The night is dark and full of spoilers, fair friends of the Realm. Which is to say if you have yet to watch Sunday night’s season five finale episode of Game of Thrones, “Mother’s Mercy,” we highly suggest you turn away from this very informative lil recap tout de suite. Don’t say we didn’t warn ya, ya Unsullied nincompoops.
You know that jump Sansa and Theon took at the end of the Winterfell portion of the finale? It felt like a move both literal and metaphorical. HBO’s Game of Thrones has met up (and in some instances, surpassed) the work of George R.R. Martin. We’ve fallen off the edge and now we’re waiting for the unknown at the bottom. And let’s just admit it to ourselves and the world right now: it is going to be a torturous year waiting for what happens next.
First thing’s first: let’s just get all the major milestones out of the way. That way we can languish in the badassitude (and tragedy) of the episode itself. By the end of the episode Arya has been blinded, Theon and Sansa have taken a big leap, Dany’s been found by a major khalasar, Cersei’s walked herself back to the Red Keep (but is a bit worse for wear), Myrcella was poisoned by Ellaria, and — of course — Jon Snow went and got himself super-murdered. If you were hoping for a bangarang, majorly shocking episode of Thrones, you got it, damnit. You really, truly did.
En Route to Winterfell:
…And then there was none. After murdering his beloved daughter Shireen in the name of victory, half of Stannis not-so-the-Mannis’ army fled during the night, because of course they did — no one likes to be on the losing side. But that wasn’t even the half of what the last of the Baratheon non-bastards (Gendry, #neverforget) went through: not only did he lose his daughter to his own greed for the throne, his wife committed suicide, no doubt overcome by shame and grief. Adding a cherry onto the top of Stannis’ shit sundae? Melisandre quickly fled to Castle Black, no doubt ashamed of the error of her ways and understanding of her visions.
Hey at least when she got to Castle Black, though, her full-on red regalia returned (how’s ’bout that alliteration, eh?), so maybe her work here is not yet done? (Cough cough R+L=J.)
In Winterfell Proper:
Sansa attempted to be rescued by Brienne, only to be thwarted by Stannis’ early arrival. With a whisper of an army behind him — and a literal fuckton of Boltons in their wake — the Baratheon banners fell pretty quickly to the brood of man-flayers. But it was Brienne and her dear, Valyrian Oathkeeper (GIRL keep that ish HANDY next season) that made the final cut that ended Stannis’ life. And you know what? Thank goodness! After all she’d been through, after what she saw in Renly’s tent, there was no greater serving of justice in the whole of the episode. Sorry not sorry, Stannis. You got what was yours.
It wasn’t all loss and death in Winterfell, though there was a lot of that (Never R.I.P., Miranda). The world’s most tortured redheads — Theon and Sansa — finally got a win (maybe?) when they escaped from Winterfell via …hopefully falling into a giant snowdrift? While we’re not entirely sure they could survive such a drastic fall, we’re certainly hopeful that’s the outcome that awaits us. Though we will say this: the feminist killjoy in us really wishes it was Sansa who’d had more agency in this situation. Why must she always wait for the man to be the hero/one of action? Still: it was great to see Theon finally nut up, despite the fact that he, y’know, doesn’t have ’em.
Across the Sea in Braavos:
Arguably the most enthralling part of the evening was Arya’s big, many-faced debut in Ser Meryn Trant’s bedchamber of pedophilia and violence. It’s hard to sum up this scene without a series of hoots and hollers (and maybe even a maniacal cackle or two), but our serial murdergirl brought her A-game when it came to furiously ending the d-bag kingsguard’s life. Stabbed in the eyes?! That speech? Her bravado? What a way to go you got, Ser Meryn. Though that’s probably exactly why she ended up losing her sight after seeing the many faces Jaqen’s maybe-body held within it. The other option being that going blind was all part of her training (just sped up), but regardless: the imagery there was spot-effing-on.
Down a Ways in Meereen:
The most exciting political development of the evening? Tyrion and Varys are reunited and basically ruling Meereen (p.s. if you see me at Comic-Con, ask me about my many-faced theory regarding Varys). We loved these two together at the beginning of the season and were beyond pumped to see Daario install Tyrion as a leader in the tumultuous cityscape. With Missandei and Grey Worm by his side, we’re fairly certain Tyrion will make a truly great leader in the corrupt and overrun city.
Daario and Ser Jorah being out on a jaunt is also a heck of a lot of fun that we’re excited to see next season.
And, of course, there is Dany. Did anyone else think she and Drogon might’ve been in Westeros already based on the scenery? In our mind, at least, the grass sea of the Dothraki to be a lot more wheat-looking than the cliffs of Scotland or wherever they filmed that scene. (We also had a serious flashback to the scene where Ned Stark beheaded that guy in the pilot — anyone else?) With an incredibly formidable khalasar surrounding her, though, we’re not sure what’s in store for Dany next.
Over in Dorne:
Finally/at long last: a reason for that really obnoxiously nude Sand Snakes prison scene! Turns out all that nakedness was a way to foreshadow how their poison worked so that we’d be none-too-surprised by Ellaria’s poisoning of Myrcella — made all the more tragic by her acceptance of her parentage after Jaime told her the truth.
Upon the Red Keep:
Ser Strong and repentant Cersei made their debuts. I mean that’s all that really needs to be said, right? After she admitted to sleeping with her cousin Lancel, Cersei (and her many incongruous body doubles — I mean hello?) was forced to make a penance walk across King’s Landing, forced to reconcile her own actions with the hate and vitriol of the crowd that awaited her. Shit, piss, old food, and blood were thrown her way.
Hair shorn close with a bell-ringing shame-bringer behind her, Cersei trekked on for what felt like an eternity, falling into the arms of Creepmaester Qyburn’s pièce de résistance, Ser Strong, the latest member of the kingsguard. Obviously this is The Mountain brought back to life. And, oh, what an unholy and beautifully metaphorical bit of business it was to see such a defeated Cersei scooped up by the monster. There is no safety in those arms, girl. The night is dark and full of terrors.
And Then There Was The Wall:
Welp. Jon Snow is dead, you guys. Though we’re not entirely convinced that Melisandre won’t Thoros of Myr his ass (she IS right there and we do know that the Lord of Light can do such business) into the world again. Still, the fact remains: Jon Snow is dead, killed by the Night’s Watch that found his Wildling rescue traitorous. Of COURSE it was Olly who laid the final blow that killed him (that little asshole!), but we’re honestly just glad Samwell and Gilly were gone and did not see it. It would’ve broken Sam’s heart and, frankly, led to his death (because you know he would’ve died trying to save him). Instead these two lovebirds are on their way to Oldtown so that Sam may become a maester. (Perfect job is perfect.) Will he ever return to The Wall? Only time will tell.
The Night’s Best Quotes
- “If I’m going to die, let it happen while there’s still some of me left.” – Sansa
- “I’m glad the end of the world’s working out well for someone.” – Jon Snow
- “Faces are for no one, you are still someone. And to someone faces are as good as poison.” – Jaqen H’ghar
- “So mainly you talk.” – Daario. “And drink.” – Tyrion
What’d you think of the finale? Any thoughts on our own theories and summations? Let’s hear ’em in the comments!
Alicia Lutes is the Associate Editor of The Nerdist. She is 100% on Team Arya, because anger issues. Find her on the Tweet Machine @alicialutes.