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The Game of Game of Thrones: Season 5, Episode 10, Mother's Mercy

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This has been fun

Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO

In the Game of Game of Thrones, timing really is just about everything. Knowing when to peace out and/or cut your losses is key to being able to live another day, gouge another eye. The legacy of Stannis Baratheon, may he rest in the deathless flames of Rh'llor, was basically a giant metaphor for a gambling addiction; selling off his life piece by piece, rolling the dice one more time while feverishly mumbling, "Fire Priestess needs new shoes." By the time the remainder of Stannis' army finally made their pathetic march on Winterfell, he was barely even a king anymore (although who is a king in the topsy-turvy world of Thrones!) — he had no queen and no heir, not that he seemed particularly upset or deterred about either. Hey, at least he still found it in himself to kill off a random from the Bolton army (+10) minutes before his death. When Brienne of Tarth stopped by to finish him off (+45) it was kind of like launching a missile at the Titanic. Cool gesture, very powerful. I guess you can take credit for that now, if you want.

As scorekeeper of the realm, I feel I exercised a heroic amount of restraint and open-mindedness last week when I didn't dock Stannis any points for the worst single act of the season, on the principle that "Hey! Maybe burning your sweet, bookish, and only child alive might work out for you!" I think we can say pretty unequivocally this week that it did not. Farewell, Stannis, please accept this -100 as a lovely parting gift.

Game of Thrones

But back to Brienne, and timing: What has she even been doing this whole time? Seriously just staring at that tower? Knowing the whole time that Sansa needs help, but figuring it doesn't count as a fair rescue if she never lit some stupid little candle? Brienne's problem is the same as the late Ned Stark and (sigh) Jon Snow; she's just way too into rules. Part of me thinks that has something to do with being an outsider within the Westerosi order of knights — kids on scholarship are way more into college than kids whose parents paid for their whole four years. She's trying to make up for not looking like a traditional knight by just going overboard with tradition in every other department, and it's been a real handicap for her this season.

The losers of this season vastly outnumber the winners

The losers of this season vastly outnumber the winners, which makes me curious about how this whole GOGOT exercise would have panned out in earlier, more uplifting(?) seasons. A lot of these losers received a +25 score this week purely for getting the fuck out of their given situation / personal prison of the soul. Gilly and Samwell Tarly got the fuck out of Castle Black (+25 each) and are headed to Old Town, where Sam is going to finally go back to school and get his degree in general Maestery. Good for them! It's so rare we see characters on Game of Thrones make a positive decision for self-betterment. Sansa Stark, after her failed candle-lighting, escapes the pointy end of Miranda's arrow and gets the fuck out of Winterfell (+25), though she and Reek will have to fashion some splints out of the Godswood tree for what I can only assume are four very badly shattered ankles. Melisandre also got the fuck out of Stannis' camp, but she doesn't get any points, and she should be thankful I'm not docking her -100 for her part in last week's Shireenicide.

I suppose I should give Jaime Lannister and Bronn points for getting the fuck out of Dorne, but Dorne is really more of a (cringingly, crushingly pointless) state of mind at this point, and Jaime is the only one out of the two of them who seems to have transcended it. He finally got that fatherly redemption he'd been looking for with Myrcella (+15 each), which of course, could only last about 10 seconds before the latter dropped dead from some Ellaria Sand-administered Long Farewell (+35).

Game of Thrones

I could have lingered on the creeping weirdness of that Jaime / Myrcella scene a little longer — it cast an interesting new light on Jaime's inbred bastard daughter, who up until this point seemed like a set of princess clichés that existed only for Jaime to have fatherly angst about. It was equal parts fascinating, touching, and horrifying that she was so aware and resigned to the truth of her lineage. Not even resigned — she said she was "glad" about it! Tell us more about your personal grappling with your identity and your family, Myrcella! Or not. You could also just get poisoned.

An interesting new character development for Jaime's inbred bastard daughter

In case you were wondering, Bronn and the Sand Snakes are still getting demerits for their lame plot (-10 each), and Tyene Sand gets extra penalties for the worst line of the season, "You want a good girl, but you need a bad pussy *ear chomp.*" (-20) Let's leave this beautiful, stupid land and never return.

If we only got one big win in this finale, at least it was for a character who's needed it for a long time. Arya Stark was finally the star of a genuine couch-hitting moment — that's what I call anything on Game of Thrones that makes me hit my couch — with her gleefully gory murdergouging of Meryn Trant (+20, +10 for style). Almost just as pleasantly surprising: Benioff and Weiss managed to restrain themselves from showing the more unsavory details of how she got in a position to commit said murdergouging. I really hope she continues to execute everyone on her list with the same cold-as-ice throat slit from behind that the Boltons used on her mother, but that might be a little more difficult now that she's blind? I guess?

-1 to Jaqen for being no one :(

Here's what happened, from what I can understand: Arya got home after a successful day of murdergouging, and Jaqen H'ghar was like, "How dare you do personal murdergouging on company time?" And then it seemed like he was going to poison Arya to make her pay for the life she took with her own life, but he was really poisoning himself, and he wasn't really Jaqen, he was no one (-1 to Jaqen for being no one), and no one was like, "Who is Jaqen? Who is Arya? Who are people? Yeah, think about it: who are people, and what are people, and what is who? Seriously, have you ever asked yourself, 'What. Is. Who.'" And then Arya went blind because the conversation was just too deep for her little sheep brain (+30 to the Faceless Men, I think?).

Game of Thrones

However impaired Arya is now / going forward, she would have been somewhat heart-warmed by what went down in King's Landing; namely the great shaming of Cersei Lannister. How to even score this? Well, there's the full frontal (and CGI-assisted) nudity for +25, and the new look for +10 (devoid of context, the pixie cut is kind of cute; very Maria Von Trapp / Jean Seberg / Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby. Eh, on second thought, probably just the last one). But everything else is such a character low that I feel we have to take off -50 — you don't end the season with feet that bloody and make any points from it. It is a serious testament to the character work the writers and Lena Headey have been doing with Cersei that it was so deeply unpleasant to watch a character this fundamentally evil get her comeuppance. Maybe it's because the comeuppance was enacted by people just as bad as her. Or maybe it's because this kind of public feedback didn't feel that outlandish.

Cersei is in an anime show now

No, the only winner in King's Landing this year is Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane, who was finally resurrected as a turbo-zombie-undead Mountain by Qyburn, which might be the most peerless feat ever accomplished by anyone on this show (+40). So let's recap: after getting a symbolic haircut and going through a nude character transformation, Cersei was carried off by her new, giant robot helper, so she's basically in an anime show now.

Meanwhile, Daenerys Targaryen, the most anime of all Game of Thrones characters, is off who-knows-where with Drogon, who is understandably tuckered out after their great escape. She is soon pulled up on by an army of Dothraki, and like any smart girl about to get whisked off to her realm's equivalent of Burning Man, she slips off her engagement ring. It has been suggested to me by resident book obsessive Kaitlyn Tiffany that this could also serve as some kind of breadcrumbing for her search party, which seems like a long shot. But if anyone can do it, it's Daario Naharis and Jorah Mormont, our latest road buddy duo, and maybe the least promising one yet. (Jorah's an entertaining and deadly sadsack, but Daario's not legitimately funny enough to offset him.) For the record, here is the official ranking of the best Game of Thrones road buddy duos ever, from best to Dorne:

  1. Brienne and Jaime
  2. Arya and the Hound
  3. Tyrion and Bronn
  4. Brienne and Podrick
  5. Arya and Gendry (and Hot Pie)
  6. Tyrion and Jorah
  7. Varys and Tyrion
  8. Jaime and Bronn

Brush up on your Valyrian

Meanwhile, Tyrion Lannister is left behind to manage affairs in Meereen (+25), which would be a pretty daunting task if he didn't have Varys back in his corner (+25 to Varys for getting a new fun job at his dream regime). Better brush up on the local tongue, Tyrion ("My Valyrian is a bit nostril," +5) — between Varys, Missandei, and Grey Worm, you're in charge of Meereen's most high-profile crew of broken misfits, and you'll need all the help you can get.

What else happened in our last Game of the season? Hmm, can't think of anything.

Game of Thrones

You may have noticed I try to award a lot of pity points to characters that get axed, but the sad fact is that there was not much to work with this week, other than Jon's cheeky congratulations when he gets updated on Sam's love life ("I'm glad the end of the world is working out for someone," +5). He didn't do that much this week, other than get abandoned by yet another precious ally. And then he got stabbed. A bunch. By my count, Jon was on track to win the whole season, but you can't very well do that when you get mutiny'd by your own squad. I'd be more emotional about this development, but my job is scorekeeper of this death and child murder show, not professional feeler.

So who won the Game of Game of Thrones? Did we all lose? That's the easy answer, but not one I'm satisfied with. Let's consult the numbers.

Game of Thrones season five by the numbers

This week's top scoring characters (calculated from this total b.s. points guide)

  1. Brienne of Tarth (46)
  2. Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane (41)
  3. Ellaria Sad (36)
  4. Arya Stark (31)
  5. Tyrion Lannister (31)
  6. The Faceless Men (31)
  7. Varys (26)
  8. Sansa Stark (26)
  9. Samwell Tarly (26)
  10. Gilly (26)

This season's top scoring characters

  1. Daenerys Targaryen (223)
  2. Tyrion Lannister (205)
  3. Jon Snow (199)
  4. Sons of the Harpy (184)
  5. Jorah Mormont (163)
  6. Arya Stark (157)
  7. Ramsay Bolton (136)
  8. Sansa Stark (129)
  9. Daario Naharis (127)
  10. Margaery Tyrell (125)

This season's lowest scoring characters (participatory only)

  1. Bronn (-7)
  2. Obara Sand (-20)
  3. Tyene Sand (-25)
  4. Nymeria Sand (-30)
  5. Stannis Baratheon (-55)

Best attendance

Tyrion Lannister: 10/10 episodes! Way to show up, imp.

Final league rankings

  1. Bryan Bishop: 448 points
  2. Liz Lopatto: 422 points
  3. Kwame Opam: 420 points
  4. Ross Miller: 411 points
  5. Casey Newton: 378 points
  6. Adi Robertson: 358 points
  7. Dieter Bohn: 286 points
  8. Chris Plante: 219 points
  9. Arielle Duhaime-Ross: 206 points

Congratulations to Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen and Bryan of the House Bishop for your thrilling victories in this year's Game of Game of Thrones! Congratulations to everyone who read and followed along for having made this walk of shame with me! Congratulations to Google Spreadsheets! Should we do this for True Detective?