Do We Really Need Another Minute of Ramsay Bolton on 'Game of Thrones'?
Please remember, this is the non-spoiler discussion of the week’s Game of Thrones episode; violations will result in a one-week, no-expenses-paid trip to House Bolton, where you’ll suffer a fate worse than death. T. K.’s excellent reviews will return next week.
While there was plenty to like about ”Kill the Boy,” it’s a bit disconcerting to have spent so much time with that Bolton bastard. In comparison to stolen moments with Arya, it felt like those horrific, drawn out scenes at Winterfell, where Ramsay continues to torture anyone unfortunate enough to be in his path, lasted forever. At least we were rewarded by witnessing Sansa’s ever-growing strength and resolve; we can only hope this week was a prelude to the elder Stark sister exacting great and terrible revenge against the Boltons shortly down the line. Meanwhile, Ramsay’s father took his boy down a notch or two with that little dinner announcement, and the lovely tale of how a bastard boy was born. If I were Walda, I’d not be caught alone in a dark stairwell …
Speaking of (re)births, Maester Aemon advises Jon Snow to trust his own instincts and so the Lord Commander does. Freeing an incredulous Tormund, Jon disregards his brothers’ misgivings and decides to cut a deal with the Wildlings — they’ll settle on the south side of the Wall, and help fight the White Walkers when the time comes. Though he hasn’t often made for a compelling leader, watching Jon (and Harington) this episode, he’s finally settling into who he must be.
A little encouragement to follow one’s gut seemed the order of the hour. After losing yet another beloved and trusted advisor — the great Barristan Selmy — Daenerys eventually turns to Missandei for words of wisdom. But first she fulfills her angry and vengeful side, serving up one of Mireen’s family leaders as Dragon Chow, and imprisoning the rest “for another day.” After taking a moment and getting that little push from Missandei to trust herself, Dany decides to reopen the fighting pits (to “free men only”), and to gain the people’s confidence she announces to Hizdahr zo Loraq that she’ll marry him. I don’t know about you guys, but to me this rash decision feels like the equivalent of a drunk night in Vegas; I think Dany may wake up tomorrow wondering just what she’s gotten herself into.
Of “Kill the Boy’s” best moments, they were unsurprisingly spent with two of GoT’s most troubled yet delightful gentlemen: Tyrion and Jorah. Waking after last week’s knockout blow to the head left Tyrion no less punchy or witty, but perhaps slightly more aware, as he seemingly realizes his mouthy mistake and offers to start over with Jorah — who does indeed seem in the mood for a little pleasant conversation. Entering the ominous zone where an apocalyptic event known as the “Doom of Valyria” took place, the men take turns detailing what they know of the history until their breath is taken by the sight of Drogon flying overhead. As if that weren’t excitement enough, while the pair is distractedly floating through the haunted Valyrian ruins, those figures we spy in the background began leaping in and around the surrounding waters, and holy Greyscale!; it’s the Stone Men. Jorah fights them off and yells to a still-bound Tyrion not to let the afflicted touch him; the boat comes under direct attack from all sides. Tyrion has no choice but to fling himself overboard to avoid being grabbed, but in the end, it’s his rescuer Jorah, who hides a scaly arm. While we’re left wondering whether our good Ser’s condition will spread (or like Shireen, be kept at bay), Jorah isn’t letting anything stand in the way of his journey back to his queen.
Other standout moments:
Though I’m not one for love stories, the quiet moments shared by Missandei and Grey Worm are heartbreakingly beautiful. Kudos to Nathalie Emmanuel and Jacob Anderson for doing so much with so little.
Likewise, Samwell Tarly is more interesting when in conversation with Stannis — whose intelligence, and strength as a leader continues to impress. Directing Sam to continue reading to learn more about how to defeat the White Walkers, Baratheon knows he must keep time on his side to take Winterfell (and the Boltons) by surprise. And Davos and little Shireen are simply adorable together, each watching out for the other as they head out on a dangerous journey.
Here’s hoping Brienne and Pod arrive just in time to provide Sansa assistance when Stannis and the Boltons go head to head.