Game of Thrones Season 5 Review

There are spoilers through the finale of season 5. You’ve been warned.

I debated if I was going to do this today, considering I’m so wholly caught up in Arkham Knight that I haven’t thought of much else. However, It’s been almost two weeks now. Despite my obsession, I’m still feeling the Game of Thrones withdrawal. Sunday night, I wandered around my house, unsure what to do because I didn’t have Game of Thrones. At least last year, I was able to jump into the trashy final mess that was True Blood’s last season. It was a distraction and it kept my mind off it. This year I don’t have that. I don’t even have The Strain yet to jump into. Instead, I just have my thoughts and devastation after that gut wrench of a season finale.

Game of Thrones - "Mother's Mercy"Let’s start with that ending in fact. Game of Thrones, like many shows, had picked up a pattern. Episode 9 was a big episode. Something major was going to happen. In season 1 it was Ned Stark’s death. Season 2 had the Battle of Blackwater and the devastation of wildfire. Season 3 had The Red Wedding. Season 4 changed things up and delivered us an intense episode 4 and then still offered a major battle in episode 9. Yet each season gave us episode 10 to kind of unwind. Season 5 was a bit different. It had a tremendous episode 8 with “Hardhome” which is now one of my favorite episodes of the show, and definitely of the season. Then it followed up with the traditional episode 9, with another major moment. Just in case you weren’t wowed or thrown further off balance, episode 10 finished off with what strongly seems to be the death of my beloved Jon Snow. Heck, I even wrote an ode to Jon Snow. It was a big moment to end with. One that really sucked the life out of the show. In many ways Jon symbolized the last remaining light on the show. Sure, he was in a tough position, but he always held hope and fought for what was right. We’ve now lost that. That end was something tough. Though it is one character, it radically changes the landscape of the future of this show. Jon’s focus was the Wall and stopping the White Walkers. Now, I have no doubt, nor do I mind, seeing the Night’s Watch overrun and slaughtered by the oncoming threat. It will happen.

Enough about the heartache, let’s talk about some of the most epic and heartwrenching events this season. There certainly were a number of events that turned heads and made people question. Heck, of any season of Game of Thrones, this one seemed to have the most outrage and frustration surrounding it.

Game of Thrones - "The Wars to Come"Sansa, Sansa, Sansa. She is a character with no agency in a landscape where so many characters, particularly women are granted that agency. Time and time again she is denied it. It is a damn shame, but it is also interesting to watch in her tragedy. No don’t get me wrong. I take no pleasure in seeing the awful barrage of things constantly happening to Sansa. The mere fact that she is not yet broken is a huge testament to her character because any normal or even extraordinary person would be unlikely to carry on. I hate that she doesn’t fight back, however she feels like a depiction of one type of real person. The fact that she has no agency is frustrating and often infuriating, but watching her persevere is just as moving to me. She still holds her head high, despite seeing the fear in her eyes. There are people who are frustrated that the end of the last season seemed to suggest that Sansa would finally be gaining some of her own agency in season 5. However, a change of clothes and dye job does not change a person and we saw that as she was stripped of this false shield and returned to the red haired girl we’ve known for seasons. What is happening to Sansa is not fair. It doesn’t do her justice. Yet, I’m interested in seeing how she keeps moving forward and overcomes what is placed before her with dignity whether she rebels back and gets her own agency or not. Hopefully she does (slowly, in a way that makes sense for her character), but Sansa is an interesting character regardless.

I’m not going to talk about Jon Snow because my feelings are bountiful. Again, just go read my Ode to Jon Snow. However, I did want to take a moment to talk about Hardhome and the epic battle that we saw against the wights and white walkers. It was one of the most intense scenes on the show and it really was a sight to behold. Up until that point the white walkers and their army was a threat, but a relatively nebulous threat. We had seen glimpses of what they could do. We saw hints at the extent of their power. Last season we finally got a scare with the intensity of what happens when they attack. However, the events at Hardhome brought things to a completely new level. The force that is coming with the impending winter is something that will devastate to new levels. As the wildlings were locked behind the wall it was eerie hearing the screams turn to silence only for them to become part of the force coming at the minority that remained. Like a zombie force, those who succumb become another agent for the white walkers. Your numbers dwindle as theirs gain. It is fighting a losing battle and it’s going to mean devastation in Westeros.

Game of Thrones - "The House of Black and White"I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the Shireen topic. Her death was truly for naught as Stannis’s forces were slaughtered. It was her death though that symbolized a turning point for Stannis. It was the last thing he loved that he was giving up for claim of a throne. There was never any point where Stannis was a good guy. Any one who thinks differently may be delusional because he’s always seemed like the scum of the earth. As a result, I wasn’t really shocked that he opted to burn his daughter for victory. He did after all have his brother killed. He had his wife locked up. He just was not a decent person. In fact, I was more infuriated by her mother because until her daughter was being burned, she was cruel to her. There was no kindness or motherly care. She treated Shireen like a dog. Thus her suddenly caring now that her daughter was to die, to the point she killed herself felt disingenuous. Also if there was any potential cure or immunization to Greyscale it died with Shireen.

The Game of Thrones is narrowing with every day. For a time we continually saw the number of people fighting for the throne expanding, but it’s clear now that it is a losing battle. What will any of these people rule when the white walkers have decimated, maybe even eliminated them. Stannis is now out of the fight. Though we didn’t see his death, he has no army. Tommen is a weak king and is sitting with a dangerous threat over his head as his mother has a telling that all her children will die. We’ve seen now two of them die already. It’s a matter of time.

While the last three episodes of the season had their fair share of excitement, I actually felt like this season was particularly show and often not in the best of ways. Game of Thrones is a slower show, made up with captivating dialogues and intriguing polical moves. It’s what makes the show, but I felt like often this season there was a lot of repetition and distraction. The result was that the show felt slow with the occasional uptick of intensity. I wish it was a bit more even. As a result, this season had probably the most shocks, but dragged the most.

There is so much more that I could say about this season of Game of Thrones, but I’m going to leave it there. At least for now.

What did you think of season 5 of Game of Thrones.

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One thought on “Game of Thrones Season 5 Review

  1. I do all my Game of Thrones blogging in-between the seasons so I’ll be writing a lot about the season in more detail in the weeks and months to come, but I more or less felt that Season 5 was the appropriately bad place in the story.

    We thought we’d hit rock bottom with the Red Wedding, but it feels like most of the rough consequences happened this season, and a lot of consequences to actions that have been hanging around since Season 2 (like Stannis finally getting an accounting of his kinslaying murder of Renly.)

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