GAME OF THRONES Recap: Love Me Some Valyrian Steel

by Sharon Mineo

Season five is winding down, Thronians, which means Big Things are starting to happen. We open in Essos, where Dany is having an audience with Jorah and Tyrion. It’s a delight to see Tyrion get to put his silver tongue to use again as he and Dany feel each other out while debating what to do with Jorah, whom Dany had vowed to kill. Tyrion manages to keep Jorah alive but re-banished, demonstrating his astuteness with his take on the situation, including the fact that Jorah’s in love with Dany.

I don’t even have anything snarky or witty to say — I think the pairing of Tyrion and Dany is going, in its own way, to be just as satisfying as Jaime and Bronn or Olenna Tyrell and the High Sparrow. Tyrion’s smarts and political savvy were never appreciated in Westeros, but if Dany has the good sense to heed them — and it appears she does, after they both swap sad daddy issue stories and she agrees to accept him as an advisor — she could go far. The only question is how far and to where. Tyrion rightly challenges her desire to rule Westeros, pointing out that she’s got a pretty good gig going ruling Meereen, despite her lack of noble support — something she’s not likely to get in Westeros, either. But Dany seems determined to get to Westeros eventually, and if anyone can get her there it’s probably Tyrion. Jorah hasn’t given up, selling himself back into slavery for the opportunity to fight in the big pit in front of the Queen. Poor dumb Jorah, thinking with both his heart and his penis. This can’t end well.

In King’s Landing, Cersei is still imprisoned, getting visits from a not-so-silent sister (whose entire vocabulary consists of the word “confess”) and Qyburn. He informs her that her son is despondent and not eating, and Pycelle has called her uncle Kevan back to the city to serve as Hand of the King. Her trial is set, where she’s being charged with pretty much every awful thing we all know she’s actually done. The only way to avoid trial is confess and repent, neither of which are Cersei’s style. The main payoff here is all the haters gratified by the sight of Cersei reduced to lapping spilled water off the floor like a dog. Payback is hell, ain’t it?

Meanwhile Arya continues her poorly-defined training at the House of Black and White, practicing her lying skills with Jaqen and roaming the streets as a seafood saleswoman named Lana. She’s on a mission to observe and possibly assassinate a thin man, possibly because he didn’t pay up on an insurance claim? I’m ashamed to admit that this storyline is one of the ones that’s still actually fairly close to what happens in the books, yet it’s probably the one I’m having the hardest time following. Probably because apparently the House rules only let people talk in quiet, mysterious voices and speak in a cryptic manner. (Many-Faced) God forbid anyone would actually explain what the hell was going on.

In Winterfell, we start to see a glimmer of hope for Sansa. Ramsay may have broken her body, but not her spirit — the newly minted badass Sansa isn’t gone, just hiding, and isn’t afraid to rip Theon a new one when asking why he would betray her to Ramsay. In a potentially game changing moment, she gets him to confess that Bran and Rickon are actually still alive. It remains to be seen how this revelation will affect Sansa, but it’s something. Elsewhere in the war room, Roose Bolton, who’s brutal but not crazy, has an eminently sensible plan to sit tight and wait out a siege by Stannis, letting Stannis’ army die and mutiny in the snow while the Boltons chill in Winterfell with a six month supply of food. Being both brutal and crazy, however, Ramsay urges Roose to fight. To be continued.

And if Dany, Tyrion, and a floor-licking Cersei weren’t enough for you, I give you the battle of Hardhome. Gilly is still tending a post-fight Sam, who then has to reassure squire Olly that Jon’s doing the right thing and not to worry — “he always comes back.” DUN DUN DUN… Meanwhile Jon arrives at Hardhome with Tormund, Dolorous Edd (side note, if they had killed off Edd I would’ve mutinied — book Edd in particular is one of my favorites), and a handful of brothers. My hero Tormund convinces the elders to listen to Jon by dispatching the Lord o’ Bones with his own bonestick (LOL!). With Tormund’s support, Jon convinces some but not all of the Free Folk to accept his offer of safety south of the wall for a promise to unite when the army of the dead comes calling. Unfortunately for everyone, that army comes calling sooner than planned, attacking Hardhome before they can finish the evacuation. That’s right, it’s a full-on zombie attack! Jon and Tormund lead the charge to defend the people, and Jon goes face to face with an actual White Walker. Jon’s in trouble — the Walker’s magic blade shatters every weapon he throws against it, until finally he manages to grab Longclaw — and shatters the shit out of that mofo. VALYRIAN FUCKING STEEL, BABY! Yeah! Jon and Tormund escape to the last boat out of the harbor, where a second Walker decides to have a staredown with Jon. The Walker raises his arms; is this just a simple “come at me, bro”? Nope, he just RAISED ALL THE DEAD FREE FOLK to join his zombie army. The dead gauntlet has been thrown.

So what did you think, Thronians? We continue to veer ever farther from the books, with only Cersei and Arya’s storylines still mostly following the books. What do you think of the changes? How about that zombie battle? Was it more or less satisfying that Cersei in prison? What do YOU hope happens next?

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