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We are officially halfway through the fifth season of Game of Thrones and things are moving along relatively smoothly. After two weeks of fast moving episodes that crammed in some excellent character development alongside important plot points, “Kill the Boy” slowed things down a bit. Not a whole lot happened within the episode, but the things that did should resonate throughout the season. I’ll take quality of storytelling over quantity any day. Sure, there was a bit of filler (Ramsay’s posturing throughout the episode grew a bit tiresome and the Jon Snow storyline could have been streamlined a bit more), but I’m willing to give the show some leeway in light of how well the season has been going so far.
In light of the slow moving story this week, let’s take a few minutes to discuss one of the episode’s stars: Stannis. The episode’s most interesting scenes this week came from Stannis, who has had a heck of a turnaround from the taciturn bland character we’ve known since season one. Who’d have thought, way back in season one, that Stannis Baratheon could emerge as such an interesting character, but here we are. Yeah, Stannis is certainly still taciturn, but since the series decided to actually develop his character and give us some insight into who he is, he’s become a great deal more. Last week’s scenes with Shireen were amazing. This week we are treated to more interesting looks into what makes Stannis tick. Apparently, Stannis gets just as annoyed by improper grammar as he does by those who don’t believe him to be the true king (such a wonderful moment). But he’s also the only person in power who seems to actually care about the realm.
I didn’t think I would ever say this, but I find myself hoping that Stannis will ultimately win the game of thrones. Putting aside the fact that he is, in fact, the only person with a legitimate claim to the throne (since Robert left no true heirs), Stannis is by far the most qualified. As fun as it is to watch Cersei and the Tyrells manipulate and betray in King’s Landing, nothing they have done has had any positive impact on Westeros. Stannis realizes the impending threat from the white walkers (finally, someone acknowledging that there is something more scary that Cersei’s temper out there) and he understands that the Wall must be protected. He’s a master tactician (remember, this is why Tyrion’s victory at the Battle of Blackwater was such a shock), and I fully expect him to sweep through and take out the Boltons before the season is through. And, to top it off, we now know there is a heart somewhere under his gruff exterior. While Dany might have more compassion, she’s also pretty awful at managing a city. Stannis might not be the more charismatic leader (and he certainly doesn’t have the awesome factor dragons bring to the game), but he’s the only sensible option. Which, of course, means he’ll never get his shot, right?
Speaking of Dany. Oy. I get that we’ve all been wanting more dragon action this season, but burning alive the aids of a Meereen representative was probably not the best decision. Granted, it certainly brought Hizdahr zo Loraq into line, but I have a bad feeling about it on the whole. Also, deciding to marry Hizdahr to gain legitimacy with the masters isn’t the worst idea (and it is presented here in a much better light than in the novels, thankfully), but I can’t imagine Daario is going to be thrilled with this new development. And with Ser Barristan gone (RIP Barristan the Bold), Dany needs all the fighters in her corner that she can muster. Opening the fighting pits again can’t end well either. Tyrion and Jorah better make it to Meereen ASAP.
Although, considering Jorah is now sporting grayscale (Chekhov’s grayscale paid off big time here), it appears Dany’s biggest Westerosi cheerleader is in serious trouble. Jorah is a complicated character within Dany’s storyline for a number of reasons (chief among them, his past as a spy for the throne means his actions are always suspect), but falling prey to grayscale to save Tyrion certainly makes it seem like his shady past is simply that: a thing of the past. We know that grayscale is a death sentence- unless you have access to the healers Stannis found. Considering Jorah is far from Dragonstone, I don’t like his chances for survival.
— It seems the show really wants us to take note of the resistance within the North. As with the grayscale discussions, I think we can safely assume Sansa will be lighting that candle before season’s end. And I presume it will be Brienne leading the charge for her rescue, perhaps as a member of Stannis’s army.
— Jon Snow on a quest to the wildings. That can only go great and be super interesting to watch, right? (The correct answer is no to both.)
— That shot of Drogon flying over Tyrion and Jorah was amazing.
— A minor comment for those who have read the books: A lot of questions were swirling, before this season, around whether Jon Connington and his surrounding characters would make an appearance on the series (a question close to my heart, since I love the Connington character). Considering the turn in Jorah’s fate, I think it’s safe to say Connington and company have officially been excised from the series. While this leads me to wonder what role they will ultimately play in the novels, seeing as they have been deemed not worthy of the series, I have to say I like this change. At this stage, the less new characters to clog the storylines, the better. And since not everyone reading this has read the books, I would ask that you avoid spoiling anything that may flow from this observation of mine – I’ll remove any comments that spoil things here.