“Kill the Boy” is the most focused episode of Season 5 so far, featuring only four of the major storylines of the show. Oftentimes, focusing on a smaller handful of characters allows the show to take its time and really develop some satisfying material for each group (as opposed to making visits too brief to really leave a strong impression). I’m not sure this episode did a great job taking advantage of that laser sharp focus, though. Some of the plot developments felt rushed, the character interactions paled in comparison to previous episodes this season, and even the significant investment of time in each storyline only moves the respective plots slightly forward. Personally, (and I do feel like I’m in the minority here, so feel free to disagree in the comments), this was my least favorite episode of the season so far.
Maybe you disagree, but let’s just do some quick comparisons, starting with the character who had the most consistently strong material this episode (and season): Jon Snow. I really liked his scene with Aemon, and his advice to “kill the boy” and stand by your convictions was a great theme that felt present in other storylines (especially Daenerys’). I also loved his confrontation with Tormund, and then the Night’s Watch. This was the kind of political conundrum that I personally loved in the fifth book: Jon Snow is fighting for something that is unquestionably the correct move morally and pragmatically, but it seems almost impossible to lead others where he wants to go (even his strongest supporters). This episode put Jon in a more intriguing and perilous position, and strengthened him as a character. Continue reading