In tonight’s episode of Game of Thrones, Daenerys takes action, Jon Snow makes a huge decision and the Boltons have the worst family dinner ever which is saying a lot in Westeros.
Spoiler Note: This post is for those who have read the A Song of Ice and Fire series. The post and the comments section will contain spoilers! If you haven’t read the books yet, please check out our non-book-reader recap. Thanks!
Last week’s episode ended with a cliffhanger (that was spoiled by HBO and several press outlets but I digress) that left the lives of Daenerys Targaryen’s most dedicated guards at stake. “Kill the Boy” wastes no time in confirming the fates of Grey Worm and Ser Barristan Selmy: Barristan lies in wake on a slab while Grey Worm lays unconscious and tended to by Missandei.
A grieving Dany blames the rich families for the massacre committed by the Sons of the Harpy, and has their noble family leaders dragged before her dragons- including Hizdahr. One begging master is thrown to the dragons (in a gnarly burning and tearing- nice job, VFX people!) and the others are terrified by the display of power. Hizdahr shows some guts, declaring “Valar morghulis,” and the khaleesi lets all the remaining masters go…for now.
Whenever Daenerys switches to Valyrian, it’s like she taps into some inner firepower of her own. I like it a lot.
We swing from one Targaryen to another, finding Maester Aemon in the Castle Black library with Sam, hearing news of Dany’s actions in Slaver’s Bay. Jon arrives to seek the old maester’s wisdom in acting on a tough decision. Aemon encourages Jon to take the action he knows he should, even though it will make half the men hate him (because heyyyyy, they already do! When you’re 100 years old, you don’t have to be diplomatic).
“Kill the boy…and let the man be born.” And Unsullied viewers breathed a sigh of relief, because the episode title wasn’t literal. We hope.
Jon resolves to seek an alliance with Tormund, to gain the support of the wildlings. The big ginger is reluctant (the lord commander is having a bad month with redheads) but he convinces him that he wants them on his side and is willing to let the wildlings safely pass beneath the Wall and settle on the south side. Tormund relents, and says the people are mostly up at Hardhome- and he’s not going up there without Jon Snow. Jon agrees to the deal.
The men of the Night’s Watch take the news of this alliance about as well as anyone would expect. The prominent leaders within the Watch, young Olly his steward, and even Jon’s friend Edd all reject the decision to work with the wildlings. All of Jon’s support has melted away, it seems, putting him in a precarious position.
Brienne and Pod doggedly continue to pursue Sansa, with an eye out for her safety. Now that she’s arrived at Winterfell, they can rest though. Brienne befriends an old fella who remembers the Starks and she admits her allegiance to Catelyn Stark. She finds a way to get messages through to Sansa if need be.
Ramsay and his torture girlfriend Myranda are having intimate time when she admits her jealousy about his new fiancee. He had promised to marry Myranda back when he was a bastard, but he’s obviously not living up to the deal. Surprising exactly no one, Ramsay is not the most sensitive of boyfriends and disregards Myranda’s insecurities about Sansa’s presence. He threatens to get rid of her if she becomes boring, and since I suspect boring people get chased through the woods as human targets, Myranda perks up and redirects them to angry sex.
The servant woman who told Sansa “The North remembers!” carries a message to her this week to light a candle in a high place if she needs a help. Presumably she’s a pal of the man Brienne met. Sansa wanders around Winterfell, casually viewing high towers (hey is that the one Bran fell off? edit: Yes it is!) and runs into…Myranda.
Myranda buddies up to Sansa and then directs her to check out something that will stir up memories down in the dog cages. (I don’t know if I’d follow Myranda’s direction since she sets off creepy alarm bells, but being around the Boltons, Sansa’s alarm bells must be going off at all times.) Ignoring the sketchiness of the situation, Sansa goes down into the cages and in one finds a man…Theon Greyjoy.
No, it’s someone who once was Theon. He shakes his head at his old name, and tell her she shouldn’t be there. Sansa hurries away.
Reek painfully confesses to Ramsay that Sansa saw him in his cage. Ramsay toys with him, making it seem as though he’s going to torture his hand, before forgiving him.
Ramsay appears to be on his best behavior initially at the family dinner, toasting his fiancee, but then his torment of Reek really begins. He forces him to apologize to Sansa for murdering her brothers and then suggesting that Reek be the one to walk Sansa down the aisle at the wedding. Roose accepts the suggestion.
Walda reveals that she and Roose are expecting, and Roose believes it will be a boy. Ramsay seems confused because he wasn’t supposed to be unhappy at this dinner, just other people.
Talking after dinner, Ramsay is upset at the possibility of being displaced by the new child. Roose shares the story of Ramsay’s conception: he raped a miller’s wife and hung her husband, and thought he should’ve whipped the woman and thrown the baby in the river when she showed up with Ramsay. Only Roose saw that Ramsay was his son, and so he kept him.
I think this is what passes for touching family time in the Bolton clan.
Anyway, Stannis is headed for Winterfell, and Roose needs Ramsay on his side.
Up at Castle Black, Sam and Gilly talk books in the library (Citadel namedrop! Dare we hope?) until Stannis interrupts. He knows who Sam’s father is, the notorious tough guy Randyll Tarly. He quizzes Sam about his White Walker experiences and the use of dragonglass. Stannis encourages Sam to keep reading up on the subject.
Stannis and the flaming heart cavalry ride out of Castle Black, with Shireen and Selyse along too. Apparently going into battle is less risky than hanging out in a castle staffed mostly with convicted murderers and rapists. Shireen isn’t scared though- but Davos admits, he is.
Grey Worm wakes after remaining unconscious for three days, and finds Missandei by his side. She confirms Ser Barristan’s death, and the Unsullied soldier turns away from her. He admits to feeling ashamed, and when pressed, he explains: he doesn’t feel shame at being wounded, as it comes with being in war. He is ashamed because when he about to die, he was afraid- he was afraid of never seeing Missandei again. Overwhelmed, Missandei kisses him in response.
Later, meeting with Daenerys, she offers counsel. Barristan suggested mercy, Daario thinks Dany should kill the masters, and she wonders what Missandei thinks. Missandei helps her see that she has more than just one choice or the other- she can come up with her own new ideas as well, and that she does.
Daenerys visits Hizdahr zo Loraq in his prison cell and admits her error in ignoring traditions and not bringing the city together. She resolves to open the fighting pits as he’d requested. And to forge a bond with the Meereenese she’ll marry one of their people- the one on his knees already before her.
“I am…a person who drinks.” Yes, Tyrion. Well said.
The Tyrion and Jorah Boat Show carries on, with the still-tied-up Tyrion inflicting his wit on sullen Jorah as they steer toward the ruins of Valyria. Tyrion ruminates on the history of the Doom of Valyria and the city that fell.
Cruising through the remnants of the city, suddenly overhead is a flapping black shadow- a dragon.
And the distraction of the dragon keeps them from seeing the danger ahead among the ruins.
Stone Men, driven mad by greyscale, drop off the bridges into the water and onto their boat. They fight them off, Tyrion hampered by his bound wrists. Jorah hits and stabs at them, but the Stone Men are hitting hard, and then Tyrion is knocked into the water.
Struggling to untie his wrists, Tyrion is dragged down into the water by the Stone Man, deep into the river, and everything goes black.
Until a moment later, Jorah’s face flickers into focus, and we see that Jorah has rescued Tyrion from the river and pulled him to shore. The boat is lost, but they’ve survived. They have no choice now but to continue on their journey on foot. Jorah makes sure Tyrion wasn’t touched by the infectious Stone Men. He’s fine though.
Jorah trudges away a few feet before peeling away his sleeve to look at his wrist- and the stiff patch of greyscale already forming on his skin.
Jorah gets stoned: That was a spooky little trip through Valyria (some people will fuss over geography, I’m not bothered) with a cool dragon sighting. I thought the whole sequence was well-directed and having Jorah gets greyscale makes sense. Since we have no Jon Con on the show, it seemed like someone needs to get it and he was the most likely candidate. It’s good drama for Iain Glen.
Dany reacts and then acts: Time will tell on the show whether it was the right decision, but dramatically it’s interesting to see Dany react with grief, using her dragons to make a statement, but then be proactive about a political decision, and her choice to make a marriage. And Emilia Clarke handles angry Valyrian so well- I just really enjoyed her scenes tonight.
The Targaryen connection: Connecting Dany and Aemon from one to another was lovely. Makes you wish Daenerys could talk to Aemon and hear his stories as Sam gets to. Peter Vaughan is wonderful and I wish he had more screen time.
Grey Worm lives & Missandei advises: I would’ve hated to see both men lost in the fight, I like Missandei’s scene with Dany and I enjoyed the sweetness of their moment together. Always a nice counterbalance when you have an episode heavy on the Bolton ugliness.
Michael McElhatton: Roose and his incredibly messed up “I’m definitely your dad, I could’ve thrown you in the river after I raped your mom but I didn’t so cut it out.” What an absolute monster of a character but what an incredible actor.
Score! : I loved the music tonight, particularly the recurring use of Grey Worm and Missandei’s theme. It just struck me as very well done tonight.
Updating to say I completely missed Stannis nitpicking Othell Yarwyck’s grammar during the Night’s Watch group scene during my first watch, and now that I’ve seen it, it’s my favorite thing ever.
I didn’t love it:
At The Wall: A lot of talking, not a lot of doing. I didn’t hate it- this was a very strong episode. But the Wall segments were very talky, and occasionally felt stagnant.
Jealous-Myranda: I’m not that interested in this plot point. It’s not the actress’s fault. It just feels petty and like someone thought Sansa needed to be in extra-danger.
Previously On: It’s a minor peeve, but honestly, the quick recaps before each episode are getting pretty absurd with how much they telegraph is going to be in every episode. And do they really need to include bits that are actually going to rehashed in-story by characters? For previously-super-Sullied book-readers who are looking to be surprised this year, don’t watch these videos.