrcella was such a nothing character because, despite her heartfelt confessional with Jaime, this moment has no gravitas.
Much more meaningful is Cersei’s walk of shame back to the Red Keep. Cersei, as horrible as she is, has survived so much, but suffering the slurs and slanders and literal thrown sh*t of her own people might be too much. (Lainey: and every girl that’s been f-cked over by a fraternity, or a douchebag’s online revenge porn, understands exactly how that felt.) Never has she seemed so vulnerable as when she finally stumbles into the keep, welcomed back by her creepy maester. Wrapped up in Lannister red and carried by her new pet monster, the Frankensteined Gregor Clegane, you can see Cersei’s shell hardening once again. Franken-Clegane is tasked with obliterating her enemies, and you have to assume the High Sparrow now tops her list.
Arya, meanwhile, suffers a huge setback. She dons a new face and murders Meryn Trant, but the price for failing her mission for the Many Faced God is blindness. Arya’s confrontation with Jaqen H’Gar is spectacular. It’s creepy and dramatic and Maisie Williams absolutely kills it as Arya’s vision greys out. So often, and so often to the detriment of the show, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss go for shock value, but these quieter moments usually prove just as effective. It doesn’t always have to be guts and gore—simple works, too.
Over in Essos, uncertainty is the order of the day. Drogon took Daenerys far away and then tapped out to eat. Lainey and I argued over whether or not his unwillingness to fly Daenerys back to Meereen was “teenaged laziness” or the fact that he was badly hurt—he had holes in his wings!—but either way, Daenerys is back where she started, with the Dothraki. (Lainey: TEEN APATHY!) This leaves Tyrion, aided by Missandei, Grey Worm, and the newly returned Varys to run Meereen while Daario and Jorah search for Daenerys. I know Lainey is super excited for the Daario and Jorah Road Show next season. (Lainey: f-ck Jorah. The great love story of this show is Tyrion + Varys Forever.)
Sansa’s fate is also uncertain. In one of those totally-see-it-coming-but-no-less-frustrating moments, Brienne abandons her vigil over Winterfell in order to find Stannis just as Sansa lights her help candle. As much as I want Brienne to f*ck some Bolton sh*t up, this is the best case scenario. It leaves Sansa to save herself, escaping with Theon as the castle is mostly empty while everyone is off fighting Stannis’s army, and it continues the theme of Brienne, who values oaths more than anyone, constantly failing her oaths. I have to imagine that at some point, Brienne not being there to help Sansa escape is going to come back and bite her in the ass, even if she did manage to finally avenge Renly’s death.
Speaking of Stannis, half his remaining army deserts following his immolation of Shireen, his wife hangs herself, Melisandre abandons him (to save herself from his wrath), and then the Boltons easily rout what’s left of his forces. Defeated, Stannis admits that he had Renly killed and Brienne executes him. Stannis’s actions from the beginning have been terrible in their scope, so the consequences of his actions are fitting. Nothing less than death at Brienne’s furious hands would do. She might have a hell of a time seeing her promises through, but there’s something about Brienne that makes her ideal as an executioner. Perhaps it’s that her motives are always so pure. Justice is in short supply in Westeros, but when it comes from Brienne of Tarth, it feels like true, capital-J Justice.
But of course, Jon Snow is the one we need to talk about most. His reign as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch was short and stupid, marked by bad decisions and his dumb hair. Jon is capable of being an inspiring, effective leader, but the Night’s Watch has never been his place, and finally, he was forcibly expelled from the order by way of death. The question is, is Jon Snow really dead? According to Kit Harington and D.B. Weiss, yes, he is totally dead you guys, seriously, like so dead—Harington even cut his hair. We can argue whether or not the public statements of actor and producer are truth, lie, or somewhere in between—maybe Jon sits out season six the same way Bran went AWOL in season five—but Weiss is right about one thing. The way Jon’s final scene is shot is very clear. Jon Snow is dead.
But Westeros is a land of monsters and magic, and we’ve already seen people resurrected from death (Beric Dondarrion), and survive incredible circumstances (Daenerys in the bonfire). One of the prevailing theories about Jon Snow is that he is Azhor Ahai, a prophesied savior who is basically Westeros Jesus. You can read the prophesy here, and if Jon Snow is that person, then he has to die in order to be resurrected. Daenerys suffered a metaphorical death in the bonfire, emerging the Mother of Dragons, a character of incredible potential and power who has struggled to hold onto those things ever since. Jon was only just beginning to realize his own power and potential when he was cut down by his own men who felt betrayed when his priorities were no longer their priorities. He had it in him to be a truly visionary leader, but maybe he never gets to fulfill that potential, for as Harington says, sometimes in life people don’t. Or maybe he comes back somewhere down the line, more powerful than ever. Long live Jon Snow.
PS: Stark children have got to stop locking their direwolves up.
PPS: I hope Sansa landed on Theon.