The episode starts with Barristan Selmy’s funeral whose death has caused anger of the queen he died for. At the same time anger is one of very few emotions Daenerys understands fully and ultimately the only emotion she is fluent in from second season onwards. Once a strong, courageous character full of potential, Daenerys Targaryen now revenge revenges by the means of more revenge only furthering this vicious cycle. And she does this so she would sooth her own dissatisfaction and growing anger, thus deepening distress and suffering of the people she swore to protect. From episode to episode, from scene to scene, Daenerys Targaryen, this once upon a time sympathetic character worth our investment, is now increasingly adapting the characteristics of her late father, The Mad King Aerys. I cannot help but wonder if what we are witnessing is actually the classic tale of a character development from hero to villain, conditioned by the given context. If you take a look at the characters whose nature resemble hers, in terms of impulsiveness and unquenchable rage, similar tragic story, according to which these characters became orphans at the young age and usually due to some injustice, and who, thanks to a certain gift that came to them in a shape of enormous power the world has never seen, were left, more or less, completely alone in this world, it will become clear that what I am saying is not an utter nonsense. I am talking about the characters we grew up with, characters we loved but never cheered for, characters like Darth Vader (Anakin Skywalker), Magneto, Harvey Dent, Jean Grey etc. All of them incorporate the aforesaid characteristics. And all of them have begun as heroes full of potential, made for great things. However, as fate would have it, all of them, due to the inability to cope with their flaws and weakness, have fallen to the dark side at the end. The flaws I am speaking about, although rare, are first and foremost insecurity (in oneself and his/hers position in the world and consequently the role in it), arrogance (resulting from the almost unlimited power they have suddenly acquired), bitterness (aimed at the past and bad experiences they had to endure), selfishness (expressed through overemphasized preoccupation with oneself under the false pretext of caring for another) and last but not least weakness (as a unique inability to orient oneself in the newfound context).
As a result of all these parameters, the characters blessed with the potential for achieving great deeds of heroism, ruthlessly go to another extreme, thus becoming the antihero in the best case scenario or a villain in the worst.
Daenerys Targaryen is a textbook example of such character.
DOOM OF TYRION AND JORAH IN VALYRIA
Valyria was once a minor civilization of peaceful sheep-herding folk dwelling on the Valyrian peninsula until the Valyrians discovered dragons lairing in the Fourteen Fires, a ring of volcanoes on the said peninsula. The Valyrians somehow tamed the dragons with magic training them into devastating weapons of war. With the newfound power, the peaceful sheepherders started gaining in confidence thus consequently turning into conquerors and a threat to their neighbors. The most important being the Old Ghiscar Empire, the oldest country known to a man, created at the dawn of time. In five wars, that were lead, Ghiscar Empire, richer and more powerful in every respect – the tradition, knowledge and disciplined army – was, due to the existence of dragons, not only conquered but also burned to the ground. Several hundred years later, the cities of Slavers Bay (Yunkai, Astaphor and Meereen) rose from its ashes. Therefore, the history repeats and context (the show heavily neglects) matters.
The Valyrian Freehold continued to expand and conquer further west, capturing many slaves from its conquered lands and using them to mine great wealth from the Fourteen Flames, as well as build great cities and roadways that led to Valyria. This is where Daenerys Targaryen comes from. This is the blood that runs through her veins. The blood of conquerors and slave masters who used blood magic in order to tame the dragons, bind them to themselves and achieve all of this. Some say, it is the said magic that destroyed them in the end, during the cataclysmic event known as the “Doom of Valyria”. The cataclysm hit the Valyrian capital city Valyria, fragmenting the land surrounding the city into numerous smaller islands (now called the Fingers of Valyria), creating the Smoking Sea between them. The Freehold was annihilated in a single night of fire and storm, with great earthquakes and volcanic eruptions laying waste to the empire. The remaining Valyrians fled either all over Essos or across the Narrow Sea to Dragonstone, the small island in Westeros. From here, together with his sister-wives Visenya and Rhaenys and their three dragons Vhagar, Meraxes and Balerion, they have conquered 6 Kingdoms, all except Dorne. The last Kingdom to bend the knee was the North that fell when the last King of Winter (The King in the North), Torren Stark kneeled to save his people. Valyria, however, remained inhabitable. It is said that no one ever returns from a journey to the ruins of Valyria. Even the most hardened sailors shudder at the thought of sailing to post-Doom Valyria. The very sea there is said to smoke and boil, and the land is said to be overrun with demons. It is said that any sailor who so much as glimpses the fiery mountains of Valyria rising above the waves will soon die a dreadful death. This is where we are spending time with Jorah and Tyrion this week.
Sailing through the Smoking Sea, Jorah and Tyrion finally speak, reciting the short history of Valyria to the viewers. In the exact moment we see runaway Drogon, flying high above their heads in all his magnificence.
In this episode, just like in the previous one, we see how one and the same thing – Daenerys’ biggest dragon – represents completely different thing to two different characters.
For Jorah, Drogon represents the memory of Daenerys and his love for her, not to mention the time spent in exhile. Last time Jorah saw Drogon he was half his current size.
For Tyrion, Drogon means something else completely. He represents hope that things will fall into place and get better not just because this is the first live dragon Tyrion has ever seen but because the dragons is a creature widely believed to be extinct.
The moment of Tyrion’s veneration is interrupted by the sudden attack of Stone Men, men suffering from Greyscale, a fatal disease that is passed on by touch. Unfortunate Jorah, now merged with Jon Connington (yeah, that happened), is now infected. How and when will he die is yet to be seen.
DINNER OF PLAYERS
I don’t know about you but as far as I am concerned the Boltons are free to take the title of the most bizzare and uncomfortable hosts in the North. I mean, wasn’t the dinner we took part in just that – unpleasant and weird?! Indeed, how much discomfort can one viewer, that is, one guest, endure? From the look of it, Sansa Stark can endure plenty. Withstanding a psychopath you are suppose to marry (who used the phrase North Remembers!?!) is one thing but withstanding his father, Roose Bolton (who murdered your brother and mother), Theon (who, to your knowledge, murdered your other two brothers in first attack on Winterfell), and Walda Frey (who calls your home a strange place) is a whole other. But Sansa is a star. She did not only endure it, she also did it with grace, informing them all exactly how she feels and what she thinks about this lot. From this episode, Sansa Stark, the character I admire for quite some time, now has not only my admiration but also my full, undivided attention.
On the other hand, I must admit that Roose Bolton, the Warden of the North and Lord of Winterfell, is slowly becoming an excellent substitute for late and brutal Tywin Lannister, whom, regardless of the fact we are talking about essentially a bad man, I enjoyed watching on small screen. I guess the credit goes to Charless Dance who played his part masterfully and who was one of the best actors Game of Thrones had in its arsenal. With this episode, it became apparent that Michael McElhaton has what it takes. Roose’s methods in Ramsey’s upbringing and controlling were surely one of the most interesting moments of this episode. His demonstration of power via disclosure that Walda Frey apparently carries his son who now directly threatens Ramsey’s position as his heir and successor was unparalleled. Unparalleled, not only because in few short strokes Roose showed Ramsey who is a true master behind the curtain but because he finally managed to shut him up. Tywin would be proud.
IT IS NOT EASY TO KILL THE BOY
I have been saying this since last season – Olly will do it. So, I just want to say – I called it first!
-Stannis Baratheon was the star of the episode!
-Tormund is finally becoming the part of the story. HAR!
-I just loved Davos-Shireen dynamic
-Sansa is not alone. And I am not talking about Brienne and Theon. Sansa is not alone because the whole North has her back. Yes, Wyman’s lines are given to the cool old lady but nevertheless this is slowly becoming my favorite story this season. With Stannis on his way to Winterfell, finale of fifth season sounds promising.
-Her smile when Roose revealed he is expecting another son was priceless.
-Although this means nothing to those who didn’t read the book I have to say it – the moment when Melisandre left with Stannis was probably my favorite moment. Why? Because the Red God won’t have anything to do with it. Only North. Only Old Gods. I will say more in my final review this season.
-Jon is off to Hardhome. Wait, what?
– Daenerys Targaryen who knows very well what it means to marry under pressure and threat has now done the exact same thing, if not worse. Informing a man whose father you crucified, whose city you conquered, whose friend you just killed in cold blood, whose life you threatened that he has no other choice but marry you was equivalent to the methods of good old King Joffrey. What a twist. Such cruelty. Much sadism. Wow.
I thought the day I started pitying Hizdar would never come. But alas I was wrong. Although I never deemed it possible I have no other choice now thanks to the writers of the show. Forcing a man who mere seconds earlier pleaded for his miserable life, you ruined, is a whole level of madness and utter loss of logic not even Christopher Nolan would be able to establish. Bravo D&D! Bravo! * sarcasm *
Walda: “This must be difficult for you, being in a strange place.”
Sansa: “This isn’t a strange place. This is my home. It is the people who are stange.”
Tyrion: “Long pauses of silence and an occasional punch in the face. The Mormont way.”
Davos: “My lord?”
Text written by: Monika Ponjavic