In the Game of Game of Thrones, all men must die, but perhaps the scorekeeper shouldn't get so excited to strike their names out every time they fall over and close their eyes and stop moving. Last week, I told you that Grey Worm died in the arms of (the actually dead) Barristan Selmy, in what I thought was a pretty heroic standoff against a bunch of Sons of the Harpy (but which I have been told, both by Daenerys and the commenters, was an inglorious slaughter in an alleyway. I dunno, Benioff and Weiss, maybe next time don't pick such a strikingly lit alley filled with such cool looking assailants!) So when I saw GDub's perfect, gleaming, hairless chest rising and falling, as all-purpose concerned onlooker Missandei looked on concernedly, I knew the first order of business this week would be to reverse at least part of last week's impressive Harpy pointage (-30) and award our guy a special bonus for Not Being Dead. (+10)
+10 to Grey Worm for Not Being Dead
With that out of the way, Grey Worm was free to finally get some chaste lip contact on with Missandei (+5 each) and we're free to discuss the rest of the episode, which was frankly a lot more interesting. This week was a bit strange from a scoring standpoint — a lot of folks were on bye weeks, with just 21 players/teams in play (a new low for the season), and those who were around were not exactly lopping off heads. But it still managed to be the kind of episode where I found myself checking how many minutes were left, not because it felt like it was dragging, but because I didn't want it to end.
I've found that Game of Thrones' more focused episodes tend to have this effect, but perhaps the joke is on yours truly, the Gamemaster general, for trying to quantify the quality of a season with kills and one-liners. That does work a lot of the time, and don't think for a second I'm about to abandon this schtick, but a lot of season five has been about not what our players do, but what they see. When you think about the characters who have made the biggest impact this season, it's those via whom the world of the show is expanding.
People keep showing Sansa horrible stuff
Sometimes that's in a literal way, as with Jaime and Bronn in Dorne, but sometimes its in a more personal way. We're getting to know the Boltons through Sansa Stark — who along with us is getting a clearer view of just what kind of fucked-up family she's marrying into. Bolton family dinners look like a real treat as is, imagine if the dehumanized murderer of your little brothers (so far as she and most of Westeros knows) showed up to pour the wine. Remember at the end of Season One, when Joffrey proudly showed Sansa her father's head on a spike outside the Red Keep? That's more or less been her arc over the last several years: people keep showing her horrible stuff and all she can do is nod and smile. At least now we have the promise that she might finally do something about it. The Hound stopped her from pushing Joffrey over the ledge back in King's Landing, but she might be able to do something worse to Ramsay Snow on their wedding night. Maybe his lowborn sidepiece Miranda will want to join in.
Oh right, Miranda — you remember her, right? Ramsay's partner in crime when it comes to hunting humans for sport and other totally chill and normal Bolton pastimes? Well, they're still very into rending each other's flesh, though Miranda is being reminded of her place as the kennel master's daughter now that Ramsay is no longer a bastard. She gets to see his pasty Snow-butt on the regs (+15) and he still gets to do aggressive serial-killer sex with her (+15) but he's never going to marry her. For the time being that appears to be enough for her, provided she gets to torment Sansa with scary dogs and human livestock every now and then. Even the Boltons' mistresses are desperate to prove how edgy they are (but Wanda seems pretty nice. And she's expecting! Congrats!)
Ramsay needs to get leeched, stat
At first it seems like the new baby will mark the end of Ramsay's I'm-Not-A-Bastard victory lap, but it's really just Roose Bolton's test to see how committed Ramsay is to his new official family, i.e. can he take a break from skinning defenseless humans and do some real military work defending Winterfell from Stannis' army? I don't really care what the answer is, I'm already imagining lots of creative battle deaths for Ramsay. Part of me really hopes Melisandre gets to him first. Dude needs to get leeched, stat.
Sansa once again did not do much this week, but in keeping with the seeing-not-doing theme, she's certainly party to a lot of the most interesting developments this season. With the throne proper more or less paralyzed in the wake of Tywin's death, the machinations going down in Winterfell and the Wall are suddenly more important than ever. Likewise, Shireen Baratheon — also much more of an observer than a actor so far — gets my vote for most potential, and certainly a character whose importance seems to be increasing rather than diminishing. She's even going to Winterfell! Why? Apparently Stannis doesn't want her hanging around the wall with a bunch of "killers and rapists." Has he met the Boltons?
Up until tonight, Shireen was also the only living character we knew of with Greyscale, a disease about which we've learned quite a bit more lately. Last night we got to see a few much more advanced cases of it during Jorah and Tyrion's little shortcut through Valyria. That's right, Valyria! Essos' hottest ghost territory! From the looks of it, Valyria has everything: world class steel, gargantuan ruins, a vaping sea, dragons, something fun called The Doom, and more stone men than you can shake a stick at (which is literally, I think, how Jorah was fighting them off — +20 to him for picking off two.) I would dock Jorah points for contracting Greyscale, because it seems like a real bummer — but it's also the most interesting thing that's happened to him in a while. ("Long sullen silences and the occasional punch in the face. The Mormont Way." — there's your weekly +5 for sass, Tyrion.) So for right now let's call it neutral. I'm just glad the poor guy has a plot.
Contracting Greyscale is the most interesting thing that's happened to Jorah in a while
Tyrion's another character who's seeing a lot of stuff, and while I presume it will culminate in him doing something (hopefully) awesome once he reaches Meereen, the darkride through Essos' primeval world is pretty entertaining for now. But let's move on to Daenerys, who began and ended the episode with some pretty powerful moments.
Let's not forget that for all the character-level shufflings and strategizing, we started off this episode with a dude getting torched and then ripped apart by dragons. (+10 to Dragons.) It was a nice bit of shock and awe, right out of Dany's established playbook during her tenure in the Slaver's Bay, but one's palm also couldn't help but meet one's face — oh lord, here she goes again, alienating the people she's supposedly saving. Granted, she was a little hot under the collar after the murder of her buddy Barristan. But then, miraculously, she regrouped, got some counsel from her newly boo'd up confidante Missandei, and made a genius reversal:
SHE'LL REOPEN THE FIGHTING PITS!
SHE'LL MAKE HIZDAHR ZO LORAQ HER BRIDE!!
(via Tumblr of Thrones)
Daenerys hasn't spent much time in Westeros, but she appears to have come to the same conclusion all the savviest highborn over there have: the best way to secure an alliance — and often, achieve a measure of peace — is with a wedding. And the one-two punch of the fighting pits and making Hizdahr the Stepfather of Dragons is a great tip of the hat to the previous Powers that Be that really costs her little to nothing. That she announced this marriage to him while he was on his knees in a prison cell has got to be one of the all-time best Daenerys Targaryen executive decisions of all time.
One of the all-time best Daenerys Targaryen executive decisions of all time
And then I realized that, as important as engagements and marriages are, we still don't have any pointage value for them. I resisted awarding points to Ramsay and Sansa for their engagement a couple weeks back because it seemed like such a lose-lose proposition, but an engagement is also a recipe for screen time, drama, and power moves. So just as Dany reinstated the Fighting Pits, I'm opening the Marriage Pits, with a +10 point value for getting engaged and a +20 value for actually saying your vows in the sight of the Seven (or whatever god you kneel to.) Points will be awarded retroactively to Ramsay, Sansa, Tommen and Margaery, indeed some of the most happy and powerful characters on Game of Thrones.
Love is in the air! Now let's just hope the surviving Zo Loraq family picks any wedding colors besides red or purple.
This week's top scoring characters, not counting retroactive points (calculated from this total b.s. points guide)
- Ramsay Bolton (31)
- Daenerys Targaryen (21)
- Jorah Mormont (16)
- Grey Worm (31)
- Dragons (11)
- Tormund Giantsbane (he's free now!) (11)
- Missandei (6)
- Tyrion Lannister (6)
This week's league rankings
- Liz Lopatto: 16 points, 20 retroactive (251 total)
- Kwame Opam: 2 points, -30 retroactive (216 total)
- Chris Plante: 7 points (202 total)
- Casey Newton: 9 points, 20 retroactive (199 total)
- Ross Miller: 52 points, 10 retroactive (198 total)
- Bryan Bishop: 23 points (166 total)
- Adi Robertson: 11 points (126 total)
- Dieter Bohn: 13 points (123 total)
- Arielle Duhaime-Ross: 13 points (78 total)