The Prelude - Response
My point-by-point response to my own initial thoughts:
Ellaria and the Sand Snakes are still up to no good.
Well, I was right about this, but I sincerely had no idea it would play out how it did. Also, oh my god, Tyene's line about her "bad pussy" was maybe...no, it was definitely the worst line the show has ever had. Bar none. Terrible.
The Mountain is coming back. Like, now.
Definitely back. Definitely excited to see how his presence affects things. Cersei's pissed, and she now has a murderhobo Kingsguard the size of, well, the size of a Mountain.
Oh em gee, Syrio maybe still alive? Probably not, but a man can hope.
Well, Syrio was a lot to expect, and I feel like the way this played out, we can be pretty sure that he's dead. Although, Arya did put a rag in Meryn's mouth when she talked about Syrio...coincidence? Who's to say? I'll put a pin back in it.
Awful lot of Benjen in this. Looks like we'll get some kind of answer about him at least.
Well, so much for getting answers about him. Well played, Game of Thrones. I told you he was tricksy.
Dragons are still badass.
Slightly less badass when they're licking their wounds and being teen angsty with their mom, but still pretty badass.
I feel like a lot is going to happen in the North this episode. My prediction: there will be blood.
Prediction: confirmed. Though, the gore level wasn't all that high. The battle between the Boltons and Baratheons mostly happened at range or in the background, which I can appreciate from a production cost point of view. It does make me think that the show could've been made into like fifteen movies, but would it have been the sensation that it is? Maybe not.
Regardless, the body count was fierce, which transitions me to the second part of my post.
Feeding the God of DeathI had an inkling that this episode might be a bloody one, so I texted a couple friends to do a "deaths draft." We each predicted the demise of a few characters, and watched the murder unfold. There were several (though maybe fewer than it seemed?), so I'll go tombstone-by-tombstone.
#1 - Selyse Baratheon
This one should've been more predictable when you think about it. Stannis' demise was absolutely on the table, and no way would he die while Selyse still lived. Furthermore, we've seen her as being somewhat unstable since she showed up, and she was clearly distraught when Shireen was burned alive. Not a particularly saddening death, but it did kind of suck that mere moments after she finally seemed human, she took her own life.
#2 - Stannis Baratheon
Huge, huge death for the show. He was wildly popular on the Internet, with people referring to him as Stannis the Mannis. Yeah, not the Internet's most creative moment. Still, Stannis' storyline was a driving force since season 2, and his death frees up Melisandre and Davos to pursue their own paths. Davos specifically I've always enjoyed a lot; he's witty, sensible (other than his infatuation with Stannis), and understands the world better than most. He's who I want to see a lot of next season.
By the way, at this point in the show, Balon Greyjoy is the only remaining king from the War of the Five Kings. So, congratulations Balon.
#3 - Myranda
She was hot. Really, really hot. Also I think I'm into evil chicks, and she was definitely that as well. Her death was a redeeming moment for Reek/Theon. It was predictable in the scene, but a little bit against Theon's history with Ramsay. I mean, like three episodes ago he ratted on Sansa. I get that Sansa's worn him down over time, but still, a bit odd.
#4? - Reek
#5? - Sansa
I don't actually think Reek and Sansa are dead, but that was a long ass drop off of the battlements. It had the smack of a scene where we're supposed to think maybe they offed themselves, but then they landed in a wagon of hay, Assassin's Creed style. Not sure exactly where they'd go at this point, though. The Wall's got nothing for them anymore...spoiler alert. Although, maybe they meet up with Davos on his way to the Umbers to find Rickon and Osha? Boy, wouldn't that be a traveling party: a smuggler, a eunuch, and the Lady Sansa Stark.
#6 - Meryn fucking Trant
The easiest death to see coming, he was my first choice in one of my drafts, second in another. His death was utterly brutal too; maybe they used up their gore allotment in that scene, and that's why they couldn't show too much brutality in the other deaths. Probably not. Meryn Trant was a terrible guy; they've let us know that since season 1. A Kingsguard isn't what it used to be...although Barristan Selmy wasn't exactly Iron Man, either.
#7 - Myrcella Baratheon
This one was heartbreaking, and I don't know how I didn't see it coming. I mean you saw in my prelude, I knew Ellaria was still up to no good. But Myrcella always seemed like an absurd target for revenge. I guess we were supposed to buy into that, because clearly the Sand Snakes did. Moments after Jamie revealed himself to be her father, and she accepted it, and he had that first, brief moment of acceptance from his daughter about who he really was, she was torn from him. I have to say, while most of the other deaths are of longer-running characters whose personalities we've seen more of, this one rattled me the most.
#8 - Jon Snow
And now we come to the biggest death of the season, and one of the biggest deaths in the show. Jon Snow was someone we watched intently from episode one. He helped us learn about Tyrion's wisdom and wit. He showed us Sam's intelligence. Through him, we saw Grenn and Pyp grow into men of the Night's Watch, we saw Jeor Mormont command the rangers, we saw wights and White Walkers and wildlings. And through it all, we saw him as the next generation of Ned Stark. His heart was always looking at the big picture, doing "what must be done." But in doing so, he ignored what was going on around him, just as Ned did, and in the end it cost him his life.
Jon's death was foreshadowed all season with the decisions he was making, and the Brothers' reactions to them. All of his decisions made sense to us, but to the men at Castle Black who'd been fighting wildlings for years, or those like Olly who'd seen their families butchered by wildlings, his behavior was treasonous, hence the sign.
How will the story turn with Jon Snow's blood staining the ground at Castle Black? I don't rightly know. We do know that Melisandre is at Castle Black. And we do know that Melisandre met Thoros of Myr, who told her about how he asked the Lord of Light to send Beric Dondarrion back to him, and Beric had life breathed back into him, like freaking Gandalf the White. So, perhaps her presence at Castle Black is fortuitous for those who want Jon to endure, in one way or another. I don't know whether I want Jon's death to be permanent to see how the world responds, or if I want him to be reborn in some fashion.
I do know this: I liked episode 10 a lot better than episode 9. And that even accounts for the terrible "bad pussy" line.