*stares in shocked silence*
Spoilers ahead. So many spoilers. ALL THE SPOILERS. You’ve been warned.
Well, the short version goes a little like this: suicide, slaughter, questionably sanctioned execution, murder, murder, public shaming, and the first scene in the third act of Julius Caesar.
The episode opens in Stannis’ camp where, apparently, the horrific murder of a child is totes paying off as the Lord of Light has sent along a warm front to melt the snows. Westerosi weather systems aside, the murder of Princess Shireen had other consequences: half of Stannis’ remaining army deserted overnight and Queen Selyse hanged herself. I guess Melisandre saw the writing on the wall, because she leaves camp upon hearing these tidbits of news. Stannis, being all Stannis, orders his men into marching formation and heads for Winterfell. There’s perseverance and there’s just bullheaded stupidity, and Stannis has just set up a permanent residence in the latter camp.
When Stannis and his army make it to Winterfell, he orders them to prepare for the siege, but they never get to spend hours in the freezing cold digging trenches, because Bolton’s forces just ride out and slaughter everyone. Well, everyone except Stannis. Just before the total annihilation of Stannis’ dwindled force, Podrick spotted them on the march and ran to tell Brienne. Brienne abandons her watch for Sansa’s signal – just before Sansa does manage to light that candle in the tower winder, as luck would have it – to go after Stannis. She does manage to find Stannis, wounded, amid the bodies of his defeated army and sentences him to die for his blood magic murder of Renly.
Meanwhile, within the walls of Winterfell, Sansa – having escaped her chamber to light the candle to signal Brienne – tries to make her way back to her chamber before Ramsay comes back. She runs right into the worst possible person to run into: Myranda, with her bow drawn, who has taken it upon herself to “escort” Sansa back to her chamber. After quite a bit of threatening, Myranda prepares to loose her arrow and shoot Sansa; Theon pushes Myranda at the last second, knocking her shot off course, and after a few seconds of struggle Myranda falls to her death. Just then, Ramsay and his men begin riding back through the gates and Theon and Sansa make their escape by jumping off the outer wall of Winterfell into the snow bank below.
In Braavos, Ser Meryn Trant is being the utterly disgusting creep that he is, whipping young girls in the brothel. The first two girls cry out in pain, the third does not. He sends the first two away to give special attention to the third who, after another blow, reveals herself to be Arya. She then proceeds to gouge his eyes out, stab him repeatedly, and – after explaining why she is killing him – slit his throat. But the kill is unsanctioned and when Jaqen and the waif discover her returning the face she used to the hall, a nightmarish scene unfolds and Arya’s sight is taken from her.
Over in Dorne, Prince Doran, Ellaria, and the Sand Snakes bid farewell to Jaime, Bronn, Princess Myrcella, and Prince Trystane as they leave for King’s Landing. Ellaria, in her newfound magnanimity toward the Lannisters, begs Myrcella’s forgiveness and says goodbye with an awkwardly long kiss. Once aboard the ship, Jaime tries to tell Myrcella the truth: that he is her father. She cuts him off and tells him that she already knew and then they hug and it is an adorable and sweet father-daughter moment – as long as you don’t think too hard about the fact that it’s really an uncledaddy-daughter moment – and then Myrcella starts bleeding out of her face and dies. Meanwhile, on the shore, Ellaria starts facebleeding too; she accepts a hanky from Tyene, wipes the lipstick off her mouth, and drinks the antidote from the vial on her necklace. She and the Sand Snakes sashay off screen and all I can hear in my head is Bell Biv DeVoe’s “That Girl is Poison.”
In Meereen, there is some entertaining bickering over who should go ride out to try to find Daenerys. Daario takes the lead and decides that Tyrion, Missandei, and Grey Worm should stay in the city since, as a team, they have the best set of qualifications to run things as Dani would want them run, while he and Jorah ride out in search of her and Drogon. Then Varys shows up in that timely way that Varys usually has. Meanwhile, somewhere in a mountainous wilderness somewhere in Essos, Daenerys tries to convince a wounded and tired Drogon to take her back home. Content to lick his wounds and nap, Drogon is having none of it, so Dani wanders in search of food. As she walks, she hears a horse whinny and looks up to find a Dothraki scout… seconds later she sees more Dothraki riders. Having nothing with her but what she was wearing when Drogon rescued her from the pit, Dani drops her ring on the ground in an attempt to establish a breadcrumb trail for someone to track, knowing that she’s about to be taken. Within minutes she is surrounded by an enormous khalasar.
In King’s Landing, Cersei finally confesses a sin – sleeping with Lancel Lannister – to the High Sparrow. The High Sparrow insists that a trial is still necessary since she is accused of many other sins and only a trial with get to the truth of them, but grants her leave to return to the Red Keep… though, only after her “atonement.” In preparation for her atonement, the Sisters of the Faith roughly bathe her and cut off her hair. Then, after an address by the High Sparrow, she begins her walk of atonement across King’s Landing from the Sept to the Red Keep. Naked and shoeless, she makes her way through the throng of common folk screaming insults, throwing food and garbage at her, spitting on her. When she finally gets to the Red Keep, filthy and battered, Qyburn rushes to her to cover her, comfort her, and present to her the newest member of the Kingsguard: FrankenMountain.
On the Wall, Sam has been given leave by Jon to make the journey to Oldtown where Sam plans find a safe place for Gilly and baby Sam and where he can attend the Citadel and train to be a maester. Not long after Sam and Gilly leave, we find Davos petitioning Jon for aid; while they argue, Melisandre arrives at Castle Black. Jon asks Melisandre about Stannis and Davos asks her about Princess Shireen, the look on her face answers their questions. Later, Olly storms into Jon’s chambers to inform him that one of the Free Folk has claimed to have seen Jon’s uncle, Benjen, alive. Jon rushes out to talk to the person making this claim… but it turns out to be a ploy to get him to a marker that says, “traitor,” in front of which a gathered group of sworn brothers takes turns stabbing him. Including Olly. And the episode ends with Jon Snow bleeding out on the snowy, frozen ground.
THE SEASON ENDS WITH JON SNOW BLEEDING OUT.
- I refuse. I reject this story’s reality and will substitute it with one of my own choosing. I am going to cling to Sam’s words from a few episodes ago: Jon always comes back.
What Could Have Been Better
That ending. I mean, I knew a mutiny was pretty much inevitable… but that doesn’t mean that I have to like it. Also, Cersei’s walk of shame was pretty hard to watch. I get why it was there and why it was done – I know it serves a purpose for the story – but, even for such an unlikeable character as Cersei can be, it was still pretty rough. I have never been a fan of public shaming.
What I Loved
- Varys is back! YAY! Tyrion and Varys work well together and also happen to be a very entertaining team
- Jaime and Myrcella – short-lived though it was, that really was a tender and sweet moment. And the look on his face as he stepped into the dad role!
- Jon figuring out that Sam and Gilly had sex
- Sansa’s courage
- Theon FINALLY stepping up
“Here’s to us, then. Long my they sneer.” – Jon Snow
“I’m glad the end of the world is working out for someone.” – Jon Snow
“If I’m going to die, let it happen while there’s still some of me left.” – Sansa
“You know who I am. I’m Arya Stark. Do you know who you are? You’re no one. You’re nothing.” – Arya
“The faces are for no one. You are still someone. And to someone, the faces are as good as poison.” – Jaqen
“He is the toughest man with no balls I ever met.” – Daario
“The queen’s closest confidante, the commander of the Unsullied, and a foreign dwarf with a scarred face. Good fortune, my friends. Meereen is ancient and glorious. Try not to ruin her.” – Daario