The season finale of Thrones once again pushes the boundaries of television drama – this little show about kings and dragons is shaping up to become the greatest mainstream art project of the ages.
George R.R. Martin and The Winds of Winter
After watching the fifth season, there are two things I’m curious about. Certain scenes haven’t happened in the books yet – such as the encounter between Daenerys and Tyrion – so David Benioff and D.B. Weiss had to take an educated guess how these interactions would take place. They’ve done exceptionally well, I would say, so what if George R.R. Martin shares that opinion and decides to incorporate the exact scenes and dialogues into The Winds of Winter – the 6th entry of A Song of Ice and Fire; would that be plagiarism?
The second thing’s related to it, namely: Martin knows his books will eventually be put on screen, so would that make him write even bigger and more disturbing scenes, just to see if HBO has the guts to go through with them? I guess we’ll know in two years; the 7th season of Game of Thrones will reportedly still be the series’ last.
Melting Icicles and Double Vengeance
But let’s focus on Mother’s Mercy. What did Ramsay Bolton mean, a few episodes ago, when he said he only needed ‘twenty good men’ to defeat Stannis Baratheon? Whatever his plans were, it doesn’t matter now. Half of Stannis’ army has fled – that’s what you get when you burn your daughter alive – so he didn’t stand a chance against the forces of Winterfell, no matter how many melting icicles the Lord of Light put outside of Melisandre’s tent.
At first, Stannis survives the battle, but is then confronted by Brienne of Tarth. Her consolation prize for not doing anything this year is killing Stannis, who’d killed his brother Renly – the one who’d granted Brienne’s wish to serve in his Kingsguard, despite her being a woman (yes, everything in Westeros goes back a long time.)
Brienne’s not the only one who’s given the opportunity to avenge somebody she loved. As predicted last week, Arya Stark gets close to Meryn Trant and literately punches his lights out – with a knife. It seems to come with a price, though. When she returns to the House of Black and White, faces start flying everywhere, until she loses her own eyesight.
Kiss of Death
In Meereen, everything’s kind of back to normal, except Daenerys is missing. Her entourage has made it out of Harpy Arena alive and well, nonetheless. Jorah and Daario are off looking for the Queen, while Grey Worm and Missandei rule – with Tyrion as their advisor. And guess who’s back: Varys shows up like a jack-in-the-box.
Bronn, Jaime and his daughter are finally going home, after a very laid-back visit to Dorne. However, the Sand Snakes are crazy about poison (and antidotes). Before stepping aboard, Ellaria Sand gives Myrcella Baratheon the kiss of death. A few minutes later the poison on her lips takes effect and she starts bleeding from her nose.
It won’t be long before Jaime figures out what happened and the Lannisters declare war against House Martell. If Jaime survives going back to King’s Landing, that is, of course. No doubt he has to answer for his sins before the High Sparrow, too.
Walk of Atonement
Speaking of sins: Cersei finally confesses, or should I say: makes something up. She still denies her relationship with Jaime – I wonder if Jaime won’t just tell the truth, if the High Sparrow puts him through the same ordeal. We’ll know next year. One of the things Cersei has to do, is something called the ‘Walk of Atonement’ and here Game of Thrones crosses the line between fantasy TV show and straight up performance art. The scene is similar to the movie Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, in a way, but in a totally different context, of course. For a solid number of minutes, without any music, the little show about kings and dragons becomes pure art, when it sends a bare naked Cersei through the packed streets of King’s Landing. It’s everything good television (and good art) should be. Heartfelt, gut wrenching, honest, shameless, uncompromising and beautiful.
But that’s not all Mother’s Mercy had in store for us. Samwell has left Castle Black – to become Warden of Libraries, or something – but not before admitting to Jon Snow he ‘hit that’. Very carefully, of course, due to his injuries. Jon smiles; he hasn’t forgotten the cave.
At least he had a nice thought in his head when he finally got betrayed by Alliser Thorne. His resentment for the Wildlings run deep – too deep – and Jon Snow had to go. ‘For the Watch’, his brothers of The Night’s Watch say, before planting their swords in his body, as a result breaking many young girls’ hearts all over Westeros, Essos and beyond.