- Series Title: Game of Thrones
- Season: 5
- Episodes: 10
- Discs: 4
- Network: HBO
- Cast: Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Nikolaj Caster-Waldau, Iain Glen, John Bradley, Aidan Gillen, Gwendoline Christie, Jerome Flynn, Julian Glover, Jonathan Pryce, Diana Rigg
- Format: Widescreen, Color, Blu-Ray, NTSC
I watched Game of Thrones season 5 when it aired on HBO, and bought the series on Blu-ray when it came out (for the special features), but I delayed re-watching it because it is a very difficult season to watch. I actually now have acquired seasons 6 and 7 on Blu-ray as well, which I will watch and review in due course. But season 5 is just hard – all of the main female characters suffer greatly and this is the season that caused the feminist fan website, The Mary Sue, to drop coverage of the show. However, having seen season 6, it does make this season a little bit easier to bear.
Season 5 opens with Arya Stark going to Bravos and to the House of Black and White, she seeks to become “no one”, to learn the secrets of being a faceless assassin. She’s first forced to merely clean the floors. She sees desperate people come to the House for healing, but only find death. She throws away her clothes and her money, but hides her sword, Needle, even though she’s told to dispose of it to become “no one”. She sees a father come in with his daughter, and convinces the daughter she will be healed if she drinks the water from the pool in the main hall. Later, she washes the girl’s body. Arya learns that the faces of the dead line huge pillars in a room in the House. She is given an assignment to pretend to sell cockles and mussels, but really she’s to spy on a man who holds ship masters in a life debt. While doing this she runs in to a man she knows from Westros, who takes and terrorizes the youngest prostitutes he can find in a brothel. She kills this man instead of the one she was assigned. This gets her in a lot of trouble. One of the faceless men takes poison and collapses, wearing the face of her friend – but it is a false face, Arya pulls several faces off the corpse, sees her own, and becomes blind.
Daenerys, meanwhile, discovers that being a successful ruler in Meereen is a lot more difficult than conquering the three cities she conquered previously. She closed the fighting pits, where slaves were forced to fight to the death. This angers the people. One of her advisors pleads with her to re-open the pits to appease the people, but she continually refuses. A group of rebels, the masked “Sons of the Harpy” attack and kill many of the Unsullied and another of Daenerys’ advisors. Daernerys tries to make a show of force, by planning to put one of the murderers on trial instead of executing him outright. One of the former slaves sneaks in to the prison and kills him while he awaits trial. Daernerys executes the man for murder, even though she probably would have executed the other man after his trial anyway. In an attempt to reduce the tensions in Meereen, Daenerys’ opens the fighting pits again, but to free men only. They are still matches to the death, however. She also agrees to make a political marriage to one of the Masters. Daenerys, Tyrion, Ser Mormont, Missandei (her translator and aide), and her lover/advisor attend the fights in the Great Pit – but the Sons of the Harpy attack, killing many in the crowds, and anyone around. Daenerys escapes on her big, black dragon, Drogon. She finds herself in the wilderness, with an injured dragon. Missandei and Tyrion stay in the palace to try to hold Meereen together, while Ser Mormont and Daenerys’ lover go to find her.
Jon Snow is promoted to Lord Commander of the Knight’s Watch, much to the dismay of some of the more conservative and angry members of the Watch. He leads an expedition to Hard Home to bring the Wildings to safety south of the Wall. They are attacked by the army of the dead and White Walkers. When he returns, Jon ends up sending Sam, Gilly, and baby Sam to the Citadel so Sam can become a Maester. This after Gilly was attacked and nearly raped by two men of the Night’s Watch. Jon is stabbed to death by Night’s Watchmen who were angry members of the Night’s Watch died on the expedition to Hard Home.
Stannis attempts to get anyone to help him attack and re-take Winterfell from the Boltons. Everyone refuses – the Wildings, Jon, other members of the Night’s Watch etc. Stannis also continually faces desertion of his men, especially the sellswords. The Red Lady and Mistress of the Lord of Light convinces him to make a terrible sacrifice to ensure his victory. Stannis reluctantly agrees and burns his own daughter, the Princess Shireen, at the stake. As a result, more of his troops desert, and his wife, who was cruel to her daughter anyway, kills herself. Stannis is routed at Winterfell, his troops killed or run off. He’s found by Brienne of Tarth, who kills him.
Littlefinger arranges for Sansa to marry Ramsay Bolton. Ramsay is, of course, a very sadistic person, who treats her horribly, and even rapes her. Sansa tries to escape once, and the woman helping her is flayed alive. Sansa does find out from Theon (“Reek”) that her brothers, Bran and Rickon, weren’t killed after all, but Theon doesn’t know where they are. Sansa places a light in the tower window, the signal for escape, but Brienne doesn’t see it because she’s off killing Stannis. Sansa and Theon jump from the battlements of Winterfell, and we don’t see the result.
Cersei sends Jaime to Dorne to recover their daughter, Myrcella. Jaime finds her and discovers she’s really in love with Prince Trystane. The leader in Dorne allows the two to return to King’s Landing to marry, but Myrcella is poisoned and dies.
Cersei speaks to the High Sparrow and has him re-establish the Faith Militant. She thinks she can use the Faith Militant to harass Margaery and Loras Tyrell. However, she didn’t expect to also find herself imprisoned, and later, after spending several weeks (or even months) in religious prison to face a walk of shame, naked, her hair sheared off, where she is insulted, stoned, and spat upon.
This season sees a lot of bad stuff happen to the women of the show. Shireen and Myrcella are complete innocents and good people who are killed in other people’s plots. Cersei’s “walk of shame” is hard to watch, and I found myself feeling sorry for her despite all the terrible things she’s done. Arya and Sansa are in percarious positions. And Daenerys seems to be in as bad as or worse a position than before she conquered Meereen and the other cities in Slaver’s Bay. This is a tough watch. But it doesn’t mean one should give up. Season 5 and 6 were both ordered by HBO at the same time, so in a sense, episode 10 of season 5 is really the middle of a 20-episode season. And season 6 has some great things that happen. But enough about that. Overall, this is still a recommended show that is worth watching.
Please also see my review of Game of Thrones Season 4.