Episode 5 marks the half way point for this season in the Game of Thrones. Each week seems to be building up to a climatic ending with new plot twists and turns. Some of the main themes in tonight’s chapter were loyalty, leadership and loss. And of course, a certain Red God. Once again, there was heavy emotional impact on several characters who undergo very complex changes.
Arya’s storyline starts off tonight’s segment. We find her learning more about “Red Magic” as we see the epic battle by combat between the Hound and Dondarrion. An intense scene marred by fire, death and resurrection. It was one of the best sword fights so far in Game of Thrones. And as the Hound is let go, we are reminded, “Lord of Light is not done yet”. So hopefully, we’ll see the Hound return in a future episode. Arya struggles with her emotions as she finds out that Gendry chooses to stay with the Brotherhood and not her. Thoros and Dondarrion only want her for the gold. I have a lot of compassion for Arya because she is on her own without any family and she must survive the harsh reality of her world.
In Dragonstone, we are introduced to Selyse (Tara Fitzgerald) and Shireen Baratheon (Kerry Ingstram), Stannis’ wife and daughter. Selyse is very devoted to Melisandre and her “Red God”. She forgives Stannis for his betrayal with the red priestess. Additionally, the dead babies in the jars was bizarre if not, creepy. You have to wonder why she has been in that tower for so long. One of the most touching scenes is when Stannis visits his daughter Shireen, whose face is scarred by Grayscale. It illustrates the love between a parent and a child. As she asks about the Onion Knight, Stannis gently tells her that he resides in the dungeons. Yet, Shireen goes to visit Ser Davos (despite her father) because she truly cares for the man and begins to teach him how to read. These moments demonstrate how innocence is lost during war. Let’s hope Dragonstone gets some more exposure in the next few episodes.
King Robb is in a tough position. Karstark’s killing of the Frey boys invokes justice however; a bad decision of beheading Rickard leaves the King of the North without the number of soldiers he needs. Perhaps, he should have listened to his advisors and kept the man as hostage. Would Ned have done the same thing? Robb realizes that the only way to beat the Lannisters is take Castlery Rock but to do that he must enlist the help of Lord Frey whose daughter he was supposed to marry. He has only Talisa to comfort him at this point. This fatal mistake may cost him the war.
Outside the city, Dany stops for a rest with her new army, the Unsullied. She meets “Grey Worm”, their new leader who doesn’t change his name. Mormont and Selmy’s recollections of Robert’s Rebellion and Aerys,”the Mad King” (Dany’s daddy)gave us rich Westeros history that has been missing from this series at times. There is definite rivarly between the two men; but whose intentions are for the right reasons? I think this will build up into next season as well.
Up north, the Wildings prepare for their journey to “storm” the Wall. Jon is called upon by Tormund and Orell to give details of Castle Black. At first, he doesn’t want to say much but knows he needs to convince them that he isn’t a crow anymore. Ygritte playfully teases Jon by saying, “he owes her a debt” thus, she grabs his sword. They end up in a beautiful hot springs cave and Ygritte entices Jon by getting him to forgo his oath of the Nights Watch as she stands in front of him with nothing on.” You know nothing Jon Snow!”
One of the most poignant segments in this series is Jaime Lannister’s turnabout. Once known as a gallant Kingsguard, he is now a humble man learning about his “true self”. The bath scene with Brienne demonstrates his vulnerability as he recounts how he got his name, Kingsslayer. We learn how and why he killed the”Mad King”. Again, some great back story about the Lannisters, the Targs and the Starks from Jaime’s point of view. The last scene where Brienne saves a drowning Jaime by telling her, “My name is Jaime” was splendidly scripted and we see him begin to shed his old self. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s performance as the Kingslayer is riveting and I am looking to see how the Jaime/Brienne relationship plays out.
If anyone is good at playing at the Game of Thornes, it has to be the inhabitants in Kings Landing. Whether it’s the Lannisters, the Tyrells or Littlefinger, someone is always trying to outsmart the other but it seems that deception does not go unnoticed. Tyrion met his match in Lady Olenna. As they talk wedding costs, she reminds him that people need a distraction during the time of war and that the Tyrells have helped out Kings Landing with a stash of food and supplies. It was the first time, we actually saw Tyrion speechless. Poor Sansa, she is still a pawn in the game. She can’t lie very well to Littlefinger who has intentions of his own. I honestly wish she would wake up and smell the “roses” and learn to play the game.
If anyone has the real upper hand here, it has to be the Hand of the King, Tywin Lannister. He learns that the Tyrells have deceived him, and Robb is losing his edge and the tides of war are changing. Is it political leadership or is he just another tyrant? Tywin decides that Tyrion will wed Sansa for the North and Cersei to Loras for the Reach. Cersei thought she could out best her brother; however the shocked look on her face proves that she is just as powerless. And yes, Tywin Lannister has the last word!
Another brilliant ending for this week’s chapter. Bryan Coogmans’ (GOT Story Editor/Writer) writing exemplifies how well the story can be adapted to screen. This episode was well paced and character driven with lots of rich backstory. The ending credits had Kerry Ingram singing, “Under the Sea” (no Patchface; but a great homage to the book). I’m looking forward to the last half of this season’s Game of Thrones as each week is another thrilling adventure into the mystical land of Westeros.
Random thoughts and quotes:
“I climbed all those steps to discuss financial matters” – Lady Olenna to Tyrion
“I like you boy, but I’ll pull your guts out by your throat” – Tormund to Jon
” You will wed, bed and put a child in her ” Tywin to Tyrion about marrying Sansa
“I’ve been married before” Tyrion to Tywin
“The night is dark and full of terrors” – Lady Selyse and Thoros
“But what right does the wold judge the lion” – Jaime to Brienne
“There’s another tub”,” this one suits me just fine” Brienne/Jaime
“That thing you did with your mouth, do all the Lord and Ladies do that in the South?” Ygritte to Jon Snow
Here is a preview of episode 6: