June 15, 2015 by kbaldy15
Season 5, Episode 10 Review
Well. How’s that for a finale? First and foremost, props to director David Nutter–he had his work cut out for him with this episode, and he and Benioff and Weiss certainly made sure they made every scene count. We wrapped up (more or less) all of the main stories of this season, and even set up a few for next season. We’re even caught up to the books for the most part, even surpassing it in some cases (or so radically different that it doesn’t matter). For that reason, I’ll be including any speculation about the show moving forward within my review, as it is officially enough of its own beast that any book spoilers that may be relevant can hardly be considered bulletproof at this point. Thus, I suppose the best place to start is at the top.
I know it’s hard to say about a guy who just had his daughter burned alive, but poor Stannis. He’s earned every bit of it, but he had about as rough of a day as you could imagine, with over half of his army deserting with all his horses, his wife hanging herself, and being attacked by a calvary in an open field. Just think, at the end of last season, it was Stannis leading his men on horseback against an unprepared force. His rescue of the Night’s Watch set him up as a hero, and he continued on that track for awhile this season, until it all came crashing down last week. Now here we are, with Stannis killed by Brienne, who finally got to fulfill her oath to Renly. Or did she? Not showing Brienne drive her sword into Stannis seems like a very un-Game of Thrones thing to do. Perhaps Stannis’s suggestion that she “do her duty” reminded her of another duty she has: her duty to Sansa. If she rescues Sansa, she’ll need somewhere to keep her safe, and the head of a powerful (or, at least, once powerful) house probably has a few good resources. Especially considering that person is actively trying to kill the people currently keeping Sansa captive. Brienne might make sure she gets to kill Stannis at some point, but for now, I have a hunch that we haven’t seen the last of him.
Sansa finally got something to do besides be the object of someone else’s torture, and seized upon the opportunity to put the candle in the window of the broken tower while Ramsey was off slaughtering Stannis’s army. Sadly, Brienne was a bit preoccupied for the first time in weeks, so Sansa’s message went unnoticed, leaving her to attempt to discreetly make her way back to her room. Unfortunately, Myranda and Theon made sure that wasn’t going to happen. After a little bit of unfriendly threatening by Myranda we finally got the moment we’ve all been waiting for:
Sansa snapped and killed everyone Theon snapped and threw Myranda off a very high ledge. While it was great to see Theon finally snap out of his Reek-coma, the happy feelings were short lived, as Ramsey and the rest of the Bolton army promptly returned from their victory. Without many options for escape, Sansa and Theon did the only thing they could do: They snapped and killed everyone They jumped off a very high ledge. Granted, this one had a lot of snow beneath it, but I suppose we’ll have to wait until next season to see them making snow angels.
Even though we didn’t get to see Sansa snap and kill anyone, we did finally get a truly righteous Arya assassination. While the repeated stabbing off Meryn Trant was a bit on the brutal side, it was also a whole lot on the wonderfully justified side. Watching Arya finally cross a name off her list, especially the name of a person we’ve literally only seen doing terrible things, just felt so right. On the flip side, you knew she was in for trouble when she threw away the whole “no one” thing and made damn sure Trant knew it was Arya Stark who killed her. Turns out, Jaqen knew it was Arya who killed him as well, which doesn’t really sit well with the Many-Faced God. So after a truly creepy not-death by Jaqen combined with some rapid fire face swipes, Arya was given her punishment. It may be much more difficult for Arya to cross more names off her list, now that she’s lost her sight. I guess we’ll have to see what happens there (I’m sorry, I’m tired and it was right there. Moving on).
I’m also going to play the “see what happens” card with Dorne, this season’s most obvious letdown. Oberyn was so awesome last season, and people were justifiably excited when the show decided to head to his homeland, filled with badass female characters and Oberyn’s brother, another viper in the grass. Instead, we got wooden Sand Snakes, a vengeance plot that didn’t really make much sense, one of the worst fight scenes of the series, a well-played but underwhelming Doran, a wasted season for Jaime and not much else, save for Bronn still being pretty cool. The finale’s only Dorne scene did go part of the way to redeeming the plot, but only barely. Jaime embracing his fatherhood only to have it snatched away is at least some development for him, and Myrcella being poisoned is sure to have some major repercussions, both in Dorne and in King’s Landing. Assuming Jaime is still on his way to King’s Landing, Cersei will be pissed that he’s bringing back a dead daughter, and now Doran’s only heir is essentially a free hostage for Cersei (assuming Trystane got on the boat, which we never actually saw). If they turn around and try to get Myrcella help in Dorne, things could get ugly for everyone. POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT–Personally, none of it will be worth it until they do more with Doran. Until we hear that he’s the grass that hides the viper, Dorne will have been a waste.
Things may be getting ugly for Dany as well. She and Drogon are off in some other part of Essos (even though it looks A LOT like some of the scenery we’ve seen around Winterfell, like when Ned beheaded the deserter in episode 1), and Drogon doesn’t seem to care at all about Dany’s responsibility to Meereen. He wants to sleep and heal, so Dany wanders off, only to be surrounded by a very large Khalasar. In some ways, it’s a nice indication that Dany’s story is coming full circle in some ways, and her meeting with the Dothraki may remind her of the strength she was capable of before she was Mother of Dragons. Or, given what we know of the Dothraki and how little they cared about Dany after Drogo died, as well as their general treatment of women, and things could get ugly for her very quickly if Drogon doesn’t come give her a wing. She did drop her wedding ring from Drogo, which is a nice little breadcrumb for Jorah and Daario to find now that they’re off on their own “Jaime and Bronn go to Dorne” subplot for next season. While I’m excited for that pairing, just as much as I’m sure Jorah is excited to have a traveling partner who might not talk all the time, I’m much more excited to watch Tyrion and Varys rule over Meereen. Grey Worm and Missandei are great and all that, but Tyrion and Varys is the show’s truest power couple. I also find it excellent that the two of them will be ruling over the city after having a discussion earlier in the season about how they aren’t cut out to be rulers in the public eye, but are better at pulling the strings. Now we’ll see if that’s true or not.
Cersei is definitely not cut out to be a ruler, but it appears that’s where she’ll be next season, now that she’s back in the Red Keep. Granted, Kevan is back and wasn’t real keen on putting up with her crap the last time he was around, but Cersei’s also got an undead behemoth on her side now, thanks to Qyburn. So while Cersei appears set up for a comeback, that’s all in part to her arc this season, which was putting her at the bottom, and Cersei’s Walk certainly was the bottom. Lena Headey was remarkable as usual, and it speaks volumes to her performance that we’re able to feel any sympathy at all for Cersei. She’s been beaten and dragged through the dirt and still has a trial to go through, but Cersei is ready for to claw her way back to the top, which doesn’t bode well for just about anyone else.
Finally, the character I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for: Jon Snow. Obviously his big moment this week was sending Sam off to Oldtown to become a Maester…and I’m obviously kidding. On that note, though, I’m rather upset that they took the idea away from Jon and gave it to Sam. It’s an indication that Jon is still trying to do what’s best for the watch, even if it means sending his best friend away, and it’s a tough leadership decision for him. He still made the decision here, but it just doesn’t mean as much. And just before the big Wall event, a couple quick notes. Davos and Melisandre are at the Wall, Davos now has no King to serve, and will be just as broken up about losing Shireen as he was about his own children. Melisandre is broken up as well, presumably questioning her relationship with her Red God, or at least questioning how good she is at interpreting her visions.
But anyways, on to the big news. Jon is dead. His brothers betrayed him, luring him into a trap by using his missing Uncle Benjen against him (just like how D&D used Benjen as a trap for viewers in the “previously on”). Looks like Olly or Alliser Thorne got their hands on an inter-dimensional copy of Julius Caesar and decided Brutus and Cassius had the right idea. “For the Watch” may as well have been “I did it for Rome.” Shakespearean rip-off or not, it’s still incredibly fitting and hurts a lot more to watch; Jon’s no Caesar, after all. While Caesar was overly ambitious, Jon’s just trying to get everyone to live instead of added to the Army of the Dead, which is, you know, slightly more noble. So while every stabbing felt like it has hitting me instead of Jon, there is still hope. Jon may be dead, but I refuse to believe he’s staying that way. Quite simply, he’s too important to just die, and while Game of Thrones is all about overthrowing the usual tropes, every story needs heroes. Jon still needs to find out who his mother is, and it seems pretty damn likely that he’s the Ice half of the Song of Ice and Fire. To steal a phrase from the ASOIAF reddit thread, Jon’s got way too much plot armor for those knives to have made it through. It may take some Melisandre magic to resurrect him, or some other magic, but it’s going to happen. Doesn’t matter what he or the producers may say in interviews, he’ll be back. At least, I’m more sure that he’ll be back than I am about Stannis. They can’t kill them both, right?….RIGHT!?
While I’ll save most of my overall thoughts for the season review I’ll do within the next week or so, I will say this: Season 5 was a bit more of a struggle than some of the others. It started strong, but a bit exposition heavy. By midseason it didn’t feel like enough was happening. By the end, too much was happening, and without good enough reasons. Still, a somewhat shaky Game of Thrones is still one of the best shows ever made, as perfectly demonstrated by the finale. All the storylines hit their big moments, and nearly all of them hit, and even helped to justify some of the shakier moments earlier in the season. It’s set up enough for season 6 to be unreasonably excited for it, although I’m still praying the The Winds of Winter makes it out before then…
*Cue sad music and 10 months of waiting for Game of Thrones*