Game of Thrones giveth, and Game of Thrones taketh away.
On Sunday's episode, Thrones killed off one of the show's most hated characters, Olly; but no one was in the mood to celebrate after having witnessed the execution of yet another one of the Stark's direwolves. This time, it was Shaggydog who found himself on the wrong side of a guillotine after Lord Umber gifted Rickon and Osha (Natalie Tena) to Ramsay (Iwan Rheon).
Game of Thrones is known for killing off beloved characters, but killing off innocent animals isn't nearly as fun to watch. Out of the six direwolf pups the Starks found in the very first episode ever, only three remain: Ghost, who's with Jon (Kit Harington) at the Wall; Summer, who's with Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) North of the Wall; and Nymeria, who hasn't been seen since Arya (Maisie Williams) chased her away after she attacked Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) in Season 1.
But what makes Shaggydog's death so unfortunate is that it served no purpose. When Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) ordered Sansa's (Sophie Turner) pup Lady to be executed, it was an eye-opening moment, for the viewers and for the characters. We saw the depths of Cersei's (Lena Headey) ruthlessness, the weak spine of Robert's morality, Ned's (Sean Bean) painfully strong sense of honor, the origin of Arya's thirst for revenge and witnessed Sansa's idealism take its first major blow.
The horrific desecration of Grey Wind's corpse - wherein the direwolf's head was sewn onto Robb's (Richard Madden) body and paraded around on horseback - demonstrated the difference between the Freys' and Boltons' attitude towards the War of the Five Kings. These were not just men fighting to protect their beliefs and their lands. They actually took glee in the destruction they sowed.
But what does Shaggydog's death say? Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) believed the direwolves were the best protection her children had, and the loss of Shaggydog is one less ally Rickon will have in captivity. But did we really need Shaggydog's beheading to realize how much peril Rickon is in? Hell no. Anyone within a 50 mile radius of Ramsay is in mortal danger, as the show has reminded us time and time again.
At least we were spared from witnessing Shaggydog's actual murder. We can all be grateful for that. But if Game of Thrones really wants to make this all worth it, there better be some serious direwolf justice heading our way.