So here we stand. Ten exhausting weeks and season 5 of Game of Thrones is over. Brace yourselves, there are a lot of deaths to get through.
We start this episode in the deep north, where Melisandre is smugly happy to see signs of a thaw. She is a very confident woman, our Mel, but sadly that’s all a bit short-lived: one of Stannis’ (remaining) men pitches up to deliver the bad news that half the camp have well, decamped in the night. HAH, is really all I have to say to that. It’s no surprise that burning your children doesn’t inspire hope and loyalty in the hearts of your followers (and it doesn’t make sell-swords stick around either). As for Stannis, he looks no more than mildly perturbed to see his wife hanging from a tree (after basically dooming her with the words ‘Oh can’t be worse that mutiny!)
All this is quite enough to convince Melisandre to high-tail it out of there and by the time Stannis actually marches on Winterfell, I was surprised to see more than ten people behind him. We saw nothing of this battle, perhaps because it was more of a sorry slaughter than any kind of actual fight… And that brings me to Death Number 1: Stannis. For once, Brienne has fulfilled one of her oaths and despatched my new-found nemesis – or has she? I’m sure most of you are familiar with the Game of Thrones adage: never believe anyone is dead if they die off-screen. So who knows, frankly. I know I’ve no desire to see any more of him, and that particular storyline does seem pretty wrapped up.
Moving on, Sansa was running around Winterfell like a mad thing this episode. Annoyingly , Brienne just missed her ‘candle in the window’ thing (does anyone else feel like these ‘it just happened that…’ moments occur a little too often?) Unbreakable Sansa remains strong in the face of bitchy Myranda who gets the most unceremonious death yet: chucked off a wall by Theon. Well done Theon! Let’s just hope they survived that long drop into the snow…
In one of this episode’s more brutal moments, we also saw the dispatch of the utterly odious Meryn Trant. On one level, it’s disturbing to see someone as young as Arya being so violent but somehow… I suppose we’re kind of used to Arya being like this now. Even if we’ve not seen her take it quite this far before, I think it’s been obvious for a long time that she is capable of this stuff. The real mind-bending weirdness kicked in when she returned to Jaquen (who died and then was alive and then was Arya – the dead one, that is. I… yeah. I don’t know). I’m often taken by surprise with the more fantastical elements of the show, I suppose that’s because the show is usually grounded in a very gritty, muddy medieval reality. I have absolutely no idea what will happen to Arya next, I can only hope that the blindness is not a permanent thing!
There was rather a theme of ‘revenge’ today, with Ellaria also exacting hers on poor innocent Myrcella. I suppose I should have been more wary of her willingness to bend the knee to Doran last week. That weird, lingering kiss made me think that something was up, to be honest. I really feel let down by the Dorne storyline; I had expected a lot more excitement from the place that brought us the mercurial Oberyn. Instead we got petulant teenagers and a woman hell-bent on some crazy revenge that made no real sense – in fact, it just made a mockery of Oberyn’s last season assertion that in Dorne they don’t hurt little girls! Ellaria knows that Oberyn made the choice to face the Mountain, it’s awful that he died but taking it out on a pre-teen is not constructive! So many minus points for Ellaria this season! Over to Daenerys’ rather forlorn looking crew and, for once, Daario is being the most sensible person in the room. He’s really turning it around for himself lately. His plan for Tyrion, Grey Worm and Missandei to band together and rule Meereen is something I’m actually looking forward to seeing next season – even more so now that Varys has turned up to join the fun! I don’t hold out high hopes for Daario and Jorah finding Daenerys in that vast wilderness, but judging by the way the show is going, they’ll probably just happen to run into her within 5 minutes. If she’s not decided to return to the Dothraki way of life of course!
Another queen in the Thrones world is having an even worse time than Dany of course, how could we forget? I would say poor Cersei at this point but I struggle to feel much empathy for her. She really believed that her half-assed confession would be enough to appease the crazed Faith Militant, but of course it wasn’t. I would feel a lot of sympathy for anyone else forced to undergo such a ‘walk of shame’ but… well, I remember what an absolute arse she has been throughout five seasons now and my sense of pity and sympathy seems to have wandered off somewhere. That was a long intense scene though and I think they filmed it pretty well, as viewers we really got the feeling of the scary, leering crowd. Lena Headey did a good job of showing Cersei forcing herself to hold her composure but gradually cracking under the weight of it all (though I hear a body double was used for the nudity. But her face acting was good!) Also: ugh the Mountain undead and kind of bluish. Yuck. Dammit Qyburn.
And finally. Finally, finally, we have the Wall. Damn the ‘Previously on Game of Thrones’ for showing me Benjen and sucking me into its world of false hope and trickery! And damn Thorne, I thought he had a hope of being better than that. Also WHERE WAS GHOST?! I am aghast at Jon’s fate. Seeing the men taking their turn to stab him and growl ‘For the watch’ (Quote of the Week, purely for how much it hurt!) was heart-breaking. Worse was Jon’s expression when young Olly thrust in the final knife. Once again my notes for this section have dissolved into nothing more than scribbles and Very Rude Words in all-caps. But. Melisandre is there. Melisandre serves the Lord of Light who can bring people back from the dead. Melisandre has maybe not used the blood magic from the death of Shireen. Melisandre may have chosen the wrong man to support before…
Over all, this was a pretty weird episode. I kept hoping it was all a dream – that the screen would go fuzzy and we’d see Hodor waking up, a bemused look on his face. Alas, that was not to be and we are left for another year with nothing but sadness rolling throughout Westeros. I’ve found this a somewhat underwhelming season and the relentless misery is getting a bit wearing. Not because I can’t deal with such a gritty world, but because that itself has become utterly predictable now. Back in the days of the Red Wedding, such things were truly unexpected and shocking. Now they’re standard and I just can’t care as much. There are still a few promising storylines, I think, and I really believe there are a couple of people we haven’t quite seen the last of. I’ll be holding on to the hope that next season will be a return to form!
Until next year, remember: Winter is Coming.
Let us know your thoughts, rants and predictions in the comments!
Final episode grade: B
Final season grade: C+
- I am firmly on ‘Team Brienne’ here, but even I felt it was a bit much when she gave Renly all those kingly titles right in front of his older brother. Do you not understand how hereditary rule works, mate?
- I have never ‘aww’d’ so much at something involving incest as I did at the conversation between Jaime and Myrcella. Good job by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in particular! And now she’s dead. Oh well.
- Poor Drogon. That’s all. He looked pretty mopey. I hope he doesn’t set fire to all those Dothraki chaps.
- I got irrationally annoyed by Pod dropping the rabbits and the firewood when he saw Stannis’ army. You ran about 5 metres, I think you could have held on to them sonny!
- I feel responsible for dooming Jon, I’m really sorry. I was just thinking how particularly good he was looking and then it Not the first time either (sorry Oberyn).