Whether you are a reader of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books or not, you probably could have predicted the closing shot of "Mother's Mercy," the final episode of the fifth season of Game of Thrones. Jon Snow, lying on the ground, stabbed by his own Night's Watch men, bleeding out on the ground in the snow, left for dead. Or is he? It is the same quandary that Martin left his readers in, at the end of the super-long A Dance With Dragons. Almost everyone believes that Jon is not truly gone, but how he might come back is what is entertaining the fans until we find out for sure — and there are a number of possibilities. We have seen the dead rise on Game of Thrones — as White Walkers, wights, sightly altered versions of themselves (Beric Dondarrion and the Knights without banners), a certain stone-hearted lady in the books, and even as hideous science experiments (hello, Franken-Mountain). And the Red Woman did just conveniently make her way back to Castle Black ...
|You've got friend in me - Jon and Sam|
But before Jon got what has been foreshadowed all season — particularly by the outrageous amount of close-ups young Olly kept getting — there were a few other interesting things happening in Westeros:
Arya — In Braavos we found ourselves back with the beyond-loathsome Meryn Trant, who likes to hit little girls. C'mon Arya, finish him off. She did so, in a most brutal way. But everything one does in her world has consequences. And a girl who is still Arya Stark is not no one, as Jaqen was quick to remind her.
Jaime — Myrcella may be as clever as her uncle Tyrion, but unfortunately for her, Allaria's goodbye kiss for the girl was a poisoned one. A bit obvious, like everything connected to Dorne this season. Sorry Sand Snakes et al, but you just can't measure up to Oberyn, who is still truly missed.
|Cersei finally confesses (sorta)|
Tyrion — Dany and Drogon left the boys behind in Meereen to lick their wounds and scheme how to get her back. And then all my prayers were answered. Varys showed up (!) to help Tyrion rule Meereen while Dany is ... somewhere in the wilderness with a cranky and wounded dragon, and surrounded by hordes of Dothraki. But will they like her as much as Khal Drogo did?
|Meereen: where the boys are|
Stannis — Already there were effects from last week's horrific burning of sweet and innocent Shireen. The snow had started to melt, but also ... Queen Selyse hanged herself, and half of Stannis's men had deserted, with the horses. Oh, and his #1 cheerleader, the Red Woman, had taken off, too. I guess not everyone was supportive of the whole God of Light burning little girls gambit. Stannis, being the hard-ass that he is, decided to proceed as planned. He took the rest of his army on the march to Winterfell. It was a slaughter, with Ramsay running rampant over Stannis's men. Before the twisted Ramsay could finish him off, however, Brienne was finally able to exact her revenge for Renly's murder. So long Baratheons. Except for Gendry (remember him?), who may still be rowing somewhere to safety. Back at Winterfell, Reek finally stepped up to protect Sansa. See ya, Myranda. Your weaselly little face will not be missed, except, maybe, by Ramsay. And we have a new Game of Thrones dream team, Sansa and Reek, on the run.
At The Wall, Sam asked Jon to let him go to Old Town to train to become a Maester, and to take Gilly and the baby with him. Jon didn't want to lose his only friend (and Sam is truly his only friend), but, being the inherently good guy that he is, he let him go. As Sam left the Red Woman came back, to Castle Black, alone. So much for Stannis. So who will Jon and the Night's Watch look to for assistance or support now? All a moot point, as Olly came to tell Jon there was news of his long-missing Uncle Benjen. And then the "Et tu, Caesar" scene happened. As each man stabbed him they all said, "For the Watch." I expected Olly to be the first strike, not the last. Not a shocking development for book readers, or, as I said before, anyone paying attention this season, but still ... hard to watch.
It's an ominous ending for the season, as our handsome hero — and Jon Snow is truly the closest character Game of Thrones has ever presented as a potential hero, apart from perhaps Daenerys — is left to die, at the hands of his own men, alone. And where was Ghost? But with all the shock of the new that has happened for loyal readers this season, this episode was also the closest to the books, showcasing some of the biggest scenes from A Dance of Dragons. And now ... we wait a year. But will the next season of Game of Thrones start before Martin finally finishes The Winds of Winter? That's anyone's guess.