We come to it at last…the final episode, the grand finale of the fifth season: Mother’s Mercy, an ironic, bitter title as we shall soon see. Things happened as book readers expected and as many astute show only watchers foretold. The threads of many plots came to fruition for good or for ill, and what many believe was the weakest season yet came to a bloody close, but we shall get to that. Let me do my customary though obvious warning and say…
The concept of “mercy” is almost laughably absent in this episode, but it is the very lack off it which makes it so profound. Mercy is represented by Chesed on the Tree of Life, but as mentioned in my S5E9 analysis for every Sephirah there is a shadow/averse Sephirah and Chesed is not immune. This episode was the antithesis of mercy and all of the players fell into that cold, shadowy abyss left by the absence of light. We are plunged into a world without hope where our best intentions end in failure and our purest motives are stained with blood.
Authority is a myth and your position in the hierarchy is by no means permanently guaranteed. The high are cast down the low are raised up and the chess game goes on and on. Jon Snow was lifted to Lord Commander, a historically precarious position, and like Mormont before him (and the Christ figure Jon represents) was betrayed and killed by his own brothers. Dany rose above the carnage of the pit to find herself a stranger in a strange land, an exile among her “original” people, which forces her to realize she never really had a home. Cersei, the proud queen, is humiliated, though out of all of the players, she is returned some of her authority and immediately shows that she hasn’t learned a thing from her penance. Stannis sacrifices everything and still loses all. His ventures are for nothing; his kingdom turned to dust, yet he retains his stoicism ’til the bitter end. All of theses power shifts go back to Varys’s speech about the paradigm.
“Power resides where men believe it resides. No more and no less.”
Power is all about belief. A crown doesn’t give a king his authority; the belief men entrust into that crown does. It’s the reason we speak of such things as “the crown” or “the iron throne.” The symbols of power speak to the power itself. Who wears them or who sits such really make no difference; it’s the authority thrust therein. This may be something else Martin is playing with as the Night’s King is placing his authority/influence into the minds of the dead so that they will do his bidding. “Dead men sing no songs,” and dead men also make no protests. They have no will; they have no authority; their strings are free for the taking. Perhaps it is not that they sing no songs, but rather they have no songs of their own, and perhaps in the end it will be the dead who sing the song of ice and fire, but the question will be with whose voice?
There are many sections to this, the last of my season five analyses. It shall be split into seven (the most appropriate number for me as always…) and is as follows: Done with Dorne (thank…GOD), Braavo for Arya, Stannis’s (Last) Stand, Sansa’s Ambition, Dany’s Dance, Cersei’s Walk, and finally Jon’s Folly.
Done with Dorne
but we should know better than to expect a Disney ending in this narrative. In what world would Myrcella be able to marry her handsome prince and live happily ever after? Not in the world of Ice and Fire. She is a pink ingénue, a sacrificial lamb, rife for the (un)mercy of the vengeful mother. Figures of innocence do not last long in a world half empty. In an almost antithetical homage to Disney, Myrcella is poisoned with a kiss, but Ellaria’s actions incite great confusion. This could due to how poorly the Dornish plot was handled or Ellaria is just unstable and incapable of reasonable action. Her vendetta against this poor girl makes absolutely no sense. As mentioned before Oberyn choose to be Tyrion’s champion against the Mountain. He choose to force the huge man to confess, and that choosing spelled the Viper’s doom. Though his death was unbearably gruesome, it can’t really be counted as a murder. Myrcella’s blood does not pay for his despite the oft repeated litany of “only death will pay for life.” Myrcella did not die in battle; she was killed with cowardly avarice by a harpy who could not let go of her spite. The Mountain killed the Viper and (as far as the Dornish know) the Mountain is dead. So is Tywin Lannister who (unverified to them) ordered the deaths of Elia and her children. Ellaria’s vengeance makes no sense and it renders Dorne even more useless than it was before.
The only thing to be potentially salvaged from this train wreck is the conversation between Jaime and Myrcella when he reveals/confirms that he is her father, a fact the princess seems to have known. I, like many others, thought it was very strange that Myrcella was okay with being a bastard born of incest. She’s old enough to know what that means/entails, nor was she raised in the Targaryen tradition. That very thing should be averse to her as that was the regime that was deposed. It just seems odd that she would accept such a disturbing fact with no trepidation. Would she acquiesce to marry one of her own brothers then? It’s very strange.
A far more pressing question is what is Jaime now going to do? They are still within site of the Dornish coast. Is he going to turn the ship around, go back and confront Ellaria for her heinous crime? Doran told the harridan in no uncertain terms that if she crossed him again he would have her killed. I don’t think Doran was part of the plot to kill Myrcella. This seems like something concocted by Ellaria and the Sand Snakes on their own. I can’t imagine Jaime continuing onto King’s Landing with his dead daughter in tow. He’s not an idiot. Even unaware of Maggy’s prophecy, the Kingslayer knows how Cersei would react, nor does he have any idea that she is no longer in power. Just…so many things about Dorne don’t make any sense. I can only hope Season 6 answers some of these questions and does something to make all of these scenes valid, because it was the weakest and worrisome of all the scenarios. There is one thought provoking question to be gleaned from this though. Ellaria gave Myrcella the kiss of death. Is there going to be a reflection of this with Melisandre and Jon in a kiss of life?
Braavo for Arya
The youngest Stark daughter is starkly devoid of any mercy for Meryn, and I never noticed that Meryn’s name contains nearly all of the letters in “mercy” except the “y” is replaced with an “n” for none. There is nothing that deters her; there is no one to stop her. He could beat and torture her until the end of days and it wouldn’t matter. What is torture and pain to her? If James’s theory is correct, Arya will see through the eyes of the darkness at the heart of this world…or it will see through hers. The faces will shift in never ending. She will be the Queen of Night as Sansa is the Queen of Winter.
Arya makes sure Meryn knows who she is before she blinds him, because it is always better when they know. What good is it to kill someone for vengeance when they don’t know why they must die? It’s a waste. It is empty, but with each death, Arya empties more of herself as she struggles to hold onto her face. She can’t lose herself to the Faceless Men, but each murder she commits will pull her soul closer and closer to the shadow. Despair will become madness, and that may empty her at last for something other to fill.
If we have learned nothing from ASOIAF/GOT it is that actions have consequences, and Jaqen pulls a Jesus like move in dying for Arya’s sin, because she took the wrong life. But it is not Jaqen who dies or at least not Jaqen as we know him. Then again the Jaqen we’re seeing here may not be the Jaqen we saw before. Jaqen may very well not exist or the person Arya met on the road could be someone wearing “Jaqen’s” face. When you play the game of faces, you never know who you really see.
When Jaqen dies and Arya mourns, the waif rips face after face from his visage.
“True is false. Who is who. Masquerade. Paper faces on parade. Hide your face so the world will never find you…”
-Andrew Lloyd Weber “Phantom of the Opera”
So many faces. It’s like the layers of manipulation with the Night’s King, and the layers trickle down. Then Arya goes blind. It’s fitting that she took Meryn’s eyes and then she loses her own. Though directly Arya goes blind because of the poisoned milk given to her, it’s also conceivable that she has also seen too much and her vision can take no more horror. Jaqen isn’t Jaqen. The waif isn’t the waif, but Arya is still herself, the dark child…the wolf child. Jaime is asked, “Who are you?” by his mother’s “ghost.” He is being pushed to remember who is. Though how can you remember something you’ve never known? As Arya is being pushed to forget, but how can you forget something you’ll always be?
Ned Stark told his youngest daughter that she favored his sister Lyanna, in both looks and nature, and those words gave him nothing but grief. Arya is Jon Snow’s favorite sibling, the person he feels most connected to because they are both outcasts in a way. Yes, Jon has a camaraderie with Robb, but they also have an uneven rivalry thinly below the surface. With Arya, Jon can be more of himself, because while she is a trueborn daughter, she understands what it’s like to be an outcast and to not fit into a particular mold. She will never be a lady like Sansa and Jon (as he was at that time) will never be a lord or a king.. Lyanna is Jon’s (unknown) mother. So the person Jon is closest to is closest to his mother ;_; This is another way Arya is the antithesis of the Mother’s mercy, in being both Lyanna and the anti-Lyanna, in being not Catelyn but the anti-Catelyn who is Lady Stoneheart, Mother Merciless.
Now that she is blind perhaps we’ll finally be shown Arya’s warging abilities. In the book she begins to warg cats, which I must say I’m envious of. I’ve been trying to figure out how cats see through those slit pupils for over a year now. It’s a perspective I’d like for my WIP, but one that’s impossible to obtain. Someone who could warg a cat though could literally see through its eyes in brightest light and would have insight into such. We’ve yet to really be shown her abilities though. The show doesn’t have her experiencing the wolf dreams with Nymeria, but I couldn’t fail to notice that Arya’s eyes turned white in her blindness, which is how D&D indicate that warging is taking place.
One final thought…an aria (which is Italian for “air”) is generally a self-contained piece for one voice that is normally part of a larger work. What song will Arya eventually sing within this grander melody? If she becomes the Queen of Night, perhaps she will utter that lay, the Song of the Long Night. The overarching story is called A Song of Ice and Fire not The Song of Ice and Fire despite what Rhaegar said:
“He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire.”
This leads me to believe there is not only more than one song of ice and fire, but more than one elemental song. It was already mentioned in the prior analysis that the Children of the Forest “sing the song of earth,” which may be the oldest song of all. Before there was ice and before there was fire, the earth had always endured.
I highly recommend you peruse the Endgame of Thrones blog, because the brilliant blogger has touched on things that no one has dared touch before. The Song of the Long Night will be sung when the heralds are in place and the end is near. Sheer genius waits for you at the end of that link. Going by what the James of the Small Council have said about Arya (ah, I didn’t link the videos yet…that will be remedied), I believe such an aria must be sung.
Stannis’s (Last) Stand
When these scenes initially opened, it appeared as though “Stannis’s” sacrifice (quotes because it wasn’t really his sacrifice, was it? Not completely…this is arguable and not really relevant for the point) was worth it. The snows were melting and Melisandre was wearing her cat in the cream face.
For someone who purports to serve only the Lord of Light’s purpose, the zeal on her face at burning a child is a bit too much. Even upon seeing R’hllor make good on his promise (oh and btw there’s an excellent theory that suggests the LoL and R’hllor are not one and the same by Daen Targaryen on their blog End Game of Thrones. It is a fantastic blog that goes as deep as some of my favorite YouTube theorists, giving credibility to some of my more crackpot comparison theories so I’ll be referencing it more in the future), but then we discover half the king’s men have deserted (with all the horses), and the queen has hung herself. For barely an instant I thought that there may have been foul play, but I dismissed that almost immediately realizing Selyse couldn’t take the pain and thus ended her own life. This is the first “mercy” of the mother. The mother (Selyse) only found mercy when it was too late to be bestowed, and the only absolution she could find was in her own demise.
Stannis has nothing left. He has nothing to live for but death in duty. Everything is futile. He gained nothing by burning Shireen. It only lit the path to his own destruction. The only thing he has left to do is die, and the Boltons are more than happy to give his this absolution. There would be no siege, but final bloody battle that Stannis still manages to survive.
Even after what he did to Shireen, I still found cause to pity the king. He was a man misled to thinking he was a false savior of a false advent. I oscillate between thinking he truly believed Melisandre and also thinking Melisandre also believed Stannis was what he was. It goes many ways. Mel could’ve truly believed the last Baratheon king was Azor Ahai or she could’ve just been using him to get where she needed to go, or perhaps the Lord of Light did give her different visions when it was time for her to leave Stannis behind. With the king I’m unsure as well. Perhaps he believed the red woman that he was the chosen one or perhaps he just used her words to bolster his claim that he should be king of Westeros, which he wasn’t wrong about. In terms of succession he is the lawful king of the land (until Dany comes blazing in with her dragons). Lies of grandeur can so easily lead to destruction.
Laying there with his injured leg before Brienne of Tarth, Stannis parallels the Hound whom the Beauty also vanquished. Maester Payne in the below video analysis mentioned this in his and Clare Grey’s analysis.
Of course because we saw no beheading or dead body, the rumor mill is spinning with speculation that Stannis may still be alive, though the directors insist that he’s indeed dead.
But I call shenanigans on their reasoning. Gratuitous. Gratuitous? Are you kidding me? You can show rape and brutal disemboweling, but you can’t show Stannis’s decapitation? When you showed Ned Stark being beheaded before? No, I don’t buy it. I’m not saying that Stannis isn’t dead, but their explanation is bullshit.
Melisandre told Stannis that she saw herself walking the battlements of Winterfell, but Mel has been wrong in her interpretations before, and it’s possible she saw a woman with red hair, hooded and cloaked walking Winterfell’s parapets and took that woman for her when it was really Sansa.
Melisandre deserted (with the only horse left), which we discover after Stannis has Selyse cut down. This is the third blow. First the men, then his wife, then his…blood and shadow wife, wouldn’t you say? Each subsequent bit of news is worse than the next, and Mel’s flight could’ve been expedited by several reasons.
- She foresaw the loss despite the Lord of Light “making good on his promise” after the realization that half the men deserted and Selyse hung herself.
- She feared for her life due to the above since the results of Shireen’s sacrifice were no longer so sweet. Melted snow becomes worthless once there are no men to march the thawing lands.
- She knew she’d be needed at Castle Black
Her arrival at the final mention is not greeted with joy, and my desire to see Davos’s reaction at Stannis’s/Shireen’s sacrifice was crushed right then and there. The Onion Knight will never know the truth…just like Jon and his mother, and if Lord Snow is resurrected will he even care about his origins or be so changed it will be too late for it to matter. Ahhhhh! Okay…not ready to talk about Jon Snow yet…that’s for the last section.
Davos will never know what Stannis did. He will never know that the king he revered actually did burn his daughter, because why would Melisandre tell him? Why would she reveal her part in so heinous a deed? Not that Mel thinks it’s so heinous, but we are told that the red priestess always sees danger to herself, and letting it be known that she burned the child Davos considered his only daughter would be a foolish move indeed. More than likely Mel will just state that Stannis fell in battle and everyone died, which is a version of the truth.
There are quite a few who don’t believe Stannis is dead. Who think his order for Brienne to “do her duty” set something off in the Maid of Tarth. That her “duty” was not to kill him to avenge Renly, but to protect Sansa.
The above picture is in the Beautiful Death series released after every GoT demise. The reality of this one’s existence is enough for most to declare Stannis a corpse, but the artists making these aren’t the show runners and are only going off what is seen on the screen.
Let’s have a poll, shall we?
We leave the outskirts of Winterfell now and venture inside to reveal…
“Tis better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”
It is known…but in my perusals of theory I have been thinking much about this lately for the glass candles are burning, and Sansa’s act can’t help but resonate with parallels especially given that the one it was lit for didn’t even see. That speaks of something dark and horrible to come. That the beacon will be ignited, but either no one will see it, or no one will be left to respond. What will do with your little light in an eternity of darkness? Will you cling to it hopefully until all hope goes out? Or will you take a leap of faith that could lead you to further darkness that Theon and Sansa finally did.
A great deal of the following is inspired by this article by Daen Targaryen The Cause of the Long Night and other essays. I pretty much just rolled over their blog like I was on tumblr. The linked article confirmed something huge for me that’s associated with ASOIAF, but beyond the scope of this particular analysis. In time.
The lighting of the “Wyk” as in the names of some of the places on Pyke Old Wyk and Great Wyk brings the candle imagery back to mind. Euron Greyjoy, whom Daen is not alone in pointing out works for the “enemy…”
…has a personal sigil that is more than unsettling.
The crows are carrying a crown over what appears to be a glowing, red cat’s eye. I pointed this out to Daen in the comments, and he reiterated that it was supposed to represent Bloodraven’s eye within a glass candle. I kept coming back to this image, because though I might stammer about being creeped out, creepy/unsettling things do fascinate me. The Children of the Forest have cat eyes, and there are some that are said to have red cat eyes who are the greatest of greeseers (I believe…I can’t find the exact reference, but there’s something special about the ones with red eyes. This parallel’s Bloodraven and his one red eye, which is also a mirroring of Odin). Then I wondered…are the Children’s eyes supposed to be like glass candles? Able to “see down passages where a boy’s eyes saw only blackness.”
Is it merely a coincidence that a red eye in a glass candle looks like one of the Children’s? Initially, I wondered if it was supposed to show a melding of Bloodraven with those most ancient of people, and while I still think that’s true, there seems to be much more. How deep do the weirwood roots really go?
The pupil is a black flame or a wick and the luminous red is the fire. Will something to summon horror be lit like Sansa’s simple candle one day? Will it bring about the end of the world? (I can only gape in awe at THAT linked article. Holy wow does it ever validate the crackpot theory/theories I have that will be revealed when they are written).
Despite her suffering Sansa still looks like the holy virgin. She lights her candle (which is very Cronish in terms of her lantern…the Crone herself being a reference to the Hermit tarot card)
…and no one is there to see it. Brienne forsook one duty to fulfill another. She is, without a doubt the best knight in Westeros, torn between two obligations she must serve. The initial one was to Renly whom she loved and the second to Catelyn whom she respected. A knight is like an angel. They not only serve a higher power, but they both must have a higher power to serve. A knight without a lord or lady is like an angel without a god. It doesn’t make any sense. They are greater servants of a higher power, and Brienne is forced to choose between two of them.
Maester Aemon told Jon that “Love is the death of duty,” and in choosing her love obligation over her respectable one, Brienne misses her chance to perform her most important task. While vengeance is cathartic, it only serves the purposes of the living. Renly is long dead and gone. Killing Stannis would only relieve the Maid of Tarth’s selfish desires; however, serving Lady Catelyn’s purpose would save her (once) maiden daughter from her terrible fate. Brienne forsook her post as “watcher on the Wall” (which gives nice support for…oh I forget whose theory this is…I think it’s James Johnson’s about Brienne becoming the 1000th Lord/Lady Commander of the Night’s Watch…if the Night’s Watch even exists after all this is done) to take care of a selfish desire.
I don’t envy her position. Even though all the people Brienne has ever served are dead, she says herself that death doesn’t relieve one from an oath.
“You can’t break a vow to the dead.”
“What else do they have but that…? What else can the living give?”
–Northern Lights Chapter 14 (Yes, I will quote myself when it’s appropriate. I am the Shameful Narcissist after all)
This idea about vows and death may be challenged later by Jon whose “watch is ended” upon his death, but this may only be so due to the words of the Watch and the fact that it is Jon himself who is relieved of them at death. Since Brienne is still living and since she made a vow to one who is dead, that may be considered a little differently by the (questionably existent) powers that be. Jon has been on the other side of this oath with regards to Ygritte. When Melisandre tried to seduce him for his (obvious) king’s blood, the Lord Commander invoked his love of the wildling to refuse her.
I’m not bothering with a poll for Sansa and Theon’s survival. It’s a given. They live. The real question is where do they run? Stannis’s army is defeated and the king is “dead.” There will be a great hunt initiated by Ramsay to retrieve his bride, but I can’t see to whom the Pink Letter will be written especially since the recipient of that is dead by the end of this episode, too. The only thing I can see occurring with Sansa and Theon is them meeting up with Brienne and the Maid of Tarth taking Sansa to Quiet Isle. This theory doesn’t come out of left-field. Other theorists have stated it especially since they’re apparently casting a Septon Meribald/Elder Brother character. Why do this if they’re not going to lead Brienne there? This would reunite Sansa and the Hound and the Seven know we need some sort of happy reunion in this woeful tale of missed connections.
Drogo and his mother alight in a sumptuous green mountain plateau that made me immediately thing “eyrie” not necessarily the Eyrie, but it was a reasonable facsimile of a mountain nest. Drogo is tired from battle and flight and pointedly ignores Dany’s insistence that the need to go home, wherever the hell that is.
Daenerys doesn’t really have a home. She was born on Dragonstone, but never lived there. She (allegedly) grew up in Braavos, but never really belonged. The Braavos location has been questioned by others wiser than me. Neither lemon nor other trees grow very well in the Titan’s misty climate, and this is remarked upon in the 5th book I believe by Harys Swift (?) who complains about the lack of fruit (feel free to correct my errors. I know someone complains about such, but I don’t recall if it’s Swift). Dany and Viserys spent most of their lives running from Robert’s assassins, and her only concrete memory is “the house with the red door,” which is a symbol of her childhood. The deeper meaning of this could be more visceral (the Bloody Gate of the Eyrie has similar symbolism) in that she doesn’t want to leave the only place she was ever (marginally) safe, her mother’s womb.
In terms of mother’s mercy, Dany is a bit merciless towards Drogo. He literally rose above the fiery pit (Hell) and carried her away even though he was injured and even though she’d imprisoned his siblings and would’ve done the same to him. Daenerys’s children form a type of trinity, but do they herald her or do they herald another?
Dany is then surrounded by Dothraki riders, but not before she drops her ring like a breadcrumb in the grass. The options for her fate seem as varied as the reasons Melisandre jumped off the sinking Stannis ship:
- The Dothraki will take her as a prize of “war,” and she’ll suffer the fate of what she saved prior female captives from. This is the least appealing of Daenerys’s fates and I really hope D&D don’t stoop this low again. They’ve already proven they can’t be trusted with rape scenes and just throw them in willy-nilly *gag*
- The Dothraki will recognize her as Khal Drogo’s widow and take her to Vaes Dothrak to live out her life among the Dosh Khaleen. This seems the least likely of scenarios.
- The Dothraki will recognize her as the Mother of Dragons since one of her “sons” is right around the corner, and this will inspire worship.
Regardless what the Dothraki do, I think Dany is well and done with Mereen and Essos in general as she should be. Her story this season was very stagnant, though this did not differ much from the book. Dance had a more intricate plot involving poisoned locusts at her wedding feast to Hizdar zo Loraq, whereas in the show, they never even married. Somehow though, I feel as if the show runners missed some integral points/nuances that the book includes. Dany needs to find a home, a true purpose. She belongs in Mereen as much as Viserion and Rhaegal belong in chains.
Speaking of Mereen, I’m very curious how Tyrion and gang managed to extricate themselves from that situation. Did the fighting just stop once Dany ascended to the heavens? Did the Sons of the Harpy just stare up in awe with everyone else? It doesn’t make much sense and wasn’t well explained.
Some of it is made up for by Peter Dinklage’s inexorable wit and acting ability. His comment to Jorah about “wanting the wrong” woman is elegant in its seeming simplicity, but it’s the keystone of this entire story no matter how far back you go. Prior to the events Rhaegar Targaryen “wanted” the wrong woman, Lyanna Stark (hell Jon Connington still wants Rhaegar, and…well who wouldn’t). Within the mise en scène Jaime wants his twin sister and is willing to throw a seven year old boy out of a window for discovering this. You might argue that the catalyst for the story was really Lysa’s letter to Cat on Petyr’s prompting about the Lannister’s poisoning her husband (a lie), but if Jon Arryn had sought out the secret of the royal children’s parentage it would’ve lead back to Jaime and Cersei, the “wrong” woman for him to love. The Night’s King arc is about loving the wrong woman. The motif is repeated over and over and over again.
We could even cast aside the restrictive term “woman” and just say person. Lysa was willing to perpetuate that lie because she wanted Petyr. Petyr’s (supposed) catalyst for wanting to rule the world came about because he’d wanted Catelyn. Tyrion himself wanted Tysha and then Shae to follow. Jorah wanted Lynesse who bankrupted him and then Daenerys who threw him out. Even Tywin Lannister wasn’t immune to this paradigm as Aerys wanted his woman (and more than like had her, which lead to the birth of the twins), and had he the evidence, he would’ve accused Johanna of being with the “wrong” man to give him his deformed dwarven son.
But who determines what is wrong and what is right? Varys shows up after Tyrion and company decide the best course of action, and we can’t help but be reminded about his thoughts on power and how it truly is a mummer’s farce, an arbitrary measure only so because we say it is. Obviously, Varys in Mereen means he can’t be in King’s Landing to kill Kevan and Pycelle, but we’ll get to how that might transpire momentarily…if it does at all.
I tried to imbed Preston’s video, but it looks like I have to do it as a link. He’s hilarious.
Let me just say that if you don’t have any pity for Cersei, you need to GTFO out of my house. No one deserves this. Should she have been in power? No. Should she have conspired to have her husband killed? No. Should she have let her eldest son torment his former betrothed and misrule the realm? No. But these crimes do not warrant her being forced to walk naked under the jeers of peasants and perverts while a sanctimonious septa rings a bell and calls out “Shame.” Now, granted I totally want to do that when people don’t know (seemingly) obvious things. The bell ringing…not the nude walk.
This point will come up later in regards to Jon, but LaDonna of the Small Council made an absolutely brilliant observation about the INRI on Jesus’s cross around 2:47:00. If you can’t watch the entire video, I highly suggest you watch that. I’ll see if I can copy/paste with it starting at that point.
Like Christ Cersei is mocked, beaten and shamed. I am not remotely saying that the queen is a Jesus parallel (like I said before that’s Jon), but she doesn’t deserve the cross she’s forced to bear. In her head, she would probably see herself in this way, a martyr though left alive, and her vengeance would be the equivalent to Jesus flipping out in that corrupted temple, which (to Cersei) the Sparrows have become. How ironic that in their righteousness they’ve become just as corrupt as those they seek to quell. Where is Varys and his power speech?
The High Sparrow had a bit of a leer in his eyes that mirrored the possible leer in Pycelle’s. Cersei begins her walk under the eyes of one potentially secretive lecherous old man and ends under the gaze of a confirmed one. It was an interesting bookend.
Cersei holds her composure very well until the end where she breaks and Lena Headey’s acting could not have been better. We see the slow descent from pride to despair. She begged the Mother’s Mercy and this as what she received. The mercy of mothers in Westeros leaves much to be desired. If Cersei’s mother is still alive and a silent sister, will the fallen queen receive mercy then? Will Cersei give it? If Johanna is still alive, it puts a damper on the queen’s hatred of Tyrion, but only just. She can’t hate him for killing their matron, but there’s still the prophecy with which to contend.
The only person who shows her any kindness is Qyburn who not only covers her nakedness, but presents her with her new champion Robert Strong. The silent knight picks her up as a perversion of the white knight/hero sweeping the rescued maiden into his arms, the delicious imagery used in many a Rescue Romance. Cersei is no innocent maiden and Robert is the reanimated corpse of a corrupted knight not remotely a white one, which is wonderfully ironic as he is the newest knight of the Kingsguard and they wear those snow white cloaks. He is “Qyburn’s monster,” which carries a disturbing parallel to Cold Hands’s words “Your monster, Brandon Stark,” the meaning of which can still be debated. Also of note the knight is called Robert Strong, the first name is the same as her late husband. Let us also not forgot that the German word for “strong” is “stark.” The below is the Small Council’s Season 6 prediction video and LaDonna and Taryn make a fascinating observation that the undead Mountain may have Robb Stark’s head. Robb Stark/Robert Strong. *shudders*
This is only the first part; the second (as it’s been promised) will be uploaded this Thursday.
The dowager queen seeks vengeance over love. You can see this in her eyes. She learned nothing of humility in her walk; the jeers of the crowd served only to fuel an undying hate, and I side with other theorists in the belief that the city will burn.
This was one of the promo posters for Season 5, but I can’t identify the person. It’s not Daenerys despite the dragon above, the hair is far too dark. It could be Cersei, but this scene never happened; there was no burning sept. It makes me think this might be in the future; we may see it in 6 come to pass.
And we come to it, the culmination of this season’s efforts. What it all was leading up to. What book readers were dreading and anticipating, and what we now have a year on which to speculate. I’ll try to go in order with the scenes here. That seems the easiest way.
Unlike the books Sam is the one who suggests to Jon he be sent to Oldtown to learn the ways of the maester obviously taking Gilly and the baby along with him. There is no king’s blood conspiracy in the show as was so in the novels. Maester Aemon lived long enough for Jon to fear for his life since Mel was always on the hunt for king’s blood to burn; however, there were more intricacies to the tale. Mance Rayder had had a son by his wife Dalla who died in childbirth. Dalla had a sister, Val, whom the men of the Watch called the wildling princess.
Val was the equivalent of the princess in the tower, ,which some theorists believe will happen to Dany, and Val is the more mundane parallel of that motif, but there were also two babies at the Wall: Gilly’s and the late Dalla’s. There was also a different plot with Mance, but that’s not really important here. Jon forces Gilly to switch her son with Mance’s in order to smuggle him away from the Wall so that Melisandre won’t burn him. This…is of course devastating to Gilly who weeps the entire way to Oldtown, but the show is simpler (statement AND judgment) so no wildling prince is he.
Jon is far less cold to Sam on the show than he is in the book. In the latter he takes Maester Aemon’s advice of “Kill the boy” more to heart in addition to remembering his father’s words about how to comport himself amongst the men he commands. Where Jon the boy was Sam’s friend, Jon the lord is Sam’s commander. It’s similar to how Bran sees Rob when his brother is forced to become Lord of Winterfell. In letting Sam go to Oldtown, Jon loses his last remaining friend on the Wall. Also telling is Sam takes Gilly with him. Gilly the mother of little Sam. Reciprocity. There will be no mother’s mercy at the Wall, because there will be no mother(s).
Davos has reached Castle Black by this point and is beseeching Jon to give him more supplies for Stannis’s effort. Jon is refusing since, well winter is coming, but in the midst of their talk, Melisandre arrives. I…was quite pissed at this moment. The instant I saw that red bitch’s face I knew Davos would never find out the truth. She could spin the story however she wants, so Stannis’s most loyal man will never know the atrocity his king committed and how Mel convinced him to commit such an atrocity. They’re all dead. So what does it matter?
The Benjen thing with Jon was a total ploy, and I really wonder how many show only watchers figured that out. It was a clever ploy of D&D though to show Ben in the opening recap. I was almost convinced we’d finally see what happened to Jon’s uncle, but the minute fucking Olly ran in, I knew it was part of the plot to put Jon in a vulnerable place. It was Alliser not Olly who stabbed him first. The ratty steward went last in a very E tu Brute moment. Come on Jon! You didn’t see the side eye Olly was giving you ALL season?!
Then we have red blood on cold snow (snow or Snow?).
Jon is lying in the snow, his namesake, bleeding red blood hot as fire. The blood looks like a howling wolf, which is a nod to the book readers (I gotta believe!). Song. Of. Ice. And. Fire. The stain also looks a bit like a bloody wing. This could be a reference to Bloodraven perhaps? He does have one red eye. One red eye; one red wing? I’m not sure. It might be an obscure clue or it might be a brilliant one. It might also be both symbols.
Let’s pause for a moment to examine the circumstances around Jon’s death. He is led out in front of a cross that says traitor. Yeah…I’ve already discussed his Jesus parallels in this article, and it’s here I want to recall the INRI so laid out by LaDonna above. If you didn’t watch the video (shame, shame, shame *rings bell*) I’ll reiterate the main point of it here.
While many translate what was written on Jesus’s cross to mean “Jesus King of the Jews,” the masons believe it means something else.
Igne Natura Renovatur Integra – All nature will be renewed by fire
Ummmmm, this does not bode well. Now INRI was not written on Jon’s cross, but if we look at where that symbolism obviously comes from and we look at the overarching plot of ASOIAF and we look at this article by Daen Targaryen about the mother fucking meteor, well…I’m not one to cause a panic, but according to Daen’s article, the warlocks of Qarth sent the comet to show Dany the way to them. So these warlocks can send comets…even if they’re lying it’s quite a bold claim.
Now Martin could just be playing with us. The comet/meteor could just be a gigantic red herring. It does fit in with the Revelation template that ASOIAF is laid upon, but GRRM loves to twist paradigms, and he could very well be taking the 6th Seal and saying, “Put not your trust in false signs.” He’s stated on numerous occasions that we will see no gods in this narrative. The comet shows up in A Clash of Kings, and then we hear no mention of it ever again. That…is suspicious to me, because it just seems odd to throw something like that in and not use it, a huge, looming Chekhov’s Gun that appears to be forgotten by the characters in the story. If Daen Targaryen is right and there is a cataclysm, a Doom from above…okay hold on…crackpot theory time. I have no proof of this but hear me out, because it would be perfect.
The Doom of Valyria destroyed the world’s premier civilization of the era, leveling the great city and sending nearly all of the Dragonlords to their deaths.
From that day to this no one know what exactly the Doom entailed, but the earth is still corrupted because of it. Valyria was known for its unmatched skills in sword-making. The art of created Valyrian steel was lost in that cataclysm, and only a select few can still even work the blades so left behind. The Freehold was known for its Fourteen Flames, an immense chain of volcanoes along the Valyrian peninsula. It was thought that it was the heat of these fourteen flames that made it so Valyrian steel could be forged (there’s also the matter of weirwood and bone, but that’s for others to speak on).
Armed with this background information, it is not too far-fetched to believe the Doom that came was the eruption of one if not all of these volcanoes that turned Valyria into dust. We can safely surmise that their destruction came from the foundation of their success. Wouldn’t it a sensuous song, a beautiful balance, a perfect parallel if the next Doom came from above? If it rains fire (and “blood” oh shit…Dany constantly says “I will take back what is mine with fire and blood. READ DAEN’S METEOR/COMET ARTICLE LINKED ABOVE. A meteor rains fire and looks like blood) from heaven and Westeros is beset by a comet/meteor strike, that would most certainly cause a Long Night and a winter without end. The ash thrown up from the violence would block out the sun for an age and that would also bring the cold. And finally if the comet/meteor is called Winter, then Winter is Coming. It is made of fire, and it will spell the world’s doom. Though I go with the theory that there’s a dragon beneath Winterfell named Winter because that’s where Winter fell. It would explain that pool without a bottom in the castle’s godswood, but that’s another theory (not my own) for another time.
Let’s steer this tangent back to Jon. Our Lord of Snow dies without ever finding out who his mother is or who is his real father 😦 This is contrasted with Myrcella who discovers the truth of her origins right before death. She dies knowing she’s a bastard, but Jon dies never knowing he (arguably and theoretically) isn’t. It’s a cruel but beautiful juxtaposition. Neither one of them receive the Mother’s Mercy. Myr is murdered by a mother and there are none at the Wall.
The Night Watch’s mutiny is not really that much of a surprise. All of this has been done before in antiquity and recently. They rose against the Night’s King with his brother (?) the King of Winterfell and Jorumun, the King-Beyond-the-Wall, and they murdered Jeor Mormont, the prior Lord Commander. Both Jeor and Jon were trying to revitalize the ancient order. Mormont was the one who told him that they had lost their true purpose, and Jon attempted to see his mentor’s concerns be relieved. It’s a sad commentary on status quo and how we deal with change when we’ve done one thing a particular way for such a long time. The wildlings are not the true enemy. Jon saw the true enemy on the shores of Hardhome.
Possibly. I’m not sure of anything anymore. The NK could be the puppet master or he could be the/a master puppet. I don’t know who the fuck the puppet master is anymore, and this is not like another narrative I love that oscillates between two. I really have no goddamn clue. Is it Bloodraven? Is it Melisandre? I used to think that Littlefinger was the puppet master on the mundane side of things. Him or Varys, but as I look at the story from a broader perspective, I believe Baelish is supposed to represent another shadow of the truth. We’re supposed to look at him and see how he works all of the pieces and pulls all of the strings and realize he’s merely a metaphor for something far more sinister, but I still don’t know what that something is.
A theorist wiser than me made the brilliant connection between Petyr Baelish and Bael the Bard who stole a blue winter rose from Winterfell (this also parallels Rhaegar. You shouldn’t take flowers…it’s very rude), but I think it may be more meta than that. Petyr is mimicking the character of a bard. He is playing a long and elaborate song, portraying a deep and complex story. He himself is a player, but not in the way that has him controlling the entirety of the game. He is playing his part to show us the path of another who is playing an even deeper part. He is meant to be the mundane version of the overarching schemer. Currently, my money is on Bloodraven, though that doesn’t make any sense. Why would Bloodraven, a Blackfyre Targaryen be working for the Children of the Forest in order to facilitate the fall of man so that they can take back Westeros. Unless like Daen said BR (ahhh double entendre. BloodRaven or Brynden Rivers. Clever) is supposed to parallel Tyrion who also turned his back on his kin for similar reasons (being shunned for physical deformity despite doing everything for the good of the realm) or BR is being tricked and used by something/someone else. I don’t know; there are too many wheels within wheels. There are too many shadows.
The name Jon Snow itself sounds very similar to the American standard of calling unknown male person’s John Doe. This lends credence to Daen Targaryen’s article about Jon being a fake/code name, which makes sense if he isn’t a bastard. Obviously, he’d have to be given a bastard name to hide his identity, if his identity is other. This would be a brilliant move by Martin to demonstrate that appearances can be deceiving. If Jon is the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna and if Rhaegar and Lyanna were married, then Jon is a trueborn Targaryen and has more claim to the throne than Daenerys who has the appearance of one. This bleeds over into (F)Aegon, deepening the falsehood. Dany at least is a true Targaryen, but there are reputable theories that claim Aegon is not even that, but rather a Blackfyre, so though he has the appearance of a Targ, he is not one.
“…even Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”
And let us not forget Sam’s words to Gilly that “Jon always comes back,” which are far more ominous now.
What is our death count?
- Meryn Trant
Notice how all of the definite deaths have Y in their names. This is more than likely coincidental; I just noticed it when I first wrote out the list and thought I’d call it out. There is no doubt that the layers of the Song, the various verses, the characters, even the singer(s) themselves will unfold like a winter rose. We see the reflection of this everywhere. In the Many-Faced God, which is itself demonstrated in the layers of faces the waif pulls from the dead “Jaqen.”
Who you are is both the question and the answer. Some characters are blessed with this knowledge (Myrcella), others never find out (Jon), others won’t reveal (Jaqen and the waif), still more are horrifying (Meryn), while others are sad (Jaime/Cersei). The gift of truth or knowing/remembering who you are is a another theme of the narrative.
Arya gave Meryn that gift before killing him mercilessly. She is no mother (and I don’t think she ever will be) therefore she has none, nor does she need any excuse to be merciless. Her own mother was Mother Merciless and it’s possible the show is revealing Lady Stoneheart’s traits in at least one of her daughters. Stoneheart is a dark mother paradigm, she who wears the fourth face. Vengeance, hatred, bitterness, death. Thus in this way Arya is turning into her mother or un-mother.
Myrcella is given the gift of truth as well from Jaime before she succumbs to Ellaria’s poison. Again…no mother’s mercy in the princess’s situation, but at least she died knowing the truth about herself and who she was unlike Jon who possibly never will. Even if Jon is resurrected, would he care about his true parentage or would he be so changed that it would no longer matter? And would he still be the same Jon or would he be something else entirely?
Brienne is given the gift of truth from Stannis before she allegedly kills him, confirming to the maid that he murdered Renly, his brother and her king, by blood magic and deceit.
Cersei is given the gift of truth in terms of now knowing what King’s Landing thinks of her and who her only friends are. There is much to be said about how one is treated when one is at their lowest, and Cersei’s walk proved this point. At the end only Qyburn shows her any compassion in addition to giving her one of the best gifts she could receive: Ser Robert Strong, Qyburn’s monster. Cersei is a “lioness of the rock,” and she remembers this once she is in Strong’s arms.
Sansa’s truth is more eternal and a declaration to Myranda that she would rather die as herself than continue living as this shadow. Theon remembers who he is, kills Myranda and helps Sansa escape. In a way whether they live or die doesn’t matter; they both would’ve died knowing who they were and owning it despite the consequences.
Dany realizes the truth of who she is when she is surrounded by the Dothraki. This is like the beginning of her journey when she was married to Khal Drogo for the express purpose of raising an army to take back what is hers. Now it initially was Viserys’s vision to do this, but the circling riders unwind Dany from her pretenses and force her to remember and own the fact that she is the Mother of Dragons, because that is (more than likely) the reason they won’t rape/murder her or force her to live with the Dosh Khaleen in Vaes Dothrak.
Jon is the antithesis of the truth paradigm. He dies never knowing who he truly is, which lends more credence to the belief that he will not remain dead…or it’ll be another tragic narrative of lies living on in death.
Another theme of this episode is fulfilled promises. Ellaria fulfills her promise to have vengeance for Oberyn’s death by killing Myrcella. The Night’s Watch fulfills its promise to retain what they believe they are by killing Jon. Arya fulfills part of her promise to her family/vengeance/herself by killing Meryn Trant. Qyburn fulfills his promise to Cersei by producing Robert Strong and you could see new promises for vengeance are going to be fulfilled in Cersei’s eyes. The Lord of Light fulfilled his promise due to the sacrifice of Shireen and the snow melted.
Most of these promises were either false or done for the wrong reason, and all culminated (or will culminate) in death. Ellaria had no reason to kill Myrcella; the princess was in innocent who did not deserve to die. Jeor Mormont stated after the wight attack that the “Night’s Watch has forgotten its true purpose,” and nowhere was that statement more relevant then in the stabbing of Jon. The NW was created NOT to fight the wildlings, but the Others or so we think. Either way Mormont stated that the wildlings were men and the NW was created to “guard the realms of men,” and wildlings are that, just so. In killing Jon “for the Watch,” they’ve forgotten what the Watch really is. Qyburn out of everyone actually keeps his promise and I’m certain with Strong, Cersei will fulfill hers.
Winter is coming, but how will it manifest? None of us can be so foolish to think the darkest of seasons will bring only cold snow. No, Winter is a dragon that heralds the long night. Winter is a fire that burns the sky, but there is hope in the horror. “The apocalypse is a great revealing of a secret truth.” (LaDonna from the Small Council. All the layers are peeled away. All shall become one.
“And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god,
And where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves.
Where we had thought to travel outwards, we shall come to the center of our own existence.
And where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.”
-Joseph Campbell “The Hero With a Thousand Faces”