Thoughts on HBO’s Game of Thrones, Season 6 Episode 5

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Thoughts below the cut, as per usual:

Castle Black:

– it was really, really good to see Sansa comprehensively smackdown LIttlefinger.

– OTHO, while trusting LF is a bad idea, so is turning away 30,000 knights. Although I think I know why they’re doing that and I feel kind of meh about it.

– Well, the Boars, Gore, and Swords guys are very happy right now!

– And I’m happy that Brienne is going to the Riverlands, because that means LSH!

– I’m more happy that I think Davos is going to White Harbor!

House of Black and White:

– seriously, this much stick fighting was not necessary.

– I did like the backstory of the Faceless Men coming into the show.

– GRRM did “Mercy” better, and their more farce than Shakespeare version was ironically self-critical, but I think I know where they’re going with it. Batman doesn’t join the League of Shadows, after all.

Kingsmoot:

– I liked Asha and Theon together, Euron’s speech was not as cool as in the book, and I missed the horn.

Dany:

– while I don’t really care about Jorah, that was a nice sendoff.

Meereen:

– I thought the discussion with the R’hllorites was very interesting, although I don’t like the Rh’llor = burning unbelievers reductionism.

– I especially liked seeing Varys shaken by the High Priestesses’ knowledge.

Beyond the Wall:

– Well, that was eventful. I still think I’m right about the White Walkers – this version has some major sequencing problems, like the War between the First Men and the Children, and the Pact that ended it, coming before the Long Night, and the Children fighting against the White Walkers during the Battle for the Dawn. However, evil magic turning against its masters is still evil.

– Bran getting the mark of the Night’s King was interesting, although the whole not ready/dead mentor thing was very very Hero’s Journey in a way that GRRM is more deft with. Hope he’s learned everything he needs, because he’s not getting another chance.

– Bran causing Hodor’s condition through time I could definitely see; the whole thing about Hodor being “Hold the Door” seems a bit small potatoes.

– Meera killed a White Walker!

– Benioff and Weiss must be tired of dealing with the animal wranglers, because they really are on a direwolf-killing rampage.

– the whole staging of the zombie movie sequence was very dark and confusingly staged on the TV I saw it on.

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134 thoughts on “Thoughts on HBO’s Game of Thrones, Season 6 Episode 5

  1. artihcus022 says:

    OTHO, while trusting LF is a bad idea, so is turning away 30,000 knights. Although I think I know why they’re doing that and I feel kind of meh about it.

    I asked on tumblr about this but what do you think they are doing to make that work?

    • Sean C. says:

      Basically, the Northern recruiting drive is going to come up short, and so Sansa’s going to have to go back to him and accept his help (which will also, I imagine, allow him to fully worm his way back into influencing her, since as the writers said in the Inside the Episode, that he was able to turn her mind against Jon so easily shows he still has a hold on her; since this whole Jeyne Poole thing was a show add-on, they need to get Sansa and Littlefinger back onside in order to carry out whatever the endgame for those characters is). Also, it’s a way to add drama, since if they had the Vale onside from the beginning the whole story would be way too easy.

    • Keith B says:

      Let’s see. Littlefinger takes the army of the Vale to Moat Cailin, which for some reason Roose Bolton, who told Ramsay that he expected to have to fight the Lannisters, has left completely undefended. He then flies Air Westeros to Mole Town and meets Sansa, who tells him to take a hike. So he apologizes and leaves.

      That’s it? The Vale forces go back home now? Littlefinger has no Plan B?

      Sansa is supposed to be the great politician, can’t she find any way to put aside her personal grievances and turn the situation to her advantage? With her own relation to the Vale as Robin’s first cousin, with her father’s connections there, and with the goods she has on Littlefinger, she should be able to restore the old alliance and push Littlefinger aside as well. Maybe show Sansa isn’t learning to play the game as well as her fans had hoped.

      • artihcus022 says:

        Considering how roughsod the plot is at this point, I don’t know what playing the game means anymore. It’s all kickass poses and unearned payoffs from hereon.

        Kinslaying are a thing in Westeros now…as are nonsensical schemes like marrying Sansa to Ramsay in the first place. The minute the verisimilitude of the politics is compromised, judging characters based on their ability to manipulate and operate politically loses meaning.

      • jpmarchives says:

        She should really be undercutting LF’s position entirely. Just tell Robin Arryn and Lord Royce that LF killed Lysa and sold Sansa to the Boltons. LF is fucked and the vale Knights are still on side.

    • So I read some leaked stuff that may or may not be bullshit, but they were basically suggesting that in the big Winterfell battle, the good guys will be losing and then the Vale will show up as the literal cavalry.

      And having Sansa turn them down but having them be in the area is a way to pull that off. I’m not super-thrilled about it, because LF shouldn’t be the good guy here.

      • artihcus022 says:

        Well they could play that as Sansa deliberately turning Littlefinger down, and insulting him, calling him an “idiot” (which to him must have been a huge insult), and basically inviting him to prove her wrong. So she manipulated him by feeding on his romantic desire to prove himself a hero (that crypt scene in S5 confirms that LF sees himself as Rhaegar 2.0). I saw hints of that there, the fact that Sansa deliberately refuses to kill him.

      • Sean C. says:

        Those spoilers have also claimed that Sansa arrives with them, so it seems to me that she must at some point reconsider her decision to and go to LF for help.

  2. cisko says:

    the whole staging of the zombie movie sequence was very dark and confusingly staged on the TV I saw it on.

    Did it bother anyone else that the wights suddenly changed from Slow Zombies into Fast Zombies?

  3. lylebot says:

    I think the CotF/WW connection works in the original timeline. It’s sort of like the US funding the Mujahideen in the 80s, only to have them turn on the West 10-20 years later. Except this is Westeros, so everything takes place over a hundred-fold longer timespans. Thematically it works: no matter how good you think are, there’s no good way to stop a war.

    Hodor/”hold the door” ties in to the same theme. It may be “small potatoes”, but it’s still tragic that this one guy’s entire life was basically made a slave to this single moment in time, necessary as it may be to stop the coming war.

    • Eh. So they create an ultimate weapon but never use it?

      Because the first time we hear about the White Walkers is the Long Night, not before.

      Yeah, the Hodor thing turns out to be real apparently. Well, I’m sure GRRM will stage it better.

      • Space Oddity says:

        The ultimate weapon started eating them for breakfast. I suspect that things shifted to “Ha ha! We’ll show those filthy humans!” to “Oh, shit, oh, shit shut it down Steve, shut it down!” pretty quick.

      • Brett says:

        More like they created them out of desperation once their attempt to sink the Neck with the “hammer of the waters” fails . . . and then the First Men surprised them by being amenable for peace. The Children use magic to banish the Others quietly into the far North, but they come back after something catastrophic allows them to and cause/are a result of the Long Night.

        It’d be like Septon Barth’s theory on the dragons being created from wyverns with fire magic, and both being representative of fire magic waxing strong while possibly making it stronger by existing.

        Yeah, the Hodor thing turns out to be real apparently. Well, I’m sure GRRM will stage it better.

        I bet it’s a door on the Wall when that happens.

        • Brett says:

          Of course, I think GRRM will handle it much better – if only because the Others are very different in appearance than the White Walkers, and there’s the whole “Heart of Winter” factor as well (maybe the Children tapped into some extremely dangerous “ice” magic to create the Others, and then that power used the Others to grow in strength and cause the Long Night).

      • wat barleycorn says:

        I agree that GRRM’s payoff will be better. I mean, he’s clearly been planning it for 3,000 pages.

        But that said, I do have to give some respect to the showrunners for including it in the episode where the Faceless Man asks “does death come only for the wicked?”

        Yes, Hodor is just a plot device, a way for Bran to get north, and before that, a way for us to see how fundamentally decent the Starks are as they care for the great loutish man. But we’re seeing a beautiful hint of how GRRM will once again pull a Miller’s Boys on us. He will force us to, for a moment, reckon with the humanity of the plot devices. Because we do understand the world through stories. And GRRM is saying, as he has said many times in many ways, that the people who don’t get the narrative, these people are worth no less, no matter how hard our conventions of storytelling demand we believe otherwise.

      • Chinoiserie says:

        The Others could have become truly dangerous only after they learned to raise the dead. And all the histories we have are unreliable.

        • Tim Wolfe says:

          “all the histories we have are unreliable.”

          Yes, this. The Maesters don’t much like to even acknowledge magic, even in the mythic past. For instance, what made the First Men amenable to the pact at the God’s Eye? We’re just told that it happened, not why or what led to it. But the odds shifting on them seems like the most plausible reason, once you think about it; I doubt they suddenly just decided to be friends.

          Only then maybe the Children found they couldn’t turn their new weapon off — hence the Wall, the Long Night, etc.

  4. I don’t think Brienne going to the Riverlands necessarily means LSH. You’ve still got the BwB and possibly Blackfish to question her motives.

    I can see how the WW timing would work. A war comes up and the children turn to a magic that’s worked for them before. Before it get’s into full swing they come to a peace with the first men but this time they aren’t able to put the genie completely back in the bottle. At least one escapes them then grows beyond what they expected leading to taking sides with the first men.

    • Steven Xue says:

      My thoughts exactly. I think the WW were the ‘evil robot’ the Children created in order to protect themselves that ended up turning on their masters. Now this maybe a bit cliche, but I think the reason why they became so omnicidal in the first place was out of bitter resentment from the COTF who either abandoned them or tried to exterminate them once they had outlived their uses. And it was this that led them on a warpath to destroy all living things.

    • Brienne’s going to the Riverlands, and so is Jaime, and there’s really only one reason to do that.

      I’m skeptical about creating a weapon then never using it, and according to the timelines we have it’s about 2,000 years between the Pact and the Long Night.

      • Keith B says:

        Why would Jaime go to the Riverlands? Are the people who murdered his daughter in the Riverlands? Are the people who are threatening his sister in the Riverlands? He has urgent problems with the Faith and with Dorne. The show can’t send him to the Riverlands now without being completely ridiculous. That ship left the harbor (literally) when he went to Dorne in Season 5.

        There’s no Jeyne Westerling in the show either, in case you believe that fan theory.

        Everything has changed in the show. Brienne has already found Sansa. She doesn’t have to search for the Blackfish, she knows just where to find him. Jaime is a different person than in the books. He’s dedicated to revenge since Myrcella died in his arms. He was looking for something completely different in the books.

        I didn’t see much purpose for the LSH character in the books. It totally undermined the point of Catelyn’s story. But whatever point there was has vanished in the show. It simply doesn’t have room for all these side plots. It’s so crowded already that it’s become almost incoherent.

      • adhamhany says:

        Maybe the Pact happened after the Long Night? Everything we know about these times is from the writings of the Andals, who came much later. Maybe they got the chronology wrong.

        The way I see it: 1) The CoTF create the WW, 2) the WW attack during the Long Night, 3) Near the end of the war, the CoTF realize that they can’t contain the WW and join the side of the First Men 4) The Pact

        • Captain Splendid says:

          Honestly, I think we’re overthinking it here. Children lived in Westeros, men came along. Losing the war, they create an ultimate weapon with some hardcore evil magic which backfires. They then team up with Men to fight/push/contain them north.

          For a TV only viewer, it really does not need to be much more complicated than that.

        • The chronology would have to be REALLY wrong. Because there’s descriptions of a several thousand years-long period of peace in-between – and there had to have been a period during which the First Men adopted the religion of the Children of the Forest.

          • John says:

            And the Sumerian Kinglist says that Gilgamesh reigned for 126 years, and his father, Lugalbanda, for 1200 years.

  5. David Hunt says:

    There’s a Doctor Strangelove joke in the creation of the show’s White Walkers that I’m not quite good enough to make. Something about the Doomsday Device…

    The moment we saw a lucid Hodor in Bran’s visions of the past, I knew that Bran would be the cause of his affliction, but the truth of it was more sad and poignant than I expected. I was just expecting Bran to have caused the problem by trying to communicate with Hodor and calling him by that name repeatedly and finally getting through in the worst way possible.

    I’d normally say that they messed up with killing Hodor because Meera couldn’t hope to get Bran back to the Wall in that cart without help, especially being chased by a hoard of wights. I see the worst case as them just ignoring this problem and just getting them there. I think the best case is the reappearance of Benjen Stark.

    Totally agree with you about the direwolf holocaust.

    • Yeah, I think we’re going to see some teleportation with Bran.

      As I said, it’s not Bran causing it I have a problem with.

    • Lann says:

      The marking of Bran allowed them through the cave. Would it also allow them through the wall if Bran were on the other side? If that is the case its in their interest to not hinder Bran.

  6. Keith B says:

    Bran can change the past. You’d think that would be a powerful ability, but unfortunately he can’t change the present. So he isn’t really altering the past after all. The past remains what it always was, but his actions in the future (that he is fated to perform) are what’s making it so. It’s a closed time loop. Bran’s apparently immense power turns out to be no power at all.

    Compare that to U.K. LeGuin’s novel The Lathe of Heaven, where the main character actually does alter the present, and the past changes in order to make the present what it has now become.

    • Agreed that it’s a loop, but disagree that he’s not actually changing it. If Bran hadn’t done it, the past would have been different.

      • Keith B says:

        Bran can’t change the past now, because he already did. Just as Jojen can’t change the future, because the green dreams always come true, so Bran can’t change the past, because events in the past can’t be undone. Bran has no power because he has no choice.

        • That seems logically inconsistent to me. If he already did, he must have the power to do so.

          And let’s be honest, GRRM’s not going to set up this power and just have Hodor be the only time it’s used.

          • Keith B says:

            Time travel is logically inconsistent. This kind of story is best done as a tour de force, making sure the time travelers don’t change anything while preserving the illusion of free will. Two Heinlein stories and one of the Harry Potter books come to mind, and the plotting is intricate indeed.

    • beto2702 says:

      If we need impact we can have something like Looper. A loop being closed in real time, and at the end one single choice that affects the present, not the past.

  7. Tywin of the Hill says:

    1. That was a crappy excuse of a kingsmoot. There were only 2 things I liked:
    – The Driftwood Crown (it’s always been a nitpick of mine that the only kings who wear crowns are Joffrey, Tommen and Renly).
    – The drowning: Did anyone else hear a bit of repressed anger in Damphair when he was conducting the ceremony? I certainly thought his speech was longer than necessary.
    2. First 4 episodes: “Where’s Summer?”
    Episode 5: “Oh, there you’re. Good boy. Wait, what? No, no, no, no, no, no”.
    3. So, instead of taking LF hostage or something, Sansa let’s him go and decides she’s too reliant on her brother’s army, so she decides to rely on her uncle’s army (you know, the uncle she’s never seen and who’s too busy fighting the Lannisters). And in order to do that, she sends the only warrior that’s loyal to her away.
    4. The three-eyed raven’s death was amazing.

    • Andrew says:

      1. Euron becomes king after he admitted to both regicide and kinslaying with Balon, and last I checked, Balon was still loved by the Ironborn. That just stretches credulity to me. In the books, it made more sense with Euron hiring a Faceless Man to do the deed as even on the Iron Isles kinslaying is considered taboo.

      • Crystal says:

        There is kinslaying galore in show!Westeros. The powers-that-be don’t seem to comprehend that KINSLAYING IS A BAD BAD THING that even characters like Roose Bolton and Euron Greyjoy, FFS, hesitate at or at least won’t do directly (Euron hires the FM giving him plausible deniability). Kinslaying is like violating guest right – utterly taboo, and bringing down pitiless divine wrath onto the perpetrator’s head.

        Sure, Ramsay would kinslay – but Ramsay is both psychopathic and has absolutely zero awareness of long-term consequences. To have *Ramsay* be a kinslayer makes sense; to have kinslayers under every rock in Westeros doesn’t.

      • They seemed to have retconned the Balon popularity thing.

        • Andrew says:

          Still, they no doubt would have felt some loyalty to Balon; he was their liege lord for decades and their king for a short time. Kinslaying is also still supposed to be taboo in all parts of Westeros with only ones in power who do commit it.

          • Lann says:

            In the books Victorian says that he wants to kill Euron but he doesn’t want to be called kinslayer umpteen times so no I don’t think they would be OK with it. Now if he only had a dragonhorn…

          • Andrew says:

            to complete the last sentence: with the only ones who do commit it being unpopular in their own regions.

          • I would agree, but the show seems to sprint past that in order to get the setup they want – hence Ramsay.

    • 1. Yeah, I found it underwhelming too. It’s interesting that some people in the room with me thought that Euron was going to just drown to death.

      2. Yeah, they don’t like dogs on this show.

      3. Like I said, I don’t think it was the best decision necessarily.

      4. The animation effect was impressive.

  8. Crystal says:

    Whether or not Sansa’s turning away the Vale army will bite her in the butt later – it was SO. GRATIFYING. to see her call LF out on his BS. “If you didn’t know, you’re a fool; if you did know, you’re not my friend.” Squirm, Littlefinger, squirm!

    I hope the books have a similar crowning moment of awesome for Sansa. Since she is not going to marry Ramsay in the book storyline, I surmise she’ll find out about Jeyne Poole and/or her father, and, with powerful people in her corner (Brienne? Bronze Yohn? Harry? Vale Army?) will be able to turn the tables on LF.

    • Agreed that it was gratifying.

      I think she’s going to expose LF at the wedding, since it’s the moment where all eyes are on her and where the Vale’s honor code works most in her favor.

    • wat barleycorn says:

      I paeticularly love how she absolutely refused to exhibit shame for what had been done to her.

      She was like “No. The pain, the trauma, I feel it. And I tell you because the shame, it is wholly owned by those who did this to me. Including you, Littlefinger. I am not sexually debased by what was done to me, YOU are.”

      Soooooooo awesome. And true.

  9. Will Rogers says:

    If I were Sansa, I wouldn’t accept a damn candy bar from Littlefinger let alone an army. Though Petyr being genuinely ashamed about something is a nice touch.

    Pour one out for Hodor. This world was never meant for one as beautiful as him.

  10. beto2702 says:

    I am genuinely curious if this weeks’ “Beautiful Death” poster will be about BR or about Hodor. #HoldTheDoor

  11. winnief says:

    My guess is Sansa *will* eventually turn to LF to get the army but will stab him in the back when he least expects it.

    Love how she and Jon are the new power pairing of the North and am crazy about the Dire Wolf fashions.

    Like the League of Shadows analogy Steve.

    We are learning a LOT about the White Walkers this season aren’t we?

    Funny…there was no KL in this episode and I didn’t even miss it.

  12. beto2702 says:

    Also, where’s Dark Sister? Does Meera took it with them? Was it left in the cave? Was it ever in the cave?

    • Tywin of the Hill says:

      I don’t think it was ever in the cave.
      In the books, I think it’s in Castle Black.
      Regarding the show, the Histories & Lore mention that Blackfyre and Dark Sister disappeared in Daemon Blackfyre’s rebellion, so I don’t think we’ll ever see them in the small screen.

      • beto2702 says:

        In Castle Black? I might have missed that. You mean like hidden right? I imagine if it was of public domain that they had the sword it would be a recurring talk among the brothers.

    • We never saw it in the cave, so I’m leaning to no on the last one.

      • beto2702 says:

        rewatched the episode, Meera took a sword at some point. I know the sword is not her choice of weapon, but if I recall correctly she grabbed one from the Stark crypts. So there’s that.

        • I thought she grabbed a spear that was tipped with obsidian?

          • beto2702 says:

            Maybe I need to watch again, but at the very beginning, just as she re-entered the cave, it seemed to me that she grabbed a sword that was resting next to a few spears. I could be confused though. Still, I think she picked the spear after that, once she the fight was next to BR.

  13. beto2702 says:

    So time travel… Can we accept that we are going to have this in the books too? What does it imply. I mean, it almost granted that this is not going to be the only event of present Bran creating the conditions in the past, but is that all? Are there any chances that Bran’s powers can go beyond that time cycle?

    • Grant says:

      Steve’s suggested it before, notably with Jon and becoming a warg. If it is a thing, I’m not sure I like it. It seems far too much that overpowered magic that makes armies pointless that Martin criticized, especially if he can actually change the past to change the future.

      • beto2702 says:

        If it is just an explanation of just how future Bran made possible that the past is the way it is, then it might not be that a overpowered tool after all. I mean, he wouldn’t really have the power to change everything at will. I could live with that.

    • I think we’ve already seen it hinted in the books, when Bran whispered to Ned when he was praying to the weirwood in the past.

      But I think he’ll keep somewhat limited.

      • beto2702 says:

        The whispering to Ned in the books is the equivalent to the ToJ whispering. This Hodor thing is going to happen in the books too, and it is just the beginning. I trust Martin but I am nervous too, time traveling is always a dangerous tool.

        By limited do you mean that Bran will only use this same kind of time traveling? Or do you mean that he will have other powers, but not crazy overpowered skills?

        Anyways, that scene in the books where Bran saw something like an execution in the weirdwood… could it be what we saw this episode? The birth of the White Walkers?

        • It’s a threefold thing.

          I think Bran will change some things, but not everything. I don’t think he goes back in time and stops the White Walkers from ever existing or something like that.

          No, I think that was just ordinary human sacrifice as practiced in the North for many thousands of years.

      • Evette says:

        Re Bran and changing the past, apologies, Steven if you have already posted this, I’m new to your page, but….recently reread the Jon chapter in SoS where, with the assistance of Summer, escapes from the Thenn/Wildling group. Very convenient for Summer to show up at just the right time to save Jon. Jon also thinks it is amazing that he was able to vault upon the horse with sword in one hand and stay upon the horse while making his getaway. If memory serves, he thinks the Old Gods were with him. I could see Bran going back in time to warg Summer to ensure Jon’s escape. Could Bran have also warged the horse to make sure it allowed Jon to climb on? Or is it just a case of Jon’s plot armor?

        • Ghost Wrytre says:

          Not to lower the boom on you too heavily, but (1) we already know Bran is warging Summer in that scene; he is doing it from the nearby Queenscrown tower, where he and Hodor and the Reeds are hiding from the same group of wildlings. (2) As for Jon vaulting onto the horse: adrenaline.

          • beto2702 says:

            Right. You know what would be mind-blowing though? If at the end, he had to travel to the past to make his fall happen. I mean like he willingly making a cripple of himself just to save the world. Maybe moving himself towards the broken tower or something, I need to re-read that chapter.

        • I don’t think that’s the case, but I do think it’s possible Bran went back in time to activate Jon and Arya’s warging powers.

      • Haplo-6 says:

        It always inspires a fist-pump or two when you post something SA.

        The Hold-the-Door reveal is interesting for sure, as Martin has been sitting on this for so long. But the implications are less so, as circular time models don’t lend themselves to free will, as events are both the cause and product of themselves. As Nietzsche discussed, if time is circular, it basically means everything is already written, so what’s the point of anything?

        Isn’t it possible that the legendary Bran the Builder is simply Bran, constructing the Wall by warging thousands of giants or something?

        And from the scenes released for episode 6, it looks like the wights catch Meera and Bran in the forest… Coldhands to the rescue?

  14. Abbey Battle says:

    Maester Steven, just wanted to pop in and Thank You Very Much, not only for posting your excellent series of Articles, but still more because you have been kind enough to take time to answer my questions on Tumblr as well – I fear that you would have been deluged with far more had the Internet not decided to LOSE so many of them in it’s own inimitable fashion.

    May I please thank you once again and wish you the Best of Luck with your future projects?

  15. Grant says:

    So Blackfish is a thing and is militarily active in the Riverlands. Sure would have been nice to see that before. You know, at any point before. Maybe replacing that disaster of a Dorne storyline?

    And Sansa doesn’t trust Jon enough to mention anything about Littlefinger to him. What.

    • Yeah, the timing of the Riverlands thing is very weird. Would have worked a lot better in Season 5 than now.

      • David Hunt says:

        A-fricken-men. Plus it would have had the huge added bonus of keeping Jaime out of :”Dorne.” And what the frak is going to go on with the government there now that Elaria Sand has murdered the entirety of House Martell.

        • Sean C. says:

          Per Jaime in 604, Ellaria and the Sand Snakes have “seized control of Dorne”. So, as I predicted, everybody was cool with Doran and Trystane being murdered.

          • Crystal says:

            In the books, Jaime took quite a lot of grief for being a *Kingslayer* when the king he killed was Aerys. AERYS! The guy who turned his bannermen into barbecue! So everyone’s chill with basically decent Prince Doran and nice young Prince Trystane (who never hurt anyone) being kin-slayed?

            Hey! This is Westeros, where we wake up, have our coffee, and kill our relatives! And our rulers, and fellow actors who get better parts than we do! And nobody bats an eye!

            The only way it can work without being ridiculously over-the-top is if the killers get major blowback in the coming seasons. I’m sure Ramsay is bound for a nice karmic death, as is Euron; I hope podperson!Ellaria has some kind of reckoning too, or at least is tasked with kinslaying.

        • beto2702 says:

          They need to introduce Arianne. Maybe they didn’t need her before, but now she might be the only hope to end the Dorne storyline in a not-so-horrible fashion. Make her Trystane cousin or something.

      • Chinoiserie says:

        Why? If it was in season 5 what Brienne and Jaime would do in season 6 if the rest of characters do not have their storylines advanced enough.

    • David Hunt says:

      Being upset with the lack of Blackfish requires that we believe Littlefinger that he actually took back Riverrun (that we never saw lost).

      AS to why Sansa doesn’t tell Jon where her info comes from, I think she doesn’t want to admit how much she let LF bamboozle her. So, by not want to admit how much power she let him have over her past decisions she is letting him have power over her present decisions.

      • Sean C. says:

        According to the Inside the Episode, Sansa doesn’t tell Jon about it because she doesn’t fully trust him, which shows how much Littlefinger has shaped her view of the world to the point that she’s not coming at it as a “clean, pure Stark.”

        • David Hunt says:

          Ack! I had not watched that. That’s sad, even though I can see why she’d actually think that. They were always the least close of the Stark children, plus he was making reluctant noises about maybe not being willing to go save Rickon. Still: sad.

      • I think people are overthinking that. Yes, Riverrun was retaken. I can tell you how I know if you don’t care about spoilers.

  16. beto2702 says:

    1. LF will surely return with his army at the end of the battle, he will be like Gandalf in the battle of helm’s deep. Sorta…

    Still, I expect Ramsay to acknowledge the fact that there are thousands of vale knights south of Moat Caillin

    2. Bran trapped in the dream when Mayhem erupted outside and the Waif owning Arya without a stick gave me serious Matrix vibes in this episode.

    3. Am I the only one who thinks Arya will kill that Cersei actress? I kind of hope that she will be further in her training before she pulls back. I see she has to kill and wear someone else’s face before she goes to westeros.

    4. Davos is going to White Harbor, and the #Mandervos alliance will be the way to help the vale knights cross pass Moat Caillin.

    5. There was a moment there when Theon had everything he wanted at the beginning of the series, Everyone asking him to extend his hand and claim the Iron Islands. But he didn’t, he supported his sister. Nice scene there.

    Also, how silently can you steal and man hundreds of ships to not be noticed? How fast? I mean they were long gone in the time it took Damphair to baptize Euron Bothgoodeyes.

    6. Mellisandre has become a weird thing in this program. She saved Jon, so we don’t need her powers now. We have Kinvara, so we don’t need her to get Rhollors opinions. She has to come clean about Shireen before Davos goes to White Harbor. I sense her death is near. Will she be able to see that in her flames?

    7. Are we going to find out about that voice that Varys heard? We really need to. Was it Rhollor or the Other?

    8. Is it still possible for Sam’s ship to find Gendry and take him on board?

    9. How is the #HoldTheDoor going to work in the books? Hodor is younger. Will we see a younger kid collapse? Or is Bran going to travel less far into the past?

    10. Are we ever going to get an explanation with things in Dorne? Or is it now Women’s Secluded Kingdom now and Ellaria won’t be bothered again?

    • 1. Yeah, which as I said, I’m not cool with.

      2. I guess. Didn’t get those vibes myself.

      3. I don’t think so.

      4. Yes!

      5. Yeah, that was really interesting. I think it was just narrative convenience.

      6. I don’t know, that’s very strange.

      7. After some recent arguments online, I’m thinking more the Other.

      8. Doubt it.

      9. I don’t know, I’m hoping it’s better.

      10. Gods only know.

      • beto2702 says:

        7. I am really intrigued about this now. Mainly because of two things: How is that voice going to affect the plot? and… Why did Rhollor/Other contacted Varys?

        8.Hahaha Jk. But honestly, that guy should be at Qarth by now.

        9. It might be better in the narrative. Still I think the effect of TV, of beings able to swap between past and present quickly and often will be hard to replicate in the books. It was well done, and the POV structure makes it difficult to do something similar.

        • 7. Don’t know. It didn’t contact Varys – the sorcerer who cut him contacted it.

          8. And have some incredibly ripped arms.

          9. Meh. I think the books have done a good job so far.

      • Mr Fixit says:

        On the first point: I’m not so sure about this. While it seems like a sure bet, I distinctly remember a recent interview with someone from the show — Cogman, I think, but it may have been one of the D’s — about the huge new battle this season. The guy specifically said how they wanted this battle to be different from Blackwater and Stannis at the Wall because in both of those cavalry appeared at the end and crushed the apparent victor.

        Frankly, I don’t think they’ll pull the same trick a third time.

    • Grant says:

      The thing is with Theon, he’s both lost horribly and been gelded. The first is bad since he doesn’t have much success to his name, the second is even worse because (besides the male dominated system questioning his manhood now) he can’t have children. That’s a pretty big deal in dynastic politics, and even if the Ironborn have a Kingsmoot they still strongly favor the old king’s family.

      So when Theon dies and leaves no heirs, who’s a clear front-runner? Yara might be dead by then, it’s a gamble as to whether she’ll have any heirs of her own and that they’ll then live to adulthood.

  17. djinn says:

    – So LF is a idiot for his S5 plan, but didn’t Sansa agreed to that plan? She doesn’t need no Arryn army, but a Tully army(where was this army in season 3) it’s ok? Does LF teleportation only work for places with brothels? Why is Davos with any of these people?

    – How many people does it take to steal a fleet? Why is Jaime despised for Kingslaying but Euron supported for it? How long does it take to built a fleet?

    Remember when President Obama told a people suffering from terminal cancer that they should go out there and find a cure. Stop being moochers and pull yourself from your bootstraps.

    So Ellaria & SS killed Doran & Trystane, they rule Dorne. Euron kills Balon, he rules the IB. Ramsay kills Roose & Walda, he rules the North. Daenerys kills the Khals, she rules the Dothraki. Does this mean that Tyrion & Sansa rules the Iron Throne, CR & Westerlands and Brienne rules the Stormlands & Dragonstone?

    • Grant says:

      Jaime’s despised for breaking his oath, and even then not everyone looks down on him so much.

      However Euron is a kinslayer, and openly admits it here whereas in the books he hired a Faceless Man to do it and it happened in circumstances where Balon could have easily fallen to his death by accident.

      And yes, you can practically see the writers desperately moving Aidan Gillen from set to set just to have him do things and try to push the story in some direction.

      • djinn says:

        Ok, but Tyrion was put on trial for Kingslaying, notBrienne goes on and on about Stannis kingslaying Renly(strangely, she spares Melisandre who did the actual deed) and Cersei actually tries to hide the assassination of Robert for some reason.

        You what’s really unfair? Tywin and Cersei always wanted to get rid of Tyrion, but that not existing taboo always got in the way. If only they had know.

        • Grant says:

          In order.
          Tyrion wasn’t part of a winning army that had defeated Joffrey, otherwise people might not care so much (though there might be some complaints that other pretend kings might be less willing to surrender now). Tyrion was supposed to be a loyal servant of Joffrey’s government (plus a member of his family).

          Brienne was in love with Renly, so not quite the best indicator of Westerosi thought. Had Stannis won, no one would have been prosecuting Melisandre for Renly’s death (plus Renly legally speaking wasn’t a king) and Joffrey’s head would definitely be removed from his shoulders.

          Cersei’s trying to pretend that her regime is still properly descended from Robert’s. You can’t really do that if you go around saying “I killed him”.

          In Jaime’s case, again, it was the oathbreaking. He was sworn to guard a man, and stabbed him in the back for it. Even with that Jaime isn’t so hated by every character and had he explained about the Wildfire Plot, he might have been praised or grudgingly accepted by everyone. With Aerys II, pretty much everyone hated the guy and had it been Robert who killed him or had he been executed after a semi-serious trial, no one would have complained.

          So at the end of the day, in the books if Balon had been as despised as Aerys (pretty hard to do) or had he been on a side in a war with his legitimacy as king uncertain AND Euron hadn’t been his brother (or had someone else do the killing for him like Renly had planned to do with Stannis) it wouldn’t cost Euron too much. As it is, it should cost Euron, but the details aren’t quite the same as Jaime.

          Basically it’s your exact position and the ‘king’s’ exact position that helps say whether what you did was a horrible crime or whether you were ending the life of a man who had no right to rule.

          • djinn says:

            Sure, but point was about the wildly aplication of the cultural taboo. It seems to vary dramacticly from case to case.

            Isn’t Euron case a little bit like the Tyrion and Cersei? He’s claiming to be Balon heir and at the same time engaging in a internal coup d’etat, execpt Cersei has to hide it and Tyrion gets punished by it.

            As it stands, Euron gets away with it without any more explanation that the Ellaria/Ramsey cases. It’s the lack of consistency that’s frustrating.

        • Chinoiserie says:

          The tabboo never existed in the show, it has never been mentioned.Tywin did not kill him since he values Lannisters above all and Cersei’s prohesy did not include valonqar and she is not as murderous in the show so there was no need to kill Tyrion.

          • djinn says:

            Are you sure? I believe Rickard Karstark mentions it before being executed by Robb. Why do Stannis men abandon him or the secrecy about Renly’s death? Or the deception about Sam’s possible death if he refused the go to the Wall?

    • – Sansa didn’t have much of an option. Davos is there because keeping busy is how he processes grief.

      – at least a couple hundred. Because the show dragged its heels when it came to setup, so they’re cheating the fallout. An entire fleet of a thousand ships would take even Braavos 3 years.

    • wat barleycorn says:

      Remember when President Obama told a people suffering from terminal cancer that they should go out there and find a cure. Stop being moochers and pull yourself from your bootstraps.

      No, because he said nothing of the sort. His own mother died of cancer. Spare us this nonsense from the birther fever swamps.

  18. Keith B says:

    The FM gave Arya an assignment to assassinate an actress who is playing the role of Cersei. Arya is clearly offended by the play, and hates the real Cersei and has her on her kill list. But Arya does not want to kill the actress. She discerns, presumably correctly, that a younger actress has ordered the hit from jealousy and ambition. Jaqen H’ghar has to bully her into accepting the assignment.

    It’s no great feat to distinguish an actor from a role, but it shows that Arya hasn’t forgotten what she learned from Syrio Forel, to see things as they really are rather than what she’s told they are. So she has no difficulty separating the real Cersei from the actress Lady Crane.

    Also significant is that Arya herself has been playing roles for a long time. In Braavos she’s been a blind beggar girl, and before that a seafood vendor. In Westeros she had to pretend to be a boy and a commoner. At first she had trouble maintaining the facade, but she’s become better and better over time.

    What Arya’s reaction to the play means, I think, is that she’s playing a role with the FM as well. She isn’t in any way becoming one of them. She hasn’t adopted their views and she hasn’t become their servant. She’s only becoming better at playing the part. She doesn’t fool the Waif, but but Jaqen H’ghar looks like he might be partly convinced.

    The FM have a code of conduct, but it’s not a moral code. Arya has never stopped being her own moral agent. She isn’t willing to kill anyone unless she’s convinced they deserve it. When she’s told to kill the crooked insurer, she wants to know what he’s done. In the books, when she hears the story of how the first Faceless Man killed the slave who begged for release, her immediate reaction is that he should have killed the master instead.

    For this reason, I’m convinced that Arya will not carry out her current assignment. She may even kill the younger actress instead. In any event, she will leave the House of Black and White as a result.

    • Crystal says:

      And that’s another thing – I recall from the books that hiring a Faceless Man to kill someone is a Very Big Deal. Euron, for instance, hired the FM to kill Balon so he, Euron, could become king. The Iron Bank apparently hires FM to kill kings who won’t repay what they owe. Wasn’t the original idea that slaves could kill their masters and/or commit suicide when being enslaved was unbearable?

      I don’t know that the FM are in the business of killing someone over mere jealousy. “Lady Crane gets better parts in plays! I’m jelly!” The stakes are kinda low there… and the FM come off as “getting your gang-banger cousin and his pals to beat up your rival” rather than “dangerous occult assassins.”

      I’m disappointed that kinslaying and assassination are being treated so lightly when, in fact, they are a huge deal, especially the kinslaying. (Roose wouldn’t kinslay! Victarion wouldn’t kinslay! Euron hired someone to do the dirty work! In the words of Joe Biden, it’s a big f*cking deal!)

      • Keith B says:

        That’s why I say they have a code, but it’s not a moral code. They don’t care about justice, they only care if you can pay their fee. What makes it a code is that it’s not a fixed rate. Apparently it’s a sliding scale that depends on how big a sacrifice it is to you, and how important is the person you wish to kill. Euron, who wanted to kill a King, had to pay an enormous price, most likely the dragon egg he spoke of. On the other hand, if you want to commit suicide, your life alone is a sufficient sacrifice (and the FM get your face). If an actress wants to hire a hit on another actress, she might be able to pay a price that’s meaningful enough to her in order to qualify.

        Arya, of course, cares only about justice, and it has to be her notion of justice. She won’t take anyone else’s word for it. She can’t be a servant of the Many-Faced God and still be an independent moral agent, so she will have to leave the FM, and it will almost certainly be this season.

    • As I’ve said before, Batman doesn’t join the League of Shadows.

  19. LadyKnitsALot says:

    I really don’t think we’re getting Lady Stoneheart, sadly. We might get the Brotherhood Without Banners again, but I think the show has passed over LSH completely. Instead we’ll get the Riverlands ADWD arc in some amended fashion.

  20. Brett says:

    You know, I’m not entirely convinced anymore that the origin of the Others is the same as the origin of the White Walkers in the show. We’ve had a couple of “confirmed by GRRM” articles written after this episode, and while they all confirm that the “Hodor” twist came from Martin himself, none of them have confirmed the “White Walkers as weapons of the Children of the Forest” theory as coming directly from him.

    It does make a certain kind of sense – it would explain why the Last Hero sought out the Children for answers on how to stop the Long Night, why the Children knew how to kill them with dragonglass, and why the Children also apparently knew how to use magic to keep them out of their under-hill homes. But it’s not really confirmed.

  21. Ethan says:

    Lucky Meera didn’t say “Form a queue”. In all seriousness, I’m a huge fan of the books and I can’t adequately express how disappointing it is to hear that is a GRRM idea. I know he’s a fan of Monty Python but I didn’t expect him to splice a sketch into his fantasy novels.

  22. Elizabeth Burgess says:

    Is it possible that, perhaps, Bran cannot change the past, but rather his presence in certain past events is necessary for the future? He didn’t change Hodor, as Hodor was already the way that he was. But if Bran had not been there, and had not Warg-ed into Present Day Hodor, then Past Hodor might not have gone into his “hold the door” fit. Without that moment, Hodor would not have been the same person, and if he was not the same person then perhaps he would not have been enlisted to help Bran. Bloodraven had to have taken Bran to that moment for a reason. As viewers, we assumed it was the encourage Bran by showing him his father, but it could have been to ensure that Hodor went on the correct path. Similarly (this is speculation), what if Bran had not called out to Ned at the Tower of Joy? Perhaps that 30 second delay could have been the difference of life and death for Lyanna. If Lyanna lives, then the world changes. If Hodor isn’t the gentle giant that we love, then Bran’s world changes. It seems to me that fixed points in time are dependent on more than just physical events.

    • I don’t know about that – we see Hodor getting warged in the past and having a grand mal seizure and then there’s a marked difference between pre- and post-seizure.

  23. beto2702 says:

    I just put this in another comment, but what if Bran’s time-traveling abilities end with him causing his own crippleness?

  24. John says:

    Just noticed some nice foreshadowing of Hodor’s actions in Bran’s first chapter of a Storm of Swords. When they are hiding in the Tumbledown Tower and Meera approaches the door this passage follows:

    “Hodor jerked suddenly to his feet, almost hitting his head on the barrelvaulted ceiling.
    “HODOR!” he shouted, rushing to the door. Meera pushed it open just before he reached it, and stepped through into their refuge.”

    Seems as if GRRM hints at Hodor’s inbuilt life destiny by his sudden panic at someone approaching the door. Seems like Hodor is perhaps aware himself to some extent of the fact that his destiny is to hold a door to protect Bran but does not know when, where or how. What do you think?

    • Interesting if true.

    • Keith B says:

      How is anyone supposed to notice a clue like that? Unless I misremember, there’s no indication in the books (or in the show until this season) that Hodor’s name is anything but “Hodor”, or that he hasn’t always been like that. If this perfectly normal, although not overly bright, kid suddenly has a fit one day for no apparent reason, and from then on is unable to say anything but one meaningless word, shouldn’t that cause some talk? You’d think Old Nan would mention it to the kids. Much of the enjoyment of the books is from trying to solve the puzzle of what’s really happening behind the scenes, but here we don’t even know that there’s a puzzle to be solved. It’s like reading a murder mystery in which the real killer turns out to be someone we didn’t even know existed until the next to last page.

      • Evette says:

        In the Books, Hodor’s name is Walder. Not sure what chapter it appears, but it is when Theon is still a ward at Winterfell. Someone says Hodor doesn’t know much but he knows his own name and the response is his name is Walder.

        • Keith B says:

          OK, I found it. It’s in AGOT Bran 4. At least it’s something. I suppose they’ve named him Wyllis in the show because there’s a Walder but no Willas. Thanks.

  25. thatrabidpotato says:

    I don’t have HBO and therefore do not watch the show (nor do I want to, it sounds garbage compared to the books), but RFTIT and Facebook keep me up to date.

    Something I want to bring up is that it seems like Meera is leading a charmed life right now. Out of the fellowship of Bran that went north of the Wall, she and Bran are the only ones left. She’s outlived Jojen, she’s outlived Hodor, she’s even outlived Summer. There has got to be a reason for it at this point. Anyone want to take a guess?

  26. Brian says:

    Hi Steven,

    First off, I wanted to say thanks for the fine work (as ever). I particularly enjoyed the bit on how Littlefinger stole Westeros (given that my professional background is fraud & financial crime); so, kudos on that as well as the rest of the work.

    The other thing I wanted to ask is, I was reading a recap on the Huffington Post’s entertainment section about the episode…and they have a piece up today suggesting Sansa might be pregnant (given her comments to LF as well as a promotional photo put out a while ago). I figured this was just her talking about residual pain/scarring, but…do you think this is people taking her comments to LF out of proportion, or might D&D be setting yet another Fridge Horror?

    Thanks.

    • You’re very welcome! Glad to see my analysis passed muster.

      I’m a bit skeptical. I think people were just misreading a still that looked very different in motion.

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