“My duty is to the realm. How many boys dwell in Westeros? How many girls? How many men, how many women? The darkness will devour them all, she says. The night that never ends. She talks of prophecies . . . a hero reborn in the sea, living dragons hatched from dead stone . . . she speaks of signs and swears they point to me. I never asked for this, no more than I asked to be king. Yet dare I disregard her? We do not choose our destinies. Yet we must . . . we must do our duty, no? Great or small, we must do our duty.” Stannis Baratheon. A Song of Ice and Fire
STANNIS BARATHEON, ONE TRUE KING
If you read my previous review then you know that the events of the penultimate episode are, for most part, fabricated. In the books, Stannis, together with his army and two new hostages – Theon and Yara (Asha) Greyjoy – is right outside of Winterfell. Davos who was sent to White Harbor to gain support from its Lord Wyman Manderlay is now on Wayman’s request in search of Rickon Stark, the boy Northerners want to restore to the seat of Winterfell as their new Warden. If Davos completes this mission successfully Wyamn will swear his allegiance to King Stannis. Melisandre, Selyse and Shireen are safe and sound in Castle Black not only because Stannis believes a woman’s place is not in the midst of war but mainly because he wants to protect his only child and the heir to the throne. Needless to say, without Shireen the whole quest seems rather pointless. Gendry, late king Robert’s only surviving bastard son, as a member of Brotherhood without Banners, roams Westeros killing people undead Catelyn Stark, their leader, deems enemies. Therefore, in the books, the mighty House Baratheon is still kicking whereas in the show, to my great disappointment, as of this episode, this lineage is now officially dead.
In the context of the show and all the changes related to this particular story, this was only logical. However, everything that preceded the extinction of the mighty House Baratheon, established by even mightier Orys Baratheon, was absolutely illogical. Up until the last week, Stannis was one of the most complex, and I would even dare to say one of the most interesting characters of this epic fantasy adaptation. This was the ruthless king, a practical in his quest for the throne. For him, to be a king didn’t mean the same as it did for Joffrey. Stannis didn’t want this. He didn’t ask for this. But, he accepted it and turned it into his priority. He put his Kingdom and its people first; he put them ahead of his own needs and the needs of his family. And that is exactly what the good king does. On the other hand, although he was a ruthless and brutal man, Stannis was not evil, not the way Joffrey, Ramsay or Mountain were evil. However, with his decision to burn Shireen alive, the show has done just that – it turned him evil; it gave his character n evil note because the brutal murder of the little princess cannot be described as anything but an evil act devoid of any morality. Last week the show has literally, for the lack of better word, spit on this complex character without regretting a single thing. It also stripped him off his complexity leaving behind something I cannot even recognize. I don’t know how to understand this. Should I understand it as a spoiler? Will this happen in the books? (I seriously doubt) Did the show just fast-forward through certain events giving us only their outcome? Or should I treat the events of the show as invalid since they never happened (or not yet) in the books and because, from the looks of it, it literally cant, given the position of its key players? I don’t really know what to say except that the show spoiled my future book experience, which is of course a paradox given the fact we are talking about a precedent here according to which we will find out the ending not from the original source but from its adaptation. Anyways, in the vast sea of bad news for Stannis – from desertion of his own bannermen, who, as I correctly assumed, could not follow him after the events of the last episode, over the death of his wife, to the abandonment of his lover – there was one good thing that happened, not to Stannis but to us, the audience. Melisandre was wrong. In the books this is, however, perfectly clear but in the show not as much. Don’t get me wrong, Melisandre has certain abilities; seeing the visions in the fires is certainly one of them, however, as it turned out, she doesn’t possess a key ability which is the correct interpretation of said visions. That said, Stannis Baratheon was most likely never the one true anything and certainly he was not a serious candidate for Azor Ahai. His sword was not the Lightbringer, as Maester Aemon assumed. It will not bring the lightness to the world and it will not fight the darkness away. She was simply wrong. And Shireen died for nothing. Due to her incompetence and her vast arrogance, Melisandre of Ashai has managed to bring House Baratheon to its early grave. The fact that Balon Greyjoy (the name of the 5th king tied to the leeches of death from third season) still lives should’ve serve Stannis as a clear sign that he trusts the wrong woman.
HEAR ME ROAR
FOR THE WATCH
Jon Snow is dead. Although this is something I knew was coming, seeing it come to life on screen was not easy. At all. Although I hated Olly since the last season when I foresaw that he will be the one to finish Jon, seeing this little prick as he plunges the knife into Jon’s dying body was not easy. That said, I have no idea what it was like for the fans that, like Jon, knew nothing. I have no idea what it was like to learn about his demise like this. I know it must’ve felt like it came out of nowhere, which amplified the element of surprise and shock that came with it. However, the shock related to this particular scene was twofold and the show, as per usual, failed to follow through on one, which was by far more crucial. First part of this shock was of course the fact that night Watch is nothing but the order of criminals with no honor, moral or ethos, devoid of any humility. The second one is far more important since it portrays Jon in new light while giving the hint in which direction the story will evolve. “Then Bowen Marsh stood there before him, tears running down his cheeks. “For the Watch.” He punched Jon in the belly. When he pulled his hand away, the dagger stayed where he had buried it. Jon fell to his knees. He found the dagger’s hilt and wrenched it free. In the cold night air the wound was smoking. “Ghost,” he whispered. Pain washed over him. Stick them with the pointy end. When the third dagger took him between the shoulder blades, he gave a grunt and fell face-first into the snow. He never felt the fourth knife. Only the cold…”
Prologue of the fifth installment of A Song of Ice and Fire (Dance with Dragons) tells a story of Varamyr Sixskins, who apart from being a Wildling is also a skinchanger or a warg. This extremely significant prologue (in the context of he book and its end) tells us that warging a dog is much easier than warging a wolf and that every wolf has its own warg he is loyal to. This loyalty is what prevents other wargs entering the wolf’s body. Then we learn that, upon dying, the warg’s spirit and conscious continues to live on within the animal but not for long since the warg’s memories tend to fade with each passing day while the animal becomes less of a warg and more of an animal until there is no more warg left and only the beast remains. In other words, in the case of death, warg’s mind (and life) can be saved if he manages to warg his animal in the nick of time, however, if his human body dies his mind will die as well over time. Varamyr knew this from experience. He told us a story about entering the bird that belonged to Orell, the warg Jon killed. He also knew what Jon was the minute he saw Ghost threading silently at Jon’s heel. According to Varamyr, one warg can always sense anther and Jon was no regular warg. According to him, Jon was potentially one of the strongest and most talented wargs of all time. Unfortunately, apart from the fact that Jon had no one to teach him and help him develop this gift, Jon also had a stubborn nature, inherent to the families he originated from. So, instead of embracing this gift, Jon was unconsciously resisting it.
As you can see from the paragraph outlined above, Jon’s last word, before his human body died, was not “Olly” but “Ghost. For warg to be able to materialize his ability of skinchanging an event is required. This event should be shocking in order to work as a trigger (for Bran this was Jon’s near death experience in front of the Shadow Tower). One could argue that death, created as a consequence of brotherly betrayal, is strong enough trigger for warg to manifest. My assumption (as well as literally every single fan that read the books) is that Jon warged into Ghost mere seconds before his human body died thus successfully evading his death. For now. However, in order for Jon to continue living, it is an imperative that he exits his wolf’s body. How will he do it remains to be seen. There are several possibilities and I will tell you my thoughts on them. -As we have seen, Melisandre returned to the Wall. She is, just like Thoros (the Red Priest who brought Beric Dondarrion and Catelyn Stark back), a follower of the Red God/R’hllor, which means that she too has the potential of doing the same for Jon. Truth is, she was never successful at it, which means nothing really since there is the first time for everything. However, in that case Jon would belong to the Red God and a little piece of him would be gone forever. If we look at what happened to Catelyn Stark upon her resurrection and what kind of a monster she became, I would have to say that this is not the fate I wish on Jon. Considering just how much was his identity of a Stark emphasized, not only in the books but also in the show, I would even say this choice is illogical. And after all he belongs to the Old Gods -Brynden Rivers (Three Eyed Crow, Bloodraven, Thousand Eyes and One) could have something to do with it considering his keen interest into Stark Brothers (Bran and Jon). Brynden is one of the greatest sorcerers currently alive in Westeros, who, via Weirwood tree and blood sacrifice (of Theon Greyjoy) surely can pull it off. -The King of the Others (White Walkers) is, as we have seen in two episodes so far – Oatkhkeeper and Hardhome – capable of doing two things: turn a human into a White Walker and turn a dead body into a Wight (this will not happen fear not). If you wonder why would this be logical and what is the connection between the Starks and the White Walkers take a look at my theories. -Since Jon is (most likely) not the son of Ned Stark, there is a possibility that Jon will, mirroring Daenerys Targaryen, and the epitome of ice and fire, rise from the dead without anyone’s help (after his body completely freezes or if his “brothers” from fear of Wights burn his body in the funeral pyre) just like her, with new abilities and even a dragon (made of ice). Whatever happens, Jon Snow – the central character of this saga, potentially the most powerful warg of all times who was gifted with the red-eyed albino direwolf (allegory of the Wierwood tree, symbol of the Old Gods and Brynden Rivers, one red-eyed albino) and who span out of two only magical houses, whose song is the song of ice and fire, the title of this saga, the only character who has all the characteristics of a classical hero linked to the number of prophecies – will not meet his end through such a cowardly act. And besides, death is the only way for Jon to get the release from his Night Watch vows. And it is only through his rebirth that he can finally become Azor Ahai, The Last Hero, The Prince that was promised, which, according to many fans, are one and the same.
The prophecy foretells that Azor Ahai (Stannis, according to Melisandre) will be reborn under the bleeding star, amidst salt and smoke, from Targaryen lineage. This hero will carry a burning sword called Lightbringer he’ll use to fight the darkness away. Many fans believe Daenerys is this hero (her being a woman doesn’t mean anything since dragons don’t have a gender). However, following the book, this assumption is somehow too logical and simple which is not Martin’s style and after all her journey, unlike Jon’s, does not follow the classical hero journey’s formula. Then there are those three prophecies we simply cannot ignore. While looking for the glimpses of Azor Ahai all Melisandre saw in her fires was “Snow”. In his dreams, Jon sees himself on top of the Wall, dressed in the armor of black ice, holding a red burning sword in his hands. In the House of Undying, Daenerys sees the blue-eyed King standing on top of the Wall holding a red burning sword in his hands. This vision, compared to those portrayed in the show, is significantly different. In the show she sees snow covering destroyed King’s Landing. In the show she finds herself on the other side of the Wall reconnecting with her family, with Drogo and Rhaego. When I connect the visions from both the show and the books I don’t know what to think except that Jon is (both) the blue eyed King (White Walker that still looks like Jon with his eye color changed) and the hero that will save the world from darkness (Azor Ahai, TPTWP) and bring the necessary balance to it and not Daenerys, who will most likely die in the battle at the Wall. I know, this sounds insane. It will probably not happen…but keep in mind, this is not a conventional story. This is not a cliché. This is an unpredictable story in which the main characters die and time of the wolves is yet to come.
-Stannis Baratheon. His determination. His courage. His honor. His valour. The man who died fighting for Ned Stark’s home. Rest in peace my king.
-Walk of Shame. Many complained how it was long. All I can say is: “You know nothing”
-Lena Headey strikes again!
-Awakening of Theon Greyjoy.
-Death of Myranda what’s her name
-Sam is finally on his way to Oldtown -Arrival of the khalesar to Dothraki sea. I wonder who is their current khal now. Is it Khal Jhaqo? And if so, what will happen to Daenerys, who according to their laws was suppose to go to Vaes Dothrak and mourn for her late husband uuntil the end of days and NOT marry another. Will the khal kill her or will the presence of a dragon shift the tide in her favour? We know that Dothrakies follow strength and what better way to show it than riding a big ass dragon?
-The unbreakable identity of Arya Stark
-Murder of Meryn Trant. “Do you know who I am? I am Arya Stark (of Winterfell). And you are no one.” Yes please.
-The story in Dorne has ended. Praise the lawd!
-Resurrection of Robert Strong.
-Theon and Sansa jumping from 10th storey in order to escape Ramsay. Better possible death than being in the same room with that sadist psycho.
-SINCE WHEN IS RENLY BARATHEON THE RIGHTFUL KING?! The man rebelled against his brother ffs.
-Where was Benjen Stark? Were we trolled? Shame! Shame! *bells *
-Varys in Meereen. Seriously?
-End of House Baratheon
-Why is Balon Greyjoy still alive?
-Killing off the characters who are still alive in the books and sparing the character who are dead in the books. What is that all about?!
-Dorne. So, that’s it? Meh.
-Daenerys pleading Drogon to take her back to Meereen because her people need her. I didn’t know Game of Thrones was a comedy. Well, darling, you should’ve thought about that sooner…you know, when you literally left them in the gladiator pit surrounded by armed creeps in masks.
-I wonder where Baelish teleported himself today?
-Last but not least. Where was Ghost when Jon Fell? Are you telling me he helped Sam get laid but decided to let Jon get executed? Go home D&D you are drunk. The least you could do is give us some kind of a hint…something. Perhaps the wolf was locked away?
Best Quote: Stannis Baratheon: Go on. Do your duty.
Text written by: Monika Ponjavic