BIG TROUBLE IN OLD VALYRIA
Note: The following review goes into detail about the episode. SPOILER ALERT!
We’ve reached the halfway point of Game of Thrones’ fifth season, and it’s clear that this season is unlike any of the others that have come before it. In previous seasons, we’ve had a couple of stories that felt like they were isolated from the main arc, but now, all of our different storylines seem so separate at the moment. There are several characters on course to cross paths with other characters, but this isn’t guaranteed to take place in all of these circumstances. Along with that, we’re going to have to get used to not seeing characters for significant stretches of time, which isn’t going to be to everyone’s liking. I’m actually enjoying this new feel of the series, but I’m also looking forward to getting back towards the more normal action that has defined the series so far.
Picking up where we left off last week, Dany’s reign took a major hit when Ser Barristan Selmy and Grey Worm were laid low by the Sons of the Harpy. As I feared, Selmy didn’t survive his wounds, but Grey Worm has lived to fight another day. I’ll be completely honest here, I like Grey Worm, but I would have preferred if he had bitten the dust over Selmy. “Barristan the Bold” is a far more interesting character in my opinion, and I would have loved to see plenty more from one of the greatest living knights on the show. His death feels like a way of cutting Dany off from her support structure, leaving her to make her own decisions a lot more. We see the consequences of this this week when she feeds one of the old masters to her dragons—shades of the Mad King here perhaps? It all ended with Dany deciding to reopen the fighting pits and to also marry Hizdahr. It seems like a move way out of left field, but if Dany is to hold any hope of bringing peace to Meereen, she’s going to have to show some diplomacy.
The episode name, “Kill the Boy,” wasn’t pointing towards another horrific action befalling a child on the show. Instead, it was Maester Aemon’s way of telling Jon that he needs to grow up, for Jon to “kill the boy” inside himself and become a man. I really like that phrase in relation to Jon, and I also wholeheartedly agree with Maester Aemon. While the rest of the kingdom squabbles over a chair made out of swords, the Night’s Watch knows what the real threat to the realm is. Jon’s going to need to be strong enough to fight against this threat, and he took his first steps towards that here. Making peace with the wildlings and offering them safe passage through the wall is a gutsy move, one that definitely didn’t go down well with his fellow brothers. Jon’s agreed to leave Castle Black and travel North with Tormund to meet with the rest of his people, but I can’t help but feel this is a mistake. Without even taking into account the dangers that lie north of the wall, there could be trouble waiting for Jon when he comes back. The last time a Lord Commander traveled North, he faced a mutiny, so I hope Jon doesn’t have one waiting for him when he returns.
The war for the North is building up to be our big action event of the season. Stannis hasn’t wasted any time in setting out on his march towards Winterfell, and the Bolton’s are already preparing their defense. I do worry about Stannis now. Even though he’s quite cold, he’s still one of the only people in a position to make the “bad guys” pay. This coupled with the touching moment with Shireen last week leaves him open to a shocker of a death. I hope not though, because we need to see the Bolton’s pay. Ramsay returned to his vile ways this week, tormenting Sansa by parading Theon around in front of her. Sansa has definitely grown up a bit this season, but there were a few cracks in her steely façade here. She’s going to have to remain tough with the Bolton’s about. I’m still not sure how Brienne is going to fit into all of this. She’s hellbent on rescuing someone who doesn’t want to be rescued. It was also a little disconcerting to see her place her trust in that random Northerner 30 seconds after meeting him.
Rounding out the episode was a wonderful scene involving Tyrion and Jorah. While I found the attack of the stone men a little bit underwhelming, the moments preceding it were excellent. Valyria is an oft mentioned place on the show, so getting to actually see the once wondrous, long-dead city was a real treat. I have to say that seeing the city must have made me a feel a little bit like how Tyrion must have felt when he caught a glimpse of Drogon flying high overhead, just a great scene all around. The following attack by the stone men was fine, but I didn’t feel like their animalistic nature was all that interesting. However, Jorah did get touched by one of them, meaning he has now caught Greyscale, the same malady that afflicts Stannis’s daughter Shireen. While children are known to be capable of surviving the disease, it is often a death sentence for adults. Now the question is whether Jorah can be saved at all, and if he’ll be able to make it back to Dany in time.
So, there was no King’s Landing at all (which is very rare), no Dorne and no Arya. I kind of appreciate this format at the moment. It gives us a longer look at certain characters in one episode instead of stretching out small pieces over the course of a couple. There was actually a similar approach in the book series, with several characters and plots having a whole book dedicated to them, with the next book following all of the other character’s events that ran parallel to the previous book. The big risk with this approach for the TV show is keeping people engaged if they’re watching an episode where none of their favorite characters appear. On a show of this quality, though, I’m sure it’s not that big of a problem. The War for the North is starting to heat up a little, even as winter fast approaches. Jon is venturing out into the wilds of the north once again, while Dany faces up to life without one of her top advisors. I’m sure we’ll be catching up with a whole host of characters in the next installment.
83/100 – Great
Is this season living up to your expectations? What do you think about several main characters being absent entirely from episodes? Tweet me @OldSnake24. Also, be sure to follow us @YouNerded!
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