Game of Thrones Season 5 Finale Recap: Was "Mother's Mercy" the Most Brutal Episode Yet? Oh Yes.

We should know by now to never care too much about a single character. Thanks, George R. R. Martin.

By Sydney Bucksbaum Jun 15, 2015 3:56 AMTags
Game of ThronesHBO

Warning: major spoilers below! Do not read until you have watched Game of Thrones season five finale, "Mother's Mercy." Seriously, we're talking huge, game-changing spoilers here. 

I. Am. Absolutely. Numb. 

As a Game of Thrones fan who does anything and everything in her power to avoid all book spoilers so the show can have the most dramatic impact, I somehow managed to make it to the season five finale, "Mother's Mercy," without getting spoiled on the big death. That's right, despite the fact that Jon Snow (Kit Harington) is left stabbed and bleeding to death in George R. R. Martin's last novel, A Dance With Dragons, and photos from the death scene in the finale leaked days before the episode aired, I remained in blissful ignorance.


If you had asked me before I sat down to watch the finale to pick one character who would be absolutely, 100 percent safe from death on this show, I would have said Jon Snow. I knew that Game of Thrones loves to kill off beloved characters (cough, Robb, Oberyn, Ygritte, Khal...) but if there was one person who was so central and important to the franchise, it was Jon. They'd never kill him. Not a chance in the world. 

And then...IT HAPPENED. I just don't even know how to process what went down. But I'll try. For the sake of this recap, I will try.

The episode begins at Stannis' camp with his army, to see how the father of the year's brutal actions (murdering his own daughter in cold blood) manifested in supernatural good tidings. Apparently, the "Lord of Light" has warmed up the winter storms as a thank you for burning Shireen alive, melting the snow and ice, and Stannis' army can finally march on Winterfell…but half of the men deserted during the night. Because of what Stannis did to his daughter. Oops? And then, Stannis finds his wife's body hanging from a noose in the woods just outside their camp. So, things didn't exactly turn out how Stannis the Mannis wanted.


But Stannis presses on and marches his dwindling army towards Winterfell. His timing couldn't be better, as Sansa escapes from her room to finally light a candle in the tower to call for help. When Brienne and Pod see Stannis' army approaching Winterfell, Brienne leaves the spot she's been in for weeks a mere second before Sansa can light her candle, and that missed connection has to be one of the biggest teases this show has ever done.

After she lights her candle, thinking her call for help has been recieved (poor, poor Sansa), she watches from the window as the Bolton army, at least three times the size of Stannis', completely overtakes and slaughters them all. As Stannis lays injured among the dead, Brienne finds him, and confronts him about having Renly murdered. He confesses he was behind the shadow assassin, and she kills him for justice. At least someone got their revenge.

As Sansa sneaks back to her room, Ramsay's ex Myranda finds her before she can get back inside. Because Sansa just can't ever catch a break. But before Myranda can start to torture Sansa, Theon finally comes to his senses (goodbye Reek!) and kills Myranda and helps Sansa escape! Finally, finally, finally! 


Up north at Castle Black, Jon confides in Sam about how he has no idea how to handle the White Walkers' army of wights, besides hoping they can't climb the Wall. In light of this, Sam asks to be sent to Old Town to become a Maester, to care for Gilly and her son away from the brutality of the Night's Watchmen. Jon isn't happy to hear this, but he agrees. The bromance between Sam and Jon is over...although it's not until the end of the episode that we learn just how permanent their goodbyes are. At least they were able to have some guy talk about Sam sleeping with Gilly before Sam left, though! It's really the little things that keep us going.

In Braavos, Meryn Trant continues to be the absolute worst and tortures a bunch of young girls in the brothel...until he finds a girl who doesn't cry out at any of his hits or smacks. And that's because the "random girl" is actually Arya, undercover, wearing a face of someone else! She brutally mutilates him with her dagger before finishing him off. It's slow and agonizing and 100 percent deserved for that monster of a man.

But while Meryn was on Arya's list, he was not on the Many-Faced God's list, so Jaqen teaches Arya a lesson when she returns to the House of Black and White. He drinks the poison himself to pay the debt that Arya has cost him. But as Arya cries over Jagen's dead body, she realizes it's not actually Jaqen! It's "no one," a body wearing many different faces, and Arya takes off each face until she sees her own staring back at her. And then she starts to go blind! What is happening?!


Across the sea, Myrcella boards a ship to leave Dorne with Jaime, Bronn and Tristane with the blessing of Doran, as Ellaria and the Sand Snakes say their goodbyes. On the ship, Jaime tries to have a father/daughter chat with Myrcella to finally tell her the truth about him being her father…but it turns out that she already knows!

Yup, Myrcella has known this entire time that her uncle is also her dad, and somehone, she's okay with it. This family is so messed up. But at least Jaime and Myrcella get to share a sweet father/daughter hug for the first time ever! This hug better not end up like Stannis and Shireen's, though. Aaaand yup, it does. Jaime doesn't burn Myrcella alive, but the hug does end in death, since it turns out Ellaria poisoned Myrcella before they set sail! Since they don't have the antidote handy, does this mean that Myrcella's fate is sealed?

In Meereen, now that Daenerys has flown off to who-knows-where, all her faithful men are hanging out in her empty throne room wondering what to do next. Jorah, Daario and Tyrion seem pretty lost without their blonde queen. But Missandei brings in Grey Worm, and they all decide to find Dany, wherever Drogon took her. But Daario convinces Tyrion and Grey Worm and Missandei to stay behind to keep peace in Meereen while he and Jorah go off to search for Dany. As they ride out of the city, Tyrion watches from above, and that's when Varys arrives! Finally, these two back together again, scheming and plotting and insulting each other. All is kind of right in the world. 


So where is Dany? We find her and Drogon resting on a mountain top...somewhere. Drogon is still so tired from his wounds and their flight, and he won't take Dany home. She realizes they're going to be there for a while. But where exactly are they? How far from Meereen did they fly? Unclear. She does come across a tribe of warriors on horseback, and they begin circle her. Are they friend or foe? Unclear! Are we going to have to suffer through another season of Dany charming her way though a new culture, still away from the action of Westeros? Ugh. 

In King's Landing, Cersei finally gives in and decides to confess to the High Sparrow when her hunger and thirst become too much to bear. But she only confesses to sleeping with Lancel, and not with Jaime, calling the rumors of her other incestual relationship "lies." The High Sparrow agrees to let Cersei return to the red keep after her "atonement" and trial. So what's her "atonement?"

It's one of the most disturbing things we've ever seen on this show, and that's saying a lot. After having all her hair brutally chopped off, Cersei is then paraded in front of the whole city…naked. And it gets worse. The woman who kept refusing to give her water walks behind Cersei, ringing a bell and chanting "Shame!" over and over and over again while the entire city screams obscenities at her, throwing things on her until she finally arrives, naked and bleeding, to the castle. Qyburn goes to greet her and introduces her to the newest member of the King's Guard...his Frankenstein creation. There's definitely going to be hell to pay, and this new soldier is probably going to be the one to dish it out on behalf of Cersei. 


Back at Castle Black, Melisandre arrives on horseback, completely alone, and delivers the news of what happened to Stannis and his army to Davos and Jon. Guess your "Lord of Light" wasn't actually all that into human sacrifice, huh Melisandre? But before we can dwell too much on Melisandre's failure to lead her king to victory, the unthinkable happens.

Yup, it's time to talk about that unspeakable death. As much as I want to pretend it didn't happen, it did. Game of Thrones first played a massive trick on us all, making us think that a Wildling had news to tell Jon about his uncle Benjen, who we haven't seen or heard about in many seasons. Jon got excited and followed his Night's Watch brothers outside, only to find a sign that said "traitor" on it, and watched in disbelief as his own brothers stabbed him over and over, "for the Watch." And then young Olly delivered the final stab, in retaliation for Jon trusting Wildlings after they murdered his entire family.

The episode ended with Jon laying in a pool of his own blood, staring blankly up at the sky. And as much as I hoped that some supernatural force was going to save him from death, Kit Harington has already revealed that he's done on the show. He won't be back next season. Jon is really and truly dead.

And we'll never trust this show again.

Until next year, Thrones fans.