As the fifth season of Game of Thrones draws to a close let’s take a moment to look back and reflect. Sometimes it seems like nothing can compare to the shock of the Red Wedding or the Purple Wedding in the past seasons. But this season might have changed that. There were big, character defining, heart stopping, emotionally exhausting moments in this season, some of which all came down on us like an avalanche in the finale. Spoilers ahead.
In a lot of ways, many of our beloved characters developed and grew with new chapters in their lives. Despite that, it seems that this season was the hardest on Sansa Stark, who has been mistreated, abused, used, and discarded by one man after another since the show began. She had one of the most controversial storylines of the show in season five, causing a huge ruckus over many fans online. After going along with Littlefinger’s plans, she found herself beaten, raped, and constantly degraded by her new husband Ramsay Bolton. Needless to say, it was difficult to watch a character that had tried so hard to be brave be tortured repeatedly. In the final moments of the finale she seemed to take back some of her strength, as did Theon ‘Reek’ Greyjoy, as they jumped to their likely death.
When it seems like Arya was one of the last Starks still fighting, we find that she has taken up a sort of apprenticeship to learn the ways of the Faceless Men. She spends countless days trying to learn about them, to become one of them, and give up her identity as “Arya Stark.” However, it doesn’t seem that easy as she brutally murders Meryn Trant, one of the people on her revenge list. When it comes down to it, she is ultimately Arya Stark, out for revenge. For this, Jaqen punishes her.
In King’s Landing and after a long while of rivalry with her son’s wife, Cersei reinstated the Faith Militant to rid herself of her competition – Margaery Tyrell – and ended up getting arrested and disgraced herself. We were shown her at her lowest, with her hair cut off, nude and barefoot walking throughout King’s Landing while her people spat and threw whatever disgusting things they could get their hands on. While her walk of shame through King’s Landing should have taught her a thing or two, the presentation of her new Knight in shining armor at the end of that walk may cause a setback in her education.
After murdering his father, Tyrion went through a lot to get to Daenerys. He was shipped across the world in a box like a meaningless object, kidnapped by Jorah Mormont with whom he almost met his death by the Stone Men, was taken as a slave and given as a gift once finally reaching Meereen. Despite all this, Tyrion’s time with Daenerys was cut short as the Sons of the Harpy attacked during a show at the fighting pits and split the power couple, with Dany riding off on Drogon. And now, with the Queen gone and as Daenerys’ advisor, Tyrion is left running the city and hoping that the Mother of Dragons will return from her trip. Though, in the Queen’s last scene of the season, it seems that things are dire as we find Dany being surrounded by a Khalasar.
Meanwhile, Stannis Baratheon had just as hard a time of it this season as everyone else. The Lord of Dragonstone couldn’t get the help he wanted at The Wall, then he sacrificed the daughter he started to show loyalty and love for, and in the end, his army fell and his Fire Priestess abandoned him. Ultimately, he met his killer in the form of Brienne of Tarth, who had been searching for Arya and Sansa this whole time. Unable to find Arya and failing to collect a reluctant Sansa, Brienne and her squire, Podrick, awaited Sansa’s signal to save her.
Jaime Lannister also went on a journey, this time in the hopes to restore what was left of his family. As he tried to gather Myrcella from Dorne with Ser Bronn, they are attacked by the Sand Snakes and Bronn is thrown into prison but is eventually set free. After a bit of negotiation, Myrcella and Trystane agree to head back to King’s Landing. On the ship, Jaime tries to tell his daughter that he is her real father and Myrcella reveals that she somehow always knew. However, moments after their heartfelt embrace, she collapses and presumably dies from the poison she ingested through Ellaria Sand’s kiss.
Possibly the most gut-wrenching (pun intended) death of the finale was Jon Snow. Throughout this season, Jon has been focused on what he sees as the real threat to Westeros – not the political machinations of lords and ladies and kings and queens – but the army of White Walkers that may descend at any moment and wipe all of them out at any moment. As seen in Hardhome, the Army of the Dead seems invincible and downright terrifying. And even members of his own team are too busy plotting and scheming and ultimately betraying him and each other to focus on the real problem at hand. When Olly delivered a false message to Jon to lure him out, members of the Night’s Watch repeatedly stabbed him in the stomach, ultimately killing him. However, many still believe that he is not actually dead.
As the finale episode of season five closed, it left just as many questions as it answered. With the show deviating so much from the books at this point, even fans who have read through the entire series thus far are in the dark on what will happen next. Don’t worry if you missed the finale (if so, why are you reading this?!) or the whole season for that matter. Make sure you catch previous episodes online (both Comcast Xfinity and Verizon FiOS have them on demand now, as does HBO Go of course) and maybe you can pick up some hints on where the next season will go. Will Bran and Rickon prove to be the final Starks alive in the world? Will Cersei regain her foothold on the Iron Throne? Will Daenerys and her dragons ever finally reach Westeros? Where’s Hodor? Only time, and the next season of Game of Thrones, will let us know.