HBO’s Game of Thrones

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

ZOMG Benjen Stark! One of my favorite Starks! I missed his dour Stark demeanor and strong, manly profile!

What? Excuse me? What do you mean he’s not…?


Damn. Damn.

Major episode spoilers ahead.

Spoilers for the currently published George R. R. Martin novels are discussed in the review and fair game in the comments. We highly suggest not discussing early preview chapters, but if you must, white it out. Have courtesy for the patient among us who are waiting and waiting (and waiting) for The Winds of Winter. Play nice. Thanks.

So that happened. And that. And that. There was a lot happening on the finale of my least favorite season of HBO’s Game of Thrones. While the previous two episodes had some great scenes—namely the mission at Hardhome and Dany’s Neverending Story dragon ride—”Mother’s Mercy” had a lot of mini-catastrophes and cliffhangers but not much tension or surprise.

I don’t think you had to be a book reader to know this season was ending with Olly delivering the finishing stab to Jon Snow. God, tonight had a lot of stabbing. Even Hannibal has less stabbing than this show and Hannibal is about a cannibal who loves slitting throats and then serving his victims’ bodies with a serving knife. Also, where was Ghost? I guess we should assume Thorne’s group locked him up. Because it was only a few episode ago that Ghost came out of the shadows to protect Sam and Gilly.

So, has Jon Snow’s watch really ended? I just can’t believe it. He’s nearly as integral to the overarching plot of A Song of Ice and Fire as Tyrion. So while it’s fun to watch non-readers freak out on Twitter, I think Melisandre’s reappearance at the Wall means it’s time for Jon Snow to get raised up by the Lord of Light, Beric Dondarrion-style.

Because Stannis? Stannis’ life is a country song.

No men, no horses, no wife, no daughter, no hot Red Priestess, army of Boltons zerg-rushing you.


Couldn’t happen to a nicer person! Thanks for playing. Strange how they almost built Stannis up to be pretty charismatic since Blackwater, what with his interactions with Shireen, and his boner for grammar. And then he was swiftly dropped into a Shakespearean tragedy in the last hours, to sacrifice his beloved daughter and heir out of desperation and misguided faith, only to have it lead to his demise. And, yes, even though we didn’t see Brienne’s finishing blow, I do think Stannis is defeated. What else could she do to him that would satisfy her vow to avenge Renly? Brienne is pretty much the only one worth her word on this show. I hope next season she gets to actually do more.

Damn, so I guess Sansa is heading up to the Wall, only to learn that her half-brother is (at least temporarily) dead, too? Girl can not catch a break. Everything about her storyline has been miserable this year.

But running away from victorious, gloating Boltons seems like a wise idea. Will she meet Brienne on the road or will they continue to have comedic bad timing?

The other death of note tonight was Myrcella. That was somewhat unexpected, but really the only thing that could’ve happened to give the Dornish misadventure anything worth mentioning ever again. Like so many other scenes before a death on Game of Thrones this season, as soon as two people have a nice, heartwarming conversation, one of them will be dead soon. Although I did guess that Ellaria’s kiss seemed a bit long, even for a Dornish chick. Poor Jaime, he looked like he might’ve enjoyed being a dad for more than two minutes.

Cersei’s definitely going to blame him for that and so much else now. I’d sail that ship as far from King’s Landing as I could.

But I wouldn’t go to Meereen because in a very abrupt administration change, Tyrion, Grey Worm, and Missandei are in charge? That was very odd. “Only the Unsullied can keep the peace in Meereen? The people trust you, Grey Worm?” WHAT? Are you even watching the show? Oh, this should be hilarious. It’s not that the prospect of Tyrion going on another traveling mission to find Dany would’ve been fun, it just seemed kind of nutty. Especially after he just met Dany a few episodes ago. Desperate times, I guess.

I was looking forward to much awkwardness next year… and then Varys sashays onto the scene. Okay, now I’m down for Meereen’s new brain trust.

Dany, meanwhile, is being super rude, interrupting Drogon’s well deserved turkey harpy nap. And then some Dothraki sashay onto the scene. This is right where A Dance with Dragons ended, minus pooping, so she’s ending this season on a higher note than she realizes. “Needs more onscreen bloody diarrhea!” said no book purist ever.


Arya, though blinded as a punishment for stealing a face and a death from the Many-Faced God, is also kind of going out on top, having done her new favorite thing—stabbing a pedophile in the eyes and stabbing him some more while muttering some cold words. I liked it well enough, but her journey to be no one on the show was a bit dull, unlike the books.

I’m really glad Jaqen H’ghar is pretty much the only father figure Arya’s had that survived a season, so good for him. (And thank you, showrunners. Seriously. Jaqen and his magical highlights getting bumped off would’ve been too much to take.) Yeah, he’s not as badass as The Hound, who may be technically alive, but if the Hound offered Arya a high school education on the morality of killing, Jaqen was the cool professor at a private college of murder. A little esoteric, a bit pretentious, but wise and dedicated to his profession.

But back to the Hound for a sec—his brother is ready to be Cersei’s champion.

Presenting Ser Robert Strong. (Artistic interpretation.)

Presenting Ser Robert Strong. (Artistic interpretation.)

She’ll need one.

Cersei’s Walk of Atonement was about as traumatic as I expected it to be. Cersei is a much hated character, but that punishment was truly awful; there was nothing to take glee in. Lena Headey’s face contained so much during the way. She started with some pride and a hint of anger, which quickly turned to fear and shame and helplessness. Cersei’s always been so beautifully covered up concealing all kinds of secrets, wearing literal armor to protect herself, and here she was stripped of everything and it showed. I didn’t find the scene as leering and gross as I expected it to be in the hands of the men who brought us the Sand Snakes.

cersei confession

What will next year bring with all of the trials and bad news spreading through King’s Landing? I only hope that next season is more exciting than this year that started out so promising and then quickly went off the rails into odd departures from the book, gratuitous female nudity and rape, and child murdering. I feel this year used less of George R. R. Martin’s actual words in the scripts. There was a poetry and nuance missing, which is unfortunate, because Martin can’t write fast enough to elevate the showrunners’ style in time for filming on season six. But maybe Game of Thrones‘ “backlash season” and its hiatus will give the creative team some time to prepare stronger storylines.


Final thoughts:

  • Line of the night: “My Valyrian is a bit nostril.” –Tyrion, de facto ruler of Meereen; or “For the Watch.”–Alliser Throne. What will happen to the wildlings now?
  • I like that Sam decided to go to Old Town to be a maester on his own, not pressured by anyone. It’s a good plan and they should’ve left weeks ago. Gilly and lots of books is Sam’s heaven.
  • Did you catch Pycelle’s little smirk when Cersei came to the Red Keep? Jerk.
  • Still not convinced that Dorne wasn’t an elaborate plot to show tits. I like Tyene’s flirtations with Bronn, but they didn’t salvage the plodding kidnapping story.
  • Thanks for taking the time to read these reviews and discussing the show so smartly as a group. Have a great summer an feel free to list what you’ll be watching, if anything, until Thrones returns. Will you come back next season?

Next week: The Rock starts in Entourage: Sports Version and True Detective season two reminds you that the first season was pretty good and Colin Farrell can’t fill the Thrones-shaped hole in your heart.

Theresa DeLucci is a regular contributor to covering TV, book reviews and sometimes games. She’s also gotten enthusiastic about television for Boing Boing. Send her a raven through Twitter.


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