In comparison to other Game of Thrones’ season finales, “Mother’s Mercy” leaves us with many cliffhangers in the plot lines of many favourite characters. As in other episodes, some scenes were marvellously executed, while other ones were not. Overall, “Mother’s Mercy” did not feel like a season finale to me due to the fact that the storyline is predictable at this stage.
The Extinction of House Baratheon
In the opening scene, Melisandre considers the melting of snow as a good sign. After having his daughter burned, Stannis is not in a good mood to hear her, and he shoves her away. Half of his army has deserted with the horses and Selyse has committed suicide. These portents lead Melisandre to leave for the Wall. She has come to the realization that she has been wrong on her choice of Azor Ahai.
Stannis proceeds to move forward to battle. However, they are unable to lay siege to Winterfell. Ramsay and an army of Bolton men that come to meet them outnumber them. Stannis’ army is annihilated. Many book readers and fans of Stannis are not pleased with these events. In the book, Stannis is marching to Winterfell in the company of some Northmen. Jon Snow suggested him to enroll certain tribesmen, bannermen to House Stark, to fight against the Boltons as long as their religion (Old Gods) is respected. The general consensus is that book Stannis will defeat the Boltons and some members of House Frey currently present in the North. Of course, due to the significant changes done in episode 509, “The Dance of Dragons,” nobody wants Stannis to win. I speculated in my last post that Stannis will be alienated by the Northmen, something that never happened in the TV show. However, his actions led to a series of detrimental effects on his persona and on the morale of his army.
Brienne ceases to watch the Broken Tower waiting for Sansa’s signal. The coming of Stannis’ army and his subsequent defeat lead her to forsake temporarily her vows to Catelyn Stark and fulfil her role as a former member of Renly’s Kingsguard. She meets Stannis at a time in which he is aware that everything is lost to him. She reveals who she is, and kills him off camera. This scene is a deviation from the books since Brienne is not in the North but in the Riverlands by the end of the fifth book getting Jaime Lannister to meet Lady Stoneheart, the reanimated Catelyn Stark.
Is Stannis dead? Some members of the fandom have speculated that he might be alive, even though I prefer TV Stannis to be dead. I have sometimes perceived TV Stannis as weak, an absent characteristic in the book counterpart. I guess it is related to TV Stannis being easily persuaded by a religious fanatic like Melisandre.
In regards to the extinction of legitimate Baratheons, the TV show only leaves one possible candidate as the future lord of the Stormlands, Gendry, Robert’s bastard who will require to be legitimized by a king or queen. TV Gendry is aware of his parentage.
Theon Greyjoy is Back
Sansa tries to escape while Ramsay is out fighting Stannis. She lights a candle at the Broken Tower, but Brienne misses the signal. She encounters Reek and Myranda on the way back to her room. Myranda tries to torture her by aiming an arrow at her. As a result, Theon saves Sansa by throwing Myranda down to the courtyard causing her to die. Theon grabs Sansa and they both jump off from the battlement to escape Ramsay. For a non-book reader, this is a cliffhanger since nothing is known about their well-being until next season.
Speculation: Theon and Sansa will be heading to Castle Black next season. Ramsay revealed to Sansa in a former episode about Jon being the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.
The “Ceasar” Treatment
At the Wall, Sam asks Jon to be sent to the Citadel in Oldtown. Of course, Jon is reluctant to let him go, but Sam is doing it for Gilly. Sam tells him that he will be back. As a result, Jon is left alone with only one friend, Dolorous Edd. While trying to negotiate supplies and food for Stannis, Jon and Davos meet a speechless and emotionless Melisandre.
The episode’s closing scene is probably the most shocking one to the TV audience. Olly tells Jon that a Wildling he brought back from his expedition to Hardhome knows about Benjen Stark’s whereabouts. However, Jon is led to a trap in which his brothers start stabbing him, a murder attempt. Ser Alliser Thorne is the first one to stab him and Olly is the last one. The problem that I have with this scene is the lack of consistency in the characterization of Ser Alliser. In episode 509, he could have simply left Jon and the rest outside to starve. He was portrayed as somebody loyal to the Lord Commander.
Is Jon dead? The general consensus is that he is not dead but in a coma. In the books, Jon usually has dreams in which he goes down the crypts of Winterfell (keep in mind who is in the crypts). He always wakes up without finishing these dreams. By being in a comatose state, he will complete these dreams and discover who he really is. However, the TV show might opt to have Jon Snow dead and brought back like Beric Dondarrion, giving rise to UnJon, since this method has not been used too much. Reanimating the dead is a skill that red priests and White Walkers have. In the books, some characters have been brought back to life by red priests: Beric, Lady Stoneheart (Catelyn Stark), and probably Victarion Greyjoy. Bringing Jon back this way might be seen as overused by book readers. However, this technique has only been seen once in the show (Beric), so it could be used to the dismay of many readers.When discussing with my husband, a non-book reader, about these choices, he prefers Jon to be in a coma since he will not be the same if he dies and is reanimated afterwards. Furthermore, being comatose allows Jon to develop his warging abilities, something that is already present in the books but lacking in the TV show.
Two years ago, an essay was published speculating about Jon’s fate. Book readers are familiar with it. However, if you are a non-book reader and want to get spoiled, go ahead and enjoy yourself. Here is the link.
This essay is well researched and at the time of its publication, it became one of the most popular posts in WordPress.
Speculations: The main point of my speculations is that events might follow a similar pattern in subsequent seasons. However, the development of these events will not be as simple but complicated instead.
Some speculations can be made based on the events that happened at the Wall. In the books, Sam and Gilly go aboard a ship heading to Braavos. He encounters Arya without knowing or recognizing who she really is. At the same time Jaqen H’ghar is in Oldtown disguised as an alchemist who kills an apprentice. By using the apprentice’s face he infiltrates the citadel and he is seeking for something that is hidden, most likely a book called Death of Dragons. Arya could replace Jaqen in this role, and head back to Westeros. Both she and Sam could uncover certain interesting things about the Citadel.
It seems that Jon and Sansa will be the first “siblings” to meet again. The presence of both Davos and Melisandre at the Wall might play a role next season. She would probably realize who Jon is, and she and Sansa might help him to heal physically from the attempt on his life. Jon or Sansa might send Davos to find Rickon. In this way the North will unite to put a Stark back in Winterfell. In fact the victory at Winterfell that should have belonged to Stannis will be Jon’s. It has been speculated by book readers that Stannis will win the Battle of Ice and retake Winterfell. Jon will win a battle at Long Lake, and finally make House Bolton extinct by killing Ramsay.
The Walk of Shame
This scene portrays the total humiliation of Cersei. The High Sparrow is able to extract a partial confession from her, having sex with her cousin Lancel while being married to Robert Baratheon. Being aware of her other sins, the High Sparrow warns her that a trial will have to be held against her to decide whether she is guilty of the other accusations (killing Robert and having bastards with her brother). She is made to walk naked through the streets of King’s Landing. At first, the crowd is indifferent to her. However, as she keeps walking towards the Red Keep, people spit at her, insult her, and throw things at her. I read a while back that a body double was used for this scene. Is this treatment fair? Cersei is a despicable character, but she does not deserve this punishment. First, there is no evidence of Lancel receiving punishment for having an affair with Cersei. The viewer is aware that he atoned his sins but there is no evidence of punishment. This reflects the misogynistic nature of the punishment even if the former High Septon was also made to walk naked. In the books, Cersei’s punishment is even worst. She is basically punished for sleeping with a lowborn knight after she became a widow. She was just using him to get Margaery incarcerated by the Faith.
When she reaches the Red Keep, Qyburn comes to cover her and to offer her some comfort by showing her UnGregor (The Mountain). Cersei’s eyes are revealing in this particular scene – I simply started to imagine the Mountain killing the High Sparrow and Septa Unella. Other characters present at her arrival are indifferent to her, and her uncle, Kevan, looks upset with her.
Probably one of the most disturbing scenes is the one in which Arya kills Meryn Trant. From episode 509, “The Dance of Dragons,” the viewer is aware that Ser Meryn has a preference for young and innocent girls. In this episode, it becomes obvious that he has sadistic tendencies. The scene opens with him whipping three girls. Of course, the third one turns out to be Arya wearing the face of the sickly girl who committed suicide some episodes back. Then Arya viciously stabs his eyes. She makes him suffer before revealing her identity and slitting his throat. How she acquired the skill to wear a face is unexplained.
This scene reveals the dark path Arya has chosen. Of course, many viewers and readers probably cheered while watching this scene, and there is nothing wrong about it since she has started to kill everybody in her list and retained her identity as Arya. The truth is that she will never become no one as long as she keeps Needle. In regards to Ser Meryn, the show has gone too far in depicting his nature. Is it a requirement to show him whipping young girls?
Back in the House of Black and White, she is reprimanded for her actions and ends up physically blind. What I like about this scene is how Arya is made to believe that she is about to be killed by drinking a strange substance. However, the one who ends up drinking it is Jaqen, an action that also forces Arya to believe that he has committed suicide when it is not the case. She breaks down thinking he is dead without realizing that he is basically “no one.” Is her blinding a punishment or part of the training?
Speculations: By being blind, Arya might develop her warging abilities. She would be able to see by using the familial’s eyes. As in the books, she might warg Nymeria, her direwolf, regardless of the distance between them. As a result, she will always remember who she is.
In Mereen, Jorah and Daario decide to look for Danaerys. Tyrion, Grey Worm and Missandei stay behind ruling the city. Why is Varys in Mereen? Is he behind the Sons of the Harpy? Hopefully no.
Danaerys has ended up with Drogon in Dothraki territory. She tries to convince Drogon to take her back to Mereen. However, he prefers to lie lazily on the grass. She ventures away from Drogon to find herself surrounded by many Dothraki on horseback. She drops her ring probably to leave it as a tracking mark for people looking for her. Is this an efficient way to track somebody? Is it possible to find a ring out of a sudden in a vast territory? Finding the ring will be unrealistic.
Death of Myrcella
In their last conversation, Jaime is telling Myrcella how she is lucky to love the man she will marry since there is usually no love in arranged marriages. He then tries to confess to her about her true parentage but Myrcella acknowledges that she has always felt he was her father, something that takes Jaime by surprise. Their bliss is short-lived. This brings to mind the scene in which Ellaria gives her a “deadly” kiss before boarding the ship. As a result, Myrcella starts bleeding severely. Without any antidote, she is more likely dead. This will put a strain in the relationship between Jaime and Cersei. In regards to Ellaria’s actions, has she forgotten that Trystane could be taken as a hostage in King’s Landing? I would like to see where this plot line is heading, most likely to a declaration of war.