Wow…everyone’s dead. Again
|Charles Dance, Lena Headey and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as The Lannisters (The Lion, The Witch and The Stump)|
|with Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, the only good one, and Dean-Charles Chapman as King Tommen Baratheon (thank the Gods Joffrey’s f*cking dead)|
|Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Stormborn, of the House Targaryen, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Gatherer of Titles|
|with Ian McElhinney as Ser Barristan Selmy, Iain Glenn as Ser Jorah Mormont, Nathalie Emmanuel as Missandei and Jacob Anderson as Grey Worm|
|Kit Harington as Jon “Kno-Nuthin'” Snow, Kristofer Hivju as Tormund Giantsbane, John Bradley as Samwell Tarly and Hannah Murray as Gilly|
|with Stephen Dillane as King Stannis Baratheon, Liam Cunningham as Davos Seaworth and Carice Van Houten as Melisandre|
For a show that only has ten episodes per season, Game of Thrones packs a lot in. Controversy, bloody, guts, sex, violence and politics. Except that this season sees a lot less plotting and politics, and in fact pretty much delves right into the murder and brutality.
We follow Daenarys, as she bumbles about, imposing the laws of Westeros on a city that is pretty much the complete opposite of Westeros. Justice is dispensed brutally and quickly, usually involving the murder of some unfortunate slave.
She completely destroys her power base by killing a slave, and is instantly met with a rebellion, the Sons of the Harpy, who go around killing off her army of Unsullied. Oh, and Barristan Selmy. Seriously, he hasn’t even died yet in the books.
Elsewhere in beautiful Essos, Tyrion and Jorah Mormont are on their little adventure to see Daenarys before Jorah catches grayscale off a grayscale zombie and they’re then both captured by slavers. This has obviously been truncated from the source material, and that’s good, because by the end of A Dance With Dragons, you wonder of GRRM is just adding new characters for the sake of it.
Speaking of This Hasn’t Happened Yet in the Canon Source Material, Tyrion has actually managed to meet Daenarys before she flaps off on Drogon and is able to convince her not to kill him. Varys also shows up to give Tyrion a helping hand.
Arya’s gone to the House of Black and White, hoping to learn those mad skillz Jaqen H’Gar showed off in front of her a few seasons ago in Harrenhal. Of course, learning to be an assassin isn’t all sneaky stabbing and ruthlessness.
There’s also treating death as respectfully as possible, something she has to learn the hard way. By…well first killing Meryn Trant (finally) and then getting blinded in the process. Huh, there seemed to be a lot more in her storyline than that, but Arya’s finally learning what she’s gotten herself into, and it’s NOT PRETTY.
On the Iron Islands
Thank The Seven the show isn’t bothering with the diversion of epic banality.
In King’s Landing
Meanwhile, Cersei’s bumbling attempts to consolidate her power has ensured that she has none at the end of this season. She’s been humiliated, shown to be a hypocrite and made to do the Walk of Shame through King’s Landing while its entire population throws…well, everything at her.
In the meantime, we’re yet to find out about the fates of Margaery Tyrell and her brother Loras, who were arrested on trumped up charges based on religious laws enforced by a group of fanatics. Who were given arms and power by none other than Cersei. Too much short term grabbing, not enough thinking through the possible consequences…
Oh, and also, Petyr Baelish seems to have disappeared with his new BFF Olenna Tyrell. I wonder what those two are going to cook up next season. Delicious, delectable plotting ahead.
Sansa’s storyline has been merged with another character’s and gets introduced to the very nasty Ramsay Snow Bolton. Their relationship doesn’t need to be expanded up further, apart from what’s eminently obvious.
Also, Stannis. Seriously man, the best military commander in Westeros, basically walks his army right up to the front gates of Winterfell in plain sight and…loses? That doesn’t say much for the tactical brilliance of commanders in Westeros does it? Although, I would say the best tactician was either Tyrion or Tywin.
This season’s best comedy duo, Jaime and Bronn are off to rescue the king’s sister Myrcella, who was bundled off to Dorne by Tyrion in a bid to protect her during the battle of the Blackwater. This doesn’t go so well either.
The Martells, who hate the Lannisters for their role in the killings of their sister and brother. An attempted coup led by Ellaria Sand, Oberyn’s paramour fails spectacularly, and the head of the house, Doran forces them to succumb to his authority.
Ultimately, you just know Doran has an ace up his sleeve. What it is, is unclear, but Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes are obviously not privy to it. Maybe there’s some Petyr Baelish style biding and opportunity seizing there for next season.
At The Wall
Lots of book readers have been (probably) dreading this season. Winter (finally) arrives and brings with it the ever increasing army of the White Walkers and their ice zombies. Jon Snow, smart enough to realise what an army of 100,000 wildling wights could do to the lands south of The Wall, mounts a risky rescue mission to try to get as many out as he can.
Conveniently, the White Walkers attack in the middle of the rescue operations. The remnants of the wildlings, frightened, dispirited and utterly broken are allowed through Castle Black where Jon hopes they can be of use when fighting the eventual attack.
Except he might not be. The rest of the Night’s Watch, unable to see past their noses for the real threat, mutiny and off Jon Snow (apparently…). This is now, of course, the point where even those of us who have read up until the end of A Dance With Dragons fear to tread. We simply don’t know what’s planned post these cliffhangers.
An intense season
Season five was suitably intense, and there were very few episodes where something wasn’t going. The plot actually seemed to be moving forward at a great rate of knots, covering the events of two quite long books in one hit. Of course, the show does omit two storylines, which feel like padding serving no particular purpose. I wonder what we have to look forward to in season six?