A Retrospective of the Meereenese plotline from Game of Thrones’s fifth season
Fellow Fandom Following author Kylie and I have been working on a series of retrospectives examining individual plotlines from Game of Thrones (GoT)’s fifth season. By trying to answer incredibly basic questions about each one, we’ve been able to uncover the fascinating depths of showrunners’ David Benioff and Dan Weiss (D&D)’s ineptitude, as well as some horrifying implications that we didn’t notice before. After analyzing Dorne, Winterhell, King’s Landing, and The Wall arcs, we are finally ready to jump into Meereen, which features (arguably) the two most central characters to the entire show. Or at least to its marketing material. Because who doesn’t love a queen of faux empowerment and a quippy dude that can never be wrong?
As before, we will attempt to answer the following:
- What was the story they were trying to tell?
- Whose story was it?
- What was the result of this story, from a thematic and character perspective?
- What adaptational choices were made?
- Why did they make the adaptational choices they did?
- How did those choices change the story?
And because this is GoT, we also need to ask ourselves:
- What the fuck were they thinking?
For Part 1 at this retrospective, we will focus entirely on the question, “what was the story they were trying to tell?” It’s been half a year since GoT’s fifth season concluded, and there’s a chance that you’ve forgotten some of the finer points of this marvelous plotline. To be clear, “Meereen” includes the travels of Saint Tyrion and Ser Jorah the Hilariously Friendzoned, as they ran on a collision course straight into Deadpan Stormborn, in what was clearly the most exciting moment in modern television history.
So let us take you back to the start, where you can relive every slash of a strawman’s sword, every dick-joke, and every anachronistic line with a monotone delivery:
We begin with Saint Tyrion, who is so holy that he’s already in a reliquary despite still being alive. Well, mostly. He is sloshed. We see glimpses of life of Pentos through a little peephole. Varys Marx opens his box in the middle of an open patio-like space and he staggers out. But he has a fetching break-up beard.
He and Varys Marx snark about who had the least pleasant time dealing with Tyrion’s literal shit and then we get a metaphorically shitty retcon! You see, guys, this is the house of Varys’s “colleague” Illyrio Mopatis. They met at a “Robert Totes Sucks Club” meeting. They wanted to do what was best for “our country” and restore the Targs because they were apparently so damn nice.
Saint Tyrion isn’t all that interested. He’s too busy feeling sorry for himself and looking for wine. Varys Marx berates him for not caring about “the future” but, dude is going through a break-up, bra; give him some space. Then he barfs wine onto the rug. Then he takes another drink. It’s mildly humourous.
Over in Meereen, the Unsullied are destroying an one-thousand-year-old cultural icon. But it’s an icon that stands for slavery, so we’ll give them that one. Rando Unsullied (RU) looks pleased. So pleased that he decides to go get some in the brothel district. But by “some” we mean cuddles, as he reminds the sex worker that nudity is not required. This is only after she shows us some full frontal, but he at least tried.
While they’re enjoying their cuddles, another rando in a gold mask with horns appears and slits RU’s throat. The sex worker seems pleased. And so do her tits.
But Deadpan Card-born, the Unemotional, Queen of Simplified Bay, Queen of the Anachronisms and the Clichéd, Khaleesi of Faux-Empowerment, Breaker of Suspended Disbelief, and part-time Mother of Dragons, is not. She exposits how The Strawmen of the Harpy were responsible. Barry the Scary tries to explain that people tend to react badly to being conquered, but she’s all “White Man’s Burden, shut up.” Barry and Stock Freedman #43 are very concerned about her plan to have a public funeral for RU, since it will make the Strawmen angry, but Deadpan says that’s good because “angry snakes lash out, makes chopping off their heads that much easier.” Stock Freedman #43 channels some Bill Tundle:
Missy goes to see Grey Worm in the armoury or something. She wants him to awkwardly establish the worldbuilding detail about the Unsullied cuddles, though damn if he takes the hint and actually uses book dialogue that would have fit perfectly here. She also clearly wants some cuddles of her own, but Grey Worm plays dumb. Missy is sad.
Back in Pentos, Saint Tyrion is still drunk, but he’s leveled out. And he has a nice new outfit. Varys Marx joins him and they argue over who has the better nickname before Varys strokes Tyrion’s ego by saying he’s not a coward. Saint Tyrion wants to know why Varys saved him. The Marxist bullshits for a while before he admits that he did it “for the Seven Kingdoms.” Sure dude. You’re such a patriot. He moves on
to full-stop fellating Saint Tyrion’s ego. He says that he’s a “man of talent” who has “compassion”. Even Tyrion calls bullshit on this. Still, Comrade Varys really wants his help to build his worker’s paradise, and for that they need an enlightened dictator with the right name. But hold the phones…who said anything about a man?!
Back in Meereen (is this still Episode One? Kill us.) Faabio Naharis and Hizdahr zo Sansa return from a bro trip they apparently had to Yunkai, and Hizzy is shocked at all the Unsullied patrolling the streets of his beloved home.
We find out that Hizzy is a MASTER diplomat because the deal he got out of the Yunkai’i is slightly ridiculous. They agreed to ditch their entire system of government in favour of one Deadpan approves of, and to consult to with her if anything important comes up because… Hizzy has mind control powers, we guess. But Deadpan still isn’t pleased when he admits that they asked for one small concession. She’s “not a politician, [she’s] a queen” after all. Because the two are obviously mutually exclusive, especially in this context, and that line wasn’t just completely vacuous or anachronistic. And no monarch has ever compromised, ever.
Hizzy patiently explains to Deadpan why she’s an idiot. An idiot who’s easily distracted by her boyfriend fiddling with phallic objects. Anyway, she’s adamant, no Fighting Pits, and also: shut up.
Later, Faabio and his ass explains to Deadpan and her sex wig why she’s an idiot. He says that everyone is too afraid of her to speak the truth. Except Hizdahr zo Sansa totally just did. Because he’s brave, like a lady in a song. We’re sorry, we’re just suddenly unironically stanning Hizzy. No joke, he’s awesome. Anyway Faabio tells her she should scare the shit out of people with her dragons. We’re sure that will encourage them to tell her the truth from here on out!
Deadpan goes into the sewer thing where her babies are locked up, and immediately regrets not bringing a flashlight. You’re walking down stairs, child! You’re going to get hurt! But at least Viserion and Rhaegal have names. It only took three seasons. They don’t like Deadpan now either.
Forget these breaks in continuity; you know what this show doesn’t have enough of? Bro trips. We swear, at this point D&D just spin some kind of wheel to plan their next one, because it is the Faabio Naharis and Grey Worm’s Super Sleuth Special! Faabio decides to admonish the Unsullied for their silly patrolling. REAL soldiers drink in taverns with the people in case a rando drops some intel about spares who may or may not not be serving an extremely well-organized movement. That’s how to get to the top, buddy.
But Faabio and Grey Worm decide it’s a tip worth checking up on. However, Grey Worm and his fearless goggles prevent him from seeing that the Strawman of the Harpy is obviously hiding inside his mothafucking wall. “Someone who’s forgotten fear, has forgotten how to hide.” It just sounds to us like someone’s forgotten how to write a vaguely comprehensible scene. Like…how did this even work? Did the strawman have an Elvish cloak from Lothlorien because this looks a hell of a lot like the drywall. The best part is that the Strawman hid with his Harpy mask and daggers. Why didn’t he just hide those and then deny shit when the Unsullied came knocking?
Wow, we just had a pang of missing the Brazen Beasts. Sorry. It will pass.
Anyway, we go over to Deadpan’s Small Council, where apparently everyone is able to speak…whatever language this is (Valyrian?) flawlessly and without an accent—Barristan “I’m so ridiculously Westerosi that Daeron I Targaryen would have told me to calm the fuck down” Selmy included—except for Grey Worm and Stock Freedman #43, who speak a broken version of this language. Because we guess D&D aren’t above using modern-day shorthands to express concepts like “less educated” and “downtrodden.” Thank the gods they “fixed” that White Savior problem they had…
So the Small Council is all pissed off that the Strawmen of the Harpy exist, and both Stock Freedman #43 and Faabio think that the rando wall-hidey Strawman should be killed. Ya know, maybe because he was found to be a member of a terrorist organization with immutable proof? Hizdahr zo Sansa is just all, “but I’m rich and I’m not a Strawman…” We know, guy. You’re accidentally Sansa, somehow, and therefore, accidentally quite nuanced. We feel really bad you got stuck with this.
Deadpan seems unmoved by his #notallslavers argument, however. Or maybe she just realizes that his point about the ambiguity of class separations is too much for her to deal with. It seems like they’re going to put the Strawman to death, but then Barry the Scary decides that it’d be really fun to just establish an entire legal system. And have a trial for this obviously guilty person.
Barry stays after class to tell Deadpan that her dad was truly “the Mad King” who went on killing sprees and thought it was justice. Apparently our favorite knight understands nuance as well as D&D if he thinks this situation is in any way comparable. But somehow it convinces Deadpan that yeah, “a fair trial” is a thing that can totally happen here.
Um…that is until the next scene in Meereen, where Stock Freedman #43 murders the imprisoned Strawman and then writes “kill the masters” in his blood. And in English. Damnit! We were looking forward to those courtroom opening statements. Still, Stock Freedman #43 proudly admits this deed to Deadpan, who tells him “the law is the law.” It’s amazing how that can change as the plot demands!
Then she decides that instead of sending a message to the people of Meereen by offering a terrorist a trial, she’s going to send a message by publicly executing a former slave. Logic! I mean…“freedom and justice,” which is what she tells everyone she’s giving them. The people of Meereen think she’s full of shit too. So they pelt her with some and hiss.
Still, the day was not a total loss for her. Drogon turned up on top of her pyramid because…reasons, and she gives him head-scritchies before he flies off. Foreshadowing!
Wow, after that display of governance, it really makes us wish that there was a wise, politically-gifted individual on his way to Simplified Bay to sort out this simplified situation for Deadpan…OH WAIT. Saint Tyrion and Varys Marx are on the case. In a box. Saint Tyrion doesn’t like the box, but Varys is determined to keep him safe from Carol. He then decides to kiss our unproblematic Patron Saint of Goodness’s ass a bit more, by calling him a “man of talent” again and waxing lyrical about how well he ran King’s Landing. Good thing Book!Tyrion’s blunders never made it to the screen…that might have been embarrassing.
Then we get an odd bit of Book!Tyrion, when Saint Tyrion decides to make a crass remark about Carol’s “cunt.” Wow, you feeling alright buddy? We know a paragon like you would only say such horrid things if they were completely and 100% justified. Let’s hope the next scene will subtly confirm that Carol is, indeed, anti-Tyrion.
Varys points out that he and Saint Tyrion would never be allowed to rule because people find them repulsive. But apparently “we find them repulsive, which is why we surround ourselves with large, comfortable boxes to keep them away.” No, dude, you literally just said it was to be inconspicuous. It’s almost as if this conversation was structured around a couple of wise-sounding quotes, and the rest was just filler to get us there. Neat.
But hopefully you loved it, because in the next episode, Varys Marx and Saint Tyrion are still on the road in their box. Tyrion is being fucking annoying by fiddling with the shutters and bitching. Varys Marx eventually gives into his unrelenting whining, although they would have had to get out to cross the Long Bridge anyway so…
In any case, yes, they have arrived in Volantis and are crossing the famous bridge. Varys Marx exposits on the system of slavery they have, with tattoos to mark each slave and the work they do. What happens if they ever change jobs? We’ve always wondered about that. Saint Tyrion comes across a lady preaching R’hllor stuff and is transfixed. She hates slavery and stans for Deadpan. And she makes eye contact with our Travelling Paladin of Progressivism, which is… meaningful?
He wants to go to a brothel, but only for a beer and wings. And he’s snarky at the ableist bouncer. What a hero! Inside they get cheap wine and look askance at a sex
worker slave cos-playing as Deadpan. Also Ser Jorah the Hilariously Friendzoned is there, who is just full of manpain at the sight of these people disrespecting the object of his pure and virtuous [and spiritual] love.
Good Guy Tyrion™ then sees a sex slave who looks lonely (we guess) and walks over there to make her feel better. Within seconds she is giggling at his witty banter. And within a minute she’s in love. Because he makes her feel so special. All those years in sexual bondage, she’s just been waiting for a guy like him to come along with his generic compliments. They should totes fuck. We’re sure her owner won’t mind if she doesn’t meet her quota because she’s giving away free sex. Tyrion is just so NICE. She even encourages him to have a drink when he was slightly hesitant at this offer.
But he’s too nice. He can’t bring himself to exploit her offer of apparently consensual sex because he recognizes how she’s in a position that inherently lacks agency, thus making her consent doubtful. Or because he still mourns Shae? Or because he’s drunk and can’t get it up? Whatever. #notallmen.
All men must piss, though. And as soon as Saint Tyrion does, Ser Hilariously Friendzoned attacks! He ties him up a says “I’m taking you to the queen.” Cliffhanger!
Or…kinda? We already know what he means, right? Dramatic irony is a bitch. Anyway, the next episode opens immediately with this wacky buddy trip. Thank the gods they didn’t keep us waiting long. Jorah needs a boat, so he clocks a rando in the face to commander his (at least he left him, like, 2 coins?), and then THROWS “Tyrion” onto it. Totally not a dummy here:
We guess he was fine though, because when we see the bros next, Saint Tyrion is singing with a gag in his mouth; what a hoot! Can he get even more perfect? We wonder if it was supposed to be Rains or Bear. There’s only two songs in Weisseroff, after all, though this one sounds suspiciously like “Mary had a Little Lamb” to us. Jorah apparently wasn’t a fan however, because he yanks off the gag in a fabulously pissy fashion.
Then Saint Tyrion uses his super sleuthing abilities to deduce who Jorah is (the giant bear sigil helped, we think). Jorah tells him that they’re going to Deadpan (*gasp*), and Saint Tyrion uses his knowledge from his Small Council days to come to the realization that since Jorah spying on Deadpan and clearly wants to go back to her, he probably was dismissed. Way to take over Barry the Scary’s plotpoint, guy. Good thing our favorite queensguard will remain alive and well to prevent Saint Tyrion from stealing more of his arc.
Saint Tyrion decides it’d be really fun to spend the rest of the trip goading his captor into punching him in the face. Because he pushed on that friendzone-pain of Jorah. If only Deadpan would appreciate such a Good Guy™.
Meanwhile, in Meereen, Barry the Scary just randomly saunters up to Deadpan and tells her about how Rhaegar, the heir to the goddamn Iron Throne, would go serenade smallfolk with his harp in the slums of King’s Landing. And that somehow nobody noticed this, despite both he and Barry being two of the most recognizable people in the world. Poor Arthur Dayne; Show!Rhaegar didn’t want to take his bestie to go get sloppy afterwards? We guess it’s a given that he didn’t hit the taverns with his wife.
Faabio strolls in to tell Deadpan that like…her job awaits her. She decides to give Barry the day off so he can wander the streets of a foreign city alone, and that’s somehow supposed to stir up his fond memories of Rhaegar the Unassuming Bard. He’s hesitant, but Faabio assures him that he can protect Deadpan from Hizdahr zo Sansa. “I can protect me from Hizdahr,” Deadpan agrees, rolling her eyes. That’s right, gang up on that sissy who wants to speak to you about reconciliation and pragmatism.
And seriously, Hizdahr zo Sansa’s comment about how former slaves and masters have nothing in common without tradition is just as wise as when Sansa zo Sansa thought up the “bad luck to kill someone on your nameday” lie to save Dontos’s life. These are good people. And sure, there’s a major values dissonance problem with defending a blood sport, but Hizzy has legitimate points. Deadpan wants none of it.
You know who else wants none of it? The Strawmen of the Harpy. They flood into a courtyard and kill…Second Sons? Former-slaves? We’re not sure, but it’s all just to set a trap for Grey Worm’s Unsullied squad. Oh, and the Strawmen got the EXACT SAME evil!sex worker to help lure them in. Who is this lady? What are her aims here? What is with the casual whorephobia everywhere in GoT?
Once inside, the Unsullied prove themselves to be the world’s least effective fighters. Honeypot all you want about spears and close quarters, but we really don’t care. They’re just useless and it’s stupid. There’s lots of squicky blood spattering, and Grey Worm gets his helmet conveniently knocked off so we can be worried about him.
At the same time, Barry the Scary is just strolling along, potentially looking for dames to serenade, when some kind of church bell starts ringing, and a bunch of people run away. He charges into the room where the Strawmen were trapping the Unsullied, and a remix of Deadpan’s theme plays in the background. Too bad all of Barry’s actual interactions with her were cut out. Anyway, he kills a bunch of dudes while Grey Worm gets stabbed in the stummy. And then these NOBODIES murder the best knight in all of Westeros, the man who killed the last Blackfyre pretender and was winning tourneys in his sixties. What a dignified and sensical end.
We don’t have to wait long to find out what happens to Grey Worm, because the first thing we see in the next episode is Missy sitting by his bedside. She always has really good posture. Then we cut the Deadpan standing by Barry’s bierside. Hizdahr zo Sansa comes to offer his condolences, but Deadpan is so upset that she almost shows an emotion. She orders Faabio to round up all the heads of the Great Families.
Hizzy is pretty quick to pick up on the fact that he belongs in that category. And, indeed, he is also seized. They all meet up in the sewer where Deadpan…has an expression identical to the one she always wears. But we think she means business this time. She then has her thugs force the terrified men into the centre of the room at spearpoint, despite their protests. She picks one at random and throws him forward, saying that her dragons will eat them when she tells them too. Or maybe they will even if she tells them not to because they’re really rowdy teenagers. Motherhood is tough.
Rhaegal (we think) suddenly sends a fireball and the guy gets cooked. Both dragons go at it. Meanwhile, Hizdahr zo Sansa is trying to be super brave and dignified, even as Deadpan threatens to feed all the Great Masters to her kids. This seems to give Deadpan a partial. We think, because seriously, her expression never changes. We can’t emphasize this point enough.
Anyway, time for more Miss Worm drama. Grey Worm is super ashamed because he’s overcoming his lifetime of brainwashing and developing emotions. What a jerk.
Then Missandei gets a second Drama Queen to deal with, as Deadpan asks her for advice all of a sudden. She argues that she’s not qualified to give advice on effective colonialism, but as a former slave, she super qualified to kiss the murdering despot’s ass.
Emboldened, Deadpan devises a cunning plan! She rushes down to the dungeon where she has Hizzy imprisoned on the charge of…she hates his stupid beard. Hizdahr gets on his knees, in tears, and begs her not to kill him. Deadpan manages to turn praise of him for being courageous into praise of herself. “It takes courage to admit fear. And to admit a mistake. I came here to tell you that I was wrong.”
In any case, Deadpan decided ten minutes ago on two things: 1. She’s going to reopen the fighting pits because she LOVES tradition now, 2. she and Hizzy are tying the knot. The man looks absolutely terrified of her. He is totally ready to burn his mattress.
Meanwhile, off the coast near Belfast, we mean…in the uncharted wilds of the Smokeless Smoking Sea, Saint Tyrion is not enjoying his bro trip any more than last time. Ser Hilariously Friendzoned is giving him the silent treatment. Or maybe he’s been focusing in order to get in character as Jon Connington. “No wine,” he says when Saint Tyrion tries to explain the concept of alcoholism.
But our Patron Saint of Relatable Flaws has bigger problems than pink elephants. His companion wants to take them through “Valyria” where the Doom still rules and there are demons and shit because… pirates. Okay.
“The Smoking Sea” Tyrion declares of the…small, slightly misty river.
“How many centuries before we learn how to build cities like this again,” he says of the…moderately impressive ruins. Then he quotes some moderately adequate poetry:
“They held each other close, and turned their backs upon the end; The hills that split asunder, and the black that ate the sky; The flames that shot so high and hot, that even dragons burned; And never viewed the final sights, that fell upon their eyes; A fly upon the wall, the waves the sea wind whipped and churned. The city of a thousand years, and all that men had learned; The Doom consumed it all alike, and neither of them turned.”
Good job Cogman; that at least sounds like it took you more than five minutes.
Also moderately adequate in the meaning department is the sight of Drogon nonchalantly flying by overhead. Saint Tyrion seems quite moved. Unfortunately we get about two seconds for him to consider the enormous implications of the fact that the mythical WMD analogues have returned from extinction before a “stoneman” attacks their tiny little boat.
Jorah screams at Tyrion to not let them touch him as he tries to hold them off with an oar. Tyrion just screams for Ser Hilariously Friendzoned to untie him. Dude? He’s busy. It’s action packed, we guess. The music seems to think this is exciting. Also, the stonemen kind of look like Reavers.
Saint Tyrion comes damn close to becoming a martyr when one of them knocks him over board and another one starts to drag him under the water. But Jorah apparently rescues him, so that’s fine. They end up on a beach some distance away…somehow. And their boat is gone. Ser Hilariously Friendzoned declares that they’re going to walk to Meereen. Sure.
Oh, and he has greyscale. What a shock!
Like, he REALLY has greyscale. By the next episode, Greyscale Jorah (like Typhoid Mary…get it? Get it? We’ll see ourselves out.) has the damn disease taking up half his arm. But he’s really good at hiding it, apparently. Saint Tyrion wants to know “where were all these villages we were supposed to have come across?” That’s actually an excellent question, Tyrion, because what the fuck are these villages that you’re talking about?
Bryan Cogman then lampshades how it is that Jorah only now saw fit to ask why our Saint was in Essos. We appreciate the effort, but our disbelief hasn’t been suspended for at least two years now. Saint Tyrion uses this opportunity to explain that he killed his father for “fucking the woman I loved.” Does that…kinda blackwash him? We don’t know, and we’re quite certain D&D didn’t even consider that.
Still, his halo is firmly in-tact as he reveals that he is a Jeor Mormont-stan. So much so that he took it upon himself to learn all the specific details of his death, despite already being off the Small Council at that time. Jorah sort of reacts to this, but then talks about his own stanning for Deadpan. It’s not because he’s a lecherous creep, but because she caused him to believe in a higher power when she hatched the baby dragons.
But oh noes! Our Good Guys™ are spotted by a slaver! They were hiding behind a rock. Mr. Eko thinks Jorah would make a great galley slave, but Saint Tyrion’s penis is what’s really going to fetch the hefty sum for them. From the cock merchant. Which is a thing. And apparently our Patron Saint’s giant dong saves him from execution, because ho-ho-ho it’s not “dwarf-sized.”
Anyway, Mr. Eko wants to take them to Volantis, not Simplified Bay where you know…a queen with dragons just abolished slavery. But Saint Tyrion convinces them to go to Meereen instead because Jorah one time killed a Dothraki rider in single combat, so therefore there’s more profit to be made by selling him to the fighting pits? Honestly, there’s a good chance Mr. Eko is just bored.
Now comes the episode we’ve all been waiting for: “The Gift.”
The boys end up being dragged to Meereen in chains. Looks like Deadpan’s whole “smashing the slave trade thing” isn’t working out so hot. Seven save us, can she do anything right? Good thing Tyrion in FINALLY here!
Mr. Eko begins by talking up Jorah’s achievements at the auction block. His spiel is full of humorous minor mistakes about the “siege of Spike” and stuff, which would be funnier if they weren’t so small compared to the glaring errors D&D routinely make. Greyscale Jorah is eventually sold for “20 honours”, which is seriously not all that much (Book!Dany is willing to give a thousand honours for crime stopper tips).
As Jorah is carted off, Saint Tyrion runs forward and goes, “no, you can’t! He’s the biscuit and I’m the strawberry jam! And I’m a great warrior too!” Why Saint Tyrion is so eager to stick with the dude who kidnapped him is beyond us. Did they bond that much? In any case, Saint Tyrion yanks on his own chain and start bludgeoning the slaver who was holding him with it. This makes everyone laugh and totes impresses the guy who bought Jorah. Yeah…that’s how a slaver would act…very plausible.
Then Our Patron Saint of Persuasion tries to persuade the slaver to free him, we think. But it doesn’t work. There’s this loophole where he gives him one coin and says that those are his wages for the rest of his life. Gods, Deadpan is such a screw up. Her policies fucking suck.
Speaking of fucking (we win the segue award!) Deadpan and Faabio have just finished. He asks her when Hizzy will be replacing him, which he seems to find hilarious, but Deadpan makes it clear she has no intention of actually taking that marriage seriously. Then Faabio randomly throws out the idea that Hizdahr zo Sansa is the head Strawman, but Deadpan laughs it off as jealousy. And he totally is jealous and tries to talk her into marrying him instead.
Then he says, “I know I’m here to serve my queen and not give advice, but can I make one more suggestion?” Dude. First off, you’ve been advising her this whole time. Second, you are literally the only one she listens to. She even occasionally moves her face in your presence. But he’s advising her to do some kind of Red Wedding scenario so…
Back to our Lord and Saviour! Ser Hilariously Friendzoned and a bunch of other “non”slaves are getting suited up for a fighting pit. Saint Tyrion is chained to the wall, for some reason. He’s dangerous, we guess. Slaver Dude #932 gives a spiel about how the guy who wins will get to fight in front of the queen. Jorah’s interest is piqued. Ours is less-so. Also isn’t this incredibly economically inefficient for the slavers?
Deadpan shows up with her sham fiancé and immediately starts bitching and rolling her eyes and generally acting like a fourteen-year-old forced to attend her grandma’s square dancing competition while Hizzy is patiently like: “PR”. Slaver Dude runs over to kiss their ass and is moderately humourous. (“Your Grace, Your Future Grace” heh.)
But you really can’t blame Deadpan for being pissy as the not!slaves start killing each other. Hizzy doesn’t seem too into it either, to tell the truth, but he still objects when she gets up to leave. When he points out, again: “PR” she gets all mad at him and says, “I’ve sacrificed more than enough for your traditions”. As though conquering this city and creating social and economic chaos was all his idea. Like, she really despises him, and doesn’t bother to hide it.
Inside the green room, Ser Hilariously Friendzoned hears Deadpan being mentioned and immediately puts on his armour and runs out. Tyrion tries to follow but, oh no, the chains! Jorah charges out into the pit and starts kicking ass. Tyrion keeps trying to escape and…help Jorah? Why? Anyway, a random giant man comes out of nowhere and breaks his chains. For literally no reason.
Outside, Jorah is victorious. But Deadpan isn’t happy to see him. He screams that he has a gift for her. Saint Tyrion nonchalantly strolls out and confirms this. When Deadpan asks who the hell he is he raises his hands, palms up and says:
Yeah…if you could kill us now, that would be great.
Anyway, are you ready for it? The meeting of these two characters that “creatively made sense because [D&D] wanted it to happen”?? Can your brain HANDLE the awesomeness????
Well, it first opens with Deadpan being SUPER deadpanny on her throne, while Saint Tyrion humble-brags about killing his own family and being awesome. He points out that she needs him because she doesn’t have any Westerosi to council her.
Then Deadpan asks Saint Tyrion to problem solve for her as a test: what should she do about Jorah? Because her womanly instincts are super compromised because of their awkward friendzone history, clearly. Tyrion smartly points out how Jorah didn’t trust her, so therefore she “cannot have him by [her] side” when she finally crosses the Narrow Sea.
Greyscale Jorah walks outside the city looking sad, then takes another peak at his giant infection. Yup. Still there. Good thing this queen you’re so in love with didn’t try to hug you or anything. Maybe you should have thought twice before bringing the literal plague into her city?
Then Tyrion and Deadpan have a ~~meaningful~~ conversation.
But actually. This conversation goes absolutely nowhere. Tyrion mentions killing his father, but then also how Aerys sucked. “Two terrible children from two terrible fathers.” “I’m terrible?” “Maybe you’re the right kind of terrible.” This writing is terrible.
Then Saint Tyrion pats Deadpan on the head and tells her she was a good little girl for opening the pits and agreeing to marry Hizdahr zo Sansa. It’d be supes awkward if he changes his mind about that the next episode. He points out that Carol married someone she hated, and ended up killing him. Deadpan then says “perhaps it won’t come to that,” implying that she both hates Hizzy, and has thought about possibly needing to kill him. WHAT DID HE FUCKING DO TO YOU, DEADPAN?
Saint Tyrion awkwards around the Varys Marx retcon by saying he was probably the reason that Deadpan wasn’t killed as a baby. Okay, but he was also the literal reason she was almost killed four years ago, or however much time has passed in this stupid show. Then Tyrion says that in addition to Varys, he stans Larry 🙂 . Good thing there wasn’t a horrible secret that he hid from his brother his entire life or anything.
Somehow the conversation turns into Deadpan’s declaration that she wants the smallfolk to support her. Saint Tyrion says she needs Houses to back her, and concludes that the Tyrells are her only hope. YOU FORGOT THE MARTELLS, YOU DOOF. Also the Tyrells are supes committed to the Lannister cause with this (horrifyingly, now) consummated marriage, so what is he even on about?
Deadpan doesn’t know or care either, because she’s going to break the wheel. We literally have no idea what this entails. But boy doesn’t she sound badass as she deadpannedly states it.
But if that warm milk conversation was getting you down, never fear! It’s time for more senseless violence! Deadpan is sitting in the important person box with Saint Tyrion literally at her right hand.
Then Deadpan’s pissy at Hizdahr zo Sansa for being late because what a LOSER he is to have organized this entire shindig. Some random guy comes out to open the games and Deadpan immediately rolls her eyes and won’t pay attention. Hizzy cajoles her into clapping her hands to get them started.
Faabio and Deadpan then gang up on poor Hizzy because he’s clearly such a lesser man. Her boyfriend then flirts with her in front of her maybe!husband and fiddles with a phallic object while casually holding a knife to his throat. And Hizzy just sits there awkwardly. Anyone still wondering about his nickname? (Though perhaps Hizdahr zo Naerys might be better at this point.)
Hizzy then asks Tyrion if he’s into blood sports. But he’s the Patron Saint of Progressivism and Anachronistic Mouthpieces of Audience Opinion, so of course he isn’t. Hizzy makes a point about the value of tradition and the stabilizing influence of institutions that is perfectly reasonable, from a Watsonian perspective. Unfortunately, values dissonance can only exist to make our golden boy look good by comparison.
And then…Deadpan tells Hizdahr zo Sansa that she’ll “return your great city to the dirt” and if everyone dies as a result it will be worth it because “they’ll have died for a good reason.” What a hero. Hizzy calls her out on her protective paternalism, and rather terrifying solipsism. She looks mildly confused by his mouthwords so Saint Tyrion swoops in and gives Hizzy a back handed compliment.
Then Deadpan is lured by the siren song that is Iain Glen’s voice. We don’t blame her. She’s freaked out by his persistent stalking. Hizzy tries to say something, but Faabio literally tells the king-consort to shut up. Deadpan decides to pretend to ignore Ser Hilariously Friendzoned or something, so they fight, fight, fight. The whole time Jorah is all “notice me, Khaleesi!” Forgive us if we don’t want to go through every stupid beat and contrivance here.
The fight ends and Jorah is victorious! What a shock. Then he suddenly throws a spear to, um, spear a random Strawman who suddenly appeared behind her. And just like that, there are Strawmen all over the place in the audience!
They start killing people indiscriminately because that’s what they’re about, we guess. Deadpan stands there looking confused while all her menz fight for her. Even Saint Tyrion gets to save a cowering Missy, because he’s clearly more physically capable than her.
It’s finally Hizdahr zo Sansa’s time to shine! He knows a way out! He can save the day without being a toxically masculine action hero! Oh…he’s dead.
Greyscale Jorah then extends his greyscaly hand out to Deadpan, offering her rescue. And she accepts. Hizzy is still alive and twitching on the floor, btw, but fuck him. Deadpan never did like him and his dignity, reason, or refusal to be a pushover.
Anyway, Team Deadpan derp around a bit, but eventually end up in the centre of the arena surrounded by incredibly overpowered and hilariously plentiful Strawmen. Like, these aren’t professional soldiers, right? They’re just rich-boy thugs. Also, the Unsullied? Useless.
Deadpan and Missy hold hands and close their eyes, stoically accepting death like true badasses. Or maybe they’re frozen with all their empowerment.
But what that! A Nightfury?
No, it’s Drogon! He’s here to rescue his Mommy. He burns people. Who rather ineffectively throw spears and shit at him. Deadpan cries his name and then just walks over there. Everyone conveniently stops fighting to watch her. She stands there as he roars in her face. Worked great for Rhaenyra. But whatever, Drogon’s moved, and she didn’t even need a whip! Deadpan then decides to climb on the injured dragon’s back because…we don’t know. But it’s super empowering and not at all hilarious-looking when she flies off, leaving her loyal friends and followers surrounded by Strawmen.
Fortunately our other Heroes™ have magical teleporting capabilities, because the next we see, Saint Tyrion, Faabio, and Greyscale Jorah are posing for an album cover:
Tyrion decides to talk about the love triangle dramaz, but fortunately Grey Worm shows up to scold Jorah for even being in Meereen. Way harsh, Tai! Tyrion teaches Missandei the Valyrian word for “dwarf,” and we’re torn, because that would be a word he learned, and a word she doesn’t exactly use every day, but at the same time, linguistic mastery is kind of Missandei’s main thing, so… we’ll just pretend it’s fine and move on.
Apparently they all want to track down the dragon, which “headed north.” Because it can’t change direction? And because Deadpan didn’t totally just climb on for a joy ride? Jorah gets pissy with Tyrion, but Faabio somehow turns into the voice of reason; he decides that he and Jorah should track Drogon, but that Our Infallible Saint is needed in Meereen, because no one else has experience governing. Jorah correctly points out that no one would listen to a random foreigner, so Faabio says that Grey Worm and Missandei will be his mouthpieces, and Saint Tyrion can talk through them. This…seems…totally not offensive.
Oh, and for some reason everyone’s of the mind that Meereen will listen to an Unsullied captain despite the fact that the Strawmen of the Harpy clearly had strong numbers in the pit. This makes all the sense. Anything to set up another buddy trip, right? Faabio turns to Jorah and tells him “let’s go hunt some orc.”
Our Spotless Saint strolls outside and overlooks the city he was just handed to rule by people who barely know him. That’s when Varys Marx just casually strolls in, as if this is his vacation and he just cleaned up from the breakfast buffet.
He tells Tyrion his feelings were so hurt when he was ditched (um dude, Tyrion was kidnapped), but quickly praises him for finding favour with Deadpan. Then he notes how Meereen is on the “brink of a civil war.” The “brink”? Was the stuff in the pit just another fun tradition then? Varys closes the scene by reminding Saint Tyrion just how amazing he’s going to be at ruling Meereen. We can’t wait to see how he corrects all of Deadpan’s mistakes!
Speaking of Deadpan, Drogon “mostly wants to sleep and get better.” We mean, of all the places for her car to break-down. She wanders off to look for the nearest gas station, but instead finds something like, 20,000 Dothraki? They just keep coming and coming from behind this cliff like a goddamn clown car. Then they ride around her in a circle while whooping for, no lie, a good minute. Don’t worry though, our super empowered damsel in distress drops her breadcrummy ring because…“she’s smart.” Just not as smart as Saint Tyrion, if this plotline taught us anything.
And that’s it! That’s The Tale of Deadpan’s Bestest Nameday Gift!
We hope you enjoyed reliving this award-winning television!
You can move ahead to Part 2: the analysis, where unlike D&D, we actually bother discuss the implications of this wonderful story.
Images courtesy of HBO