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GAME OF THRONES Re-Throned: “Mother’s Mercy” (S5, E10)

Winter is coming, but not soon enough. So to help pass the time until season seven of Game of Thrones, we’re doing a weekly re-watch of the series, episode-by-episode, with the knowledge of what’s to come and—therefore—more information about the unrevealed rich history of events that took place long before the story began. Be warned, though: that means this series is full of spoilers for every season, even beyond the episode itself. So if you haven’t watched all of the show yet immediately get on that and then come back and join us for Game of Thrones Re-Throned.

Because the next best thing to watching new episodes is re-watching old ones.


Season 5, Episode 10: “Mother’s Mercy”

Original Air Date: June 14th, 2015
Director: David Nutter
Written by: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

Season five had its issues, but its fantastic finale was not among them. It’s loaded with monumental moments: the Boltons slaughter Stannis’s forces and Brienne kills him, a khalasar takes Daenerys, Sansa and Theon flee Winterfell, Arya brutally murders Meryn Trant and then Jaqen blinds her for it, Ellaria Sand poisons Myrcella, and Cersei takes her walk of shame.

Oh, and “for the Watch” brothers of the Night’s Watch assassinate their Lord Commander Jon Snow.



However, for an episode with so many major, game (of thrones) changing scenes, it’s the quietest one that stands out now, when Jon and Sam talk about what it will take to defeat the White Walkers.

Jon tells Sam about what happened at Hardhome, and gives a chilling description of what they face. “He raised his hand and they all stood up at once, tens of thousands of them—the biggest army in the world,” says Jon. When Sam asks what he is going to do, Jon answers, “I’m gonna hope they don’t learn how to climb the wall.”

It’s a funny line, but after seeing how the wights ran off a cliff like lemmings at Hardhome, only to get right up and attack, it’s not impossible to imagine they could pile up their bodies at the Wall to create a sort of zombie ramp. (Yes, like in World War Z.)


Sam mentions the dragonglass he found at the Fist of the First Men—which he used to kill a White Walker—but explains it was lost at Hardhome. “No one’s ever getting that back, now,” says Jon, “It wouldn’t have mattered anyway, unless we had a mountain of it.” Hmm…

As for the other known method to kill a White Walker—with a Valyrian steel sword like Jon did with Longclaw—the Lord Commanders says there are “not enough” of them in Westeros. The exact number of those magical swords is unknown, but as we discussed in History of Thrones Tyrion thinks there might be 200 in the Seven Kingdoms. Definitely not enough.


It’s this desperation that makes Jon consent to Sam’s request to become a maester. The two hope that Sam might be able to find answers in the Citadel’s giant library. But we don’t need dusty old books to find them, because there are two potential solutions already in Westeros—and they just so happen to both be at Dragonstone in season seven.

Earlier in season five, before Hardhome, Stannis asked Sam about killing a White Walker, and Sam told him he used a dagger made of dragonglass to do it. “We have it in Dragonstone,” says Stannis. So the cache lost at Hardhome wasn’t the only available dragonglass, and even though we don’t know how much of it can be found there it’s easy to imagine there is enough to give the living a fighting chance. The giant army of the dead might be in the tens of thousands, but the White Walkers themselves are much smaller (at least as far as we’ve been shown so far), and they are the ones the dragonglass is needed for.


But season seven will find a potentially far more devastating weapon of mass White Walker destruction at Dragonstone, where Daenerys Targaryen has taken residence—her three dragons.

Valyrian steel is special because it was forged with magic in dragon flame, so while we don’t know for certain that a fire-breathing dragon can kill a White Walker, there’s excellent reason to think it can and will. Who needs Valyrian steel swords when you can just bathe blue-eyed ice demons in flame?

Of course, nothing is ever easy in this world, and in this very episode we see why there is no guarantee dragons will come through when you need them.


The Valyrians were said to use magic to control their dragons, a skill that Daenerys does not possess. Drogon saved her from the attack in the arena in Meereen, but here he ignores her pleas to bring her back, instead opting to rest from his wounds. His obstinance makes her leave to find food and that results in her being captured by the khalasar.

Dragons have an independent streak and are just as likely to do what they want as they are to obey, even when it comes to the commands of their mother. We can theorize about Jon or Tyrion becoming dragonriders, but even if that happens why would we think they’d have more control over their dragons then Daenerys has over Drogon?

Even if Bran were to warg into one of them, another popular theory, he can only control one at a time. Will one dragon be enough?


And that doesn’t even factor in how we don’t know for sure if dragon flame will be reliable when dragons fly in the bitter cold that follows the White Walkers wherever they go. If ice and fire are two sides of the same coin, why wouldn’t extreme cold hurt the dragons as much as their flames hurt the White Walkers?

If that proves to be the case, and a dragon falls victim in the Great War, what happens if it is resurrected when the Night King raises his arm? A whole mountain range of dragonglass and a million Valyrian steel swords probably wouldn’t be much help then.

Sam should probably do a lot of reading at the Citadel. Including any books about how to defeat a zombie ramp.

But what do you think? Are dragons, Valyrian steel swords, and dragonglass enough to defeat the White Walkers? Or will they need another method? Fly into our comments below and let us know.

Images: HBO

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