by Matthew Thompson
“Kill the Boy” is bookended by some scenes in Essos, but the meat of this episode focuses on the happenings in the Northern parts of Westeros. Despite covering multiple storylines in each region, it feels like we just cover two main plots this week because of the obvious interconnectedness of things in each area. This gives the episode a very focused feeling, something I love to see in a Game of Thrones episode.
Jon and Stannis continue to be the highlight of Season 5 for me. This week is mostly about setting up the next leg of their journeys this season, with Jon headed to Hardhome to bring the Wildlings south of the Wall and Stannis finally setting off for Winterfell, but there are some developments and wonderful smaller moments that come along with this. Most important is Jon’s decision to make peace with the Wildlings which creates unrest among his men. Jon is trying to think of the bigger picture and the looming threat of the White Walkers, but many men of the Night’s Watch can’t see beyond how the Wildlings have killed their brothers in arms or in some cases like with Olly, their families.
Those were obviously the biggest developments at The Wall this week, but there were plenty more things I enjoyed just as much. Like Aemon and Sam discussing Daenerys. Or Aemon’s pep talk to Jon with the excellent line from which this episode draws its name, “Kill the boy and let the man be born.” Plus mentions of Dragonglass and Oldtown and the welcome return of grammar Nazi Stannis. His line “Fewer” was the quote of the week.
We also spend a lot of time at Winterfell this episode. I’m still a bit worried for Sansa. There are a lot of signs pointing in her favor. Brienne is closing in on her. Northerners that both Brienne and Sansa talk to are clearly ready to come to her aid. And I’d like to imagine if Theon wasn’t so beaten down, he might even lend a hand. But we also see Ramsay’s crazy side again and a jealous Miranda which has me a little worried they might get to Sansa in one way or another before Sansa or anyone else can help her get out of this situation. And despite my praise of the extended time spent with the various characters this week, I do think we hung out with the Boltons a bit too long for a single episode.
Out east, most of our suspicions about last week’s cliffhanger were confirmed. Barristan is dead and Grey Worm has managed to hang in there. In her anger over the situation, Daenerys ends up burning one of the heads of the great families. By the end of the episode, she changes her strategy, agreeing to reopen the fighting pits and reveals a plan to marry Hizdahr. I can understand both of these reactions (even if burning someone alive in this fashion is not a good look for Dany), but the move from one to the other happens too quickly and the marriage idea seems to come out of nowhere even if it seems like a sound idea to help quell the problems plaguing Meereen. This can probably be chalked up to the realities of this television series and its limited air time for so many characters, but it still felt too sudden. I’m not sure time spent on the Grey Worm/Missandei romance wouldn’t have been time better spent fleshing out Dany’s moves this week, but that has never felt like a particularly compelling sideplot to me, so your mileage may vary there.
I loved the final sequence with Tyrion and Jorah. While we, the audience, have become accustomed to seeing dragons, Tyrion is not. But he is a student of history which has given him a fascination with dragons, so seeing him in awe as Drogon flies overhead was pretty damn cool. It also left them distracted for the Stone Men attack which acted as a fun action sequence to end the week’s episode. I particularly liked how you could see the men crouched on the ruins as their boat approached. That was a nice touch to what was as a whole a very well-directed sequence. The final reveal of Jorah having caught himself a case of greyscale ties in nicely with all the talk of the ailment throughout this season.
A few more things:
- Scene of the Week: Really dug the bit where Tyrion and Jorah see the dragon and then get attacked on the water. Just a really well done sequence and it looked amazing.
- Alfie Allen is putting in a very underrated performance as Theon/Reek.
- Davos talking with Shireen before they left was, as expected, very nice. I love those two.
- There just simply has not been enough Arya this season.
I love the narrower focus of “Kill the Boy,” but it lacks any of the memorable moments these affairs usually contain. There are no grand battles or shocking twists here, but still it is a well-written episode, to be expected when Bryan Cogman pens one, that continues to shift pieces into place as we move into the second half of the year. I think my biggest knock against it would probably be spending as much time with the Boltons (and Miranda) as we did which is more a matter of preference. It is an understandable move given their importance to what is happening in the North at the moment, but they aren’t the most fascinating of villains to watch (Tywin and Cersei are vastly more entertaining to me for instance). What did you think of this latest episode of Game of Thrones? Let me know in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading!