They did it again… GAME OF THRONES continues to boldly go where no series has gone before.
This will be the biggest, baddest, nerdiest review of GAME OF THRONES Season 5 Finale out there… ‘Nuff said.
Beloved characters actually lose their lives in this epic HBO fantasy series based on the George R.R. Martin novels.
THRONES is a contemporary Shakespearean tragedy unlike anything else available on the small screen.
Choices have consequences in GAME OF THRONES. The hero isn’t always right. The hero doesn’t always win. This phenomenal show keeps us all on the edge of our seats because (unlike most entertainment) we can’t easily predict what will happen next.
THRONES has balls – and every now and again it hoofs us right in our’s – like last night’s Season Finale.
While set in the realm of fantasy, THRONES daringly focuses on the realism of war and treachery. The series also focuses on the temptation and effects of power.
It reminds me of that old philosophical quote, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Brutal reality slammed us right in the gut last night. A lot of fans are still trying to catch their breath.
For now, I’m being purposefully vague to avoid spoiling the shocking finale.
Watch out for clearly marked Spoilers near the end of this passionate epic-sized super-nerd review.
Now, let’s deconstruct and analyze the soon-to-be debated and demonized(?) Season Finale.
* this article is intended for a MATURE audience *
Let’s deal with the aftermath of the controversial previous episode first. Stannis learns he lost half of his sell-swords in the flaming camp. He looks so drained. Empty. His sacrifice weighs heavily on him. And you can tell.
It only gets worse. He discovers his wife hanging dead from a tree. She took her own life. She couldn’t handle the guilt of their sacrifice.
Stannis isn’t phased. He’s headstrong and determined. He’s still convinced of Melisandre’s promises. He’s still manipulated by her. He still worships her magic and her God.
Stannis will rule the Seven Kingdoms… no matter the cost. He orders, “Get the men into marching formation. Onto Winterfell.”
Meanwhile… Melisandre rides out of camp, unbeknownst to Stannis. She escapes. This seems like further evidence for my earlier theory. Melisandre manipulated Stannis. He has no more heirs. She could always use her magic, with or without royal blood. She tricked him into sacrifice.
I loved her introduction earlier. Melisandre stares at an icicle as it drips. One element and its many forms: liquid, solid, steam. Looks like Winter is melting… under the Red Witch’s dark influence.
This also adds a lot more credence to my earlier theory that Melisandre set the camps ablaze – decimating Stannis’ troops.
#WETHENORTH… Jon Snow tells Sam all about the Army of Darkness battle with the Wildlings. He’s sure to tell Sam about the White Walker leader and how he raised the undead army.
Sam informs Jon (and us) that he is the first leader of the Watch to lose lives defending the Wildlings – the mortal enemies of the Nightswatch.
Sam requests leave from his leader and dear friend. He wants to leave the Wall with Gilly and child. Sam thinks he’s destined to be a Maester. He says he can still help in the war.
Maybe he’ll master all metals – including Valaryian steel. Now that he knows it can kill White Walkers, Sam will surely quest to create the Philosopher’s Stone. That would definitely help by the time Winter Comes.
I think Sam is actually more worried about another rapist encounter. He might be worried about protecting Gilly.
With Sam leaving the Wall, he’ll get to read all the books he wants and he can settle down and start a family. Jon cracks a great joke with his loyal friend, “I’m glad the end of the world’s working out for someone.”
Back to Winterfell… Sansa uses that stolen corkscrew to great effect, pick-locking herself free.
Sansa’s on a mission. She heads for that watchtower and lights a torch. A signal, for help. She’s ready to escape. Even if she dies trying.
Meanwhile… Out gathering wood, Podrick spots Stannis’ army on the march. He warns Brienne. She’ll warn the troops.
Stannis is prepared to attack, thinking he has the advantage, but like was said: “It’s not going to be a siege, your grace.”
Cue the defenses, as Winterfell horses appear, lining the horizon.
The two opposing factions meet in the field, like a snowy BRAVEHEART. Swords clash as we are treated to a Ridley Scott super-wide aerial shot of the battle.
Then we see war from Sansa’s point of view. I love this restrained approach. While I’d love to see another battle sequence, this decision effectively puts us right in Sansa’s shoes.
If she is to escape she’ll have to get past the battle. Or the battle will come for her.
Next up, we transition to the aftermath of war as a chopped in half soldier desperately crawls to safety. The woods are filled with dead bodies. Two Bolton soldiers from Winterfell come across him and finish the job.
It seems like Stannis is the last man standing. Well, sort of standing. He’s battered and wounded from war. But Stannis is resilient. He’s determined. He won’t give up.
He takes them on and survives, killing the two soldiers, but his Achilles is sliced apart.
And then… Brienne of Tarth arrives. Stannis knows what this means. She confronts him with knowledge first, “I don’t fight for the Boltons… You killed Renly Baratheon… The shadow had your face.”
Stannis admits to using blood magic, so Brienne – armed with her Oath Bringer – reads him the GAME OF THRONES version of Miranda Rights.
She towers over him, “Have you any last words?” He subtly repents for his earlier actions, “Go on. Do your duty.” She does, slicing off his head (or so I assume – it happens off screen).
Cut to: Ramsey on the battlefield, “Looks like we’re done here.” Then he grins, as one of Stannis’ soldiers is still alive. The man surrenders, Ramsey accepts it, then delights in killing him.
His next words sent shivers, “Let’s head back. My wife must be lonely.” This twisted f**k is turned on by violence. He wants to inflict some more on Sansa. This guy is crazy creepy. Let’s hope Sansa can somehow escape while he’s distracted by the pleasures of war.
Cue Sansa on the move… She left the tower. She must escape now. Wham. She runs into Mrs. FATAL ATTRACTION herself, Ramsey’s psycho girl on the side, Myranda. She escorts Sansa back to her chamber at the end of her arrow.
The young Stark isn’t intimidated, “If I die, let it happen while some of me is left.” Yes. She stands up when it matters. Sansa has evolved a lot over the Seasons.
Poof. Theon pops up to save the day?! I knew he was still in there somewhere. Theon wins his own battle, defeating Reek, his brain-washed persona. He remembers his childhood with the Starks. Finally!
He pushes Myranda over the edge of the wall. She plummets to her death on the stones below.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been waiting for Theon to stand up to Ramsey. We’ve also been waiting for Sansa to bust free. Now, we get it… or do we? They find a safe spot and jump to the snow far below. Let’s hope it’s deep enough.
It looks like we’ll have to wait and get our answers next season. I’m guessing they survived, but I’m thinking Ramsey won’t let them go easily. I hope Brienne finds them first.
Later on… Melisandre will arrive in Winterfell on horseback. She feigns being emotionally wrecked and tells the Onion Knight what happened. He learns of the fallen army, but is more affected by the news of Stannis’ daughter.
Melisandre is sure NOT to mention how the young girl died and for what purpose.
The Red Witch storyline ends here, with the first chess move of her second phase of attack.
Now that the Baratheons are extinct, Melisandre effectively took over Winterfell from within – without any army. She succeeded the first phase by using Stannis against himself.
Meanwhile, in Bravos… That cruel henchman has returned to the brothel. If you thought last episode with this guy was controversial, it gets even worse this time around.
He has three young girls lined-up. He whips them one by one with a reed-cane. When he strikes the final girl she doesn’t even flinch. That’s our clue…
Arya is finally in pursuit of revenge. She wears the face of the young sick sister she helped in an earlier episode.
The slimy henchman slithers, “I can see I have my work cut out for me.” Oooh, this guy is going to die well.
Arya is hit again. Her real face is revealed. Suddenly, a feral Arya leaps onto the cruel pedophile.
She isn’t just doing this for all those girls out there. This is personal. Remember, this guy killed her sword trainer. This is the first guy on Arya’s KILL BILL revenge list.
She slices out his eyes and gags him. She doesn’t want screams to draw attention and spoil her vengeance.
Finally, she aims an imposing threat, “I am Arya Stark… You are nothing.” And slices his throat.
When Arya returns to the temple, Jaqen already knows what’s up. She’s in trouble, she used the mystical assassin ways for a personal vendetta. She isn’t no one. She’s Arya Stark. Her actions prove this.
Jaqen teaches her the ultimate lesson, “A debt must be paid. Only death repays life.” He drinks the poison meant for her earlier assassination. And dies. This was a WTF moment. That only got more WTF-ier.
Jaqen appears behind her. He’s dead in front of her, laying on the floor too. How is this possible? Will the real Slim Jaqen please stand up? This mind-f**k Yoda bends down and takes off the face.
So how did they get this face? Does Jaqen have a twin that died before? Nope. Like I said, it gets way more WTF-ier.
Jaqen continues to remove faces, one after the other, after the other. Until, finally, he reveals Arya’s own face on the poisoned corpse below. —the fu*k?!
Suddenly, the dazed and confused (like us) Arya’s eyes glaze over (also like us). Something supernatural is going on. It seems like those faces in the temple are a ruse, some sort of elaborate trick. There must be some sort of magic involved.
Arya’s eyes look zombie-dead, filled with cataracts. Her story ends as she faints(?). What is the cost for such magic? I’m worried for this young Stark. Answers won’t come until next season.
Meanwhile, in Dorne… The Sand Snakes guard their mother, Mrs. Viper, as Bronn and Jamie prepare to sail back home.
Before he goes, the playful and seductive Tyene (“the most beautiful woman in the world”) is sure to take another jab at Bronn, “You want a good girl, but you need a good pussy.” She may be true, but I feel like Tyene just out-right enjoys manipulating him like this.
Jamie has negotiated the release of his kidnapped niece, Myrcella. They had an earnest talk where the young Lannister revealed she already knew Jamie was her father and is glad for it. Jamie should have came forward earlier. It’s a shame the proud father won’t have long to enjoy this.
Before they go, Mrs. Viper (a.k.a. Ellaria Sand) seals the deal with a kiss, a cruel “Bon Voyage.”
Sailing away, Myrcella gets a sudden nosebleed. She’s been poisoned with Ellaria’s slow-acting vengeful venom.
On shore, Ellaria’s nose starts to bleed too, revealing she indeed just made a strong and calculated move in the GAME OF THRONES, also settling her own personal vendetta.
She gulps down the antidote and smiles, watching the Lannisters sail away.
As Mrs. Viper turns away, the Sand Snakes slither along following close behind. This family is a formidable new opponent vying for rule over the Seven Kingdoms.
Before we get to the final chapters of the three biggest storylines (Daenerys, Cersei & Jon Snow), let’s briefly get into the aftermath of the Mareen Massacre.
Tyrion talks with Jorah and Daenerys’ lover in a temple. I guess they somehow survived the remaining Harpies in the pit-fighting arena.
Daeny’s servant joins them with the Unsullied Leader. They all debate what to do next.
How will they find Daenerys and the dragon? Who will rule Mareen in the meantime?
Tyrion tries to show his skills, unwillingly cracking a joke as he speaks in another language, “My Valaryian is a bit nostril.”
Another good laugh came as they realize, “Mainly… You talk.” Tyrion quickly retorts, “And drink.”
After the tension is broke it’s decided Tyrion will prove himself by ruling Mareen and calming its people. Jorah and Daenery’s pit-fighter lover will take to the wilderness and track her down.
Varys appears out of the shadows, descending from his spider-web. Tyrion asks how he was found. Varys replies, “Birds sing.” This deceptive man is sure to mention his own usefulness, “I know someone with a vast network of spies.”
This is Varys’ chance to sway the kingdom by influencing Tyrion. I hope the benefit is mutual.
Meanwhile, the Dance of Dragons continues… Daenerys tends to her dragon. He is wounded and tired from the battle and long flight. Several animal skeletons are strewn about, suggesting he’s eaten and healing himself with rest.
The Mother of Dragons tries to mount the beast, but he shrugs her off. She talks about returning home.
Cue the stampeding sound of horse hooves. The Dragon brought his Mother home… to his birthplace of sorts. Dothraki horsemen surround Daenerys. She removes and discards a ring, thus removing the affiliation.
Khal Drogo’s tribal army swirl around the Stormborn Mother of Dragons. Elated. Circling her, like spokes of a wheel.
Previously, Daenerys mentioned breaking the wheel. Now that she sees the power of the wheel before her, I think she’ll change her mind.
Unless, of course, I interpreted this wrong and these guys are ready to kill her. 😉
I think they revere her as an almost mythological figure. This is like divine worship of their savior returning to the Dothraki Plains.
Meanwhile, in King’s Landing… Cersei is asked once again to confess. And she finally relents. She wants “Absolution” for her sins.
The Septon hears her confessions, but she holds onto the lie of incest. She denies these charges. Cersei finally confesses because she wants to be free.
But it won’t be as easy as she thought. She must bend a knee to the Septon – no easy task for this proud woman. There will also be a trial later where Cersei must prove her denials true.
The Queen Mother thanks the Septon. The High Sparrow continues to deny he has any power by redirecting her to the Seven Gods, “The Mother is merciful. It is her you must thank.”
Next, Cersei is released from her cell and prepared for her Absolution. She is disrobed and washed clean, tended to by several maids. It seems nice until they bring out the sheers. They aggressively chop off her hair. Her wounded scalp bleeds.
As the scene ends, Cersei’s head is down, ashamed. Until the maids leave her alone. And she raises her head. Determined (like Stannis). Her plan worked. Whatever the cost. Cersei will be free.
But first, Cersei must “cast aside all pride” and walk the streets completely nude and vulnerable, as the Gods created her.
She walks down a long set of stairs, past the nobles, as the Septon’s maiden follows her ringing a bell, shouting “Shame! Shame!” with each toll. Over and over.
As Cersei descends the stairs, she descends society. Passing the wealthier civilized citizens, she enters the bellows of the poor. They start by hurtling insults at the Queen Mother, then they throw rotten food, then spit and shit.
She remains certain and determined the entire long Walk of Shame. But we know how much this must really effect her.
This harrowing sequence achieved the impossible: empathy for a villain. Cersei has been relentless and cruel over the seasons. She’s manipulative and deceitful. She’ll do anything to get ahead. But this Absolution effectively sets that all aside. We really do feel for Cersei.
When she falls, she looks to the towering city above and is reminded of her goals. And perhaps the prophecy given by a witch in her youth (from S5E1). She will rule one day. Like Stannis, her Faith will be tested first.
Absolute power has absolutely corrupted Cersei. Yet, in this Absolution Walk we identify with her.
The Walk of Shame sequence made me respect Cersei by its bold demonstration of her triumphant will. She’ll do anything to fulfill that prophecy.
However, we must not forget the extreme manipulative prowess the Queen Mother possesses. Afterall, this was yet another stealthy move by Cersei on the GAME OF THRONES.
Finally, when Cersei finishes her long humiliating Walk she is accepted into a temple of sorts. Forgiven. She’s welcomed, “Your Grace, it’s good to have you back.”
How long has a plan been in motion?The Queen Mother is presented with an armored protector. It’s a massive hulking man – the resulting experiment of the Dr. FRANKENSTEIN we met in an earlier episode. Is this monstrous creation made of bodyparts from The Mountain?
The zombie hulk picks Cersei up and cradles her in its arms. Protection.
And so ends this surprisingly emotional storyline.
—Now entering big-time SPOILER territory—
#WETHENORTH… Jon Snow is told his Uncle Benjen has arrived at the Wall. He’s been missing for a long time by now. I’ve been wondering what happened to him.
An excited Snow rushes down to the Wall. His elation quickly fades. Waiting for him instead is a sign: “Traitor.”
He spins around. His fellow Nightwatchmen are there. The Sword Trainer steps forward and stabs Jon Snow. Welcome back to WTF. And it gets WTF-ier.
One after another, his brothers exclaim “For the Watch” and slice into Snow. Over and over. This isn’t something a Bandaid will fix.
Finally, the young Olly approaches and sinks in the final blade.
Snow is shocked. He doesn’t fight back. He accepts his fate. His choices lead to this.
Blood pools around the fallen Snow, vandalizing the purity of the fallen snow. The noble man is killed for noble reasons. He lost lives protecting the Wildlings. Like Jaqen said, “Only death pays for life.”
The irony is the savage Wildlings were able to see past this and recognize the larger good.
NERD THEORY 2000: I know its GAME OF THRONES, so unlike other shows: dead is dead. However, there are several supernatural elements brewing that could maybe bring Snow back to life.
We just met Dr. Frankenstein who can resurrect with science. Melisandre uses blood magic and already tried to seduce Snow to join her cause. The White Walkers have also proven their ability to raise the dead.
So Snow could be back, despite today’s interviews where Kit Harrington confirms he won’t appear next season.
And who will claim his Valaryian sword? Only Sam knows of its power against the White Walkers. Will this help Maester Sam master the Valaryian element so he can produce more of this precious metal?
Imagine this… Snow returns as a White Walker, teaming up with the Wildling Woman (now a frosty zombie) he connected with earlier. And since Stark nobility never dies, Snow and Wildling become noble King and Queen of the White Walker Rebellion. They could lead other Walkers against the big bad baddie (icy Darth Maul up there).
This nerdy far-fetched theory is just one way us fanboys can keep hope alive and avoid facing reality. Too bad, THRONES focuses on realism. Fan favourite Jon Snow is dead. Believe it or not.
—END of SPOILERS—
Another season ends on GAME OF THRONES. It has never once let up. This amazing series continually progresses by making hard decisions about character. Story and theme drives the overall arc, not sentimentality.
By being so dangerous, we get the rare treat of actually fearing for characters and their safety.
Most movies and series place our hero in a hopeless situation. But we always have that comfort of knowing our hero will overcome any impossible obstacle.
THRONES is the refreshing oasis in the arid Hollywood landscape of safe and diluted adventures. It’s a rare breed of daring entertainment where danger matters.
There are so many more ways the story can continue to evolve and divert our expectations.
If there was a debate on who will rule the Seven Kingdoms, everyone would have valid arguments. There is no easy choice. And we all have our favourites.
I’m saying soon enough Bran will return, and before long he’ll be riding a dragon or becoming one with his superpowers.
There are several camps to root for, but my heart is always with the Starks.
]Daenerys could become a future villain – if an unwilling one. It would be quite an interesting arc to watch her crossover to the Dark Side.
Just like you, I’m highly anticipating next season. It can’t come soon enough.
What do you think?
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What did you think of the controversial Walk of Shame?
What should be emotional and complicated is distracted in the media by the body double issue.