I wasn’t planning to post my reactions to Game of Thrones’s fifth season finale, “Mother’s Mercy,” but then . . . well, I just had to.
BIG TIME SPOILERS AHEAD
So, fifth season . . . not my favorite. I’ve liked plenty of scenes here and there, and in some ways, I actually think it’s improved on the books — Daenerys’s storyline, for instance, may be a bit dull right now, but it’s still so much more interesting than “Annoying Dany and Her Endless Parade of Potential Lovers” from A Dance With Dragons. Still, as a whole, I’ve been disappointed this year, and overall the season finale only made things worse.
Taking each storyline one by one:
1. Because I’ve read A Dance With Dragons, I knew — among other things — that Jon was going to get stabbed to shit, and it’s a great way to end the season. Adding Benjen Stark to the Previously
On Survivor Section was a really clever misdirect. I was like, “Holy shit, is the show actually going to do something with Benjen? That’s amazing. We’re finally going to prove or disprove so many fan theories!” And then that Little Shit Ollie is like, “Hey, we have news about your uncle!” and I’m like, “You total bastards. That’s brilliant.”
Now, I’ve never thought Jon was permanently dead, not once. This is partially because we still haven’t revealed Jon’s true parentage in the books or TV show, and partially because everybody who doesn’t get decapitated in the books comes back to life. Of course, Game of Thrones has famously (and frustratingly) not resurrected characters that came back to life in the books, but it’s an awfully big coincidence that a priestess who can bring people back from the dead and is almost certainly suffering a religious crisis now that her messiah is (maybe) dead has arrived at the Wall just in time for a major player to get murdered. I would honestly be surprised if Melisandre doesn’t bring Jon Snow back. (Also, when exactly did she leave?)
2. Davos, though. His face when he hears about Shireen: SO SAD. (Although I’d like him to enact bloody revenge when he finds out how Shireen died, preferably after Melisandre raises Jon from the dead.)
3. So, this is what I’ve learned: whether in the books or movies, the Battle of Winterfell is disappointing as shit. In the books, it’s disappointing because you’re waiting a thousand pages for that fucker, only for it to never happen. In the show, it’s disappointing because Game of Thrones clearly blew their battle budget back in Episode 8 and couldn’t show the total annihilation of Stannis’s forces.
On one hand, I actually love that a bunch of mercenaries were like, “Uh, how about we not fight for a dude who’s so fucking crazy he burns his own daughter alive.” I mean, that’s just common sense right there. Plus, it’s great that Stannis’s big sacrifice to win the battle is actually what lost him the battle. That’s excellent and no more than he deserves, that unbelievable dick.
On the other hand . . . seriously, ALL SEASON you’re waiting for something you don’t even get to see. Maybe if we at least got a long, bloody montage of Stannis’s men being butchered to, like, sweeping Lord of the Rings music or something, but as is, I was really underwhelmed.
4. If anyone deserves a gratuitously violent on-screen death, it’s Stannis . . . which makes the cut-away that much more annoying. I’m rarely a big fan of the dramatic “did-you-kill-him” cut-away, as 99.8% of the time it means “no, no, you didn’t.” I suspect that Brienne didn’t kill Stannis, that either someone comes up from behind to stop her, or that she decides not to kill him so he can help rescue Sansa or something. (No, I have no idea how that would even make sense.) But if that’s not the case, then screw you, show. I will not apologize for my bloodlust. I want to see Stannis die HARD. I’d be fine if it happened by either Davos’s or Brienne’s hand — although, really, the latter’s basically been staring at a tower for an entire season, so maybe she deserves it more, just so she has something to DO.
5. But speaking of characters who did nothing . . .
Jesus fucking wept, really? I was annoyed by the controversial rape scene that happened earlier in the year (though not quite as much as some people, certainly not as much as I was by last year’s controversial rape scene), but I was hoping that at least Sansa would get to do something useful at the end of this season, something to take her power back. And look, I’m glad she escaped — presumably, not that I think anyone could legitimately survive that jump — and I know Theon needed his own Moment to reclaim his identity, to gain redemption, but man, this kind of sucked. She couldn’t have even taken out a guard or something? She couldn’t have stabbed Ramsay even a little?
At the end of last season, I really thought Game of Thrones was setting up for Sansa to take command of her own story — but with the brutal, unnecessary rape scene, we made her a helpless victim again, and by the end of the season, that’s still all she is: a powerless princess getting rescued by someone else.
6. Arya got to kill someone, at least. Arya got to kill the hell out of someone.
But while I knew going in how her story would resolve, I did feel like that resolution was pretty rushed. And the actual ‘going blind’ scene itself was kind of confusing. It’s not a huge problem, but I still feel like it could have been done better.
7. Speaking of lamesauce executions: Dorne in its entirety was utterly disappointing this season.
We spent so little time there that it felt like a completely extraneous subplot, solely designed to get Jaime away from King’s Landing. And it probably isn’t totally extraneous because I’m assuming that war Prince Doran was trying to avoid is going to ignite next season — because there’s no way Jaime and Cersei are going to react well to the princess’s death. Still, Dorne felt utterly unnecessary all season. We’re introduced to a bunch of new characters (all the Sand Snakes, plus Prince Martell), only to spend most of that time on one girl’s boobs. Not to mention, Jamie’s whole plot can be reduced to a single sentence: Jaime travels to rescue his secret-daughter, gets arrested, and has a single moment of parental happiness before she’s poisoned, presumably to death.
Here’s a tip, Myrcella: don’t be kissing people who tried to assassinate you. Honestly. The Kiss of Death was so obvious, too. I liked the scene between her and Jaime, but I was still practically snapping my fingers, waiting for her to bite it.
8. About Cersei’s Walk of Shame — I have mixed feelings.
Like, it’s a horrific scene, hugely icky, but also very effective, primarily because Lena Headey acted the hell out of it. I was disturbed, but the scene didn’t piss me off the way Sansa’s rape did, or Cersei’s own rape, last year. (Although I’m not sure we got enough loving pans to her lady parts. I feel like we could have lingered a little more there.)
But it’s interesting — I was talking to another co-worker, and she told me that she hoped Cersei got bloody revenge on all of them next year. And really, I didn’t have that reaction at all. Despite it being an atrocious humiliation, my sympathy for Cersei remains limited — not because of all her murderous, incestuous, and generally awful ways, but because she’s the one who brings the religious order to power in the first place, entirely to get rid of Margaery. I have no doubt that, had Cersei stayed in power, she would’ve been fine, possibly even amused, watching Margaery suffer this same humiliation. So, no, I’m not particularly on her side here.
And what the hell happened to Margaery anyway? She and Loras were entirely dropped from the story, which really annoyed me. Are they still imprisoned? Dead? Did Olenna just go home? It’s pretty sloppy writing.
You know what would have worked for me? If at the end of her walk, Cersei had seen Margaery there, also shorn, and the two had shared like a nod of, “Let’s work together to kill these fuckers.” Then, I think, I could’ve gotten in on the vengeance spirit.
9. Finally, to the East . . . *shrug*
I don’t at all care about Dany being surrounded by a bazillion Dothraki. Absolutely no interest in that storyline at the moment. I do, however, have interest in Tyrion ruling Mereen. I bet he could make those politics interesting, in the exact way that Dany couldn’t. Also, Varys is back! YES!
Next season needs at least 70% more Tyrion and Varys.
FINALE GRADE: C+
SEASON GRADE: B
If anyone who has previously tried to kill you later attempts to kiss you, push them away. Seriously. No kissing people who want you dead. I don’t care if it seems rude. This is common sense.
Never lead the Night’s Watch. They mutiny more than fucking pirates, and you will end up deader than shit.
2 thoughts on “Belated Thoughts — Game of Thrones Season Five Finale”
1. No way is Jon dead. As you said, Melisandre’s presence makes no narrative sense, in addition to all the unresolved questions about his plotline. I think Harrington and the producers are playing word games. Jon Snow is dead, yes. Jon Targaryen/Azor Ahai, (who already has a nice, shiny sword of dragonsteel) however… In my head, Jon is reborn as Azor Ahai, takes the Wildlings and the loyal members of the Night’s Watch (after executing or cowing the traitors with the fact that death didn’t stop him), and then says to forget all this ‘neutrality’ business and goes and deals with the Bolton problem after Sansa and Theon come and tell him exactly what sort of people they are. I’ll echo some others and even say that I think this is why Lady Stoneheart was cut, so that this would be a “surprise”.
2. Yes. Melisandre should die in a fire after that. Lit by Davos. Who then becomes Hand of the new King Jon.
3. I don’t mind this. Stannis’ forces have been underdogs for so long, I actually enjoyed the fact that the outcome was so clear they didn’t even need to show it. The people who bailed? Perfect. Dude burned his own daughter alive. Fuck him.
4. Brienne got her revenge. Stannis is dead. There is no reason for Brienne to have spared him. I’m good either way on actually showing his head be separated from his shoulders.
5. I’m starting to think wanting Sansa to take control of her own life is a fool’s hope. She makes little moves here and there, but so far, her entire history is of being a victim or a tool of others. I’m starting to think she just doesn’t learn, and that this is intentional in order to emphasize the difference between her and Arya, who is equally incapable of doing what she is told.
6. As always, I am perfectly happy with Arya’s storylines. What she did to Meryn Trent is exactly what I want Sansa to do to Ramsay. I don’t expect this hope to be fulfilled.
7. Dorne felt like they wanted to do so much more, but just couldn’t decide what they wanted. I hope we get much more of Alexander Siddig next year, though. It will be interesting to see if Jamie maintains his redemptive path, or falls back more in line with Cersei.
8. Cersei’s scene was fantastic, and I have no sympathy for her either, for her generally awful ways to, as you say, the fact that the Sparrows being in power is completely her fault. Early in the books, Tyrion asseses that though Cersei is cunning, she’s not always all that bright. She’ll do whatever it takes to be on top, but doesn’t really seem to know what to do when she’s there. I feel like this is even more true for show-Cersei. Even odds, though, that Ser Strong (Who is totally not the reanimated Mountain-Who-Rides, y’all), does exactly what Cersei threatened to the High Septa and the High Sparrow. I am also seriously wondering what happened to Margaery and Loras.
9. Dany has always been the weakest storyline, to me. I feel like reconnecting with the Dothraki will motivate her to actually get on with her conquoring, if that’s what she wants to do. I am also extremely excited for more Tyrion/Varys stuff, but… where the hell did Varys come from? Where has he been since he separated from Tyrion?
1. Agreed — it’s probably all word games. And yeah, that’s why I was thinking Lady Stoneheart was cut too. It makes narrative sense, but there’s a part of me that will always be disappointed by that.
4. I’ve watched TV way too long to say Stannis is dead before I see the body. Hell, I’ve watched a show where a person DID get decapitated and then the next season, it was all like, “No, you didn’t really see that, it was dark, it was actually someone else ALL ALONG!”
5. I’m starting to wonder this well, and it’s driving me crazy. GoT actually has a number of really interesting female characters, but I despise Sansa’s constant victimization. I think a much more interesting juxtaposition between her and Arya would show them wielding different kinds of power. I’ve never expecting Sansa to be some sword-wielding badass assassin, after all. I want her to be manipulative and smart and awesome. Winterfell didn’t have to go the way it did.
7. I hope we get more of Alexander Siddig too. I liked him — i just wanted him to have something to do.