Game of Thrones: Ranking Season 5

Here’s my ranking of the episodes in Game of Thrones: Season 5 (so far, of course). Feel free to comment with thoughts and/or criticisms! Would love to see what others think. Links to my full reviews of each episode are under each description. Enjoy!

10. Kill the Boy

kill the boy

Really strong material for Jon Snow, who must “kill the boy” and tries to maneuver around the Night’s Watch-wildling animosity and form a lasting peace between the two camps. Tyrion and Jorah’s exciting and just frickin’ beautiful trip through Valyria was a solid end to the episode.

However, I can’t get behind the important decisions Daenerys makes with such little buildup (burning the possibly innocent Maester and marrying Hizdahr). And while Winterfell had some strong moments, focusing on such a despicable character like Ramsay Bolton for so long weighed down the episode for me. We missed out on so many characters in this episode, and the material with the few characters we did get didn’t always hit it out of the park. Continue reading

Review of Game of Thrones: Season 5 Episode 7 “The Gift”

tyrion jorah fighting

When Game of Thrones visits almost all of its storylines, it can sometimes feel a little cluttered. Sure, we see everyone, but they aren’t given enough time for their character moments or their plot to really move forward. The seventh episode of this season, “The Gift,” was a major exception to that rule. Even as we visited every storyline, the characters were still given enough time to shine, and the plot moved forward in major ways, especially in King’s Landing.

We got a very brief glimpse of Jon Snow, on his way to a dangerous mission Beyond the Wall. His exit, though, gave us enough time for Sam to really breathe in his own storyline. His staying with Maester Aemon as he died was incredibly sweet, and also served to provide a powerful and poignant sendoff for a great, minor character who still managed to have a lot of presence for every second he spent on the show. Continue reading

Review of Game of Thrones, Season 5 Episode 5: Kill the Boy

jon snow

“Kill the Boy” is the most focused episode of Season 5 so far, featuring only four of the major storylines of the show. Oftentimes, focusing on a smaller handful of characters allows the show to take its time and really develop some satisfying material for each group (as opposed to making visits too brief to really leave a strong impression). I’m not sure this episode did a great job taking advantage of that laser sharp focus, though. Some of the plot developments felt rushed, the character interactions paled in comparison to previous episodes this season, and even the significant investment of time in each storyline only moves the respective plots slightly forward. Personally, (and I do feel like I’m in the minority here, so feel free to disagree in the comments), this was my least favorite episode of the season so far.

Maybe you disagree, but let’s just do some quick comparisons, starting with the character who had the most consistently strong material this episode (and season): Jon Snow. I really liked his scene with Aemon, and his advice to “kill the boy” and stand by your convictions was a great theme that felt present in other storylines (especially Daenerys’). I also loved his confrontation with Tormund, and then the Night’s Watch. This was the kind of political conundrum that I personally loved in the fifth book: Jon Snow is fighting for something that is unquestionably the correct move morally and pragmatically, but it seems almost impossible to lead others where he wants to go (even his strongest supporters). This episode put Jon in a more intriguing and perilous position, and strengthened him as a character. Continue reading

Review of Game of Thrones, Season 5 Episode 4: The Sons of the Harpy

daenerys barristan

Now that was a fucking episode.

Last week, the more-than-solid “High Sparrow” left me a bit cold, despite great scenes back-to-back throughout the hour. I gave several reasons why, and one of them was the imbalance of slower, introspective, setup moments with exciting, eventful sequences. “The Sons of the Harpy” struck a much more satisfying balance between the two, featuring some great dialogue-heavy scenes up in the North, while also bringing tense excitement to King’s Landing, Dorne, and Mereen.

Over the years, those behind Game of Thrones have become masters at crafting the character speech, including the backstory-heavy ones. Littlefinger, one of the talkiest characters in the show, always manages to pull off the credibility and motivations behind even the most tangential speech. His detailing of the fateful Tourney at Harrenhal, in which Rhaegar displayed his obvious affection for Lyanna Stark, would probably have felt like a forced, necessary bit of exposition back in Season 1. But we viewers have become more immersed in Westoros since then, and this story felt less like an exposition-dump and more like an enriching detail to a world we’re still discovering. Continue reading