Game of Thrones' fifth season keeps the momentum going with its fifth episode, "Kill the Boy." Showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss have diverged from George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire books significantly this season, for reasons that became clear in this episode.
"Kill the Boy" marked the halfway point of season five, and it set some big developments into motion. The episode was also full of Mother's Day tidbits, from a look at Daenerys's care of her dragons to Ramsay Bolton learning of his mother's tortured past. These are the moments everyone will be talking about (spoilers ahead).
Daenerys wants revenge for Ser Barristan, but she has to play it smart
The brutal ambush by the Sons of the Harpy that capped off last week's episode has left Ser Barristan dead and Grey Worm severely wounded. Daenerys quickly puts her foot down, bringing the heads of Meereen's prominent families to her pyramid basement to let her dragons scare someone into spilling the beans about who planned the attack. The dragons chow down on one of the family leaders before Dany has a change of heart and opts not to "overfeed" them.
Righthand woman Missandei subtly advises Dany to reconsider her decision about the slave fighting pits, instead of trying to coax confessions through intimidation. Dany does as advised, telling Meereen nobleman Hizdahr zo Loraq that she'll reopen pits, but only for free men — just before declaring that she'll marry him as a token of her earnestness.
In other Meereen moments, Grey Worm's near-death experience forces him to come to terms with his feelings for Missandei, and the two share a kiss.
Jon Snow rallies the troops
The newly appointed Lord Commander of the Night's Watch is starting to flex his managerial muscles. Jon meets with Tormund Giantsbane, the wildling leader who's still in captivity after last season's Battle of Castle Black, to ask him to gather the remaining Free Folk and bring them to Castle Black to team up with the Night's Watch against the arrival of the White Walkers.
It's a tough request: neither side wants to partner with their sworn enemy, but neither can fight the White Walkers alone. Tormund agrees, on the condition that he be provided with Stannis Baratheon's ships, and that Jon come with him on the journey.
Jon's leadership — and his negotiation skills — are on full display here. He can't ask the wildlings or the Night's Watch to forgive each other, but he can ask them to cooperate to save their own lives.
The episode's titular quote comes from Maester Aemon during a conversation with Jon: "Kill the boy, and let the man be born." Jon is uncertain after his decision to cooperate with the wildlings is panned by his fellow crows — but by letting go of those concerns, he'll become the leader he needs to be.
Sansa meets Reek
Sansa, ever the reluctant Bolton bride-to-be, appears to have found some unexpected allies now that she's returned to her old stomping grounds. She's approached by a servant who whispers, "You still have friends in the North," and tells Sansa that if she ever needs help, all she has to do is light a candle at the top of Winterfell's broken tower.
The real turning point comes when Miranda, daughter of the town kennel master and Ramsay's current lover, introduces Sansa to Reek, a shell of the ill-fated Theon Greyjoy. Miranda is understandably salty about Ramsay and Sansa's upcoming marriage, so she's taken it upon herself to "educate" Sansa on what marrying Ramsay will entail.
It's the first time Sansa has seen Theon like this. Theon is quick to confess the encounter to Ramsay, who then makes a point of parading the servile Reek in front of Sansa as much as possible.
Stannis is riding to Winterfell, and the Boltons are ready for him
Though he has agreed to lend Jon his fleet of ships for the wildling extraction mission, Stannis doesn't have any intention of sticking around Castle Black. His eyes are on Winterfell, and he's readying his forces to take the place. Before he leaves, he consults Samwell Tarly on how to kill the White Walkers with obsidian, in light of the approaching enemy from beyond the Wall.
Meanwhile, Roose Bolton — who's now expecting a child with his wife — assuages Ramsay's fear of losing claim to the throne to the newcomer son. It's a twisted but tender moment of sincerity between the two of them, in which Roose tells Ramsay about the fate of his late mother. Father and son affirm their trust in one another and declare themselves ready to face Stannis's forces.
Tyrion and Jorah make it through the ruins of Valyria — but just barely
On the way to deliver Tyrion Lannister to his beloved Queen of Dragons, Jorah chooses to sail through the ruins of Valyria, the former capital home to the Targaryens. The kidnapper and captive get poetic about the fallen city as they pass between islands.
We recently saw Dany try, unsuccessfully, to reconnect with Drogon, the largest of her dragons, before he flew away toward the horizon. Just as Tyrion and Jorah start to discuss Valyrian history, they find themselves transfixed by the sight of Drogon flying overhead — leaving them distracted right as greyscale-ridden Stone Men jump into the boat and attack. It's our first time seeing the enclave of infected people, though we heard about it in last episode's heart to heart between Stannis and his daughter Shireen.
Jorah and Tyrion survive the attack, but not entirely unscathed: the final shot of "Kill the Boy" shows Jorah looking out over Valyria with a fresh patch of greyscale on his wrist. This makes Jorah a ticking time bomb. He doesn't have the means to undergo the Magic Johnson treatment like Shireen — which means he's either dead or doomed to become a rock-skinned savage.