Published on May 11th, 2015 | by Bean0
Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 5 “Kill The Boy”
From time to time, it behoves a beloved show to take stock of it’s stagnant narrative areas and shake things up for the developmental good of all. To say the stories of Sansa Stark and Jon Snow, erstwhile siblings in black, have been static or repetitive for a while is no great surprise, and I could feel myself resisting the decision the writers of ‘Kill the Boy’ made to spend the majority of their time with them. Shows like Game of Thrones can become a slave to their format, and since most episodes are a heady whirl between far-flung ports and different characters, I get antsy whenever we stay too long in one place.
Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 5 chooses wisely though, and my fears of “oh gods, not more moping and indecision” were unnecessary. Early on, Maester Aemon (*cough* Targaryen!) tells Snow to “Kill the boy…and let the man be born!”, urging him to become the Commander his title professes him to be. He takes this advice and runs with it, making an ally of an enemy by giving Tormund Giantsbane his freedom and choosing to ride north with him to sell his peace talks to the Wildling army.
Stannis may appear as unconvinced of this plan as Jon’s fellow brothers, but the ‘one true King’ is interested in Samwell’s research into White Walker defences, in a scene that grants some kind of validation to both Gilly and Tarly; a perfect storm of insecurities and mutual admiration, that couple. As the elder Baratheon moves south to storm Winterfell, the Night’s Watch may grumble, but it seems they will fall in line.
Meanwhile, at Winterfell the Boltons would prepare for battle, but they’re a bit caught up playing dress up in Ramsey’s psycho-panto, provisionally titled “Reek!: From Butcher to Fool”. The latent cruelty that his mistress Miranda possesses begins to take shape; her ability to manipulate Sansa into discovering Theon/Reek was like shooting fish in a barrel, but I was relieved Ramsey hadn’t a couple of Stark heads on poles stowed away. The newfound legitimacy Ramsey has been revelling in for the last few episodes is thrown into jeopardy at the news of Mrs Bolton’s pregnancy; and Roose puts his son’s lunacy into perspective as he shares his son’s ‘touching’ (read ‘horrendous’) origin story with him. Lest we forget who we are dealing with here…
Reconnoitring from a comfortable distance, Brienne illustrates her self-advocacy as Sansa’s saviour much more effectively this time around – she still employs a kind of ceremonial quality to explain her mission, treating it as a sacred duty, but this plays better to a downtrodden servant, unhappy with the Bolton position in the Stark ancestral seat. Little successes like this and Sansa enjoying Ramsey’s obvious concern at being usurped, do help lift the spirits when scattered amongst the difficulties and the horrors; it give audiences just enough of a ‘nyeah!’ moment to remain rooting for whatever factions they back.
Bookending proceedings is the fallout of last week’s attack in Meereen; Grey Worm made it, but alas, Ser Barristan did not. In their disparate corners of the world, both Jon and Daenerys ascend to a firmer position of power, by trusting their instincts, though both are prodded to (Jon by Maester Aemon and Dany by Missandei). Her first instinct is to vengeance, and using her dragons as the weapon of brutality and fear they can be, she threatens the heads of the old families, unflinching as her scaly sons immolate and ingest one of the captured old masters.
Whenever Daenerys is threatened, her Targaryen blood runs hot and her initial response is ‘bring me their heads’! This is not noteworthy because of her gender, but because it belies her true nature – a woman wed to justice. And now, apparently, to Hizdahr zo Loraq. It was pleasing to see the Queen consult her right hand woman on matters of state for a change, and it seems Missandei’s strategy of elucidating her Queen’s strengths rather than try to fix the problems herself or offer options or tactics, worked wonders.
In the most stirring passage of the episode, we spend a little time with Tyrion and Ser Jorah en route to Meereen. Dinklage has some laugh out loud lines (“The Mormont way”) as Tyrion ingratiates himself with Jorah; inevitable really, charmer that he is. There is an honest moment, when he shows his panicky alcoholic stripes as he realises drying out may be his sole option for the road ahead. They share a haunting recitation of Valerian poetry, surprising each other and gaining a modicum of respect in the brief speech. And then, just as we pick up our jaws from the literally awesome Valerian scenery and the extraordinary sight of Drogon flying overhead, the odd-couple are set upon by crazed Stone Men. Such judicious use of action in an otherwise extremely chatty episode makes for compelling viewing, as does the final reveal that Mormont has contracted Greyscale, and its already spreading.
Review by Nina Clark
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