"Mother's Mercy" is the tenth episode of the fifth season of Game of Thrones. It is the fiftieth episode of the series overall. It premiered on June 14, 2015. It was written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and directed by David Nutter.
In the North
As the snow begins to melt, Melisandre is elated. Still grieving, Stannis prepares to march on Winterfell. However, one of his men informs him that nearly half of his men have deserted - mainly the sellswords, who have also run away with all their horses. Another soldier comes with more bad news: Selyse has hanged herself out of grief for her daughter. As he sees her body, Stannis receives yet another piece of bad news: Melisandre has fled.Marching across the fields with less then half the men he once had, Stannis has his men start preparing for the siege, but is instead met in combat early by the Bolton army. The mounted Bolton army easily defeats Stannis' tired and mountless army. Wounded and exhausted, Stannis fights off two remaining soldiers in the aftermath of the carnage and collapses against a tree, and is met by a woman he does not know, wearing armor.
Brienne of Tarth was warned by Podrick Payne of Stannis's arrival and leaves her watch for Sansa's signal. After the battle she waits and finds a seriously wounded Stannis. She declares who she is and that her king was killed by his brother's shadow that bore his face, before drawing her sword to slay him. Stannis, having lost everything, simply accepts his fate to die: he tells Brienne to do her "duty". After a moment's hesitation, Brienne swings her sword at him.In Winterfell itself, Sansa uses a corkscrew she pocketed earlier to escape her room, and seeks out the tower to light her signal. After the candle is lit, she sees the Boltons clash with Stannis's army and sees this as a time to slip out of Winterfell. Desperately running across the ramparts, she is caught by Myranda and Reek. Myranda threatens Sansa with a bow, however Sansa, sick and tired of everything, tells her to kill her while there is still a part of the real her left. Myranda tells Sansa that Ramsay needs her to have an heir and nothing more afterwards, but he does not need all of her in one piece to accomplish that. Theon suddenly makes her miss, then grabs and hurls her down to the stable courtyard, killing her. Sansa and Theon run, but find themselves with nowhere to go, with Ramsay just returning from the battle. Hoping to land in deep snow and survive the long fall, the two of them grasp their hands together and jump off the ramparts.
In BraavosSer Meryn Trant is looking upon 3 young girls in the Braavosi brothel. Of the 3 girls, two begin to cry and scream when they are whipped by Meryn, however the last girl makes no reaction when whipped. Meryn sends the 2 weak girls away, and punches the last in the stomach. However, the last girl is revealed to be Arya Stark, after removing her fake face. She pulls out a knife and stabs Meryn in both eyes and chest repeatedly, and puts a gag in his mouth so that he makes no noise. She then reveals her identity and reminds Meryn of how he killed her dance master, Syrio Forel, before calling him 'no one' and slits his throat.
Arya then returns to the House of Black and White and returns the face that she used to hide her identity. However, Jaqen H'ghar and the Waif appear and say that Meryn's life was not hers to take, and that a debt must be paid. The Waif grabs Arya as Jaqen pulls out a vial, presumably containing some kind of poison. He however drinks the poison himself and collapses, with Arya screaming for him to stay alive. Arya states that he was her friend, and hears Jaqen's voice behind her say 'he was no one'. She turns around to see that the Waif now has Jaqen's face, and Arya asks who the person on the floor with Jaqen's face is. Jaqen, in the Waif's body, says that he is no one, as Arya begins to remove multiple faces off the person on the floor, until she sees her own face. She then begins to lose her sight, as her eyes turn white and screams for help.
With Daenerys gone, her council is unsure on how they should continue. Tyrion addresses both Jorah and Daario's feelings for her, understanding how one could love the wrong woman. The three argue about Jorah's betrayal, but they will not make any judgments without Daenerys first. The dragon was seen taking her north and that is where they need to search for their queen. Grey Worm, still recovering from his injuries, offers to go with Jorah and Daario, as does Tyrion. Daario firmly nixes both ideas: Grey Worm is needed to command the Unsullied in keeping the city under control, while Tyrion is the only one of them to have any political experience. He expresses confidence that with Missandei's help, the pair of them should be able to keep Meereen under control until they return with Daenerys.
As Tyrion watches Daario and Jorah depart the city, Varys calmly walks up to Tyrion. Teasing Tyrion about abandoning him in Volantis, he is pleased to see Tyrion already settling into a role that suits him. He reminds Tyrion that he has experience running a city full of people trying to kill each other, and implies that he – and his little birds, are there to help.
Somewhere in the Dothraki SeaMeanwhile, Daenerys finds herself far away from Meereen, atop an impressive hill in a sea of green grass. Drogon is still recovering from his wounds and is uninterested in flying back. Unfortunately, he's also not interested in finding them any food. Daenerys wanders away to find something for them, but is thrown to see a trio of Dothraki bloodriders emerge. Within minutes, an entire khalasar has her surrounded. Understanding what might happen to her, she quickly removes a ring and drops it in the grass, determined to leave a trail.
Jaime, Bronn, Myrcella and Trystane say their farewells to the Martells to return to King's Landing. Upon saying goodbye, Ellaria Sand kisses Myrcella on the lips, while Tyene Sand flirts with Bronn. Aboard the ship, Myrcella and Jaime talk about Cersei. Jamie begins to come clean to Myrcella, awkwardly telling her that we cannot choose who we love. Myrcella then reveals that she knows that Jamie is her real father, and that she is glad that he is, and the two embrace. However, Myrcella's nose starts to bleed and she collapses in Jaime's arms. Back in Dorne, Ellaria wipes the blood from her nose and takes the antidote for the poison coated on her lips.
In King's LandingSepte Unella enters Cersei's cell and orders her to confess. Finally giving in, Cersei is brought before the High Sparrow to confess her sins. She confesses of adultery with Ser Lancel Lannister, but denies her incestuous relationship with her brother Jaime. Cersei begs to be allowed to go to the Red Keep to see her son Tommen. The High Sparrow accepts but states that she has to stand trial. Cersei is brought to a cell where she is stripped naked and washed before her hair is cut short. She is brought outside were she has to walk naked through the streets of Kings Landing from the Great Sept of Baelor to the Red Keep as punishment. She is escorted through an angry mob who throw rotten food at her and humiliate her. With bloody feet she makes it to the Red Keep. Upon entering the gates, Cersei finds her uncle Kevan Lannister, Grand Maester Pycelle and Qyburn waiting for her. Qyburn attempts to comfort her by covering her body with a cloak. Heavy footsteps are heard, and Qyburn introduces Cersei to the newest member of the Kingsguard: a 7-8 foot tall man in golden armor. Qyburn suggests Cersei to go inside to have a look at her feet, which are badly injured, when the huge knight lifts her up and carries her away.
At The Wall
Jon Snow tells of what he saw at Hardhome to Sam. He hopes the White Walkers can't climb the Wall as there is not enough Dragonglass or Valyrian steel in Westeros to combat them. Sam asks Jon if he can travel to Oldtown to study and replace Aemon as the new Maester of the Watch. He feels there is no other way he can help them as he cannot fight, he is also afraid for Gilly and her child's safety, and wishes to take them along. Jon reminds him that the Citadel will also not allow Sam to be with women, but is humored to hear that it is already too late for that. Sam promises he will return, they toast to that and Jon sees his only friend off.
Davos, having returned to Castle Black at Stannis' orders, urges Jon to convince the Wildlings for aid. Jon refuses him, saying that they wouldn't side with Stannis and this is not their fight. Both of them become shocked to see a speechless and despondent Melisandre return to the Wall. Ser Davos pressures Melisandre for news, specifically asking after Shireen, but Melisandre remains silent. After seeing the empty look in her eyes, Davos lets her leave.
That night, Jon is reading messages when his steward Olly tells him that a wildling knows of the whereabouts of his long missing uncle. Jon Snow quickly rushes with Thorne to a gathered group of Watch men, only to see a sign with "traitor" written on it. He turns around to find his Brothers starring him down. Thorne makes the first move and stabs the Lord Commander. "For the Watch" Thorne said, as well as the others as they close in and continue stabbing him. One after another, Jon Snow is betrayed, "For the Watch". Finally a tearful eyed Olly approaches last. After a moment of pause Jon gasps "Olly" before Olly delivers the final blow. The brothers leave Jon to die alone in the snow.
- Queen Selyse Baratheon
- King Stannis Baratheon
- Ser Meryn Trant
- Lord Commander Jon Snow
- Princess Myrcella Baratheon
- Baratheon General
- 22 of 27 starring cast members appear in this episode.
- Starring cast members Aidan Gillen (Petyr Baelish), Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell), Kristofer Hivju (Tormund Giantsbane), Dean-Charles Chapman (Tommen Baratheon) and Michael McElhatton (Roose Bolton) are not credited and do not appear in this episode.
- The episode takes its title from the Mother, the aspect of the god in the Faith of the Seven symbolizing mercy. Those accused by the Faith Militant may seek the Mother's Mercy prior to their trials if they confess, as explained by the High Sparrow to Cersei Lannister. A well-known hymn to the Mother is titled "Gentle Mother, Font of Mercy", reinforcing the association between the Mother and mercy. This is also the second time a title includes the term "mother", as the Season 3 finale title, "Mhysa", means mother in the tongue of the Ghiscari Empire.
- House Greyjoy, House Tully, and House Frey do not appear in this episode, and have not even been mentioned throughout all of Season 5. House Tyrell does not appear in this episode. Littlefinger does not appear in this episode. House Bolton appears led by Ramsay, but Roose Bolton does not appear, without explanation.
- The Season 5 finale broke the TV series's all-time live viewership record, with 8.11 million people watching the initial airing. Game of Thrones Wiki also broke its day-after viewership record, with 3.4 million site views within the 24 hour period after the episode initially aired.
- Actress Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister) isn't actually naked in the walk of atonement scene: a body double was used, and her head was then digitally added onto it (her neck doesn't quite match in some shots if you look carefully, and the body isn't exactly her height and shoulder width). Why a body double was used is unclear - given that Headey has done nude scenes before (such as in the film 300), and back in March 2014, she even spoke about the upcoming scene in such a way that it seemed she was interested in performing it herself. One possible but unconfirmed explanation is that in February 2015 (after filming had ended), Headey revealed that she was pregnant with her second child - but she was so upset about how the media had been invasive about the divorce of her first marriage to that would not reveal who the father was, or any other details about her personal life. Therefore it is unknown when she first became pregnant and if this could have interfered with any nude scenes.
- The production team carefully made sure never to have any nude scenes with Cersei since the beginning of the TV series, specifically to prepare for this scene. Cersei always wears heavy layers of clothing like armor, and even in her sex scenes, it was a conscious choice never to show her with her clothes off. For example, when Bran Stark encounters Cersei and Jaime having sex at Winterfell, they are both actually naked in the novels, but not in the TV version - though of course, Headey was also pregnant in Season 1 so they had to use body doubles or different camera angles (still wearing heavy clothes while in a doggy-style position) to hide her pregnancy. Even later when she has sex with Lancel, or when she has sex with Jaime in the Season 4 finale (in the privacy of the White Sword Tower), she never takes her clothes off during sex scenes. All of this was decided years in advance, to increase the dramatic impact of Cersei's shocking disempowerment, stripped naked and marched through the streets. As Headey said: "We talk about it a lot because I love he...I think, you know, it’s interesting, that part for me. I’ve been very adamant about keeping her kind of clothed because I think that’s part of her power. And she can still be sort of sexual and weird and female, but she doesn’t have to be naked. And I think it makes for a more shocking disempowering moment when this happens. So, we’ll see. I’m a little scared.”
- In the novels, when Cersei is shorn, the septas remove all of her body hair - her eyebrows, pubic hair, even scraping the rest of her body. They shave her head completely bald. In the TV episode, the septas slather her with oil and prominently produce a razor blade as if they are going to shave her, but then curiously do not. One septa separately picks up a pair of shears, and cuts her luxurious long golden hair off - but crops it close to her head, instead of shaving her bald entirely. In her subsequent nude scenes her pubic hair is still present, as are her eyebrows, etc. - leading to the question of why they bothered slathering her with oil at all, other than audience titillation.
- The TV episode didn't quite explain this, but Cersei does bring up Stannis Baratheon to the High Sparrow. The Sparrows do realize that if they outright depose Cersei and the Lannisters, it would clear the way for Stannis to take the throne - whom they view as a heretic for embracing the Lord of Light religion. Therefore they don't want to get rid of the Lannisters entirely, but they want to strip them of power and control them. Had he wanted to simply depose Cersei he would have left her in her prison cell: he let her go in a humiliating walk of atonement so the mobs of the city's commoners wouldn't fear her anymore.
- As the TV producers point out in the Inside the Episode featurette, Cersei has badly mistreated the Smallfolk of King's Landing, either directly through starting the war or indirectly through not controlling Joffrey's madness as he mistreated them. She is a woman who could have someone's tongue cut out for insulting her. The novels include more scenes around the Riot of King's Landing in which peasant women hold up their dead babies and point at Cersei, accusing that their children are dying of starvation from a war she started - Cersei doesn't really care. Recall that back at the beginning of Season 2, before the riot, the Small Council tried to warn her that refugees are pouring into the city from the countryside and it is overburdening the food supply - Cersei bluntly doesn't care, and agrees with Littlefinger that when winter comes and the poorest starve they'll simply have less commoners to deal with.
- The TV series also doesn't bring up the history that a walk of atonement has in House Lannister. Tywin's father Tytos Lannister was a weak-willed man whose inept leadership nearly destroyed their rule. After Tywin's mother died, Tytos took up with a new mistress, a commoner a step above a whore herself, who in time came to control Tytos to such an extent that she was said to be the real master of Casterly Rock. The teenaged Tywin later violently reasserted Lannister dominance in the Reyne Rebellion, the first major step in almost single-handedly rebuilding the Lannisters into a strong House again after Tytos nearly ended it - Tytos didn't even respond to the rebellion at all, simply staying in Casterly Rock with his mistress, and Tywin reacted without his permission. After Cersei's grandfather finally died of old age and Tywin succeeded him as lord, he forced Tytos's mistress to make a naked walk of atonement through the streets - humiliating her and symbolically stripping her of any of the power she was once perceived to have. Cersei's uncle Kevan aided Tywin at the time and thinks back on this in his inner POV monologue (in a way not easily translatable on-screen). Tywin's bad treatment of his own children came back around to destroy his family - apart from Tyrion personally killing him, the Lannisters have come full circle. Just as Tywin's power began with forcing Tytos's mistress to make a naked walk of atonement, that power has now fallen with Cersei making a walk of atonement.
- In the novels, Qyburn introduces the new giant and silent member of the Kingsguard as "Ser Robert Strong", a man no one has ever heard of. The HBO Viewer's Guide simply identifies him as Gregor Clegane, the Mountain That Rides, after Qyburn's experimentation on him (healing him from his poisoning by manticore venom). In the novels, Gregor is reported to have died and Qyburn sent a huge skull to Dorne which could only have belonged to Gregor - or at least, this is what is believed. Several characters within the narrative (such as Cersei's uncle Kevan) strongly suspect that it actually is Gregor - not just healed, but risen from the dead through Qyburn's use of necromancy. It isn't even clear if "Robert Strong" has a head, because he wears a visored helmet (the TV version still left prominent eye-holes, probably because it would be too difficult for the stunt man to use a more restrictive helmet).
- The TV series shifted around the identities and deaths of several people on Arya Stark's kill list, particularly several soldiers under Gregor Clegane's command at Harrenhal, some of which were adapted out. These include Polliver, The Tickler, and another soldier called Raff the Sweetling (his nickname is sarcastic due to his cruelty). It was Raff and not Polliver who killed Lommy Greenhands. Meryn Trant is still on her list, but he doesn't go to Braavos and is still alive in the novels. Arya and Sandor Clegane ran into Polliver and the Tickler at an inn, where Sandor killed Polliver, and Arya killed the Tickler in a frenzy, repeatedly stabbing him after he fell and becoming smeared with his blood. Raff went to Braavos as a guard for the Master of Coin sent to treat with the Iron Bank. Raff in the novels is interested in perversely young girls, and Arya does attempt to seduce him - but them stabs him and sadistically repeats the words Raff taunted Lommy with, making him beg her to carry him before killing him. She doesn't need to steal a Faceless Man mask because Raff doesn't recognize her (she is much older and dressed differently than when they last met and she was disguised as a boy - though Meryn knew Arya much better than Raff, from her time in the Red Keep, so it makes sense that she would need a disguise for him in the TV series).
- In the TV version, Jaqen killed the Tickler while still at Harrenhal. Polliver was killed in a fight with Sandor and Arya at an inn, but Arya taunted him the way she did Raff when she killed him in the novels. Killing Meryn Trant in this episode takes the place of how she killed Raff when she stumbled upon him in Braavos, while trying to seduce him despite her young age, though the manner in which she kills him is reminiscent of how she brutally killed the Tickler in the novels by repeatedly stabbing him. Meryn Trant is still alive in the novels and remains on Arya's kill list.
- In the novels, the masks of the Faceless Men, made from the preserved faces of corpses, can't simply be slipped on by someone who doesn't have the training to use them. The process involves a blood magic ritual to help the face bond to the wearer as if alive. Then again the TV series moves this around slightly to still say that Arya goes blind from wearing the face, because it is dangerous for untrained people to try to use it. In the book, Arya is given a poisoned drink as punishment, and wakes up blind.
- Apparently, when Arya returns to the House of Black and White, "Jaqen" was one Faceless Man, and another one was impersonating The Waif. The Waif is an acolyte, she can't shapeshift - though then again the TV series might have changed this and simply made her another Faceless Man, it is unclear. Alternatively, the "Jaqen" who dies in this episode actually was the man she was talking to throughout the season - but the Faceless Men consider themselves to be "no one" to such an extent that they view themselves as interchangeable. After all, the entire "Jaqen H'ghar from Lorath" identity was just a false persona that the shapeshifter had adopted. It remains unclear if Arya ever even met that same shapeshifter from Season 2 again, or if this was just another Facless Man the entire time. In the novels, it actually was a different Facless Man, whom she nicknames "The Kindly Man". The writers intentionally left the situation cryptic (as it is supposed to be in the story); when directly asked, Bryan Cogman simply chuckled and pointed out "There is no 'Jaqen H'ghar', there is no 'Kindly Man', he is no one."
- When Daenerys Targaryen encounters a Dothraki khalasar at the end, the novels specify (as Daenerys recalls, which would be difficult to fit into dialogue) that it belongs to Khal Jhaqo - one of Drogo's former lieutenants who betrayed her after Drogo died, when his large khalasar broke up and his lieutenants led away different fractions of it. It was Jhaqo who, in early Season 2, sent back a scouting horse with Rakharo's severed head (in the novels it was one of her other handmaidens).
- Daenerys is wearing the same dress that she wore at the gladiator pit, it is just very dirty and tarnished after her ride and time in the wilderness. She also tore some pieces off which were restricting her movement, i.e. pieces from the front which she wrapped around her hands so she could grip onto the dragon better. Her riding leggings did not just randomly appear as a continuity error - the costumers have actually stated that Daenerys always wears Dothraki riding leggings, even after she switched to longer gowns in Season 5, because in the back of her mind, throughout her life she has always had to be prepared to run for her life at a moment's notice.
- Emilia Clarke has pointed out that there is one thing that remains constant despite all of Daenerys's costume changes over the course of the TV series: she always wears one ring, which she explained is supposed to have belonged to her mother (who died in childbirth). Closer inspection reveals that the ring she drops in this episode is not her mother's ring, it didn't have large white pearls in it - though she has been seen wearing multiple rings at the same time before. Her mother's ring may still be on one of her other fingers, hidden by the straps of cloth she wrapped around her hands. The Inside-the-Episode guide said that with a split-second to think, she dropped it in the vain hope that anyone searching the tracks of the Dothraki riders would find it and know she was there.
- Tyrion Lannister speaks High Valyrian for the first time in this episode. Back in episode 3 of Season 5, "High Sparrow", it was subtley revealed that he knows High Valyrian: when a Red Priestess is preaching to a crowd in Volantis, he clearly understands what she is saying and even makes sarcastic commentary about specific things she says. High Valyrian in their world is loosely similar to how Latin was used in the real-life Middle Ages: the language of a once great and vast but now fallen empire (the Valyrian Freehold, loosely inspired by the Roman Republic), which is still used as the prestige language of educated men across much of the world. Even in Westeros, where the Valyrians never spread before the Doom destroyed them, High Valyrian is an esteemed lore-language taught to well-educated lords by the maesters. Samwell Tarly knows it reasonably well (he humbly says he's not great at it), while Arya had a few lessons in it but not remotely enough to know more than a few words. Tyrion is a very well-educated son of a major lord, so he knows High Valyrian quite well (though the odd mistake is bound to happen). Logically, he'd probably have looked up what the word for "dwarf" was at some point given that he is one.
- Myrcella Baratheon hasn't died yet in the novels. When last seen she is heading back to King's Landing with Trystane, by land (and Jaime isn't even there). On the other hand, at the end of the most recent novel some of the Sand Snakes are sent to King's Landing in various roles - among them the master-poisoner Tyene Sand, told to infiltrate the Great Sept pretending to be a septa (her mother was a septa in the novels, not Ellaria). There is also the prophecy given by Maggy the woods witch (seen at the beginning of Season 5) saying that all three of Cersei's children would predecease her - or specifically, that all three would have "golden crowns" but also "golden (burial) shrouds". Joffrey and Tommen both literally wore crowns, and in the novels there is a rival plot in Dorne to "crown" Myrcella as the new queen to overthrow Tommen (which comes to nothing), but it wasn't clear if "golden crowns" just figuratively meant their hair color.
- That being said, Ellaria Sand never tried to kill Myrcella in the novels - nor did she succeed in doing it. Ellaria in the novels is one of the characters calling for peace, tired of the cycle of revenge - due to limited screentime and drastic condensations of the Dorne storyline, Ellaria's actions were combined with those of other characters.
- The poison used on Myrcella would seem to be "The Long Farewell", the same poison Tyene used earlier on Bronn but gave him the antidote which she keeps in her necklace. Ellaria has actually been wearing the same kind of necklace the whole season, a hint that she always had an antidote too.
- While it may be a little unclear if Myrcella is meant to be truly dead, the HBO Viewer's Guide officially lists her as deceased.
- The manner in which Myrcella dies rises a few questions for the future: why did Ellaria poison Myrcella after sending her betrothed Trystane Martell along with her on a ship with Jaime and Bronn, who could take the prince hostage or kill him after Myrcella's assassination? It remains to be seen if Jaime and Bronn will head back to Dorne to demand retribution from Prince Doran, or if they will keep going to King's Landing.
- Myrcella hasn't been shown to know that Jaime is really her father in the novels. On the other hand, she is described as being by far the smartest of Cersei's children - just as out of Tywin's three children, it was Tyrion who inherited the famous Lannister intellect, so too among Cersei's children, it was Myrcella who inherited the family intellect. Tyrion has also complained to Cersei in the novels that it was obvious to anyone who spent a long time living in the Red Keep and was willing to consider the shocking possibility that none of Cersei's children were Robert's. Tryion bluntly asks her if he thinks she is as blind as their father is - Tywin was smart enough to see the clues if he wanted to, but the possibility that his legacy was ruined in such a way was so shocking that he was in denial. Thus it is entirely possible that Myrcella simply put the pieces together over the years (particularly after Stannis started publicly circulating the accusation that Robert wasn't her father, citing that none of Cersei's children even looked like him).
- Of the six characters with speaking roles who died in this episode, only one - Jon Snow - has actually occurred in the books yet. Stannis and Selyse (and Shireen) have not died in the novels but this subplot was moved up (and heavily condensed). Meryn Trant hasn't died, though Arya does kill a different Lannister soldier on her death list, Raff. Myrcella has not died yet in the novels, though this might be moved up from the next novel. Myranda doesn't appear in the novels at all - though she is loosely a gender-swapped condensation of "the Bastard's Boys", a group of Ramsay's lackeys from House Bolton, and some of them do get killed at Winterfell.
- Stannis's death renders all branches of House Baratheon extinct de facto - de jure, the Lannisters still claim that Tommen was Robert's son (though Myrcella's death makes him the last living member of House Baratheon of King's Landing). Stannis's death completely renders his cadet branch of the family extinct, House Baratheon of Dragonstone. Gendry, and any other bastards of Robert's that might have survived, are the only direct-line descendants of the House, and no significant cadet branches or cousins of the House have been mentioned. The novels only confirmed that Robert had three surviving bastard children after the purge following Robert's death - but in the TV series, Gendry might be Robert's only surviving child.
- The scene in which Jon Snow is repeatedly stabbed by his black brothers, with Olly delivering the final blow, resembles the Assassination of Julius Caesar, in which he was repeatedly stabbed by senators, including his former friend Brutus. In many fictionalized accounts — including HBO's own Rome series, in which Ciarán Hinds and Tobias Menzies portrayed Caesar and Brutus respectively — Brutus tearfully dealt the final blow, to Caesar's surprise, not unlike Olly stabbing Jon.
- The "deaths" of Jon Snow, Stannis Baratheon, and Myrcella Baratheon were filmed somewhat ambiguously, compared to actually seeing their corpses - Jon is badly injured and dying, Myrcella falls poisoned, and Brienne swings her sword but we don't see it actually connected with Stannis. The attack on Jon plays out much the same way in the novels: he is stabbed multiple times, falls to the ground and at least loses consciousness, but then the chapter ends on a cliffhanger. The HBO Viewer's Guide lists all three as "deceased". To avoid endless revert wars on the wiki, these three characters will be treated as dead unless proven otherwise by a subsequent episode.
- Samwell Tarly is heading to Oldtown in the Reach to become a maester, a storyline some thought had been cut, when in fact it was only delayed. This, coupled with the fact that the related Greyjoy subplot (as well as some Riverlands character) will appear in the coming season, indicates that season six will backtrack slightly and take some of the unadapted material from A Feast for Crows, if only to lay a foundation for the rest of the season, which will be based on the story of the unreleased sixth book, The Winds of Winter. However, most of the season will still be based on that single book, which probably means season 6 won't be as condensed as season 5 was.
Catching up with the books
Because both the fourth and fifth novels were condensed into Season 5, and the fifth novel is the last published one, most characters have caught up with their material from the books as of this episode.
Several characters have completely caught up with the books, while others are basically caught up, though they are a chapter or two away from the end of their published material. Bran Stark had one more chapter talking with the Last Greenseer in his cave but his arrival was a more convenient stopping point. Cersei has no other POV chapters, but there is one more chapter set at the Small Council in which characters from the Lannisters and Tyrell assess the current situation. Meanwhile, there are other subplots which were skipped over from the fourth and fifth novels, particularly the Greyjoy, Reach, and Riverlands storylines (which include Brienne of Tarth), as well as drastic condensations to the Dorne storyline (several of which now apparently will appear in Season 6), and certain other storylines which were heavily condensed with others (Sansa's Vale storyline) to the point that they may no longer appear at all.
Characters and subplots that have caught up with their current material from the novels:
- Jon Snow and the Night's Watch
- Daenerys Targaryen and Meereen, including Tyrion Lannister
- King's Landing, including Cersei Lannister and Margaery Tyrell (except for one additional Small Council chapter)
- Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish
- Stannis Baratheon and Melisandre
- Davos Seaworth was involved in other subplots in the North which were cut, but with Stannis's defeat now it is unknown if these will be drawn on later.
- Roose Bolton and Ramsay Bolton
- Bran Stark, Hodor, and Meera Reed - already caught up at the end of Season 4, except for one chapter.
- Theon Greyjoy
Characters and subplots that have not yet caught up with the books:
- Arya Stark - Arya goes blind at the end of the fourth novel, but is still alive. Arya's storyline was one of the ones focused on in the fourth novel, which then took time off to deal with the other storylines in the fifth novel - but the end of the fifth novel then devotes a few chapters at the end to check back in on how the storylines from the end of the fifth novel were doing. Arya has two more chapters in the fifth novel which have not yet been adapted. Arya also doesn't kill Raff (Meryn Trant in the TV series) in the fifth novel, but in a chapter from the sixth novel which Martin officially released on his website (it had been completed long ago, and he apparently wanted viewers to know what Arya's climactic scene this season was based on).
- Samwell Tarly and Gilly are now heading to Oldtown - which is on the southern end of Westeros, opposite from the Wall. Sam and Gilly actually leave the Wall near the beginning of the fourth novel (and their storyline is one of those not covered in the fifth novel). Thus, because this storyline was skipped but they are now slowing down again to revisit it, Samwell and Gilly actually still have a whole book's worth of their material to cover (about four large chapters).
- The entire House Greyjoy subplot - Yara Greyjoy actually becomes a POV narrator in the fifth novel and is a very major character. She did not appear at all in Season 5, nor did the major Iron Islands subplot which begins in the fourth novel and continues into the fifth novel. Casting reports indicate that this subplot now will appear in some form.
- The subplots in The Riverlands, centering around the Frey siege of the Tullys at Riverrun - which involved Jaime Lannister in the novels, and also Brienne of Tarth's wandering in the Riverlands (several characters of which do appear in the casting calls for Season 6, but they may have been moved to subplots of other characters). Given how much Jaime and Brienne's subplots were changed in Season 5, it is unclear how these will play out in Season 6.
- Much of the Dorne subplot was extremely condensed, to the point that Doran Martell only briefly appeared in Season 5, and many other members of House Martell didn't appear and were thought to have been adapted out (the TV series did state that there are eight Sand Snakes - there are four adult ones, and the fourth gets involved in others storylines). Nor did it include Doran's daughter and heir Arianne Martell - she may have been omitted from the TV continuity entirely, but with future seasons no longer in doubt, there is some chance she may yet appear in Season 6. Arianne is even the POV narrator for Dorne scenes.
In the books
- The episode is adapted from the following chapters of A Feast for Crows:
- Chapter 5, Samwell I: Sam is sent by Jon to the Citadel at Oldtown, so that he can become a maester and replace Aemon. Gilly and the baby are sent with him in order to ensure their safety.
- Chapter 34, Cat of the Canals: While disguised as the clam-selling orphan who wanders the canals, Arya kills a man she despises. When she goes back to the House of Black and White, the Faceless Man finds out that "Arya Stark" killed this man, and gives Arya a poison which leaves her blind.
- The episode is adapted from the following chapters of A Dance with Dragons:
- Chapter 7, Jon II: Jon sends Sam, Gilly and the baby to the Citadel at Oldtown so that Sam can become a maester and replace Aemon, and to ensure the safety of Gilly and the baby.
- Chapter 38, The Watcher: The Sand Snakes are released, and Cersei’s Kingsguard is sent in his way to King's Landing with Princess Myrcella and her betrothed Trystane.
- Chapter 45, The Blind Girl: Regarding Arya’s unsanctioned assassination, the Faceless Man tells her they are not gods to decide who lives or dies —only the Many-Faced God can give the gift of death, and they are merely his servants, so when she killed this man she took God's powers on herself.
- Chapter 51, Theon I: Theon agrees to help Ramsay’s wife escape Winterfell. In a hurry, with Bolton soldiers approaching, they are forced throw themselves over the castle's battlements.
- Chapter 54, Cersei I: Cersei decides to confess, asking Septa Unella to take her to the High Sparrow. She drops to her knees in front of him, pleads the Mother’s mercy, and admits to fornicating with Lancel. However, she defends herself by claiming she felt lonely and afraid, and she does not admit to the charges of murdering Robert or the incest and adultery with her brother Jaime, arguing it is a lie propagated by Stannis Baratheon to make himself appear the legitimate heir to the Iron Throne. The High Sparrow says a trial by the Gods will decide the truth of the charges she still denies.
- Chapter 55, The Queensguard: In Queen Daenerys’ absence, her council agrees to take charge of Meereen, to send out a party in search of Daenerys, and to prepare the city against its enemies.
- Chapter 57, Tyrion XI: Tyrion witnesses the aftermath of Daenerys’s disappearance on Drogon.
- Chapter 65, Cersei II: The only way for Cersei to escape the Great Sept until the trial is to atone for her confessed sins —she must perform a walk of atonement from the Sept to the Red Keep. She is stripped naked, her head shaven, escorted out and announced to the crowds as a sinner who has confessed and begged for forgiveness and who must demonstrate her repentance by "putting aside all pride and artifice and presenting herself as the gods made her before the good people of the city." During the walk, the Septas ring a bell and shout “Shame!”, while the people insult her and throw things at her. Cersei resolves herself to endure the humiliation, yet at the gates of the Red Keep she breaks down and collapses to the ground. She is greeted warmly by Qyburn, and a large man escorts her inside. Qyburn introduces him as a new Kingsguard member who has taken a holy vow of silence and sworn not to speak until all of Cersei’s enemies are dead and evil has been driven from the realm.
- Chapter 66, Tyrion XII: Tyrion and Jorah decide to side with and help Daenerys’ reign in Meereen, which is crumbling after she flew away on Drogon’s back.
- Chapter 69, Jon XIII: Jon receives news that King Stannis has been defeated and killed in battle. Suddenly, a Night's Watch man attacks him with a dagger. The attacker is then joined by many other black brothers, including Bowen Marsh, who stab Jon repeatedly while saying “For the watch.”
- Chapter 71, Daenerys X: In the Dothraki Sea, Drogon finally lands in order to nourish himself. Since the dragon is uncooperative, Dany decides to walk back to Meereen by herself. Suddenly, a Dothraki scout appears and is soon joined by a whole khalasar from one of Khal Drogo's former lieutenants.
- The sixth novel, The Winds of Winter, remains unpublished, so there are some events brought forward from it that will occur in the story, yet the specific chapters are unknown. This includes the battle for Winterfell between Stannis and the Boltons, and may include Stannis', Selyse's and Myrcella's deaths. The episode is adapted from the following chapters of The Winds of Winter: