It’s the best show on TV and it’s heading into its fifth season covering the fourth and fifth books from the A Song of Fire and Ice series, however these are easily the worst books in the series, so did the show suffer?
Game of Thrones has never been shy of moving away from what happened in the books, but it has generally been a little bit here and a little bit there. Season 5 decided to take massive chunks of story and either change them totally or drop them altogether. As I alluded to, the fourth and fifth books aren’t the best in the series and are rather clunky in nature, so naturally something had to change.
I didn’t however expect them to change it so much, dropping some massive storylines and characters and implementing more recognisable faces into roles where they didn’t really belong. In the short term this works, whether it will work in the long run is yet to be seen. It should however be noted that George R. R. Martin’s lacklustre writing speed has created this awkward situation, where the book and show could end up going in totally different directions by the time of their conclusions. They will ultimately end up in around about the same place; however the journey to that place is likely to be substantially different.
There will be spoilers to Game of Thrones season 5 in this post.
It was an incredible season up at the wall, with nonstop action and possibly the greatest scene in the entirety of the show. It started so well with the odd killing of Mance Rayder, a character who never really got a chance to develop in the show and in my opinion was killed way too early. It’s a shame that a good actor like Ciarin Hinds was only used for a few episodes, especially when he was an important character to the story.
Jon then manages to become the leader of the Night’s Watch, turning down becoming the legitimised Lord of Winterfell. It’s cool to see the character of Jon develop so much in the Night’s Watch, to the extent that in a fairly short amount of time he has managed to become Lord Commander. We also finally got to see Janos Slynt get his at the hands of Jon after he had played such a big part in Ned being killed, as well as just generally being a total knob.
The massacre at Hardhome was mind-blowingly good television, it had everything. The total unknowing of what was coming, the close the gates scene only for everything to go quiet and shit to hit the fan, the panic the battle with the White Walkers and wights, Wun Wun’s general bad assery, the chick getting killed by the kids, the cliff jump from the wights and then the final moment where the Night’s King raises all the dead and stares out to sea with a cheeky little smile, just an overall incredible fifteen minutes of television. Talk about building up a danger for the future, it was brutal, other shows should take note.
To think Hardhome wasn’t even the biggest moment in this season of Game of Thrones from the wall, nope the season finished on a cliff-hanger after Jon had been stabbed multiple times by his brothers (and that wee prick Olly). So is Jon Snow dead? Probably not, after all Melissandre is back at the wall when it all happens and if they were to kill Jon there wouldn’t really be anyone at the wall who we could relate to, unless Ser Davos were to stay after being unable to go on with real life after hearing of Stannis’ defeat. Another excellent way to finish a season, perfect cliff-hanger where you seemingly kill off a major character, but as has been shown previously on the show, dead doesn’t always stay dead, so it leaves you pondering the situation.
One of the biggest issues I have with Daenerys’ story is that Emilia Clarke (the actress playing the role) is a terrible actor. I find it really hard to relate to what is meant to be one of the easiest and most beloved characters in the books because they decided to hire someone who has the right look but couldn’t act her way out of a paper bag. Thankfully as the season progressed they put her with Tyrion who is certainly not lacking in charisma.
It was interesting to see Dany struggle with holding a city where she is anything but loved by the aristocracy (to the extent where they are openly rebelling against her) and is beginning to lose the support of the former slaves who helped her rise to power. This led to the scene where the Sons of the Harpy surrounded an Unsullied regiment which included Grey Worm and killed the living daylights out of them, only for Ser Barristan Selmy to come and make the save, only to then perish himself, saving Grey Worm in the process. I was shocked to see Ser Barristan be killed so early, such a likeable character that had more room to grow, was pretty gutting, at least he went out swinging as a hero and a true warrior.
It is always really interesting when two characters who haven’t yet been involved with each other all of a sudden have interactions so deep into a show. We got the reunion of Varys and Tyrion, two of the most charismatic characters on the show (good to see it is likely to continue into the next season) and then we got the combo of Tyrion and Jorah. Tyrion is the best main character on the show and he can get something out of anyone but his combination with Jorah was something special. Maybe it was the disdain with which Jorah held him or the fact that he was totally uninterested in having a conversation with him, so we got to see Tyrion use his silver tongue, whatever it was it worked.
The scene in the fighting pits was another excellent scene in a season which had so many excellent scenes. Once again the Harpies attacked and panic was everywhere (this show really knows how to deliver a panicked situation); you felt that any character could be at risk (sadly for Hizdahr he had to take the bullet). Jorah redeeming himself by saving Dany, the return of Drogon who was kicking ass and eating Harpies and Dany getting da fuck out and flying away, great scene.
Dany ends up in the middle of a horde of Dothraki which I can’t imagine will end well for her, after all the last time Dany saw the Dothraki they didn’t leave on kind terms. It will be interesting to see where they are going with Dany and hopefully Emilia will have taken some acting classes between the end of this season and the start of the next.
It’s weird because this area is essentially the story of Dany; however I am much more excited to see how Tyrion manages to run Meereen. We all know the last time Tyrion had command of a city it was awesome, so we can surely expect more of the same. It will also be interesting to see how Jorah and Daario will get on as they search for the woman they both love, especially when Jorah is on the way out with a dose of greyscale.
So poor Sansa has been sold off to Ramsay Bolton for the good of Littlefinger’s political games… Oh dear. The biggest question I have about Littlefinger’s decision is whether or not he knew about the fact that Ramsay is an absolute nutter? It seems that he cares for Sansa, in a weird I want to have sex with you because you remind me of your mother sort of way, so has he misread the Ramsay situation or does he not care that much and Sansa is just another pawn in his game? It is really hard to say but either way Sansa has come up short once again, poor girl.
Obviously the big scene that everyone is talking about is the sort of rapey scene in which Ramsay and Sansa consummate their marriage through…rough means. Was it rape? Ach…I don’t really know. I think some people are too quick to jump on the it’s rape bandwagon when it isn’t really (like the Jaime Cersei scene last season). Sansa surely knows what is expected of her on the wedding night, I highly doubt that she really wanted to, however I believe that she was trying to play the game and failing miserably. It was rough and horrible and a tough scene to watch, but it could have been a lot worse and should it really come as a surprise that Ramsay isn’t a gentle lover? This scene was meant to make you hate Ramsay more than you already do, and it more than accomplished that.
It’s really hard to decide what was the most brutal scene which took place in the North, was it Sansa’s wedding night or was it Stannis having his own daughter burned to death? Jesus Christ this show does not hold back in doing the most brutal things and for me it is why it is the best show on TV, they aren’t afraid to make controversial decisions or kill of important characters.
The irony of course of the burning of Shireen is that although the snow cleared allowing for Stannis to mount his attack on Winterfell, he lost everything at that very moment. They kept teasing the idea of burning Shireen but wouldn’t pull the trigger, until Stannis was so desperate that he made the ultimate sin. It’s was another really well worked scene, Shireen being led to her demise, realising when she saw the future bonfire, calling out for her mum and dad and then the screams… Selyse killing herself the next day after killing the daughter she didn’t even like, crazy bitch, and half of Stannis’ forces abandoning him because you know…he just burned his daughter to death.
I’ve always really liked Stannis, he isn’t really a good guy or a bad guy, he’s a guy that has been duped of the throne and has done his best to get back what is rightfully his, but in the end he went too far and his desires overcame sense and that was his true downfall. It was hard to feel sympathy for him when his army walked to the plains before the gates of Winterfell only to be met by a cavalry, which he knew they had no chance against.
So is Stannis dead? I haven’t read any spoilers for season 6, so I don’t really know whether or not the belief is that Brienne actually did kill him. Obviously because it was off camera you never know until it is confirmed, but I can’t imagine Brienne wouldn’t want to take her revenge for Stannis’ killing of Renly. I did love how Stannis was so blasé about the fact that he was about to be killed in a matter of seconds, can’t help but regain respect for him after that, which is pretty impressive when he had just killed his only daughter. Brienne was an odd one this season because other than killing Stannis, she didn’t really have much to do and it seemed like she spent more time in the inn staring out at Winterfell than anything else.
After months of abuse at the hands of Ramsay, who Sansa has obviously realised she can’t play like Littlefinger had told her, she’s ready to jump ship or off the castle walls as it may be. Nice to see Theon finally man up and make a run for it and oppose Ramsay and his fucked up ways. Both he and Sansa have been pretty fucked up by the whole experience of Ramsay Bolton; will be interesting to see if Brienne is able to save them because I can’t imagine that Ramsay will be too pleased about losing his slave boy, his mistress and his wife.
I do have to say that Ramsay is by far the best antagonist the show has a character which has no real motives other than being a sadistic arsehole. After the loss of Joffrey and Tywin last season, we only really had Ramsay left who could be considered a big bad and he more than took his place on the top step. As much as I’d like to see him get his, I can’t help but hope it is nearer to the end of the series because he’s a great character and expertly performed by Iwan Rheon.
In a season where there were so many hits, it’s not surprising that there were going to be some misses as well and to call the story at Dorne a miss is being beyond generous, it was terrible. What makes the Dorne story worse is that they had Jaime and Bronn involved who are two of the shows best characters and have great chemistry together, yet it still was awful.
The issue really lay with the whole Sand Snakes storyline; the characters were poorly written, with wooden dialogue, poorly explained motives and awkward chemistry, it never felt right. It is as if they added the Sand Snakes story late because they had an extra few hours to fill and thought let’s just toss this in here.
It did progress the story as Dorne are in a silent and yet to be realised war with the Lannister’s and Myrcella perished to a deadly poisoned kiss from Ellaria, much to Jaime’s dismay. The sad thing about this story thread is that it could have been awesome but instead every time that sandy scenery came onto the screen it was met with disappointment.
King’s Landing had a really odd season because after four seasons of being thee place in Game of Thrones, this season it no longer was. That’s not to say that a number of things didn’t happen but they lost big names like Tywin, Tyrion, Jaime, Varys and Joffrey from the location and really all that was left was Cersei.
Cersei has always been a weird character in Game of Thrones because she is the perfect example of someone who thinks they know how to play the game but in reality they are a few steps behind those who really know what they are doing, and so this season proved once again with her unwittingly naïve decision to allow the new High Septon who is a man of the people and has a large following of extremely religious pilgrims to reform the military side of the Faith of the Seven in forgiveness of the crowns debts.
The High Sparrow was a great addition to the show, an antagonist for an antagonist. Not really likeable because he is a religious nut but hard to dislike because he is a man of simple means and believes strongly in helping others and doing right. Then again he does go about arresting people over minor crimes and gets his little sparrows to go about town wrecking shit up, so he is a pretty big knob.
It was a weird one as they arrested Ser Loras Tyrell (a criminally underused character) for being homosexual, Margaery for being a minx and Cersei (shame we didn’t get more Olenna other than her appeal to get them both released) for shagging things left, right and centre.
This leads us to the biggest scene of the season for King’s Landing as Cersei makes her march towards the Red Keep through the streets stark naked, as the baying crowd react to her in the manner you’d expect…pleasantly and courteously. It’s another great scene of season 5 as we see Cersei, a character with tons of pride at first walking with her head held high, but slowly regressing as she makes her way through the crowd and is berated and abused, her feet bloody and finally collapsing in tears and exhaustion once she is back in the Red Keep.
One of the biggest problems I have with the Cersei story arc is that Cersei isn’t a character that I sympathise with at all. You can’t build someone up as a bitch for so many seasons only for you to then end up sympathising with them because they have been treated poorly by a totalitarian religious sect. Going into season 6 it will be really interesting to see where we will be going with Cersei versus the Sparrows, because I struggle to imagine that Cersei will be satisfied with her treatment and more than likely will be looking for some sort of revenge against the religious nutjobs.
As a side note Tommen is a terrible leader, your brother in law is arrested by someone who has no authority to do so and not only do you not demand his release but you then allow both your wife and mother to be taken as well. I mean Joffrey was bad and had no spine but at least he would have fucked shit up.
What is further interesting about Tommen is who is next in line to the throne? It would have gone to Myrcella but she is dead. It would then have gone to Stannis but he is probably dead too. After Stannis Shireen is the next in line to the throne but she has died as well, so who is the next in the line of succession? Also is that person going to take Stannis’ claim to the throne because after all Tommen is an illegitimate bastard and if I was the rightful king of the seven kingdoms I’d want my fucking throne.
Arya had a pretty cool little story where she joined the ranks of the Faceless Men. Initially it was tough sledding as she washed floors and dead bodies and was attacked by her partner for not being up to the task, however once they allowed her to get out and do some assassins work it really picked up.
I think that one of the biggest compliments that Game of Thrones I can give, is that they are willing to do a slow burn storyline, and Arya and Meryn Trant’s relationship can only be described as a slow burner. These two characters haven’t interacted since season 1 and yet here we are in season 5 and Arya is getting her revenge on the man who killed her mentor Syrio Forel. What a brutal killing it was as well, I mean Trant was already a dick but a pedo as well, the guy had to go, an awesome slow burn.
Sadly for Arya she has gone blind from the disobeying of her orders and learned that Jaqen wasn’t an actual person but was in fact no one like he kept telling her. It will be interesting to see where they go with the whole blind thing and whether or not Arya will succeed in her training (my guess would be yes). A better question may be whether or not Arya will eventually be recast, because if she is no one and has no face then surely it won’t always be Maisie Williams.
Game of Thrones is the best show on TV and this was another phenomenal season. Yes Dorne was a poor story arc, however that is one poor story arc out of about eight which in reality is an excellent return on investment. It is a beautiful looking show and there are so many likeable characters and although I feel like there should and could be a few more antagonists, I can’t really complain. The fact that it has taken me over three thousand words to write a review of one season tells you the depth which Game of Thrones has, it’s remarkable.
The biggest complaint I can have with Game of Thrones in general is at times the acting isn’t as good as it should be. The biggest culprit is Emilia Clarke (Dany) who is flat out terrible, she really shouldn’t stand near the dragons with how wooden she is. Another big culprit is Kit Harrington (Jon Snow) who really isn’t a very good actor either, to the extent that it seems like he has a different accent with every different season. It’s weird because there are so many fantastic actors and performances throughout the show, however two of the biggest (if not the two biggest) characters can’t act, it’s rather unfortunate.
Anyway if you’ve made it this far you have realised that I thought this was an excellent season of Game of Thrones and I am really looking forward to season 6. Despite being five seasons in the quality hasn’t really dropped at all but with the show going out on its own it will be very intriguing to see where it goes. I’m excited, and you should be too, shows like this don’t come around too often.
So what did you think of Game of Thrones season 5? Are you wondering what Bran’s up to with the tree people? Are you hoping that Sansa and Theon put on their snow boots? Has Stannis and Jon kicked the bucket? Is Olly the true evil in the show? Will the whores be up to Tyrion’s liking? Why not leave a comment and share those thought!?!?