Power is a dangerous thing, likely to attract the worst and corrupt the best, and as those in power learned last night on Game of Thrones, that statment really hits the nail on the head. “Mother’s Mercy” might have been the title, but there wasn’t much forgiveness left to go around.
Let’s start with Cersei (Lena Headey), the recipient of the eponymous clemency so graciously given by the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce). Cersei’s agonizingly long walk through Flea Bottom was so unsettling that it did the seemingly impossible in making us sympathize for her. The walk might have ended at the Red Keep (and hopefully with a long bath), but it also left Cersei at a fork in the road. She’ll either take after Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and use this humbling to pave the path toward redemption, or she’ll make good on her promise to burn the city to the ground. If I were a homeowner in Flea Bottom, I’d think about relocating.
Meryn Trant (Ian Beattie) learned that power does not keep you safe, but only after his eyes had already been gouged out. Arya (Maisie Williams) might have successfully crossed another name off her death prayer list, but it came with a consequence, as Jaqen H’gar proved to be a fan of both literalness and Hammurabi by taking away her eyesight.
Daenerys’s tumultuous day started with an indolent Drogon and ended surrounded by a menacing Dothraki army. After five years of attempting to rule, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) has ended up exactly where she started – surrounded by strangers and no closer to Westeros.
But at least Cersei, Arya, and Daenerys are alive, because “Mother’s Mercy” wasn’t as kind to many of its other characters. As I alluded to last week when Stannis (Stephen Dillane) sacrificed his daughter, the Baratheon line was nearing extinction, and with Selyse (Tara Fitzgerald) committing suicide and Stannis finally dying at the hands of Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), the Baratheons are no more. Stannis’s death is still fresh for me (he’s still currently alive and waiting to attack Winterfell in the books), so I haven’t had enough time to figure out how I’ll look back on him. He’s always been the embodiment of iron – strong, yet brittle and likely to break rather than bend – and I’m not quite sure if that’s a good thing. I think he’s a tragic character – perhaps one of the most tragic in the series – but I’ll never truly sympathize with a man who burns his daughter alive, even if it is for the good of the realm. You’re a conundrum, Stannis Baratheon, and all I know is you’ll be missed.
Now it’s time to talk about the biggest death of the episode, and this week’s Faller.
[Can you guess who it is?]