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The Game of Thrones Finale: Many Mothers, Not Much Mercy

Not to get too ahead of ourselves, but: NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Jessica Roy

[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from the Game of Thrones Season 5 finale, "Mother's Mercy." Read at your own risk.]

Not to get too ahead of ourselves, but: NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

OK. OK. Let's start at the beginning. The Season 5 finale of Game of Thrones began with Melisandre looking outside of her tent as the icicles began to melt. Looks like the human sacrifice worked! Stannis' victory is practically guaranteed! Melisandre goes to tell Stannis the good news. He is understandably a bit cool to her. Before she can finish cheering him up with the good news about the icicles, one of Stannis' men says roughly half the army deserted overnight, and took the horses with them. Then, more bad news: Queen Selyse hung herself in the woods.

Perhaps getting the hint that her plan isn't working out, Melisandre rides off. Stannis commands his army to get into formation and march on Winterfell.

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Back at Castle Black, Jon Snow talks about how he's the first Lord Commander in the history of the Night's Watch to sacrifice sworn brothers of the Watch to save wildlings. "How's it feel to be friends with the most hated man in Castle Black?" he asks Sam. Not great, apparently! Sam asks Jon Snow for his permission to take Gilly and Baby Sam and travel to Old Town to become a maester. They toast his return, which, if the preceding five seasons are any indication, means we will never see them together ever again.

At Winterfell, Sansa uses the corkscrew she grabbed a couple episodes ago to jimmy the lock on her door (and not shank Ramsay in the face, as we had hoped.) She gets all the way to the broken tower and lights the candle... just as Brienne turns away from where she's been staring at it all season. So close! The Boltons apparently got a heads up about Stannis' plan, because his paltry, horseless army gets immediately flanked by a gigantic cavalry from Winterfell. If you watch this scene closely, you can actually see some of the men in Stannis' group fleeing back into the woods when they realize they're totally doomed.

A moment later, Stannis walks through a forest of bodies and fights off two random attackers. Then, Brienne finds him and reminds him about that time she saw a smoke monster who looked just like him murder Renly. "You murdered him. With blood magic," she says. "I did," replies a resigned Stannis. He declines to give any last words -- not even a "sorry I sacrificed my daughter for this stupid war" -- and Brienne goes in for the kill thrust (though we don't explicitly see him die).

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Sansa is rushing back to her room when she's confronted by Myranda and Theon/Reek. Right before Myranda can start shooting off extraneous body parts (but after Myranda reminds Sansa that she's only a convenient uterus for Ramsay's heirs), Theon abruptly pushes her off the walkway. Ramsay's ex-girlfriend lands with a disturbingly satisfying thud. Sansa and Theon rush to the edge of Winterfell and jump off the castle walls and... the camera cuts to the next scene.

Which is Arya. Mercifully, we don't see her become a teenage prostitute. She stabs Ser Meryn Trant in the eyes. And the face. And the side, and the back. She really goes to town on him. After she's done crossing him off her list (and monologuing about it for a while to boot), she goes back to the Hall of Faces. She's confronted by Jaqen H'ghar and the other girl with whom she's been training. H'ghar says she took a life that wasn't hers to take, which Arya should probably have seen coming. "Only death can pay for life," he says before drinking poison and collapsing. As she's flipping out over his body, he appears behind her. Trick! He was using a different face. Arya leans down and pulls a series of faces off the dead body, ending with her own. Suddenly, her vision starts to blur and her eyes cloud over. Safe to say the out-of-body poisoning had some side effects.

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Next, we watch Ellaria give Myrcella a creepily long kiss on the lips before she, Tristane, Bronn, and Jamie sail back to King's Landing. Jamie has a tender moment where he tells Myrcella he's really her father. They go in for a hug, at which point Myrcella's nose starts bleeding and she collapses.The camera cuts back to Ellaria, watching the ship sail away as blood drips down her nose. She wipes off her lipstick (explaining the curiously tender kiss from earlier) and pulls the antidote from her necklace and drinks it.

Tyrion, Jorah and Daario sit sadly in the throne room, plotting how to get Khaleesi back. (Apparently they escaped the fighting pits without incident.) Ultimately, Jorah and Daario decide to ride north to look for her, and leave Tyrion behind to rule Meereen with some help from Grey Worm and Missandei.

Tyrion goes outside to watch Jorah and Daario ride off into the sixth season, when suddenly Varys appears! Reunited and it feels so good, man. Varys more or less offers his services as the new Meereenese Master of Whispers. "I did miss you," Tyrion confesses. "I know," Varys replies.

Next, we find out what happened to Daenerys: Drogon rode her far, far away, then collapsed from his spear injuries. She goes off in search of food, and instead finds -- throwback alert -- a massive horde of Dothraki. The scene ends with hundreds of them circling her on horseback.

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In the penultimate set piece, Cersei finally confesses her sins to the High Sparrow. Well, some of them. She concedes that she slept with Lancel Lannister and lied about it, but continues to vehemently deny that she hooked up with her brother and had his three bastard children. The High Sparrow explains that she'll have to have a trial to figure out what really happened, but allows her to return to the Red Keep to see Tommen. ("Thank the Mother's mercy," he tells her.)

"The Rains of Castamere" plays in the background while the militant nuns cut off Cersei's hair. Then, she's marched to the steps of the Sept and summarily disrobed. She walks naked down the stairs and through the town while a nun rings a bell and chants, "Shame." Unsurprisingly, the townspeople are eager to hurtle insults and pieces of food at Cersei. We watch her cry and stumble over her bloody feet, the castle seemingly a thousand miles off on the horizon.

Let us pause here and note that after five seasons, this scene was the first ever to show us full-frontal male nudity... from some belligerent members of the crowd who waved their dicks at Cersei. Progress?

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Cersei finally makes it back to the castle. When she gets there, her lackey Qyburn has a surprise for her: The Mountain, reanimated! She perks back up and a not-so-subtle gleam returns to her eyes as her new zombie servant carries her to her quarters.

Finally, with just a couple minutes left in the episode, we return to Castle Black. Ser Davos is arguing that the wildlings should come help Stannis fight when Melisandre arrives. She indicates that everyone is dead, including Princess Shireen. Jon Snow is reading letters in his chambers when Olly bursts in. He says a wildling has told him he knows Benjen Stark (Jon's uncle who disappeared while out ranging in Season 1).

Jon rushes downstairs and into the darkened courtyard to speak to the wildling. Ser Alliser Thorne walks him over to a sign that says "Traitor." Jon barely has time to look confused before Thorne stabs him in the chest and says, "For the Watch." Then a few more guys come and stab him and say, "For the Watch." Then Olly (who we thought had been looking suspicious lately) comes out and does the same thing. Literally and figuratively heartbreaking. Jon lays back as the mutinous brothers disperse and his blood empties out into the snow. Roll credits.

What did you think of the Game of Thrones finale? Do you think Myrcella, Stannis, Jon Snow, Sansa or Theon survived? Will you be back for Season 6?