The Marginalized Rise in Mother’s Mercy: Episode 10, Season 5


The name of the final Game of Thrones episode in Season 5 is “Mother’s Mercy”–  and, at least in this episode, the mother has none. In “Mother’s Mercy,” the mighty are brought down by the lowliest of people, often women or the transgendered, whom everyone has forgotten or discounted.

“Mother’s Mercy” is truly an event-filled, game changer. It has strong echoes of other game-changing historical events like the assassination of Julius Caesar and Richard III’s last stand at Bosworth Field. In the episode, many characters die (or likely die) – by my count there are at least seven.

“Mother’s Mercy” introduces several possibilities of new wars while ending some attempts at conquest. The episode also focuses on religion and belief systems. Perhaps, most importantly, the war with the Others just became infinitely more complicated.

The Would-be Siege at Winterfell

The snow melted after Stannis sacrificed his daughter Shireen to R’hllor. Yet, things aren’t going well for the man who claims he is the rightful king – and “rightful king” is all a matter of interpretation. (Like Richard III, Stannis’ claim is through an usurper and predicated on the illegitimacy of that usurper’s children.) There are many echoes of Richard III — the man and play — in what comes next.

Nearly half of Stannis’ men have deserted him before dawn – and worse, the sell swords took all of the horses. (A nice bit of irony given the Shakespearean Richard III’s famous line at his last battle, “A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!”)

Just when Stannis thinks things can’t get any worse, a soldier arrives unable to speak. Stannis prompts him to spit it out – after all, what could be worse than mutiny? If Stannis wasn’t so consumed with his personal ambitions – and personal is the key word here, he would realize there are much worse things.

The soldier leads Stannis to a clearing in the woods. Selyse dangles from a noose tied to a tree. Stannis commands his men to cut her down.

Despite last night’s losses and all of these ill omens, Stannis orders his men to prepare for a siege. The prudent thing to do would be to get while the getting is good. But, it’s already too late.

Stannis is now in the same position as Richard III was before his final battle at Bosworth Field: his wife is dead and his child and heir is dead. For both men, this may be the lowest point emotionally in their lives. (It’s worth noting that some historians have argued, despite the traditional portrayal of Richard, the king was confident and upbeat before Bosworth.) But, back to Stannis…

There won’t be a siege at Winterfell. Always full of surprises, House Bolton has decided to meet Stannis on the open field. And, House Bolton has nearly twice the number of mounted soldiers that House Baratheon has (on foot).


Stannis and his men make their last stand.

Stannis’ men are crying that it’s hopeless. As some of his men in the rearguard begin to flee, Stannis valiantly draws his sword. If he’s going to die, he’s going to die bravely.


The size of Stannis’ army from

House Bolton destroys Stannis’s army in a resounding victory. Most of Stannis’ men are dead. After the battle, we find Stannis in a clearing, wounded.

After Stannis fends off enemy soldiers and collapses, Brienne finds him in the clearing.

Stannis sneeringly asks Brienne if House Bolton now has women fighting for them.

Brienne explains that she guarded his brother, Renly. She accuses Stannis of using blood magic to murder his brother. Brienne points out she saw Stannis’ face on the shadow assassin.


Stannis collapses after fighting off two of Ramsay’s men. His leg is badly wounded.

Stannis admits it’s true, and Brienne pronounces a death sentence. She swings Oathkeeper and lobs off Stannis’ head. But, at what price? (More on that in a moment.)

It’s a fitting end for the would-be king Stannis.


Here Peter Dinklage poses, fidgeting with his rings, in a manner reminiscent of Richard III’s portrait.

Stannis is Richard III’s tale told darkly. Whereas in Martin’s reimagined version of the Princes in the Tower (in which Tyrion was falsely accused of murdering Bran and Joffrey), Tyrion is innocent, the Stannis plot highlights the monstrous interpretations of Richard.

Stannis believed vehemently in justice, and there’s a dark side to that word. Justice entails retribution and revenge for the aggrieved party. It’s about putting things right or back into balance to prevent blood feuds.

Stannis exacts justice even when it should be tempered with some mercy. Rather than absolving Davos (the smuggler who helped him), he takes part of Davos’ fingers. When Ramsay’s men sneak into their camp and destroy the Baratheon food and burn some of their horses, Stannis demands a summary judgment. (He commands that the watchmen on duty that night be hung: they were either bribed or fell asleep.) The idea that Ramsay’s men might be that sneaky and good isn’t even entertained.

The Yorkists (Richard III, Edward IV, Richard of York) professed to believe vehemently in justice as well. They may well have done so and, to give them their due, they certainly stabilized the country after years of anarchy under Henry VI. But, the Yorkists heeded the law when it suited them. And, as at least one historian has noted, it was ultimately the Yorkist dynasty’s disregard for the law (specifically the laws of inheritance) that led to the dynasty’s downfall.


(c) HBO.

It’s more than appropriate that Stannis, the king who mercilessly administered justice, dies at the hands of justice. This (would-be) king tried to cheat his way to the throne using blood magic to vanquish a rival and sacrificing his daughter to win a battle. He had no qualms about not fighting fairly. He justified his actions on his belief that he was the chosen one destined to vanquish the Others. Yet, instead of staying at the Wall to fight the White Walkers, he chooses to try to seize Winterfell.

As we can see from George RR Martin’s retelling of Richard III’s life, history is all about interpretation. There are many ways to see Richard III. It is possible to Richard in greyer, less absolutely good or less absolutely evil ways than we often do in the polarizing discourse that surrounds him.

Ultimately, Stannis is destroyed by somebody whom he has completely forgotten he even wronged. And, it’s a woman no less — as Stannis implied moments before he died, he sees women as lesser warriors (or, at the very least, not suited to the battlefield). This theme of the powerful undone by the forgotten or marginalized continues throughout this episode.

Brienne & Sansa

The great irony or tragedy in Brienne’s life is that this more-than-competent knight, who only wants to protect and serve, often fails to do so – either through happenstance or perhaps even her own failings.

Brienne and Pod have faithfully been watching the Broken Tower for weeks – and bravo! Brienne is right: Sansa will need to be rescued.

As soon as Pod tells Brienne that Stannis has arrived, both knight and squire abandon their post. Seconds later Sansa lights her candle in the Broken Tower.

Is this negligence? Shouldn’t Brienne be paying more attention to the living Sansa than the dead Renly?

Brienne loses sight of her duty and follows her craving for revenge. And, Sansa may pay the price.


Brienne when she receives oathkeeper from Jaime.

Brienne uses Oathkeeper to fulfill her vow that she would avenge Renly, but when she received the sword she swore to Jaime she would protect Sansa with it.



As Sansa returns from the tower, Myranda and Theon/Reek intercept her on the battlement. At arrow point, Ramsay’s mistress jubilantly orders Ramsay’s wife to return to her chambers.

Sansa refuses. “If I’m going to die, let it happen while there is some of me left.”

Myranda reveals that Ramsay will mutilate Sansa’s “parts” in horrible ways after she has given him the heirs he needs.


Sansa on the battlement.

Myranda gives Sansa an ultimatum: comply or she will start torturing her.1  Myranda draws her bow tighter, about to shoot.

Theon/Reek pushes Myranda over the interior railing. Myranda crashes to her death a hundred feet below. And, frankly, hooray! The Evil Bitch is dead.


Moments before Theon pushes Myranda over the railing, she threatens to destroy Sansa’s genitals — something likely to put Theon over the edge. Myranda was the last woman with whom Theon ever had sex. (Ramsay had her arouse Theon before he gelded him.)

Finally, Reek has started to become Theon again. Perhaps he was buoyed up by Sansa’s act of defiance, infuriated to hear Myranda threaten to mutilate another person’s genitals, or unable to contain his huge remorse over his “great original sin” (as the showrunners put it). But, this is another great moment in this episode when the lowly — who have almost given up – rise up against their foes.

Just as Myranda crashes to the ground, a horn blows indicating Ramsay and his men are back.

Theon has just killed Ramsay’s favorite mistress. NOT GOOD.

Both Sansa and Theon realize that if they don’t get out of Winterfell now, they will suffer an unimaginable fate. They climb over the battlement, hold hands, and jump a hundred feet into the snow below.


Sansa and Theon take a leap of faith. (c) HBO.

Will they survive? The snow is melting, so it is hard to say…

Braavos – at the Brothel

Ser Meryn Trant is looking for a new maiden to savage. Three girls are lined up in front of him. He strikes each one in turn, but the last one refuses to cry out.

“I can see I’ve got my work cut out for me,” Trant sneers. Delighted, he orders the other two girls to leave. He can’t wait to beat the silent girl into screaming submission.

After he punches her in the stomach, the girl bends over to sob. She lifts her face to look at him, but her face has changed and it is now Arya.


Arya kills Ser Meryn Trant. (c) HBO.

Trant is shocked and Arya strikes. She stabs him in the eye with a little knife and the other eye, blinding him. Arya explains she is Arya Stark, and she is avenging Illyio Sorel’s death.

Just before she slits Meryn Trant’s throat, she asks him a question that foreshadows her own fate, “Do you know who you are? You are nothing. You are no one.

And, that’s Arya’s whole problem in a nutshell. She is supposed to be no one. Instead, she has followed her own agenda – she is still ruled by her cravings for justice from her former life.


When Arya returns to the House of Black and White, she creeps into the room where the faces are stored to return the face she wore in the brothel.

She quietly puts the face back on its shelf. When she turns, she finds Jaqen and Waif waiting for her.



They scold her for taking the wrong life. Waif gloats that she was right; Arya wasn’t ready.

Jaqen then says to punish her illegal theft of life, a life has to be sacrificed. Only death can pay for life. He pulls out a vial of poison. We fear it’s going to be Arya, but then Jaqen himself drinks it.

Arya is devastated. Jaqen was her friend.

When she turns around, a new Jaqen is standing behind her.

“Who is this?” Arya asks referring to the corpse, from which she tears off mask after mask.

“No one at all,” replies Jaqen. “Just as the girl should have been before she took a face from the hall.”

The newly appeared Jaqen explaining that “The faces are for no one. You are still someone. For someone, the faces are as good as poison.”

And, then Arya’s story in this episode comes full circle. Just as she blinded Ser Meryn, she becomes blind.


Arya goes blind. (c) HBO.

Goodbye to Dorne

Jaime, Myrcella, and Trystane stand on the dock in Dorne, where a large wood dingy is moored. The Dornish nobility, including the Sand Snakes and Prince Doran, are there to say goodbye to them.

Ellaria says, “Forgive me child. I wish you all the happiness in the world.” Then she kisses Myrcella on the lips.

Before he climbs into the wood dingy, Bronn says goodbye to Tyene, and he encourages her to come visit before he marries his noble fiancé. Despite Tyene’s overly sexualized comments, I like these two together. Let’s hope Tyene visits.



Jaime and Myrcella hug.

On the ship, Myrcella and Jaime share a sweet moment together when Jaime confesses that he is her father. To lead into this massive revelation, Jaime tells Myrcella that she is “…lucky. Arranged marriages are rarely so well arranged” and that “we don’t choose whom we love. It’s just beyond our control.”

It’s ironic that Ellaria’s words seem to have affected Jaime.

Myrcella accepts Jaime is her father and she’s glad. It’s a surprisingly touching moment given the general ickiness of Jaime and Cersei’s incestuous relationship. Finally, Jaime may get a bit of solace. He may finally get to have a normal family relationship with his daughter.

Myrcella hugs Jaime.

She smiles up at him, but her nose begins bleeding. She starts gasping and collapses.


Myrcella dies.

The Sand Snakes stand on the dock and watch the ship sail away. Blood drips by Ellaria’s feet. She takes a vial of the antidote. The poison was on her lipstick.

Will this mean war with Dorne?

Throne Room in Meereen


Jorah, Tyrion, and Daario escape the fighting pit after the Great Games. Here they discuss plans to find Dany as they sit on the steps of the throne room. (c) HBO.

Tyrion, Jorah, Daario, and Missandei are safe2. They have other problems though. They need to find or rescue Daenerys, and somebody needs to rule the city.

Although Tyrion assumes that he will go on the rescue mission, Daario disabuses him of that idea. Tyrion is a brave but middling fighter and horseman.

Jorah and Tyrion will go find Daenerys. Daario proposed that the “so mainly you talk” Tyrion remain in Meereen as a ruler/politician along with Missandei and Grey Worm. Daenerys trusts Missandei the most. Without Grey Worm, whom the Meereenese know speaks for Dany, Meereen will sink into civil war.


As Tyrion watches Jorah and Daario leave, he is joined by an old friend: Varys. Varys’ eastern spies found Tyrion.

Tyrion is less than thrilled to be left in charge, yet again, of a city on the brink of war. How will he manage so many seething factions?

Varys wryly cheers up Tyrion by offering some good advice on how to test whom to trust. Knowledge of real agendas is key. Once again, his old friend may save his bacon.

As Tyrion notes, “If only I knew someone with a vast network of spies…”

An Unknown Land

During their flight from the Great Games, Drogon took Dany to an as-yet-unknown land. She urgently wants to return home to Meereen.

Dany tries to coach Drogon to take her home. He is injured and not well enough to fly. In fact, it’s not even clear if he can hunt, despite the pile of charred bones around him. All the dragon wants to do is lie there, sleep, and literally lick his wounds.


Dany at the unkwown land where Drogon carried her. (c) HBO.

When Dany tries to mount the wounded beast, he hisses and growls at her – and then shakes her off his back.

“Well, there’s no food. At the very least, you could hunt us some supper,” Dany tells the exhausted dragon3 .

Dany wanders off. While standing on deserted hillside, an enormous horde of Dothraki descend on her.

Just before they reach her, she drops her ring as a breadcrumb to help others track her if the Dothraki take her.

The Dothraki ride circles around her whooping. The circle becomes bigger and bigger as tens of thousands of riders join it. Did they see the dragon carry Dany? Are these whoops of homage or conquest?

King’s Landing


Cersei confesses to the High Sparrow.

The Septa continues to urge Cersei to confess, as the queen mother huddles in the corner. Dirty, beaten down and fearing for her life, she realizes it’s time.


Elizabeth Woodville

Cersei has an audience with the High Sparrow. He commands her to confess all of her crimes. She confesses to adulterous incestuous sex with Lancel, but she persuades the High Sparrow that the stories of her incest with Jaime are just lies would-be king Stannis Baratheon spread to discredit her.

Here we have another interesting parallel with the Wars of the Roses. In this case, Cersei is in the Elizabeth Woodville role as the mother of the heirs to the throne whom the king’s brother is claiming are illegitimate. (For more, see our article here.)

For those how know history, Cersei will soon, however, move into the Jane Shore role.


Jane Shore, Edward IV’s mistress, walks around the city of London (or around St. Paul’s depending on the source) to atone for her misconduct in a public penance.

Cersei begs to see her son. The High Sparrow takes pity on her and decides to release her – if she atones.

Her atonement is not unlike a medieval public penance. She must walk naked – and shorn – from the High Sept to the Red Keep.


cersai-lannister-atoneAfter the women wash every inch of her body and hack off her hair with a straight razor, Cersei is led onto the steps of the High Sept to begin her walk of shame.

A septa follows the queen mother clanging a bell and chanting, “Shame, shame, shame.”


Cersei during her walk of shame. (c) HBO.

As Cersei walks, crowds shout obscenities at her “bitch, whore” and throw food, dung, offal, and the contents of chamber-pot buckets. Her bare feet bleed as she walks through King’s Landing’s filthy streets.

She has to walk past her Kingsguards naked as she enters the Red Keep. It’s horribly humiliating.

When she arrives at the Red Keep, Qyburn is the only one to greet her warmly and comfort her. Kevin stands stone faced in the entryway. Even Pycelle appears to disapprove of her.

Qyburn, however, not only supports her, he has a gift: the newest member of the Kingsguard. Finally, Qyburn’s “Frankenmonster” has come to life. He has sworn an oath of silence until all of Cersei’s enemies are dead. I guess this makes him Cersei’s own personal Silent Sister.

Castle Black


Jon and Sam talk.

What may be one of the most important conversations in the episode is a little oblique (as it should be) and slightly hard to catch. Sam and Jon sit by themselves in a chamber to talk4. He is telling Sam what happened at Hardhome, how the Night King raised his hands and the dead came back to life.

“Tens of thousands of them, the biggest army in the world,” is how Jon describes the White Walker’s Army of the Dead to Sam.

Sam asks about the dragonglass daggers, which Jon had to leave behind when the White Walker attacked him in the elder’s hall. Jon couldn’t retrieve it and there is no way they can go back there now. Jon also points out that there is no way the daggers would help unless they had “a mountain of it.” That’s how big this army is.

Sam is quite intrigued to learn that Valyrian steel killed a White Walker.

Jon ruefully comments that he is the first commander in the Night’s Watch history to sacrifice the lives of his men to save Wildlings – and he is the most hated man in Castle Black.

Sam asks permission to go to Oldtown to study to become a maester. He asks permission to take Gilly and the baby with him. Sam won’t leave without them, and if Gilly stays, he will end up dying trying to (unsuccessfully) protect her. Jon reluctantly agrees to let him go, even though he values Sam’s counsel.

Why is this such an important conversation? Because Sam is the only one (apart from Edd), who knows that Valyrian steel kills White Walkers. He is about to go to Oldtown to do research – maybe he will learn how to make more Valyrian steel or find other such valuable lore. Finally, Sam is the only one close enough to Jon to believe him no matter what he says. If Jon says the army of the dead had tens of thousands, Sam will trust him and believe it. If the Wildlings said this to the Night’s Watch commanders, they would never believe that it wasn’t anything but an exaggeration as part of a ruse.



Melisandre appears to be filled with remorse at her mistakes.

Davos tries to persuade Jon to send men supplies to Stannis5 . He refuses saying that he doesn’t have enough men and the Wildlings will never fight for Stannis.

Melisandre rides into Castle Black alone. She looks beyond defeated. Jon runs to her and asks about Stannis. The first thing Davos asks her is about Shireen.

She is too grief stricken and remorseful to reply.


Jon is sitting in his chamber reviewing his correspondence when he hears a knock on his door. Olly has a message that Jon’s uncle Benjen may be alive.

As the showrunners note, Jon is not a cautious man – heroes never are. Impulsively charges out – acting on emotion.

Outside, Alliser Thorne greets him and leads him to a circle.

Starting with Alliser Thorne, his men stab him repeatedly saying “For the Watch.”


Senators gather around Caesar as they stab him to death. The last one to stab him is Brutus, a son-like figure whom Caesar mentored. Caesar famously says, “Et tu, Brute?” right before Brutus stabs him.

In an echo of Julius Caesar, the last person to stab Jon is the boy whom he mentored, the one who was like a son to him, Olly. Olly hesitates. He has trouble bringing himself to do it.

Jon murmurs, “Olly…”

Olly’s face hardens and twists in hatred. He plunges in the last knife as he says, “For the Watch.”

All of Jon’s brothers turn their backs on him as he bleeds out in the snow.


Jon dies on snow. (c) HBO.

Final Thoughts

First of all, Melisandre’s vision and belief that Shireen’s sacrifice would ensure victory was clearly wrong.

With many of the characters like Jon Snow and Myrcella, it is implied they are dead, but we aren’t absolutely sure. Likewise, even though we suspect that Theon and Sansa are safe, their jump might have killed them. When they took the plunge, they weren’t even sure whether the snow would save them.

Stannis’ war and quest for the Iron Throne is over.  If Stannis truly was Azor Ahai reborn (the one who would defeat the White Walkers), then this would make his death could be a problem. Jon’s death, however, is much more likely to cause problems for those at Castle Black. Nobody in command at Castle Black saw the White Walker’s power to raise armies from the dead or witnessed their massive army at Hardhome.

If they had witnessed the power of their enemy, they never would have killed Jon for letting in the Wildlings. As a result, the Night’s Watch leadership is still ignorant and will (probably) be disorganized and unready when they time comes.

Frankly, this was an epic episode. If only I could stop confusing what happens in the books, what fans on forums believe will happen, and what I’m seeing on screen — I could enjoy it so much more. Right now, I don’t truly feel the sorrow of Jon’s death because I believe he will come back to life.

Last but not least, the mighty (Stannis, Meryn Trant, Cersei, Myranda, and sadly even Myrcella) are all undone by women or the transgendered (Theon). All of the people who destroyed these six are those whom their opponents would never expect, have even forgotten they wronged, or are simply marginalized due to their gender. Stannis scoffs at female knights, but he is undone by one and a woman (Melisandre) unwittingly had a hand in his downfall. Meryn Trant has completely discounted Arya Stark being a threat to him. It never occurred to him that this little girl whom he had wronged would ever get her revenge. Cersei finally confesses because of the septa’s abuse of her. Myranda dies at Theon’s hands, whom she had long ago discounted as a weak joke. Yet Myranda contributed to his castration/penectomy, so Theon finally gets a bit of revenge when she goes tumbling off the parapet.

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Jamie Adair is the editor of History Behind Game of Thrones, a website about the history behind George RR Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels and the hit TV show, "Game of Thrones."


  • Reply June 15, 2015


    I am pretty sure at this point that all Mel’s predictions will turn out to be misinterpretations. They will be literally false but in a way that saves the appearance. So Renly at the Blackwater never happens – it was Loras. The Bolton banners will burn but Stannis won’t burn them. Burning Shireen will clear his path but to defeat, not victory. Which brings me to a prediction she makes when Mel meets Arya, that she will close eyes for good – kill them. Only that is kinda wrong, she blinds Trant first. Mel is 0 for 0 on her predictions to date, the only one left is her prediction she will meet Arya again.

    Again we see a pattern repeating through the narrative. And the key is given by Jaqen, Arya takes the wrong life, not the one intended. Some of the characters we think might be dead may escape because another life was given up in their place. So Myranda dies in place of Sansa. Trant in place of the Gambler. We don’t see Stannis die and he is a broken man. Arya refused to give the Hound a mercy blow, did Brienne do the same?

    The only two deaths we don’t have an alternate for are Myrcella and Jon. Myrcella’s death is foretold. But there is a big problem, ‘gold will be their crowns and gold their shrouds’. Myrcella hasn’t been queen yet. It is too early for her to die. Did the sand snake Bronn has a thing going with pass him an antidote? Quite possibly. We know the poisoner, but did she do it on her own accord or on the orders of the prince?

    Which leaves us Jon and his death. The show runners tell us dead is dead. But this is a tense situation. Does dead stay dead? Almost everyone expects some sort or resurrection. Because if Jon is dead and stays dead then why do his parents matter at all?

    The story does not absolutely require Jon to come back, Benjen could return instead. The audience have been prepped for that after all. In the books there is a similar plot device to trick Jon into making himself vulnerable to attack that appears to be a forgery but describes an event that has now happened in the show. Perhaps Benjen does return.

    But most people expect some sort of resurrection which I think is what we will get. But not by Mel waving her hands over him because we have no proof she can do that. All Mel’s magic has been performed through either sex or burning things to death. Mel believes in the power of King’s blood but there is a much more powerful type of blood magic we have seen already. King’s blood can change the weather, but witch blood on Drogo’s pyre brought three stone eggs to life.

    Thats what you do with witches – burn them!

    • Reply June 15, 2015

      Jamie Adair

      Not to be spoilerish, but there is major historical precedent for Myrcella to die now.

      • Reply June 16, 2015


        But Dr Bashir can find the antidote!

    • Reply June 16, 2015


      I think the “gold will be their crowns” means that Cersei’s children will all have gold hair, which they do. Crown could just mean the top of their heads, not a literal crown. I think Myrcella is definitely toast.

      • Reply June 19, 2015

        Chas D.

        Additionally, gold will be their cloaks, gold will always be their cloaks as their parent houses Lannister and Baratheon, have gold in their cloaks–especially Baratheon (which is the house they’re claiming to be from) as they have a gold cloak to begin with.

    • Reply June 16, 2015

      Watcher on the Couch

      You know, HB, I wondered about the “gold will be their crowns” too,and Myrcella not being crowned as yet, though on another site somebody said it might mean gold as in the crown of the head and the hair being Lannister gold. It’s possible that Tyene passed Bronn the antidote under cover of the passionate kiss though that would be a bit “trope-y” (did I just make up that word?).

      As for Jon Snow, GRRM is known for killing off people his readers want to root for (I’m thinking of Robb and Ned), but unless something about Jon Snow’s parentage is revealed in retrospect it seems something of an anti-climax for him to be killed off without that mystery being revealed (and I’ve always thought his parentage would have some relevance to his storyline eventually). Jon has certainly been stabbed very severely though in ADWD the book

      Possible Spoiler

      It said something (just post-stabbing) like “and then the cold” though those might not be the exact words. Would somebody be aware of the cold if they were dead?

      Jamie has me intrigued as to whom the historical precedent for Myrcella’s demise might be. Jaime don’t give any spoilers but could you say whether the precedent is in British history, French history or some other country’s history. I know that Isabella of Spain (the mother of (English) Henry VIII’s wife, Catherine of Aragon) had an older brother who died before she became queen (I don’t think he was poisoned though). Of course the grim reaper did reap grimly in those days – from what I recall Isabella had older children than the daughter who eventually became known as Juana La Loca, but those older children died and so the crown passed to Juana.

      • Reply June 16, 2015

        Jamie Adair

        It is from French history. Let me know if you want more clues. I think this is a big spoiler so I don’t want to say too much. (Also, who knows GRRM might have decided to go in a different direction.)

  • Reply June 16, 2015

    Jamie Adair

    Also, I love the ending of your comment – good one!

  • Reply June 16, 2015

    Watcher on the Couch

    To make it clear, it’s the ending of HB’s comment that Jamie liked i.e. what should be done with Melisandre, but the boxes jumped about when I went to post a ‘reply’ and the comment appeared next to one of mine. When I came across the Maggi The Frog prophecy in AFFC and of course it has been in the show now, I felt bad for Myrcella and Tommen because they seemed decent and they could hardly be held responsible for their parentage, though I didn’t feel sorry for Joffrey (who has of course already gone by that stage in the story). Of course innocent people have suffered in both real life and fiction – in the GoT death count to lose two innocent princesses in quick succession (thinking of Shireen in the previous episode and Myrcella in this) is hard on the audience (on this member of the audience anyway). As Oberyn came looking for vengeance for his sister on the Mountain (and maybe for Tywin as he may have given the Mountain carte-blanche to kill Elia (not Oberyn’s daughter – whom we haven’t seen in the show though she has been referenced but Oberyn’s sister) as Tywin is now dead it seems unfair for Myrcella to be killed. It seems like a Mafia vendetta.

    • Reply June 16, 2015


      I agree that Myrcella should not be killed. And maybe Tyene thought the same. What she says to Bronn when he looks surprised is ‘You want a good girl, what you need is the bad pussy’.

      Tyene has said repeatedly that Bronn wants her. So the first half of the statement is about her. So what is the bad pussy Bronn needs? Could it be a twincest Lannister?

      The setup to the sending off can be read as Prince Dorne ordering the murder. So Tyene can’t stop Ellaria by reporting her. The issue here is not the death of Oberon, it is the murder of Elia and her children and clearing the way for a Targarean restoration.

      The other person who might have shown mercy is Brienne. She has sworn an oath to do whatever it takes to protect Sansa. Stannis is a broken man begging to be killed. Arya couldn’t kill the hound in similar circumstances. Brienne could make Stannis swear an oath to help her free Sansa and then join the Nights Watch.

      Of course, by the time Stannis gets to Castle Black, chances are that there won’t be one left. So Stannis can become the only member of the new Nights Watch.

      • Reply June 18, 2015

        Jamie Adair

        Ok, so I finally understand HB’s comment – maybe everyone else got it and I just missed it.

        What HB means is that Tyene may have been speaking in code to Bronn when she made the “baad pussy” comment.

        She says, “you want a good girl, but you need a bad pussy.”

        There’s a difference between what Bronn wants, desires, would find pleasure in and what Bronn needs to stay alive.

        Bronn may need Myrcella (a small “bad” Lannister lion or cat) to stay alive.

        It is an interesting theory and I hope it is true. This article may mean that isn’t, but who knows?

  • Reply June 16, 2015

    Watcher on the Couch

    Jamie, regarding what might have inspired Myrcella’s death maybe it is best you keep it under your hat if it is “spoilerish”. If I find anything on Wikipedia or elsewhere that gives me a clue, perhaps I will email “off-list” and hope the email doesn’t go in the junkbox!

    Thinking of Sansa’s and Theon’s leap of faith, well it made me think of the second Defenestration of Prague – I have copied the Wikipedia link though you do have to scroll a fair way down the page to get to the commentary about the Second Defenestration


    The Catholics who were thrown out of the window survived a 70 foot fall by allegedly landing on a dunghill (must have been a big dunghill) – landing in the snow sounds less nasty.

    • Reply June 16, 2015

      Jamie Adair

      Interesting. Thanks for sharing. It took me a second to remember that “defenestration” means “thrown out a window” or “death by falling out a window”. (For some reason, my mind always reads “defenestration” as “deforestation.”) Presumably, defenestration is from the French word for window, “fenetre.” It is so odd we even have a word for defenestration. It feels like an ICD-9 code or something. (ICD-9 codes are the American health insurance diagnosis codes – and some of them are absurdly specific:

  • Reply June 18, 2015


    Wow Jamie, a superb analysis and deconstruction of the Series Finale!
    All the time I was watching the Stannis scenes my mind was on Richard III.
    The last of the Baratheon Kings falls in battle ( we can’t legitimately count Joffrey or Tommen can we? ha) as did the last Plantagenet King.
    I tend to agree with you that Richard III wasn’t likely to have felt that upbeat or optimistic at Bosworth. I know there are many valid historical arguments that he was – but I just don’t ruly believe that the recently widowed and very beleaguered Richard was in his best battle mode. His last cavalry charge was truly magnificent in it’s bravery IMO – but to me he seems to have been in a ‘death or glory’ mood and he was more than ready to face the worst…….
    Yes- my mind went to Jane Shore too! Unlike Cersei’s hideous ordeal, the London Mob seemed to love Jane Shore and cried out in great support of her during her walk of atonement . It rather backfired as a punishment.
    The story of Jane’s later marriage to Richard III’s Solicitor General, Thomas Lynom is actually rather amusing if anyone wants to read the background to it!
    Jane Shore didn’t need a Ser Robert Strong in the end… but it’ll be amazing to see what Cersei now does with his ‘help’!

    • Reply June 19, 2015

      Jamie Adair

      Thanks, Martine. I’ve been thinking about you and wondering what your thoughts are on this season – since it’s been so controversial. I like it – but of course, it is hard for GoT/HBO to do anything wrong in my eyes. 🙂
      Also, thanks for your lovely words on the recap – I’m glad you enjoyed it and it is very gratifying to hear that it isn’t all in my head about Stannis and Richard III.
      The different theories about Richard III’s last days are very interesting. I think it was John Ashdown Hill’s book “The Last Days of Richard III” where I read about his plans (or hopes) to remarry right before the battle. But, I believe I’ve also read somewhere else that those plans were scrapped a couple of months prior. (I’d need to look it up and double-check.)
      It amazes me how different – and divergent – the views on almost every aspect of Richard III’s life were. (And, BTW, did you hear that a Richard III “fan” — and that’s the word the newspaper used! — was arrested recently? It amazed me to read “fan” — do dead people have fans? )
      But, I agree with you. Richard had just come off of a particularly bad streak: his son dies, his wife dies. How could he be performing at his best (in general)?
      (BTW, I’m actually working on an article about Jane Shore right now. Any tips on stuff I should look at? I’ve read Seward’s book on WOTR, Paul Murray Kendall’s R3, Ross’ R3, Mary Clives’ This Sun of York, Margaret Crosland’s biography, some journal articles, and a few others.But, I’m still not happy yet… Any tips or ideas would be greatly appreciated… I haven’t seen anything in very much depth about Lynom yet – but I did read about how Richard tried to dissuade Lynom from the marriage…)

  • Reply June 19, 2015


    A rapid reply to you Jamie to say thanks! So not much detail but I’ll get my thinking cap on re Jane Shore and write to you properly later- I’m excited about your article!
    I didn’t know about ‘the arrest!’ It passed me right by……it all gets very heated around R III and no matter what ‘side’ any one is on it does speak volumes about the power of the past to meld with the present. We ARE our History I think.

  • Man oh man. This is a super-dope post and comments are always enlightening.
    So bad I didn’t stumble upon this blog at the beginning of the show, it’d have made it much more enjoyable.

    Here’s a post I found interesting that draws some parallels between Cersei’s walk of atonement and medieval punishments.

    I hope you’ll continue publishing on this blog in between seasons.

    • Reply July 10, 2015

      Jamie Adair

      Thanks for the kind words. I intend to keep publishing – admittedly my posts fall off during the off season. Thanks for writing in!

  • Reply April 29, 2016

    Apocalyptic Queen

    Just reading about the story of Tristan and Iseult. Looking at it, it seems there might be some parallels in this story with the way Myrcella and Trystane’s romance plays out in the show. Also in one part of the article, the name Iseult is portrayed as “Ousilla”, which may be similar to the name, Ursula and I have read somewhere that Myrcella’s name may be a play on Ursula.

    Wondering whether any other historic stories and mythology can tell us more about where some of these characters are ultimately headed? Very interesting to speculate…

    Also, I have read that the “walk of shame” was motivated by a real life story which took place in medieval England (not Elizabeth Woodville though). Although the woman in that said story wore undergarments for her walk, so not really half as humiliating as Cersei’s walk I am sure.

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