Brow Beat

This Week’s Worst Person in Westeros: The Gods

Religion failed everyone in the Season 5 finale of Game of Thrones, even Melisandre (Carice van Houten). 

Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO

After each episode in Game of Thrones Season 5, we’ll be discussing a crucial question: Who is currently the Worst Person in Westeros? This week, Slate assistant editor Miriam Krule is joined by Slate culture editor Dan Kois.

Miriam Krule: Dan! Thanks for joining me to discuss the Season 5 finale of Game of Thrones, “Mother’s Mercy,” which started out as some kind of fan fiction–like revenge fantasy: Stannis murdered by Brienne! Arya killing the first person on her kill list: Meryn Trant, (who is also conveniently a disgusting pervert)! Reekvenge in the form of Theon saving Sansa and killing Myranda! Of course, it’s Game of Thrones, so there was no way they could leave us with all the people we love killing all the people we hate. The episode ends with what seemed impossible—and also with what seems to make no sense (even if most people knew it was coming): Jon Snow being murdered by his men “for the Watch.” There were a lot of deaths in this episode (Myrcella seems to get lost in all the plot) which leads me to wonder who is even left fighting for—or even remotely eligible for—the Iron Throne? Tommen is technically king, but, let’s be real. We have Daenerys in the middle of nowhere and … Ramsay?

Dan Kois: Well, Roose. And Doran Martell (if the Sand Snakes aren’t busy poisoning his wine) could take a shot at it. And don’t forget Littlefinger! But yeah, the idea of the next season focusing on all THOSE people isn’t that exciting. I guess we’d all better just pray to R’hllor that Jon Snow makes it through this attack!

Krule: I guess I wouldn’t mind if this means Gendry comes back from wherever he is right now, too. But, has coming back from the dead in Westeros (and its environs) ever really been so successful? So far we’ve seen terrible versions in the form of Khal Drogo and the wights, but I guess third time’s the charm! Or am I missing anyone? There is ONE silver lining to all this, at least in my mind, concrete proof that Melisandre is just … wrong. About everything. She destroyed Stannis’ life and now his entire family is dead. Her backup is also dead, for now. Can we be done with Melisandre? She’s my early nomination for this week’s Worst Person in Westeros.

Kois: I sort of think we already did see the third version of coming back from the dead in the form of the newest member of Tommen’s Kingsguard, FrankenClegane.

Krule: Oh right! So maybe this coming back to life thing isn’t so far-fetched: There’s also Beric Dondarrion who was resurrected by Thoros of Myr, though that came with its own baggage in the form of unhealed deadly wounds and lost memories. 

Kois: But yes, Melisandre fleeing with her tail between her legs was a real cold splash of water. I’ve always counted on her to be insanely confident in her own bullshit, so watching her be the only one to get out of that truly awful battle alive is a tough pill to swallow. (Well, plus all the sellswords who took off and are now, I guess, just chillin’ in the North? I hope Sam and Gilly don’t run into any of them on the way to Oldtown.) But is she really the Worst Person? Stannis was worse than her, and I’m not convinced that the title should just pass to her upon Stannis’ Brienne–delivered death. What about damn Ellaria Sand? That was pretty ice cold.

Krule: Stannis was punished for his worstness last week—and he just suffered the repercussions of that this week. (It’s also kind of cute that Stannis thinks that there’s nothing worse than mutiny. This is Game of Thrones, mutiny is probably one of the best things that happened to him in the past few episodes.) But I still blame Melisandre for encouraging him to pursue this clearly terrible plan—and she’s the one who created this environment. Of course, when she brings Jon Snow back from the dead so we can finally establish once and for all who is parents really are, I may have to reconsider, briefly, her benefits. As for Ellaria Sand: I’m kind of amused by the Sand Snakes right now. Their plot seems so insignificant—they didn’t just wipe out an entire family line. Seems like child’s play!

Kois: I dunno—didn’t she just precipitate (yet another) gigantic war? If the Lannisters can ever get it back together in King’s Landing, they’ll be marching on Dorne right quick. This episode had some serious chaos and death but that seems like the event with the greatest actual ramifications for the immediate political future of Westeros. Here’s another great nominee: the nun with the bell who marched behind Cersei on her walk of shame. Or, like, the people of King’s Landing, generally. Why were they all out on the streets? Doesn’t anyone have a job? I guess the Lannisters need to institute a better jobs program so that their citizenry is gainfully employed, rather than jeering them throughout Flea Bottom.

Krule: There’s also always Olly!

I’m kind of OK with Dorne/Lannister war! Cersei has done some terrible shit and, yes, she paid for it with a (great) haircut and literal walk of shame, but she’s pretty awful and she deserves to finally get punished for some of it. The nun with the bell was amazing, if only because, like Cersei, she just kept going! King’s Landing has clearly fallen apart—apparently that’s what fanatical religion can do to a kingdom—maybe the Gods, all of them, are the Worst Person in Westeros? They all kind of failed everyone. Even Arya, who can’t seem to figure out how the Many-Faced God works.

Kois: Aw, poor Olly. He didn’t ask to be invented for the show as an Everyboy meant to telegraph Night’s Watch disillusionment! But yeah, I think you may be right. R’hllor totally blew it with Stannis. The Many-Faced God seems to punishing Arya for killing the guy who most deserved it in all of Braavos. The Seven are currently being real assholes in King’s Landing. (But Cersei “finally” got punished? Her kid dying wasn’t punishment enough? What about her other kid dying? At this point I am all in on Cersei and I’d be delighted to see her riding in on a dragon sometime in Season 7, laying waste to the haters with some cleansing fire.) All hail the gods, the Worst People in Westeros!