Follow TV Tropes


Recap / Game Of Thrones S 5 E 10 Mothers Mercy

Go To
Get ready: today is officially the worst day of their lives for several of our main characters.

Somewhere past Long Lake, the snows are melting. Melisandre gives us a knowing smile; her magic has worked and the road to Winterfell is now open. However, Stannis isn't celebrating. Mel feeds him more codswallop about the Lord of Light but he's a bit cranky after murdering his daughter. Worse? He pretty much gets told he's the worst father of the century through the actions of his men, as half of his forces packed up and left during the night, taking all their horses with them. Oopsie-daisies, looks like Mel's tea leaves were fucking wrong. Who would have thunk it? Stannis gets lectured some more about corporate-social responsibility, and Selyse has decided to jump off the face of the world as a result of My God, What Have I Done? Stannis sarcastically asks his remaining men how this day could get any worse... Big mistake: because that's when he learns that Melisandre, clearly now seeing the writing on the wall, has also done a runner.

Up north at Castle Black, Jon Snow and Sam discuss how they're in need of a maester. Rather than wait for the Citadel to appoint a new one, they reach a better idea: Sam will leave for Oldtown and become the Watch's new maester, even though it takes years to be trained and he still won't be able to be with Gilly. Jon gives him the nod of approval, as it's better for Sam, Gilly, and little Sam to be as far from the Wall as possible. The three soon leave, which turns out to be excellent timing on their part.

Meanwhile, at Winterfell, Sansa has finally managed to get into the tower and lights her candle. Unfortunately, Brienne of Tarth picks just that moment to look away as she learns from Pod that Stannis's army is approaching. On the hills outside the castle, Stannis draws his sword as he sees that the Boltons have rallied a large army against him, at least twice his number. He stands firm with only his most loyal or most fanatical followers. However, most of his army ends up routed into the woods. Meanwhile, Sansa sees that the bulk of the Bolton's army has left the castle and quickly gets out of the tower.

Soon after, Stannis is somehow still alive and manages to fight off a pair of Bolton soldiers who are mopping up. However, his injuries prove severe and he collapses at a tree. It's here where he's found by Brienne of Tarth, who promptly executes him in the name of "King" Renly. Thus ends the war of King Stannis Baratheon.

Meanwhile, Ramsay is finishing off the last of the Baratheon men. As he prepares to leave, he spots a critically wounded soldier crawling. With an evil smirk, Ramsay walks up to him and the man cries, "I surrender! I surrender!" and Ramsay accepts the surrender... and stabs him with his sword to no one's surprise. Ramsay takes pleasure in killing him. As he wipes his sword, he declares that his wife must be lonely and heads for the castle.

Back at Winterfell, Sansa reaches the outer battlement when she's found by Myranda and Reek. Myranda threatens to torture Sansa and upon describing how Ramsay has "such plans for [Sansa]," proves to be too much for Reek to endure. He picks Myranda up and tosses her off the battlements, letting her face hit the cobbles sixty feet below. He still has a ways to go, but part of Theon is back. Upon hearing Ramsay's hunting horn, and the sound of the gates opening, Sansa and Theon jump, hand in hand, over the outer walls to land on the hopefully cushioning thick snow-bank below.

Across the Narrow Sea, in Braavos, Ser Meryn Trant is still in the brothel, getting in the zone. He's found his happy place, getting off being a sadistic pedo to not one but three lucky applicants. The smallest fair-haired girl proves a tougher nut to crack, and he has the others leave. After amping up his beating — the girl makes a gesture across her face as she's on her knees... Surprise, mothafucka! It's Arya! She quickly stabs his eyes out, gags the fool and when he tries to fight back, shivs him a good half-dozen times in the chest to make him behave. After bringing him to his knees, Arya prays to the many-faced-god alongside him, describing who she is — all while gloating how he probably doesn't remember. With a slow, sure drawing of her knife across his throat, she brings an end to what was technically the first name on her list.

Back at the House of Black and White, she returns the face of the mercy-killed girl she used. However, it's then that she's found by Jaqen H'ghar and the Waif, and they are not pleased. For taking a life that wasn't hers to take, Jaqen holds up a vial of poison to Arya's face... and gets emotional, suddenly drinking it himself, collapsing to the floor. As Arya screams in anguish for the death of her friend, the Waif takes Jaqen's face, reminding her that he was never said man; he was no one at all. Arya is still someone, and not ready to be no one. And when someone is not no one, using the masks can be fatal. It's then that Arya begins suffering hallucinations before her eyes turn milky white. She goes blind.

Back in Dorne, Team Jaime is returning to King's Landing. Ellaria gives Myrcella a full kiss on the lips, which is pretty hot. Bronn also says goodbye to the Sand Snakes. On the ship, Jaime and Myrcella have a moment, which culminates in her already knowing that he's actually her father. However, she's happy about it. She has a wonderful boyfriend and she finally acknowledges her true father. Things couldn't be better!

But, as you should know by now, Westeros runs on a conservation of happiness. That's when Myrcella starts suffering a nosebleed. She collapses into Jaime's arms. Back on shore, Ellaria also begins suffering from a nosebleed. It's pointed out to her and she quickly takes the antidote. The consort of Prince Oberyn and his bastard daughters then smugly walk off, having satisfied some need for revenge.

Over in Essos, Dany's ruling council meets in The Great Pyramid of Meereen. Tyrion, Jorah, and Daario are soon joined by Grey Worm, fresh out of bed, and Missandei. After some sallying, they come up with a logical plan: The two lover-boys will head out and look for Dany. She's the only blonde white girl on a continent the size of Eurasia. It'll be easy. In the meantime, Tyrion will be left to keep an eye on the office; it is what he's best at. Along with Grey Worm and Missandei, the honest Lannister is joined by a familiar face. Yep, Varys has finally arrived in Meereen, and he's ready to help Tyrion run this city!

In the vast stretches of The Dothraki Sea, Dany is ready to get moving again while Drogon is still, literally, licking his wounds. Frustrated, she decides to hike back home, but is quickly found by a familiar rider: the Dothraki! She is soon surrounded by the horse lords, so all Dany can do is calmly remove and drop her now useless pearl engagement ring from the recently-departed Hizdahr, in the hope that it'll serve her loyalists as a trail to her.

In the dark cells beneath The Great Sept of Baelor, Cersei goes to confess her crimes. She says that her affair with Lancel is true, but nothing else. Yeah, that totally won't bite her in the ass later. The High Sparrow believes that this confession is enough for a respite, and allows her to return to the Red Keep until her trial by battle. That is, by way of her walk of atonement. Stripped of every article of clothing and her long hair cut short, Cersei is marched through the streets of King's Landing with an honour guard of the Faith Militant and Septa Unella, who rings a bell while repeating, "Shame. Shame. Shame." As they go, the city's smallfolk get more and more unruly, shouting every insult they can think of that they've been bottling up for years to say to their cruel and distant monarch, throwing rotten fruits and vegetables at her. By the time she reaches the gates of the Red Keep, Cersei Lannister, Queen Mother, and the proud lioness of Casterly Rock, is bloody and covered in all manner of filth.

With what little strength she has left, Cersei makes it into the keep, safe behind the high walls and Lannister soldiers. She's immediately covered with a blanket by Qyburn while the Hand of the King, Kevan Lannister, and Grand Maester Pycelle look on in both shame and barely-concealed glee respectively. Only Qyburn shows her sympathy, saying he needs to take a look at her cut feet. They are soon joined by a set of heavy footsteps. Cersei looks up as Qyburn introduces the newest member of the Kingsguard: an enormous seven-foot muscle-bound giant of a man covered in gold armour and a full-face helm. The outcast maester says that this knight has taken a holy vow of silence and will not rest or falter until all of Tommen's enemies are dead. Cersei's humility is quickly forgotten as she dreams of the vengeance to come...

Finally, at Castle Black, Ser Davos has arrived to ask for help from Jon Snow. However, the young Lord Commander is firm: the Night's Watch will not commit what little soldiers they have or any of the wildlings to Stannis's cause. The two argue until Melissandre arrives on horseback. The Red Woman says nothing as Davos asks about Stannis and the princess; her silence is all they need to know about what has happened to the campaign and Davos knows he's in even deeper trouble as the Iron Bank probably wants a cheeky word with him about that outstanding war-chest loan right about now.

Night falls at the Wall. Jon looks through his raven scrolls, no doubt depressed over being the most hated man in the Night's Watch, by Stannis's death, and that, according to the script, none of the minor Northern houses are able to send recruits to help the Watch. He clearly hopes there's no way this day can get any worse. Suddenly, Jon's door bursts open, and Olly brings him the one thing in Westeros that's rarer than gold, morality, or Valyrian steel: good news. One of the wildlings says he knows Jon's Uncle Benjen, and says he's still alive! The young Lord Commander hurries out of his office into the courtyard to see his uncle, where Ser Alliser says that Benjen was last seen at Hardhome (the place that was just overrun by the White Walkers). It could be a lie, or it could be the truth; they'll need to find out. Jon is taken to a gathering of Night's Watchmen near the aforementioned wildling, and he makes his way through the crowd to find...

...a cross marked with the word "TRAITOR." Jon turns around to find his own men glaring at him with utter contempt.

First Ranger Ser Aliser Thorne is the first to slide a dagger into Jon's belly. "For the Watch." First Builder Othell Yarwyck gives Jon the second shank. "For the Watch." First Steward Bowen Marsh is the third fuck-head to step up with a knife to the guts. "For the Watch." A fourth and fifth brother decide to not be left out and have a go as well. "For the Watch." Bleeding out and on his knees, Jon is brought to tears when Olly approaches him. With clear sadness, but remembering his parents were killed by wildlings, Olly makes the sixth and final stab to Jon's heart.

"For the Watch."

The mutineers leave the scene, as Jon Snow, son of Ned Stark, and Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, bleeds out into the pure white snow.

Tropes in this episode:

  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: In the books:
    • When Theon and Jeyne leap from the walls, Theon believes that if they survive the fall, they only have to make it a few hundred yards to Stannis's siege lines. In the show, Ramsay is already returning from slaughtering Stannis's men, leaving them nowhere to seek refuge. And Ramsay loves hunting.
    • Ghost is not around when Jon is attacked — he's been locked up keep him from attacking the boar of a wildling warg.
    • Edd has been assigned to Long Barrow, where the wildling spearwives are gathered. Jon sends his friends away, including Edd and Sam, as part of his efforts to more effectivity perform his duties as Lord Commander, reflecting on lessons his father taught him about The Chains of Commanding.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • The Night's Watch mutineers are motivated solely by racism in the show instead of the book's multi-layered motivations that are intended to depict a difficult and complicated set of situations. In the books, while many of Jon's officers are pissed by Jon's efforts to ally with and save the wildlings, they do not turn on him at these points. Along with their dissatisfaction over the wildlings, they are concerned Jon is providing too much aid to Stannis and fear the Iron Throne will retaliate against the Night's Watch in response. Bowen Marsh (one of the mutineers) is worried that the Watch does not have sufficient resources to support everyone Jon wants to shelter at the Wall through winter. While Jon is trying to prepare the defense of the realm and fulfill his duties as Lord Commander, he also finds himself struggling with the Night Watch's political neutrality and an urge to Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!, ultimately deciding on the latter (helping Alys Karstark escape her Evil Uncles by negotiating a marriage that will help her retake her home, trying to save a girl he believes is his little sister Arya from sadist Ramsay Bolton, supporting Stannis over the Boltons). These decisions interfere with the affairs of the realm, resulting in disaster when Jon receives the Pink Letter from Ramsay Bolton. It is not until after Jon announces his intention to march south and confront Ramsay, openly compromising the Watch's neutrality, that a faction of Jon's officers turn on him in mutiny. Furthermore, the mutineers do not taunt him with a "traitor" sign in the books — they all feel remorseful, not just Olly the Canon Foreigner, and do not want to stab Jon but feel he has forced their hand.
      George R. R. Martin (on what lead to the mutiny): Were they mistakes [by Jon]? I guess they were mistakes in some ways since they led to him losing control of part of his group. But it might have been wise and necessary decisions in terms of protecting the realm and dealing with the threat of the White Walkers. I’m a huge student of history, and all through history there’s always this question of what’s the right decision. You look back with benefit of hindsight at a battle that was lost and say, ‘The losing general was such an idiot.’ Was Napoleon a genius for all the battles he won? Or an idiot for losing at Waterloo? Partly I’m reacting to a lot of the fantasy that has come before this. Ruling is difficult whether you’re a Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch or the King of England. These are hard decisions and each have consequences. We’re looking at Jon trying to take control of Night’s Watch and deal with the wildlings and the threat beyond The Wall.
    • In the books, Alliser Thorne is not one of the mutineers since he is far away and uninvolved in the attack in the novels.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • In the books, Stannis starts his northern campaign as the clear underdog and grows his strength by rallying the mountain clans as well as the Glovers, half the Umbers and some other Northmen opposed to the Boltons and, despite his hardships, confidently awaits battle on ground of his choosing as the blizzard begins to abate. In the show, he starts out with the larger army, loses most of it to deprivation and desertion, and gets ambushed in an open field by the very army he came to fight.
    • In the books, Cersei makes a point of retaining some empowerment by disrobing herself rather than allowing herself to be stripped as she does in the show.
    • In the books, the Dothraki come upon Daenerys as she and Drogon are feasting on a horse from their herd, and Daenerys has just completed a Vision Quest that has burned away her uncertainty by reminding her that Targaryens are conquerors, not peacemakers. Here she's alone and the circling riders and her decision to leave the ring as a breadcrumb give the scene a very Damsel in Distress vibe.
    • Though he might be sterner than his literary counterpart (though he has his moments even in the books), Doran Martell has yet to show any signs of being The Chessmaster he is in the books. Of course, it's kind of hard to do that with less than ten minutes screentime.
  • Adaptation Distillation:
    • In the books, Stannis rallies the northern third of the North to his cause while the Boltons take the rest, but while Stannis's allies are united by their duty to rescue "the Ned's girl", the Boltons are surrounded by dubious allies who hate his Frey contingent so forcefully that Roose is forced to send them to battle Stannis rather than sitting safely behind his walls and risk them killing each other. In the show, Stannis marches his larger army south, but is weakened by the ravages of winter and From Bad to Worse until his forces are swept away by a unified army under the Boltons.
    • In the show, the Boltons remain largely unscathed by the blizzard while Stannis suffers overwhelming misfortune that drives him to a suicidal advance on Winterfell. In the books, both sides suffer severe setbacks during the storm. In addition to a plot to rescue Ramsay's bride, the Boltons suffer the collapse of their stables, someone murdering their supporters, and the forces of Mors Umber besieging them in the guise of Stannis.
    • In the books, Sam vehemently protests Jon's command that he become a maester — Sam had tried in his youth but his father was adamantly opposed to a Tarly wearing the maester's scholarly chains. Jon forces Gilly to swap her own son with Mance Rayder's to prevent Melisandre from burning Mance's son for his royal blood and he has Gilly's son raised under his protection, certain he will be safe as Stannis would not allow Melisandre to harm him since he lacks royal blood. In the show, because Mance's son has been Adapted Out, Sam requests to become a maester and departs with Gilly and her son.
    • The show omits Daenerys' Vision Quest in the Dothraki Sea. In the books, Daenerys accidentally poisons herself with berries, bringing on an irregular period (or possibly having a miscarriage, as she had been married to and sleeping with Hizdhar for some time) and delirious visions featuring Jorah, Viserys, and Quaithe urging her to become a true Targaryen and fulfill her destiny.
    • Sansa and Theon's escape together is a spur-of-the-moment decision in the show, whereas in the books Jeyne Poole's rescue is a long-term plot orchestrated by Melisandre, Jon, Mance Rayder, and six spearwives which Theon finds himself caught up in.
    • In the show, Jon is lured into an ambush by those who disapprove of letting wildlings into the realm. In the books, Jon receives a threatening letter from Ramsay. In the letter, Ramsay demands the return of his bride, "his Reek", and various people sheltered at Castle Black, and threatens to attack Castle Black if his demands are not met. After receiving the letter, Jon decides to go south and confront Ramsay, announcing his decision. The wildlings volunteer to join him. The mutineers see this as open violation of his vows to take no part in the wars of the Seven Kingdoms.
    • In the book, Arya hasn't yet learned how to use the faces and doesn't kill Meryn Trant, but instead an Adapted Out character named Dareon, who was a member of the Night's Watch that accompanied Sam, Gilly, and Maester Aemon on their trip to the Citadel and then deserted; since she is a Stark, Arya sees it as her family duty to execute him. Her instructor seemingly ignores her transgression, but makes her drink a cup of bitter-tasting milk before she goes to sleep, and she wakes up blind.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: The heavy adaptation distillation surrounding Jon Snow's death in the TV version introduces major plot holes. In the novels, the older Watch officers barely tolerate letting the wildlings through the Wall but they don't openly turn on Jon at this point. Instead, they turn against him when Ramsay Bolton sends a threatening letter to the Wall and Jon announces his decision to ride south and confront Ramsay, compromising the Watch's neutrality. Even the TV series has repeatedly emphasized that the Watch takes vows very seriously and mutiny is unthinkable, at least among the core officers. Consider the series of events in the TV series: Thorne lets Jon take all of the wildlings through the Wall... and then stabs Jon, when nothing is to be gained now that the wildlings are already through? Why didn't he just bar the gates to Jon and the wildlings in the immediately preceding episode? Now he has to deal with angry wildlings south of the Wall who feel that Jon saved them.
    • We know that the "Hardhome" episode was heavily rewritten late in production to make it the action climax of the season — but this resulted in several other plot holes which are incongruent with surrounding episodes. When Jon and the wildlings flee Hardhome, they left on ships by sea... then in the next episode, without explanation, they are suddenly waiting at the north side of the Wall from Castle Black — apparently to set up the big dramatic confrontation with Thorne (who eventually grudgingly lets them through)... even though Castle Black is in the middle of the continent. Jon left for Hardhome by ship from Eastwatch, at the eastern end of the Wall, and if they were already on ship they could just sail to the southern side at Eastwatch. It's possible that these rewrites didn't fit together well. Even ignoring the novels, why would Thorne even let Jon through the Wall in the first place with the wildlings, if only to then kill Jon for letting the wildlings through? Like proverbially locking the stable door after the horse has already bolted.

      There is at least some possibility that Thorne and the others were finally pushed over the edge to kill Jon when Melisandre brought news to Castle Black that Stannis had been defeated by the Boltons — and the episode just didn't show this because it wanted to maintain the element of surprise for viewers. Melisandre's return to the Wall is the only thing that changed between episodes 9 and 10, and it would still more or less fit that it happened because of the Boltons.
  • Agony of the Feet: Cersei's feet are filthy and bleeding profusely by the end of her walk of shame — this is highlighted by shots of her feet before and after the ordeal.
  • All for Nothing:
    • After sacrificing his daughter to end a storm so he can resume his march on Winterfell, Stannis loses half his men to desertion, his wife to suicide, and his remaining men are slaughtered in battle, leaving him alone to be killed by a vengeful Brienne.
    • After Jaime spends an entire season trying to save Myrcella, she ends up dying anyway.
    • Theon realizes that all his finking and kowtowing to Ramsay is meaningless because Ramsay will kill Sansa after he gets a Child by Rape from her, and in the process, Ramsay and Myranda will torture her the way he was tortured. Knowing this makes him snap and he pushes Myranda aside and breaks out of being Reek for the first time.
  • All There in the Manual: According to the script, those scrolls that Jon reads at the end are from various Northern houses expressing their regret that they are unable to send any fresh recruits to the Night's Watch, for reasons such as their manpower being tapped from the war and that winter is here.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Meryn Trant was an amoral Lannister goon, pedophile, and child abuser. No one is sad when Arya brutally murders him.
    • Myranda is nearly as cruel and sadistic as Ramsay, and plans to torture Sansa with arrows. Fans no doubt cheered when Theon threw her to her death.
  • Atomic F-Bomb: The Stunned Silence at the start of Cersei's walk of shame is broken when a bystander yells, "CUNT!" at the top of his lungs and the rest realize they too can get away with insulting THE QUEEN to her face.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: A tragic example. As cold as their married life was, Stannis is visibly shocked and mournful (by his stoic standards, at least) when he sees Selyse's hanged corpse.
  • Back from the Dead: It's implied that the newest member of the Kingsguard is Gregor Cleganenote  brought back to life by Qyburn's experiments. Then again, it's also a Subverted Trope, as he never actually died, though he did come close. In the novel, Qyburn presents the man as "Ser Robert Strong", a pseudonym which fools precisely no one, even if they don't understand how Clegane is still alive.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Ellaria gets her revenge by killing Myrcella, the Boltons crush Stannis in a Curb-Stomp Battle, and the mutineers stab Jon Snow to death.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • After half a season of dutifully watching for a candle in the broken tower, Brienne abandons her vigil to confront Stannis moments before Sansa finally succeeds in lighting it.
    • Olly comes to Jon with news that his missing uncle Benjen has been sighted, but when he rushes out to the gathering of brothers all he finds is a sign that says "traitor." And then the black brothers draw their knives... Taken to a meta-textual level by having Benjen appear prominently in the "Previously On" montage, building the audience's expectation of his return.
    • A man poisons himself after making it seem like he is going to poison Arya. As Arya weeps, it turns out not to be that man after all.
  • Bait the Dog: Of all the excuses that the Night's Watch could have used to lure Jon Snow outside, they just had to use information about his uncle Benjen as bait.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Sansa and Theon jump from a high castle wall into the snow, risking death or crippling injury rather than face a victorious Ramsay.
  • Betty and Veronica: "You want a good girl, but you need the bad pussy."
  • Blatant Lies: From Ellaria to Myrcella, directly before kissing her on the mouth, which should be a red flag.
    Ellaria: I wish you all the happiness in the world.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: For several of the main characters.
    • Brienne seems absolutely set on beheading a wounded Stannis; his death is heavily implied but not shown as we cut away on her sword swing.
    • Reek and Sansa leap from the walls of Winterfell, into what is hopefully a deep, impact-cushioning snowdrift. If not...
    • Myrcella is poisoned by Ellaria with "The Long Farewell" and collapses in Jaime's arms not even a league offshore from the coast of Dorne as they're returning home. Turn that ship around, Kingslayer!
    • Daenerys, with Drogon asleep and healing in his lair, is surrounded by a massive mounted horde of Dothraki screamers, possibly the remnants of her deceased husband's khalasar. Let's hope they recognise her as a khaleesi, otherwise...
    • Jon is viciously gutted and stabbed in the heart by his own sworn brothers and although his physical death is absolutely confirmed, there are several possibilities for Back from the Dead and enough lingering mysteries for many fans to refuse to believe that Jon's song actually ends here, despite the undignified or anti-climactic ends suffered by other prominent characters.
  • Break the Haughty:
    • Melsandre is going through this, having to face up to her mistake of interpreting Stannis as the Chosen One. When she returns to Castle Black, she doesn't even speak.
    • Cersei's walk of shame is meant to do this, and by the time she reaches the Red Keep it seems to have worked, leaving her weak and weeping. However, as soon as Qyburn reveals his creation, her tears disappear and she already looks to be plotting her revenge. She hasn't changed, she's just gotten a whole lot angrier.
  • Bridal Carry: Cersei is carried off in the arms of the latest member of the Kingsguard.
  • Broken Pedestal: Selyse has always been one of Stannis and Melisandre's most faithful supporters, but the sacrifice of Shireen has destroyed her faith in them to the point she hangs herself out of remorse.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Or rather, The Bus Finally Arrives. Varys makes it to Meereen and is ready to rule with Tyrion.
    • Grey Worm returns after spending several episodes recovering from his wounds.
    • The Mountain returns after spending the entire season being presumably made better, stronger, faster.
    • Subverted with Benjen Stark. He's shown in the recap, and Olly says someone has seen him... but it's a lie to get Jon Snow into an ambush.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Lampshaded when Arya tells Meryn Trant she's killing him to avenge Syrio Forel, but then adds that he probably doesn't remember that incident anyway.
  • The Cake Is a Lie: Stannis does all the things the Red Woman asks of him, but she makes herself scarce and instead of the victory that was promised, Stannis gets killed after losing a battle in the ice.
  • Call-Back:
    • Pod knows that Stannis is coming to fight the Boltons because he recognized the burning stag banners from the Battle of Blackwater.
    • Arya uses the face of the little girl whom she mercy killed earlier in the season, in a scene where the Hound's assessment of Ser Meryn Trant's combat prowess is proven true.
    • Jon gets news that someone spotted Benjen Stark, who went missing way back in Season 1.
    • Stannis finally gets the battle in the snow from his visions.
    • Jon is betrayed by his arch-enemy at Castle Black. Perhaps he should have listened to Stannis and not kept his enemies so close.
    • Tyrion and Varys find themselves ruling a city again, which they lampshade in their usual oblique way of conversation.
    • The Waif points out that a man has already told Arya that he wasn't Jaqen H'ghar (in "The House of Black and White").
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Myranda points out to Sansa that until Ramsay impregnates her, she will be kept alive. But once she gives birth to a few heirs, Ramsay will do away with her... slowly.
  • Characters Dropping Like Flies: Even for Game of Thrones, this episode has a remarkable body count. Six named characters die, including two starring cast members.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • You thought that was the last we had seen of the "Long Farewell" poison, didn't you?
    • The corkscrew Sansa filched in "The Gift" is used to pick the lock on her bedchamber.
    • Turns out all those times Arya got whipped playing the Game of Faces is useful, enabling her to take Trant's abuse without screaming, so he'll concentrate his efforts on her and helpfully dismiss any witnesses.
  • Cliffhanger: This episode is an avalanche of cliff hangers. With the exception of Cersei's, Sam's, and (to a lesser extent) Dany's court, all other storylines end in one:
    • Brienne raises her sword and sentences Stannis. Scene changes, no conclusion.
    • Myrcella is shown bleeding from her nose and collapsing. Scene changes, no conclusion.
    • Daenerys is shown surrounded by a khalasar, possibly her own. Scene changes, no conclusion.
    • Sansa and Theon jump off the wall of Winterfell to... See you next season.
    • Arya is blinded. The scene literally Fades To Black.
    • Jon is stabbed repeatedly and shown bleeding in the snow. And that's the last scene of the season. (This is also the cliffhanger of A Dance with Dragons.)
  • Clothing Damage: Dany, although not to the same extent as in the books, has torn strips from her gown and wraps them around her hands, probably because her palms are chafed from Drogon's scales.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: During the walk of shame, the crowd's dialogue consists solely of curse words and insults.
  • Come to Gawk: The dregs of the city are having a break from their poor and uneventful existence during Cersei's walk.
    Whore: I've had half as many cocks as the queen!
    Male pleb: I'm a Lannister! Suck me off!
  • Composite Character:
    • Tyrion officially takes over Barristan's role as the de facto ruler of Meereen during Daenerys's absence, while Missandei, Greyworm, and Varys take the place of the novels' military junta (most notably Skahaz the Shavepate) and Jorah and Daario go in search of Daenerys in place of her Demoted to Extra bloodriders.
    • Alliser Thorne takes over Bowen Marsh's role as the leader of the mutiny against Jon.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Stannis's remaining forces are annihilated by the Bolton army.
    • Curb Stomp Cushion: Stannis is seen easily killing a couple Bolton soldiers looking for easy pickings however.
  • Darkest Hour: Almost all the major characters are in a dark place by the end of the episode:
    • Jon is murdered by his own men.
    • Stannis's army is defeated by the Boltons, and Stannis himself is executed by Brienne. The sacrifice of Shireen was for nothing, and Mellisandre's powers prove to be far less effective than she thought.
    • Daenerys is without any protection while a horde of Dothraki capture her.
    • Arya breaks the rules of the Faceless Men and goes blind as a result.
    • Sansa and Theon do manage to escape Winterfell, but it remains to be seen whether they survived their fall. Even if they did, they're now alone in a hostile land, as the Boltons most certainly will come after them.
    • Cersei is forced to go through an incredibly torturous walk of shame. She, as well as Margaery and Loras, are still to be put on trial for their crimes.
    • Immediately after Myrcella has told Jaime that she knows he is her father, and that she is happy about Jaime being her father, she dies of poisoning in Jaime's arms.
    • The only protagonists to end the episode on any kind of positive note are Tyrion, who gets to put his knowledge of politics in practice, Brienne, who has her revenge on the murder of Renly, and Sam and Gilly, who can finally be together as Sam is sent to study to become a Maester.
  • Dead All Along: Jaqen H'ghar turns out to be just another glamour, presumably taken from a dead man in the Hall of Faces. Arya has no way of knowing if the man she's been tutored by since the beginning of the season is the same Faceless Man she met in Westeros.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Most likely the reason for the "TRAITOR" sign is that the mutineers will leave Jon's body beneath it, serving as a warning to other wildling sympathizers .
  • Deadly Nosebleed: The first sign that Myrcella has been poisoned is her nose bleeding.
  • Death by Adaptation: Selyse, Meryn Trant, and Myrcella are still alive in the source material for the season, the fourth and fifth books.
  • Death Glare: Despite her masquerade of atonement, Cersei can't help glaring at the septa as she's forcibly shorn of her hair.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Sweet Myrcella collapses and dies in her father's arms.
  • Dies Wide Open: Jon stares out in horror as he bleeds to death in the snow, stabbed by his own men.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Melisandre when told half of Stannis's army has deserted.
  • Dirty Coward:
    • As soon as it becomes evident that Stannis won't be winning his battle, Melisandre promptly flees the camp.
    • Meryn Trant; he makes no attempt to fight back against Arya Stark stabbing him repeatedly despite being a knight, but he has no problem beating little girls a third his size.
  • Disney Villain Death: Theon tosses Myranda off of Winterfell's walls. More graphic than most examples, as we see her hit the ground and leave a bloodstain.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Myranda gladly participated in Ramsay's torture of Theon in previous seasons. Theon finally gets some revenge when he throws her to her death in order to protect Sansa.
  • Downer Ending: With the exception of Sam (who is sent to the Citadel, where he will protect Gilly from the threat of the White Walkers) and Tyrion (who ends up better than he was at the beginning of the season, as a ruler of Meereen), all the other characters receive a tragic ending on this season finale: Stannis is dead, Sansa and Theon jump off Winterfell's walls to an uncertain fate, Brienne misses her chance to rescue Sansa, Arya goes blind, Jaime is forced to see his daughter die, Daenerys is imprisoned by the Dothraki, Cersei is publicly humiliated and yet remains without her power, Davos discovers that Shireen has died, Melisandre is devastated by her failure with Stannis, and Jon is betrayed and killed by his own men.
  • Driven to Suicide: Selyse hangs herself for letting Shireen die.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Stannis, big time.
  • Due to the Dead: Stannis has Selyse's body taken down from the tree, but it's implied that he doesn't have enough time to give her a proper burial.
  • Drugged Lipstick: Ellaria poisons Myrcella by kissing her goodbye.
  • Dying Alone:
    • With Davos sent away, Shireen sacrificed, Selyse committing suicide, and Melisandre abandoning him, Stannis is left to face the Boltons by himself and it's only when left alone and broken in the snow that he's executed by Brienne.
    • Jon Snow as well — Sam has been sent away and Stannis's army has been wiped out, so the mutineers don't miss their opportunity. Even Jon's own steward is one of the conspirators.
  • Ear Ache: Tyene nips Bronn's ear while whispering in it by way of flirtation.
  • Edible Ammunition: The people throw vegetables and all kinds of filth at Cersei during her walk of shame.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: The final scene's parallels with Julius Caesar are obvious. A revolutionary leader is stabbed to death by a group of the old guard who disapprove of his new policies. The show even takes the similarity a step further than the source material by including a grief-stricken protegė among the attackers.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Blessings from the Lord of Light or not, Stannis sacrificing his daughter severely damages morale. His wife commits suicide and half his army leaves him.
    • The Faith Militant provides Cersei with bodyguards who are not amused by some of the crowd's antics during the walk of shame, nor do they allow anybody to actually get near Cersei.
  • Evil Gloating:
    • After all the petty abuse she's heaped on him, Pycelle can't resist a smirk at seeing Cersei naked, bloody, and covered in filth.
    • Arya takes plenty of time to gloat before finally putting Ser Meryn down.
  • Eye Scream: The first step in Arya's Extreme Mêlée Revenge on Meryn Trant is to put out both his eyes.
  • Extreme Mêlée Revenge: Arya gives Trant The Glomp of Death, puts out his eyes, and bloodily stabs him several times in the chest. After that he can only moan in pain, giving Arya time for some Evil Gloating of her own.
  • Face Death with Dignity:
    • With nothing left to live for after the deaths of his family and the slaughter of his soldiers, Stannis calmly allows Brienne to execute him, and tells her to do her duty.
    • Sansa isn't phased when Myranda threatens her with a bow because she would rather die than continue to be raped by Ramsay. Unfortunately Myranda has no intention of killing Sansa.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • One wonders how thousands of men and horses left Stannis's camp in the middle of the night without anybody noticing, or how Stannis somehow doesn't notice the missing troops until somebody tells him. King Stannis must be one heavy sleeper.
    • Stannis's army also fails to notice the Bolton army (again comprising of many noisy horses) until they are within 200 meters or so, perhaps due to lack of scouting and because of Weather of War.
    • Daenerys failing to notice an entire Khalasaar riding up behind her. Spot check, girl! Spot check for your life!
  • Fan Disservice: Cersei's march of shame is far from titillating even though she is naked for the scenes and a reputed beauty.
    Epic Voice Guy: I...don't...wanna see these boobs! These boobs are too wrapped up in character development!
  • The Farmer and the Viper:
    • Doran gave Ellaria and the Sand Snakes a second chance, but they immediately try to kill Myrcella again (and succeed this time).
    • Jon Snow did his best to conciliate Ser Alliser and he seemed to have earned his respect since Thorne had followed his orders and allowed him and the Wildlings past the Wall. It turns out that Thorne has been plotting Snow's assassination all along and is the first to stab him without any hint of remorse.
  • From Bad to Worse:
    • Stannis wakes to find his sellswords have deserted and taken all the horses. Then he finds Selyse has hanged herself. Then he receives word that Melisandre has abandoned him. Then he marches on Winterfell and sees that his cavalry has sided with Bolton. Then his forces get routed in the ensuing battle. 'Then' Brienne comes for her vengeance when he's mortally wounded...
    • Cersei's walk of shame. At least in prison, her humiliation was confined to happening in front of only a few individuals.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Aside from the usual insults, several commoners flash in front of Cersei. The Faith Militant is not amused, with Cersei's escort beating those who get too close.
  • Get It Over With: Despite seeing his army crushed and being severely wounded, The Determinator Stannis still is able to defeat two Bolton mooks who think he's an easy kill. But when Brienne accuses him of murdering his brother through black magic, Stannis accepts the charge and tells Brienne to do her duty.
  • Giant Mook: We get a two-shot of Ser Robert Strong towering over Cersei, just to emphasize how big he is.
  • Godiva Hair: Averted. Cersei's long, golden locks are hacked off by the Sisters so she cannot invoke this on her "Walk of Shame."
  • Gotta Kill Them All: Lampshaded by Arya. "You were the first person on my list you know."
  • Grew a Spine: Reek finally shows genuine signs of going back to being Theon again, as he kills Myranda to save Sansa and helps her flee Winterfell (although he may have also left to run from Ramsay's wrath).
  • Gory Discretion Shot: We're treated to a Smash Cut right as Brienne swings her blade at Stannis.
  • Headbutting Heroes: Tyrion and Jorah have a very outspoken clash; Jorah is wary about the presence of a Lannister, distrusts the new guy, and is still bitter about the role played by Tyrion when he was exiled a second time. Tyrion for his part remarks that Jorah should promise not to kill him in his sleep and reminds that he's not to blame for Jorah's crimes.
  • Heel Realization: Stannis has this. After everything that happens to him, he lets Brienne execute him.
  • Here We Go Again!: Tyrion and Varys find themselves ruling a dangerous and decadent old city again.
  • He's Back!: Theon comes to his senses, even for just this time, kills Myranda, and jumps from the wall of Winterfell with Sansa. This is signified with the Greyjoy leitmotif, "Pay the Iron Price".
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Instead of helping him, Stannis sacrificing his daughter is what ultimately does him in as half his army abandons him. The good weather that the sacrifice seemingly brought only makes it easier for the Bolton forces to ride out and slaughter what remains of Stannis's army.
  • Holding Hands: Sansa takes Theon's hand before jumping into the snow. It's clearly an act that has significance for both of them.
  • Hope Spot:
    • After Stannis's sacrifice, the snow begins to melt, which clears the way for Winterfell. But then he's told that half his army abandoned him. And things quickly go downhill from there.
    • Jon hears that someone has news of his missing uncle, Benjen, and immediately rushes out to see him... only to find out that his black brothers have betrayed him.
    • Cersei believes that confessing her sins to the High Sparrow would wipe the slate clean and allow her to return to the Castle. Instead, she's forced to do a Penance Walk through King's Landing, and since she didn't confess to all the accusations labelled against her, she's still expected to be tried.
    • Jaime finds that his daughter not only knows he is her true father but she's actually happy about it. She then collapses unconscious in his arms.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: Dany the Dragon Rider tries to mount Drogon and ride him back to Meereen, only to end up facing the wrong way on his back, then ignominiously sliding off her dragon.
  • Humiliation Conga:
    • In a single episode, Stannis finds out that half his army has deserted him overnight, that his wife has committed suicide, that Melisandre has abandoned him, and then he comes on the receiving end of the single most one-sided Curb-Stomp Battle in the show, lacking even Mance Rayder's excuse of being in the middle of parley with Jon Snow. To top it all, he then gets killed by Brienne in the name of Renly, whom she calls "the rightful King" despite Stannis basing his entire campaign on being the only contender with a legitimate legal claim.
    • Cersei is forced to confess her adultery, shorn of her hair, stripped naked, and forced to walk the streets of King's Landing as her subjects jeer and pelt her with all manner of detritus.
  • Hypocrite:
    • The Night Watch brothers who label Jon as a traitor. Then proceed to murder their own Lord Commander.
    • Brienne murders Stannis for killing Renly, calling Renly the rightful king. However, Renly intended to kill Stannis himself and Stannis came before Renly in succession because Renly is the youngest Baratheon brother.
  • Idiot Ball: The High Sparrow grabs this both in the novel and here. Sure, he may have the support of the common folk, and Cersei's public humiliation demonstrated that The Faith treats everyone the same, but he allows her to return to her home, where she has access to money, troops loyal to her, and is totally safe from him unless she chooses to return.
    • There's also Prince Doran and Jaime for allowing Ellaria anywhere near Myrcella, the girl Ellaria had spent the whole season trying to kill.
  • Irony:
    • Stannis tells Brienne, "Go on, do your duty," as she takes revenge for Renly's murder. In order to kill Stannis, Brienne has neglected her oath to Catelyn and Jaime to protect Sansa — which was even how the sword she's using got the name "Oathkeeper". On the other hand, Brienne's oath to Catelyn has a specific exemption about it not holding her back from seeking vengeance on Stannis, and Sansa had technically released her from it in any case.
    • Oberyn finally gets avenged in a way he would have loathed. Ellaria murders an innocent girl for her late lover, who died trying to avenge, among others, an innocent girl. Bonus points since Myrcella was to become Oberyn's niece-in-law.
  • Ironic Echo: After her My Name Is Arya Stark scene, Arya asks her victim, "Do you know who you are? You're no-one."
  • I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: Played with when Jaqen H'ghar takes poison in compensation for the man Arya killed. Then it turns out not to be Jaqen anyway, if he ever existed.
  • Karmic Death:
    • Brienne comes calling, and Stannis's kinslaying finally catches up to him.
    • Meryn Trant finally gets what's coming to him from Arya Stark, the student of the swordmaster he killed and the sister of the princess he abused. In Syrio Forel's hometown of Braavos, no less.
    • We only get to see Myranda's pulpy faceplant from afar, but she's certainly "not so pretty now" as well.
  • Karma Houdini: Melisandre burned Shireen alive — prompting the desertion of over half of Stannis's army — drove Selyse to suicide, and falsely made Stannis believe he could become king against all odds. Naturally, she flees the scene and ends up the sole person to make it back to Castle Black alive.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Just in case further proof of Meryn Trant's foulness is needed, he's shown beating girls as part of his selection process.
    • Ramsay spots a wounded and surrendering Baratheon soldier. Ramsay "accepts" his surrender by driving a sword through his back and twisting it for good measure.
    • Of all the things they could have said in order to lure him out to his death, did the mutineers really had to lie to Jon about his uncle being alive? Talk about twisting the knife.
    • A minor case in Brienne calling Renly the rightful King — even though not even Renly considered himself "rightful" save for Might Makes Right — as she prepares to kill Stannis, considering Stannis was trying to take the throne because by law he was the rightful King and Renly was a traitor.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down:
    • Cersei is subjected to one, all the way from the Great Sept to the Red Keep. By the end, she's filthy and her feet are bleeding.
    • Brienne executes Stannis while the latter is wounded, unarmed, and in no position whatsoever to fight back or resist. She also calls Renly the rightful king when Stannis came ahead of Renly in succession.
  • Kill the Cutie: Princess Myrcella is a beautiful, sweet-hearted girl who is having a bonding scene with her uncle/father. Of course, she dies in the exact same scene.
  • Kiss of Death: How Ellaria poisons Myrcella — with Drugged Lipstick.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • All of the kinslaying Stannis commits finally catches up to him.
    • Myranda pays the price for her part in Theon's mutilation, and by the same token Ramsay loses his favorite bedwarmer, allowing Theon to gain some measure of revenge.
  • Literal Genie: The Red God seems to respond as intended to Stannis's sacrifice by improving the weather, but not to his army's favor.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Jaime starts a fatherly talk with Myrcella with this purpose, but she's already figured it out.
  • Match Cut: Brienne swinging her sword at Stannis Smash Cuts to Ramsay finishing off a wounded soldier with his own sword.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • Jaime repeats his "You can't choose the one you love" justification for Twincest to Myrcella. He previously he used this with Brienne.
    • Brienne tells Stannis, "I don't serve the Boltons," as per the "I don't serve the Starks" response she gave to Jaime.
  • Milky White Eyes: Arya's eyes as she goes blind.
  • Mind Screw: In-universe. The Faceless Men use their shapeshifting ability to mess with Arya's head before blinding her.
  • Missed Him by That Much:
    • Brienne stops watching Winterfell right before Sansa lights her distress beacon.
    • Likely intentional on his part, but it is convenient that Varys reemerges in Meereen not long after Dany vanishes.
  • Mutual Disadvantage: The blizzard had this effect on both the Bolton and Baratheon forces, albeit more so for the latter. Once the snow clears and Stannis can advance his troops, the Boltons do just the same with their cavalry.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Melisandre is devastated when she realizes that sacrificing Shireen doomed Stannis's cause. When she shows up at the Wall, she can't even speak to Jon and Davos.
    • This is the motivation behind Selyse's suicide.
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Despite his rather good working knowledge of Valyrian, Tyrion still makes a slip while addressing Grey Worm.
    Tyrion: [in Valyrian] Apologies. My Valyrian is a bit nostril.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong:
    • Subverted with Aliser Thorne. After several episodes of begrudgingly accepting Jon's commands, he decides that he's finally had enough and leads a mutiny against him.
    • Brienne, despite pledging herself to Sansa, decides to put priority in avenging Renly when she learns that Stannis is marching against the Boltons. This results in her missing out on the perfect opportunity to liberate Sansa. She even twists the facts about Renly by claiming he was the rightful King, even though he was technically a traitor to Stannis.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: Both Arya and Brienne take their time to introduce themselves and explain their motives before delivering fatal blows to Meryn and Stannis respectively.
  • Mythology Gag: "Well, there's no food. At the very least you could hunt us some supper." A hungry Dany bemoans of her child as he snores. In the book he does share one of his kills with his mother, just before the Dothraki arrive.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: Stannis is certainly going to lose the battle but it looks like he's at least going to get a cool Last Stand. The music builds up, and after a brief pause, Stannis draws his sword and his army prepares to fight. We don't even get to see the battle and it's clear that it was a complete Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
    • Sadly, Jon continues the Stark tradition of this. After saving the wildlings from certain death, he gets killed for it by his own men.
    • A rather dark version of a "good deed", but Arya kills a sadistic murdering pedophile and saves the little girls Trant was whipping and planning to rape, only to be blinded by the Faceless Men as a punishment. Given the number of things other characters have gotten away with, it's clear the Starks really can't catch a break.
  • Not Quite Dead: Ser Robert Strong is heavily implied to be a mute resurrected Gregor Clegane.
  • Not So Above It All: Septa Unella has managed to keep her pettiness masked by self-righteousness so far, but during Cersei's walk of shame, you can clearly see her smiling with dark satisfaction.
  • Not So Omniscient After All: Melisandre's visions Go Horribly Wrong at the worst possible time.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Stannis's forces when they see that the Bolton army outnumbers them and consists entirely of medium cavalry. Stannis himself is as stoic as ever and rallies them to fight after a characteristic twisted half-smile.
    • Daenerys has a wary one when she sees the approaching Dothraki.
    • Jon when he sees the sign marked "traitor", and again once the Night's Watchmen start stabbing him.
  • Our Hero Is Dead: The season ends with Jon bleeding lifelessly in the snow.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Qyburn isn't really fooling anyone withholding the identity of this new, mysterious, helmeted and mute Kingsguard who is built like a mountain.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Arya's particularly brutal execution of Ser Meryn Trant would normally lose her sympathy points, but her victim is no angel himself.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Discussed by Jaime, who is bewildered that Myrcella's and Trystane's political betrothal ended up being a perfectly happy one.
  • Pet the Dog: Qyburn is the first in the Red Keep (including Pycelle and Cersei's Uncle Kevan) to cloak Cersei and comfort her. Then he gives her hope by providing her with a new protector, Ser Robert Strong.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: When Jaqen poisons himself, Arya cries out, "No! You can't die!" Cruelly subverted when it's shown the man was never Jaqen H'ghar in the first place.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation:
    • Daenerys's diarrhea and other squicky health problems brought on by poisonous berries in the wilderness are Adapted Out, both for time and because the former is Played for Laughs on television so often that Narm would be inevitable.note  It's worth noting, however, that the early and heavy onset of her period in the books prompts Dany to realize it may have been more than a month since her last one, a hint that she may not be as barren as she believed herself to be after Mirri Maz Duur's ritual. While the show removes a lot of this, it still has Dany describe her dragons as "the only children I will ever have," in Season 2.
    • Cersei's tresses are not shaved- only cut short. Her eyebrows and pubic hair are left alone. In the books, all of her hair is shaved off.
  • Precision F-Strike: Perhaps never more literally applied than during Cersei's walk of shame, where people shout the F-word at her (among other obscenities), is shown to hit just as hard as the rotten vegetables and other matter physically thrown at her.
  • Prematurely Marked Grave: Jon Snow is stabbed to death in front of a marker that says only TRAITOR.
  • Prophecy Twist: In "Second Son", Stannis said that he envisioned a great battle in the snow. How he would fare in said battle was a different story.
  • Psychotic Smirk:
    • Septa Unella has one of these going on during Cersei's walk of shame. What's more, it only grows more pronounced as the commoners hurl abuse and filth at the queen. Clearly, the good septa is Not So Above It All.
    • Cersei herself as she's carried off in the arms of Ser Robert Strong, her instrument of future vengeance.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Meereen is being proxy-ruled by a eunuch warrior who can barely stand, advised by a former slave translator still in her teens, a foreign dwarf with a big mouth and a drinking problem, and another eunuch as spymaster.

  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Tyrion is given a relatively friendly one summarizing why he's not going to be on the expedition to save Daenerys: He's never tracked animals in the wilderness, he's not a fighter as capable as Daario or Jorah, and not so good on a horse. Daario respectfully concludes that Tyrion mainly talks, to which Jorah bitterly adds that he's a foreign dwarf who barely speaks the language.
  • Revenge Before Reason:
    • Brienne chooses to break her vigil at Winterfell to go after Stannis, just seconds before Sansa lights the candle in the broken tower. If Reek/Theon hadn't suddenly come to his senses, Sansa would have been tortured and killed as a direct result of Brienne's actions.
    • Ellaria kills Myrcella, even though Myrcella is an innocent child with no role in Oberyn's death whatsoever; knows how likely killing Myrcella will start a war; and does so in defiance of a prince who is almost certainly going to attempt to kill her now.
    • Several of the Night's Watch still haven't let go of their grudge against the wildlings (including Olly). Even with knowing about the invasion of White Walkers and that they need all the help that they can get, they still kill Jon for saving them.
    • Arya is so obsessed with killing Meryn Trant, she forgets about her assignment to kill the Thin Man.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • At one point Arya and Trant are both on their knees facing in the same direction, as if praying. As Syrio would say, "There is only one god, and his name is Death."
    • After a season of insisting that she is "no-one", Arya gives her name and House when killing Trant. She's called on this by Jaqen and the Waif.
  • Self-Poisoning Gambit: Ellaria is also affected by the poison lipstick she uses to kill Myrcella, the only difference is that Ellaria has an antidote on hand to counteract the poison.
  • Shameful Strip: Cersei's "atonement" forces her to walk naked through the streets of King's Landing.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
  • Selective Obliviousness: Brienne calls Renly the rightful King, even though he was clearly a usurper.
  • Shoo the Dog: Sam, Gilly, and Little Sam head to Oldtown so Sam can become a maester. Their timing could NOT have been better.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog:
    • Stannis's missions to win the throne and save the world end in dismal failure. In pursuit of this goal, he has sacrificed his younger brother, his fleet, his army, his self-respect, his daughter, his wife, his Red Woman, and his life; in return, he has achieved... almost nothing. He couldn't even capture Winterfell. The worst part is that, aside from Melisandre, literally no one actually wanted him to be king—not even Stannis himself.
    • Jaime's season-length attempt to rescue Myrcella ends with Myrcella getting fatally poisoned by Ellaria, rendering all of his efforts pointless. Myrcella would probably have been safer if he'd stayed in King's Landing!
  • Shout-Out:
    • The fate of Stannis and Selyse is similar to that of Macbeth and his wife.
    • Fans have noted quite a few similarities to the Star Wars franchise. The Luke, I Am Your Father scene (with Myrcella giving the "I've always known" response that Leia did to Luke being her brother), Arya seeing her own face (Luke seeing his face on the Vader he fights on Dagobah), the ressurected Gregor being completely clad in armor, and Theon killing Myranda like Vader did Palpatine.
  • Slashed Throat: As Trant moans on his knees in front of her, Arya slowly cuts his throat.
  • Slut-Shaming: The point of Cersei's walk of shame, with the septa behind her chanting "Shame" repeatedly and the crowd calling her "whore" and "brother-fucker".
  • So Happy Together: As if her Perfectly Arranged Marriage to Trystane wasn't enough, Myrcella just had to have a touching moment with her father/uncle. Deadly Nosebleed ensues...
  • Stern Nun: Aside from being from a different faith, Septa Unella is otherwise a textbook example of the petty sadism and massive self-righteousness associated with this character type.
  • Stunned Silence: A relatively long one as the crowds stare at the queen being paraded in front of them naked. This ends as soon as they realize they can start insulting her with impunity.
  • Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: Arya's initial appearance in the brothel, with long stringy hair concealing her face, which happens to be that of a dead girl (plus Arya herself is presumed dead by the Lannisters).
  • Tempting Fate: After Stannis finds out that half his army abandoned him, another messenger comes with bad news. He tells him to speak since there couldn't be any news worse than mutiny. Turns out his queen committed suicide. And Melisandre abandoned him too.
  • Trail of Bread Crumbs: Word of God is that this is the reason Dany drops her ring as the Dothraki approach, so that her friends can find it and follow her.
  • Tranquil Fury: The smouldering look of rage in Cersei's eyes as Gregor carries her is definitely this.
  • Traumatic Haircut: All of Cersei's long, beautiful (though not so beautiful after weeks in prison) blonde hair is shorn off as part of her atonement.
  • Travelling at the Speed of Plot: Melisandre returns to Castle Black pretty quickly. Whether its because her Human Sacrifice cooled down and cleared the path or not, no one knows.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: The last face Arya uncovers on the corpse of decoy Jaqen is her own.
  • Too Happy to Live: Myrcella's poisoning symptoms set in immediately after she acknowledges Jaime as her father and embraces him lovingly.
  • Turn the Other Fist: When she's masked as the child prostitute, Arya takes several hard hits from Meryn, only to surprise him harder when she jumps at him with her knife.
  • Undying Loyalty: Years after Renly's death, Brienne is loyal to him as ever as she slays Stannis on his behalf.
  • Ungrateful Bastard:
    • After Jon put aside his differences with Thorne and appointed him as First Ranger, Thorne leads a mutiny against him.
    • After Jon took him under his wing and made him his steward, Olly tricks him into going outside and delivers the finishing blow.
  • Vader Breath: The resurrected Gregor Clegane breathes heavily and menacingly as a side-effect of We Can Rebuild Him. It further emphasizes just how much of an abomination he's become.
  • Villainous BSoD: Melisandre becomes completely apathetic when she realizes her whole religious fervor was based on false and misinterpreted visions.
  • The Voiceless: According to Qyburn, "Ser Robert Strong" has taken a vow of silence until all of Tommen's enemies are dead. It's very likely that this creature is in fact inarticulate.
  • Wham Episode: ...Let's count the ways. Stannis fights his battle and loses, with Brienne finally avenging Renly. Theon breaks his Reek persona, kills Myranda, and escapes Winterfell with Sansa. Tyrion is placed in charge of Meereen, and Varys finally returns. Dany is captured by the Dothraki. Arya finally kills Ser Meryn Trant, but disappoints a man and thus goes blind. Cersei is released, but forced to walk through the city naked, and the Mountain returns. Jon Snow is betrayed by a faction of the Night's Watch and stabbed to death.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain:
    • Jaime is finally able to admit to one of his children that he's their father, and Myrcella reveals she already knows and is glad. And then she dies as a result of being secretly poisoned by Ellaria.
    • After all the grief Jon has faced (the destruction of his family, witnessing the force of the White Walkers, becoming the most hated man in Castle Black, Maester Aemon passing away, sending Sam away), it looks like he's finally got good news when he's told that one of the Wildlings knows where Uncle Benjen is. Turns out to just be a trap and he gets killed by his own men.
  • You Are in Command Now: Tyrion is given governance of the city of Meereen with the help of Grey Worm and Missandei, as well as Varys as his spymaster.
  • You Talk Too Much!: This time it's Daario who Lampshades Tyrion's best and most annoying quality.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: Cersei is released from the Sept's jail cells after pleading mercy for one of her accused sins, but must do a walk of atonement just to earn a temporary respite. And she's got an upcoming trial for all the accusations she's denied.