Warning: Full Spoilers for the episode below.
Full disclosure: I write this review as a fan of the TV series and have not read the books. With that in mind … Wow. Just wow. Game of Thrones Season 5 decides to go out in truly epic fashion. Jon Snow, the man who's been the moral compass of this series; the man we rooted for, is now part of the piling names in the "dearly departed" list. Or is he? The Night's Watch turned against Jon for his actions helping the Wildings, and he paid the ultimate price for it. And Ollie, little, not-so innocent Ollie, delivered the dramatic final "For the Watch" killing blow. I could feel the dagger sliding into Jon's chest. George R.R. Martin did it again, guys. He took away a beloved character from us. But Jon Snow's departure isn't the only big sequence of events that happened in "Mother's Mercy." So let's dive in.
If Game of Thrones has taught us anything, it's that there are very real consequences for your actions. Regardless of how you go about it, it will have a ripple effect in this universe. Stannis is another fine example of this. Last week's episode "The Dance of Dragons" showed us just how much Stannis believes in the Lord of Light, going so far as to burn his own daughter at the stake. This lead to irreversible changes in his path to take Winterfell. His troops began to abandon him. Hell, even Melisandre abandoned him. And he was left outnumbered against Bolton's army. But to my surprise, it wasn't Ramsay or Roose who delivered the final blow to Stannis. It was frickin' Brienne of Tarth! A character who has been seeking revenge against Stannis since Season 2! That's why this series is so amazing, it continues to pay off so well as a story. Stannis, sitting there with the corpses of his army, left with nothing more than his thoughts, and Brienne's Oathkeeper, as she dealt him his end to complete quest to avenge Renley's death. Such a great moment for this series.
Speaking of Winterfell, welcome back Theon Greyjoy. That's right, Theon FINALLY decided to let go of Reek, by letting go of Myranda five stories above and escaping with Sansa. A great moment, even though in the grand scheme of things, Theon has deserved every ounce of misery he's received thus far. Again, this is a show about decisions having VERY real consequences. Theon's decision to run off with Sansa will no doubt catch up with him.
Back in Braavos, Arya has been very busy. She finally got a name off her list: Meryn Trant. And boy was that a satisfying scene. Arya decides to go "faceless man" on him and give him some Oberyn treatment with brutality. It was so great, even though Arya was dealt a firm hand by Jaqen. Because of her decision to take a life that was not hers to take, Jaqen seemingly goes all noble to pay for her disobedience, drinking the water to take his own life. Yet, these are the faceless men after all. After a series of face swapping, Arya realized she was in deep trouble, realizing that these men and women truly have no identity, and was left with the lose of her eyesight. This will be very interesting to see how Arya, a character who has encountered such terrible things in her life will respond to her latest predicament.
Dorne was also quite active, as Ellaria Martell also decides to disobey her superior by delivering a kiss of death to Myrcella Lannister. Such a shame. Myrcella was seemingly ready to begin her new life of love with Trystane in King's Landing, even telling Jamie that she knew he was her father. It was such a beautiful moment, only to be ripped away by Ellaria, still looking to seek vengeance for the death of her sweet, sweet Oberyn. We shall soon find out if Prince Doran will live up to his promise that he would not abide another disobedient moment from Ellaria.
Across the sea in King's Landing, Cersei was dealt quite the punishment by the High Sparrow for her crimes. Yes, she confessed, but only partly. But man, that atonement was brutal. Stripping away the once confident and cocky Cersei into a shell of the person she used to be. She was forced to walk, what seemed like a mile, back to the King's Guard, completely in the nude, as everyone in King's Landing watched, and taunted her. Cersei was almost completely shattered by the experience, but now, there will be hell to pay thanks to her newly acquired Kingsguard. That's right baby, The Mountain is a zombie Kingsguard!!! And Cersei has a lot going through her head right now about how she can use her new, lifeless, protector for her benefit.
I was a little disappointed with how Daenerys' story played this episode, but only because I wanted to see so much more Drogon action! Dany is still recovering from her near-death experience last week with the Second Sons, and Drogon is literally licking his wounds, not looking very interested in what his mother wants. Meanwhile, Jorah, Daario, Tyrion, and Grey Worm are back in Meereen figuring out how to proceed. Naturally, Daario and Jorah decide to go out and re-build and search for Dany, while Tyrion is being tasked with Grey Worm to take over the reigns in Meereen. Tyrion will finally get his chance to rule. It's something I've wanted to see since Season 2 when he was serving as the Hand of the King. I was left wanting more out of Dany's story, especially with the Dothraki making a magnificent comeback. Makes me wonder how they'll get along, or not, with the Unsullied.
A lot of action, and deception, happening in the season finale. Jon Snow's death will be felt by fans throughout the country as Game of Thrones preps for Season 6. I was at first disappointed with how Season 5 was shaping up. The first half dragged as it continued to recouperate from the phenomenal season 4. But "Mother's Mercy" delivered an abolsutely stunning and heartbreaking way to end the season. The deaths of Stannis and Jon will lead to even bigger ripples in the world. And Sansa's escape with Theon will no doubt shake things up in Winterfell, especially for the foul-Ramsay, who needs Sansa alive in order to keep his royalty with the Boltons.
"Mother's Mercy" delivered nearly everything you'd want in a Game Of Thrones episode. And now with the series catching up to the books, we will no doubt be entering into uncharted territory moving forward. But let me leave you with this little nugget of hope. Maybe it's me trying to tell myself "everything will be ok." Is Jon really dead? Do not forget who conveniently showed up at the wall. Melisandre is capable of such horrible things. But maybe, just maybe, she is capable of some form of redemption.