*Note: This review contains spoilers for the episode and light references to the books.
Holy crap, we’re already half way through season five! The good news is, the episodes are getting stronger every week. The bad news is, there still hasn’t really been a central plot for people to rally around, like Robb’s war or Jon going north of The Wall. Instead, out characters are drifting farther and farther apart geographically, and thus are having less impact on one another. I guess you could say that the main plot is building to another war in the north, but we’re just now getting to the point where it seems like that’s going to happen.
Sansa got a lot of screen time this week, but it was disappointing to see her backsliding on the manipulative persona that Littlefinger was helping her to craft. Without his influence, I guess it makes sense for her to begin reverting to old habits; she’s just inherently a less interesting character when she’s always scared and crying.
And speaking of uninteresting characters, Theon (or “Reek”) was reunited with Sansa this episode. After everything Theon has been through, I’d love to see even less humanity in him. The barking sounds in the cage were a nice touch, but he still just seems like a very scared Theon, not this completely new person that Ramsay keeps saying he is.
I love the Ramsay character, and the actor playing him is brilliant, but I’m not sure why they tried to throw so much daddy drama pathos on him this week. In no universe would anyone feel sorry for him. Ever. But that flash of discovery on his face when he decided to forgive Reek instead of punish him? So deliciously maniacal.
Farther north, Jon and Stannis are both heading out from Castle Black. It’s great to see Jon committing so fully to being the kind of Lord Commander he wants to be. He definitely isn’t making friends, but he’s doing what’s best for the Night’s Watch and for the people of the realm. But is anyone else having a bad feeling about Stannis’ march to Winterfell? He clearly has the advantage in a straight forward battle, but with Winter fast approaching, the Boltons being holed up in a castle definitely seems like the safer option.
We also got closure on the Grey Worm/Ser Barristan situation after last week’s cliffhanger. Grey Worm is alive, Ser Barristan is not. Personally, I wish their fates were reversed, but it makes sense for the plot this way. Dany needed an excuse to go bat-shit crazy, and the writers wanted to continue shoving the awkward Grey Worm/Missandei love story down our throats. Seriously, does anyone care about those two?
But at least on Dany’s side, it was good to see her take some action, even is that action was more in line with something her father, the Mad King, would have done. And now she’s committed to opening the fighting pits, and to marrying into a ruling house of Meereen. Does she have any interest in Westeros anymore? Because I’m not seeing it.
We ended the episode with Jorah and Tyrion passing through Old Valyria, and we got a really cool moment in Tyrion seeing Drogon for the first time. We’ve spent so much time with the dragons that we forget what mystical creatures they really are to most people. But, as cool as that moment was, the fight with the Stone Men felt awkward for a few different reasons. The quick cuts and camera angles made the whole thing hard to follow, and the Stone Men themselves really just looked and acted like the White Walker Jon killed a few seasons back. They were basically just fast zombies. I know that Greyscale makes a person go mad, but there could still be some differentiating features from the White Walker zombies. But hey, at least I was right last week when I said someone would be getting Greyscale. The writers only made it SUPER OBVIOUS by mentioning it a million times…
Two final thoughts before wrapping this up. First, what the hell is going on in Dorne? Jaime and Bronn are trying to rescue Myrcella, and the Sand Snakes are preparing for some kind of war against the Lannisters, but we’ve hardly spent any time with any of the seemingly important characters. We’ve gotten a short, expository scene between Ellaria Sand and Doran Martell, a short, expository scene between the Sand Snake sisters, and then an action sequence for Jaime and Bronn. That is significantly less than what the producers said about Dorne becoming a major focus on the show. They’re even in the opening credits now, we should be getting something more susbstantial than what we’ve seen thus far. We’re only half way through the season, sure, but with all of the other stories ramping up, I don’t see how there’s enough time or room to properly introduce all of the characters we need to get to know. Dorne might really be a season six focus, unfortunately.
Second, and this is more aimed at book readers, but it looks like a certain major character is being cut from the show completely. And that is incredibly disappointing, considering how world shattering his original reveal was. Sure, they could always introduce him at a later point in the season, or even next season, but that doesn’t seem likely considering Tyrion’s time frame to interact with him has passed and the Greyscale subplot has been passed on to poor Ser Jorah. It’s a bummer because that really takes away any investment in that character while reading the books, knowing that the impact he’s supposed to have no longer matters. It’s the price you pay being a book reader and show watcher, I suppose. Now that the two are mostly running parallel, things will be getting spoiled both ways.