Sunday, May 17, 2015

Game of Thrones (S5E05): "Kill The Boy"

Episode 5 of Season 5 of HBO's Game Of Thrones is "Kill The Boy." This episode (S5E05) marks the halfway point of the season and although things are still moving along more slowly than most reviewers are happy with, they are clearly building towards something big, which will most likely be revealed in S5E09.

I think the main theme of this episode (S5E05) is maturity and the hard decisions that follow. Considering the body count of this show, one could be forgiven for taking the title of the episode ("Kill The Boy") literally and fearing for the safety of some child. Especially considering Daenerys' behavior  in trying to maintain control of the former slaveholding city of Meereen. However, we discover pretty early that the title is a metaphor, a suggestion from Maester Aemon Targaryen to Lord Commander Jon Snow to "kill the boy and let the man be born." Jon takes his advice and announces to the Night's Watch his very unpopular decision that he wants to invite the people they have viewed as their enemies for generations (the Wildings who live North of the Wall) to come and live south of the Wall. Jon's reasons are sound: anyone who is North of the Wall when the Army of White Walkers comes through during the Winter will not only be massacred horribly but also turn into un-dead Zombies that the Night's Watch will have to face in the future when Winter arrives.

Maturity, or lack of therein, is demonstrated when we move to Winterfell. There Ramsey Snow Bolton is demonstrating his lack of control to Sansa by showing off his pet Reek at the worst dinner party ever featuring Lord Roose Bolton, his new wife Walda (nee Frey). Ramsay's lack of maturity is embarrassing for everyone present but it also reveals that Sansa has not fully matured because she is unable to show the disgust in her face as she sees the boy she knew as Theon being forced to apologize to her for (falsely) killing her brothers Rickon and Brandon while the man who killer her eldest brother and was present and responsible for the death of her mother is sitting across the table from her.

Over in Essos, Dany makes an important decision after throwing what I would refer to a fit of childish spite by terrorizing the heads of the great families of Meereen by showing them her dragons Viserion and Rhaegar and then arbitrarily choosing one to burned alive and then devoured by them.
She goes to the prison cell of the Meereenese noble the television audience knows the best (his actual name is Hizdahr zo Loraq) and while he cowers on his knees she cooly informs him that she wants to get married (to him).

A key part of the episode occurred when Tyrion Lannister and Jorah Mormont take a shortcut by passing through the fabled, haunted city of Valyria and see Drogon (Dany's 3rd dragon) flying in the sky. Valyria looked incredible but its eery stillness was broken by the appearance of the Stonemen, people who are completely infected with greyscale. "Don't let them touch you!" cried Jorah but Tyrion's hands are still tied together so all he can basically do is scramble around and then plunges into the water and the screen fades to black when we see a hand reaching fro Tyrion pulling him deeper into the muck.

Amazingly, that's not the end of the episode, because there's one more incredibly important reveal: Even though Jorah was able to rescue Tyrion, he was unable to follow his own advice and he has contracted greyscale from the Stonemen. It's clear that the show is going to raise the profile of the disease to a much higher level than it has in the books.

The best parts of the episode were:
  • The best lines of the show were (surprisingly) delivered by Stannis Barratheon this week. The first was when he muttered under his breath "Fewer" when a member of the Night's Watch was arguing against his Lord Commander's plan by shouting "Let the die! Less enemies for us!" "Fewer," muttered Stannis, channeling his inner grammar scold. The second great line was when Stannis talked to Sam in the library and confirmed that the rotund, unassuming guy in front of him had indeed killed a White Walker with dragonglass (obsidian) but doesn't know why it worked. "Keep reading, Samwell Tarly" said Stannis on his way out the door.
  • The entire scene on the water going through Valyria with Jorah and Tyrion exhanging quotes from famous poems was simply delightful.
  • Dragons! Viserion and Rhaegar looked incredible close up and Drogon looked amazing from far way.
The parts of the episode I could have done without:
  • I think this was the first episode of the season with no specific lowlights for me. I know that many reviewers do not understand the depiction of thee relationship between Grey Worm and Missandei but to me it is welcome respite from the bleakness of the show. That being said, Grey Worm's expression of love was still a bit groan-inducing.
Grade: 9/10.

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