The Speculative Post's Review
Absolutely everything about House Bolton is skeezy as fuck. Okay, maybe this one is obvious, but come on. How is it possible for no one associated with this family to have any redeeming qualities? We already knew Myranda was iffy, on account of, you know, the fact that she actually wants to be around Ramsay, who is undoubtedly the single most horrifyingly horrifying person who has ever existed in this universe. But here she’s ramping up the sociopathic behaviour a notch, albeit under the heady influence of jealousy. Though to be honest, I don’t really see why she’s jealous. I mean, she’s got to know that the chances are at least 60/40 that Ramsay, given a marriage of any length of time to any woman, would murder her. But anyways, Myranda aside, there’s also Roose himself. In previous episodes he’s at least pretended to show moral disdain for Ramsay’s psychotic exploits. And that made him slightly less awful. But here, when the petulant little shit is all worried that maybe a legitimate son will usurp his position, Roose comforts the hell out of him, reassuring him that he’ll always be daddy’s favourite little monster lacking empathy or compassion. You know what the worst part is? As Roose and son look over the strategic map planning for Stannis’ approach, it becomes crystal clear that they very likely might win. In this universe, we are so accustomed to seeing the most despicable people receive wholly undeserved karmic rewards that I feel like the Boltons have an edge over Stannis, if only because they’re just so much more horrible than he is.
Think about that for a second. Stannis is the guy who used sex magic to murder his brother on his wedding night, then burned his wife’s family alive because they wouldn’t submit to his mistress’ religious demands, then murdered/tried to murder several young boys who were in the middle of scoring with a hot redhead for the first time ever… The Boltons are worse than that. So much worse, in fact, that we’re actually rooting for Stannis. Think about Theon in Season Two. We hated him, and for good reason. Betrayed his former wards, murdered some random kids. That’s pretty whack, man! No reasonable person would not say that was whack! A Reuters poll regarding the whackness of Theon Greyjoy would find no takers in the category of “not whack.” And yet now, simply because Ramsay is so awful, we feel sorry for Theon, with his lopped-off manly bits, kennel apartment, and life generally even more miserable than Mickey Rourke’s. Part of me wants to scoff at this and say that the Boltons are ham-fisted instruments of moralization; the equivalent, in terms of narrative subtlety, of a cannon full of sledgehammers taped to a tank driven by Doctor Doom. And yet, there’s something so deliciously believable about Ramsay and his dad in the context of this dog-eat-dog universe we’ve been presented with,\ that even their cartoonishly depraved behaviour doesn’t set off our bullshit detectors, and instead we just gladly throw our emotional lot in with Stannis, whom we seem to forget is also a horrible, horrible man.
Episode titles are funny. I assumed, as I’m sure many did, that the title “Kill the Boy” was some reference to a real boy whose real murder was being urged. I went with Tommen, since, as we noted in the first of this season’s water coolers, he’s a fairly decent human being, and thus is incontrovertibly doomed. But GoT still manages to surprise me, because even in a show that loves killing people, where there are an astoundingly huge number of “boys” whose grisly death could be implied, the title wound up being a metaphor. Granted, it wasn’t a particularly good metaphor, because Maester Aemon’s advice to Jon wasn’t particularly useful. The Westeros equivalent of “grow up” is probably something Jon has thought a lot about since becoming Lord Commander, so here, when he actually comes to the oldest, most wizened, most kindly old man in the known galaxy for advice, being told to sort it out for himself doesn’t go very far. I’m sure the producers meant for the conversation between Missandei and Dany to be thematically linked, since the same advice is given there, but man oh man, the results vary wildly. Look, I don’t want to come out and say that Dany needs Jorah’s good advice, but goddamn man, does she ever need his good advice. It’s like Dany’s never even read any 1970’s political allegory fiction! If she had, she’d know that responding to civil unrest by clamping down on dissidents and randomly executing people who may be 100% innocent is never something that gets your face on a Diamond Jubilee commemorative plate later in life. It’s the kind of thing that results in biographies of you having ominous red and black covers and titles featuring such words as “monster” and “death-o-rama.” But hey, at least she can admit that she made a mistake. Of course, it would be more helpful if she’d realized her mistake before letting her pet killbeasts kill the living hell out of some poor nobleman who was in all likelihood just trying to get his kids back, like some Westeroes Tom Jane or something. That guy probably had some serious problems weighing on his mind, and the last thing he needed was to be brutally torn apart by flying dinosaurs. But hey, Dany can admit when she’s pulled a boner, so you know, it’s fine.