Game of Thrones: Season 5, Episode 10 – “Mother’s Mercy”

Posted: June 15, 2015 in TV Series
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Game of Thrones

So, here it comes: My first retraction of a prior statement on this blog. With my previous “Game of Thrones” editorial, I had noted that the ninth episode in a given season of this series seems to always bring (with the help of a single, powerful event) the biggest emotional wallop. As of last night’s airing of the Season 5 finale, entitled “Mother’s Mercy,” that’s simply no longer the case. Season 5, Episode 10 didn’t just top the one, horrifying aspect of Episode 9 (“The Dance of Dragons”). It threw cowpies at it, stabbed it repeatedly, and then burnt it to ashes with a seemingly endless barrage of doom and gloom. “Mother’s Mercy” was a brilliant title, in that it may have lulled some fans into a false sense of security. Unfortunately, those who watched received very little in the way of mercy. More than is typical for even this show, the overall theme for the final hour of Season 5 is the ruination of everyone’s best laid plans. Even more taxing, however, are the cliffhangers we’ve been left on. So. Many. Cliffhangers. Leave it to director David Nutter to once again make us lose sleep on a Sunday night.

If I’m to go any further on the subject, I’ll have to put forth the traditional spoiler warning. With that in mind….


Although “The Dance of Dragons” had sported a bloodbath in Meereen and also the burning of Shireen Baratheon with her own father’s consent, there were at least long periods when one could breathe. “Mother’s Mercy” offered very little opportunity for this, as the situations in Dorne, King’s Landing, Braavos, Winterfell and Castle Black each took sudden turns for the worse. Meereen got a mention also, but as I said, the bad had already happened, so when we rejoined Tyrion, Daario, and Jorah, they were still sorting out the mess left over from the attack by the Sons of the Harpy, which they would never have survived if not for Drogon, one of Daenerys’s three dragons. Tyrion was also reunited with Varys, he who had helped to smuggle his friend out of Westeros and to convince the rogue member of House Lannister to seek out Daenerys in the first place. Daenerys, having ridden on the back of her “child,” found herself back in Dothraki territory, where we first got to know her in Season 1. This is perhaps the most positive portion of the episode, and yet even Daenerys is finding that her best intentions have literally sent her right back to where she started from.

Stannis Baratheon, having now killed or allowed to be killed two members of his own family in a desperate attempt to seize the Iron Throne in King’s Landing, finds his efforts stalled in Winterfell when half of his forces desert him, with the other half being wiped out by House Bolton. There is no dog in that fight to root for, as both are despicable. One side is now gone, while the other lingers on. Stannis himself is dispatched (although it’s not definitively shown… hmm…) by a vengeful Brienne of Tarth, who was unable to protect Stannis’s brother Renly when Stannis killed him back in Season 2. Clearly, the Lord of Light was never truly backing this waste of human flesh. Good riddance.

In Dorne, Jaime Lannister has been attempting, at the behest of his sister Cersei, to secure the release of Myrcella, their daughter and one of three children by incest. It was feared her life might be in danger, and it was, thanks to Ellaria Sand, the still-grieving paramour of the late Oberyn Martell and mother to their three bastard daughters known as the Sand Snakes. After a scuffle and brief imprisonment, an agreement appeared to have been reached between them thanks to Oberyn’s brother, Prince Doran Martell. Sadly, someone conveniently forgot (for the second time) that the Martells are experts in deadly poisons, and that it might be more reasonable to have Ellaria say her goodbyes verbally rather than allow her to give Myrcella a parting kiss. Jaime has ultimately failed in his mission, now having helplessly watched two of his children succumb to death by poison. Worse still, if the prophecy we were shown in flashback at the season’s beginning holds any weight whatsoever, then the gentle King Tommen I won’t be far from joining his siblings in the great beyond.

Once Cersei learns of this latest tragedy, it will only add to her own woes, having been completely humiliated by the High Sparrow. Shorn of hair and forced to walk naked from the Great Sept of Baelor to the Red Keep, with hundreds of angry citizens standing ready to throw objects and yell obscenities, this is Cersei at her lowest point. Whether or not you believe she deserves this level of punishment depends entirely upon your perspective. Among all the other horrible things she’s done, Cersei placed herself in this situation when, based on the aforementioned prophecy, she had taken careful, ruthless steps to consolidate power and at least attempted to provide protection for Tommen. She’s also had it in for Margarey Tyrell, whose own ambitions to be Queen led her to wed Cersei’s psychotic firstborn, King Joffrey I, and then later his brother when the former was assassinated at his own wedding. Though she did manage, with help from the High Sparrow, to get Margarey imprisoned, it only led to the same treatment for herself, and now all of King’s Landing is in shambles. Nice going, Cersei.

Of all the various family houses, though, none has more consistently been given the shaft despite being undeserving of it than House Stark. In Braavos, Arya Stark has been training to become a faceless assassin, but can’t let go of her vengeance wish list. She collects the first name on that list, brutally murdering Meryn Trant whom she’s wanted to see dead since Season 1. It’s a truly satisfying moment, but she is soon after punished with blindness (temporary, we hope) for the act. Her sister, Sansa, has been trying to figure a way out of her own messed up situation for several episodes now. Ever the helpless victim, Sansa is rescued by Reek (formerly Theon Greyjoy) from certain death/disfigurement. What is unclear is where they’ve gone to, as the last image we have of them is jumping from the castle walls.

Whatever I said about Shireen’s death last week being a near equal of the emotional impact of the Red Wedding, forget it! That was folly! The fate of Ned Stark’s bastard son Jon Snow, which readers of the book series have been stewing about for going on four years, was finally revealed to fans of the TV series, and boy does it suck to be him! Jon’s reward for trying to play the role of peacemaker between the Night’s Watch and the Wildlings is the same for most men who try to be revolutionaries. The assholes of the world who want to hold on to things the way that they are won’t allow change to stand in their way, and neither will the Night’s Watch as they mutinied against one of the show’s most beloved characters and appear to have Julius Caesar-ed his ass.

If Jon Snow is 100% dead, and it’s implied that he is, I am not certain where that leaves the show. Certainly, main character offings have become a “Game of Thrones” tradition, but Jon Snow was perceived as one of THE three main characters along with Tyrion and Daenerys (i.e. nigh untouchable). This gives back to the show the unpredictability it had been sorely missing, but it also leaves a void not easily filled. It would be strange, I think, to end his story now when there seems to have been a buildup to something more, which is why I’m not entirely convinced this is the end for him. Resurrection has been proven to be a real thing on “Game of Thrones.” With this precedent having been set long ago, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for Jon Snow to perform a Christ-like rise. But no one who watches the show does or ever should come to expect such a reprieve. In any case, it’s going to be a full year (i.e. an excessively long wait) before we find out what happens, and now we no longer have book spoilers to help us plan for what to expect. Not since the Season 3 cliffhanger of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” a quarter-century ago have I been cursed with such anticipation.

  1. Sylvia Williams says:

    You have said it all, and said it well. I like that you alerted everyone to spoilers in bold type. Yes, this is the biggest series of cliff hangers of all times, and… well… write a whole lot faster, RR Martin. PLEASE!!!!!

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