Previous seasons of Thrones have built themselves around a single major event. Last year’s season, however, bucked this trend with a string of big story moments stretching across the second half of the season. Season 5 very much feels like it’s going to follow in the footsteps of the latter with Kill the Boy setting the wheels into motion for what looks to be a promising series of payoffs.
Game of Thrones: Season 5 Episode 5 ‘Kill The Boy’ Review
Warning – Spoilers Ahead
Kill the Boy continues the series’ transition away from the politics of the south towards the plotlines taking place in the north. In particular, this week delved into the realities that Sansa is facing as part of her betrothal to Ramsay.
In fact, this week’s episode actually placed a lot of focus on the bastard of Bolton – exploring both his relationships with his father and his lover Myranda. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Myranda and I can’t help but wonder if her presence at Winterfell has a role to play beyond bringing Sansa and Theon together. The way that the color drained out of Ramsay’s face after learning that Wanda was pregnant also deserves a mention.
Michael McElhatton nailed his scenes this week. I loved the way he even shocked Ramsay with the story behind his birth. The final scene between the two worked to emphasize just how delicate their position in the north is – without revealing which way the outcome of the coming battle will swing.
The scenes further north covering Stannis’ departure from Castle Black held a very similar ambiguity. I’ve noticed that the writers have really gone out of their way to humanize Stannis this season – hopefully it’s not just to build up the impact of his potential death.
The stakes have never been higher – and Jon’s encounter with Tormund Giantsbane only rubbed this in. The thousands of wildlings beyond The Wall pose little threat now but Jon knows all too well that leaving them to die could have dire consequences for the men on the wall. Still, with half of those men already hating Jon’s guts, can he really afford to abandon his post?
There were lots of callbacks to the series’ history peppered throughout Kill the Boy. From Sansa’s visit to the site of Bran’s crippling to Dany’s trial by fire for those she deems responsible for Barristan’s death. Dany’s proposal to Hizdarh even worked as a symbol for how far her character has come. The crypts at Winterfell were mentioned again, and you have to wonder what the writers might be foreshadowing here.
Though on the surface, the Meereen plotline was all about dealing with the fallout of the latest attack by the Sons of the Harpy – it was actually a major turning point for Daenerys. The reality that her approach to rulership is not sustainable finally sunk in and she took her first steps towards mending the damage she’d done in Meereen.
Tyrion and Jorah Mormont’s travels through the ruins of Old Valyria made a strong capstone to the episode and was by far its most visually distinctive part. I loved the direction and special effects here. It was one of the most distinctive fights the series has done since last year’s The Mountain and the Viper and I loved every second of it.
As well as adding some much-needed new imagery, the pair’s fight against the stone men helped break down the long sullen silences and occasional punches to the face that have limited their interactions thus far.
Kill the Boy was an episode that set the course for the coming confrontations in the north. The episode did a good job of handling big turning points for characters like Jon and Dany – even if things occasionally felt overshadowed by a sense of familiarity. Thrones is at its best when it shows audiences something they haven’t seen before and with only two seasons left, the showrunners need to stop holding back.