'Game of Thrones' Podcast: The Fall of a Hero

Barristan the Bold's demise was one of the first major departures between 'Thrones' and the 'Ice and Fire' novels on which it's based, as observed in this week's 'Winter Was Here' podcast.
Courtesy of HBO

[This story contains spoilers for season five, episode four of HBO's Game of Thrones, "Sons of the Harpy."]

It wasn't something anyone saw coming, at least not so soon: Barristan Selmy, better known as Barristan the Bold, killed in an alleyway in Meereen — and not even at the season five midpoint.

Known as one of the best living swordsmen in the Seven Kingdoms and beyond, the legendary Barristan lost his life in the closing moments of "Sons of the Harpy," at the hands of the titular Meereenese rebels. At the time the episode aired, Barristan's death was shocking and upsetting for many fans of Thrones as a TV series, and even moreso for devotees of the A Song of Ice and Fire novels on which the show is based. 

Through five books and counting, Barristan is still alive, if not quite well. As of the most currently published point in author George R.R. Martin's series, Barristan stands out as one of the few remaining point-of-view characters active in Meereen; the most recent novel in the franchise, A Dance With Dragons, ends with Daenerys Targaryen far away from the Essos kingdom, surrounded by an army of Dothraki warriors, much as she ends things in the show's fifth season. For his part, Barristan is left behind to deal with the political fallout of her disappearance and the increasing hostilities from the Sons of the Harpy and their allies.

When or if the novels move forward into the sixth planned installment, The Winds of Winter, it won't be a shock to see Barristan die in combat. But to lose him on the television series as early as the fifth season's fourth episode, with so much story still on his horizon, was a major blow for fans of the character — and even for the actor himself, based on comments Ian McElhinney once made.

"Truthfully, miffed," McElhinney said, when asked at MCM London Comic Con in 2015 for his take on his exit. "I was disappointed because I had enjoyed playing the part and I was looking forward to getting more meat in the part, and I had to dared to presume that I would at least go into season six."

Instead, Barristan's book storyline was seemingly offloaded onto Tyrion and Varys upon their inclusion in the Meereenese hierarchy, an event that hasn't happened yet in Martin's books. While the early exit still stings for people who consider themselves fans of Martin's material first and foremost, a look back on Barristan Selmy's final stand plays much better years later, with enough distance to process the death. At the very least, he goes out swinging, exhibiting much of the skilled work that contributed to his legend.

This week on "Winter Was Here," the Game of Thrones rewatch podcast from THR and Post Show Recaps, we're offering one final salute to Barristan the Bold. Other topics include:

• The arrival of the Sand Snakes;

• Three different clues as to Jon Snow's true parentage;

• A continuing case of grey scale;

• A theory about the High Sparrow's distaste for wine;

• And more!

Listen to the podcast in the player below:

Make sure you don't miss an episode of Winter Was Here by subscribing to the show on iTunes or your podcast catcher of choice. Send in your comments and questions using the podcast's email address, got@postshowrecaps.com, or our feedback form. Keep checking THR.com/GameofThrones for news, interviews, theories and more.

"Winter Was Here," and so is this handy guide collecting every episode of the podcast:

• Season 1, Episode 1: "Winter Is Coming"
• Season 1, Episode 2: "The Kingsroad"
• Season 1, Episode 3: "Lord Snow"
• Season 1, Episode 4: "Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things"
• Season 1, Episode 5: "The Wolf and the Lion"
• Season 1, Episode 6: "A Golden Crown"
• Season 1, Episode 7: "You Win or You Die"
• Season 1, Episode 8: "The Pointy End"
• Season 1, Episode 9: "Baelor"
• Season 1, Episode 10: "Fire and Blood"
• Season 1 in Review: Feedback and Theories
• Season 2, Episode 1: "The North Remembers"
• Season 2, Episode 2: "The Night Lands"
• Season 2, Episode 3: "What Is Dead May Never Die"
• Season 2, Episode 4: "Garden of Bones"
• Season 2, Episode 5: "The Ghost of Harrenhal"
• Season 2, Episode 6: "The Old Gods and the New"
• Season 2, Episode 7: "A Man Without Honor"
• Season 2, Episode 8: "The Prince of Winterfell"
• Season 2, Episode 9: "Blackwater"
• Season 2, Episode 10: "Valar Morghulis"
• Season 3, Episode 1: "Valar Dohaeris"
• Season 3, Episode 2: "Dark Wings, Dark Words"
• Season 3, Episode 3: "Walk of Punishment"
• Season 3, Episode 4: "And Now His Watch Is Ended"
• Season 3, Episode 5: "Kissed by Fire"
• Season 3, Episode 6: "The Climb"
• Season 3, Episode 7: "The Bear and the Maiden Fair"
• Season 3, Episode 8: "Second Sons"
• Season 3, Episode 9: "The Rains of Castamere"
• Season 3, Episode 10: "Mhysa"
• Season 4, Episode 1: "Two Swords"
• Season 4, Episode 2: "The Lion and the Rose"
• Season 4, Episode 3: "Breaker of Chains"
• Season 4, Episode 4: "Oathkeeper"
• Season 4, Episode 5: "First of His Name"
• Season 4, Episode 6: "The Laws of Gods and Men"
• Season 4, Episode 7: "Mockingbird"
• Season 4, Episode 8: "The Mountain and the Viper"
• Season 4, Episode 9: "The Watchers on the Wall"
• Season 4, Episode 10: "The Children"
• Season 5, Episode 1: "The Wars to Come"
• Season 5, Episode 2: "The House of Black and White"
• Season 5, Episode 3: "High Sparrow"
Season 5, Episode 4: "Sons of the Harpy"