Life has a habit of challenging us. It’s never easy or complacent; if it is, you aren’t doing it right. It likes to throw curveballs, to wrench up the works, to lay waste to all your carefully laid plans. And every so often, those complications bring us to the edge of a precipice: a place where your plans hold no weight and you have no idea what’s going to happen next.
Season 5 of Game of Thrones was one of those complications. And in true GoT fashion, it threw quite a few wrenches at its characters as well. (Goodness, I’m mixing metaphors.) So let’s dive right into my post-season review, which will gloss over a lot of the particulars in favour of some larger examination.
We’ll start with Cersei. For her, this season was about finally facing the consequences of her actions. In an effort to take down the Tyrells, she legitimized a group of religious fanatics who predictably turned on her too. She was only freed from her imprisonment when she confessed (not to everything — after all, only the Targaryens were permissive of certain things) and did the walk of shame through the streets of King’s Landing.
I fully expected to revel in Cersei’s humiliation. After all, she’s half the reason everything terrible in this show has happened (her brother’s peep being the other half). Instead, though, I found myself rooting for her to find her strength, hold her chin high, and pretend the commoners weren’t even there. And that was astounding to me, because although I’ve liked her as a character up until now, I sure didn’t like her as a person.
Then there’s Jaime, who road-tripped to Dorne with Bronn on a mission to rescue Princess Myrcella from no immediately apparent threat other than her mother’s paranoia. It quickly turns out, though, that the Sand Snakes — led by the now-dead Prince Oberyn’s paramour — are planning to take their revenge for the prince’s death by killing the princess. Because… logic is hard but killing sixteen-year-olds is easy?
This storyline was full of action but no emotional impact until the end, at which point Myrcella told Jaime that she knew he’s her father — and that she’s glad. And for Jaime, who was forced to hide that one essential part of himself, it’s completely overwhelming. But since characters aren’t allowed to be happy, Myrcella most likely died right then and there, because revenge! Who cares if it doesn’t make sense, because at least the Sand Snakes’ vendetta was successful!
One of my favourite parts was when Tyrion’s and Daenerys’s stories intersected, because that definitely didn’t happen in the book and it was awesome. And much as Dany was completely unable to manage her kingdom (queendom?), at least this time around we got to see her strategic mind at work. Instead of being just a girl fumbling her way through leadership, she made good decisions (mostly) and listened to people (sometimes). She just had the bad luck to be in Meereen, which seems like the worst place for anyone to be.
I was especially happy that people actually appreciated Tyrion for his gifts. As far as I recall, there was very little mockery, which was a huge departure from his time in King’s Landing. Instead of seeing his stature, they saw his brain, and I think that’s gonna figure prominently in the future.
That said, I wasn’t a big fan of the whole “Sons of the Harpy” storyline. While there was some intrigue in the book, in the show the characters were like, “You realize your husband is the leader of these guys, right?” And Dany was like, “Oh, yeah, guys, I totally know.” AND YET THEY DID NOTHING ABOUT IT. Like damn, Dany. Are you completely unfamiliar with the concept of stabbing people in their sleep?
Also having adventures was my very most favouritest of characters, Arya Stark. My little baby’s all grown up and killing people in cold blood, which was magnificent to see. After everything she’s gone through, all the people she’s lost, it was nice to see her balancing the scales with gallons of blood.
The one thing I wasn’t expecting was for her to go rogue. That’s an interesting departure from the character I’m familiar with, because she’s still holding onto her identity instead of becoming no one. She doesn’t know yet how much of a price she’ll have to pay to get her revenge, although I think she might be starting to catch a glimpse of it — at least, she will once her sight comes back. (I get that she went blind, but was anyone else confused by that scene?)
Up north, the Boltons were busy being terrible people as per usual. Baelish sold off Sansa to them and said “sayonara,” presumably twirling his moustache all the way home. Sansa was subjected to all the horrors one can expect from being a Bolton and probably quite a few brand-new ones.
There was one thing I wanted to address here: the issue of the wedding night. You know what I’m talking about. Lots of people were getting mad about that, and there are very few ways to address it without sounding like an awful person. So I’m just gonna say that, horror aside, Theon did eventually break through his conditioning as a result. Much like the rest of this really friggin’ depressing show, there was a tiny glimmer of light in the midst of all the darkness.
Oh, and they totally survive the jump off the wall. There’s snow underneath, you guys. It’s like landing on a pillow.
Jon Snow (I can never just call him by his first name) was made Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, saved the wildlings from the White Walkers, and was promptly stabbed about a hundred times for it. Dude just can’t catch a break. That’s pretty much the summary of his storyline. (More on him in a bit.)
And then there’s Stannis, who I left for last because holy crap you guys. This guy went beyond hardcore and out the other side again. He straight-up burned his daughter alive to ensure a victory, his wife hanged herself as a result, and he still lost the battle — and, presumably, his head to Brienne. Unless she’s in a particularly merciful mood, which I’m sorta doubting.
As far as characters go, Stannis Baratheon takes the cake for blind faith. Most of the season we saw him and his daughter Shireen connecting, because the writers hate us and knew it would make the punch hit closer to home when she finally burned. Part of me is just in awe of his faith, while the other part of me wants to shake him and be like, “You could’ve been happy if you’d just left it alone! You didn’t need to be king!”
Overall, it wasn’t a terribly exciting season until the last two episodes. At that point we saw that the action had been building up to a boil, which then exploded into a near-ridiculous number of cliffhangers that are fairly easy to deduce the answers to if A) you leave out “but he’s such a popular character” logic, and B) you look at things from a narrative perspective (as in, how will the story continue to work if this character is dead?).
So here we stand on the edge of the precipice. We’re all caught up on the books, and unless George gets his butt in gear, we’re going to see season 6 before we see The Winds of Winter. And that means that nobody knows what’s going to happen next. Which means it’s time for my predictions!
- Jon isn’t really dead. Well, only mostly dead. Or at least not permanently. Melisandre came back to Castle Black for no apparent reason right before he was killed, which means she’s gonna be around to bring him back to life. His death will release him from his vows, which means he can take part in conflicts of the realm and maybe even marry Dany and be king because he’s the child of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen.
- Dany will come back and rule Westeros, because of course she will.
- Sansa and Theon will make it to safety. At some point Theon will give his life for hers in atonement for what he did. She’ll later become the Wardenness of the North and be super hardcore about it, and she’ll most likely kill Baelish in an eerily similar way to how he killed Lysa.
- Ser Jorah will get his greyscale cured but he’ll die before he can see Dany again. Missandei and Grey Worm will continue not having sexytimes. Tyrion will come back to King’s Landing, where he’ll rule as Hand and actually be respected for it. Also he’s totally Aegon Targaryen’s son, which means the three dragons will rule together as was A) prophesied and B) heavily symbolized throughout the series.
- Arya will kill everyone on her list and be killed herself in the process. But she’ll be totally cool with it, because her list is checked off and she’s gotten her revenge. Respect.
- Jaime will be killed in the final fight and Cersei will kill herself Juliet-style. This is especially likely since I’m pretty sure Myrcella’s dead and Tommen’s gonna be next. Ser Pounce will live a long and happy life as the castle’s foremost mouser until he is tragically eaten by one of Dany’s dragons.
So there you have it: my thoughts on this season and my predictions for the rest of the show. I have less than zero idea whether or not my ideas will be laid waste or if they’ll prove true. But whatever happens, unlike Dany’s road trip with Drogon, I know I’ll enjoy the ride.
Final Grade: A
- Remember that bit at the beginning of episode 1 with young Cersei and the witch? Yeah, me neither.
- Okay, so the Tyrells are in prison… and we’re not going to see them again? Like, at all?
- Where is Lady Stoneheart? She’s the one person I was most looking forward to seeing… again. *ominous music*
- An entire season without so much as a glimpse of Bran! The old gods and the new are kind.
- Grey Worm and Missandei?! I SHIP IT. No, get your logic out of here. I said I ship it.
- I also ship Sam and Gilly, even though it’s not kosher in the context of the Night’s Watch. Also, “oh my” is now the only appropriate thing to say during sexytimes.
- What is with the women in this show just throwing the goods out there? KEEP IT IN YOUR PANTS, DORNISH LADIES.
- Is no one concerned that Ser Jorah is all up in the city with freaking greyscale? Oh, right, nobody is concerned because they don’t know. Way to go, Typhoid Jorah. That is all.