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Game of Thrones: Mother’s Mercy

“My Valyrian is a bit nostril.”

This week’s Game of Thrones review is a group effort. J.D., Juliette, and Josie (aka Team J3) each contributed a mini-review of an episode filled with violence, death, and dragons.


I... I... Huh. That was certainly a lot of cliffhangers. I think Tyrion has brought the humor with him, because the Daenerys scene with Drogon was almost silly, that is until she was surrounded by a Dothraki horde. Of course Tyrion now being in charge of Meereen, along with Missandei, Grey Worm, and Varys is just hilarious. I can't wait to see what Tyrion does with that powder keg, because if he can get things settled before Daenerys return, she will absolutely respect him. I do wonder if Daario and Jorah will find her, or will their journey be quixotic.

Come to think of it, almost all the main women of the series had rather horrible world lessons heaped upon them. Arya was blinded by the many-faced god, but at least she got to deliver bloody vengeance against Meryn Trant whose death has been a long time coming. Cersei's march through Kings Landing was so brutal, and long. I wasn't expecting that scene to keep going like it did. Poor Sansa had to be threatened yet again, with the very same torture that was inflicted on Theon. That must've been the final straw, because Theon finally stepped up and killed Myranda. I'm guessing that Winterfell has some sort of moat, because otherwise that is not a survivable jump.

Stannis, well, his end was just sad. The final Baratheon is dead, or probably dead. I'm pretty sure Brienne has killed him, but there is always the possibility that her good heart stayed her blade. It is fitting that his constant sacrifices to the red god ended up pointless, and that Melisandre was more con artist than prophet. I'm also curious about Melisandre back at Castle Black, because her presence means a potential resurrection for poor betrayed Jon. Hmmm.

This episode leaves things in a state of total uncertainty. With characters that we love stuck in very rough places. Yet it is also kind of exciting, with the army of the undead numbering in the tens of thousands, and with the players circling the Iron Throne dwindling one by one, pretty soon all that will be left is the looming giant war in the snow. I thought Jon would be a central part of it, but maybe I was wrong. Well, one thing I'm certain of; the wait for next season is going to be interminable.


Game of Thrones hasn't finished on a cliffhanger since season two, and what a cliffhanger! As a book reader, this episode wasn't as jaw-dropping for me as episode 8 (which was totally unexpected) or 9 (expected, but very well done, in my opinion better than in the book). This ending, though, was what we book readers have been waiting all season for, and it was obvious Olly was going to be one of the main culprits. But it was very well executed, and interestingly this episode was probably the closest to the books in the whole season, with the back half of the episode almost entirely made up of book material. Cersei may be awful, but her Walk of Shame was really horrifying, and I've never felt so sympathetic towards her or Qyburn. My favourite thing in the episode, though, had to be Drogon, who I think is my new favourite character. His reaction to Dany trying to ride him, as he licked his wounds and gently but firmly informed her it wasn't going to happen, reminded me so much of my cat I was grinning from ear to ear.

Ser-Not-Appearing-In-This-Episode: Margaery and Loras, Tommen, Tormund Giantsbane, Roose Bolton, Littlefinger. I miss Margaery and Loras, who haven't been seen for ages - I hope they get a decent storyline next season. Littlefinger has disappeared once again - hopefully he'll finally start to get his comeuppance when he sees what a mess his Sansa/Ramsey match has made.


Since J.D. and Juliette covered many of the key moments in this review, I thought I’d focus on a few questions that this episode raised for me:

• Stannis’s death was left ambiguous: we never saw Brienne’s sword make contact. But did you hope that was his final moment, just so his last words could be the oh-so-perfect “Go on, do your duty”?

• Did anyone think that Stannis’s army was about to have a Braveheart moment, only to be horribly disappointed that the big army wasn’t the Irish coming to save the Scottish?

• Was Sansa’s timing—lighting the help-candle just as Brienne abandoned her post—a bit too perfect?

• Do you think Arya is blind forever?

• Was the Sand Snake’s poison cued to kick in right at the most emotional moment between Myrcella and Daddy Jaime?

• How happy were you to see Varys?

• Do you like Cersei’s new haircut as much as I do?

• Do you think Jon Snow, He Who Knows Nothing, will stay dead now that Melisandre is nearby?

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.


  1. I was so happy to have Varys back and reunited with Tyrion! They are my favorite duo and I'm looking forward to watching them rule Meereen together in Dany's absence.

    So many cliffhangers, so much death! Of course Myrcella had to die right after having such a dear heart-to-heart with her uncle-father. And Stannis finally received his comeuppance at the hands of Brienne of Tarth, who at last got to do something this episode after being sidelined all season. To be honest I was a little shocked at how wrong Millesandre was. Was she playing Stannis all along, or did she really misread the future? If so I'm a little disappointed. She's a crazy woman, but I was convinced she actually was powerful and could foresee the future. I guess I was fooled like Stannis.

    Thank God Theone finally snapped out of his stupor to save Sansa. My soul can't handle Sansa being put through anymore torture. Game of Thrones loves to pair up unlikely duos to hit the road together, and it looks like Theon and Sansa will be that duo next season.

    And I don't even want to write about it: I'm still in denial about Jon Snow. I just can't believe he's not going to be a part of the story anymore. His Julius Cesar moment was so awful to watch. Doing the right thing gets you nowhere in Westeros.

  2. Great episode and nice reviews!

    I can finally say this now that the show has reached the end of the books: I doubt Jon Snow will stay dead, and the mechanism to restore him to life is already in place. But I guess time will tell...

  3. I do not think for one second that Jon Snow will be staying dead for long. No matter what Kit Harrington and the producers say in interviews, I'm not buying it. Melissandre or something else will bring him back, and his powers as the undead lead against the Army of the Dead could potentially be even better than the Valyrian sword. I'm just spit-balling here. We're getting a few different kinds of undead (Dondarion, the Mountain) or practically dead (stone men) folks on the non-White Walker side. And Arya is learning to be a better agent for the Many-Faced God of Death. If "no one" uses the guise of the faces of the dead, could that potentially be an element in combating the Great Evil bearing down on the world, too? Maybe? Who knows?

    I actually did not feel a lot of sympathy for Cersei in her Walk of Shame --- which makes me just as bad as Arya wanting her vengeance, I suppose --- but I thought Lena Headey was tremendous. Of course, now that we've gotten our vengeance on Cersei via the High Sparrow and the city, we've probably just created a worse monster. The look on her face as the Franken Mountain carried her away at the end did not leave me feeling great. Especially knowing that just Ellaria killed her only daughter. What new atrocities does the endless cycle of vengeance leave us with? So many dead. We really need somebody to just break the damn wheel already.

  4. I was so torn about Cersei's walk of shame because this season (and the show in general) has been so about sexualized violence towards women, way more so than the books which were bad enough in that regard. I think they nailed it in terms of accuracy although I did at times find myself wondering if we needed to see that much of her body. Lena's face did quite enough work. It was amazing how she expressed everything that was in that chapter without speaking.

    I don't think Brienne killed Stannis. I don't think it's like her to take advantage of someone injured like that. I'm thinking she knocked him out and is going to try to trade him to the Boltons for Sansa.

    I was afraid Theon was going to turn hero and rescue Sansa and that this whole horrible ordeal she's gone through would just have been set up for Theon's redemption but I felt like they made a concerted effort to make the two of them equal partners in their escape. They went together, it wasn't as if one was rescuing the other.

  5. I found it very hard to see Cersei like that. Yes she's a scheming, lying, and pretty bad person. But that's what a LOT of men are like. But a woman is punished like this. In such a demeaning way. Literally shaming her.

    I liked that they gave a tiny shred of power back to Sansa, even though Theon provided the way out.

  6. I think it's important to keep things in perspective. I do think it was wrong to sexually humiliate Cersei in the manner we saw, and I'm looking forward to eventually seeing the High Sparrow and his fellow fanatics chopped to pieces by FrankenMountain. (What's the use of having a giant zombie if you don't use it to clean out nests of religious zealots?) But some commentators on other sites have complained that Cersei was punished for "being a woman" and "not knowing her place". Let's not forget she is a murderer, a war criminal, and ultimately responsible for pretty much all of the bloodshed we've seen south of the Wall. Cersei didn't deserve to be tortured or humiliated, but she does deserve punishment for her crimes - preferably a swift and clean execution.

  7. I actually liked the walk of shame, because it pointed out the all-too-frequent occurrence of religion policing women in terms of their sexuality.

  8. are you sure it was Dothraki riders? Seemed more like a new kind of warriors to me.

    and John Snow better not be dead.

  9. Kayne - I'm hesitant to bring the books into this but in this case can answer that yes, they're definitely Dothraki. And I totally agree on Jon Snow!

  10. Let's not forget the High Septon was made to "walk" after being caught in Littlefinger's brothel. I don't see the walk as sexual violence geared specifically towards women when we see even a male like the High Septon himself being put through it (albeit on a much smaller scale).

  11. thanks Juliette! and I think it's spoilerishly-ok :)
    (sorry I forgot to check those comment a long time ago :))


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