Summary: Jon goes beyond The Wall to Hardhome, leaving Ser Alliser in charge. Aemon passes away naturally. Some men try to rape Gilly but Sam defends her. They kiss afterwards. Olenna tries to find a way to get Margaery and Loras out of their cells. She isn't able to do that, but she gets Cersei imprisoned along with them. The conditions of the North take their effect on Stannis' army and Melisandre suggests burning Shireen. Jorah and Tyrion are sold to fight at the fighting pits. Jorah notices Dany is watching and so he makes his presence known. He gifts her Tyrion.
The Good: I liked a few scenes in this episode, but not the episode as a whole.
I appreciated that we got to spend some more time with Aemon in his final moments, and they were effective for the most part. It was nice for the show to pay some attention to the death of one of its better side characters, especially considering the pace of this season. If the slow pace has to happen, at least spend time focusing on something with some emotional relevance.
Olenna was fantastic as always. Her conversations with the High Sparrow and Littlefinger were great and really fun to watch. I really enjoyed her attempts to convince the High Sparrow to just let her family go, but the High Sparrow did a great job of rebutting her respectfully while sticking to his motivations. Undeterred, Olenna goes to Littlefinger, not to help Margaery or Loras, but rather to exact her vengeance upon Cersei, getting her imprisoned for all of her sins.
I enjoyed Tommen's anger at how he can't do anything to stop Margaery's imprisonment and I particularly enjoyed how the portrayal was similar to Joffrey (I am the king!), reminding us that they are still brothers despite their differing personalities.
Margaery and Cersei's scene was really good. Cersei taunting Margaery fit in with what we know of her character and her feigned innocence was infuriating in all the right ways. I really liked seeing Margaery properly snap at Cersei due to her helpless situation. Cersei got what she wanted so then she finally left her alone.
I liked some moments in the Dany storyline, though most of it was pretty flat and uninspired. The owner of the fighting pit reacting to Dany's sudden appearance was fantastic and I really liked how he swiftly told everyone to recite a line to respect Dany's arrival. It was a nice bit of world-building. I also liked that we finally got to see Dany interact with another main character as she meets Tyrion. It was a good moment that feels important.
The Bad: A lot of storylines in this episode weren't good sadly.
Sansa and Ramsay's storyline remains a big problem and a total disappointment. Puzzlingly, Sansa's story arc has been stunted and actually reversed as nothing has changed for her. She is still in a place where she wants out and is left with a man who treats her barbarically. I expected her to at least fight her way out, but instead she is left begging for help from Theon. Then Theon fails her, and she is helpless again, showing that nothing has changed from her time with Littlefinger. Well actually she has changed in one way. She becomes stupid as she taunts the man who has total dominance over her, which can only make her life worse. At least she was smart enough to mostly keep her mouth shut with Joffrey, but she has gotten worse here as she openly mocks Ramsay.
Speaking of Ramsay, he is not a great villain. Iwan Rheon puts in a good performance, but Ramsay is lacking in a lot of ways. Joffrey was great because we didn't have to suffer his brutality too often and because he was a weak sociopath who found himself in a position of power. Joffrey was easy to hate because he never deserved to be in his position and was terrible at his job as king. Ramsay is just a cookie cutter villainous character who is getting way more focus than he should be getting. We see him flaying and torturing over and over, and it has happened so much now that it actually bores me. Such unnerving brutality should exist for a purpose, but Ramsay's antics really have no purpose which makes them bad scenes of television. Ramsay just isn't deep enough of a character to justify the amount of time spent on him.
The scenes at The Wall were sadly disappointing. While Aemon got some screentime, he disappointingly didn't say much of importance making the scenes somewhat meaningless. Then we had the threat of rape used again to make us scared for Gilly. After what happened in the last episode, this was insufferable and the writers prove to once more be tone-deaf by using rape to manipulate our emotions once again. It was necessary and I feel like there was a Bette way to make the same point in the story. Also, being threatened by rape is just the thing to make Gilly want to have sex with Sam isn't it. Ridiculous writing.
I wasn't happy with Stannis' story either. Apparently things haven't been going well for him, but we never saw any of it. And Melisandre is already suggesting he burns Shireen to ensure his victory. I can hardly buy that Stannis' conditions are that bad since I haven't actually seen anything bad happen. Furthermore, Stannis seems like a fool, not the best commander in Westeros, for blindly following visions and getting himself into a position where victory is nowhere near as likely as it could have otherwise been.
The scenes in Dorne were pretty bad. Jaime and Myrcella's conversation had no resonance with me because I don't care much about their relationship. The scene with Bronn and the Sand Snakes was awful. It just felt like cheap fanservice with no purpose. Also why include the detail of Bronn being poisoned if it would just be cured mere minutes later?
It was inconsistent for Cersei to not get a proper trial before being thrown in a cell. Olyvar had evidence on Loras so why didn't the High Sparrow just throw him in a cell for that without a trial if he did the same for Cersei? Also, this confirmed my suspicions that Cersei is stupid as she seems shocked that she is being arrested.
This episode suffered from trying to meaninglessly shock us over and over in small ways. It has been a pattern this season but it's never been as bad as it was in this episode. The earlier seasons used surprise sparingly and got by with tension, story and strong dialogue. This episode tried to get by on meaningless surprises. So many scenes had this slapped in there in ways that were pointless. Here comes a lengthy list of all of these moments which were played for surprise not emotion. Oh my god, Tyrion is going to get killed by a man who sees him escaping! Surprise, the man set him free. Oh my god Bronn is so cool! Surprise, he is poisoned. Oh my god Gilly is going to get raped! Surprise, Ghost Ex Machina is here to save the day. Oh my god Theon is going to help Sansa! Surprise, he is telling Ramsay instead. Oh my god Cersei has total control over everything! Surprise, the High Sparrow is going to arrest her. These moments happened over and over again and they detracted more and more from my viewing experience every time as I was left wondering why these scenes were played for shock value rather than for actual emotion.
The Unknown: Is Hizdahr actually in charge of the Harpies? I presume so, because I can't think of anyone else who could be in charge.
Does Cersei have a plan to get herself out of her cell? Does she have any other allies? How about Olenna? Does she have a plan to get Margaery and Loras out?
Best Moment: Olenna speaking with the High Sparrow was the best written scene.
Character of the Episode: Olenna.
Conclusion: This was a disappointing episode with a lot of weak moments. The show seems more focused on surprising its audience rather than telling stories which is really hurting the show. Hopefully this doesn't become a trend going forwards and this episode can just be a blip in the radar. However, there have been signs of this trend in earlier episodes this season, which makes me a little worried. Let's hope that the season can at least end on a stronger note.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.