Game of Thrones has always been known for its always-controversial penultimate episode 9, but it’s now pretty clear that season 5 is breaking the mold, with nearly 5/10 episodes in the season delivering bloody deaths, quiet character-to-character moments, bleak endings, violent battles, and poignant moments. This is also the season that deviate the books on a wildly unacceptable level, but that’s something I’ll talk about in another article.
Drink a glass of water and catch your breath, you guys. This was an intense episode; I honestly don’t remember a season finale packing quite this much punch because it seems that everyone in Westeros (even Braavos) is determined to be in a manic rush to kill or be killed. While some of it was expected, some of them still came as quite a surprise.
Stannis of the House Baratheon, Kinslayer
Last episode’s traumatic burning of Princess Shireen Baratheon continues to have its effects on the Baratheon camp. Stannis’ sellswords have deserted him leaving him only half an army (which was small enough to begin with), Lady Selyse hanged herself, and Melisandre abandoned him to head to Castle Black.
What was the point of burning Shireen then? WHAAAAAT?!??
As Stannis and his army march for Winterfell, the Boltons meet them on the battlefield instead and swallowed Stannis’ army by the numbers. Cut to black, and we see Baratheon banners burning, dead men, and a wounded Stannis. Enter Brienne of Tarth who, after some monologue about avenging Renly, kills Stannis herself.
The gods don’t forgive kinslayers.
What Is Dead May Never Die
Back at Winterfell, Sansa used all the commotion for the battle to escape her room and sneak into the broken tower to light a candle, her “help me, Northeners” signal. Unfortunately, Brienne didn’t see it so… YOU HAD ONE JOB, BRIENNE! JUST ONE!
Trying to find a way of escape, Sansa encounters Myranda, Ramsay’s disgusting little whore since season 4. Under Ramsay’s abuse, it’s clear that Sansa would rather face death than be with him much longer. She’ll lose her identity altogether, she knows, and become like Reek. In a quick but gratifying development for Reek, he throws Myranda off the moors where she lands with a satisfying splat. He and Sansa, knowing Ramsay, desperately seek a way out of his clutches by jumping from above the wall of Winterfell. Will they survive and, if so, what will become of these two foster siblings?
Kiss of Death
The Dorne storyline has been the weakest in the TV series so far. They wasted perfectly good characters like Prince Doran Martell, Areoh Hotah, and Ellaria Sand. They even got rid of Arianne Martell which still baffles me; they got all three major Sand Snakes but no Arianne? It was hard to figure out just what the endgoal of the Dornish plotline was, especially with all the useless exposition and that completely lame “Battle in the Water Gardens”. Seriously, so much bad writing and acting.
It turns out it was just an excuse to have another character arc for Jaime by way of Myrcella’s death. The kiss of death from Ellaria was a nice touch though, Sand Snakes living up to their name. Just what is Doran’s part in Myrcella’s murder? Will he reveal the “Quentyn-to-Meereen plot” in the next season or are Weiss and Benioff getting rid of that too? And why send Trystane Martell to Kingslanding? Wouldn’t Jaime just kill him out of anger? Or Cersei?
I Am Arya Stark
In Braavos, Arya’s training to become “no one” has taken a turning point since the arrival of Lord Mace Tyrell and Meryn Trant at the Iron Bank, which is just the writer’s excuse to bring Trant and Arya in the same setting and pull off her story arc.
That doesn’t mean they didn’t pull it off cleverly though. Pretending to be one of Trant’s pedophelic victims in a brothel, Arya soon reveals her true face and goes psycho killer on him, stabbing at his eyes, gagging him, and giving him multiple not-yet fatal stabs. Then, she monologues like a little Bond villain and delivers the final cut to his throat, mirroring the way Catelyn Stark died. “I am Arya “MOTHERF*CKING PSYCHO ON YOUR ASS Stark”! #fortheStarks #theNorthRemembers
Walk of Atonement
Season 1, 2, and 3 saw the powerful House Lannister flourish; a seat on the Iron Throne, the patriarch as Hand of the King, alliance with the second richest house in the Kingdom, the elimination of House Stark as rival, 3 living heirs to the throne, endless wealth, a vast army. It seemed they had it all. But season 4 saw their fall from power; Joffrey’s death, Tywin’s death, Jaime’s capture and decapitation, Tommen’s ineffective rule on Kingslanding, mounds of debt from the Iron Bank, and now, Cersei’s own foolish scheming lands her right at the mouth of the wolf or, rather, the High Septon.
Her Walk of Atonement was something we all expected and dreaded, but the poignantly brutal shaming of Cersei from the Great Sept of Baelor all the way to the Red Keep was definitely a television achievement. Lena Headey did a marvellous job; from a proud and unremorseful Cersei to a broken and and battered Cersei just a few steps away from safety. Also, the altered version of “The Rains of Castamere” playing in the background simply gave me the chills.
For the Watch
This is the plotline that I’ve been dreading of the most. When I first read it in A Dance With Dragons, I literally threw the book across the room and never picked it up for 2 days. Then I read it again. It was so heartbreaking and baffling like “WHYYYYY, MARTIN!”
It’s been hinted at in the show for several episodes; the lingering stares of the crows, Ollie’s storyline, Jon Snow’s continued disregard for the feelings of his brothers in lieu of saving the Wildlings, Melisandre’s return to Castle Black.
But regardless of whether we knew it was coming or not, it was still a massively heartbreaking scene to watch. Jon Snow being betrayed by his brothers, lured into a trap by saying they knew where Benjen Stark was, and then stabbing him multiple times in front of a cross marked “traitor”. The final blow, both literally and figuratively, was when Ollie stabbed his own mentor and uttered “For the Watch”.
OLLIE YOU LITTLE SHIT! I’M SO GLAD THE THENNS ATE YOUR MOM!
Daenerys with the Dothraki
Last episode, we also saw our favorite Mother of Dragons flying off to nowhere with her son Drogon. Now, they’ve landed in the middle of some grasslands, Drogon licking his wounds, just chilling, and Dany impatient to get back to Meereen. Drogon was like, “OMG Mom just five more minutes jeez!”
In the books, Dany’s chapter ended with the Dothraki horde finding her. It’s a relief that the showrunners are sticking to that storyline otherwise I would just go batshit crazy because they’d be spoiling the books for me. The big question is, what will happen now that Dany has been reunited with her khalasar? Will they return her to Vaes Dothrak to be one of the crones or will they see her as their new Khaleesi, stronger and more powerful?
Back in Meereen, Tyrion has been left in charge of ruling the city with Missandei and Grey Worm at his side. Daario Naharis and Jorah Mormont will go off in search of Daenerys. Obviously, Tyrion Lannister is at his best when he’s ruling a city, but will he still be game in serving is interim ruler of Meereen? Varys’ presence will definitely be an advantage, but does the Master of Whisperers have another endgame at play?
I know I’ve been complaining a lot about the show but, truthfully, I’m only irked about the deviations. Otherwise, Game of Thrones is still the most stunning piece of small screen storytelling you could ever hope for. Weiss and Benioff have outdone themselves with this show; just the massive production and script work, the settings and editing tasks, everything. We also have to give kudos to the cast; impressive and nuanced acting all around.
Overall, Game of Thrones is an unbeatable piece of achievement in this golden age of television. The level of fan engagement, critical praise, and storytellling adaptation has never been rivaled by other shows onscreen right now. Not even the most ballsy Hollywood productions attempted to execute this juggernaut.
Now, we just have to wait for Season 6 and The Winds of Winter to get her PRONTO!
P.S. I’ll be writing another post about the book deviations and talking about that in more detail and another article summarizing where the characters are in the show and where they might be in season 6. Or if they’ll be in season 6 at all. Stay tuned for that, a’ight? 😀