God damn it.
Back in season 4 when The Hound supposedly died I got very wary due to the fact that we never actually saw it happen, which in fiction-land usually means that the character is definitely going to turn out to be alive. I didn’t want that to turn out to be the case for a whole host of reasons– he had been starting to seem increasingly pointless, his death scene was well executed and provided an interesting send-off to the unconventional relationship between him and Arya, and regardless of whatever else you could say about it, at least Game of Thrones never relied on fake-out deaths to create cheap drama.
Not any more! First Jon Snow came back from the dead, and now we’ve gotten two assumed-to-be dead characters popping back up in the space of two episodes. I’m fine with Jon’s resurrection fro reasons I already went into, and I had forgotten that Benjen even existed so whatever, but the Hound’s return really made me roll my eyes.
Even worse is the fact that all of this is happening at a time when the show’s attitude to death is becoming more and more conventional. By this late in the story all of the shock-fodder characters have been killed off, and anyone who’s survived is clearly still alive because they’re going to play some important role in the story; if they have yet to fulfill that role, they’re basically invincible.
Case in point: Arya ended episode 7 bleeding from a stab wound to the gut. We’re clearly meant to fear for her life, but it’s just as clear that she’s not going to die because her story arc– which has been going on since the very beginning of the series– still hasn’t amounted to anything. As much as George RR Martin loves subverting the audience’s expectations (even if what they expect is an entertaining story) I can’t believe that even he would give a prominent character her own segregated storyline completely disconnected from anyone else’s, and then suddenly kill her off just as it seemed like it was finally going somewhere interesting. It would be like if Bran had been killed in the cave attack in episode 5, and we never found out what the Three-Eyed Raven wanted with him or what the deal with his psychic powers was.
On a more positive note, the business with the High Sparrow is finally getting interesting with all the politics and power plays and shocking swerves. For the entire series attaining the Iron Throne (whether directly through being crowned king or indirectly by exerting influence over the king a la Cersei) has been the ultimate prize, guaranteeing the victor of the titular game basically unlimited power, but now the Faith Militant are rapidly eroding the central influence of the king’s role. King’s Landing, for all the politicking and back-stabbing that goes on there, as been among the least volatile and most predictable settings on the show, so the idea that it might completely implode is exciting. I particularly like Margaery absolutely playing everyone in sight. It’s kind of like a not-terrible version of Sansa in seasons two and three.
Speaking of Sansa: I was all aboard the Queen In The North train in prior episodes, but she hasn’t actually gotten to do much except argue with Jon since becoming awesome. I really want her to shove Mr. Mopeface out of the way and get some damn respect.
Episode six ended with a weird scene where Dany flies around on her big dragon whose name I can’t remember, then delivers a rousing speech to her Dothraki soldiers. It was awkwardly tacked on to the end with no real build-up, and I wonder if it’s something they started doing the special effects for and then couldn’t figure out how to use.
But hey, Dany has an army now. She’s all set, right? She’s finally going to stop playing white saviour and sail to Westeros, right? Right?
- Either Jaime or Cersei are going to die before the end of the season, possibly in the next episode. My money’s on Jaime. I think he’ll get offed during the siege on Fish Castle or whatever it’s called, and Cersei, learning of Sansa’s efforts to turn the situation to her advantage, will seize power in King’s Landing and launch an attack on the North next season just as the White Walkers breach the wall. This will create a nice Gordian Knot for the arrival of Dany and her dragons to cut.
- The High Sparrow has been portrayed as something of a chessmaster up until this point, but he seems to have overlooked something pretty major: he’s trying to put Cersei on trial for incest, but if she publicly confesses that Jaime is Tommen’s father then Tommen’s right to the throne is instantly torpedoed, and the Faith Militant’s power goes with it. Either Cersei will use this at her trial to take the High Sparrow and Margeary down with her, or one or both of them will see it coming and try to take Cersei out to prevent her from confessing.
- I said a minute ago that I think Jaime will die, but on the other hand I’ve had my suspicions about Zombie-Mountain ever since he was introduced. What if the alchemist dude who created him can override Cersei’s commands? Would he do so for the right incentive? If someone was trying to assassinate her (see above) then exploiting such a loop-hole would be the perfect way to pull it off.