Ser Jorah’s gets greyscale! Sansa reunites with Theon! Stannis marches toward Winterfell! Tyrion sees a dragon!
And that’s about all I actually knew about “Kill the Boy” before this episode aired because HBO has stopped sending out screeners to TV reporters for the rest of the season. So I approached this hour like Littlefinger appraising Ramsay: I know very little about you, which makes you quite a rare thing. And instead of writing this week’s recap leisurely over the course of a few days leading up to the telecast—punctuated by celebratory rounds of Jameson and checking obscure Thrones-ian facts via the The Wiki of Ice and Fire—I jammed to draft this tonight and I’m just praying I didn’t misspell Daenerys Targaryen (there’s always more ‘e’s than you think there are!).
But here it is at last. Let’s break down “Kill the Boy”:
Meereen: Grey Worm is unconscious in bed. Missandei looks very upset even though this is pretty much the same amount of conversation she usually gets from Grey Worm.
Meanwhile Dany is in her throne room, looking really pissed about Ser Barristan getting murdered last week. Clearly she’s a Game of Thrones book-reader. Daario suggests pulling back their troops to the pyramid district then attacking outward. I get distracted a little here because I just love that Meereen has a pyramid district; it sounds like some fancy zip code with high property taxes and great schools.
Dany decides instead to round up the heads of the major families and has them brought to her dragons’ den lair—including her own adviser and suspected reggae enthusiast Hizdahr zo Loraq. This is exciting because Dany has lately been in “How do I make people love me?” mode, so we’re excited to see her shift back into badass Mother of Dragons mode.
She forces the lords to slowly march toward her two chained dragons, Rhaegal and Viserion. It’s like they’re being forced to walk the plank, but instead of sharks and water, there are dragons and fire. Only Hizdahr doesn’t totally lose his composure.
This is pretty risky for Daenerys because she doesn’t really know how her dragons are going to react because she can’t actually control them. She’s betting they’ll react the same way they acted toward her in the season premiere. The dragons could just be sleeping like bears at a zoo. Or they could waddle up and give one of these guys a great big happy lick and totally blow her whole fearsome image. Thankfully, they torch one of the great family heads on cue and rip him into two pieces. Aw, it’s so nice that they share!
Dany decides not to sacrifice any more of these guys. “I don’t want to overfeed them,” she quips, as if they’re giant goldfish. But she’s made her point to them, which is simply: Don’t f— with me.
Castle Black: Jon goes to Maester Aemon for advice because he wants to try and get the Wildlings to fight with the Night’s Watch. Aemon tells him to do what he wants and quit being such a wuss all the time, jeez. “Kill the boy, Jon Snow,” Aemon says, “and let the man be born.” A blind 100-year-old guy is literally telling Jon to man up.
NEXT: Ramsay’s bite-y sex life [pagebreak]In a way, this is the same lesson Dany just learned half a world away—quit worrying about being liked and just do what needs to be done.
So Jon meets with Tormund and proposes a deal with him. Thankfully, Tormund is marginally more reasonable than Mance Rayder. Or maybe watching Mance get horribly burned to death softened him up a tad. Jon gambles by removing Tormund’s chains and for a moment we think he’s going to pummel Jon, which would really earn Jon some of old Aemon’s scorn. But no: Tormund just says the rest of the Wildlings are at Hardhome, a seaside settlement north of The Wall. Tormund will go to try and get them to join, but he needs Jon to come with him.
Jon announces his plan to the Night’s Watch. As he thought, it doesn’t go over very well, though the highlight of the scene is Stannis getting perturbed at one protestor’s poor grammar. Even little Ollie, who practically worships Jon, is really upset.
Later, Stannis decides he’s finishing hanging around Castle Black. We’re all, “Finally!” We like this new restless, roaming Stannis. He decides to pack up his family and march his army toward Winterfell—bringing his wife and mistress and daughter, too. Stannis’ wife warns Davos not to scare little Shireen because that’s her job.
Meanwhile, Melisandre has absolutely nothing to do in this episode than to look annoyed at Jon for rejecting her last week.
Still, it’s more screen time than Arya or Cersei or Jaime got. Have we ever had a non-battle episode with so many major characters off stage? It’s perhaps because a lot of the focus this week was on—
Winterfell: A lot of Winterfell. We start with Ramsay’s lover Miranda being annoyed. And naked. But mostly just annoyed. If she ate more, she’d probably be in a better mood. She’s pouting that Ramsay is going to marry Sansa and threatens to leave him. Ramsay is not amused by this: “Jealousy is boring,” he says. “You remember what happens to people who bore me.”
Miranda chomps on his lip proving how non-boring she is. Then Ramsay turns her around and they make ecstatic faces, but it’s actually not clear if they’re having sex or not. No matter, they’re really happy together and that’s what counts.
Later, Brienne’s secret message that she gave to an extremely shifty eyed innkeeper is delivered to Sansa by a similarly shifty servant: If Sansa’s ever in trouble, she’s to light a candle and put it in the highest window of the broken tower. I want Sansa to reply right now: “Got a candle?” But instead she just kinda nods: Sure, okay, good to know.
NEXT: The dinner of the damned [pagebreak]Sansa meets Miranda, who is starting to come off nearly as nutty as Ramsay. Miranda compliments her dress and critiques the stitching and makes unnerving comments about Sansa’s mother. It’s like everything she’s saying is okay, but the delivery is off. Miranda tells Sansa to go look in the last dog kennel for another thing to help her remember her murdered mother.
At this point, we’re all yelling at Sansa to not be a fool, but she goes into a dark scary tunnel anyway. We’re half expecting Hannibal Lecter in that last cell (actually, I was half expecting her mother’s severed head). Instead, it’s Theon in all his reeky glory.
Sansa cycles through emotions: It’s an old friend from my childhood! But wait, he killed Bran and Rickon! Of course, Theon didn’t really kill her brothers, he just killed two orphan boys and pretended they were Starks, but she doesn’t know that. Sansa storms out of there, pretty horrified.
Let’s think about this: Sansa already is having to hang out in a castle full of memories of her family … with the psychotic family that killed her mother and older brother … and now she discovers the man who “killed” her younger brothers is there, too! And the most annoying part is, they’re all being pretty nice to her, so she can’t even react normally to anything that’s happening.
Later, it’s the Dinner of the Damned. Ramsay is having so much fun playing host. Sansa pretty quickly realizes her new fiance is a jerk—big surprise—and if anything this probably makes this easier for her, emotionally speaking. “This isn’t a strange place,” she explains. “This is my home. It’s the people who are strange.” Ramsay declares, “You’re right!” and looks utterly Clockwork Orange-ian insane.
Ramsay brings in Theon to apologize to Sansa for killing her brothers, and even bastardizes the battle cry “The North Remembers” while doing it. This is so hard for Theon because his apology is very genuine given that he betrayed Robb, but the reason for his apology is pure fiction. Note that Ramsay has terrified Theon into not keeping secrets from him, but he’s sure keeping one nwo. Ramsay decides that Theon will give away Sansa at their wedding.
“Why are you doing this?” Sansa demands of Ramsay, and I want to cheer. But there is, of course, no easy answer to her question.
Roose has his wife Walda make an announcement. Nearly all Thrones characters have nicknames and hers is Fat Walda, which is probably the least clever nickname out there. Anyway, she’s pregnant! And probably with a son.
Sansa instantly calculates this and gets in a stab of her own: “I’m very happy for you,” she says.
NEXT: Tyrion, meet Drogon… [pagebreak]Ramsay is, for once, stumped. He’s the eldest son, so he should technically inherit no matter what. But if Walda has a son, he would be a proper son born between two noble houses, which could make things … murky.
Ramsay has a heart-to-heart with his dad. He first tries to fat-shame his stepmom, but Roose doesn’t fall for it. Instead he reveals some backstory about his mother. It’s pretty wild that Ramsay has never even been curious about her; once again, he’s like the opposite of Jon Snow. Roose takes some delight in telling his son he’s the product of him raping a peasant and that he almost threw his infant body into the river. As much as we hate to root for infanticide, Westeros would be a better place if Roose had done it.
Meereen: Grey Worm wakes. He confesses to Missandei that he was afraid when bleeding out in the alley. Not afraid of death, but because he might never see Missandei again. Finally! The man who never says anything right says the exact perfect thing. Missandei practically leaps into his bed.
Later, Dany ponders her dilemma. She’s even asking Missandei what to do. Missandei actually gives some great advice. Books on making tough decisions will tell you that people often feel trapped between a lousy Option A and a lousy Option B. The best thing to do in those cases is to create a third option, a creative Option C, because rarely are there only two choices. And this is exactly what Dany does. She decides to re-open the fighting pits, recognizing that she misstepped there. She goes to visit Hizdahr zo Loraq in his cell and tells him she’s going to marry the head of a great house to help solidify her ties to the city. She picks the head of a great house that she dislikes the least—Hizdahr!
“Thankfully the suitor is already on his knees,” she quips disdainfully. Unlike Dany’s last husband Drogo, this is a man who will always let her be on top.
While Hizdahr is the luckiest man in Meereen. He looking stunned: Wait, I’m going to go from being burned alive by dragons to banging the Breaker of Chains?
And yay, that also means we get to see another wedding this season. But how’s Daario going to take this? And how did Missandei end up with a better boyfriend than Daenerys?
Rowboat: Tyrion gripes about his forced sobriety, though we can’t help but think this accidental detox is the best thing for him. They drift toward the ruins of Valyria, the former capital of the Valyrian empire and Daenerys’ ancestral home. It’s definitely a fixer-upper now. The city was ruined by a cataclysmic event called the Doom of Valyria, which involved fire and water and its exact explanation is a mystery (though its descriptions within George R.R. Martin’s novels sound similar to the destruction of the city of Pompeii by the volcanic Mt. Vesuvius).
Anyway, Tyrion and Ser Jorah drifting through this lost ancient world is probably the closest scene we’ve had in Thrones to feeling like we’re in Middle Earth.
To crank up the fantasy backdrop even more, Tyrion spots something flying—It’s Drogon! The season 5 Thrones poster has come to life. Tyrion gapes at the dragon. Because how else are you going to react to a dragon other than giving it a good gape? Tyrion is tough to impress, but this flying beast impresses him, as well it should. For a moment I’m concerned Drogon is going to swoop down and roast him for a snack. But no, Drogon sails by, apparently having other dragon-y things to do.
Suddenly their boat is attacked by the Stone Men—outcasts afflicted with greyscale that makes them basically look like Fantastic Four’s Thing. There’s a tense fight on the boat since they can’t touch their diseased attackers that ends with Tyrion going over the side. He’s pulled down into the murky darkness. The screen goes black and silent.
And then the screen STAYS BLACK AND SILENT.
We start to panic, having Sopranos series finale flashbacks. Is this the end of the episode? Is Tyrion dead? Was he shot by a Stone Man in a Member’s Only jacket? Onion rings!
Then, just as suddenly, we’re back. Tyrion is being woken up by Ser Jorah. They’re on a beach. There’s a pretty sunset. They’ve bonded a little. Everybody is happy, and healthy, and safe. Right Thrones? …
Um, right … Thrones?
Ser Jorah gets a moment of privacy and pulls back his glove revealing—greyscale!
Oh no, poor Ser Jorah. Now Dany is really never going to sleep with him.
And that’s it for this week. Check out our interview with Ser Jorah actor Iain Glen talking about that greyscale twist. I’m going to check the MLS for new listings in the pyramid district—it’s so tough to find modest-sized pyramids with lots of light and not too many stairs.
Next week: Save the date, it’s Sansa and Ramsay’s wedding. How can that possibly go wrong?