Game of ThronesGame of Thrones Season Finale Review: Sitting on the ThroneGame of Thrones - RSS 2.0
A bit later in the episode, there's a memorial held in the courtyard of Castle Black for all the fallen brothers of the Night's Watch. Maester Aemon presides, and it's a touching moment to say goodbye to Grenn, Pyp and all the rest who lost their life in the defense of the castle, the Wall and the realms. The scene gives emotional weight to the previous episode's events, sure, but it's more effective as a preview of the drama to come in season five. Castle Black is full to bursting. Not only are Stannis' knights housed there, but so is the Queen and her daughter. Stannis and Davos look on. Tormund is below, captive, as is Mance Rayder. Ser Aliser Thorne is still alive, wounded, somewhere in the castle. Even Gilly and the babe are there.
But through the flames set by Jon and Sam to burn their brothers' bodies, we see Melisandre: The Red Woman. She gazes on Jon Snow and sees something. Important! Portent! Season Five!
As a reader of the books, I'm curious as to why they left off the election until the next season. The made-up storyline at Craster's Keep felt like filler, but now it has finally come to its awful fruition. Because we wasted three or more episodes, events integral to the ending of A Storm of Swords had to be pushed back. Far too many events were packed into the end of this season, but it didn't have to be so. That was the creation of the show runners Weiss and Benihoff.
At least, it will add some drama to the next season. We'll get quite a lot of politicking at the Wall in season five, which should give it enough importance, but I worry that it will be stretched to a season long arc it can't sustain... unless they make up something else to fill it in.
Moving east, Daenerys is still reeling from her dismissal of Jorah Mormont and dealing with an unhappy populace. An old man comes to her throne room, a tutor for a rich merchant, and he actually begs her to let him back into slavery. She relents, reluctantly allowing a contract for one year at the maximum for all slaves to become indentured servants. Before Selmy Barristan can warn her that the Masters will use this decree to their advantage, a goat herder is shown in. He bears a bundle and he's openly weeping. What's in the bundle? Another burned goat? Nope.
"It was the black one," he says. "He came from the sky. My little girl..."
Horrified, Daenerys just stares at the bones of the three-year-old child. She immediately brings her two other dragons, Rheagal and Viserion, to the catacombs, luring them in with freshly killed sheep. The representations of these creatures in the show continue to be extremely well-executed. Their wings feel like leather and canvas sails, and the reactions with their eyes and mouths are animated perfectly. Perhaps it's the sound design that sells it, really - the screeching and crying at being chained up and left in the dark is dreadfully similar to wounded dogs or babies left in a crib.
The symbolism may be heavy, but Daenerys must consider her actions before she can be a true leader. She has married her image to breaking Slaver's Bay. She has said over and over again that ending slavery is her only goal. But she's confronted with people who'd prefer to be part of that system, seeing its imperfections preferable to the imperfections in her new world order. Her dragons are the source of all her power, but they are just as much of a menace as the slave masters were. Her dragons kill little girls. Enslaving them is better than more murders.
Being a queen is hard.