Game of Thrones Season 5 Review

Season 5 of Game of Thrones slipped in quality compared to the previous seasons, but not enough to make most fans question whether they want to continue watching the series. Below will be a spoiler filled review of the season. It will be broken into different storylines based on location.

King’s Landing
Time spent in the capital of Westeros was less entertaining than the previous four seasons. With Joffrey, Tyrion, Tywin, and Oberyn no longer occupying this storyline, it was left to Cersei, Tommen, Margaery, and Loras to carry it. Tommen is the biggest issue with everything that happens in King’s Land. Unlike Joffrey, Tommen is a good person, but he is boring and too soft. When the religious fanatic Sparrows arrested king Tommen’s brother-in-law Loras and he did nothing to avoid violence, I gave him a pass. At the time I thought he was being reasonable and realized the issues his brother Joffrey created by recklessly killing and torturing people. After his wife and mother were taken by the Sparrows and he did nothing to stop it, he became one of the weakest leaders of a nation every shown on TV. The show runners decision to leave Tommen out of the last few episodes and having Qyburn tell jailed Cersei and the viewers that Tommen was so depressed he refused to leave his room and barely ate, was a bad decision that lessened the overall impact of the situation.

Margaery and Loras’ role was not nearly as emotional or entertaining as the show runners intended. Margaery is a good character, but not a character I had any deep feelings for. And compared to the issues any character associated with the Starks, Tyrion, and Jaime, Margaery getting locked up for lying about her brother’s homosexuality was not that bad. Loras was mostly off-screen after his arrest, so any added emotional from his imprisonment is left for next season.

Cersei’s short sighted thinking that led to her taking a trip down the walk of shame, is the best part of King’s Landing this season. She wanted to stop Margaery from stealing her son and spot as queen, but needed away to do it that couldn’t be connected to her or damage the alliance between house Tyrell and Lannister. Giving power to religious fanatics that would have issues with the Tyrell’s sexual liberalism, could be an answer to her problem. She just ignored how her own issues would be seen as far bigger sins than the Tyrells by the Sparrows and that she had no way of controlling them. The entire continent of Westeros has heard the rumor of Cersei cheating on her husband with her twin brother. With her cousin Lancel that Cersei had an affair with and helped her murder her husband Robert being a devoted member of the Sparrows, they could get the true story from someone they trust would put faith before family. Cersei set herself up to be convinced in a trail, but thanks to Westeros’ trail by combat rule and having the undead Mountain as a fighter. She should be able to get out of the situation she put herself in next season with only extreme embarrassment, from the overly long sequence of the walk of shame, and days of captivity.

Winterfell
A game of controversy plagued the Winterfell storyline for some people, but I thought it was one the best storylines of season. While I did have issues with some of the decisions the show runners made with Sansa and Stannis, having read some of the fourth and fifth books that Game of Thrones is based on, I understand some of the changes. Sansa’s storyline for the show caught up with the books last season and the next book will hopefully be released sometime in 2016. While everyone involved with making Game of Thrones say the show will spoil events that haven’t happened in the books yet, they greatly changed Sansa’s story for the show. In the book Ramsay Bolton marries a fake Arya Stark as a gift from the Lannisters to help the Boltons control the North. Like in the show, Arya is on another continent and people in Westeros don’t know what happen to her, so Tywin decided to use a random girl from the North and say she is Arya Stark. In the show Little Finger decides to marry the real Sansa Stark to Ramsay Bolton behind the Lannisters’ backs.

The biggest issue with Sansa’s marriage to Ramsay, is what it did to Sansa’s character. At the end of last season I thought Sansa was going to turn into a stronger character. With Little Finger’s help she would no longer be a victim and could take an active role in getting revenge for her family. Sansa’s decision to trust Little Finger without questioning any of the problems with his plan that involves her, went against the direction I hoped they would take the character. How would marrying the son of the man that betrayed and killed her brother and mother help her get revenge for her family? The answer ended up being it wasn’t, and it was part of Little Finger’s plan to control the North along with the Vale. Sansa was just a setup for Little Finger can show Cersei that the Boltons have betrayed them and allow him to use the army he gained has the current ruler of house Aryn to take the North.

Sansa’s decision to follow Little Finger’s plan led to the Ramsay rape controversy. Personally, I don’t really understand why so many viewers were shocked and saying they will stop watching the show after the Ramsay and Sansa marriage consummation/sexual abuse that Theon was forced to watch scene. What happen to Sansa in the Game of Thrones universe wouldn’t be considered rape or it is a rape their society doesn’t care about. This is something the show established in the very first episode of the series. When Daenerys was forced to marry Khal Drogo, she was raped after the wedding. In Game of Thrones women do not have rights, marriages are arranged, and the husband and wife are expected to have sex immediately after saying their vows. Tyrion was being nice by not sleeping with Sansa, and Ramsay is a sadist that would enjoy tormenting her. I didn’t have a problem with the decision to have Ramsay sexually abuse Sansa, but I was disappointed Sansa didn’t become a stronger smarter character that would no longer be a victim of abuse.

Stannis was the character I wanted to win the Game of Thrones. He was a character I would have classify as a good guy, but with enough evil in him to not suffer the same fate as the Starks, is a stronger leader than Daenerys, and not a Lannister. Stannis killed his brother Renly and took his soldiers, but it was Renly that betrayed Stannis first by ignoring Westeros succession laws and making himself king over his brother. Since murdering his brother Stannis was the closest to defeating the Lannisters, saved the Night’s Watch from the wildling army, and is the only person actively fighting the Boltons and potentially getting revenge for the north.

To say I was disappointed the moment he sacrificed his daughter to stop a snowstorm, would be a huge understatement. It literally ruined one of my favorite characters and was a colossal failure. His army was slaughtered by the Boltons, he lost his wife and daughter, and might have loss his life.

And the whole story involving Brienne and Podrick was completely useless this season. They never got close to saving Sansa and we have to wait until next season to see what happens between them and Stannis.

Night’s Watch
Before last season, the Night’s Watch was my least favorite part of Game of Thrones. After Jon Snow’s development as a character last season and the entertaining battle against Mance Rayder’s army, the Night’s Watch storyline became one of my favorite storylines of the show and favorite of this season. While I hated Jon Snow’s decision to decline Stannis’ offer to become Jon Stark and rule over the North, I enjoyed his decisions to execute Janos Slynt for disobeying him and allowing the wildlings to go pass the wall.

Jon’s decisions led to his death from multiple stabbing by fellow Night’s Watch members. I personally believe Jon is dead, but will be brought back to life by Melisandre. In season 3 red priest Thoros of Myr repeatedly brought Beric Dondarrion back to life several of times. While Melisandre is yet to show this ability, she is near the area Jon died in the book and bailed on Stannis, after his army left him for burning his daughter, to arrive at Castle Black just before at Jon’s death.

Episode eight “Hardhome” was the best episode of the season. This episode included a horde of fast moving zombies, a giant, and the Game of Thrones equivalent to a video game boss fight between Jon and a White Walker.

Meereen
Daenerys’ storyline has been hit-or-miss over the series. I loved her season one and three storyline, but hated her season two storyline and thought her season four storyline was average. Daenerys’ continued rule over Meereen started off slow, but picked up the second half of the season. Her decision to kill one of her supporters for taking the law into his own hands and ignoring Daario’s advice to round up all the former slave masters and kill them, were huge mistakes that led that to better episodes later in the season. What really helped jumpstart this storyline was the show runners’ decision to have Daenerys and Tyrion meet.

This meeting is yet to happen in the books, and the most recent book ended with Daenerys away from Meereen stranded surrounded by Dothraki (like in the show) before Tyrion arrives. It officially marked the moment Daenerys joined the rest of the characters in the main fight for the iron throne storyline. We still have to wait until next season to see if she final brings her dragons to Westeros, but Tyrion getting his hand of the king role back is a great development for the character. I don’t really understand how greyscale works, so maybe people must touch the infected area to get it and maybe Jorah will live longer than expected. Why do the Unsullied suck? They are supposed to be legendary fighters, but they have been shown to have the effectiveness of Stormtroopers from the original Star Wars trilogy.

Braavos
It wasn’t until the later episodes that Arya’s time as a disciple of the many-faced God became interesting, but seeing her kill Meryn Trant using a disguise, was great and shows what she could be capable of in future seasons. She lost her sight due to her need for revenge and I have no clue how she will get involved with the Westeros storylines. Overall this season was the weakest storyline featuring Arya, but still wasn’t the worst part of season 5.

Dorne
The dishonor of worst parts of season 5 goes to any scene taking place in Dorne (minus the Tyene and Bronn poison in prison scene). Literally the entire story could have been avoided with a casual conversation between the Lannisters and Martells. Prince Doran is such a pushover that Jaime and Bronn can kill a few Dornish men, strike the prince, and violate their marriage agreement by attempting to kidnap Myrcella before her marriage, and still allow her to leave with them mostly unharmed and trust his prince Trystane will be safe in King’s Landing. And the sand snakes fighting and plan was ridiculous, and they could have poisoned Myrcella anytime without being attention to themselves based on Ellaria’s poison kiss. Hopefully Myrcella’s death will make this mostly pointless detour during the season worth it next season.

 

8/10

Final Score

This was the weakest season of Game of Thrones, but that doesn’t mean it was a bad show, and I would have given the last four seasons between 9-10 out of ten.

Author: Michael Bronson

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