"Kill the Boy" is the fifth episode of the fifth season of Game of Thrones. It is the forty-fifth episode of the series overall. It premiered on May 10, 2015. It was written by Bryan Cogman and directed by Jeremy Podeswa.
In MeereenMissandei watches over the wounded Grey Worm, who is still unconscious from his wounds sustained fighting the Sons of the Harpy. Daenerys and Daario Naharis watch over the deceased Ser Barristan Selmy. Hizdahr zo Loraq enters to extend his condolences. Daario suggests pulling back around the pyramid to use it as a base from which to eradicate the Sons of the Harpy. Daenerys instead opts for rounding up the leaders of each great family in Meereen, including Hizdahr. The leaders are brought to the catacombs where Rhaegal and Viserion are chained up. Daenerys's Unsullied push the leaders slowly towards the two dragons, who can be heard growling from the darkness. Daenerys states that good mothers do not give up on their children, they discipline them if needed, but never give up on them. She nods to Daario to push one of the leaders further forward. A stream of fire coming from Rhaegal sets the man aflame before he is torn apart and eaten by both dragons. Daenerys suggests that the dragons may determine the innocence of the captives and touches Hizdahr's back as if she wanted to push him but then she pretends she wants not to overfeed the dragons and lets the rest of the men be led away.
Grey Worm wakes up later with Missandei sitting beside him. He asks if Barristan Selmy survived the attack by the Sons of the Harpy but Missandei shakes her head. Grey Worm thinks he has failed Ser Barristan, his men and Daenerys -- a claim Missandei denies. Missandei tells him he shouldn't be ashamed for being wounded given that he was ambushed and outnumbered, but Grey Worm says he is ashamed that he was afraid when he was stabbed. Missandei says that everyone fears death. However, Grey Worm says it isn't death he fears, it is the thought of never getting to see Missandei again that terrified him. Missandei is noticeably touched and kisses Grey Worm.
Daenerys asks Missandei whether she should reopen the fighting pits. Missandei only says that she has seen Daenerys listening to her counselors when her own experience was lacking and ignoring them when she thought they were wrong. Daenerys visits the imprisoned Hizdahr, who begs for his life. Daenerys tells him she has decided to reopen the fighting pits, but only for free men. She also says that she will marry the head of an ancient family of Meereen to forge a bond with the people of the city, and that she luckily has one of them on his knees already. She leaves a very confused Hizdahr to ponder that he will live, and that he will soon be Meereen's prince consort.
At the WallSam reads a note from Slaver's Bay to Maester Aemon updating him on Daenerys's situation. Sam praises Daenerys's courage but Maester Aemon worries about his great-niece's safety because she is all alone, under siege, and with hardly anyone to guide her, while her "last relation" is useless and dying thousands of miles away. Jon Snow enters to speak with Aemon in private. He needs the maester's advice on a controversial order that half of the Night's Watch will hate him for. Aemon tells Jon that half the men at Castle Black already hate him, but that he should trust in his command. He says that Jon will not enjoy being Lord Commander, but with luck, he may find the strength to do what needs to be done. Jon is told to "kill the boy, and let the man be born."
Jon then meets with Tormund Giantsbane and offers to forge an alliance with the wildlings, bidding Tormund to go north of the wall and rally them all. He will open the gates for them and give them land south of the wall in which to settle. In return, the wildlings will fight alongside the Night’s Watch when White Walkers arrive. Tormund is initially reluctant and to convince him, Jon unlocks his chains, freeing him. Tormund relents, and reveals that most of the wildlings are up at Hardhome. Jon offers him horses and men to bring the wildlings back. Tormund tells him that they’ll need ships to bring his people back, which Jon says he’ll borrow from Stannis. Tormund's final condition is that Jon accompany him as a guarantee that the wildlings will not fall prey to any traps set by the Night's Watch.
The men of the Night’s Watch do not take news of the alliance well, citing the countless innocent lives lost due to the wildlings. Even Jon’s friend Edd rejects this decision, stating that the wildlings killed their friends Grenn and Pyp. Nevertheless, Jon decides to go ahead with his plan. In the library, Sam tells Gilly about his wish to go to Citadel and become a maester before he was sent to the Night’s Watch, when Stannis Baratheon walks in. Stannis reminisces about how Sam’s father, Randyll Tarly, defeated Robert Baratheon in the Battle of Ashford. Stannis wants to know how Sam killed the White Walker and Sam tells him how he did it with a dagger made of dragonglass. Stannis muses that it is abundantly available in Dragonstone. Sam has been researching dragonglass and how it can kill White Walkers, but has yet to come up with anything. Stannis tells him to continue his research and leaves.
Later, Stannis tells Ser Davos that they will march toward Winterfell the next morning. Davos suggests waiting until Jon returns with the wildlings, but Stannis decides against it, as any delay improves the Boltons' chances. He also wants to take Selyse and Shireen with them, as he does not think they will be safe at the Wall, surrounded by criminals. The next morning, Stannis’s army, with Stannis and Melisandre at its head, starts its journey to Winterfell.
In the North
Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne, still pursuing Sansa Stark, arrive at an inn near Winterfell. Podrick suggests that Sansa may be better off at Winterfell now that she is far away from the Lannisters, but Brienne believes that Sansa will not be safe around the people who murdered her mother and brother - the Boltons. Their conversation is interrupted by a servant. Correctly suspecting that he is still loyal to the Starks, Brienne tells of her allegiance to Catelyn Stark and convinces the servant to get a message through to Sansa – her presence still being something of a secret, the old servant seems to gain strength from the idea of a surviving Stark.
In Winterfell, Ramsay Bolton and his bedwarmer Myranda discuss Ramsay’s upcoming marriage to Sansa. Myranda admits her jealousy of Sansa, especially since he had promised to marry Myranda back when he was a bastard. Ramsay disregards Myranda’s insecurities, causing Myranda to proclaim that perhaps she will marry too. Ramsay is angered and violently tells her that she is his and she is not going anywhere. Further, she is starting to bore him with her jealously, and she knows what he does to people who bore him. Hearing this Myranda swears never to bore him again.
Meanwhile, Sansa’s maid carries the message from Brienne to her. Consoling Sansa that she still has allies in the North, she tells Sansa to light a candle in the highest window of the Broken Tower if she ever needs help. As Sansa wanders around the castle, coming to the tower where Jaime Lannister pushed her brother Brandon out of the window, she runs into Myranda. Myranda puts on a friendly façade, talking to Sansa about her mother’s demise. To help Sansa “remember” how things used to be, Myranda leads Sansa down to the kennels, where she finds Reek, formerly Theon Greyjoy, asleep in one of the cages. Awoken by Sansa’s arrival, he just shakes his head, when Sansa calls him "Theon." He warns her that she shouldn't be down there. Seeing Reek in such a pitiful condition, Sansa angrily storms away.As Reek helps Ramsay get ready for dinner, he confesses to Ramsay that earlier that day, Sansa saw him in his cage. Ramsay, for his own amusement, makes it seem as though he’s going to punish Reek severely, before simply forgiving him. At dinner, Ramsay is initially well-behaved, toasting his wedding to Sansa, but is soon back to his old ways as he forces Reek to apologize to Sansa for murdering Bran and Rickon. With much difficulty, Reek finally mutters an apology. Ramsay then suggests that Reek be the one to give Sansa away at the wedding, since he is the closest thing Sansa has to kin and Roose Bolton distractedly accepts the suggestion. Seeing that Ramsay is getting complacent, however, Roose has Walda announce that she is pregnant with a boy. Ramsay is clearly distressed by the news, which in turn delights Sansa.
After dinner, Ramsay expresses his distress at the possibility of the unborn child jeopardizing his claim on the North. Roose reprimands his son for disgracing himself at dinner but seemingly dismisses his concern. He then shares the story of Ramsay’s birth; Roose raped a miller’s wife, who had married without his consent, after hanging her husband. A year later, she showed up with Ramsay, claiming that the baby was his. Roose nearly had her whipped and the baby drowned, but when Roose laid eyes upon Ramsay, he was convinced that he was his son and decided to keep him. He then reveals to Ramsay that Stannis has an army at Castle Black. Stannis plans to take the Iron Throne and the road to King’s Landing passes through Winterfell, which means that Stannis also intends to take the North. He wants Ramsay’s help in defeating Stannis, and Ramsay agrees.
As Jorah and Tyrion continue their journey to Meereen, and following Jorah's violent reaction to a previous conversation, Tyrion tries to civilize their relationship and asks where they are. As Jorah stands up to look at the foggy ruins on the horizon, Tyrion deduces that they are going to pass through the remains of Old Valyria, a shorter route to Meereen and one which pirates will avoid because of Valyria's reputation. Tyrion is apprehensive, but still excited to see the ruins of what was once the greatest civilization in the world.
As they catch glimpses of domes, towers and aqueducts, Tyrion recites a poem about the Doom of Valyria, with Jorah joining in at the end. Suddenly, through the fog, they see Drogon fly into view. Although he had been hearing about the dragons for some time, Tyrion is still utterly gobsmacked to see one in person. Jorah is struck silent too, as Drogon is even bigger and more majestic than when he left. So distracted are they that they don't notice when the statues on a nearby aqueduct stand up and leap at the boat: they are Stone Men - victims of greyscale so far gone that they have been sent to live out the rest of their lives in quarantine in the ruins. Jorah tells Tyrion not to let them touch him and fights them off. However, as Tyrion is tied up, he is cornered at one end of the boat with a stone man advancing on him while Jorah battles more at the other end. Just before the stone man is able to grab him, Tyrion rolls off of the boat and into the water to escape, where he is then pulled down by more stone men under the water.
An undetermined amount of time later, Tyrion wakes up and finds himself on a shore, dragged out of the water by Jorah. After confirming to each other that they had not been touched by the stone men, Jorah tells Tyrion that he hopes to find a fishing village and get a boat soon, otherwise they'll have to walk all the way around Slaver's Bay to eventually reach Meereen. Tyrion seems up for it and Jorah goes to look for firewood so they can make camp. However, once out of Tyrion's view, he pulls back his sleeve to inspect the cracked skin on his wrist, confirming that he had been infected with greyscale during the fight with the stone men. He looks at Tyrion and then glances in the direction of Meereen, knowing that even if he dies, he needs to get Tyrion to Daenerys.
- Main: Kill the Boy/Appearances
- Master Eaton
- Several Stone men
- Rickard Stark
- Eddard Stark
- Catelyn Stark
- Robb Stark
- Bran Stark
- Rickon Stark
- Randyll Tarly
- Maester Wolkan
- Robert Baratheon
- Mance Rayder
- 17 of 27 cast members for the fifth season appear in this episode.
- Starring cast members Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), Aidan Gillen (Petyr Baelish), Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell), Indira Varma (Ellaria Sand), Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), Conleth Hill (Varys), Jerome Flynn (Bronn), Dean-Charles Chapman (Tommen Baratheon) and Tom Wlaschiha (Jaqen H'ghar) are not credited and do not appear.
- Her absence in this episode marks the first ever time that Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) has not appeared for two consecutive episodes.
- The title of this episode is a reference to a prominent quote in the episode: Maester Aemon advises Jon Snow about growing into a man of the Night's Watch, how he must mature into it and make selfless decisions: "Kill the boy, and let the man be born." In the books, he specifies that this is the same advice he gave his own brother Aegon when he was crowned king.
- This episode focuses extensively on plotlines at The Wall and in The North, which are becoming intertwined as Stannis Baratheon rides south to lead a new offensive against House Bolton, who at the same time are in Winterfell bracing for his arrival. Daenerys Targaryen's storyline in Meereen also appears, as does Tyrion Lannister en route to Meereen. Brienne of Tarth briefly appears because she has arrived in the winter town on the outskirts of Winterfell (a departure from the novels).
- Correspondingly, House Lannister does not appear in this episode (as a political faction, led by Cersei, not including Tyrion anymore), nor does House Tyrell. House Martell and Dorne do not appear in this episode - nor do Jaime Lannister and Bronn, currently in Dorne. Arya Stark in Braavos does not appear. House Greyjoy has also not appeared so far this season.
- This is only the fourth episode in the entire TV series in which King's Landing does not appear at all. The previous three were Season 1's "The Kingsroad" (because King Robert and Cersei were with the Starks on the road and had not yet reached the city), Season 3's "The Rains of Castamere" (which focused mostly on the Red Wedding), and Season 4's "The Watchers on the Wall" (which focused entirely on the Battle of Castle Black).
- According to the Blu-ray commentary, the main table in Winterfell's great hall was spun around into the opposite position from where it was last scene, to signify the change in ownership from the Starks to the Boltons - also helping to make the old and familiar set look slightly unfamiliar and unsettling, given that the Boltons live there now. The Boltons also couldn't physically remove every Stark direwolf statue from the castle (some of them are load-bearing, others would have taken a lot of work to remove, etc.) but if you look closely, the Boltons did at least smash the faces of every direwolf statue or edifice.
- Also explained in the Blu-ray commentary, the main Winterfell set (filmed in Banbridge, Northern Ireland) was greatly expanded in Season 5. The original sets from Seasons 1 and 2 primarily consisted of the outer courtyard, the feast hall, and one interior bedroom which could be redressed (for Eddard and Catelyn's room, Bran's room, etc.), but otherwise there wasn't an extensive interconnected interior set. For Season 5, the production team constructed a complex of staircases, corridors and bedrooms, all added on top of the existing courtyard and feast hall.
- The manuscript that George R.R. Martin originally wrote for the fourth novel grew so long that he had to split it into two novels - but whose events occur simultaneously. The fourth novel, A Feast for Crows, focuses on events within the Seven Kingdoms themselves (particularly on Cersei, Margaery, and the political situation in King's Landing). The fifth novel, A Dance with Dragons, then backs up and covers all of the events set in the same time period, but occurring outside of the "Seven Kingdoms" proper: Jon Snow and Stannis Baratheon at the Wall (and the Boltons in the North), Daenerys in Meereen, and also Arya and Tyrion in the Free Cities. Martin pointed out that there are a few narrative parallels between events in different regions that are not immediately obvious as a result, i.e., he meant to intercut Cersei chapters in King's Landing with Daenerys chapters in Meereen, contrasting how each queen is challenged to hold their rule together. The TV series intercut this material, however, as it was originally conceived. Therefore, in the preceding episode, the rise of radical movements in both regions are presented in parallel - the Faith Militant in King's Landing and the Sons of the Harpy in Meereen. Conversely, this episode basically recreated the effect that the print version of A Dance with Dragons had: focusing on the Wall, Winterfell, Daenerys in Meereen, and Tyrion in Essos on his way to Meereen, while containing no material at all from the "core" territories of the narrative such as King's Landing and the rest of southern Westeros.
- Jon Snow mentions prominently in his dialogue with Tormund that (according to legend, at least) The Wall was built 8,000 years ago. This had only previously been explained in the animated "Histories & Lore" featurettes included in the Blu-ray releases, and characters have just loosely said that the Wall is "thousands" of years old. The creation of the Wall is what led to the divide between the Seven Kingdoms to the south and the "wildlings" - who are basically just anyone unlucky to be born north of the Wall. Thus the Night's Watch and the wildlings believe they have been enemies for the past 8,000 years or so.
- Samwell Tarly argues that there is plenty of land that the wildlings can settle on in The Gift, the territory immediately south of the Wall ruled by the Night's Watch. Now that Jon Snow has been elected Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, he is technically the ruler of both the Wall and the Gift.
- As Bowen Marsh points out, most of the villages in the Gift were deserted over the generations because wildling attacks killed or drove off the inhabitants. Bran Stark and his companions previously passed north through the Gift in Season 3's "The Rains of Castamere" - when Jon also happened to be traveling through the Gift, after passing back south over the Wall and then heading east back to Castle Black. Meera Reed pointed out in that episode that the Gift had a lot of good farmland but no one was living there, and Bran similarly explained that the region had become depopulated over the centuries due to wildling attacks.
- The Gift appeared again in Season 4 when Samwell and Gilly went to Mole's Town, a small village south of Castle Black on the Kingsroad, but apparently the largest settlement of any size in the Gift. As recalled in this episode, Olly lived in a village in the Gift, but in Season 4's "Breaker of Chains" the wildling raiding band led by Tormund, Ygritte, and Styr attacked, killed his parents and everyone he knew, and only left him alive to warn the Watch to try to draw them away from Castle Black.
- Ramsay mentions the upcoming wedding being praised "from Moat Cailin to Last Hearth." As seen last episode, Moat Cailin is the southernmost point in "the North," serving as the only gateway through the otherwise impassable swamps of the Neck (ruled by House Reed of Greywater Watch). Last Hearth, meanwhile, is the northernmost castle-seat in "the North," and therefore, in all of the Seven Kingdoms. Last Hearth is the seat of House Umber, staunch allies of the Starks. The lands of the Gift, which belong to the Night's Watch, are on the immediate northern border of House Umber's lands centered around Last Hearth (see map at right).
- This episode marks the first prominent appearance of Bowen Marsh, with speaking lines (he appeared in the background in the Season 5 premiere but did not speak). He is the First Steward of the Night's Watch, while Othell Yarwyck is the First Builder, and Ser Alliser Thorne is the new First Ranger - all three are present at the meeting scene in this episode. Together they make up the command officers of the order and the Lord Commander's advisors. The appearances of Marsh and Yarwyck have a curious history in the TV series: actor Brian Fortune appeared prominently in Season 1 with speaking lines, as the Night's Watch officer who leads Jon and Samwell to take their vows before a weirwood tree. He was never identified by name, though Fortune said he was told that his character was Bowen Marsh. This was later switched around however: Fortune did not return in Seasons 2 and 3, and when he did reappear in Season 4, the scene he was in made it a point to prominently have Thorne address him as "First Builder Othell Yarwyck" - clearly establishing the minor retcon that Fortune's character was actually Yarwyck in Season 1. New actor Michael Condron was then introduced starting in Season 5 as officially playing Bowen Marsh.
- In the novel, Reek notices that Walda Bolton is pregnant, though no one announces it. It is unknown how Ramsay feels about his stepmother's pregnancy, but it can be assumed he is not too happy at the thought that his status as Roose's heir is no longer secured. Earlier in the novel, Roose does remark to Reek that he is concerned that if and when Walda does start bearing Roose children in the near future, it will cause strife as Ramsay will see them as a threat to his position as Roose's heir. Roose tells Reek about Domeric's death, heavily implying he was murdered by Ramsay. Roose claims that "Ramsay will kill them all, of course. That’s for the best. I will not live long enough to see new sons to manhood, and boy lords are the bane of any House. Walda will grieve to see them die, though".
- Legitimization of bastard children is granted rarely enough that there are simply no formal legal rules for how it impacts the line of succession - it is up to the discretion of the lord, and civil wars often result from such disputes. If a lord has a bastard son, and later has a lawful son by his married wife, the younger but lawful son is his legal heir. If that elder bastard son is later legitimized, however, his own supporters would say that he is now the heir because he is eldest, while others would argue that even a legitimized bastard ranks behind a younger but lawful son. Both Roose and Ramsay are aware of this, and as the writers explain in the Inside the Episode featurette, Roose is using Walda's pregnancy as an implied threat that Ramsay had better start behaving, otherwise Roose can simply name Walda's child as his legal heir at his own discretion.
- Ramsay Bolton's mother is actually still alive in the novels, though she has not directly appeared. Ramsay lived with her for most of his life as a simple peasant, though eventually she urged him to go to the Dreadfort to seek out his birthright as Roose's son. In this episode Ramsay says that she simply died when he was an infant (some time after she brought him to Roose), so apparently the TV continuity simplified it so that Ramsay has been living at the Dreadfort for many years.
- Oddly, Ramsay actually seems to care about his mother. This even extended to the point that he developed a warped fantasy interpretation of his own origins, that Roose genuinely fell in love with his peasant mother like something out of a fairy tale. In the novels Roose did not recall the story about how he raped the miller's wife to Ramsay himself, but mused about it aloud to Reek. He also callously observed to Reek that the miller's wife ultimately didn't turn out to be nearly as good of a lay as he had thought she'd be, she was hardly worth the rope he used to hang the miller, "so all in all it was a dismal day." The TV version moved the dialogue around somewhat: in the novels, when Roose is upset with Ramsay's growing cockiness and lack of restraint (publicly flaying alive lords who displease him), he bluntly says "All you have I gave you. You would do well to remember that, bastard" and that he had better shape up "before you make me rue the day I raped your mother." Then Roose departs with Reek, and explains to him the story of the miller's wife.
- The TV series doesn't mention a detail from the novels: the Boltons often practice the banned practice of "First Night, in which a lord has the right to have sex with a commoner's wife on their wedding night. The miller and his wife therefore married in secret without Roose's knowledge to avoid him exercising this "right," though he stumbled upon them during a fox hunt anyway. First Night was banned in Westeros over two hundred years ago by King Jaehaerys I Targaryen, though a few unscrupulous lords such as the Boltons still try to exact it from their commoners if they think they can get away with it (Roose scoffs that he thinks some of the Umbers still do it in secret, as well as the poor mountain clans northwest of Winterfell, and on the isle of Skagos to the east, but this is unconfirmed).
- Perhaps it is better that the TV series did not mention this: "First Night" never actually existed in the real-life Middle Ages, nor was it ever even alleged to exist at the time. It is merely a myth about the Middle Ages that was invented in modern times. "First Night" became particularly in vogue during the 1990s, when George R.R. Martin was writing much of the first novels and developing the Boltons, due in no small part to the prominence it had in the 1995 film Braveheart. Even when the film was released, medieval historians vocally complained that this was an utterly inaccurate portrayal of medieval society, and no such right ever existed, nonetheless it became ingrained in pop culture perceptions of the period. That being said, Westeros is in a fictional world removed from real life and thus not beholden to real-life history, but it does reinforce certain stereotypes in a narrative otherwise striving for realism. Coincidentally, Rupert Vansittart - the actor who plays Lord Yohn Royce in Seasons 4 and 5 of Game of Thrones - himself appeared in the film Braveheart, specifically as the English lord who enforced the right of First Night on a Scottish peasant bride.
- Roose says that when Ramsay was first presented to him as a baby he at first wanted to throw his infant bastard into a river, but then he looked at him and saw that he was his son. The novels specify the detail that when Roose looked at the baby Ramsay he saw that he had inherited his own distinctive Bolton eye color: very creepy pale "ghost grey" eyes, so pale that they are nearly white, like the pupils are specs of dirt in ice (in the TV series, both Roose and Ramsay do have very pale blue-grey eyes). Seeing that the babe had his eyes and was clearly his son, the taboo against Kinslaying stayed his hand.
- This echoes how in Season 3, Tywin Lannister said that after Tyrion's mother died in childbirth, and on top of that the humiliation that he was born a stunted dwarf, he considered throwing the infant Tyrion into the ocean - but he couldn't, because Tyrion was a Lannister; the stigma against kinslaying also gave him pause. However, while Roose's comment about Ramsay is in the books, Tywin's line that he initially wanted to kill Tyrion in his grief was actually invented for the TV show - so if anything, in reverse order, the TV writers were probably inspired by Roose's later line to Ramsay when they gave similar dialogue to Tywin back in Season 3.
- Ramsay's bedwarmer Myranda doesn't exist in the novels - though she is somewhat like a genderswapped version of "the Bastard's Boys," a group of young men from the Dreadfort who are Ramsay's lackeys. Ramsay doesn't really care about any of them, and has no qualms about killing them (however, if someone else kills them, he becomes extremely enraged). Myranda is said to be the kennelmaster's daughter in this episode; this may be a slight nod to how in the novels, the eldest of the Bastard's Boys is Ben Bones, the kennelmaster of the Dreadfort. Myranda says that Ramsay promised to marry her - while confusing at first, on closer analysis this was apparently just something Ramsay said as pillow-talk and didn't mean seriously. Even in the episode he waves it off as if it was nothing when she brings it up. Ramsay doesn't really care about anyone, except his need for Roose's approval.
- Actor Iwan Rheon confirmed in an interview with Details.com that Myranda is just a disposable underling/sex object to Ramsay: "If she bores him, he'll kill her. It's not like he's madly in love with her or anything. It's just sex. She's nuts and she's fun and she's another pair of eyes in the castle. I don't think he's capable of loving or whatever, but he kind of likes her. He'd get rid of her if she was annoying him."
- In the next episode, Myranda explains that Violet, her companion when she helped Ramsay torture Theon, was later killed by Ramsay when she got pregnant, causing him to grow "bored" with her. At the beginning of Season 4, Ramsay and Myranda hunted and killed the girl Tansy in the woods around the Dreadfort for petty amusement - but Violet was never seen again. Apparently the actress who played Violet got pregnant and could not return to the show, but the original intention was to have Ramsay kill Violet with his hunting dogs - showing that, as with his own Master Torturer whom he killed in Season 3, he really doesn't care about any of his underlings and will randomly kill them for flippant reasons. Because the actress could not reappear they had to use a new girl "Tansy" in the scene instead, lessening the point compared to killing Myranda's accomplice Violet.
- Stannis mutters under his breath "fewer" to correct the complaint that if the wildlings die there will be "less" of them to fight. This is a callback to how Stannis corrected Davos previously in "Garden of Bones": Davos said that without the fingertips on his off-hand he at least had four less fingernails to clean, and Stannis insisted "fewer." Stannis is a stickler for the rules in all things, including proper grammar.
- The exchange when Davos Seaworth presumes that Stannis's wife and daughter will stay at the Wall, but Stannis instead says he doesn't want to leave them there with so many former thieves and rapers, is apparently a nod to how this is a change from the books - in the novels, Selyse, Shireen, and even Melisandre in fact stay at Castle Black with a small contingent of Stannis's men, as Davos suggests here in the TV episode.
- Word has reached even the Wall about Daenerys Targaryen, her three live dragons, and her conquests in Slaver's Bay. Maester Aemon is also shown for the first time hearing the news about her: as Aemon says, he is Daenerys's only living relative - her father's uncle.
- It takes many months for news to pass from Slaver's Bay to King's Landing or the Wall, given that the messenger-raven network doesn't spread beyond Westeros to the lands across the Narrow Sea, so messages have to wait on ships traveling by sea. Aemon and Samwell can't be reacting to recent news about Daenerys (though the episode intercutting between the two storylines might give this false impression). Of course, the message Samwell reads mentions nothing specific from this season, only that Daenerys conquered Meereen and chose to stay there to protect the former slaves - which happened in the middle of last season. Time moves more slowly in the TV continuity than in the novels, at the rate of about one year per TV season. Therefore, as presented, it is entirely plausible that the news about Daenerys that Samwell reads is actually reporting on Daenerys's activities several months ago.
- As Aemon explained to Jon back in Season 1's "Baelor," and again in Season 4's "The Watchers on the Wall" to Samwell, he was actually born "Prince Aemon Targaryen" but gave up his family name when he became a maester, and he later joined the Night's Watch. Aemon explained to Jon that he is a long-forgotten uncle of the Mad King Aerys II Targaryen. He became a maester because he wasn't the eldest son and heir, but after his older brothers died, there were some who offered the crown to him - he refused, citing his vows as a maester, and then joined the Night's Watch to avoid the political intrigues of the capital entirely. His younger brother Aegon V Targaryen then became king.
- In the novels, Aegon V was actually Aerys II's grandfather, not his father. The Mad King was the son of Aegon V's son Jaehaerys II - making Aemon Daenerys's great-great uncle. This is officially different in the TV version, however: Aemon stated back in Season 1 that Aerys II was Aegon V's son, not his grandson, and the TV writers independently confirmed that Jaehaerys II has officially been omitted from the TV continuity. Why this change was made is unclear, though apparently it was to simplify the relationship between Daenerys and Aemon.
- Aemon laments that it is terrible for a Targaryen to be alone in the world: for years, he was alone at the Wall and thought the rest of his family had been completely destroyed - so he has an idea of how Daenerys must feel, because she thinks she's the only Targaryen left (as she doesn't know of Aemon).
- Aemon mentions that he is "a hundred" years old. While other TV materials describe him as over 100 years old, his exact age in the TV continuity is not confirmed: in the novels he is 102 years old at this point, but time moves more slowly in the TV series and character ages sometimes get shifted around.
- Following its first mention last episode, Oldtown (the second largest city in Westeros and nearly the same size as King's Landing) is mentioned again, this time by Samwell Tarly, who specifically explains that The Citadel is located there, the university-like institution which is the headquarters and training facility of the Order of Maesters. It probably has one of the largest, if not the largest, libraries in the known world.
- Samwell mentions that he always wanted to be a maester. His father Randyll Tarly wanted to disown him by forcing him to join the Night's Watch on threat of death - even though the maesters also foreswear all inheritance, their headquarters is located not far from House Tarly's seat (in the east of the Reach), and Samwell was obviously much better suited to intellectual pursuits - raising the question of why Randyll didn't just make him join the maesters instead of essentially exiling him to a frozen penal colony at the Wall where he would probably soon be killed fighting wildlings. The novels do seem to give an explanation, however: once Samwell actually did express interest in joining the maesters to his father - who responded by chaining Sam by his neck to the wall in a prison cell, and then leaving him there for three days. Apparently, due to the strong martial traditions of House Tarly, Randyll thought it would be humiliating for any Tarly to give in to such bookish matters - and in contrast he thought it was less embarrassing if Sam at least joined the Night's Watch, which is a sworn military order.
- Samwell says that Castle Black's library is relatively small. In the novels, it is actually very well stocked - because the Night's Watch is many centuries old, it is a repository for all sorts of rare manuscripts that they collected over the centuries - such as the rare manuscripts Samwell is reading in this episode. Then again, they are interesting to Samwell because they are rare scouting reports about wildling clans and locally written books - the Night's Watch isn't exactly considered a bastion for higher learning.
- Stannis observes that Samwell is the son of Randyll Tarly, who defeated Robert at the Battle of Ashford in Robert's Rebellion - the only battle Robert ever lost. The battle has been previously mentioned in the animated "Histories & Lore" featurettes but not in the main TV series.
- Samwell explains to Stannis that he killed a White Walker with a Dragonglass dagger, and Stannis says he knows what it is because they have it back on Dragonstone island. Also in the "Dragonstone (Histories & Lore)" video, Stannis laments that Dragonstone's only abundant resource is in fact dragonglass (obsidian) - because it is a volcanic island. Also in Season 4, Stannis admitted to Tycho Nestoris that Dragonstone does not produce significant enough crops or livestock to sustain a large army. In the Histories & Lore video, Stannis complains that while Dragonstone has a lot of dragonglass, it is apparently useless, given that it is too sharp to be used in construction but too brittle to be used in swords. So, in effect, Stannis just withdrew from the biggest stockpile of known anti-White Walker weapons when he came to the Wall.
- Barristan Selmy has died, although he has not died as of the most recently published novel. His wounds last episode were not necessarily fatal, and some characters in the novels have faked their deaths at certain points, but actor Ian McElhinney has publicly stated that his character is dead.
- McElhinney explained in an interview with Huffington Post that he began to suspect that his character was being killed off when his filming schedule was shorter than usual. He read all of the novels as research for the role, and Barristan actually becomes a Point of View narrator in the fifth novel and would therefore have quite a lot of material - which made him more suspicious. He asked Benioff and Weiss and they confirmed that his character was being killed off. McElhinney was deeply confused and instead of simply accepting it, tried to argue against them that the story they were adapting would be much better suited if they didn't remove Barristan's substantial material. Apparently, from other interviews, Benioff and Weiss wanted to make room for Tyrion to meet Daenerys by the end of Season 5, and be her new anchor to current political events in Westeros: Barristan filled the exact same role from Season 3 onwards, and without him Daenerys would need to turn to Tyrion as a new advisor.
- The Grey Worm/Missandei romance subplot continues from last season: it has no counterpart in the novels, because Missandei is only ten years old in the books, but like many other younger characters she was aged-up for the TV series.
- Book-Missandei is preternaturally intelligent, however, and becomes a keen advisor to Daenerys - to the point that in the novels, Daenerys does in fact let Missandei formally sit as an advisor on her ruling council, much as she asks for her advice in this TV episode. Missandei's reluctance to counsel Dany is somewhat odd even in the context of the series, however: Kraznys mo Nakloz allowed Missandei to offer her own opinions and insights into Daenerys's actions and statements during their interaction, and Daenerys certainly hasn't given any indication that she expects Missandei to keep quiet.
- Daenerys has had one of her enemies among the old slave-masters burned to death and fed to her dragons. As Emilia Clarke points out in the episode's behind-the-scenes featurettes, this has shadows of how her own father the Mad King burned his enemies alive. Barristan even directly explained this to Daenerys three episodes ago - though on the other hand, she only burned one as an example to the rest, and then turned around to reopen the fighting pits to try to bring peace to the city, instead of executing all of the slave-masters as Daario suggested.
- Old Valyria is seen for the first time, after being mentioned in passing as the ancestral home of House Targaryen many times. The Smoking Sea that they pass through in this episode was formed when the former Valyrian Peninsula was shattered into a chain of large islands by the Doom of Valyria, a massive explosion of the chain of volcanoes known as the Fourteen Fires. In the novels, its appearance is more sinister, with an ominous red glow being projected into the skies above Old Valyria (whether from a still-active volcanoes or some other source, none can say), and waters that are near the boiling point and give off poisonous fumes. The ruins are feared to be haunted by demons and monsters, but few who have ventured into the ruins seeking lost treasures have ever returned - as Jorah says, even pirates are afraid to go there. In the book version, Jorah did not even dare attempt to sail through the Smoking Sea and Valyria was not seen up close: instead he and Tyrion passed by ship around the Valyrian Peninsula, the long way, and Tyrion sees the ominous red glow of Valyria on the horizon.
- Of course, it's possible that the ruins Jorah and Tyrion sail through aren't "Old Valyria" itself, but part of the outskirts of the massive city. "Old Valyria" itself is centered in the middle of an island formed when the Doom shattered the Valyrian Peninsula, not near the new coastline. In contrast, looking at a map, if Jorah was making the shortest route to Slaver's Bay by cutting across the northern parts of the Smoking Sea, he'd sail past the ruins of the satellite Valyrian cities Oros and Tyria. That being said, the southern part of the Valyrian Peninsula around "Valyria" itself was the heartland of an empire which lasted for over 5,000 years, and it became densely filled with their massive construction projects - i.e., the "urban sprawl" of the "greater Valyria metropolitan area" covered most of the southern peninsula. The entire sub-region was often simply referred to as "Valyria," as if it was one big city. In short, Jorah and Tyrion might just be going through one of the outlying regions of "Valyria" that isn't quite as dangerous as the central parts near the Fourteen Fires.
- Stannis mentioned in the preceding episode that "Stone Men" severely afflicted by the Greyscale plague are pushed out to live at the fringes of civilization in the ruins of Old Valyria. In the novels, a large area around the ruins of Chroyane (known as "The Sorrows"), on the river north of Volantis, is used as essentially a leper-colony for people suffering from Greyscale. There are also vague rumors of men living in the shattered remains of the Valyrian Peninsula, in the ruins of Oros, Tyria, and Old Valyria itself - who might, similarly, be Stone Men pushed to live on the abandoned fringes of civilization - but these rumors are unconfirmed in the novels.
- In the books, Tyrion was instead attacked by Stone Men when he was making his way south along the Rhoyne River through the ruins of Chroyane, on his way from Pentos to Volantis. In the TV version his journey mostly just happened off-screen and entirely by land in a wheelhouse with Varys between episodes one and three of Season 5. Chroyane used to be a great city of the Rhoynar, the ancestors of the Dornishmen (ruled by the Martells), who were defeated by the Valyrians, ancestors of the Targaryens. The TV version, ironically, switched this so that the ruins of Valyria are shown as a leper-colony for Stone Men with greyscale, not the city of their rival that they defeated - the defeated Rhoynar believed that greyscale was a curse brought down so that the Valyrians would never be able to occupy the Rhoynar city-states along the river which they had destroyed. Though again, Valyria also ended up in ruins eventually, and may also be used as a dumping ground for people afflicted with greyscale by the time of the novels.
- The episode's dialogue seems to include a joking acknowledgement of this change: when Tyrion wakes up in the boat, he asks where they are, then looks confused and asks, "Not the Rhoyne?" - out of universe, going by the novels his upcoming encounter with the Stone Men in a ruined city would have been expected to happen while he was traveling south to Volantis on the Rhoyne River. In-universe there really isn't much reason for Tyrion to say this: in the preceding episode, Jorah already explained to him that they are sailing away from Volantis, which is at the mouth of the Rhoyne, and going east to Meereen (though in-universe, it could be argued that Tyrion just means they aren't near the Rhoyne anymore).
- According to the Season 5 Blu-ray commentary, the visual appearance of Valyria's ruins was inspired by the real-life ruins of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Actually, Gemma Jackson used a trip she made to Angkor Wat as the inspiration for the appearance of Harrenhal back in Season 2. Jackson left the show after Season 3 ended, though the general point she made seems to have stuck with the rest of the production team: people can be very surprised at just how quickly nature will reclaim ruined buildings and leave them overgrown with vegetation if they are left undisturbed by further human action. This principle would hold true for both a half-ruined castle complex in Westeros or a ruined city in Essos. Therefore, the ruins of Valyria have also become overgrown and subsumed by the jungle, to an even greater extent than Harrenhal.
- When Drogon flys over the ruins of Valyria, he appears out of a sky colored red by the sunset. The Season 5 Blu-ray commentary confirms that this was a deliberate nod to the line about the "red skies of Valyria" from Martin's description in the novels (in which Tyrion can see the glow from the still active volcanoes on the horizon from his ship).
- A behind-the-scenes video detailed the design of the Stone Men and how the fight scene Tyrion and Jorah have with them was set up:
- Prosthetics supervisor Barry Gower explained that they developed the look of the Stone Men based on the design of Shireen's greyscale scarring, which was introduced back in Season 3, but then progressed to look even worse. They didn't just take the exact same scarring pattern and cover more of their bodies with it: logically, they have a more advanced and severe case of the disease, so the scarring is not only more widespread but more pronounced, dark grey and with very deep cracks like stone (compared to Shireen's scarring, which isn't as discolored and doesn't have such deep cracks). It took about four hours to apply all of the prosthetics to each stuntman.
- Stuntman Calvin Heasman, who plays the Stone Man who jumps off of the ruined wall into the river, explained that he actually jumped into the river from a height of 21 feet, without computer effects. The production team had to work out the physics in advance to determine how deep an object of his weight would plunge into the water from such a height, and on determining that the riverbed was too shallow, dredged it to be another seven feet deeper. The ruined pillars of the aqueduct that the boat approaches, which the Stone Men jump off of, where built out of polystyrene around an existing bridge at the on-location river.
- The closeup shots of the fight on the boat itself, however, were very difficult to shoot, and had to be filmed at a disused swimming pool that they converted into a water tank. When Tyrion is dragged underwater at the end of the fight, Peter Dinklage and the stunt men were actually submerged underwater. Sometimes in film scenes when characters are dragged underwater, this effect is merely simulated with wind-machines in their hair, i.e., in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, when Sam Gamgee falls into the river at the end of the first film, a wind machine was blowing in the actor's hair to make it look like it was moving in water, but on closer inspection his clothing is dry and isn't clinging to him as it would submerged in water. Instead, for this episode Dinklage was indeed dragged 10 feet underwater, by one of the Stone Men stunt performers who was weighted down. Just off-camera, other crewmembers were also present at the bottom of the swimming pool wearing scuba gear, who gave Dinklage and the stunt men breaths from extra oxygen tanks between takes.
- The Season 5 Blu-ray commentary confirms that the way the stone man first appears before jumping into the water - above Tyrion, out of focus, and motionless so the audience doesn't realize he's already been on screen for some time - was a deliberate nod to a similar scene in Ridley Scott's classic scifi-horror film Alien.
- At the end of the episode, Jorah and Tyrion have passed through the Smoking Sea and are on the western shore of Slaver's Bay - Meereen is on the opposite, eastern side of the large bay, though still many hundreds of miles away. Daenerys left Pentos in the Season 1 premiere, and only ended up in Meereen by the Season 4 premiere, but in contrast Tyrion has come very close to Meereen in only about half of one TV season. This is simply because Tyrion is more or less going in the direct and quickest route, while Daenerys passed through many other and much more distant lands before arriving in Meereen by a circuitous journey. Daenerys spent months heading to Vaes Dothrak in Season 1, far to the north and east of Meereen, then in Season 2 passed south through the Red Waste and arrived in Qarth - which is (roughly) twice the distance from Volantis compared to the distance between Volantis and Slaver's Bay. She then headed back west, closer to Pentos, when she went to Slaver's Bay. Daenerys also simply stopped in Vaes Dothrak and then Qarth for months at a time without traveling.
- Quaithe mentioned to Jorah back in Season 2 in Qarth that sailing past Valyria is dangerous - she is painting symbols on a sailor's back which are alleged to ward off demons. Sailors are even afraid to sail around Valyria, but Jorah sailed through the Smoking Sea and ruins of the region. This was quite probably a hint by the writers - though in the novels, Jorah and Tyrion sail around Valyria as does all other sea travel. What isn't clear is if the writers knew even back in Season 2 that there would be a slight change and Jorah would go with Tyrion through Valyria itself (notably, Quaithe actually mentioned nothing about greyscale at the time).
In the books
- The episode is adapted from the following chapters of A Storm of Swords:
- Chapter 78, Samwell V: Stannis recognizes Sam as the one who killed the White Walker and the son of Randyll Tarly, who he considers an able soldier. Stannis recounts how Lord Randyll defeated Robert at Ashford, and says he would not expect such a man to have a son like Sam. Then, discussing how Sam managed to kill a White Walker, Sam tells the king what he has learnt about dragonglass as a weapon against the White Walkers. Stannis mentions there is obsidian in Dragonstone.
- The episode is adapted from the following chapters of A Feast for Crows:
- The episode is adapted from the following chapters of A Dance with Dragons:
- Chapter 7, Jon II: Aemon tells Jon that he will have little joy of his command, but he has the strength to do the things that must be done. He then warns that winter is almost upon them, and that Jon must “kill the boy and let the man be born”. Sam finds old records about dragonglass.
- Chapter 11, Daenerys II: After the Sons of the Harpy stage a coordinated attack on the Unsullied, Missandei grieves for her loved one, and Dany is furious.
- Chapter 18, Tyrion V: While sailing through the ruins of an ancient city, Tyrion glimpses a flying creature with leathery wings in the fog. Later, under a ruined bridge, Tyrion’s boat is attacked by Stone Men, and he is dragged down into the water.
- Chapter 21, Jon V: Stannis and his army depart Castle Black and head towards Winterfell.
- Chapter 22, Tyrion VI: Tyrion is saved from the Stone Men by his traveling companion.
- Chapter 23, Daenerys IV: Dany and Hizdahr betroth in order to secure her hold over Meereen.
- Chapter 24, The Lost Lord: Tyrion's traveling companion is revealed to have been infected with Greyscale after their fight with the Stone Men.
- Chapter 32, Reek III: Roose Bolton informs Ramsay that Stannis is marching to meet them in battle at Winterfell. Roose looks back on how he met Ramsay's mother: he met the wife of a miller, who he hanged, and then he raped her. The woman showed up at the Dreadfort a year later with a baby; Roose would have had the woman whipped and the infant thrown down a well, but he saw the child had his eyes and knew it was truly his, so he decided to keep Ramsay alive. Roose suspects that, if he has a true-born son by Walda, Ramsay will murder him.
- Chapter 33, Tyrion VIII: Tyrion and Jorah sail past Valyria. Tyrion reflects on the Doom of Valyria.
- Chapter 36, Daenerys VI: Daenerys finally agrees to open the fighting pits, to stop the Harpies' attacks.
- Chapter 37, The Prince of Winterfell: Reek is to give away Ramsay’s bride in the wedding.
- Chapter 39, Jon VIII: Jon discovers that thousands of wildlings have sought refuge in Hardhome, a ruined settlement Beyond the Wall. Jon fears for their lives, but many of his black brothers remain indifferent, so he reminds them that, if thousands of wildlings die beyond the Wall, they will rise up again as wights, swelling the White Walkers’ army.
- Chapter 40, Tyrion IX: Tyrion and Jorah's ship is damaged beyond repair.
- Chapter 44, Jon IX: Jon plans to send a group of Night’s Watch men in ships to Hardhome in order to bring the wildlings south of the Wall.
- Chapter 53, Jon XI: Jon treats with Tormund, the new leader of the Free Folk, and agrees to let them settle south of the Wall. This is seen as a betrayal of Jon’s vows by many in the Night’s Watch, but Jon argues that he is sworn to defend all the realms of men, which includes the wildlings, and that he will use everything he has against the White Walkers.
- Chapter 69, Jon XIII: Jon decides to lead the rescue mission to Hardhome.
- The sixth novel, The Winds of Winter, remains unpublished, so there are some events brought forward from it that may occur in the story, yet the specific chapters are unknown. This may include the death of Barristan Selmy, who was last seen about to enter battle; and Sansa's wedding and her return to Winterfell, both of which are also part of Littlefinger's plan in the books but have not happened yet.
Daenerys Targaryen: "Who is innocent? Maybe all of you are. Maybe none of you are. Maybe I should let the dragons decide."
Maester Aemon: "You will find little joy in your command. But, with luck, you’ll find the strength to do what needs to be done. Kill the boy, Jon Snow. Winter is almost upon us. Kill the boy and let the man be born."
Ramsay Bolton: "You smell particularly ripe this evening. Pour me some wine. Do you have something to tell me?"
Theon Greyjoy: "No, my lord."
Theon: "She saw me."
Theon: "Sansa. Lady Sansa. She came to the kennels."
Ramsay: "She saw you?"
Theon: "Yes. I'm sorry, master. Forgive me. I didn't think..."
Ramsay: "Come here. You mustn't keep secrets from me, Reek. Get on your knees. Give me your hand." [Theon obediently gives Ramsay his hand, expecting to be punished.] "I forgive you."
Ramsay: "I heard you two had been reunited. A fitting place for it. I like to imagine the last time you spoke was in this very room. Are you still angry with him after he...what he did? Don't worry. The North remembers. I punished him for it. He's not Ironborn anymore. He's not Theon Greyjoy anymore. He's a new man. A new person anyway. Aren't you, Reek?"
Theon: "Yes Master."
Ramsay: "That's his new name. Reek."
Sansa Stark: "Why are you doing this?"
Ramsay: "Because Reek has something to say to you. Don't you, Reek? An apology? Apologize to Lady Sansa for what you did. Apologize for murdering her two brothers."
Theon: "I'm sorry."
Ramsay: "Look at her, Reek. An apology doesn't mean anything if you're not looking the person in the eye."
Theon: "I'm sorry."
Ramsay: "Sorry about what?"
Theon: "Killing your brothers."
[Ramsay takes a moment to relish the anguish of Sansa and Theon before suddenly throwing up his hands.]
Ramsay: "There! Over and done with it. Doesn't everyone feel better? I do." [Sansa wipes away a tear.] "That was getting very tense." [Theon walks away from the table in shame.] "You know what, my lady? What with him having murdered your brothers and the rest of your family gone, Reek here is the nearest thing to living kin that you have left. Reek! You will give away the bride." [Sansa turns to Ramsay in anger.] "Someone has to. What better person? Good?" [To Roose, who glares at his son.] "Good?"
Roose Bolton: "Yes, yes, very good."
Roose: "Walda and I have some good news as well. Since we're all together."
Walda Bolton: "We're going to have a baby!"
[Ramsay's smile quickly fades.]
Sansa Stark: "Very happy for you."
Roose: "From the way she's carrying, Maester Wolkan says it looks like a boy."
[Ramsay takes a big gulp of wine and slams his goblet onto the table as Sansa looks at him and smirks.]
Ramsay: "How can you be sure?"
Roose: "Sure of what?"
Ramsay: "That she's pregnant. I mean...how can you tell?"
Roose: "Maester Wolkan has assured us beyond all doubt."
Ramsay: "So...how did you manage it?"
Roose: "Manage what?"
Ramsay: "Getting her pregnant."
Roose: "I imagine you're familiar with the procedure?"
Ramsay: "Of course but how did you...find it?"
Roose: "You disgraced yourself at dinner. Parading that creature before the Stark girl."
Ramsay: "And if it's a boy?"
Roose: "You're worried about your position?"
Ramsay: "My position is quite clear. I'm your son. Until a better alternative comes along."
Roose: "You've never asked me about your mother."
Ramsay: "Why would I? She had me, she died. And here we are."
Roose: "She was a peasant girl. Pretty in a common sort of way. She was a miller's wife. Apparently they had married without my knowledge or consent. So I had him hanged, and I took her beneath the tree where he was swaying. She fought me the whole time. She was lucky I didn't hang her too. A year later she came to my gates with a squalling baby in her arms. A baby she claimed was mine. I nearly had her whipped, and the child thrown in the river. But then I looked at you, and I saw then what I see now. You are my son." [As a visibly shaken Ramsay struggles to cope with this revelation, his father walks over to a map of the North.] "Stannis Baratheon has an army at Castle Black, but he won't stay for long. He wants the Iron Throne. He wants the Iron Throne, and the road to King's Landing comes right through Winterfell. He means to take the North. But the North is ours. It's yours and mine. Will you help me defeat him?"