Game of Thrones: Kill the Boy

"Winter is almost upon us. Kill the boy, and let the man be born."

This wasn't a unique episode in its format, but having the focus on four stories was a nice way to de-clutter some of the plot-line chaos.

The Wall

There was a sense of transition, as Jon made his plans with Tourmond, and Stannis got bored and decided to march on Winterfell. It's interesting that every single important Wall character showed up in this episode. It was as if the show was reminding us of who everyone was, and what their potential motivations will be. Like there is some massive event looming over the wall that will force everyone to make hard choices.

I liked the fact that Stannis was the only King candidate who was thinking about the stuff beyond the wall. The White Walkers (referred to as Walkers several times), are this ever-present threat, even though we haven't really seen or heard from them in a while. The fact that Sam is still researching the reasons why the dragon glass killed that White Walker outright is good.

Jon's actions, on the other hand, were both troubling and impressive. He sees a much bigger picture than most of his Watch brothers, and knows the Wildlings are one of their only hopes in surviving the winter. Yet there is a heavy counterpoint to trusting them. For a very long time they have scaled the wall and done horrible things to the northerners and crows. It is bad enough that twelve villages were abandoned. I guess making Jon's decision cut and dry would be too neat, but this might be too risky.

Winterfell

I really wish we didn't have to deal with Ramsey Bolton any more. I've hated his character since season three and I can't be alone. He isn't the fun villain, he's the mad unpredictable villain. I know he is basically the replacement for Joffrey, but please can we have the purple wedding for him soon? His father is just as bad, he's just not as upfront about it.

It makes me worried for Sansa who is still not confident about using manipulation. In fact, she seems almost as if the idea of playing along with these men is abhorrent to her. It's clear she realizes her situation, and isn't fool enough to believe the Boltons won't kill her at the first chance. And it is pretty obvious she understands Ramsey's nature now, with that horrible dinner scene with poor Theon. I just hope she learns to play the game before it is too late.

At least Brienne is still trying to protect Sansa, and has quickly picked up on the fact that the Northerners don't like the Boltons, and could be used as an underground to help protect Sansa.

Meereen

I'm a little torn about the choices Daenerys is making. In the wake of Ser Barristan's death, she makes a violent choice and kills one of the heads of the prominent families in an attempt to root out the Harpies. While I'm glad she is making some progress with Rhaegal and Viserion, it might have been a bit too brutal for her to feed up a man to them. On the other side of this scene, Dany speaks with Missandei who basically says she needs to trust her own instincts. So here come the fighting pits and yet another marriage.

Valyria

In a show rich in visuals, the long boat ride through Valyria was perhaps my favorite. The ruins were detailed and amazing. The lore about the fall of Valyria was equally well done, especially that long poem recited by Tyrion and Jorah. I could've done without the Stone men assault though, who seem like zombies almost.

Unfortunately, one single touch from those things is enough to spread their disease. Dragonscale seems pretty awful, and there has been enough talk about it in recent episodes that we know what poor Jorah is about to go through. Will he actually go all the way to Daenerys and risk giving it to her? Is his obsession with her that strong? Or will he let Tyrion go, and find a way to take himself out?

Bits:

The nudity in this series is always done in the most tasteful and purposeful of ways. So it makes sense for Ramsey's scene with Myranda about jealousy to be done totally in the nude. /sarcasm

Drogon showing up in Valyria so that Tyrion could see a dragon first hand was pretty awesome.

Sansa discovering what happened to Theon was a powerful little moment. It showed her what the Boltons are truly capable of.

Grey Worm survived the ambush, and finally had a real romantic moment with Missandei. That was very sweet, even though I still don't know what purpose this romantic pairing serves.

Quotes:

Sansa: "This isn't a strange place, this is my home. It's the people who are strange."
Ramsay: "You're right, very strange."

Tyrion: "Long sullen silences, and an occasional punch in the face. The Mormont way."

Tyrion: "They held each other close, and turned their backs upon the end; the hills that split asunder, and the black that ate the skies. The flames that shot so high and hot, that even dragons burned; would never be the final sights that fell upon their eyes. A fly upon a wall, the waves the sea wind whipped and churned --"
Jorah: "The city of a thousand years, and all that men had learned; the doom consumed it all alike, and neither of them turned."
Tyrion: (looking at his bound hands) "I would clap."

Occasionally stunning but a bit slow, this episode might not have been the best, but it was far from the worst.

3 out of 4 Dragons and Stone Men

Reminder: The comments on these episode reviews are appropriate for newbies. If you haven't read the books, you're safe! If you have read the books and would like to talk about upcoming events, please do so here, in our Season Five book spoiler thread.

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related. He reviews Arrow and Farscape and cool new movies that strike his fancy.

7 comments:

Juliette said...

I finally started to warm to Stannis when he said 'fewer'!

I wish Sansa was being given a bit more active manipulation to do, or that we could see her consciusly playing the Boltons a bit, the way she used to subtly snark Joffrey. I am enjoying seeing her work things out though, and the Theon reveal was definitely a good 'I'm-so-screwed' moment. And Alfie Allen's work as Reek is fantastic, so it's good to see more of him too.

We still need more to *happen* this season though...

Anonymous said...

"While I'm glad she is making some progress with Rhaegal and Viserion, it might have been a bit too brutal for her to feed up a man to them."

All I could think during that scene was "Aww look, they're sharing!"

Anonymous said...

When Daenerys said she was gonna re-open the fighting pits, I expected her to follow that up with making the heads of the great families fight each other.

Anonymous said...

I guess i am in the minority.. But im totally on board the,stanis train. easily the Most real and complex character. Brutal yet honest..proud yet always willing to give respect, a just Deal and negotiation. hes theguy that doesnt know how to be the cool guy but will take care of Business when IT counts

Cesare said...

I apologise if it's inappropriate but I do not know where else to post it on the site, antd it is too good...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGm6EIaiHXc&app=desktop

Bea said...

I like Stannis a lot, too! Both book and show version. His relationship with Jon during his time on the wall was a highlight for me in the books, and it was perfectly portrayed in the show as well. I like how it sort of paralells Ned and Robert, too, a sort of ackowledgment that Starks and Baratheons mix well. I also really liked his small moment with Sam in this episode.

I find the Bolton's sickeningly fascinating. That scene where Roose told Ramsay about his mother made me shiver in the worst way (isn't it weird, too, that we got that lovely father/daughter bit with Stannis and Shireen in the last episode, and that it was sort of mirrored by that Roose/Ramsay bit? Both were ultimately about fathers reassuring their children, after all.).

Alas, poor, poor Theon and Sansa. I too wanna see a bit more manipulating from Sansa... although I'm sure she realices that Ramsay might just be a different kind of psycho than even Joffrey was.

I admit I find Dany's story boring and uniteresting, and I sort of hate how she chooses to deal with things as a queen. It's like she can't decide if she wants to be ruthless or fair, and she ends up coming across as lost. God, I hope Jorah and Tyrion make their way to her (and Varys, too, if only because Varys and Tyrion together are gold!).

The visuals of Valyria and Drogon flying were beautiful! If anything, this show is always visually stunning.

Josie Kafka said...

Excellent review, JD!

Sansa discovering what happened to Theon was a powerful little moment. It showed her what the Boltons are truly capable of.

I share your distaste for Ramsey, so that dinner scene really astonished me, since it's so incredibly stupid of him to reveal himself that way.

He's just confirmed to Sansa that he's evil. Does he think that will scare her? Doesn't he know she used to be engaged to Joffrey? Doesn't he recognize the symbolism of her black dress and new hairstyle?!

In other words, he thought he won that match, but he really lost. He's got nuthin' on a Littlefinger-trained Stark future wardeness. :-)