Finally, an episode of Game of Thrones that no one can predict.
While the impatient were quick to devour the first four episodes of the show when they leaked online prior to the season debut, episode five has not yet been seen by over-zealous pirates.
Nor can fans of the books, which have been so nonchalantly disregarded by DB Weiss and David Benioff, tell us what’s going to happen next.
And thank God for that, because those arrogant spoiler-droppers were getting on our nerves.
Now, all the audience has to go on are the subtle hints dropped by the writers, of which there are several. Read on to see what you caught and what you missed.
“A Tagaryen alone in the world is a terrible thing,” says Maester Aemon, thousands of miles from Meereen at Castle Black.
He’s not wrong. Without the trusty counsel of the now-deceased Ser Barristan Selmy and the exiled Ser Jorah Mormont (more on him later), Daenerys is a little girl lost.
And what does a girl do when she’s lost? After she sets her dragons loose on her enemies, that is?
She gets engaged. Or at least, that’s what the women of Westeros seem to do.
While it may have been surprising, Dany’s end-of-episode proposal to Hizdahr zo Loraq has been teased throughout this entire season.
First of all, far too much time was spent on building the power struggle between Dany and the otherwise boring Loraq.
Second of all, you may recall in episode three Roose Bolton telling his son Ramsey: “The best way to form a lasting alliance isn’t by peeling a man’s skin off, it’s by marriage.”
Every other woman on the show is being married off, so Dany’s turn was well overdue.
Could she finally have found level footing in Meereen with her new ex-slaver husband? How will Daario Naharis take the news his lady love is betrothed to another? And do we have to now watch men murder each other in the reopened fighting pits (no thanks)?
There’s movement at the Wall, for word has passed around, that winter is coming and … everyone is screwed.
Forgive that poetic lapse but it does hold true: Castle Black is no longer a static stronghold but rather a fluid force, reacting to its worrying future.
Jon Snow’s approach to “winter”, aka the impending influx of murderous zombies known as the white walkers, is to enlist the help of former enemies, the Wildlings.
Without Mance as their leader, the Wildling ranks are falling apart and Jon knows teaming up with them will give his men a better chance. It’s the unpopular opinion, but it makes sense.
And so, against the wishes of most people who’ve seen their friends flayed alive by the Thenns, Jon and Tormund Giantsbane agree to join forces, sailing north to bring the Wildling army back to the Wall.
Stannis, meanwhile, rallies his troops and his Red Priestess to head to Winterfell to face off against literally the worst people in the whole of Westeros (the Boltons).
With Stannis showing his gentle side in last week’s father-daughter chat with Shireen, plus his decision to bring said daughter and his wife with him, it’s clear he is not long for this world.
Beacons of light and hope rarely survive long in the Seven Kingdoms.
Speaking of the worst people in the whole of Westeros, here they are now!
We all held out hope the mere sight of Sansa would reform Ramsey Bolton but, alas, he’s still a bloodthirsty maniac.
He appears to have found his equal in Myranda, the kennel master’s daughter.
Myranda is jealous of Sansa and you might recall from last season Myranda has a penchant for “setting the dogs” on those she is jealous of.
She can’t exactly do this to the future Queen of the North, but she can put Sansa in her creepy kennels where she stumbles upon poor old Reek, the artist formerly known as Theon Greyjoy.
Later, at the worst dinner in the world featuring Roose, Ramsey and Walda Bolton, Ramsey forces Reek to apologise to Sansa for killing her brothers, Bran and Rickon (he didn’t kill them but he doesn’t know that).
This mention of the Stark boys is significant, as is Sansa’s visit to the broken tower – the spot where Bran fell in season one and lost the use of his legs.
Both suggest the return of the youngest Starks, who have been missing all season.
In other important Bolton news, Roose and Walda are expecting!
Oh great, more of them.
While Ramsey has a moment of self doubt upon hearing an heir is closing in on him, Roose assures him he is still his son and together they will destroy Stannis.
After all, he raped Ramsey’s mother under the dead body of her husband, didn’t he? And he didn’t kill Ramsey when he turned up on his doorstep nine months later, right? Isn’t that what fatherly love is?
Much has been made of Greyscale – the Westerosi version of leprosy – in the last few episodes.
In particular, the story of how Shireen Baratheon came to be facially deformed has been mulled over several times.
It was all leading us to this point.
As Tyrion and Ser Jorah Mormont journey to Meereen, they must sail through Old Valyria, an abandoned, ruined city.
Or not. Turns out Old Valyria is home to the stone men, those afflicted with greyscale who have been exiled to die out in peace.
They attack Jorah and Tyrion’s tiny boat and, thanks to Jorah’s battle prowess, don’t last long.
They do, however manage to get their stony hands on Jorah.
As we know from prior mentions, Greyscale is a highly contagious disease which calcifies its victims from the outside in.
Shireen may have had her father’s money and power to save her, but Jorah is a man at sea with nothing but a drunken imp on his side,
The odds don’t look so good.
As for the rest…
• Grey Worm and Missandei finally have their first kiss. Not sure what second base is when one party is a eunuch but we can’t wait to find out.
• Samwell Tarly is the only person we know to have killed a White Walker and he’s the only one – aside from Jon – with any brains. Stannis has clearly picked up on this and instructs Sam to “keep reading”. Could this be a hint that Sam holds the solution to the North’s White Walker problem?