Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) is no more, shot and killed by his son Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage). King Joffery (Jack Gleeson) is also dead, poisoned at his own wedding. Now he’s succeeded by his younger brother Tommen (Dean Charles-Chapman). Cersei is now head of House Lannister and is acting as Regent until Tommen comes of age. With Tywin and Joffery dead, and Tyrion a fugitive at large, there’s no one to thwart Cersei’s plans and take her power. With Tywin gone, the realm is no longer united in fear of House Lannister.
A Feast For Crows and A Dance With Dragons are often said to be the worst of the series. Both books take place simultaneously and it introduces us to the rest of the Martell clan. The show gives us the Areo Hotah (DeObia Oparei), three Sand Snakes, Doran Martell (Alexander Siddig) and Trystane Martell (Toby Sebastian) thus omitting Arianne and Quentyn. In the books, we’re also introduced to Euron and Victarion Greyjoy in addition to their brother Aeron ‘Damphair’ Greyjoy. Season 5 is often said to be the worst season the show has delivered but I am against this ruling. I think it follows the quality of the previous seasons.
I’m one of those bookreaders who doesn’t care that the writers have changed things. It’s an adaptation of the books, not a page for page take. And minor changes from the books in earlier seasons have had this domino effect in later seasons pushing D&D to go off book. And truth be told, if we had a page-for-page adaptation of Feast and Dance, it’d be like watching paint dry. Many new characters from the books were dispatched with, and their stories have been given to already established characters. What I like is that things were added in, to make for a more exciting season. The biggest moments of Feast and Dance were “Daggers In The Dark”, Drogon in The Pits, Cersei’s Walk Of Shame and The Kingsmoot. Three out four isn’t too bad.
A lot happened during season five, so they pushed the Greyjoys to next season. I don’t blame them. The books are great and all, but this a television series and a highly complex one at that. It’s a television show first and an “adaptation” second. At some point, it was always going to branch out from its roots. Season five was that pivotal moment. Look no further than the awesome “Hardhome”, and “Mothers Mercy” with the burning of Shireen (Kerry Ingram). Let’s not forget to mention The Sons Of The Harpy killing Ser Barristan Selmy (Ian McElhinney), and Sansa (Sophie Turner) marrying our favourite sociopath Ramsay Snow (Iwan Rheon) and her subsequent rape.
My major concern with season five is with Dorne. Most notably, the awful dialogue given to the Sand Snakes. This isn’t the CW, you can’t get away with cringeworthy lines like that, and awful acting now that I think about it. But Alexander Siddig as Doran Martell was an inspired choice, and it works really well. He really does justice to Doran. I’ve been a fan of his for years so when he came to Game Of Thrones, I was ecstatic. Sansa falling in with Boltons was uncomfortable to watch (her rape) and Ramsay lives up to his bastard label. As ever, Iwan Rheon steals every scene he’s in and gives a masterclass performance, often overshadowed by Lena Headey and Peter Dinklage when it comes to the Emmys.
In the Capital, High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) and the Faith Militant came to party. I say party, it’s more along the lines of purging the court of sinners, including the current High Septon, in a well shot scene where they raid Littlefinger’s brothel pulling his holiness out of bed (with a whore), butt-ass naked. Subsequently, he was made to walk the streets of King’s Landing, with everything on show. King’s Landing’s plotline includes Cersei getting a good piece of well-earned karma and the whole fanbase wanting Joffery back because King Tommen was being a bit of bitch every episode.
Cersei (Lena Headey) had a wonderful storyline. In “The Wars To Come”, we were witness to a part of Maggy The Frog’s prophecy about her outliving all her children and how one younger and far more beautiful would take all she held most dear. Her plan to manipulate religion backfired on her, earning her and Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) torture and imprisonment. In addition, her brother Ser Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones) was arrested by The Faith for being gay. Cersei’s torture, followed by shaving her head and the penance walk, was an ordeal that even the sharp tongued Cersei Lannister felt the pain of.
Daenerys (Clarke) and Tyrion (Dinklage) really hit it off, onscreen. The Meereenese arc was excellent, as Dany dealt with The Sons Of The Harpy who made the Unsullied look like choirboys. Tyrion crossed the continent to find Daenerys with Varys (Conleth Hill) and then was kidnapped by Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glenn) in a brothel, but he got there eventually. In “The Gift”, Tyrion meets Dany. It was a magical moment and it was great to see Tyrion had retained all of his wit and charisma despite being a fugitive. “I am the gift” he says, and that put a smile on my face.
The Nights Watch arc was freaking awesome. Jon Snow being elected Lord Commander was great, and the look on Ser Alliser’s face was priceless, not to forget to mention Jon executing Janos Slynt for not following orders. Slynt had a hand in Ned Stark’s demise so I guess karma was in order. Jon was also offered a chance to become Jon Stark from Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane). Stannis was made a sort of antihero this season, as we saw in “The Dance Of Dragons.” Season five takes the High Valyrian phrase “Valar Morghulis” to heart. Yes, All Men Must Die, including Stannis himself much to the dismay of hardcore bookreaders and faithful Stannermen.
Season five played host to one of the greatest action sequences in the history of television. “Hardhome” eclipses season four’s “The Watchers On The Wall.” We all know Jon is a badass but “Hardhome” exhibits his badassery even more, and this is when we see the real Northern spirit in him. This is the episode that brings the threat of The White Walkers to the forefront and we get a first good look at the Night’s King. The Night’s King shares an epic stare down with Jon and the Hardhome survivors, just after new character Karsi (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen) was killed. She seemed like a character we’d all get to like. She was badass but as soon as she sent her children on a boat, we all knew she was dead.
Even by season five, the show continues to devour our souls and spit out our bones. The writers continue to kill characters we like, let annoying characters live, and George R.R. Martin continues to feast on the blood of the innocent. In my opinion, season five delivers, regardless of the constant bashing from hardcore bookies. All in all, season five stands tall with the rest, especially with cinematic masterpieces like Jon Snow leading the wildlings at Hardhome like a champ.