Review of Game of Thrones Season 5 Finale: Mother’s Mercy

cersei

Season 5 of Game of Thrones just came to an end with “Mother’s Mercy,” an inconsistent episode with some truly great sequences in some areas but some frustrating moments in others. Unlike last year, when major climaxes were spread over the last three episodes of the season, every storyline reaches its climax in this hour. Obviously there is always more story to tell in the future, and finales have often serve not only to end season-long threads but tease future ones. However, “Mother’s Mercy” leaves many of the conflicts that had been built up to throughout this last season without their resolutions. Even some of the best sequences of this episode leave dangling threads to be explored in the future. The direction of many of the stories we’ve spent roughly ten hours following this year is uncertain – even for one of the seemingly more final fates of the episode! Despite a handful of truly wonderful and well-executed scenes, I found much of this episode frustrating and ultimately unsatisfying. Continue reading

Review of Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 9: “The Dance of Dragons”

daenerys drogon

Review of “Dance of Dragons”

The powerful but incredibly disturbing buildup to Shireen’s death weaved throughout Season 5’s ninth episode, and provides the most weight to this episode, good or bad. Because of the inconsistent material in two of the season’s weaker storylines, and the exciting but logistically problematic climax at Mereen, “Dance of Dragons” was the most mixed episode for me. I was thrilled, I was perplexed, and (concerning the material with Stannis) I was both viscerally angry and very impressed. “The Dance of Dragons” was imperfect, with one particularly well-done sequence that raises the quality of the episode, while also complicating my personal feelings towards it. Continue reading

Review of Game of Thrones, Season 5 Episode 8: Hardhome

jon snow boat

“Hardhome” had the responsibility to deliver on two huge developments that the audience had been waiting for since its earliest episodes. One was the first real interaction between Daenerys and Tyrion, and the other (of course) was seeing just how much of a threat the White Walkers are. And boy, did the episode deliver. The episode provided strong transitional moments for its characters, and shined brightest in a one-on-one between Daenerys and Tyrion that was somehow better than my ridiculous expectations. And while I tend to prefer the human conflicts in the series more than the fantastical ones, the last third of the episode at Hardhome provided strong character moments, thrilling action, and made the White Walker threat that had been looming since the first episode so much more real. 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 2 “The House of Black and White”

cersei

By the end of “The House of Black and White,” just about every main character now is moving forward in interesting ways, and some pretty big steps have already been taken in a couple of the major storylines of the series.

I really liked last week’s episode, “The Wars to Come,” but that premiere did leave some storylines just short of really having a proper beginning. It’s great to see those storylines get some forward momentum here. Not only do Cersei, Jaime, Brienne and Arya get their respective plots rolling here, they do it in ways that reveal some of their character. Cersei’s attempt to grab the power that used to be her father’s was a fun scene, but her insistence that she be the only one with the power (and her arrogance in thinking that it will all go smoothly) led to the probably unnecessary alienating of a possible ally, Kevan Lannister. Meanwhile, Jaime’s new adventure is not only a method by which to give him something to do, it’s presented as part of his attempt to appease and satisfy the woman he loves, and perhaps make up for being an absent father. After a fun bit of action with Vale soldiers, Brienne is determined to follow Sansa despite the Stark daughter’s rejection, a great moment for her character and an exciting prospect for the season. And, of course, we have Arya, who finally shows up (briefly) to start her training in the art of killing people. Her search for fan-favorite Jaqen H’gar offered not only a satisfying tease of her storyline, it reminded us of the anger that drives her, and the resolve she has to see her enemies dead.
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Review of Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 1: The Wars to Come

Episode Info:

Written By: David Benioff & D.B. Weiss

Directed By: Michael Slovis

tywin funeral

Well, the wait is FINALLY over. Coming off of what was probably GoT’s best season so far, we find some of the central characters of Game of Thrones at incredibly interesting starting points for Season 5. Even when the storylines struggled to build up any momentum, the characters, at least, were experiencing moments of immense change, making their introductions this year stronger than in the average premiere.

Past premieres, especially “The North Remembers” and “Valar Dohaeris,” the premieres for Seasons 2 and 3, respectively, struggled with building up any meaningful momentum for their storylines. They were mostly just dropping by the major groups of characters, reminding us who was still alive and where they were, and (sometimes) telling us where they were headed. We had a few of those drop-bys in “The Wars to Come.” King’s Landing played host to Tywin’s funeral, which is really the calm before the storm caused by his death. While I liked the deliberate pacing of the episode in other areas, I think sometimes this material felt pretty slow, especially the mostly fruitless scene between the Tyrell siblings. We also briefly glimpse Brienne in a depressed state, and Sansa’s material felt more like a tease of her storyline than the beginning of one.

Even these teases were interesting to watch, though. Brienne has become such a wonderful, endearing character on the show that watching her basically give up was one of the more emotional moments of the episode. And Sansa (or Dark Sansa, whichever you prefer) has become a very entertaining character to watch, as she challenges and learns from her mentor Littlefinger. Cersei is also an interesting character at this point in the story, being the most obvious beneficiary of the power vacuum post-Tywin’s death. The flashback at the beginning of this episode highlighted her not only as one of the most prominent characters in the story, but put her larger struggle in a different light. This coming season, she won’t just be dealing with the Tyrells or religious fanatics, she’ll be fighting against the fate written out for her all those years ago.  Continue reading