We begin in the North, where Stannis Baratheon’s reign has come to an end. It was over the moment he ordered Shireen to be burned at the stake. From there, the pieces quickly fell into place. Half of his forces ran off in the night, Selyse hanged herself before morning, and the Lady Melisandre deserted him at dawn. The Boltons charging at what little remained of Stannis’ army was indeed the final nail in the coffin. Stannis, however, did not die at the hands of Roose or Ramsay. Brienne miraculously snuck through the massacre and exacted her revenge. This was long overdue, but Stannis’ fate was left at somewhat of a cliffhanger. It’s unusual for the show to leave anyone’s death ambiguous. It was pretty clear what happened to Ned Stark, along with Robb and Catelyn. But the quick cut as Brienne swung seemed to indicate otherwise. Perhaps I am being too analytical.
Nevertheless, Stannis’ demise ended rather anti-climactically. The show had been building up this conflict all season, so for it to pass with the swing of a sword was an enormous letdown. The show so far has dedicated two whole episodes to some pretty big battles. Did the showrunners not have it in the budget this time? Whatever the reason, this was a disappointing end to a massive conflict. Littlefinger, where the hell were you?
Fortunately, Sansa’s flame raged on. She finally got help from Theon and together they escaped the castle (way to do something right for once, Reek). I hope the show makes good on this plot point next season. If Sansa and Theon get captured only to be put through the wringer once more, I may truly be done with the show.
In Braavos, Arya managed to scratch a big name off her list. Ser Meryn Trant surely had it coming, and it was oh so satisfying. But it’s not something Arya can get away with so easily. Jaqen appears to have known this whole time and makes her pay the price, depriving her of her ability to see. Is this a test? Will she go on to become a blind assassin? (Daredevil, anybody?)
Things seem to wrap up nicely in Dorne. Jaime and Bronn are set to sail back to King’s Landing with Myrcella and her betrothed, Tristayne. It’s mission accomplished until Myrcella collapses and succumbs to…wait for it, poison. Because, you know, it’s not like Jaime has lost enough already. We are now back to Ellaria’s senseless revenge plot. She succeeded, even though Myrcella had nothing to do with Oberyn’s death (the Mountain was responsible, and, to a greater extent, Tywin – who’s been famously dead for some time). Last season, ironically, Oberyn ensured the safety of Myrcella. A safeguard to Cersei because, as he put it, “we do not hurt little girls in Dorne.” Apparently, Ellaria is not above that. This can only end well for her.
As for the rest of the Lannisters, Tyrion finds himself in a familiar position of power, while in King’s Landing, Cersei finds herself powerless. Audiences were due for some catharsis following her walk of shame. However, many were surprised to feel something towards Cersei other than disgust. This was the first time we’ve seen her vulnerable. As Queen Regent, she’s told a lot of lies and plotted many schemes, but they were bound to crumble sooner rather than later. Still, she did not deserve that level of ridicule and shame. No one does. Now that she’s back in the Red Keep, with a knight in shining armor at her side, will she be aching for revenge? Whatever it is, I have a feeling the High Sparrow won’t be where he is for long.
Castle Black is where it all went down. Olly cleverly toys with a soft spot in Jon Snow’s heart: his uncle Benjen. He runs down to the courtyard only to find a sign marked “traitor.” When he turns around, Alliser Thorne greets the Lord Commander with a dagger. “For the Watch,” he says, wrenching the dagger free. Everyone else follows, with their own daggers in hand. Tears streaming down his face, it is Olly who gives Jon the final, devastating blow. The wind howls and the Lord Commander falls to the ground, left to bleed out in the cold. He doesn’t blink. He doesn’t get up. His watch, it seems, has ended.
Our worst fears have come true. Despite this season’s glacial pace, it was a remarkable turn for Jon Snow. He was one of the few who actually made a difference in this world. He put an end to the wildling conflict and granted them safe passage – something he knew wouldn’t earn him many friends at Castle Black. But he did it for the good of the realm. Then again, Ned Stark thought the same thing. In turn, we watched the same thing happen to Jon Snow. His friends quickly vanished before him and revealed themselves as enemies. Jon’s mistake was believing he had friends to begin with.
Jon’s death changes things significantly. It leaves us with one less person to root for. In the game of thrones, that can make all the difference. The Boltons continue to rule the North while the Iron Throne remains uncontested. In terms of the larger chessboard, not much has happened during this slow-burner of a season. Evil reigns supreme over every corner of the globe. For better or worse, season 5 indicated that the show is making a final push towards its endgame. My question is, when will winter come for those who clearly have it coming? I guess all we can do for now is speculate. Is Jon Snow truly dead? Will Khaleesi bring the Dothraki horde with her across the Narrow Sea? And will the Boltons rule Winterfell for long? Keep on speculating, folks. It’s not like we have to wait another year or anything. Oh wait.