Read our recap and share your thoughts on the wild, bloody, and unbelievably epic Game of Thrones season 5 finale, “Mother’s Mercy.”
Justice of the Father
In the aftermath of the Shireen’s murder, Melisandre gives Stannis good news — the snow is melting! See, it was all worth it.
Except that many of Stannis’s sellswords have evaporated along with the snow, leaving him with a greatly reduced army. Also Selyse has done a really impressive job at hanging herself. Also, Melisandre has decided to put as much distance between herself and Stannis as possible.
Well, the Lord of Light giveth, and the Lord of Light taketh away.
Stannis still doesn’t know when to quit, and tries to get his men to set up a completely irrational siege around Winterfell. Ramsay Bolton intervenes and slaughters the entire Baratheon army — as Sansa watches from the broken tower, lighting her candle in a desperate beacon for help.
But Sansa’s bravery is in vain. The news that Stannis’s forces are approaching is the last straw for Brienne, and she abandons her vigil of the tower to exact justice on Renly’s killer.
Which, by all appearances, she seems to do; Brienne finds the wounded Stannis, and gives him her speech about Renly. Stannis tells her to get on with it, and Brienne brings up her sword, crying out — and the camera cuts away, never to return.
Meanwhile, Sansa continues to live in hell, and desperately attempts to escape from Winterfell. Her flight across the battlements is interrupted by Myranda and — of course — Reek, who cowers as Myranda threatens to start dismembering the non-baby-making parts of Sansa with close-range arrows.
Sansa is stuck between resignation and terror, but Reek saves the day by knocking away Myranda’s bow — and knocking her off the battlements in the process. Sansa and Reek flee, and then leap off the insanely high walls of Winterfell together.
They either land safely-ish in mammoth snow drifts, or get smashed to bits in the fall; it’s hard to tell whether Game of Thrones cares very much about the outcome.
See no evil
In Braavos, Meryn Trant is whipping little girls for his inexplicable sexual satisfaction. When one of them doesn’t respond to the pain, he decides to focus on her and sends the others away.
The girl moves her hair aside to reveal a thin, familiar face — the young girl to whom Arya gave the Gift of death. But Arya quickly comes back into herself, and begins ripping in to Trant. She reminds him of who she is, telling him of her prayer and of Syrio Forell, before slitting his throat like a pig.
“You’re no one,” she says.
Arya returns to the House of Black and White to replace the child’s face — but Jaqen H’ghar and the waif are waiting for her. The waif is thrilled by Arya’s failure, and Jaqen advances toward her with a vial, telling her that it was not her place to kill a man whom Arya Stark wanted dead.
“Only death can pay for life,” Jaqen says, and drinks the vial himself.
Jaqen falls dead to the floor and Arya freaks out — but Jaqen appears behind her again. He and the waif reiterate that they are No One. Arya peels face after face off the corpse on the floor, finally coming — horrifyingly — to her own.
And then the world begins to blacken around her; very quickly, and with absolutely no explanation, Arya Stark is blind.
The sweetest kind of poison
Jaime, Myrcella, Trystane, and Bronn prepare to sail off to Kings Landing. Bronn and Tyene have a steamy farewell, and Ellaria kisses Myrcella with suspicious intensity on her lips. “I wish you every happiness,” she says.
Ha. Yeah. We buy that.
On the ship, Jaime is elated to have gotten out of Dorne unscathed, and tells Myrcella how lucky she is to be in love with Trystane. He then tries to have the worst sex-talk ever with her, inching toward the confession that he is her father. Myrcella tells him that she already knows, and is glad to have him as her father.
And then Ellaria’s poisoned kiss does its work. Myrcella starts to hemorrhage, and dies in her father’s arms.
Back on the dock, the Sand Snakes and Ellaria watch the ship in satisfaction. Ellaria’s own nose starts to bleed, but she takes her antidote and strolls away, inexplicable revenge scheme evidently completed.