Review: ‘Game of Thrones’ – ‘Kill the Boy’: Grown Ups

Alan is on vacation this week. In his absence, Hitfix Editor-in-Chief Richard Rushfield is stepping in to guest recap “Game of Thrones.”

A Targaryen alone in the world is a terrible thing.”

Hello everyone and thank you for letting me step me into these very big shoes this week.  First of all, just to declare my conflicts of interests, while I know this blog has shown a decided leaning towards the simpering survivors of the Stark family, I stand Lannister proud; true in my loyalty to Queen Cersei, the only one in this realm of the deluded fit to preside over the Seven Kingdoms.  However, I promise readers to do my utmost to put my personal preferences to the side as we consider together the important question of just what the heck was going on this week and where are we all headed in this Game.

This episode, in fact, had the very Lannister-esque title, “Kill the Boy”; a title whose name rings of a decree from old late Tywin himself. When one hears a title like that on “Game of Thrones” one expects that this week”s special treat will be an extra dose of child slaughter. And while the episode was not without a touch of that (more on this later), the boy in question here is the lad within; the child who plays a dictator within the heart of so many, preventing the inner grown-up from taking the wheel and doing what a leader”s got to do to make a go of things in these brutal times, what with winter coming and all.

Across Westeros and the lands beyond, our would be leaders are having to commit inner infanticide this week if they are going to rise up to the task. Being at the head of army, kingdom or wall company seems like a pretty great thing in those days, until the crown drops on your head like a ton of bricks. And then, as happened to our many heroes this week, you realize it”s not all feasts of honeyed pigeon and ordering some guy who looked at you funny put to death, but a life of very hard choices if you”re going to stay alive yourself. The rubber hit the road on those tough choices this week, as in various ways, the new generation of Westeroses struggled to find their inner Valaryian steel.

Specifically, it is the death of the boy within the breast of Night Watch Commander Jon Snow whose death is called for in the quote referenced in the title.  When sought out for advice, good old ancient Maester Aemon tells Snow tostop whining and whatever it is you”ve got in mind, get the h- on with it. “Half of them hate you already,” Jon is told, the meanest thing you can tell Kit Harrington's teen heartthrob following. “You will find little joy in your command, but with luck you will 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.”

And from across the Game of Thrones fan universe, a billion voices called out: Just don”t cut the hair!

Jon Snow seeks the courage to uncork a plan involving getting the wildings to come and leave peacefully alongside their old crow enemies, helping them farm the land and while they”re at it, fight off the zombie invasion. As Jon predicted, when he unveils his scheme in the dining hall it goes over like a call for a samba line at the Red Wedding. Even loyal sidekick Samwell, can”t quite get behind it.

Now not to question the intelligence of those brave souls who guard the realms of men, but what part of “Zombie Invasion” is it they don”t get? Jon recalls to them what happened when they ran into their last zombie army – their entire troop got slaughtered – but that memory is countered with “Yeah, but those wildings, they suck!” It”s like some people just want to have their souls devoured by the undead!

Standing at the back for the room, noting with approval Snow”s attempt to kill is boy is a man who probably hasn”t glimpsed his inner boy in a long long time, dour Stannis Baratheon, who in one of the most telling moments in the entire series, reveals his inner grammar Nazi.  When a Night”s Watchmen states that the death of some wildings at the hands of white walkers means only “Less enemies for us,” Stannis murmurs in answer, “Fewer.”

“What?” replies non-lit major Ser Davos.

“Nothing.” Stannis says, husbanding his plan for compulsory conjunction classes till the time is right.

Soon after he begins his march on Winterfell. One hopes that whatever their troubles are in the North, the common folk are taking some time out of the day to drill in the proper use of semi-colon before the new boss hits town.

Meanwhile, there”s a lot of boy-killing on the brain over in Bolton-held Winterfell. Most starkly (pun George Martin's, not mine) Sansa mopes around the grounds, staring up at the tower where the trouble all began when Jamie Lannister tried to kill the boy on this very wall.  We can”t help note with sadness how brutally the boy – or girl – within Sansa has been murdered since she last stood in this courtyard.  She was whe member of the cast whom in her frivolity perhaps least suited for this lonely grown-up voyage, but she has survived, at least, which for a Stark these days is something.

Through the intervention of a jealous kennel master”s daughter, she then has a reunion with someone who very much did kill the boy, or boys, even if they weren”t the boys he claimed they were – Theon Greyjoy, Sansa”s old adopted kinda-brother. Theon of course, who had a big raging fool of a boy within him for the show”s first seasons, has had that boy ripped out of him and flayed to death before his eyes, as his tormentor Ramsey Bolton refers to, noting Sansa must be surprised at the man, or rather, the person he”s become.

Speaking of Ramsey, there”s a fellow who if he killed the boy within would have nothing left.  He tries, however, Lord knows he tries, as in his jolly spectacle parading Theon before Sansa at his father”s dinner table, demanding his toy, “Apologize for murdering her two brothers.”  Father Roose, is unimpressed and breaks the news that he and his new wife Walda are expecting a child, likely a boy.  The title of this episode seems to be ringing in Ramsey”s head as he takes in the joyous news, however father and son soon have a rapprochement in a scene clearly echoing Stannis” touching moment with his daughter last week.  The Bolton version is a little less heartwarming as Roose reveals the tale of murder and rape that was Ramsey”s origin story. The tale does not, this time, end with a hug.

And over across the narrow seas, Dany is ready and willing to kill her boy, if only it were that easy. Following the death of Ser Barristan, she is all set to hand the city”s ruling class over to her dragons for breakfast, and indeed, watches impassively as one of them is turned into a human s”more. But there”s no simple answers here; her plan to free the slaves has brought nothing but suffering and misery to all. And in the end, she sees that growing up requires not necessarily brutal iron will, but compromise and understanding, as she pledges to reopen the fighting pits after all. And while she”s at it, she”ll go ahead and marry one of the city”s elite.  In for a dime with this adulthood thing, in for a gold dragon.

And now a note from our vacationing grown-up, Alan:

Now, as usual (though this may be the last season in which we have to do it, as the show has begun significantly deviating from and/or passing the books), all comments will be moderated to prevent book spoilers from slipping in. We are here to talk about “Game of Thrones” as a television show, not do constant comparing and contrasting of the show and the books. There are plenty of other places online to do that, and if your comment discusses the books, it won't be approved.

With that in mind, what did everybody else think?