As the season comes to a close, a few things have become apparent. The first, and most glaring, is that the way woman suffer will always be more graphic and degrading, in comparison to the men; the second being, to invest too much in heroes maybe a waste for, as said in The Dark Knight, “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain;” and lastly, while there is always a need to differentiate, or make something your own, arguably the decisions of the Game of Thrones writers surely help push the idea that HBO might be better producing soft core porn, with a side of gratuitous violence, than anything else really.
Review (with Spoilers) – Below
Characters & Story (with Commentary)
To begin, Arya uses the training she has received to assassin Meryn Trant, the one who likes hearing little girls scream and wail. An act which seems almost out of place since, while we know this is what Arya has been training for, it just seemed odd to watch. Be it because we have grown up with this character, or because watching her repeatedly stab the man seemed more done to increase a shock factor than for storyline purposes. After all, out of any of the characters who we have known since season 1, arguably Arya is the one who did the worse this season. However, considering that, as punishment for taking a life, Jaqen has seemingly left Arya blind, maybe things may turn around. Though my hopes aren’t that high all things considered.
Moving right along, Daenerys has left Meereen and with Drogon not wishing to fly, either because it is recovering, hungry, or tired, she is forced to try to find it some food and this leads to a unknown army surrounding her. An army which, for a moment, had me think of back in season one when we met the Dothraki, but being that the last few which exist are probably dead or will never be seen again, likely this is some faction which, sadly, we won’t learn the name of until the next season.
As for things back in Meereen? Well, Ser Jorah and Daario Naharis are leaving Meereen, on horse, to find Daenerys, and they left running the city to Tyrion, Greyworm, and Missandei. Which, as you would expect, seems like a rather odd combination which certainly isn’t going to help the burgeoning civil war brewing within the streets. Plus, considering how Daenerys barely made it out alive, and how the Unsullied seem to get massacred during every uprising, it leaves you to wonder how much longer can Daenerys’ reign hold?
Leaving Essos and heading over to Westeros, let’s begin with Dorne. Now, as many have said, pretty much all that has happened within the country has been a disappointment. Whether it was the Sand Snakes who, at best, had sex appeal and shamed their father with their combat skills; us watching Jamie invade the kingdom, with Bronn, and pretty much get everything he wanted without much push back; or simply the odd ending of the storyline dealing with Ellaria giving Myrcella the kiss of death, paired with Myrcella telling Jamie she knows he is her father, you have to wonder whether perhaps a 12 episode season could have fixed things? For while I admit to having never read the books, It is hard to argue that what Oberyn Martell brought to the show in season 4 is not seen what so ever within Dorne. Granted, yes, the environment is beautiful and breathtaking, but with action scenes as corny as a 80s or 90s kid show, and very little reason given to invest in anyone long term, honestly it seems like there is little reason to return to Dorne unless they are truly going to invest in more than a beautiful set.
Thus leading to perhaps the more interesting storylines. Of which, we begin with Stannis. Now, after sacrificing his daughter to the Lord of Light, which every place I looked at said wasn’t in the books, it did make you hope that such a sacrifice wasn’t in vain. Well, damn if he didn’t kill his child for nothing. Though the real kicker is that not only did he waste his child’s life, but his wife hangs herself, Melisandre abandons him, he loses his battle against the Boltons, and of all people, Brienne is the one who kills him. Though, to add insult to injury, while we got to see Meryn’s death, despite being a minor character, Stannis’ death happens off screen. Thus really pushing the idea that this show is very dedicated to having us visibly see women, and even children, suffer, but for men their punishments, or degrading moments, will occasionally be like Meryn, but often times nowhere near what we have come to expect when it comes to a woman’s time to be punished or degraded.
Speaking of degradation, let’s switch the topic to the two women who have been degraded the most over the last few episodes, if not the season. First is Sansa, since we are on the topic of Stannis, the Boltons, Brienne, and Winterfell. Now, being that everyone is prepping for Stannis, she is able to run around the castle and courtyard trying to light the candle and maybe signal for help. Which, if Brienne was supposed to be that help, she would have done so in vain. Luckily though, while she doesn’t find an opportunity to light that candle, she finally gets Theon to snap out of Ramsay’s spell and help her. Mind you, Theon helping her leads to Myranda’s death, which was well deserved, but with them jumping off a tower wall, into snow, and that being the end of it, again we are given a storyline which ends on a cliffhanger which doesn’t necessarily get you hyped of what is to come, If anything, you are left more frustrated that you have spent that last 10 weeks hoping for a good payoff and are left with what essentially is bull crap.
Bringing us to King’s Landing. Now, right off the bat I must say we don’t see Loras or Margaery at all, which I thought was ridiculous. However, we do see Cersei get humbled for with her confessing to adultery, but not with Jamie, she is allowed to return to the castle. Thing is, she has to walk, butt naked, from the temple back to where the Iron Throne sits. During this time she is spat on, yelled at by those of flea bottom, and pretty much by the time her walk is over, it seems she is covered in a mix between her bodily fluids, such as tears and blood, and other people’s, like spit, excrement, and who knows what else. And while, at first, it is hard to feel anything for Cersei since she is the show’s primary villain, and only compelling one at this point, you are then reminded of how almost everything she does is to fight the patriarchy around her, protect her family, and to try to assert herself. For, as constantly noted within articles and by other reviewers, their world is like medieval times and a woman like Cersei wielding power is considered unnatural. Especially in comparison to how things work in the north and maybe even Dorne. So while there is this feeling of this being her just desserts, and there is a bit of joy that she is still alive, since no one could fill her shoes, at the same time it is hard to not feel bad for a woman who with every step forward, she is forced into a position in which it seems the gods of Westeros are trying to remind her of her place as a woman.
Now, leaving the best, and most infuriating story, for last, let us speak on Jon Snow. To summarize his storyline, and what happens on the wall, briefly, Sam and Gilly are off to Oldtown since neither are safe, and Sam wishes to train to be a maester, and Jon Snow is killed Julius Caeser style. Which, to me, just felt cheap. For while I read the spoiler of this happening weeks ago, at the same time I feel like there comes a point in this show where nothing can surprise you. So, in order to bring some life back into the show, the writers go to extremes, like rape, child abuse, grand scale battles, and whatever maybe controversial enough for headlines, to try to shake you up. Which did work in the beginning, for I’m sure people are still surprised Ned Stark died, but with Ned’s death, the Red Wedding, and after Joffrey and Oberyn’s death, I feel like the show can no longer up itself. Making it so even when a lead character like Jon Snow dies, it doesn’t lead to shock and awe, but leaves you in this weird complacent place in which you are left feeling “Well, it is just another day on Game of Thrones.”
Which pretty much summarizes how I feel about this season. For there was so much build, and it did pay off for Jon Snow, but largely it lead to either disappointments or moments in which it seemed like the production was desperate to get a rise out of fans. Thus really pushing the idea that no show should really go past 3 or 4 seasons. However, even with this said, there is still some glimmer of hope in me that the next season maybe good. For while there seems to be a formula of one or two grand battles, one major comeuppance, and one major death, at the same time when the show is good, it is good. But, unfortunately, when it is bad, it makes you almost thankful there are only 10 episodes and enough time in between seasons to get rid of the bad taste it leaves in your mouth. Though, considering how much of a stinker this season was, I’m unsure if the series could pull the same crap it did this time around for one or two more years. Especially considering it is really diverging away from the books and is trying to craft a story, and possibly characters, which have nothing to do with the source material.