GAME OF THRONES SEASON 5: REVIEW

game of thrones

REVIEW – GAME OF THRONES SEASON 5 – So the 5th season of Game of Thrones has [SPOILER] finished, but what did the Studio Exec think? Read this comprehensive review of the fantasy show that has taken Westeros by storm [WARNING: There be SPOILERS ahead].

It has been the way with Game of Thrones in the past to finish one episode short – with a great twist, or some horrorshow violence – and have the season finale basically be an epilogue. Remember how in Season One Ned Stark was killed in the penultimate episode?

Season 5 did things a little differently. To begin with the first part of the season was a bit dull. This isn’t necessarily the fault of the show. The narrative has no direction in the books either. Lord of the Rings  has a really direction to it. To Mordor and then back again. Likewise the Hobbit: To the Misty Mountain and then back again (although watching Peter Jackson’s The Hobbits… well anyway.) Game of Thrones by contrast has a whimsical arbitrariness. No one is going anywhere much or they’re taking a long time getting there. Daenerys seems to have spent the last couple of seasons being taught Civic Administration in Meereen; Arya Stark is stuck with the God of the Third Person, whose deadly enemy is correct grammar; Stannis and Jon Snow are at the Wall. When Jaime Lannister goes on an excursion to Dorne, it feels like an episode of On the Buses where they all go to Spain for some reason. Jaime gets something to do in a visually different location and although it pays of in the end, it’s a long way to go for something happening to someone we don’t really know.

At its worst, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss can be guilty of a lot of pottering about and then jamming in two or three great WTF moments near the end.  However, this season closed strongly with the last three episode offering some fantastically way out scenes. The finale of Hardhome has already become a classic show defining moment and the end of Dance of Dragons was a good topper, finally giving Daenerys and us a cathartic escape from the drudgery of ruling a city we really don’t care much about.

There is sometimes a danger that the show is now beginning to drown in its need for the epic. Why Daenerys needs to be caught by a million Dothraki and not just twenty makes the scene vaguely daft. However, that scale worked perfectly with Cersei and her Walk of Atonement. I couldn’t help wonder if this scene wasn’t a bit meta, considering the careful misogyny of the show. A woman might use sex but when it comes down to it she is trapped by her need to maintain her reputation and her sexuality and body can be used to bring shame on her. Nudity as a form of punishment to demean a powerful woman? No wonder some female cast members began to demand less flesh in their scenes. The scene effectively sets up the motivation for Season 6’s annihilation of King’s Landing (I’m guessing).

The Starks have not been fortunate. Arya finally refers to herself in the first person and must be punished and Sansa and Reek jumping off the wall was a silly way to escape, but Sansa can continue her wandering. Maybe Brian of Tarth will help her, or Little Penis, or her Walking Dead mother.

Worst to come was Jon Snow. I thought this scene was brilliant actually. It was quick and underplayed and brutal. And totally in line with George RR Martin’s anti-hero methodology. The heroic, the honest and the decent simply don’t survive long in Westeros. Jon Snow’s continued survival was always going to beggar belief somewhat and the show creators were careful to show that he was marginalized all the way through, becoming Lord Commander by only one vote (and not the popular mandate of the novel).

One problem with this removal of popular characters is compounded by a bigger problem. The misogyny of the show has been mentioned and debated time and again, but here’s a thing: what about the misanthropy? The crowd during Cersei’s walk of shame is a good example. The ‘people’, the crowd, the mob, are seen almost constantly as venal, despicable, easily swayed, violent and untrustworthy. The whole population of Westeros are a bunch of bastards who can’t wait to spit at you or jiggle their man bits in your face (and not in a nice way). The most heinous act – burning your daughter alive for instance – is met by no act of disobedience so great as looking a little put out, and then sneaking off later. There is no goodness in the heart of man and the only thing that you can truly rely on is betrayal.

So the question must be, given the moral turpitude, if not outright active immorality of EVERYONE south of the wall: Are the White Walkers now the true heroes of Game of Thrones? 

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