‘Game of Thrones’ Book Club: ‘Mother’s Mercy’ is severely lacking in this traumatic finale

Each week, HitFix Harpy will be hosting the “Game of Thrones” book club. A safe space where readers of “A Song of Ice and Fire” can come to dissect the changes to the series and debate what will happen next. All without fear they'll accidentally spoil something for non-readers.


That”s all he wrote folks. In some cases literally. Tonight”s season finale of “Game of Thrones” butted right up against where Martin last left Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Cersei Lannister, and Jeyne Poole/Sansa Stark. Now we just have to wait 10 months to see what happens next. Unless “The Winds of Winter” comes out before next season, we”re completely off the map now.


#1: Jon Snow falls for the oldest trick in the book.

Image Credit: HBO

In the books: Jon is betrayed and bleeding on the ground. But instead of believing a Wildling might know what happened to his Uncle Benjen, Jon is cut down when he relinquishes his vows to ride South and help Stannis retake Winterfell from Boltons. This betrayal combined with the giant Wun Wun killing a man is enough to cause the Watch to assassinate Jon in a moment of opportunity, though they”re all very sad about it.

On the show: Here lies Jon Snow, bleeding out due to gullibility. We all knew Olly would be the face of this assassination attempt. We all saw it coming. Jon is taken out back like an old dog and put down. Ghost isn”t even around to suss out the danger and be ignored in a mirror of Robb”s death. Other than saving Sam, the dire wolf has been MIA this season.

However, “Game of Thrones” did send Melisandre running back to Castle Black. It appears she”s finally realized she was backing the wrong candidate for Azor Ahai.

Both George R.R. Martin and HBO have spent YEARS setting up the groundwork to make magical resurrection fit into the rules of this universe. From Beric Dondarrion to Melisandre”s shadow assassin to the melted snow after Shireen”s death, the Red God is nothing if not good for the follow-through.

There is too much riding on Jon”s lineage as the child of both Ice (Lyanna Stark) and Fire (Rhaegar Targaryen) for this to be his final curtain call. As basically the Jesus of Westeros, death and resurrection are just part of the deal. The only real mystery is if Melisandre will breathe life back into Jon next season or if HBO will pull what they did with Bran this year and save him for a rainy day. Had “Game of Thrones” ever indicated Show!Jon (or Show!Arya) could warg, they might have had Jon spend some time in Ghost next season, but that”s probably out. There”s also the possibility that Melisandre could use the glamour from the book on Jon instead of Mance. Regardless, Kit Harrington is a liar.

#2: Myrcella is kissed by poison.

Image Credit: HBO

In the books: Myrcella is definitely down, but not out. During Arianne”s coup to take the only Baratheon daughter back to King”s Landing and crown her, the party is caught by Doran”s men and a fight breaks out. In the chaos, Myrcella is hurt, losing both an ear and gaining a nasty facial scar.

On the show: Ellaria continues her crusade to start a war with the Lannisters by going straight up Poison Ivy on Myrcella. Just as Jaime has a bonding moment with his daughter, she gets a nosebleed and goes limp…seemingly dead. As with Jon Snow though, there”s probably more to the story. The ship isn”t even out of the harbor of Dorne, so there is no reason Jaime wouldn”t turn right back around and/or kill Trystane should his daughter actually be dead. Alternatively Bronn may not have used all of his antidote earlier. Should Myrcella have survived the attack on her life, odds are she”ll be left with lasting damage.

#3: The Mountain rides again.

Image Credit: HBO

In the books: Ser Gregor is feeling fine, though short a head. That was sent to Dorne to prove the Mountain had indeed died of his wounds after the battle with the Viper.

On the show: Prince Doran never asked for the head of Gregor Clegane as retribution for the death of Oberyn, so it appears Ser Gregor COULD remove his helm without terrifying the masses. However, whatever it is that”s keeping his zombie-self ensconced in his helm and upholding a vow of silence cannot be pleasant.

#4: Arya gets revenge.

Image Credit: HBO

In the books: Arya has done a lot of things, but murdering Meryn Trant isn”t one of them. She DOES kill a Night”s Watch deserter named Dareon. As this is before she”s seen the Room of Faces, she does it the old-fashioned way. Afterwards, there is no conversation about how she “stole a life” from the Many-Face God. However, after this incident she accepts milk meant for “Arya Stark” and awakens blind. The point being she still hasn”t become “No One” and is acting as Arya in her day-to-day life. It is only after an extended period as a beggar that Arya completes her training by identifying her mentor without vision (though she cheats by accidentally warg-ing into an alley cat to see). Her sight is returned and she starts getting assassination assignments.

On the show: Arya takes at LEAST three new levels in bad-assery and finally gets to enact revenge on a man whom her hatred for has been fuel for years. It is as delightfully satisfying as you imagined. Yet by breaking the rules, Ayra unknowingly sentences one of the Faceless Men to death. She is also blinded for lashing out and killing someone who wasn”t assigned to her and/or is having a bad allergic reaction to wearing another girl”s face as a mask. Considering the rule for whom the Many-Faced God wishes to see dead seems to be “anyone who treats people like things,” you”d think He”d let Arya”s murder of a child-rapist slide, but whatever.

#5: Sansa escapes.

Image Credit: HBO

In the books: Mance and spearwives force Jeyne Poole into an escape as they think she is Arya. During the chaos, Mance and the women are captured but Theon and Jeyne jump from the battlements of Winterfell into the deep snow drifts below. They are discovered by one of the Northern lords and taken to Stannis” war camp. Answering all of Stannis” questions to his satisfaction, he sends Jeyne on to Castle Black so “Arya” can reunite with her brother, Jon.

On the show: Sansa and Theon also jump into what I assume are the only snow drifts left in the county since the rest has melted away. As Sansa is now inhabiting Jeyne”s storyline, but the Northern lords have been trimmed out due to time constraints, it is reasonable that Theon and Sansa, with or without Brienne and Podrick, will make their way to the Wall as that is where Jon is.

#6: Tyrion and Varys show.

Image Credit: HBO

In the books: NONE OF THIS IS HAPPENING. Tyrion is a slave or a mercenary, depending on where in the timeline we are. Varys is back in King”s Landing murdering Kevan Lannister to keep him from fixing Westeros, as Varys needs the country in chaos so the people welcome Daenerys as their savior.

On the show: RIP Barristan Selmy. You deserved more than an ignominious death in an alley so that Tyrion Lannister could have your plot line. Tyrion, Varys, Missandei, and Grey Worm now must keep the city of Meereen from breaking into open rebellion in the absence of their conqueror. I”ll be interested to see if the Yunkai army comes to lay siege next season to give them an outside threat with which to band the denizens of Meereen together against. Also interested to see if Quentyn Martell will appear in order to become a delicious dragon snack.

Odds & Ends

• Sam and Gilly are finally headed to Oldtown, though not at Jon”s request. Sending them off like this – with Aemon dead and Sam”s virginity already lost – means HBO can skip over the sea voyage if they so choose. The faster Sam gets to the Citadel, the faster we get to glass candles and white ravens.

• “Game of Thrones” has never been one to shy away from an on-screen beheading. The rule of Martin is: If you didn”t see it, don”t believe it. There”s good money on Stannis being alive, either due to Brienne respecting his sense of honor or Lady Stoneheart”s intervention.

• The North will never rise for the Boltons. So who were all those men helping Ramsay decimate the remains of Stannis” army? My money is on the Freys, those bastards. Other options include Stannis” deserters, more sellswords, or Littlefinger”s men from the Eyrie.

• Cersei”s walk to the Red Keep was 98% the same. The only real change was the Faith didn”t completely shave her as naked as the day she was born.

• Just how many versions of Jaqen H”Ghar has Arya met? How many people have worn his face?