It’s that time of year again. Winter is over, which means Winter is Coming (presumably, finally).
I’m not going to dwell on this more than once, or at least that’s my plan, but clearly there’s a huge difference between this season of your favorite swords/political intrigue/magic/dragons epic and all previous seasons. That is, there’s no canonical source material for this season, due to a certain football fan, movie theater owner, short story collection editor and part time author’s rather difficult relationship with deadlines.
Now, the show runners have given interviews indicating they know what the ending is supposed to be, and that they know some things about how they’re supposed to get there, but from this point forward, even beyond the “wait but that guy’s alive (dead) in the book and dead (alive) in the show” moments, the series has to be regarded as its own thing. That’ll be difficult for your humble recapper, but here goes:
So uh, previously like, a few things happened. To set the stage:
- Ser Loras and Margaery are taken into custody by the High Sparrow.
- Sansa is rightfully creeped out by/terrified of Ramsay but escapes with Reek’s help.
- Melisandre sends Stannis to his presumed death at the hands of the Boltons (and ultimately, Brienne).
- Melisandre returns shaken to Castle Black
- Jorah and Tyrion are beset by Stone Men, and Jorah contracts greyscale.
- Jorah fights his way through regional qualifiers to the big gladatorial event in front of Dany, and helps to save her from an attack by the Sons of Harpy.
- Dany escapes the fray on one of her dragons, and flees to the countryside.
- Where she is captured by Dothrakis.
- Daario and Jorah head out to find her, leaving Tyrion to govern Meereen.
- Jaime’s efforts to bring Myrcella back from Dorne appear to succeed, but she’s killed right to death by a Sand Snake wearing poisoned lipstick.
- Arya is chastised for having taken a face to facilitate killing Meryn Trant. As punishment, she is blinded.
- Cersei, herself having been held captive by the High Sparrow, repents and is made to walk naked from the Sept to the Castle, all the while being insulted and assaulted. When she arrives at the castle, she is borne away by the rather..mountainous Ser Robert Strong, newest member of the Kingsguard.
- Jon Snow, having led Wildlings back through the gate at Castle Black, is set upon and killed by Alliser Thorne and others, including young Olly.
So that killed a good two and a half minutes, what next? The opening credits seem largely unchanged, I’ll tell you that much.
We open at Castle Black. Jon’s body lies in the snow. Ghost howls repeatedly and struggles to break out of his pen. Ser Davos can’t sleep, and wanders out into the courtyard. Stunned to find Jon, he cries out for help. Edd Tollett and a couple others loyal to Jon rush to him, and at Davos’s direction, remove Jon’s Dead Body back to, it seems, Davos’s quarters. In my own household I was asked if the shape of the giant bloodstain was intended to mean anything. I don’t think so? However, if you see something, say something (in the comments).
Jon’s friends decry Thorne’s treason. Edd doesn’t think they can trust more than than the people in the room, and agrees that he should go retrieve Ghost. A knock at the door reveals Melisandre, still distraught at Stannis’s fate. She claims that she had a vision in which she saw Jon fighting at Winterfell.
In the ensuing meeting of the Watch, Thorne admits that he, Bowen Marsh, and Othell Yarwick killed Jon, but justifies it by saying that he never disobeyed an order (true, oddly) and that Jon’s decision to let wildlings pass through the gates would have destroyed the Watch. The meeting grows slightly less hostile in tone as the other watchmen consider the argument.
Edd and Davos do a bit of plotting. Davos urges Edd not to be reckless–not to rush into a suicidal battle–he suggests that they bring the wildlings back to aid in their efforts to seek justice, as they owe Jon their lives, and Edd leaves to retrieve them.
At Winterfell, Ramsay is mourning the death of Miranda– the kennel keeper’s daughter/his lover/confidante. He vows revenge on Theon and Sansa, but tells the maester to feed the corpse to the hounds, so as not to waste good meat. YEESH.
Roose congratulates Ramsay on his role in the victory over Stannis, but notes that things will be significantly different if they have to face a prepared and provisioned Lannister army. Roose notes that they need a united north, and points out that Ramsay’s cruelty to Sansa and Theon has caused them to flee, which makes that a bit tougher. Ramsay claims they won’t get far, and Roose certainly hopes so–if Ramsay produces no heir (with Sansa) then he might want to watch himself, given that Roose’s wife Walda Frey is pregnant with a potentially legitimate alternative male heir.
In the woods near Winterfell, Theon and Sansa are fleeing a hunting party and hounds. They reach a briskly flowing river, and Theon insists that they cross — it’s the only way to escape the hounds. Sansa says she can’t, that the freezing water will kill her, but Theon insists. They make their way across, headed for almost certain hypothermia. They take shelter under an overturned tree, but soon find that the hounds have managed to follow. Theon tries to lead the hunting party away, and when captured, claims that Sansa was killed in the jump from Winterfell’s walls, but he’s not believed, and they quickly find her. Just before things get super ghastly, Brienne and Pod ride in. Brienne kills several men, and Pod takes one out as well, but is disarmed and about to be killed. Theon, having forced himself to pick up a sword, comes to Pod’s rescue and kills the guy.
In the aftermath of the skirmish, Brienne greets Sansa again, and pledges her service to her, as knights and the knight-like tend to do. Sansa accepts, and with some prodding from Pod, manages to get out the protocol-accurate lines to accept Brienne’s service. I think probably they should build a fire at this point, what with the hypothermia? Presumably they do that, but we don’t see it because we’re off to…
King’s Landing, where Cersei is told a ship from Dorne is returning. She goes to greet it, but instead of her daughter, she sees Jaime and a casket, shrouded in gold.
Her expression shows the terrible realization dawning. Not really a great couple months for Cersei. Soon after, speaking with Jamie, she recalls that their mother was the first dead body she ever saw, and describes her horror thinking of the putrefaction of bodies. Cersei chalks Myrcella’s death up to fate–that witch in the forest that one time did tell her that her children would all die, after all. Jamie wants nothing to do with fate, but instead displays a new-found commitment to the “ideas” of Ayn Rand, noting that nothing but the two of them matter, and that the new plan is to just seize everything.
Meanwhile, in your friendly neighborhood religious dungeon, a septa reads some downbeat scripture passages at Margaery. When Margaery asks to see Loras–asks for some news, she’s just told to confess. It looks like she might be in for a good slapping, but the High Priest enters and intervenes. He won’t let her see Loras either, and asks if she truly considers herself perfect, without sin. She says that of course she isn’t, and he replies that she’s begun her journey (to repentance or something) but that she has a ways to go.
In Dorne, Ellaria Sand helps Prince Doran back to his wheelchair. Doran compliments the life experience of the late Oberyn. He compares himself to his brother, noting that he was himself a born ruler, not an adventurer. Doran’s Maester enters bearing news of Myrcella’s death, and as he reacts, horrified, one of the Sand Snakes kills Aryo Hotah and the fleeing Maester, while Ellaria kills Doran, and tells him all about his shortcomings (weak, unwilling to take revenge when appropriate, etc.). Doran, dying, gasps his son’s name. Ellaria, just to rub it all in, tells him “your son is weak, just like you, and weak men will never rule Dorne again”.
Trystane’s ship appears to be coming into King’s Landing, presumably for the funeral, when the two other Sand Snakes enter his chamber, plainly to kill him, although he’s skeptical of this at first. They give him a choice as to his killer–the one with the whip, or the one with the spear. He chooses the one with the whip, who compliments him on the selection, but before they get to fussin and fightin’, Trystane gets the old “spear through the back of the head” treatment, so there is another one, shall we say, biting the dust. Must have been costing a pretty penny to keep so many character actors around–all this killing should help out the old balance sheets.
In Meereen, Tyrion and Varys are strolling down an avenue. Tyrion is trying to be inconspicuous, and is failing–he tries to give a poor woman money to feed her baby, but due to poor languages skills, expresses a desire to eat her baby. Varys helpfully smooths that one over. At any rate, Tyrion is trying to diagnose what’s wrong with the city and its people–how can they be governable, how can the cause of unrest that led to the Sons of the Harpy be determined and dealt with in the aftermath of slavery’s abolition. They stumble upon a priest of R’Hallor who appears to be preaching rebellion against the former masters even without Dany in the city to guide them. As they walk on, speaking of Varys’s investigation into the attack in the fighting pits, they hear people crying out in alarm and fleeing towards them. They follow the source of the outcry back to find their recently acquired fleet burning in the harbor, like so:
Meanwhile-ish, Daario and Jorah are wandering the countryside, searching for Dany, and find a dragon-scorched ram carcass. At some point, they find evidence of a great many horsemen, and then, such a coincidence, Jorah finds Dany’s ring in the middle of hundreds of miles of grassland. How about that! At any rate, they know the Dothrakis have her.
We cut to Dany, trudging along, bound at the wrist, as Dothrakis bring new slaves back to their encampment. The two who are dragging her along have a rather vile conversation about her, but she does not betray her knowledge of the language. Shortly thereafter, they bring her to Khal Moro (kind of a big muscle-y guy with a beard and braided hair, oddly?), and there ensues some banter about how many (four or fewer) things are better than seeing a beautiful woman naked for the first time. Jeez, these guys. At this point, Dany’s had enough, and, in Dothraki, unleashes her usual string of titles at the Khal, but this doesn’t have the desired effect. However, when she brings up Drogo, the Khal backs off–widows of Khals are off limits, but he’s also not going to take her back to Mereen. Widows of Khals all “live out their days” in the one permanent Dothraki city, Vaes Dothrak. Oh great.
In Braavos, a blind Arya is sitting on some steps with a begging bowl. Her sense of hearing seems more acute — she picks up constant snatches of conversation, but has trouble focusing. Her nemesis the waif approaches, taunts her for a moment, then drops one of the two wooden staves she’s brought into Arya’s hands, and then hits her in the gut. She tells Arya to stand and fight, and when Arya complains that she can’t see, well, not her problem. She knocks Arya around for a bit, with Arya staggering around like Luke Skywalker with the blast shield down, then wanders off, with a “see you tomorrow”.
Back at Castle Black, Thorne visits Davos, and, through a locked door, offers him safe passage, along with forgiveness to any Brothers of the Watch that surrender before nightfall. Davos says they’ll take that under advisement, but then in the room, all acknowledge that Thorne will surely have them all killed. Edd is their only hope, perhaps, unless, as Davos suggests, the Red Woman might help?
We cut to Melisandre in her chambers.staring into the flames. She rises, approaches the mirror on her desk, and gazes into it mournfully while she disrobes. We see her familiar fine form, until she reaches to take off her necklace, which glows red briefly as she undoes the catch. She sets it down, and we see a different image in the mirror. The camera returns to her, and…
I would say that maybe the necklace is a key accessory that goes with everything. She should probably wear it more than she doesn’t? At any rate, after contemplating her true form for a moment, she crawls into her bed, and pulls the furs up over her head. Man, we’ve all been there. Mondays, amirite? Credits.