The most shocking moment for me wasn’t the Julius Caesar-esque ‘For the watch’ moment, it was the fact that after a season of ‘wtf’ and ‘meh’ I finally enjoyed an episode. Perhaps it was the very episodic nature of it, perhaps it is because a lot of action that we’ve been waiting for happened, perhaps it’s the numerous deaths, perhaps it’s the fact that we’re left on cliffhangers that not even I, as a book reader, know the outcome of.
**Spoilers below, obviously.
Stannis and the wasted burning
It was extremely difficult to be a fan of Stannis after last week. Murder and mayhem are usually staples in favorite characters of mine, but not even I can overlook burning your own daughter – especially one who is as precious as Shireen. So in this opening scene when Stannis literally finds out that shit just got worse – half of his men deserted, his wife committed suicide, and that damn Melisandre ran away – I could not help but think ‘serves you right’. It’s a testament to Stannis’ character that even though everything was working against him, he still decided to march on, set in his ways, doing his duty even through the setbacks. But I couldn’t help but think that Stannis was the best military commander in the Seven Kingdoms, surely he should have known that this would not have worked in his favour? Or was he so resigned that he had nothing left to work for that he just YOLO-ed it? And WTF was Melisandre seeing in the flames that she claimed to see his victory and the Bolton banners burning? I remember in one of the Melisandre POV chapters she said that sometimes the priestesses see what they want to see in the flames, but surely she has learnt to tell the difference? Or was she just bullshitting Stannis? Oh well, Baratheon family reunion.
Bro-talk with Sam and Jon
The Oldtown plot is one of my favorite plots of the later books, because there are so many hidden secrets and conspiracies, plus it is such an interesting, historic location, so I’m glad that they are going to include it in Season 6 (although I was excited for Dorne too). All season long, they have been laying little clues and mentions to the fact that Sam would eventually be making the trip to the Citadel to become a maester and they obviously needed him and Gilly out of the way before ‘for the watch’, but I was a bit surprised that they turned the tables and had Sam push to go to Oldtown instead of Jon asking him to leave. I understand that without Mance’s baby and with Maester Aemon already dead, the threat at the wall (that they tried to depict with the almost rape of Gilly) is not as detrimental to the team as in the books.
Also Jon in the show, unlike in the books, has seen the terror of Hardhome so he knows that the need for men at the wall is greater than the need for Sam to become a maester. But I don’t know, for me personally, I preferred the Sam that was loyal to his Night’s Watch vows, that argued with Jon over being sent to Oldtown, but also I liked the fact that Jon was smart enough to realise that Sam needed to learn the healing methods and knowledge that was taught in Oldtown. Also how long does it take to become a maester? I know in the books it was mainly Jon’s plan to get Sam, Gilly, Aemon and the baby away but also in the books Jon thought it would be a couple of years before the White Walkers come storming in through the Wall. Will Sam go through the advanced program and forge his chain in a couple of months? Or are we talking about a 4-year degree here? But with the casting calls for season 6 of the Tarly family, should we be expecting a visit home for Sam?
The tragedy of Sansa Stark
I was one of the few people who was keen for the Sansa at Winterfell storyline. I thought that it would give her more agency if she was actually active in her own revenge instead of just chilling at the Vale, doing what Littlefinger tells her too but in my opinion this was worse than that plotline. I understand that the Vale story wasn’t very filmatic after Lysa Arryn’s death and we would be more invested in the Winterfell storyline if we knew someone other than Theon that would be affected by it but damn they could have done a better job.
One of the arguments that I made pre-marriage for the Sansa at Winterfell storyline was that over the past few seasons we have watched Sansa grow, have more of a commanding presence, stand up to Joffrey, Lysa, Cersei, we have even seen her learn from Littlefinger (I still maintain that I think she will be the one to off Littlefinger because she is the only one who knows of so many of his plots and deeds) so I thought that if Jeyne Poole was replaced by someone who has agency, who can fight back, who is skilled, how much more exciting would the Winterfell storyline be? But I was largely disappointed because instead of fully adapting the story with Sansa (with the exception of the bath scene with Myranda) they just inserted her in a copy and paste way into Jeyne’s story.
I didn’t want Sansa to be saved by Brienne, I didn’t want Sansa to be saved by Littlefinger, I didn’t even want her to be saved by Theon, I wanted Sansa to use what she had learnt and to plot her way out of Winterfell and get her revenge on Ramsey. If Jon and Robb were the ones with the good heart, and Arya was the passionate violent one, I wanted Sansa to be the smart, cunning one – the Doran Martell, the Wyman Manderley. Instead we got Sansa attempting to die with dignity (although I don’t blame her, I would rather kill myself than have Ramsey torture me to death), lighting the candle to get Brienne’s help which Brienne doesn’t see because she’s too busy chasing her own revenge (she doesn’t think that during an attack from Stannis, Sansa would need her more) and then getting saved by Theon only for both of them to jump off the walls of a huge effing castle. But in the end I was just largely relieved that Sansa was away from Ramsey, but I hope this doesn’t cause them to be saved by or run into another horror. Best case scenario, Sansa and Theon, team up with Brienne and Podrick and they work with the Northerners to enforce the Grand Northern Conspiracy and rid the world of the Boltons for good, and Sansa rules the North.
‘Do your duty’
So a number of articles that I read predicted that Brienne would be the one to kill Stannis after she had that heart to heart with Podrick and she told him about Renly and how she wants to avenge his death. And I was glad that this was the way that Stannis went, it was fitting.
Stannis has been one of my favorite characters since he was first introduced, I believed he had the best claim to the throne, he did what was best for the realm by helping the Wall, and in turn marching on Winterfell, he appreciated the fact that Davos gave him honest and sage council and was loyal to him and he promoted him instead of burning him – despite his low birth and lack of belief in the Lord of Light, he loved his daughter and he seemed to have respect for those that he saw had potential like Jon Snow who was so young. I also have a huge crush on Stephen Dillane. But last episode, all the love and respect I felt for Stannis disappeared, that a man that was so rigid after only a few setbacks allowed himself to be manipulated so much that he let Melisandre burn the one person that he truly loved was disappointing for me, is that the cost he was willing to pay for the Iron Throne? Was it worth it? I was never deluded enough to think that Stannis would end up on the throne, I figured he would die sometime, I mean we all know that Melisandre is very mistaken in thinking he is Azor Ahai, but I didn’t think he would die before the grand epic battle with the White Walkers, but oh well at least he wasn’t killed by a rando like Barristan Selmy. Also it was very convenient that Brienne happened to be in the right place at the right time, was she just chilling in a tree hoping Stannis would slump down onto it? Although I was very happy that we saw him slew some fellows before he died, that’s the Stannis I know.
P.S.S. And his last words ‘do your duty’ is so Stannis-like that it made me swoon.
The blindness of Arya
This was one of my favorite parts of the episode, it was the moment when Arya’s training finally got to the point where it paid off. In the books, Arya kills a deserter of the Night’s Watch, but I think having her finally get to enact revenge on another person from a list was apt, especially that person being Meryn Trant.
Alot of the responses to the show addition of making Trant a paedo said there is no need for them to do this because the show watchers already know Trant is a shady dude, but whereas I agree with them in saying that the Sansa rape scene didn’t need to be added, I do think that Meryn Trant has been so background for most of the show most of the show watchers need a previously on to remind them about all the shitty things he’s done – like the killing of Syrio Forel, the beating of Sansa, the false accusations against Tyrion etc. But Arya’s crazy violent attack on Trant was so fitting and well executed, and so true to her character that I enjoyed it, also I’m glad to see him finally off-ed.
The whole House of Black and White stuff was confusing for me in the books and is still confusing to me in the show, but that whole taking the different faces off of a dead Jaqen, who wasn’t actually dead, made me like wtf the whole time. Maisie Williams acting during this scene was soooo on point though and I figured it would end with her blindness, and I’m glad it was done, as a way to punish her for killing without the consent of the House. Also Jaqen reminded me so much of Aslan in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when the girls are crying because he was dead and then whoah, he’s right behind them alive again.
Dorne – the bad 80s soap opera of Westeros
The Dorne plot makes me angry, not only because it’s stupid and a waste of time in my opinion but because it was my absolute favorite in the books. My favorite chapter is The Princess in the Tower in Feast for Crows, and Arianne Martell is a goddess, and Doran Martell is a BAMF, that’s not even getting into the perfection of Oberyn Martell. I even swore fealty to House Martell, I don’t take those things lightly, but the show made me feel like a fool for this.
Ellaria and the Sand Snakes seemed like villains from some low budget 80’s action movie, the vengeful women with their signature weapons, Bronn and Jaime were hopeless, Myrcella and Trystane were cringeworthy and my sweet, brilliant Doran was underused. I remember when Arianne seduced Arys Oakheart in the books it was hot, but with Tyene seducing the elderly Bronn, I was like ‘no please stop’.
But most of all I hate that they have not included Doran’s grand plot against the Lannisters. He says he’s been working on a long game since they killed Elia, and in the books – the Sand Snakes and the want of war, Arianne and her want to crown Myrcella, and even Oberyn are passionate, fancy rouges to distract the readers from the fact that the real threat is Doran.
I am not blind, nor deaf. I know you all believe me weak, frightened, feeble. Your father knew me better. Oberyn was ever the viper. Deadly, dangerous, unpredictable. No man dared tread on him. I was the grass. Pleasant, complaisant, sweet-smelling, swaying with every breeze. Who fears to walk upon the grass? But it is the grass that hides the viper from his enemies and shelters him until he strikes. – A Dance With Dragons
All I wanted was a christening montage like in The Godfather where we hear Doran explaining part of his plot and we see death and mayhem in snippets. I know the show cut out Arianne and Quentyn, which were key points in Doran’s original plans but ffs they could have changed it up and made Trystane or someone else try and lure Dany to Dorne or at least send word to Dany that the Martells are willing to support her. Instead we got the Dorne B-Plot which makes the entire city sound like Santa Barbara or Dynasty. I wanted Doran to be like Tywin Lannister during the Red Wedding – chilling at the Red Keep, screwing prostitutes, going about his business while the grand massacre that he planned was going on. In the same way that in the show they don’t have the plot by the Westerlings to lure Robb Stark away from the Freys, they could have done the same with Dorne.
I’m still hopeful though, that they will do something spectacular with Doran and Dorne, perhaps now that Myrcella is confirmed to be dead by the creators et al, his plot will get Trystane to pursue Dany, but then again Trystane is now in the hold of the Lannisters. Also surely he would not have wanted to Myrcella to die? Trystane would hate them for that, also Doran not knowing about Ellaria’s plots just is not like him, he knew about a plot by Cersei to kill Trystane even before Balon Swann came to Dorne, how would he not know of a plot right underneath his nose. Spain is confirmed as a location that they will be shooting at next year so there will be more Dorne, so I hope that the producers take into consideration that what they did this season did not go down well with the audience and next season they should perhaps try to do it a little better?
Also WTF why is Myrcella so chill with being the product of incest? I love my parents a lot and think love is cool and all but if they told me they are brother and sister, I would need a minute at the very least. Also when is Jaime going to find out about Cersei sleeping with Lancel?
The Daenerys Chronicles
I just want to say as little as I have been interested in Dany’s plotline this season, I really love her compatriots – Daario (swoon), Jorah, Tyrion, Missandei and Greyworm – and now that they have added Varys to the mix, I do find them way more interesting than the actual Mother of Dragons. I loved the banter between all of them, and the way that they decided that Tyrion, Greyworm and Missandei (and Varys) would stay behind to rule – the smart ones (except Greyworm, I guess he’s military?), while the strong ones, who both love Dany, would go find her.
I call bullshit on the whole Dany dropping her ring scenario, if D & J happen to just stumble upon it on that huge mountain I will be hella shocked. Also what’s going to happen to her now is up in the air? Will the Dothraki help her? They aren’t really the most helpable of people, we’ve seen the way they treat the weak, or will we be transported back to Season 1 Dany again? Will they join her army? Especially now that the Unsullied have been mostly slaughtered by the Sons of the Harpy. Also come on now Game of Thrones we need two things from you – for Dany to train her dragons and for to move her ass and go to Westeros already, hopefully teaming up with the Martells, this is all I want in life.
Cersei and her walk of shame
All I want to say about this scene is that Lena Headey deserves all the awards for this. I am really not a fan of Cersei, like I can’t stand her, reading her POV was painful for me in the books, and I usually sigh when she’s on screen in the show, but in this scene my heart completely broke for her.
This is what I love about Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire, that the characters are 3-dimensional and they able to constantly change our opinion about them. Within an episode or even a scene we can go from hating a character to feeling sympathy for them, or we can go from loving a character to being disgusted with them (except Ramsey Snow, that fucker needs to die).
I had a feeling this scene will play well on screen and they did not disappoint, the fact that she was naked, her beautiful hair cut off, her face gaunt and scarred just helped to show how raw and sad this scene was. Her atonement, her walk of shame. Being insulted and ridiculed and treated as nothing really was the best punishment for the proud and arrogant Cersei Lannister but it still hurt to see it.
This scene was portrayed well, even up to the Robert Strong, Qyburn stuff, it was true to the books, true to the show, and true to the characterisation of Cersei and was really one of the well done points of the episode. Great job with this one!
‘For the watch’
So I knew this scene was coming, and I figured it would be the last thing we see in Season 5 but holy hell it still hit home. I think the fact that in the show they don’t have Jon intending to betray his vows just make his death even more tragic.
So Davos takes on the role of the pink letter and he pleads with Jon for help, although we have to be thankful that Jon doesn’t send an army because Stannis’ cause seems to be dead. I became extremely angry when Melisandre just waltzed in, and told Davos that Stannis and Shireen are dead, like Shireen’s death wasn’t her fault. Which begs the question, why is Melisandre back at the wall? If Shireen’s death did not help Stannis’ fight, what was the magic for? Back to this a little further on.
So Jon does not know that Sansa was forced to marry Ramsey? Well I guess it wasn’t needed if he had no plans to desert the Night’s Watch.
I thought it was so cruel of Olly and the rest of the crew to dangle Benjen in front of us. WHERE IS BENJEN!? I will die with those words on my lips, I need to know. I was like ‘yes, finally some clue’ and then fucking Olly was tricking us all. Benjen is my big GOT mystery not what happened Valyria or who is Jon’s mom, Benjen. Thanks a lot asshole.
I’m not a crazy Jon Snow fan, I like him well enough but I’m not exactly the worship-at-the-altar-of-Jon type but dammmnnnn every time a Black Brother stabbed Jon it felt like someone had kicked me in the gut. I think the filmatic way that they approached the scene worked well and making that fucker Olly do the last blow really gave that personal betrayal touch.
Lastly, fuck Olly.
So, I know that Kit Harington said he won’t be returning, but I find that extremely unlikely, especially since even if he was, it’s a cliffhanger why would he say that he’s anything other than dead. I’m just saying there is a reason why Melisandre returned to the Wall, there is a reason why we were introduced to Beric Dondarrion and the Brotherhood Without Banners, there is a reason why Melisandre witnessed that as well. Seeing as there is going to be no Lady Stoneheart in the show (I’m one of the minority who doesn’t care much about her) I very much believe that Melisandre will probs bring Jon back.
What’s coming in Season 6?
So according to casting announcements we should expect the Iron Islanders, Oldtown and the Tarly’s next season, so that fills in some extra book plot that was not covered this season – especially with regards to the Greyjoys. I really really pray to the old gods and the new gods that George R.R. Martin finishes The Winds of Winter before Season 6, because as much as I will probably enjoy them filling in the gaps I’m very nervy about them using bullet points for the stories of Dany, Jon, Cersei and the other main characters.
In an article for Vanity Fair, Joanna Robinson predicted that the Greyjoys might be the ones to rescue Theon and Sansa, and whilst I don’t trust Euron at all, hopefully Yara can do some damage control. Also wait, is Balon still alive in the show? We haven’t visited the Iron Islands in yonks.
All in all, this season wasn’t the easiest to watch, and I do believe that the viewers and readers have been spoiled with a lot of action in a short space of time, that’s why Feast and Dance isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, because it deals with the aftermath of the Red Wedding, the Purple Wedding, the death of Tywin, of Tyrion being a fugitive, a realm in chaos, this is what happens when people use others to further their own agenda instead of playing the game the best way the board allows, the board suffers. This season – and the two books it is based on – is about the rebuilding and the patching up of Westeros and of the characters trying to find their way and survive – it’s tedious, it’s about learning, it’s difficult, and I do think because D&D were working off Martin’s bullet points instead of actual novels it made it even more difficult. There were some things that I full on hated – the Dorne storyline and the cut and paste of Sansa into Jeyne Poole’s role – but I think the show also added in some moments that were better than what we’ve seen like Dany and Tyrion chatting strategy, Varys and Tyrion hanging together more, Jon going to Hardhome. I do believe that what did make Feast and Dance more interesting for me was a lot of the plots that didn’t make into the show – the Dorne plot, Aegon and Jon, all the prophesies, the Manderleys, Jaime in the riverlands and meeting the other Lannisters.
So here’s to hoping that Season 6 will be a smoother ride.