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'Game of Thrones' scorecard: 'Mother's Mercy'

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The fifth season of HBO's hit show ended with the deaths of several key characters. Our scorecard goes deep inside all of the stabbings, hangings, poisonings, and fully nude walks of shame.


This "Game of Thrones" discussion is written by someone who has read George R.R. Martin's books, but will generally only discuss events that have happened on HBO's televised version -- not that it matters much now that the show is going its own way. Still, please respect these boundaries should you choose to participate in the comments section.

Episode 5.10, "Mother's Mercy"

FINAL SCORE: Violence 12, Sex 3

(Scoring is typically one point per dead body or nude body, though the reviewer reserves the right to add or subtract points to accurately reflect the episode's action.)


Totals: One chaste yet poisonous lesbian kiss; some dirty talk from our favorite Sand Snake; one bath with particularly rough exfoliation; one queen paraded around the city fully nude; one additional man and woman prominently flashing their privates at said queen.

Notes: I contemplated bonus points for the sheer length of time that Cersei was fully nude on-screen, but ultimately decided against it, as the scene used nudity for a main character's key plot point and not, you know, sexy sex-having. Still, for a character who's given birth to three kids, Cersei looks GREAT. Those royals, man. They can afford the best personal trainers. And body doubles. And CGI. And resurrected monster-knights.


Totals: One would-be queen hanged in a tree; two stabbing deaths at the hands of Stannis (including a knife in the neck); one man skewered by Ramsay; the remnants of an army annihilated (though mostly off-screen: zero points); one woman tossed off a rampart to her death; a whorehouse revenge murder that began with the victim's eyes stabbed out and ended with his throat cut; one (presumed) death by poison; some garden-variety face-bashing by club-wielding religious zealots; and a really, really, really, really, really sad mutinous assassination that was telegraphed the last several episodes but you didn't want to think it was possible because the showrunners couldn't POSSIBLY do that. Well, they did. They always do.

Notes: Violence notched a total of five bonus points: two for the wide-ranging death represented in the clash between the Bolton and Baratheon armies, and three more for Arya's graphic murder of Ser Meryn Trant. I'm not gonna sit through an hour of tragedy and despair without some violent revenge porn, and Trant's eyeless final minute gave me the fist-pumps I so desperately needed.

Who Wore It Best?

Blue-eyed blondes are chopping off their hair for a stunning summer look! We asked 100 people outside Lincoln Center: WHO WORE IT BEST?

Tough break, Cersei. More axle grease next time.

Who Got Stabbed Most?

The sound effects person responsible for the stabbing noise REALLY earned his paycheck this week.

NOTE: Trant's stab wound total -- once in each eye, six times in the chest, once in the side, once in the back -- does not include his throat getting cut. That was a slice, not a stab. I'm very specific about my knife wounds, people. I am a serious person with a meaningful job.

Stannis Baratheon and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Stannis Dies

It hasn't been a great couple of weeks. You couldn't convince Jon Snow to join the fight for Winterfell, heavy snows halted your march on the seat of the north, and a small raiding party burned matériel you couldn't afford to lose.

You have a destiny to fulfill, though! You sent away your most trusted adviser to spare him the sight of you burning your daughter -- your only child -- at the stake to change your fortunes, and lo! The snow has let up. The ice melts all around you, the flaming heart of the kingdom. Your sex-witch is once again eyeing you as the kind of man who could fill her womb with a kin-slaying shadow monster.

Buuuuuut... Half of your force has deserted you. And they took all of the horses. And your wife hanged herself. Even your trusty, busty sex-witch bolted as soon as she saw the writing on the wall -- or, more accurately, the writing on the Wall, as this message may as well be written in 600-foot letters.

No matter. You are Stannis Baratheon, one true heir to the throne. There is no retreat. You will begin your siege in the morning just as soon as -- ah shit.

Okay, your dismounted force was caught in the open, enveloped, and slaughtered wholesale by a numerically superior force of cavalry. You are wounded but still alive, and seem to have evaded any chance of a long and gruesome flaying at the hands of the sadistic Ramsay. You've got a fighting chance to survive this, as long as a tenacious honor-bound warrior looking to avenge the younger brother you killed isn't lurking nearby.


What the Shit, Daenerys?

High above a verdant plain, Daenerys pleads with Drogon to take her back to Meereen. "My people need me!" she says, with the conviction of a job applicant who's certain the interviewer won't fact-check her words.

Drogon, however, has flown a long way from Meereen with several spears lodged in his hide. He needs to lick his wounds and rest before he can think about a return trip. So Dany abandons the safety a pet dragon provides because she's hungry. "Doo dee doo, I'm just gonna leave this tactically secure vantage point that offers me sight lines for miles to teleport into the valley below without a plan to find food! No time to look for an army on horseback while I'm up on this butte! I gotta get away from safety because my tummy has the rumblies!"



Arya Blind

  • Ned: dead
  • Catelyn: dead
  • Robb: dead
  • Jon Snow: presumed dead
  • Sansa: jumped off a building
  • Arya: blind
  • Bran: still crippled, talking to trees
  • Rickon: MIA / annoying

Everyone Who Didn't Explicitly Die On-Screen Is Totally Fine, Okay?

In the most recent A Song of Ice and Fire books, George R.R. Martin developed a habit of appearing to kill a character at the end of a chapter, only to reveal the character's survival several chapters later. SUPER annoying. That man is not to be trusted.

As such, I will be spending the long Game of Thrones offseason as a survival truther, regardless of what the actors and producers say in interviews. Until I see heads mounted on pikes, I ain't buying it.

  • Sansa and Theon: Landed in snowbanks that were 20 feet deep. They'll soon be in the protective care of Brienne.
  • Stannis: Spared at the last second by Brienne, who was moved by his code of duty.
  • Myrcella: Given the antidote by Bronn, who acquired it after his run-in with the Sand Snakes' poison.
  • Arya: Only temporarily blinded. She just needs some sunlight! #AryaAintBlind
  • Jon: Resurrected from the dead by Melisandre... with sexy results.

Complete List of Things Not Bumming Me Out About this Episode

1. Varys and Tyrion reunited. I would watch a Westeros/Essos travel show that was nothing but these two exchanging dialogue while overlooking cities. This would KILL on the Travel Channel. ("So mainly you talk?" "And drink! I've survived so far.")

2. As I wrote last week, I won't begrudge anyone their disappointment with the Dorne story line, but I found it amusing enough as soon as I thought of it as a telenovela. And with the exception of Ellaria, no characters embraced the ridiculousness as well as Bronn and Tyene.

As Tyrion says shortly after this scene: "We always want the wrong woman," and Bronn's face here has the helpless, resigned arousal familiar to anyone bound to a specific kind of wrong woman. Remember that Tyene and Bronn met over deadly poison, and the relationship quickly moved on to a dual tease of her body and the antidote.

This won't go well for Bronn. Tyene will read his email, pick fights in public, lure him into complimenting other women by encouraging honesty, slash his tires, and generally execute a campaign of emotional terrorism.

But he won't leave. He needs the bad pussy.

3. While everyone in King's Landing is hurling invectives and sewage at Cersei, this guy's just here to celebrate Her Majesty's rack. I can't help but feel a kinship with him; he's basically my id whenever a celebrity gets hacked.


  • Chamber pots hurled at the Queen Mother: 1
  • Loogies hocked: 1
  • Presumed deaths made unclear due to annoying storytelling: 5
  • Awkward Dad of the Week:

DNP, Coach's Decision

Margaery, Tommen, Ser Pounce, Rhaegal and Viserion, Tormund Giantsbane, the White Walkers, Benjen Stark, Syrio Forel, Ghost. WTF, Ghost? Were you working the sexual assault prevention beat outside Melisandre's room? Jon coulda used you this week.


VIOLENCE 7 2 1 164
SEX 2 7 1 23


— Despite what looks like a poor showing from Sex, it's actually an improvement on last year's 1-8-1 season. Sex's coach will no doubt have to answer for the team's record in one-point episodes (0-2), as well as their four scoreless outings. Remember that the next time someone talks about the show's gratuitous nudity ("ACTUALLY, 40 percent of Season 5's episodes had no nudity at all.")

— Violence's total points for the season were bolstered by three episodes: 5.04, "Sons of the Harpy" (46 points), 5.08, "Hardhome" (38 points), and 5.09, "The Dance of Dragons" (49 points). Those three episodes account for 81% of Violence's total output; the other seven episodes averaged a meager score of 3-2 in Violence's favor.

— As much as "Sex versus Violence" is an artificial construct for me to write about Game of Thrones, it is a fair barometer for the show's action. The season closed with three gripping episodes, which were three of the season's four highest-scoring episodes at 34 points per episode. Conversely, the doldrums of episodes 5 through 7 tallied 10 points, total. I am a scientist. This is my application for FiveThirtyEight.

Thank you for your patronage of the Game of Thrones scorecard. Until next season, fair winds and following seas.