It began with a lot of promise.
Every year around the first week of April, millions of Thronies (is that a thing?) tremble in anticipation as the newest season of Game of Thrones appears on the horizon. Friends visit friends to watch the episodes together, people gather together for public screenings, fans go into heated debates after each episode discussing past and possible future events in the show and a lot of emotions are displayed throughout the entirety of a season. Game of Thrones, it is safe to say, brings people together.
Then, in typical Game of Thrones fashion, it sticks you with the pointy end.
Season 5 of Game of Thrones began like its predecessors. There were plotlines hanging in the balance, many characters were in situations we were eager to find more about and there was promise of more dragons and that thing HBO is famous for (wink wink, I mean naked women) and of course Jon Snow aka Kit Harrington aka the cutest brother in the Knight’s Watch since the dawn of time. Plus, the game had progressed exponentially since the bearded head of Ned Stark was seen bobbing down the steps of the Great Sept of Baelor. The Boltons were in Winterfell, Arya was hiding in Braavos, Sansa was on the run, the Lannisters owned King’s Landing, Tyrion, who had just killed his father, was going to Essos, and Dany, our Mother of Dragons, was trying desperately to rule an Eastern city as a practice session for the Grand Slam Tournament in Westeros. We all wanted redemption, we all wanted vengeance, we all wanted action, and we desperately wanted progress.
But here’s the thing, somewhere between the action, the incredible CGI (Spoiler: Cersei’s walk of shame’s CGI was incredibly bad), the badass moments (Spoiler: Jon Snow decimating a White Walker with Valyrian Steel, Dany on a dragon, Dany and Tyrion talking about shit), and the blood and gore, the narrative sort of went sideways. Plus, apart from the last three or four episodes, the action was pretty much nonexistent. So there really is no clear explanation for what went wrong.
Some fans blame the show for deviating too much from a source material rich with characters and narrative depth and suggest that this deviation has caused the show to lose its sense of storytelling. Those who can’t give two craps about the books say that weird things are happening on the show and it doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere. No matter which side you’re on, this season certainly was a lazy attempt at performing a cohesive story. Nothing was happening in the first half of the season. All the characters did was talk or get stabbed or be naked on TV. You’d think with all the talking going on, the storytelling would’ve been happening on its own, but you’d be wrong, stupid. There was even a rape scene which, despite a lot of backlash from fans, did tell us clearly that Ramsay was an asshole and that Theon (NO, IT’S REEK) was a complete coward (losing your…add substitute name for penis…can do that to a man). Thank you, showrunners. We did not know Ramsay and Reek were an asshole and a coward respectively. Now we do!
And then there was Dorne, the land that promised more of that sweltering hot badassery as we saw Oberyn display in his tragic fight with the Mountain (RIP Viper). But instead of all that, we got three bad pussy (pun intended) cats, Oberyn’s bastard daughters, who were nowhere near as punk as their band name, the Sandsnakes. Yes, one of them could literally whip your head from your shoulders but you’d think that while introducing three warrior princesses, you might want to refrain from making one of them act like Snow White’s step mother asking Bronn, the mirror on the wall, who the fairest one of all was. And to be fair, despite being a warrior princess, if your entire self-esteem is based on what compliment you coerced from a total stranger by showing him your breasts, then you need help, girl! Shame! Shame! Also, I thought they didn’t hurt little girls in Dorne. Even if those little girls are perfectly fine with the fact that they were born out of incest between their sibling parents. No wait. That girl is straight up psycho! Thank God, she’s dead. She actually hugged her uncle/father saying she was glad she was her daughter. PUKE!
Among the things that were baffling for fans of the TV show and the books alike was the Baelish Airlines service. Petyr Baelish, otherwise known as Littlefinger (probably for some disgusting reason), has by far been the most strategically competent and politically sound character in the show (I’m sorry Varys, you’re second). He rarely makes mistakes, plans everything, and always makes sure that he gets the win. He is like Frank Underwood, if Frank Underwood ran a brothel once and had a thing for underage girls. But despite all his awesome abilities of manipulation and money making, he still shouldn’t be able to travel miles and miles of territory so fast that anything other than an airplane could not have made it possible. Unless he has a dragon. OH MY GOD, IS PETYR GOING TO BE THE THIRD DRAGON? I’M LITERALLY LOSING MY MIND RIGHT NOW! Here’s a thought for next season: if this happens, then burn the Goddamn ladder of chaos. Petyr will own Westeros. Petyr will be king. Long live Petyr! Make this happen Benioff and Weiss!
Arya’s plotline is looking like a superhero origin story. She can change appearance now! How sweet is that! She is slowly and gradually becoming a trained assassin and is getting closer to getting her revenge for all the crimes dealt against her. Girl is straight up badass. Well, she was until she got punished and was blinded by the Many Faced God. Now I don’t know what to think because now she is blind AND lost in Bravos. Way to drive the story further!
Stannis Baratheon got what was coming to him. You don’t burn your own child at the stake and not get shit for it. There was a blog post in the New York Times that was a splendid analysis of how the show has beautifully portrayed how religious fanaticism can drive the sanest, most pragmatic people to lose their minds and do dumb shit in the name of whatever god they believe in. That is what Stannis did. He had his daughter killed as a sacrifice to the Lord of Light and in return, his men deserted him, his wife killed himself, and the woman who is the source of all the fanatic buffoonery, Lady Melisandre, ran away on the eve of battle. Result: Roose Bolton’s army marched out of Winterfell and went back wearing Baratheon men’s skins as scarves because no matter how bloody, scarves are the shit, y’all! As for Stannis, he was sitting against a tree, contemplating his life and all the stupid things he had done, when the lady knight herself, Brienne of Tarth, used her sword Oathkeeper, or Oafkeeper if you like puns (Brienne is known more for taking oaths rather than keeping them), and killed Stannis as revenge because she couldn’t save her king, Renly Baratheon, from Stannis’s shadow (another oath she couldn’t keep). And she did all of that while ignoring Sansa’s calls for help (candle in the window of the old tower) because, spoiler alert, she had taken an oath to protect Sansa. Way to go, Brienne. You’re as much of an oaf as you look like. There is some irony in there regarding oaths, I believe.
In all seriousness, some things did help the story progress further. The new Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch was doing things that were taking goodwill away from him. The people of Westeros and the Wildlings had always been at odds. The wildlings were illegal aliens and he was welcoming them to his country and offering them healthcare and land and jobs. Pfft! But his actions were beginning to rub off the wrong way and some sort of knee-jerk reaction was inevitable. Enter: the hastily put, most fatal prank call in all of history. As per the ASOIAF wiki page, Jon did get stabbed in the book series and although the moment itself had a lot of buildup in the source material, we should commend the showrunners to have driven the story craftily so that it perfectly came to this conclusion. I should also mention that while writing this paragraph, I have been crying buckets and there is no stopping the waterworks.
Suggestion: Jon, being a warg and all, surviving as Ghost, maybe? Oh God please! Please let him live! To quote vox.com, ”if Jon’s father is in fact Rhaegar Targaryen, that would mean he’s the blood of the dragon, as well as a Stark — a fitting lineage for a mystical hero in a series called A Song of Ice and Fire”. Goosebumps!
Between the brothel in Volantis, Jaime going to Dorne, Sansa marrying Ramsay, Tyrion finally meeting Dany, that epic battle with the wildlings, Cersei being shamed for her sins, Arya getting her revenge for Syrio Forel, and Jon…well (starts crying again), a lot had seemingly happened this season in the Game of Thrones. Yet, if you take a step back and look at the season in its entirety, you’ll see that the Boltons are still in Winterfell, Arya is still hiding in Braavos, Sansa is still on the run, the Lannisters still own King’s Landing, and Tyrion and Dany are still stuck in Essos.
So basically, nothing really happened if you think about it. Although, to be fair, the books are more or less in the same place as far as the storyline is concerned so we can’t really complain much. This season was bound to have less progression and more events. And a lot of the same three Bs: Blood, Boobs and Badassery. And dammit, we will watch the shit out of the next season too if all they showed next season was a naked Allie Haze covered in blood riding a fire breathing Unicorn.