Photo: Game Of Thrones (HBO)
Season FiveA guide to Game Of Thrones: season five  

Month Of Thrones

We’re counting down to Game Of Thrones’ final season by distilling the fantasy epic to 30 essential moments. This is Month Of Thrones.

The moment

The election of Lord Commander Snow

The episode

“The House Of Black And White” (season five, episode two)

Back in season two, “You know nothing, Jon Snow” felt incredibly fitting. The character seemed to spend much of those early seasons out of his depth, dour and dull in equal measure. But his weeks with Ygritte—and then Mance Rayder—brought the character alive, imbuing him with knowledge, savvy, and a deeper sense of the stakes for all the various groups fighting in the North. By the time of the siege on Castle Black, Jon had blossomed into a natural leader, his smarts finally catching up to his talents with a sword—so much so that, following Alliser Thorne’s wounding by Tormund Giantsbane during the battle, the bastard of Winterfell becomes the de factor head of the Night’s Watch and beats back the Wildling invasion.

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Thus, the surprise of Jon’s subsequent election to Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch isn’t so much that he wins, but that he gets nominated in the first place. Stannis Baratheon makes it very clear that all Jon has to do is kneel and declare his loyalty, and he’ll not only be freed from his duty, he’ll become the Lord of Winterfell. But Jon turns Stannis down—he’s has made no secret of his dislike of leadership positions, and besides, as he tells Sam, why should anyone take him at his word if he renounces the most sacred vow he’s ever uttered? So even though he knows a Lord Commander Thorne would probably make his life hell, he sits idly by while Thorne and Denys Mallister vie for the position; idle, that is, until Sam pipes up to nominate Jon, and while Snow stares daggers into him, the awkward scholar points out that Jon has clearly become the logical choice. But it’s a tie in the ensuing vote between Jon and Thorne—until old Maester Aemon slowly pulls himself up, leans forward, and casts the deciding vote in Jon’s favor. If it wasn’t for the election, there likely wouldn’t be a King of the North.

What we said then

“The same tensions will be at play—the old guard won’t want to follow the new guard’s sensitive, brooding, and merciful style of leadership—but here’s hoping Jon’s experience north of The Wall will get this portion of the Game Of Thrones ensemble off the damn Wall with greater frequency.”

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Elsewhere in the episode

Cersei Lannister assumes control of the High Council and takes the position of Hand, which essentially makes her the ruler of Westeros, given Tommen’s skills being more suited to ruling Ser Pounce; Dany learns that Meereen is a powder keg of tension between former slaves and masters, though Drogon returns home for some mother-dragon snuggles with her; Arya arrives at The House Of Black And White in Braavos, and learns that becoming “no one” is going to involve a complete renunciation of her previous life; Jaime and Bronn set sail for Dorne to rescue Myrcella, while Ellaria Sand is pissed that Dorne’s Prince Martel refuses to declare war in retaliation for Oberyn’s death; Tyrion and Varys continue on the path tom Meereen; Brienne and Podrick confront Sansa and Littlefinger, only for Sansa to turn away Brienne’s services in favor of her Machiavellian traveling companion; and definitely most important, Shireen is teaching Gilly how to read.

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Previously: Tyrion kills Tywin

Next: The Night King’s “you wanna fuck with this?” taunt

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