‘Kill The Boy’
One of the best aspects of the world of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire is undoubtedly the rich mythology and lore that it boasts, one with a far greater complexity to it than, say, the sheer breadth of The Lord of the Rings. The visual nature of the adaptation means that there’s less potential for exploring the history of ‘the known world’, but this week we were treated to one such moment, as Tyrion and Jorah went through the ruins of Valyria, the ruined ancestral home of House Targaryen.
This was an interesting little scene, in an episode that felt like it was made of them. I say little because, while it lasted around 10 minutes of the episode in length, not a lot actually happened in terms of dialogue or action. And this was true of most of the scenes this week, feeling ever more like minute movements on a chess board, with each character being maneuvered carefully towards their seasonal climax.
Perhaps that’s an unfair criticism, but it does feel ever so slightly like we’re treading water until the seemingly inevitable mad rush later on: Stannis battling Roose for the North; Dany taking on the Sons of the Harpy, Jaime reaching Sunspear, something important happening to Arya. As I stated a couple of weeks back, it’s likely just an unfortunate side effect of the ordering of the material being covered this season.
True to form though, even a relatively uneventful episode of Game of Thrones has some good parts to chew on. The Bolton scenes are fast becoming the most intriguing on the show – mainly due to how they all treat their clearly psychopathic tendencies as normal behaviour. From Roose’s wistful recollection of how he raped Ramsey’s mother (after having her husband hanged), to Ramsey and Myranda’s violent, unstable relationship, to Myranda’s attempts to manipulate Sansa – and let’s not forget the family tradition, flaying people alive – it’s quite clear just how mad they are. Just about the only one who plays nicely is Walda (bizarre given she’s a Frey), who seems to genuinely enjoy her quaint little family life at the table.
Going back to Jorah and Tyrion, in amongst their encounters with the most serious sufferers of greyscale and their bonding over Valyrian poetry, the look on Tyrion’s face as Drogon flew overhead was wonderful. It would be a shame if Jorah’s apparent affliction makes that his last interaction with a dragon; seeing a character usually so quick with his wits and words speechless is always a good sight.
Meanwhile, Dany seemed to echo her ancestor’s predilection for burning people by deciding the best course of action to combat the attack by the Harpys was to let Viserion and Rhaegal burn and then feast on one of the great masters to send a message. While she chose not to burn them all in the end (having already given the audience a rather gory show), it does feel like she’s chosen yet another bad option in reopening the fighting pits and choosing Hizdahr zo Loraq as a suitor.
Given how many Harpys there seem to be, and how they seem to be hiding in plain sight, is offering people weaponry such a great idea? Of course, it’s meant to be the slaves who once fought there for whom it’s reopened, but it’s not hard to imagine the Harpys hijacking the idea. Her marriage concept seems ineffective as well. To me, Daario’s idea seemed most logical – hunting down the Harpys while still holding the city and the upper hand. At this rate it looks like Jorah might reappear just in time.
Back on Westeros, in an episode that gave half of its major players a week off, a couple of movements were made up at the Wall. Firstly, Stannis and his army finally departed Castle Black to march south on Winterfell. While resting is obviously important, the length of time they’ve been at the castle has made it feel like a plot point for Jon, rather than a natural progression for Stannis. I say this because the character couldn’t have had his grand idea at a worse time. His plan – to go with Tormund to Hardhome and bring the wildlings south of the Wall – seems noble and, dare I say, logical, but in reality there’s a lot that could go wrong. For a start, it wasn’t exactly the most popular plan with the brothers and with Jon gone, what’s to stop Ser Alliser retaking command while he’s away? Meanwhile, what’s to stop the wildings from killing Jon, boarding the ships, then ambushing Castle Black?
We’re now at the halfway point in season five but it still feels like we’re getting started. Will next week’s ‘Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken’ give us something to really sink our teeth into?