This seems to be a lot of people's general
feeling about the season... I disagree.
Scattered. Slow. Silly. Those are a few of the words I've seen used to describe the fifth season of HBO's "Game of Thrones."
I have my gripes. The Dorne storyline so far, which has amounted to some titties and a pimpish elbow to Bronn's jaw... Littlefinger did a wee bit of scheming and then broke the fuck out... Sansa's second wedding night... SHIREEN... but with less than a week before the S5 finale, I want to take a look at this season thus far and take stock of what we've actually seen, which to me is a lot of growth on the part of plenty characters and groups.
In no particular order:
"For the night is dark, and full of terrors. Mostly me. I seem to be the one causing most of the terror around here." — Melisandre
Okay, so I added that last part, but tell me you wouldn't have loved to see Stannis strap that shadow-baby-making, penis-leech-applying pyromaniac cuckolder onto the pyre instead of HIS OWN EVERLOVIN' DAUGHTER. I was neutral on Stannis for a while, and even though Something Terrible has been telegraphed for Shireen since at least last season, I was really hoping for another patented GRRM Switch-Up, and Melisandre suggesting a little flame-broiled daughter would be the last straw for Stannis. A couple seasons back, her Red buddy Thoros of Myr seemed to regard Melisandre as an alright chick, but my personal theory is that she's some kind of succubus, twisting the Red God's ways to her own purpose.
• Stannis — Well, he's just kind of the latest Guy We All Want to See Die Horribly, right? I mean, surely no one wants him to sit on the Iron Throne anymore. In many ways, Stannis' hardass-decisive nature — at least according to what the show has presented — makes him exactly the wrong man to sit in that chair.
Think of the "Great Kings of Westeros" this story has presented us with or told us about: Aerys the Igniter of Men, Women and Children, Robert the Drunken Absentee Ruler, Joffrey the Hateful Shit and Tommen the Puberty-Stricken Sulker. There isn't a true king among them, and I find that very interesting. Frequently we see that there's "power behind the throne," but in all cases here, the king himself does precious little in the way of truly taking the reins of the kingdom, and doesn't seem to have the wherewithal to do so if he wanted.
Stannis has grown into a true monstrosity in his lust to fulfill this perceived destiny of ruling. He went from shushing Melisandre to watching her fire up the Weber a little too quickly for my liking, but as I said, he's the wrong man for the throne, even if he's the rightful heir at this point.
• Arya — Lots of complaints about her Braavosi internship this season in the comment sections. Some people think her entire arc this season will be pointless if she goes after Meryn "Too Old" Trant, but to me, this is just another step on her series-long quest for revenge.
Imagine if this season's storyline continues to play out in Braavos: Arya becomes a Faceless Man assassin and just goes around Essos poisoning questionably-shady dock merchants? Nah. She's learned important lessons about becoming a killer every season so far: proper fighting technique for smaller swordsmen from Syrio... how da facking world really works from The Hound... how to become a master liar and anonymous assassin from the House of Black and White. I think she's ready to kill Meryn Fucking Trant.
• Ramsay Bolton — Ramsay might have a lock on Most Evil Bad Guy on the show. He probably had it by the time he cut Theon's weiner off, and obviously his wedding-night performance sealed the deal. But just when you think he's merely a horrible psychopath rapist woman-hunting murderer, he shows an aptitude for strategy. The Ramsay who delighted in torturing Theon wouldn't have thought to burn Stannis' weapon and food tents; he'd have probably tried to flay an officer and maybe gotten caught. Before Stannis put his family's future to the torch, Ramsay was the Guy We All Want to See Die Horribly, and he may yet, but it wouldn't surprise me if his cunning gets him out of S5 alive.
• Sansa — It's hard to really say how Sansa's character has grown this season until we see what she decides to do in the season finale. Aside from finding out that her brothers maybe possibly could perhaps be alive, she's spent the season, regrettably, as a beautiful red flower being ground into the dirt. I hope she gets some measure of happiness and/or justice next week.
• Tyrion — Here's another character whose growth is a little trickier to chart. Certainly he's back on the rise as Dany's advisor, but Peter Dinklage's beautifully-rendered look of awe, terror and slight misgiving as he watched his queen ride off on Drogon after roasting the Sons of Harpy alive — presumably the fate of quite a few Westerosi somewhere down the line — has me excited to see the future interaction between he and Dany.
• Jorah Mormont — I mean, as soon as they find out he has the greyscale, he's gonna get banished FOR THE THIRD TIME, amirite?
• Jaime Lannister — Watching two montages of Jaime and Bronn training was more exciting than the entire Dornish storyline. I got nothing. I hear some shit's about to go down with Cersei next week. Can't imagine the ol' Kingslayer will be happy about whatever it is.
• Jon Snow — Jon Snow has grown into a true leader of men this season. His own men (even though they hate him now), the Wildlings (even though he failed to convince the majority of them to come south)... actually, come to think of it, Jon Snow hasn't been much of an inspired leader this season, has he? In all seriousness, I think he's learning how difficult true leadership can be. A man taking The Black and defending the realm is supposed to be a simple, honest mission, but he has to deal with the same piles of shit as the politicians in King's Landing: some people hate you for no good reason, some people hate you for the hard decisions you make... and I'm sure it's going to happen in the finale, but it's tough to imagine Jon Snow coming back from the Hardhome Massacre and not being all, "Thanks for lettin' us in, guys. Hey, by the way: my office. Five minutes. We got some serious shiznit to talk about."
Is it a massacre if everyone who gets killed comes back from the dead? Speaking of which...
• The White Walkers — "Hardhome" cemented just what a serious threat the Walkers are. They aren't just out there. They're coming for the world of men, for whatever reason and to whatever end. They attacked Hardhome, a place from which Jon Snuh was able to sail (and hike) back to Castle Black in the span of time between episodes. The Walkers and wights presumably don't have to stop to eat or drop a deuce, so I'd say they're about two or three weeks from reaching The Wall.
What do they want—besides to kill everybody? Then again, if they wanted to kill everybody, why'd they let Jon Snuh and His Merry Band of Wildlings get away? The Walkers have shown how strong they are. Even if, for some stupid reason, they don't go into the water, the Night's King could've just grabbed a wight in each arm and heaved those bitches into Jon's canoe! Plot armor prevents that, but still... what do they want?
• Bran — Obviously, Bran is taking the season off, but I just wanna put it out there good and early (and I haven't read the books, so I'm not saying this with any knowledge)... Bran's gonna warg into one of the dragons. Fo' sho'.
Bring it on, "Mother's Mercy"!