of Thrones, Season Five
Reviewer: Charity Bishop
HBO has run out of storylines from the original book series by George R.R. Martin, with the result that this season deviates in significant ways from the characters and the source material left, as it strikes out on its own take on the events bringing the story nearer to its inevitable conclusion.
The murder of Tywin Lannister has changed the inhabitants of King's Landing forever. Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his sister Cersei (Lena Headey) must re-forge alliances and attempt to repair the slight estrangement between them, as well as solidify their hold upon the throne through their younger son, Tommen. Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) chooses to solidify her family's hold upon the kingdom through enticing the young king to marriage, but faces a perilous road when a new religious movement stirs in the province, placing her actions and those of her brother under stern appraisal. Hapless Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) has fled for his life with the assistance of Lord Varys (Conleth Hill), who hopes to turn his support in favor of the young white-haired dragon-taming queen across the sea, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke).
Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) is scheming an alliance with the Boltons with Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) as his bargaining chip. The would-be-king Stannis (Stephen Dillane) has turned his attention to protecting the northern border from the waking White Walkers. Unlikely leader Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) seeks to form an alliance between the men of the Night's Watch and those from beyond the wall, and his friend Sam is well on his way to falling in love. Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), meanwhile, begins her instruction in an assassin's school, but finds shedding her true self in order to adopt other faces difficult.
Having read the books, I can see where outrage over this season is coming from and appreciate it, because in many instances the characters act downright unlike their literary counterparts. Jaime suffers from this to some extent, but it's even truer of Stannis, who before the end of the season does something so horrifying that it sent the internet into a meltdown and shifted a lot of his fans into the other camp. It is an entertaining season overall but goes no further in making headway in the complicated various subplots, other than in killing off a half dozen characters before the finale (thus ends their plot lines). Bran Stark is nowhere to be seen, and will probably be a foot taller if and when he ever returns. The shifting of a secondary character's plot onto Sansa makes her a victim of marital abuse and rape. Some changes make sense and others do not, in the grand scheme of things, and in some ways this season goes for pure shock value.
I have always had a mixed reaction to this book and
television series, but by this point I am so dulled to it
and always expect the worst, so nothing much affects me
emotionally or leaves any kind of impression on me. It is
not for the fainthearted and by the time I get through
fast-forwarding the tedious smut in every episode, the real
plot reveals itself to still be moving at a snail's pace
forward. Like a great many, though, I will continue watching
just to find out who actually wins the throne.
Like previous seasons, the sex is graphic and semi-frequent, leaving nothing to the imagination. Naked women walk around in the background of brothels. Main characters reveal their breasts. Rape, both seen and implied (we hear Sansa screaming and crying). A woman does a prolonged, forced "shame" walk through King's Landing fully naked. Monks break into brothels and arrest / beat / kill naked men, or force them to walk through the streets fully exposed. There's probably more but I didn't see it.
The f-word is frequent, along with s**t, c*nt, and other profanities.
Stabbings. Throat-cuttings. Limb severing. Dragons incinerate people and eat them. Blood spurts. A man burns his daughter alive as a sacrifice to a pagan god. A man beats little girls for his own sexual pleasure, and then is brutally stabbed to death by one (she stabs him in both eye sockets, then in the chest a dozen times). Epic-scale battles unfold in which there is a fair amount of carnage.
References to dark magic, to foreign gods, and to prophetic foresight.