Nothing but spoilers here…
In the previous seasons of Game of Thrones, there were key episodes that seemed to define the series. The last few seasons that has changed. To evaluate Season 5, for example, you need to almost binge watch them to really appreciate what is happening with the story arcs and see if they are of any interest or merit. Overall this season was not as awesome as Season 2 – in some cases it seemed to lack focus, but in some character arcs, it solidly delivered. We were left with dragons in battle, The Wall now in peril, and the fate of Westros hanging in the balance. In other words, I loved this season as a whole – though many episodes left me wanting more.
Here’s my unsolicited personal views of the character arcs:
Cersei clearly believed she was the heir to her father’s legacy but proved that she was as flawed as Joffrey in most respects. She’s trimmed down the small counsel to a lunatic fringe. Her spiral to madness began when she manipulated Tommen, (King Wimp-A-Lot) to allow the arming of religious zealots as a snare to get Margery out of the picture. Cersei went on to create the very thing that would take her down. In the finale, we see her, as we did in the books, stripped naked, shaved, humiliated, spat upon, and abused by the masses. Her best scene this season was when she went toe-to-toe with the Queen of Thorns. Tywin would have been ashamed at his daughter’s attitude – he at least showed Olenna Tyrell some degree of respect. Prognosis for next season; Cersei is going to get even more whacky and extract revenge – which is bound to backfire on her. The loss of her daughter will only drive a wedge deeper between her, Jamie, and whatever is left of her sanity.
Ayra made it to Bravos and began her journey to serve the faceless god. Their indoctrination process is like a twisted sorority hazing with poisons, knives, and washing dead bodies. Her biggest issue is she still is putting herself and her burning revenge first, not really becoming “no one.” She ended up the season blind, which, if you’ve read the books, you know it will teach her humility. I have no idea where her story arc is going, but wherever it is, she’s going to rack up a body count along the way. She may not have hit the low point just yet.
Tommen’s story arc…awe, who cares? He had sex and liked it. Big shocker. He’s the exact opposite of Joffrey and we’ve learned that’s just as bad.
Game of Thrones has adopted the Hope and Crosby formula of “Buddies on the Road.” First up, Brienne and Pod. They found Sansa Stark finally only to be rebuffed. Brienne watched a tower for three episodes looking for a light from Sansa that she was in danger, only to miss it when she finally lit the candle. Timing is everything I guess.
The second of the “On the Road,” vignettes was Jamie and Bronn. In the books, some knight who I don’t remember, went to Dorne to redeem his honor, blah, blah, blah. The Sand Snakes in the books were much…more. They seemed cooler in the books. In the show, Jamie and Bronn set out to recover his neice/daughter Marcella from Dorne. Somehow this entire story arc felt like a waste of time. Oh, don’t get me wrong, Bronn makes his scenes stand out. His best moment was when he was poisoned by the Sand Snakes and nearly dies. “You are the most beautiful girl in the world.” in the finale, Jamie gets about one minute of happiness only to have it crushed. Marcella knows she’s the product of incest and embraces her father – only to die. The lesson here: Never kiss someone who hates you who is a master of poisons. Write it down, that’s important. I feel Season 5 wasted the combining of Jamie and Bronn on a relatively boring Dorne storyline. Jamie’s talents would have been better served if they had stuck to the novels and had him go to the Riverlands.
Speaking of wastes – let’s talk Sansa Stark. Sansa is the queen of bad choices and sobbing. She trusted Little Finger this season (mistake #1) and ended up getting pimped out to Ramsey Bolton as his bride (mistake #2). Not only is Ramsey just as fun-loving as Joffrey was, it overlooks the fact that the Bolton’s were in on the Red Wedding which should have made her a bit angrier. Ramsey continued to emotionally torture Theon while he physically and mentally abused Sansa. In the finale, Theon finally summons his virtual balls and tries to save Sansa – but the scene was a waste for me as a viewer. After all he has seen and been through, there was nothing in him finally being the hero that was a trigger point for the character to suddenly help Sansa. I mean why now to stand up for himself? Last season he had a razor at Ramsey’s throat for the Seven God’s sake! This lack of a trigger made their escape from Winterfell seem a little hollow to me.
While we’re talking about bad decisions we should at least mention Stannis Baratheon. Stannis sold his soul this season for power, which seemed slightly out of character for me. He burned his daughter at the stake as a sacrifice to the Lord of Light, thus disqualifying him from going to Denny’s for Father’s Day for the Red White and Blue Special. We saw in the finale that if you burn your only child at the stake it can have a demoralizing effect on your army. Duh. The final episode of this season should have given us an awesome battle scene, but the producers skipped it for a drawn-out Cersei-naked-covered-in-crap parade. Stannis learned that the Red Witch really needs to brush up on her future forecasting because he didn’t win the great victory at Winterfell. Instead he encountered Brienne, who was still a wee bit angry over Stannis’s use of blood magic to kill his brother Remly. Stannis met his end on the blade of Oathkeeper…at least that’s what we think – we never actually saw the killing blow.
The best parts of Season 5 were Tyrion and Daenerys coming together. These are two favorite characters and their dialogues are excellent pieces of writing. Tyrion is one of the pieces that Daenerys needs to eventually rule Westros. By the end of the finale, we had him poised to do what he does best, rule a city of chaos – to prove his worthiness to the Mother of Dragons.
And our beloved Daenerys? She learned this season that the support of the people was something that was fragile at best and that insurgencies are a pain in the ass. When the Sons of the Harpy struck during the games, we all got one of the most memorable images of the entire season when the now large dragon, Drogon, turned the Sons of the Harpy into gold-masked Flambés. When Daenerys mounted Drogon and flew off – well, that was one of those milestone images that made the series.
This season we saw Jon Snow rise to become the Lord Commander and to be killed by his own men. Jon’s saving of the Wildlings at HardHome was spectacular. We finally saw what the King of the Dead was like in his full glory and the image of the dead pouring over the cliff, only to rise up and attack was creepy, dark, and awesome. It was one of the highlights of the season. But to see Jon killed, well, it just felt empty. I mean don’t any of these bozos in the Night’s Watch realize they are going to be wiped out? I’m not too worried. Remember, the Red Witch is at The Wall and she has the power, like Thoros of Myr, to heal someone who has died. I’m not quite prepared to assume Jon Snow is just dead.
My summary of Season 5 — there were some fantastic moments punctuated by storyline that was sometimes confusing and contradictory. The big images were the undead attack at HardHome, Daenerys riding Drogon, and the fantastic dialogue between Tyrion and Daenerys. Runner up was Cersei being degraded. To be honest, the books themselves wander too. Having read the books I am personally convinced that HBO does a better job than the books do of running the storylines and I’ve come to trust their esteemed judgement. Overall Season 5 delivered a great piece of television drama. It was well worth the investment of time. I feel that it laid the foundation for some things to come that will be incredible.
And now I enter the glut of months where I wait patiently for Season 6. Worse yet, the end of the season simply means that winter is coming…again. #GameofThrones