Game of Thrones Season 5 “Kill the Boy”

*Spoilers for season 5*

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Hi all! I know I originally planned to have these posts go out on Thursday… buuut that’s not been happening for a couple of weeks and I’m having to reshuffle some posts anyway- so *surprise*! This is my last wrap up for a while (until Season 8 comes *sob*), since I already reviewed seasons 6 and 7 (you can catch that here and here). Anyhoo, let’s launch into what some people have called the worst series of Game of Thrones and see if it’s that bad… 

Cersei Lannister

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The season opens with Cersei’s flashback though, unfortunately, it’s not as well incorporated as flashbacks that come into play in later seasons. It does, however, give an insight into her character and casts dire predictions over her reign. Plus, it gives viewers an idea why she acts like such an idiot this season.

Her chance at ruling has come at last… and she completely botches the opportunity. From her small blunders of getting rid of the small council to picking an unnecessary fight with the Tyrells to giving power to the faith militant, it’s a wonder that worse things don’t happen by the end of the season. Most of my Cersei notes are “whyyy?” Not because I especially like Marjery (I made it pretty clear I didn’t- she’s playing a dangerous game she can’t win either) yet with the whole High Sparrow business she’s creating a rod for her own back- LITERALLY. Sure, she’s got few allies this season and King Tommen’s useless- BUT she didn’t have to go and make everything worse with her manipulative idiocies.

So when the High Sparrow (“like lord duckling”) does get control, it’s a sure sign of a character creating their own downfall. Apparently, she can’t see how religious zealots whose leader frequently says things like “You are the few, we are the many”, might quickly turn on the aristocratic elites- funny that. Cersei’s simply too vengeful to see how this might play out. And again, thanks to how brilliant the actress is, I felt immense sympathy for Cersei at the psychotic treatment she receives at the hands of the Septa Unella, culminating in that now infamous “SHAME” scene (aka the walk of atonement). All credit to Cersei, she’s a determined woman and doesn’t let it break her. Furthermore, there’s hints of what’s to come with creepy Qybern experiments playing out in the background all season…

Jaime Lannister

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So why isn’t Jaime there to stop all these insane things happening to Cersei? Well, that’s because Cersei treats him like shit at the beginning of the season, taunting him that it’s his fault that Tyrion killed their father. Jaime is understandably distressed and vengeful (don’t worry, that doesn’t go anywhere, in the spirit of the later GOT series, he’s miraculously over it by the time he reunites with his brother). And with a quick sleight of hand and a vague threat to Myrcella, Jaime gets shunted off into the worst storyline Game of Thrones has ever seen.

And oh gosh I don’t even want to cover the Dorne story- it’s so shit. Honestly, it’s been a long time since I’ve read the books, so I’m not going on the most reliable memories- but frankly I remember enjoying the Dorne story in the books. Unless my memory’s deceiving me, it wasn’t this campy and silly. Bronn’s presence doesn’t make it better either- I do like his character, but I saw a critic a while back saying he should be killed off for the sake of the show, and I’m afraid I have to agree. I mean, when a character has to get poisoned just so that they can be cured, elaborately showing the audience how poisons and antidotes work, then you know a character’s outstayed their welcome. And that’s without even mentioning the “You need a bad pussy” line- ugh. With storylines like this, it feels like the writers reached a dead end. The gist of the storyline is “Myrcella has to die” and since GRRM hasn’t written that bit yet, the showrunners went with this abomination.

Tyrion Lannister

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And I’m going to have to say I didn’t like Tyrion’s story arc this season either. Part of this is thanks to the fact that he’s gone from a markedly clever man to someone who uses Lannister chat up lines when he’s trying to hide from everyone, doesn’t realise Cersei would happily murder every dwarf in the world to get to him and whose dialogue has taken a tailspin from witty to childish. No, my problem is that he was pulled into the centre of the story too soon. Again, referring back to my fading memories of the books, GRRM isn’t afraid to have Tyrion do very little in book 5 and that would have been okay with me.

Obviously the showrunners didn’t want to neglect a fan favourite like Tyrion (which would have been fine with me, since it would have been more believable) so they had to thrust him into Dany’s court asap. And how do they do that? Well by having him team up with Jorah, so that they can discuss all the things that have already passed. Granted it is sad to see Jorah find out about his father’s death and I did like seeing Tyrion’s reaction to the dragon flying over Valyria, yet the fact that Jorah is the one to deliver Tyrion and not Varys doesn’t make much difference in the grand scheme of things (unless you count Jorah catching greyscale- which, for spoilery reasons, I don’t).

Frankly, I wasn’t keen on the initial Dany/Tyrion scenes. They felt fanficy and not remotely like GOT (foreshadowing some of the series later issues, just sayin’). Realism was left behind as Dany quickly accepts his presence and his counsel– mostly because she’s down an advisor (oh we’ll get to that). Plus there’s some irritatingly TV writing like:

“Meereen is an ancient and glorious city- try not to ruin her”- yeah, yeah, we know he’ll screw it up now, thanks.

Daenerys Targaryen

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I didn’t enjoy the Meereen story either to be honest. The whole Sons of the Harpy vs the Unsullied bored me. It all felt remote and uninteresting. And I wasn’t crazy about some of Dany’s poor politicking- no matter how much she says “I am not a politician, I am a queen”, it’s not wise to execute one of your begging supporters in front of crowds of thousands. Obviously I was also shirty about the dragons being locked up all season as well.

On the other hand, there were elements of Dany learning from Selmy, which I really liked, HOWEVER the showrunners completely butchered this storyline. Despite Selmy being very much alive in the books, for some reason, the writers had him murdered in a street brawl (?!?) I’ve mentioned in later series how I feel Tyrion was given Selmy’s role as advisor (hence acts un-Tyrion-like) and personally I think this is one of the biggest flaws of the season. It’s here that they get the excuse to insert Tyrion where he does not belong- even if this did lead to one hellava line:

“I’m going to break the wheel”

Fortunately for us all, when the Harpy’s launch their final attack, Drogon flies in and lifts Dany out of the mess that her storyline had turned into.

Arya Stark

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“A girl is not ready to become no one, but she’s ready to become someone else.”

I know, I know, I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, yet I wasn’t crazy about the Arya scenes in season 5. I’m sorry, but watching someone sweep floors is kinda boring. Couldn’t they have spared us with a montage or something? Personally, I liked the House of Back and White in the book more and felt the scenes were given too much space here.

Still, I did like how we saw that Arya couldn’t quite let go and I appreciated seeing her become an expert liar. Seeing her caught between Jacquen Hagar, the Waif and her desire for vengeance was good TV as well. And even if she is blinded for her oversight, I did enjoy her catching Trant out. Even if it was a bad move, it was a strong revenge plot. 

Brienne of Tarth

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Ah Brienne and Pod plodding through the Riverlands… and then miraculously turning up in the north (teleporting is a thing in later series apparently). I did like the character development for Brienne when she talks about how Renly saved her and it builds on the reasons she already has for vengeance. This is not only good for a bit of bonding- it’s also kinda relevant considering Stannis’ and Brienne’s meeting at the end of the series. However, Brienne turning up in weird places this series was ultimately too much for me– I mean did she have to chance on Sansa and Littlefinger in a tavern? My guess is there’s a chance of them teaming up in the books- nevertheless, this is much too early for them to be meeting and has no real bearing on the plot. The worst thing that was done with Brienne’s plotline though was to leave out Lady Stoneheart from the books- which I was really looking forward to as well!!

Littlefinger

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Littlefinger acts *so* out of character this season. I mean, sure he has some nice sparring matches with Lancel and Olenna, and he gets to drip more of his creepy advice in Sansa’s ear (“There’s no justice in the world, not unless we make it”), yet WHY did the great mastermind give Sansa to the Boltons?!? What is his game plan?! I don’t have much to say about it only that the showrunners don’t give a decent enough explanation and just WHY?!?!

Sansa Stark

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Speaking of Sansa’s storyline, I have so many mixed feelings about it and anything I say about it will probably be deemed controversial. In spite of this whole review, I don’t actually mind changes from the books as long as they’re done well- the trouble here is that a lot of the changes made plotholes you could fit several direwolves riding a dragon through. Not least, because it temporarily throws the Dark Sansa arc off balance, it destroys Littlefinger’s credibility and makes Theon becomes superfluous to proving it’s the “real” Sansa, because, well, it’s the real Sansa and loads of people recognise her.

I get why the writers had her marry Ramsay Bolton. I presume the Vale will have some involvement in bringing down the Boltons and Sansa could end up being the Lady of Winterfell, so the showrunners wanted to make that mean something more by making it personal. Trouble is, it was already pretty personal (most of us haven’t forgotten that the Boltons murdered her brother- the North remembers). A lot of the scenes with Ramsay goading her definitely got under my skin and I will give the showrunner credit that season 6 is more satisfying for it. Plus seeing Sansa interact with Theon and put Miranda in her place wasn’t bad either.

I know the rape is a difficult area to touch on without people getting heated, so first I’ll say that I understand why people hated it. I get that it was different from the book, since it was originally a side character, though for me they were equally disturbing. However, it does mean that Sansa’s plot changed and it went in for more melodrama by making Ramsay her enemy- which doesn’t fit as well with the realism of GOT– a place where heroes and villains usually die without too much poetic justice. I can also understand that people might have reached their personal limit with the scene and that’s fair enough (I’ve talked a little about having my own personal limits in the past). I will admit it made me uncomfortable- but I was reconciled to it being the reaction I was supposed to have. In terms of how it was done, I personally found it powerful and more harrowing not to see (again, I know this was a point of contention). I did like that Sansa had agency in getting Theon to help her and in her line: “If I’m going to die, let it happen while there’s still some of me left.”

Stannis Baratheon

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Stannis is an odd character- I mean, his idea for getting the Wildlings on side is to set fire to their leader…

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Sorry, you can’t win hearts and minds by burning people alive. At the same time, it’s clear from a lot of his scenes with Jon that he thinks he’s the good guy. And in fairness to him, when I originally watched it there were a few scenes in this series when I thought I could end up changing my mind about Stannis. Partly because he’d just saved the Night’s Watch, partly since he stands at the back of a hall correcting people’s grammar (LOL), though mostly because the scenes with his daughter were very touching… annnd then he let the Red Woman kill her. There’s really not much I can say about it other than it was horrible. In the end, it’s the mother who tries to stop it. Unsurprisingly to everyone *but* Stannis child sacrifice doesn’t endear him to anyone– his army mutinies, his wife kills herself, Melisandre leaves and I’m still left wondering to this day whether Brienne hacked him to bits or not…

Jon Snow

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But not to worry! Jon Snow is the real hero! Because he’s the one putting people out their misery when Stannis gets all *fire happy*. And thanks to that he actually wins the hearts of the free folk by the end of the season. (Incidentally I wonder if the reason he bent the knee to Dany was because he saw what happens to obstinate people).

And unlike Stannis, he resists the Red Woman’s creepy advances. Plus, because tis the season for weird lines, the way she comes onto him is a combination of “are you a virgin?” and “in our joining there is power” and using his dead lover’s words “you know nothing Jon Snow”. I don’t know which one was more dodgy to be honest.

I did really like Jon and Stannis’ scenes though, even if he makes him an offer he can’t refuse (Winterfell and the Stark name)… which he inevitably refuses because he pledged his life to the Night’s Watch (he says that a lot this season). Aside from them bonding over Ned’s memory, I loved the dialogue in their scenes:

“I heard it was best to keep your enemies close.”

“Whoever said that didn’t have many enemies.”

Anyway, instead of going with Stannis, Jon becomes commander of the Night’s Watch… which is not what he wants. In the book he does make the sensible choice to send Sam away for his own good (here it’s put down more to Sam looking out for Gilly and I can’t really credit Jon). I do personally believe that, morally speaking, he made a lot of the right decisions– I mean who can argue with:  “We can learn to live with the wildlings or we can add them to the army of the dead.” It’s entirely logical- especially after all the Hardhome craziness! In the chaos of a really well shot battle- which basically saved the entire season for me- we see how utterly chilling the situation is getting.

Still old rivalries have been boiling away since Season 1 and it’s only a matter of time before Allister gets a lot of people to betray him. Most memorable among them is Olly- Olly who we see him training in his first scene of the season. Rather purposefully, the only hint we have of his impending betrayal is him talking at odds with Sam- Olly is questioning Jon’s decision, while Sam thinks he is looking out for Jon. It is Olly who lures him into the trap and this is what makes it so horrible when they stab Jon to death. Ultimately it’s the execution of this that makes the Night’s Watch storyline the best of season 5.

 

Ooh err, I’d have to I’d have to say barring a couple of storylines, this was pretty poor showing for me. But I’d like to hear from you! What were your thoughts on it? Did you like it more than I did? Let me know in the comments! 

35 thoughts on “Game of Thrones Season 5 “Kill the Boy”

  1. Season 5 and honestly Season 6 subsequently were pretty boring for me until the very end. It wasn’t until season 7 that I got real interested again. I have to say I agree where Cersei was concerned and felt a tiiiiiiiiiiny bit of sympathy for her in the whole SHAME scene but a part of me was gleeful I can’t deny because she just deserved some shit karma. Which as we can tell later, she’s still as ruthless as ever even though it ends up costing her all her children. Jaime’s storyline was completely boring. Period. Even Tyrion’s was boring and yes, I noticed the teleportation happening a lot in the later seasons and still scratch my head at some of them. The Stannis scene was just completely depressing and that is one thing that I did not see coming and still could not believe he burned his own daughter when it got him nothing. Reminds me of something Catelyn would do. The whole Jon and Red Woman stuff was utterly weird but she’s been a weird one from the beginning. That glorious battle scene was worth everything we had to endure to get that point however because holy shit those cinematics. Only thing I’d note here is I completely forgot there was another Stark boy not that it mattered anyway, lol. I might have to go and read your season 6 and 7 reviews again cause I’ll need the recap and to remember what I said back then to see if my opinion changed now after reading your 1-5 reviews, haha. Until 2019 I suppose when the final season airs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ah I can understand that- I found a lot of 6 boring as well (I just loved the end so much and it sort of redeemed it for me). hehehe I can really understand only sympathising with Cersei a little- she’s pretty much impossible to fully feel sorry for! Ugh yes agree about Jaime’s storyline. Yeah I really find the teleporting weird- it isn’t as common in season 5, but it certainly starts here. Stannis really shocked me- I never thought he would go that far!! Yeah for sure. I totally agree about that battle scene. It was so well done. LOL! hehehe fair enough!! Oh gosh I can’t wait till 2019- it’s too far away!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes! I said the same thing. The ending redeemed the entire season. I buddy watch with a friend and man 5 and 6 just dragged and dragged. It is and its also sad cause it’s the final one. What are you gonna review next?? I personally think you should do this for Poldark, hahaha

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This was probably the season I had the most issues with (it got better with season six, which ended up being my favourite because of the battle of the bastards and what Cersei did to Margaery in the last episode, talk about a shock twist that I didn’t see coming). I wasn’t a fan of what happened to Sansa, I get that it changed her plot and made Ramsey her enemy but I think there were potentially better ways of doing that. The thing I think I hated the most was what Stannis did to his daughter. Why he thought that was a good idea no one knows.
    Great recap, and here’s hoping season eight will be amazing right?! 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think that’s fair enough! I so agree about the battle of bastards and Cersei vs marjery- I didn’t see that coming and all of it was such good tv. I can understand that. Oh gosh yeah I agree with you about what Stannis did to his daughter. Thank you!! Ahh yes! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I thought season 5 was vile and I really criticised it in my review. I find it disturbing that the creators think that these extended scenes of torture and degradation qualify as entertainment. Luckily, things picked up a lot in the latter series.
    In defence of Stannis, isn’t the point that he isn’t actually himself? He’s basically Macbeth, bewitched from the start, and led astray without really knowing what he’s doing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fair enough- personally I felt there were a lot of awful things early on, so I’m not sure I could criticise it for one and not the other. But it’s fair enough if you felt that way.
      hehe honestly, I don’t know if seeing Stannis as Macbeth is such an excuse- I mean he’s a fatally flawed person who does terrible things for power… which yeah, resembles Stannis, so you’re right there 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. WHY CAN’T THERE BE A SEASON 8 ALREADY!?!?!?!
    Okay, enough of an emotional outburst, let’s get to S5. This was by far the season I liked the least. Cersei’s craziness, the stupid Dorne storyline, Dany being less and less acceptable as a leader as well, boring Arya, no Lady Stoneheart AND WORST OF ALL the complete destruction of all the character development Sansa went through in S4. Like WTF was the whole Bolton affair. I hated that they made that a thing, even though I mostly wasn’t too mad about changes from the book (aside from Lady Stoneheart being a thing). And was this the season Theon and Sansa also escaped?? Cause HOW FREAKING HIGH was that snow?? Sorry, but Sansa storylines always get me the most riled up.
    Stannis is also very much cancelled. Who does that to their own child??

    Liked by 2 people

    1. AHH I KNOW RIGHT!!!
      hehehe! The Dorne storyline was awful and Cersei was an idiot. I can really understand why people were pissed off about the Sansa storyline changing- especially because it had ripple effects on the show (and then I think they sort of reinserted Sansa back into her original storyline as if nothing had happened?!) Yeah that snow thing- ridiculous. I’ll be honest, in terms of book changes leaving out Lady Stoneheart and changing the entire Dorne story bothered me more though.
      Yeah- Stannis is just warped and there’s no excuse for that.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Night Watch’s storyline was definitely the best part of that season. And man was it the rise of my dislike for Sansa too. After this season, she definitely became a burden to watch. Can’t wait for season 8!!! Wonderful review again! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have only watched the first two seasons because they raised our cable price by $50 a month a couple of years ago, and I cancelled it. Ha ha. I know our library probably has the DVDs and I need to go over and borrow them. My son just started reading the books, but I can’t watch the shows with him because of the sex scenes, too embarrassing. There are a couple of bloggers who watch it with their kids and I just cannot imagine it. Ha ha. 🙈

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This certainly was a difficult season, now you remind me of it! I don’t think I disliked all of the storylines as much as you did (e.g. I didn’t mind the Tyrion and Jorah one) but it definitely wasn’t a favourite season and I did have problems with it. It certainly had some of the most harrowing/depressing scenes of any season so far, particularly the one with Stannis’s daughter. I agree with you though, it was impressive how we were actually made to feel sorry for Cersei… which is an epic feat, especially given she brought it all on herself.

    One discrepancy that I’m so glad to see you mention is Littlefinger’s lack of any good motivation to give Sansa to the Boltons… to me this never made sense and never fit with what I thought his character wanted (he seems to have this twisted love for her and desire to control her so it doesn’t make sense that he’d marry her off and put her out of his control like that). I still don’t understand it. What was the supposed explanation for it even? Anyway, I’m glad to hear that one didn’t just irk me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I do get that- the Tyrion/Jorah story isn’t terrible. And yeah it really did. And that’s so true about how impressive it is that this made me sympathise with Cersei (momentarily) and that’s always been one of my fave things about GOT.

      And yeah- I can’t see the justification for that- and I think it stuck out for me more on the second viewing than it did in even the first. absolutely agree with you- they didn’t even bother to try and give some justification? It might have made more sense if they’d just abducted her (I don’t know, just throwing out ideas, but why destroy Littlefinger’s character for a silly gambit?)

      Liked by 1 person

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