The fifth season of Game of Thrones is over, and what a rollercoaster the final climactic episode was. We've reached the end of the show (for now), the end of the books (for now), and no-one knows what's going to happen next.
Warning: Spoilers within!
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Goddamn. Goddamn. Even as someone who's read the A Song of Ice and Fire books, that's still my reaction to the events of last night's episode. Over this season, the show has carved some deep delineations between itself and the book, but the series ended in mostly the same place. Mostly. But the important thing to realise is that, whether you've read the books or not, whether you've just watched the show, or whether you've done both -- with the inevitable confusion and annoyance and hopefully delight that's caused -- it's all up in the air now. What will next season bring? What will the next book show?
But, anyway, back to the episode and series just finished. Let's start with Daenerys. At the climax of last episode's The Dance Of Dragons, an ambush intended to murder Daenerys in a Meereen fighting pit was interrupted by the arrival of Drogon, the largest and most powerful and most rogue of her three dragons. Drogon carried Daenerys off into the sunset, with them both exhausted and bloody, and this episode pointed at least briefly what's going on there. They're somewhere in the Dothraki Sea, and Drogon is resting and literally licking his wounds. This leaves Daenerys kind of at a loss for something to do, so she goes for a bit of a wander to find something to eat, and then gets surrounded by a horde of Dothraki bloodriders. They're very angry. Fade to black.
Back in Meereen, Tyrion and Jorah and Daario are just, kinda, waiting for Daenerys to come back. They can't run the city by themselves, guys. Because they don't have a queen to mope around and seduce, Daario and Tyrion decide to set off on an expedition to actually find her. That leaves Tyrion basically on his own, although he has the help of Missandei and Grey Worm to calm and comfort an entire city that wants to kill them. Varys the Spider turns up, though, to make everything better -- pretty sure next season is just going to be The Varys and Tyrion Show with them running around the city and solving plumbing problems and whatnot. Fade to black here too, although on a slightly happier note.
We head over to Braavos next to check in briefly on Arya, the faceless man in training. Actually, we check in on Ser Meryn Trant, the child-whipping Kingsguard, who has three young girls in his chambers and is lashing at them with a stick. One girl doesn't flinch from his blows, though, and he sends the others away before breaking his whip on her. After a punch to the belly she falls to her knees, clutches her face, and stands up -- with the face of Arya Stark. Arya, who wore a different face to deceive him, exacts her vengeance on Trant -- vengeance for the attack and murder of Syrio Forel, her dancing teacher -- by stabbing him in the eyes, the belly, the back, and finally slitting his throat. Arya then gets admonished by the Faceless Man back in the House of Black and White, her punishment including the Faceless Man killing himself and then poisoning Arya to send her blind. Fade to black.
Down in Dorne, Prince Oberyn and Ellaria Martell (or Sand, if you prefer bastard names) bid adieu to their unwelcome guests. Jaime, Bronn, and Myrcella are heading back to King's Landing together. Ellaria gives Myrcella a biiiig kiss, and they're on their way. Jaime and Myrcella share a touching moment together in the cabin of their ship, too -- Myrcella knows about her mother and Jaime, and she's really glad to have Jaime as a father. That kind of emotion must crack through the ice that surrounds Jaime's stone cold icy Kingsguard heart, right? Yeah, probably. But it doesn't last long That kiss that Ellaria gave Myrcella? Not so lovely, and very poisonous. What starts as a little nosebleed leave Myrcella collapsed on the deck and Jaime completely beside himself with anguish. Fade to black.
In King's Landing, it's a time of repentance for Cersei, who confesses and admits to her supposed sins of adultery and incest, her relationship with cousin Lancel Lannister while good old king Robert Baratheon was still alive. With that confession, Cersei is free to go back to the Red Keep and await her trial by combat -- for the other sins of incest with Jaime, which are still only alleged -- but only after her atonement. This punishment for her ungodly crimes is to have her hair shorn, to be stripped naked, and to walk through the city and through the unwashed masses on her path back to the castle. Bloody-footed, covered in excrement and sobbing, Cersei arrives at the Red Keep. She's met by Qyburn, and her new champion, the armored and face-covered Ser Robert Strong -- an impressively Mountainesque and impressively mute monolith of a warrior who will fight for her. Fade to black.
North of Winterfell, it's time for Stannis the Mannis, who remains the one true king even if you're still a bit pissed off that he cooked his daughter. The frosts are easing and the snow is melting, perhaps thanks to Melisandre's princess-roasting magic powers, but it's not all good news for Stannis. Half of his army has deserted in disgust at Princess Shireen's death, and that's not the worst of it. While his bedraggled army gets ready for battle, Stannis discovers his wife, the queen Selyse, hung in the woods outside the encampment. This guy honestly has nothing left. Stoic as ever, Stannis marches towards Winterfell and towards death or glory.
It's looking like death, if I'm honest with you. When his column of footmen -- no horses, the other guys nicked them -- arrive at Winterfell, they're greeted by rows upon rows of horse-mounted warriors from the Bolton camp. The Baratheon force forms up but is quickly despatched by the hordes of men under the Flayed Man banner, and we see Stannis, bloodied and tired, stumbling on his own through a thicket. He dispatches two Bolton warriors despite being exhausted, and takes a quick sit-down against a tree to catch his breath. Who should turn up, though, but Brienne of Tarth, sworn defender of his murdered younger brother Renly, sworn to avenge him. She asks him if it was Stannis's dark blood magic that killed Renly, he confirms that, and we fade to black with her Valyrian steel sword swinging through the cold northern air.
Back at the walls of Winterfell, Sansa attempts an escape, breaking out of her cell of a room and heading to the broken tower to light a candle to signal her would-be rescuers. They're not around -- Brienne is off dispatching Stannis, and Pod is probably slaying a bunch of tavern wenches -- so she tries to make her own way, until she's stopped by secondary Ramsay Bolton squeeze Myranda, who along with Theon is preventing her escape. After Ramsay's triumphant return to the castle a brief struggle sees Myranda dispatched -- by Theon, no less -- and the two jump from the parapets into the open air and (hopefully) down in the soft snow dozens of metres below. Fade to black.
And then we come to the Wall. The Night's Watch is back from its sojourn to Hardhome, and lord commander Jon Snow is marshaling his forces and counting his men. He sends Sam off to Oldtown to train as a maester, to better advise the Night's Watch in the place of the recently departed Aemon Targaryen, and that means that Gilly and her baby will go along with him, south and away from the dangers of the White Walkers. Back in his quarters one night, though, Jon's ward Olly runs in to tell him that there is news from a wildling of his uncle Benjen, previous First Ranger. Jon runs out past a huddle of Night's Watch men and sees no Benjen -- nothing but a cross, emblazoned with TRAITOR. Jon turns around, and the throng of men close in on him, stabbing him dozens of times in the gut "for the Watch." This is all very Julius Caesar, and in the same way it ends with Jon Snow, on his back, in the mud, with his life blood pouring out of him. Fade to black.
Everybody is dead.
What did you think of this week's episode? How do you think next season will go? Did this episode turn you off Game of Thrones for good? Share your views in the comments section below!
Note: Please, no spoilers from the books in the comments below!
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