TV Recap: Game of Thrones, Season 5 Episode 10, “Mother’s Mercy”

The Overthinkers recap “Game of Thrones” Season 5 Episode 10, “Mother’s Mercy.”

Peter Fenzel, Ryan Sheely, Jordan Stokes, and Matthew Wrather recap Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 10, “Mother’s Mercy.”


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15 Comments on “TV Recap: Game of Thrones, Season 5 Episode 10, “Mother’s Mercy””

  1. Carpathian #

    I am always more excited to hear what you guys have to say about the show than what is usually on screen. You guys are great and thank you for what you do.


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      Thanks! The ultimate goal of critism should be heightened enjoyment :-)


  2. ScholarSarah #

    So, now that the season is over, I am left wondering, why did Sansa marry Ramsay? I can see a way to go from Marry Ramsay to Avenge Your Family, but not only did it not happen, there’s no indication that what happened was the result of a plan gone wrong, or really that there was ever a plan at all.

    When Littlefinger returned to King’s Landing to talk to Cersei, it seemed like he had a plan, but in no way did it seem like it depended on Sansa being married to Ramsay.

    Combining the fact that whatever Littlefinger and Sansa were plotting disappeared when they got to Winterfell with the facts that Stannis’s march fell apart so quickly after Ramsay’s raid, the battle was not shown, and the episode contains a scene of him killing those not yet dead after the battle is over, I start to wonder if he might not be something of a Creator’s Pet, (used not for his contributions to the story as much as the creator’s affection for the character). The scene of him isn’t even mentioned in some of the recaps I’ve read, and why would it be? It tells the audience nothing, (except, I guess, that he survived, but that’s hardly the most efficient way to say that).

    I also find it worth discussing that, in the end, Stannis was killed for killing Renly. I’m not sure why that is the crime for which he ends up dead, surviving the battle only to get executed. First, trying to leapfrog your older brother’s superior inheritance claim to the throne and starting your own insurrection is a respectable reason for assassination. Second, there is no Renly faction. All of his other supporters either go home or find quickly some other faction to support. Is it some sort of original sin thing, where he has to die for the first questionable choice we see him make?


    • Stokes OTI Staff #

      I think the important thing is that Stannis himself never really felt okay about killing Renly the way he did. So when Brienne tells Stannis that she’s going to kill him, he’s kind of like “… yeah, okay. Seems about right.” (Especially since she frames it not as a vengeance-killing, but as a legal execution.)


      • ScholarSarah #

        I am not sure with how okay Stannis was with anything he had to do, starting way back when he sided with Robert against King Aerys.

        It is really messed up that Brienne is making it a legal execution, because Renly just named himself king with no legal basis, and was set on her current quest by Jaime, “Uncle”/Father and Kingsguard to the king Renly was seeking to overthrow. In fact, given that her authority descends from Jaime whose authority descends from Tommen whom Stannis is in open rebellion against, legally, she should properly be killing Stannis for the same reason Stannis killed Renly.

        That Stannis is getting killed for an act he feels guilty about, in a world where karma really cannot be counted on, reminds me of a quote from Leverage, (where the protagonists are criminals targeting worse criminals for the benefit of innocent victims).

        Nate: “Guys, no. I committed a crime, I got caught, and now I am gonna serve my time.”
        Sophie: “Nate, what kind of world would it be if everybody that committed a silly little crime went to prison, huh? Complete madness.”

        1. That is the Westeros that Stannis would like to make.
        2. It would be complete madness.
        3. Stannis (ironically?) gets taken down for that first, (particularly when Ramsay is just across the way). Rhough it does parallel what happened to Cersei.


    • David #

      I totally completely agree, and was about to make almost the same post. Samsa’s story is the worst instance in a pattern of immersion-destroying stupidity of characters who are not stupid.I haven’t seen anything like this before season 5, and I’m not sure who deserves the blame, but it really bothers me as a viewer.

      Since you mentioned Sansa, I’ll add my own:

      2. Jaimie’s personal mission to Dorne, where the “plan” was apparently: We’ll get there and hope that they have zero security and … well, then we’ll figure it out as we go along.

      3. Denerys sees a convicted murderer – and a Lanister – who is running from the law, and when he tells her that he’d like input on the running of her kingdom, she says: “Sure, step aside, trusted advisors who have served me faithfully, this criminal dwarf who has never set foot on our continent is going to be setting the royal agenda now. He couldn’t possibly have any ulterior motives or lead us astray!”

      4. Cersi arms some fanatical cult and gives them carte blanche persecute as they see fit. Nevermind the likely blowback for her. I can see how she thought that Sparrow would return her favors, or at least not go after her. But she is the mother of the king, and to dilute royal authority so dramatically is actually a huge loss to her son and all the Lannisters. I know we’re told that Cersi is actually kind of dumb – we hear it from her own father – but she’s definitely been smart enough to always make sure that in every political endeavor, she places loyal allies on the inside so that she can reliably control any institution that can exercise power. Are we supposed to think that the Faith Militant deputizing was just Cersi being impulsive and forgetting every lesson about governance that she’s ever learned? Have all the characters completely lost their capacity for anything like strategy? It’s like a game of thrones, played by third graders.

      I’m not saying it’s been all bad, but these four implausibly dumb moves animated much of what has happened all season. And I just refuse to believe that these characters really would have acted like that, so my capacity to immerse myself in their story was really compromised.


      • fenzel OTI Staff #

        Jaime’s plot this season was just so terrible. The showrunners have no idea what to do with him.

        Consider, for example – that Jaime has had his hand cut off. He was once really influential and useful because he was a great duelist and warrior. He doesn’t have this ability anymore. He is now challenged to figure out a way to be relevant, useful or influential.

        In the books, he goes on a military diplomatic campaign in the Riverlands. He uses things he had developed over the years without really knowing or caring about them – his reputation as a famous warrior, his political authority as a Lannister and a member of the Kingsguard, his competence as a commander, his practice articulating credible threats – and he turns out to be very good at negotiating surrenders.

        Awesome. Jaime’s starting to figure out a new way to live, and it makes sense based on what he’s been through.

        In the show, the thing he is sent on, after he has been maimed and rendered useless in combat, the one thing he knew he was good at, is… a daylight amphibious commando raid? In the heart of enemy territory?

        He only has one hand. He can’t do this sort of thing anymore.

        It just says to me that the showrunners don’t even really care or haven’t even noticed what has actually happened to Jaime in the last two seasons, even on the most basic, superficial level (that his hand has been chopped off).

        It’s as if they had Daenerys riding down the road on a horse, and they put a big pile of hay in front of her, and she was like “Oh, well, can’t do anything about this pile of hay, better go around” – totally forgetting that she has dragons under her command.

        Or, more likely, having her order Grey Worm on a daring daylight commando raid while he was injured and in the hospital. And him just doing it, because who cares about continuity?

        Yeah, the Rock busted his cast off in Furious 7, because “Daddy’s gotta go to work” – but a lot went into earning that moment, both tonally in terms of audience expectaions. You can’t just do that in every story whenever you want and have it feel credible and serious.


  3. Crystal #

    I haven’t listened to this recap yet, but I wanted to thank all the overthinkers for these recaps. They’re the main reason why I stuck with the show this season as the plotting grew more illogical and the nihilism grew more intolerable (also more ladies got killed, raped, or tortured). I’m quitting GoT since I no longer get enough pleasure from the show to make up for how damn angry it makes me. I’ll miss the recaps a lot. But I won’t miss spending my mondays upset over a TV show.

    I do come on here a lot to make my points and take no prisoners, which may come across a little harsh. But I love the recaps and appreciate all the hard work you guys put into them.


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      We address your misgivings in the recap, because we share a lot of them.


  4. David #

    Best character in Season 5? Ramsay Bolton.

    Season five showed many chatacters making inexplicably stupid decisions – I’m talking about Sansa, Dyneris, Jaimie, Cersi, and maybe some others. We thought they made sense before, but found out this season that they’re actually just dummies.

    The Boltons in season five have the opposite trajectory. We initially thought they were lunatics, but now they finally make sense, and deserve our grudging respect, because there is a brutal rationality in the Bolton ways. So let’s start with their banner, the flayed man, which has presumably represented their family for generations. At first we wondered: How are they even in business, when they make such a show of their wickedness?

    The answer is that the North is not like us. It is a politically balkanized place where the many factions cannot agree to pull on the same rope. The best leader for the North was Eddard Stark, and his younger duplicate Rob, who were legitimate, impressive and broey enough to have a chance at building a coalition. But in doing so, the Starks had left themselves vulnerable, and the cost of broing together a Northern coalition is that you have to attend weddings, including red ones. Exploiting vulnerability to deliver carefully timed treachery is the Bolton trademark. They do it damn well. They don’t seek friends or admireres, and they don’t seek the sort of respect that Ned received. Ramsay inspires his own kind of awe and respect. He reminds you that you have precious things that you can’t guard 24/7, like your balls, your family, your food and horses, your mercenaries, and your skin.

    That is a manner of exercising power which really has legs in the North. And the Boltons are so into it that they locked it in as “their thing forever” by putting the flayed man on their family banner. Let’s check the score. We’ve seen the North host two seemingly invincible armies, Rob’s and Renley’s. Now they’re both toast. They fucked with the Boltons, and the Boltons wiped them out. It’s hard to not be impressed. Finally, the show gives us leaders who know what they’re doing, who use their limited resources to maximum effect. I’m not saying that it’s a strategy that would work outside of the North, but here’s the thing: Unlike Rob’s attempted “Nothern Union”, the Boltons don’t have any ambitions beyond consolidating power over the North. They’re not making a play for the throne in King’s Landing. They know their limits.

    At first, when Bruce told Ramsay that he liked the sadistic look in his baby eyes, I thought “geez, more gratuitous sadism!” But even this makes sense. The Boltons lose their family mojo if their enthusiasm for all the flaying and treachery regresses to the mean. We may not identify with Ramsay, but I do think that we should admit that he is quite a talent, and his dad is a good talent scout. Maybe he’s taking the whole flaying thing a bit farther than even Bruce is comfortable with, but that’s better than some bleeding-heart humanitarian. Such wuss of an heir would be the end of the Bolton family as such, and Bruce is right to guard against that possibility. He has every reason to be proud of Ramsay, in a way that Tywin Lannister could never be proud of his own children. So I think this insight into the logic of being a Bolton was the most positive instance of character development in a season with far too much character stupidifying.


  5. LHolcombe #

    I totally get all the misgivings that people have voiced here. But I’m going to keep watching. Maybe NCIS:LA is easier to watch and better plotted and reliably safe for shippers and fanboys. But it’s just another police procedural, and I’ve seen enough of those to last a lifetime. GoT is like a live-action game of Dungeons & Dragons, and I’m drawn to it for that alone. The lighting and the sets and the scenery and the costumes and the acting (even when the material is weak) are second to none. I was heartbroken when Jon Snow got shanked, but that’s not going to keep me from being super-excited to see more of the same next season. As long as it doesn’t get BattlestarGalactica bad, I’m here to stay.

    There’s dragons! And ice zombies! And a frankenstein! And now a second cavalry horde! I don’t see how anyone could claim that this isn’t the most exciting show on television.


  6. Stefano #

    A note on your podcast: violence against women is a perfectly acceptable reason not to watch GoT, but not one to criticize its writers.
    The show is set in a brutally violent, medieval-like context currently at war: historically being raped and killed is the more likely thing to happen to a woman in such circumstances. It’s just what happens when you have big, powerful, unsophisticated men with a sword in proximity to women, and no law in sight.
    If showing it too often on screen makes it tedious, not showing it would make the whole thing unrealistic.

    If anything, the show portrays more interesting, accomplished and diverse women than the context and culture would historically justify: we have two powerful queens (Cersei and Daenerys) living at the same time, while historically we’d be lucky to have one every 300 years; Arya and Brianna are kick-ass women who shape their own path; Sansa has her own development arc, although a bit puzzling at the end of this season. And there are more…

    It’d be interesting to overthink this: GoT is a show where people are regularly flayed, burned alive, tortured and decapitated, and newborn babies are left in the freezing cold to be turned into zombies, and this is considered perfectly acceptable. What’s so different about women being raped?


      • Stefano #

        I’m not going to comment on that article, as it lacks the basic understanding of the framework for suspension of disbelief in science fiction.

        I’ll just say that in the first episode of GoT, a couple of people get beheaded, a child is thrown off a tower and a woman is raped. And no one complained.

        Five seasons down the line, people keep being beheaded, children keep being killed including burned alive, and women keep being raped. People only complain about the latter. I think it’s worth wondering why.


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