An Open Letter to the Reader:
I’m so glad you could join me today. It’s a big step joining the Westeros Death Support Group, but it’s important to be able to express your pain, frustration, and surprise at the death of a beloved character. This week we had much to cry for, but we can’t let the pain consume us. There are still 2 books, 2/3 seasons, and many men & women who have the ability to resurrect the dead. And even if those zombifications don’t come to pass, it’s fine. We’ve got plenty of story left, and Emilia Clarke is still a hottie with dragons. With that in mind, I leave you to read the final installment of the 2015 Game of Thrones Power Rankings.
Well, it’s finally happened. I don’t have to worry about spoilers anymore! After 50 hours of (mostly) breathtaking television, we’ve reached the most important crossroads of the A Song of Ice and Fire lifespan. The show is officially caught up to the books. With the exception of the Arya timeline, which has gotten a little moved around (but the details are mostly irrelevant), and the showrunners deciding to send Sam to Oldtown a little later than GRRM, the only people worried about spoilers are those who aren’t caught up to the series. This presents an interesting dilemma for book readers like myself. We no longer hold the all powerful fortune-telling ability that TV Viewers would poke at for a little taste of the future. I was my friend groups own personal Maester, a position I’ve been quickly falling out of thanks to their incessant reddit scouring and AWOIAF reading. That awesome power was fun while it lasted, but now I’ve come back to earth. Just like everyone else, I wait anxiously to find out the fate of Jon Snow.
But we’ll get to that later. There were 60+ other minutes of action last night. This finale was thrilling, and though unsurprising to those who followed the show’s obvious telegraphing of the plotline, gave us a lot of interesting cliffhangers for our favorite characters. Almost everyone showed up and had some fortune-changing turn of events this week, so it’s going to be difficult to rank in the normal way. (Yes, I realize I’ve changed up the format every week, please let me be). So we’ll start by taking it region by region, go with some big winners, thematically, and then at the end, we’ll finish on a high note with the Top 10 Winners of the season. Good? Good.
The Dany in Essos plotline was the one with the least ground to cover in the finale. In reality, all the stuff that happened was simply establishing ground for Season 6. We have the beginnings of a sitcom (more later) in Meereen, a surely exciting tracking mission resident heartthrobs Jorah and Daario, and the return of the Dothraki. I can only hope that Dany isn’t going to be a prisoner again. I felt like last week completed Dany’s transformation from naive child to sexy, badass, dragon riding Queen, and if I were the showrunners, I’d be loathe to change that with a stupid kidnapping plotline. The theory behind Dany dropping her jewel as a Hansel and Gretel type of tracking device only worries me further, but hopefully a (well rested) Drogon will appear and the plot will continue rising Dany to God Status. In terms of winners and losers, I feel like most everyone still alive in this storyline is a season winner. Daario earned his keep and continued sleeping with Dany, Jorah got his way back to the woman he loves, Tyrion finally has found a royal worth supporting, and, despite his injuries, Grey Worm has found love, power, and most confusingly for him, humanity in the darkness of civil war. I love these characters. But lets never go back to Meereen again, alright Dany?
I guess technically Ellaria and the Sand Snakes … but in reality:
Nobody. Seriously. Nobody. The Dorne plotline flatlined so hard. This was by far the most disappointing part of the season, so I’m getting it out of the way early.
The first big issue I had was the portrayal of Doran Martell. This has been covered in length by other writers, but Doran in the books is not a soft, crippled pushover. He’s a brilliant tactician, working in many different ways to bring down House Lannister. Go look at the reddit thread of best Doran quotes if you don’t believe me.
Next Paragraph contains SPOILERS for the Books:
He sent his oldest son Quentyn to be married to Dany (he was eaten by a Dragon). Arianne, his smokeshow daughter and heir, was sent to Kings Landing to orchestrate the spy network from within. He’s a badass with a big brain and lots of restraint. I wish they had shown him as such.
The other issue I had with the Dorne plotline is just how lame the Sand Snakes were. And the entire plot for that matter. This was unnecessarily dragged out, and stripped of all the coolness of Dorne from the books. We barely saw Areo Hotah, we didn’t get an epic Jaimie/Bronn v. Snakes fight, and we heard way too much of the line “You need bad pussy”. What in R’Hllor’s name was that?
The only bright spots from this area all season were, to me, Bronn’s continued appearance on the show (and beautiful voice), and Jaimie’s heartfelt dad speech (which admittedly didn’t last very long). The interplay between the two was, of course, phenomenal. But the Dorne plotline blew it. There was so much to be garnered from the source material, and the climax (and whole portrayal) was the poisonous nosebleed of the season. Hopefully we don’t have to go back there next year, though I’m sure the Water Gardens are beautiful in March.
Now this, this was the most well done sequence of the whole episode. Lena Headey aside, Maisie Williams acting was the best in this finale. Arya’s vengeful mutilation of Meryn Trant, finished off with “I’m Arya Stark” was mesmerizing in a horrible sort of way. But that violence wasn’t even the coolest part of the trip to Braavos. When fJaqen drank that poison, I, like Arya, was shocked. But then came the trick of faces. The Faceless Men might be a culty, and certainly are very weird, but they’re effective teachers. Rendering Arya blind, a statement on her lack of foresight in my opinion, will teach her to become even better at fighting, sensing, and more importantly, becoming No One. I don’t know what the payoff to this story is, and whether Arya will be able to reunite with her siblings soon. But in the meantime, I’ll enjoy her training, and scream Oysters, Clams, and Cockles for the rest of my year.
Moving North, we found religious fanaticism begetting gratuitous body-double nudity. Cersei’s atonement was long. Like, really long. Super drawn out. We saw a lot of boob. A ton of butt. And our first winner of the area loved it.
There really isn’t much else to say about that.
She had the most lines of the episode, by my count. What a great job that must be, ringing a bell and beckoning the townspeople to behold a terrible, vile sinner that cares little for the commoner. She isn’t a winner for long, though. As soon as Cersei gets back on her feet, Shame Septa is the first to go.
Dude’s influence is rising like a rocket. The successful creation of Ser Robert Strong puts the formerly disgraced maester at the forefront of Cersei’s minions – a very good place to be considering her new potential champion. If you think the Sparrows are getting past Strong, you’re out of your mind.
She just won herself an Emmy by saying nothing and only being filmed from the neck up for like 10 minutes of her body double doing a naked lap. She was mesmerizing. Absolutely stunning performance. Plus she got her hair hacked off. It worked for Anne Hathaway, so it’s gotta work for Lena!
Loser: Cersei (of course)… but is she also a winner?
That walk of atonement was brutal to watch. But as Matt said in our text conversation, “it humanized her”. Cersei’s been getting more and more evil all season, and finally, when she was thrown in the dungeon, we wished her good riddance. But as we began to see the cruel nature of the faith, and the desperation with which she begged for Tommen, we began to sympathize. She grew back into a woman who wasn’t evil, just hellbent on her family being protected. She loves power, and she loves wine, but she loves her children most of all. She’s not going back to that cell, and I’m damn sure she’ll request a trial by combat, which Frankenmountain certainly won’t lose. She hit rock bottom, but that means there is nowhere to trend but up.
Fuck this. Dude just wins. He’s the Tim Tebow of Westeros.
I guess that tells you more about how I feel regarding Tim Tebow than it does anything about GOT, but oh well.
Winners(?) Theon and Sansa
Okay so maybe nobody has trended as hard in the upward direction all season as Theon did in about 3 minutes of the finale. He had his Anakin moment, and then proceeded to take a daring jump off of a tall ass castle wall with his foster sister. Sansa made a very literal leap of faith, which wasn’t surprising considering she was about ready to just let Myranda kill her. That’s why I’m tenative to call them winners… They were both just so scared of Ramsay, to the point of preferring death, that they leapt off a castle wall into *Hopefully* 20 feet of snow, like Zero and Gustave in the Grand Budapest Hotel.
The Baratheon Line
What a brutal end for Stannis formerly the Mannis. He wakes up to find the snow is melted (yay) but the army deserted with the horses (shit). At least nothing could be worse (cue worse news). With the suicide of his wife, the desertion of his priestess, and the realization of the horror that was murdering his own daughter staring him in the face, Stannis walked. He walked with his army to the gates of Winterfell, preparing to siege, but you could tell he was listless. He realized that there was nobody left to fight for, and that he wasn’t Azhor Ahai. So he and his men were slaughtered, and when the end came, he didn’t fight it. He just bade Brienne to do her duty, because he knew he didn’t do his. (I mean, she ignored hers too when she left her post and Sansa needed her, but who’s counting).
Her king is dead, her prophecies wrong, and her Azor Ahai nowhere to be found. Luckily, she has an intriguing young prospect, with a sword of fire and jet black hair. She’ll tell him tomo…
Jon Snow/The Night’s Watch/The Realm/The Show Viewers/The Book Readers/Lord Commanders
It was the most telegraphed act in the whole season, yet nobody saw it coming. The possibility that you could just off Jon Snow was so remote, so ridiculous even for GOT, that most people who hadn’t read the books were devastated when that little douchebag Olly shoved cold steel into Jon.
Jon’s development this series has been outstanding. Alongside Arya and Dany, he has made the most positive strides towards becoming someone to be proud of. Someone to lead the 7 Kingdoms against the long night. He became a noble, responsible, brave, and caring character, and there’s a reason he is a fan favorite. Kit Harrington’s insistence aside, nobody believes Jon is dead, and there are hundreds of website speculating over his potential resurrection. While I personally believe in the Warg and Resurrect route, I’d be happy even if he was Wighted. Jon is my favorite to sit on the Iron Throne, and I would hate for Olly to have ruined that for me. And for the Kingdom.
He’s off to become a Maester. It’ll likely be ages before he hears of his best friends demise, and in the meantime, he’d like to try and see someone make him swear off girls. At least the end of the world is working out for someone.
Odd Couple Sitcoms-Within-the-Show
If there’s one change that the show has made from the books that I really enjoy it’s the interplay of the buddy-comedy into almost every storyline. We started with Tyrion and Bronn, and from there we’ve gotten Jaime and Brienne, Bronn and Jaimie, Tyrion and Varys, Tyrion and Jorah, Brienne and Podrick, and to a lesser extent, Bran and Hodor, Jon and Tormund, and Tywin & Arya. Most of these double as misfits-thrown-together road trips, and they’re almost always delightful. Luckily, GOT did not disappoint, setting us up for a fascinating array of new partnerships to watch. As excited as I was for the pairing off of Grey Worm with Tyrion, adding Varys as an extra piece in the Meereenese ruling brigade makes it so much better. I can see the upfront pitch now…
When his liege runs off with a Dragon, one exiled dwarf is left to rule over a foreign city at war. With the help of a castrated spymaster, a eunuch battle commander, a former slave with a knack for languages, and a whole lot of wine, wackiness ensues as we follow the adventures of
I would watch that show before I watched the Ryan Reynolds (link) vehicle that I stole the poster/idea from (in spite of the low production value of the poster).
That’s not the only buddy adventure of the upcoming season. We’ve got another trio in Bronn, Jaimie, and Trystane; a lovelorn rescuing party in Daario and Jorah; a reimagining of Beauty and the Beast starring Cersei and Ser Robert Strong; and finally the Sam Tarly lead romantic comedy, “I Love Gilly”.
Game of Thrones has been lauded (and sometimes criticized) for the shocking dispatching of its main characters. No other show could survive killing off the main character in the first season and become MORE popular. It’s a testament to the writing of the book series, the world Martin has created, and the tremendous ensemble cast that we have been able to weather so many significant losses among what has to be upwards of 7000 deaths in the shows 5 years. Last night, of course, we lost Stannis, Selyne, maybe Theon and Sansa (doubtful) and Jon Snow (clearly his body is dead… whether he’s coming back is up for debate). That’s the last of the contenders in the great War of the 5 Kings that we experienced a few years ago (Renly, Robb, Joffrey, and -lol-Balon Greyjoy all died before Stannis) his Queen, and our poster boy for the salvation of the world from eternal winter. All in all, not a good sign for the Westerosi world’s chances. These deaths, along with Myrcella (maybe), Barristan, Mance Rayder, Aemon, Shireen, and all the other main character victims show that anybody can be disposed of, no matter how innocent or important. And in the case of Meryn Trant and Miranda, any means of death go as well. Some of the deaths we’ve seen so far have been more than a little gratuitous. Barristan Selmy, not Tyrion, stays on in the books to govern Meereen. Shireen is safely at Eastwatch by the Bay with her mother. Mance Rayder is saved through trickery by Melisandre and is sent to Winterfell on a secret mission (what?!). Book Myrcella is merely brutally disfigured, George Weasley style, by losing an ear. But television is about viewership and talk, not complicated character arcs and treacherous schemes that take years to play out (sorry Doran, we’ll get to you in a bit). More than any season before, Season 5 took some liberties with plot, writing, and yes, even quality, in order to invoke gasps. The Red Wedding was a necessary plot device… Sansa’s Rape, Shireen’s Burning, and many other atrocities were just terrifying, horrific, and big surprises considering the plot of the books. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the biggest winner of the spring/summer was
The Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire Franchise
Yes, this season definitely had tough points. The dialogue could be weighty and lame (unless it involved Tyrion and his cock, of course), and some storylines (ahem, Dorne) were just savaged. But for all of that, Game of Thrones continues to be the biggest show on television, and have a massive impact on world pop culture, for a reason. We become invested in the politics, the plots, and deaths, and the massive fictional world because of the characters. Uniquely, every character in the ASOIAF Universe has relatable flaws. Jon is conflicted, in love with someone he can’t be, and noble to a fault; Dany is inexperienced, naive and too trusting; Tyrion is a drunk with a bad habit of falling in love with bad girls; Brienne is insecure because of her looks; Theon is weighed down by the mistakes of his past; Arya, due to being forced to grow up at an unfair rate, is rash, emotional, and unforgiving; and Sam is too unsure of himself to become the man he can be. All of these characters are young and at times admirable, and allow us to draw parallels and relate to them without being too self aware (ya know, because of the Dragons and Giants and Ice Men) about how much we are tormented by the same flaws, especially as teenagers. Let’s not forget that Game of Thrones would not be nearly as effective or talked about if it didn’t spend 4 years making us fall in love with its characters. Dead or Not, Jon Snow’s character growth, along with the growth of his peers (fallen or otherwise), give us insight into ourselves. Despite all the death and despair, there remain glimmers of hope in the characterization of these lords and ladies, hope that we can harness to move past the gory nature of the show into the metaphors behind the stories. I know that this season was tough. Life is tough. I, personally, am already waiting breathlessly for the start of the 6th season. Or the Winds of Winter, whichever comes first. In the meantime, get off reddit, the forums, and youtube theories. And try not to make any young squires your enemy.
Until Next Year,
Final Rankings (TOP 10)
Above the Rankings (The LeBron Spot): The Night’s King
- The High Sparrow
- Sam Tarly
- Ramsay Bolton
- Tyrion Lannister/Varys
- Ellaria Sand
- Littlefinger (Nothing bad happened to you all year… but Where the Hell are you?!)
- The Thin Man
- Perverts in Flea Bottom
Not Ranked: Oysters, Clams, Cockles, Jaqen, Hizdhar, Bad Pussy, The Dornishman’s Wife, Myranda, Brienne, Big Dick Podrick, The Pirates, Jorah, Daario, Messandi, Bran, Rickon, Hodor, Pycelle, Kevan Lannister, Selyse, Davos, and, of course, The Cock Merchant.