All men must die, and all rewatches must end. I’ve finished rewatching every episode of Game Of Thrones, just in time for Season 6! If you want to catch up, you can read my posts about the previous seasons here, here, here, and here.
If you’re not caught up yet with the series, then watch out!
All sinners are equal in the eyes of The Seven, and all the existing seasons of Game of Thrones are fair game in this post. I also briefly mention Sam and Gilly’s relationship in the books, however if you have not read the book yet, there are no major plot twists mentioned that do not also happen in the show.
Season 5 is not my favorite season. Some production things in Season 5 were noticeably different from the previous seasons; Game of Thrones has always been a big deal, but Season 5 was by far the biggest it’s ever been. The production was larger, and so was the buzz and the promotion. There’s no cold opening in episode 5.1, but I had forgotten that they started doing “previously on Game of Thrones” segments before each episode started instead. Season 5 also had a little recap that the end of each episode with “behind the scenes” footage and interviews. I didn’t mind the recaps since it is always nice to hear from a show’s creators, but as for the “Previously On” segments…
Let’s start with Brienne and Pod. Although Brienne doesn’t really get to do anything this season besides soulfully gazing at a dilapidated tower and hoping to see candlelight, I love the conversation she has with Pod about Renly Baratheon. Brienne’s story about being teased at the ball and then saved by Renly is so sad and beautiful. I also love how, even though Brienne did love Renly romantically, she was able to phrase the reason for her affection so purely. “He saved me from being a joke from that day until his last day.” I also loved how her stubbornness to hold onto her vow to avenge him is also motivated beyond romantic feelings: “And I couldn’t save him in return…Nothing is more hateful then failing to protect the one you love”.
I think that this throws her character into a new light. She’s not a starry-eyed simple girl who was convinced that Renly loved her, and she’s not under any impressions anymore of what is right and wrong. She lost a friend; in fact, Renly could probably be considered her best friend for most of her life if you think about it. While many of her promises are being called into question this season, I was glad that she was finally able to, at least, fulfill one vow by killing Stannis.
Speaking of Stannis…
Although the storylines of the characters involved made me incredibly sad, the wide shots of the Bolton’s soldiers attacking Stannis’s forces are freaking gorgeous. Just beautiful. Combined with the music, that is battle actually one of my favorite moments this season just for the cinematography. Even though his last battle was shot wonderfully, I don’t like Stannis at all. Shireen’s death is so sad, and his downfall the morning after is tragic but deserved.
Traverse the Narrow Sea
Moving across the Narrow Sea, I wish that Varys and Tyrion could have had more time together before Tyrion was taken by Ser Jorah. However, I’m not too upset because I do love the scene where Jorah and Tyrion sale through Volantis sand see the dragon fly over them. It made me think how there are probably a lot of places in Essos at this point where seeing dragons is not that unusual. They’ve had a lot of magical occurrences happening since Season 1, and magic seems to be a lot more accepted there as a reality. Westeros is in for a rude awakening once Dany finally makes it across the narrow sea.
I also think that it is interesting to compare Jorah to Jon. Jorah Mormont is the actual son of Joer Mormont, the former Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, but Jon Snow is who he chose to rule and who he chose to mentor. They are both driven by loyalty, but Jon is loyal to humanity, and to the realm, while Jorah is loyal to only Dany. No huge takeaways, just an interesting comparison.
Beyond The Wall
I really enjoyed rewatching the scenes at and beyond The Wall. The Watch has nice sayings and I found myself writing down their lingo. Two of my favorites are:
- “We shall never see his like again.”
- “And now his watch has ended.”
Besides the lovely dialect, there were a lot of amazing story moments at The Wall this season too, most notably Hardhome. The battle at Hardhome was my favorite moment from the first time I saw Season 5 and I was so excited to watch it again. The entire battle was shot beautifully, and the special and visual effects are amazing. I love seeing the differences between the wights that have been dead a long time, and the ones that have been recently turned.
There are a lot of characters at The Wall that I really love. Eddison Tollett, or Edd (also known as Jon’s only friend who isn’t Sam) is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters up north. He strikes the balance of being loyal to Jon and also maintaining a level head through everything. I really hope he doesn’t die! Wun Wun the giant is fantastic. I love how during the battle at Hardhome, you can tell that he is two thousand percent DONE as he strides into the ocean. As he throws the wights off of his back, I imagine that he is muttering something like “I am too old for this crap”.
Speaking of too old, this season we said goodbye to Maester Aemon. I was sad to see this character go in the books and was sad to see him go in the show as well. In both the books and the show, his death also marks when Gilly and Sam move their relationship into a sexual one. I do not like how this happened in the show; I don’t quite believe it. In the books, Gilly and Sam consummate their relationship after Aemon’s death, only it is immediately after his funeral as they are on a boat on the way to Oldtown so Sam can become a Measter. As I’m typing that out it also does not seem like the most romantic of situations, but I felt the emotion a lot more than I did the way it occurred in the show.
The House of Black and White
I love Arya, but I forgot that this season she basically spends half of it sweeping a floor and washing corpses. However, I love The House of Black and White. As the priest points out, Arya does have everywhere else to go. She is across the narrow sea, she could do anything. However, the fact that she chooses to follow this long existing dream is very revealing. I’m not at all surprised that she is having trouble being No One.
Two of my favorite moments in Bravvos are the time lapse of Arya repeating her list of names in front of the house the black-and-white and the moment when she enters the Hall of Faces for the first time.
Because of my fascination with the place, I have questions about The House of Black and White that I would like some answers to.
- We see Arya’s bedroom, but where does she eat? Is there a Mean Girl’s style cafeteria? Does food randomly appear in her room? Does she have breakfast every day with a man wearing a different face?
- How deep exactly is the Hall of Faces? They’re on an island after all, and everything seems quite dry so I would guess hella deep.
- What is the public opinion of The House of Black And White? There seems to be a certain amount of reverence and respect for the place, but I’m sure there are some horror stories too. I’d like to hear more of the campfire/bedtime scary stories, which I’m sure exist in Bravvos.
The High Sparrow
The big happenings in Kings Landing this season were focused on the rise of the High Sparrow. It’s interesting to see the power dynamic shift in Kings Landing now that Tywin is not around, and I don’t think any of the Westeros nobility expected the Sparrow to be the force that he is. Cersei’s walk of atonement was a very impactful sequence, and while the first time I was watching I was focused on other things, this time around I was trying to see how noticeable the body double/face swap was. If I was looking for it I noticed, but overall those effects were very well done. There is more than enough going on in the scene to not focus on the effects anyway.
You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned two major storylines in this recap; Dorne and Sansa’s. That’s because I didn’t like them the first time around, and time did not make the heart grow fonder. I skipped over basically every single one of Sansa’s scenes one she got to Winterfell because I just can’t watch that again, and I really tried to look on Doren with fresh eyes, but I just couldn’t. I know that there was a lot of controversy around Sansa in particular this season, and if you would like to read my thoughts on that, you can read what I wrote about it last year.
As for now I’m going with Thumper’s advice on this, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say nothin’ at all” and crossing my fingers that both storylines are better this year.
One final thought: As the seasons progress and the production value gets higher, everyone’s hair gets more perfectly curled and it drives me nuts.