Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones' Fifth Season Was Too Damn Depressing

Endless misery leads to low-stakes storytelling.

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GOT
HBO

The fifth season of Game of Thrones wrapped up last night with an unceasingly bleak final episode. (SPOILERS FOLLOW). After committing the appalling crime of sacrificing his daughter on Melisandre's command, Stannis Baratheon loses half his army and discovers that his wife has killed herself. The red priestess abandons his cause, his forces are annihilated in battle, and Brienne of Tarth shows up to collect her vengeance and kill him.

Arya exacts some vengeance of her own, but the sheer amount of gore makes it difficult for the viewer to take much satisfaction. And it quickly leads to worse consequences for the character.

Jamie Lannister enjoys a brief heartfelt moment with his daughter, Myrcella, before an assassin's poison does its work. She dies in his arms.

Halfway across the world, the Mother of Dragons can't convince her scaly offspring to whisk her back to her city. Instead, a horde of Dothraki find her. It's unclear what they might do with her, but her prospects don't seem promising. As a prisoner of the warrior-nomads, Daenerys is right back to where she started in season one.

Cersei Lannister endures nearly ten minutes of on-screen humiliation. The single "happy" note at the end of this sequence is the revelation that Cersei's maester has created a silent, unfeeling Frankenstein's monster to protect her.

At Castle Black, Ser Davos encounters a broken Melisandre and learns of the utter defeat of Stannis's army. And then Jon Snow is betrayed and stabbed to death by his previously loyal men—not unlike his predecessor, Jeor Mormont, and his father, Ned Stark.

Frankly, it was too much darkness.

I say this as someone who has read, and loved, all of the Game of Thrones books, even the much-maligned fourth and fifth entries. I understand perfectly well that much of the horror on display here was preordained by George R. R. Martin, who set out to create a faithful medieval epic that does not spare readers from the misery of being alive prior to the nineteenth century. Jon Snow's death, for instance, happened much the same way as it did in the books—though it carried a note of greater finality here than it did on the page. (While death is not always the end in the books, the show has been reluctant to resurrect seemingly dead characters—leading me to believe that Jon Snow and Stannis are indeed dead, contrary to the expectations of naïve viewers.)

But unlike previous seasons, the showrunners really one-upped the books in terms of pure horror at every chance they could. They altered the Dorne plotline so that Myrcella could die and make Jamie's life a little worse. They put Sansa in peril—again—and let her be raped by Game of Thrones' most reliable sadist. They introduced Stannis's affections for Shireen just so they could make him burn her in an agonizing, unwatchable scene. None of these things have happened yet in the books; I expect they either won't happen, or will happen in ways that make more sense than they did here.

Indeed, many of these horrors made no sense in context. Why would Sansa willingly walk into Winterfell, knowing perfectly well what was in store for her? Why would Myrcella's killer choose that moment to strike, when it places the Dornish Prince Trystane at risk of retaliatory killing? How did the Boltons so effectively incapacitate Stannis's army, and why did Stannis—known for unshakeable resolution—resort to fire magic at the very first sign of trouble?

My complaint with this season is that the showrunners put shock before sensible storytelling. Having executed Ned Stark in season one and offed his wife and son at the infamous Red Wedding in season three, D.B. Weiss and David Beinoff seem to have a pathological need to top themselves in terms of pure carnage, even when the plot doesn't demand it.

Take Arya killing Ser Meryn. It wasn't enough for her to hate him and want revenge. No, the showrunners needed to reveal his even darker side—he's a serial sexual abuser of children—and have Arya kill him in the bloodiest way possible.

Look, I enjoy watching characters get revenge. I understand that sexual violence was commonplace in the medieval world, and depicting it is not tantamount to endorsing it. I get that Martin's vision is explicitly grittier, and more realistic, than other fantasy epics: heroes don't always win, light doesn't always defeat dark.

But when the good guys always lose, or are always shown to be bad guys themselves, or are gratuitously killed, raped, or maimed… well, the show loses some of its stakes. It's difficult to remain invested in the supposed "song of ice and fire," when everyone is always burning or freezing, with no hope in sight.

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  1. Game of Thrones…that’s Lord of the Rings with boobs, isn’t it?

    1. It’s an overrated TV show with good production values, some very good actors that are mostly misused, and a decreasing volume of tits as the show responds to culture critics.

      I’m not likely to back watching next season.

      1. The show ended with the death of Charles Dance’s character.

      2. So Lord of the Rings with not enough boobs

      3. uhhhhhhhhhhh Lena Headey full frontal FOR A LONG TIME.

          1. Yup

          2. BOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

            I’ve read that they’re going to go back and kill Old Yeller again, next season.

      4. I’m not likely to back watching next season.

        I call bullshite.

    2. Has anyone read the Deryni series of books by Katherine Kurtz? I enjoyed her writing and depiction of a fictional medieval England as a backdrop and thought the mix of politics, magic, and characters was quite entertaining.

      http://www.rhemuthcastle.com/s…..ni-series/

      1. Many years ago. They were entertaining at the time.

  2. Dude.. It’s only a TV show. Get over yourself.

    -jcr

    1. I read that as “get yourself off” and wondered who is it that needs TV to get off.

  3. I didn’t bother watching this season. Should I bother to? All the changes that the showrunners made just seemed too fucking stupid to waste my time with it.

    1. Don’t bother. I watched it, and now I hate myself for wasting my own time. You are right about the changes the showrunners made.

    2. Going into the season, the previous changes were not so dramatic that I felt the need to abstain. But the changes made throughout the course of this season were absurd. It no longer bears any resemblance whatsoever to the books.

    3. Absolutely watch.

      The seeming need of so many to juxtapose the show to the books is the only thing boring about the show (as a whole). It’s simpleminded and utterly misses the point.

      The show is not the books. It’s not intended to be a twin but a cousin of sorts. It’s its own piece of art that ought to be analyzed that way.

  4. Relevant: Matthew Yglesias argued it’s totally okay for Stannis to murder his daughter because utilitarianism.

    “For starters: Stannis’s decision. It makes sense. With insufficient supplies to make it back to Castle Black and no way forward through the weather, his entire army is drawing dead. Yes, he could have saved Shireen personally by sending her back to the Wall. But the vast majority of his men are doomed unless Melisandre can pull a magical rabbit out of the hat. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, and it doesn’t require that high a confidence level in the Lord of Light to see that the expected value of burning Shireen is high.”

    ENDS JUSTIFY THE MEANS. BLEEP BLOOP. YGLESIAS ROBOT NOT UNDERSTAND FAMILIAL EMPATHY OR PROHIBITIONS AGAINST CHILD MURDER.

    1. It’s always down to justifying murder with the “greater good” for these assholes.

      1. As it is for almost all of the characters in the book. That’s what war is (at best).

    2. Setting aside morality and wading into Yglesias’ utilitarian swamp-waters, does he not consider the exact thing that happens to Stannis, ie destroys morale and causes massive mutiny all in exchange for some warmer weather?

      1. Stannis’ intentions were good. That’s all that matters.

    3. How many prople is Yglesias willing to see burned to achieve his plitical goals? I guess it fortunate that he does not realize there are things you just do not admit to in public.

      And considering half of Stannis’ army deserted as a result, it was not a utilitarian choice at all.

      1. I’m starting to wonder how the ledgers at the Iron Bank are looking at this point, having made a number of bad investments in Westeros.

      2. “…it was not a utilitarian choice at all.”

        That’s what I was going for, Mickey. You said it better.

    4. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, and it doesn’t require that high a confidence level in the Lord of Light to see that the expected value of burning Shireen is high.”

      Or he could’ve told Melisandre to go fuck the crown and herself and taken his family back home. But to people like Yglesias, it’s a foregone conclusion that power is the main goal.

      1. But to people like Yglesias, it’s a foregone conclusion that power is the main goal.

        Seems like a fair assumption in the context of GoT. Power does seem to be the main goal of most of the characters.

    5. And Sadbeard adds “shitty culture critic” to his list of accomplishments.

      It’s impressive how far Matty’s come in life doing nothing more than parroting Krugmanian economic arguments that he is unlikely to even understand, much less believe.

  5. I thought that the whole point of Game of Thrones was that it’s grimdark and depressing; that light will never defeat dark, that the “good” guys will always lose or turn out to be bad guys, and that there is no hope. Because that’s “more realistic.”

    And that’s why I refuse to even touch the thing.

    1. “Evil will always triumph, because good is dumb.”

      1. I see your Schwarz is as big as mine.

    2. No, it’s pretty clearly set up to provide the standard fantasy ending with the Real Heroes (namely Snow and Daeny) defeating the White Walkers. There’ve been plenty of secondary characters dying along the way, but that’s just heightening the emotional stake and the payoff.

      Martin isn’t nearly so unconventional a writer as people seem to believe. The fantasy version of Blood Meridian has yet to be written.

  6. Only two things about the finale were enjoyable to me: Theon’s Darth Vader moment and Cersei’s walk of shame that ended with the introduction of Frankengregor. Those were the only two storylines this season that were done correctly in the sense that they were introduced, built up, and then paid off with an understanding that there was more to come.

    Other than that, everything else was badly paced, poorly written and uninvolving, resulting in a turgid ending.

    But on a technical note, I am impressed at how they used a body double with Lena Hedey’s face imposed on it to do the nude walking scene. I certainly couldn’t tell the difference.

    1. Largely agree. I’m mostly fine with the season, but Theon and Cersei were the only stories that were adapted well (and with the walk of shame, the one scene basically transcribed from the books). The entire season needed a rewrite to streamline things and reevaluate some of their dumber choices. That said, I am looking forward to next year. I think the writers were struggling to get through these plot points. Hopefully they’re rested and ready to do whatever they need to finish their story, not George’s, because that’s the only way they can make the rest of the show work.

      And I was convinced that was Headey doing the entire walk. Bravo to both her and the body double.

      1. Generally agree. The most disappointing was that they skipped the time that Jon Snow spent training and arming the wildlings to help fight along the wall. He also swore several wildlings into the Knights Watch, which creates the facitonalism. You need some hopeful moments so that the really bad unexpected stuff hits you harder. With the Red Wedding, they built up this pretense that everything was going to be ok before it all goes wrong. But with Jon Snow’s storyline it just goes from bad to worse. It was much more powerful in the book when you get this sense that maybe he can make things thing work with the wildlings.

        Also, I love Arya, and really would like to see her storyline better developed although I have to admit it isn’t well developed in the boks either.

        1. Yeah, I was really impressed by Jon as Lord Commander in the books, but it’s a lot of material and build up that the show wasn’t going to have time for. It’s clear they wanted the set piece at Hardhome, which may turn out to be the right decision for the broader series (I think it’s pivotal to bring back the White Walkers at this point, if they’re wrapping up the show in season 7), but it would have been nice to see the wildlings fitting in at Castle Black and making it look like Jon was making headway. You’re absolutely right that we only saw dissension in the Watch, which ruins any surprise at the Julius Caesar moment.

  7. Uh, the “medieval world” didn’t have dragons, fire magic, or zombies, so why use it as reference point otherwise? The books were a boring an tortuous read – if you want something contemporary that reads much better, go with Wheel of Time. At least I can care about somebody in that series.

    1. The Wheel of Time??? You are now my enemy. *twists braid*

      1. blood and bloody ashes its *tugs braid*

        1. Wheel of Time cliff notes: http://i.imgur.com/Rvhth.gif

      2. I gave up somewhere in the beginning of book four, when Nynaeve and Egwene were having another one of their boring arguments again. Just couldn’t stand the constant bickering between these poorly drawn female characters. And yeah, the endless braid tugging by Nynaeve didn’t help either.

        1. And then there was the guy who was the wolf, or whatever, and he had his wife who was annoying. And then there was the annoying drunk guy who gambled or something, and he was annoying too. And then there was the annoying crazy guy who was a sorcerer or something, except he was also Jesus or something, but, like, annoying. In conclusion, Robert Jordan lived 20 years too long.

        2. the female characters were AWFUL in that series. Liked many things about the books, but all the women were continually irrational, bitchy and whenever a man said something they didn’t like we got to read, “I’m gonna box your ears, [insert male character here]”

          Maybe thats the way women were in his family or life, but just boring to read thousands of pages where every female character is the stereotype of a whiny know-it-all.

          1. 90% of Jordan’s characters were the same character with different names.

        3. I think I made it as far as you did, Waif, and for the reasons you point out as well as many of those mentioned by Warty and the voter, below. Additionally, I had the impression that the story could have been told with far, far, fewer words, and thought Jordan was milking his cash cow.

          1. That’s likely. He also spent quite a bit of time working on other projects.

      3. I am still indebted to Warty for telling me to stop reading that series. I got through book 3 and it was already becoming a bit unbearable.

    2. ASOIAF has fantasy elements, but is much more like the real medieval world than other fantasy in its portrayal of the brutality people were able to get away with in war and rivalry and how difficult life really was. I really don’t see any possible argument against this.

      If you thought ASOIAF was boring and torturous, that’s your opinion, but I’m working my way through Wheel of Time for the first time right now and I would argue it’s much more torturous. The books really plateaued in how interesting they were around book five, and that point to the end of book eight has been a real slog. The end of book eight, however, is giving signs that some of the plotlines are finally starting to pay off.

      1. Book nine is where the action picks up again. The book five to book eight slog really is the worst part of that series.

        1. Good to have confirmation, thanks.

        2. How bloody-minded do you have to be to put up with that?

          1. I blame my putting up with it on the fact that I mentally MUST finish what I start. See my reply to Warty below.

        3. Yeah – when Sanderson starts writing it. Just read “The Way of Kings” instead.

      2. How many books are you into it? If you make it past 7, you’re a champ. DID THEY EVER FIND THAT BOWL

        1. I just finished book eight. What do I win?

          Yes they found the Bowl of Winds, and they used it with the help of the sea folk.

          1. THANK GOD THIS UNNATURALLY LONG SUMMER IS OVER

            I think you win the prize of continuing to read those annoying books. I gave up on them in, I think, 1997, and it’s amazing how much I’m still annoyed by them.

            1. If you read only the last three, you will get an awesome conclusion and not really have missed much.

              1. Were those the Sanderson books? It’s not surprising that he did a better job wrapping up the loose ends than Jordan could have.

                1. Sanderson wrote the last three

                  I kind of found the last three a bit disorienting at times since a few characters seemed to have some major shifts in personality.

                  I suppose you could explain it by claiming that Light infused those characters in some manner.

            2. Yeah, I get why people would give up on them. The fact that I have mild OCD that mentally requires me to finish what I start among other effects probably helped me get through the slog. This is why I don’t get into most series in any media – if I watch/read the first episode/book, I’m in for the long haul because I MUST finish the story, no matter how crappy it gets.

              Looks like the weather is going to get put right all at once, though – the ninth book is called “Winter’s Heart.”

              1. OH NO THEY NEED TO FIND ANOTHER BOWL

                1. By the light, I certainly hope not.

        2. I should add, I finished book eight and intend to continue.

          1. The ending truly is epic. I read almost the entire last book in one day because I couldn’t put it down.

      3. Think about it this way.

        What kind of story would it be if our heroes went from farm boys and girls to the accepted leaders of the free peoples in a very short span of time.

        Books five through eight (ten really) is where our heroes learn how to be in command.

        1. What kind of story would it be if our heroes went from farm boys and girls to the accepted leaders of the free peoples in a very short span of time

          I know, I mean, just because Joan of Arc did it…

        2. I get that, but that does not make it any less boring or a slog.

        3. Sarcasm aside, characters are allowed to change between books too. You can get away with referencing the years of slogging through middle management without forcing the reader to slog through middle management with them if it aids the story.

          1. To me it seems like he just got a little bored with the story but still wanted to stretch it out. You’re right in that there were things that could easily have been left out to compact the story.

    3. One of the most common complaints I’ve heard about WoT is that it is boring and torturous.

      I’m a big fan of the series and re-read it every couple years so I can’t say I share that view.

      1. Same here. I tried reading Game of Thrones and couldn’t get through chapter one never mind book one.

    4. Best libertarian oriented books out there is the “Sword of Truth” series by Terry Goodkind. Lot of bad endings that turn out…well just read it, no need to ruin it.

      1. Just finished a series called “Thinblade” by David A. Wells. Incredibly Libertarian in its themes and a pretty good fantasy work as well.

        There’s a dialogue between a “wise” dragon )(a bit cliche, to be sure) and the protagonist where the dragon explains that one of the main reasons they don’t get involved with human affairs because humans still haven’t realized that centralization of authority will always lead to abuse and misuse of it. Which leads to evil outcomes.

        highly recommend it. check it out on audible.

        PS I am not David Wells, not do I work for him!

    5. Um, that series was so bad I couldn’t get through the second book.

      The entire friggin first book was stupid, the entire damn thing could have been solved in about 30 minutes if any of the characters had simply had a conversation around the campfire when they were on their journey and the only mildly interesting character was completely left out of the second book entirely

  8. Why would Sansa willingly walk into Winterfell, knowing perfectly well what was in store for her?

    I would argue that Sansa is a very passive character who generally goes along with what people tell her to do. In this case, Petyr Baelish told her to go to Winterfell and marry Ramsay so she’s in a position to strike at the Boltons from inside. How much of that Baelish actually expected is up for debate since Sansa wouldn’t even throw Joffery off the rampart at the end of season one, when it would have been so easy.

    The books do, however, make a lot more sense in this regard, with Baelish having her trying to be in a position to command the armies of the Vale to get her revenge, which seems a lot more plausible than her being able to sabotage the Boltons.

    1. Sansa is the key to the North. With her Littlefinger can unite the Vale and the North under his influence and use it to subdue the southern kingdoms. It makes zero sense for Littlefinger to put his trump card at such great risk, away from where he can be sure she’s safe.

      Once again, the show suffers from bad writing.

      1. I wouldn’t necessarily say she isn’t safe. The Boltons know she’s key to the north as well, so they won’t actually physically harm her… but yes, it makes more sense for her to stay in the Vale (like in the books).

        1. I just can’t believe TV Littlefinger has no idea what kind of psycho Ramsay is, which is the only reason he’d let his most important asset fall under his care.

          Ramsay hunts women for sport and tortures people for fun, there’s just no way rumors aren’t circulating about the Bastard of the Dreadfort. Far too unstable an element to let jeopardize your meticulous plan.

          1. Agreed. What’s missing in the show is some sign that Roose has guaranteed her safety to Littlefinger. Roose clearly knows her importance AND the psycho his son is. He’d be keeping a weather eye on that but he’s largely absent in the show. Makes zero sense.

    2. At one point, Sansa seemed to start to show some intelligence and and guile and an instinct for self preservation at one point, which she lacked for almost the whole series. I have no idea what happened to that when she entered Winterfell. I watch this show and I see all of these opportunities to make it more intriguing and sometimes they look like they are heading in that direction and then they veer off into pointless complication. And, really, could Cersei really be so dimwitted that she couldn’t see what would happen if she armed that fanatical psychopath, self appointed keeper of the faith and his minions? And these people apparently now actually rule the city now and by implication all of the kingdoms. Just a lot of stupidity in this show. I would rather see them spend a lot less effort on production values and more on more effective story telling.

      1. The point is that Cersei is really paranoid and incompetent, and once Tywin was gone there was nothing to stop her from royally fucking everything up.

        In the books, she’s drunk most of the time and constanbtly stacking the small council with incompetent cronies. Which makes everything worse. She thinks she’s super smart and powerful, but she’s always had Tywin and Tyrion around to keep things running smoothly. And Jaime to defend her.

        Once she was on her own she was a complete moron. Appointing a guy who is actually serious about his religion to be High Septum was her biggest mistake.
        Also in the books what she does to Margery was a lot worse and dumber. She tries to frame Margery for adultery by having one of her own lovers attempt to seduce her. Of course the guy confesses under torture which “Queen” he was actually fucking, which is how she gets caught.

      2. What happened to Sansa was thst she transmogrified into Jeyne Poole so the show could save on characters and sets and Sansa could fit into subplot that really does not fit her character arc.

        1. And, to top it all off, Khaleesi did not show so much as a single tit this season. It was particularly irritating to watch the scene where she was in bed with her guard guy and she takes particular care to make sure the sheet covers her boobies. Damn it, Emelia! Cut it out!

  9. I don’t agree with everything Rico Suave wrote, but this line is fucking gold.

    It’s difficult to remain invested in the supposed “song of ice and fire,” when everyone is always burning or freezing, with no hope in sight.

    Now I’ll come across as a “naive viewer” and explain why I’m not 100% sure certain characters are dead.

    Sansa and Reek / Theon – They almost certainly survived that jump. (I’m not really going out on a limb with this prediction.)

    Stannis – Why would they cut away before Brienne delivered the fatal blow? This show hasn’t been shy about graphic decapitation before. I’m definitely not rooting for Stannis at this point, but Brienne might have changed her mind mid-swing.

    Myrcella – Shit, I forget. Is she definitely dead, or just sick from the poison?

    Jon Snow – Back in season 3, the show made clear red priests could sometimes resurrect people (Lord Beric). Why would they show Melisandre coming back to the Wall right around the time Jon Snow is attacked? Why did they write that scene a few episodes ago where she let him squeeze her tits? OK, maybe that was just to fill the episode’s T+A quota, but I think Jon Snow might return in some capacity, and the Red Woman has something to do with it.

    1. Don’t forget Zombie Catlyn wandering the riverlands in the books.

      1. Pretty sure GOT will leave her out. And I wonder if they have Reek and Sansa go to Pyke and team up w/ the Greyjoys to kick some Bolton ass.

    2. Myrcella – Shit, I forget. Is she definitely dead, or just sick from the poison?

      Watching that scene I thought to myself “Wait, isn’t that ship still in sight of the harbor? What’s to stop Jaime from turning around and going back to Sunspear and demanding the heads of the Sand Snakes?”

      That and I imagine the prince she’s engaged to isn’t going to be too happy.

      OK, maybe that was just to fill the episode’s T+A quota, but I think Jon Snow might return in some capacity, and the Red Woman has something to do with it.

      I believe the actor is under contract for 7 seasons, so I think it’s pretty clear he’ll be back.

      1. The actor and the producers have both claimed that he will not be back. Maybe they are just engaging in misdirection, but they made definitive statements.

        1. He might sit next season out but he has to be resurrected at some point. It might be that he filmed the resurrection scene already and they’ll show that at the end of next season.

        2. The Entertainment Weekly interview with Kit Harrington really pissed me off. I’m okay with characters being killed off to further the story but we’ve spent five books establishing that the three and a half most important people are Dany, Jon, Bran and Tyrion. Killing off Jon eliminates the Rhaegar/Lyanna theory and that Jon is actually Azhor Azhai (or whatever that things name is). Sure, I get what Harrington and others are saying about Martin trying to create a more realistic and brutal world where certain characters just don’t get to finish out their storylines. But this is still a fucking story of fiction. You need actual protagonists to push it along. If Jon actually is killed off as opposed to reincarnated/resurrected by Melisandre, this entire story has become half a step away from just an exercise in nihilism.

          1. As far as I can tell, the whole series is an exercise in nihilism, so to expect anything different from one partiuclar storyline is an exercise in self-delusion. That’s why I stopped watching already.

          2. And who the fuck are we supposed to follow at the Wall if Jon’s dead?

            Sam just left for Old Town, so it won’t be him.

            Maybe Jon wargs into Ghost for the entire rest of the show? Yeah, right.

            1. Who cares about the wall?

              When I realized it was time to give up, I’d already started fast-forwarding half the episodes, inclusing anything with Ms. Wyvern or the wall out of a serious case of “don’t give a fuck”.

              1. The Wall is the most interesting part. It’s were the stakes are the highest.

                You’re not telling me you think that watching noblemen squabble in King’s Landing is the highlight of the show for you?

                1. The machinations were at least interesting and had a character set I could differentiate. I got two of the episodes out of order and didn’t notice that a crow who’d been decapitated in the later one was walking around like nothing happened. A discontinuity elsewhere clued me in.

                  High stakes are not the end all be all of storytelling, especially when the storytellers themselves don’t seem to be taking those stakes very seriously.

            2. I’m with you, Hazel. Yeah, I personally like Jon’s character and don’t want him to die but that’s not what pisses me off. What pisses me off is it doesn’t seem to make sense in terms of story structure.

              1. This.

                They are either lying shamelessly or Martin has gone off his rocker as there are now no protagonist characters at the most important location to face the primary antagonists.

                1. no protagonist characters at the most important location to face the primary antagonists.

                  Citation needed. These so-called ‘primary antagonists’ did fuck all before I quit watching. They showed no more menace than global cooling.

                  1. Citation: season 5, episode 8.

                    1. If you sit on your bum for four and a half seasons, that barely gets you into secondary antagonist status.

                  2. They ate still an existential threat that makes all of the political manuevering in the rest of the story pointless or destructive.

                  3. They ate still an existential threat that makes all of the political manuevering in the rest of the story pointless or destructive.

                  4. Well, apparentl, they are fast zombies in short bursts but extremely slow zombies over distances.

                  5. My thoughts exactly, who the fuck gives a shit about the white walkers at this point? The only thing that kept me in the story were the various characters that I liked. Kill them all off, and who gives a shit at all?

              2. Yes, I think it’s there just to be a cliffhanger, which is cheap.

      2. Yes – the dumbest scene in a season of dumb badly written logic fails.

    3. Myrcella – Shit, I forget. Is she definitely dead, or just sick from the poison?

      She just got her ear cut off and her face maimed in real life. If they kill her in Dorne in the show, that’s retarded.

      1. Maybe the poison won’t kill her, but it makes her nose fall off. I wouldn’t put it past the idiot showrunners.

      2. Why? She needs to die at some point, and may as well be now.

        1. Yeah, the prophecy said that Cersei would see all of her children killed.
          So Myrcella has to die. As does Tommen.

      3. What? This actress got injured?

  10. Thank you, Mario! But my fucks are in another castle!

  11. When exactly did the show become a way for people to signal they have the correct groupthink?

    Every recap I’ve read at least this season seems to follow this template:

    MY GOD EVERYBODY IS EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVIL, amirite?

  12. I just have to wonder where things go from here. The Winds of Winter will probably not be out before the next season of GOT starts, although I believe Martin told the TV folks what he is going to do in the books just in case he dies before he finishes them.

    That being said, Season 5 was mostly a mess. And I blame part of that on the last two books in A Song of Ice and Fire because goddamn, they were hell to get through, especially A Feast for Crows. Hopefully Season 6 gives us Jon Snow resurrected, the Boltons get the ass kicking they deserve, and Dany becomes queen of her new Khalasar. And yeah, I will still watch GOT, even if this past season was the weakest of all. I’m not going to give up yet like I did w/ the Walking Dead.

    1. I heard he’s shooting for the end of 2015. That fat bastard better start writing faster, eating less, or prepping Brandon Sanderson. Otherwise these shitty show writers will be finishing the story for him.

      1. I’m still trying to come to grips with why people think Brandon Sanderson is any good. I think I told Irish a few months ago that I’ve tried on three occasions to start the Mistborn books and I was shocked at just how shitty the actual writing was. I gave up after 50 pages.

        Please somebody tell me I’m wrong. I have The Way of Kings and want there to be other fantasy series out there to get into. I just don’t see any evidence that Sanderson is the author of them.

        1. Have you read anything by Robin Hobb? My daughter is a big fan, I’ve read one of her books which wasn’t bad but not really my style.

        2. Also, I hear that Patrick Rothfuss is the next next big thing. Never read anything by him though.

          1. I’ve read the first three Assassin’s Apprentice books by Hobb and thoroughly enjoyed them. They’re also interesting to read to see some of the consistent fantasy themes employed by different writers (wargs/wolves play a big part in Hobb’s stories and they came out before ASOIAF).

            I’ve read the first two of Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles and they are absolutely outstanding. Can’t recommend them enough. Don’t know when the third book comes out but I need to pick up the short story he wrote into that canon.

            1. As a side note, Nightwish’s new album has a song called “Edema Ruh” which, when I looked up the meaning of the song, turned out to be inspired by Kingkiller. Kingkiller is on my reading list now because of that.

          2. Patrick Rothfuss is a very talented writer and is far better than Brandon Sanderson.

            Rothfuss also is the dorkiest dork to ever dork so his books have some pretty irritating dorky nonsense in them, like his main character having hot sex with a famous sex-God that is totally the hottest woman in the history of the universe.

            So he’s worth reading but you’ll sometimes roll your eyes.

            1. I guess I’ll have to throw Rothfuss on the reading list. He’ll probably have a few more out by the time I get to him. I’ve got about a year’s worth of stuff lined up right now.

          3. The first two books in the series were quite good, but he’s a slow writer like Martin, and I’ve been waiting on the third forever. He wrote a stand alone that I hear was terrible.

        3. I really liked Way of Kings.

  13. As an SF reader since I picked up Starman Jones in 1968 at the age of 7, I’m just happy that an epic fantasy based on actual SF literature is on TV and is popular.

    So what if it’s become a bit of a bummer. Lots of great genre books (SF/fantasy/horror) are an exercise in wonderful misery. It’s fun to wallow in tragedy as well as comedy.

  14. Fact: cosmotarians hate game of thrones

  15. The main reason I haven’t taken the time to read the books is that my impression is that the entire series is depressing. I have yet to read anything about the show or the books that indicates there are hardly characters worth rooting for and the few that do exist meet some horrible end. The series has always struck me as the fantasy medieval equivalent of The Road.

    1. It is pretty damn depressing, John. But some of the characters are fascinating and at the beginning at least, Martin proves to be a great story teller. And the show is entertaining, for the most part. Well, except for half of this season. It was a big damn mess at times.

    2. They’re worth reading. There’s a lot of stuff about food.

      1. Absolutely, Warty. I totally forgot that Martin loves him some food and he goes into explicit detail about what the characters are eating throughout each book. And don’t forget Wyman Manderly’s special pies at Ramsay Bolton’s wedding to fake Sansa.

        1. It’s fake Arya, not Sansa. But the best part about the wedding is the meat pies and the show completely left out the BEST PART.

      2. And fat pink mast. And bulbous purple head.

      3. So you are telling me its like Food Network with swords and without Giada’s boobs?

        1. Pretty much that plus a horny midget.

        2. Oh, there are plenty of boobs. Especially in the TV show. Just not Giada’s boobs, unfortunately.

          1. I don’t care if her head is too big for her body. Those boobs are just epic. If wanting those is wrong I don’t want to be right.

            1. *nods aggressively*

    3. I don’t see the appeal in committing so much time to read a story that has no ending and is apparently never going to get one.

      1. I think the first three books are still worth reading, and they do come to a sort of an conclusion (end of the first phase of the civil war in Westeros).

    4. John, since you are a history buff, I don’t doubt you’d enjoy all the books up to Dance of Dragons.

      As to Dance of Dragons… I really wish George R.R. Martin hadn’t hired Robert Jordan to ghost write it.

      1. I might. I could also see myself being annoyed every time he takes liberties with history. I like some historical fiction. But I only like it if the author really knows what they are talking about and gets it right.

        1. Yes, but once you have dragons and magic ice zombies, there’s not really much to bitch about with historical accuracy. The War of the Roses analog is quite well done. As for the rest…well, we’ll see if he manages to salvage the second half of the series.

      2. GRRM is just marking time until he can novelize the rest of the series based on the TV show.

        As bad as WoT was, it pales in comparison to Terry Goodkind’s body of work. Brick book after brick book of over the top preaching.

        1. I remember enjoying the first couple of those books when I was a kid. Later I realized that they were nothing but dominatrixes and gangbangs and monologues pulled straight out of The Fountainhead.

    5. Do you carry the fire?

    6. I don’t find it depressing. It’s not real, it’s not happening to me. What do I care?

      I tend not to get too emotionally invested in characters in books.

      I’d say it’s worth reading if you enjoy that kind of fantasy.

  16. John Snow’s not dead. While they’ve haven’t brought back dead characters (Lady Stark) the story in the north needs Jon Snow. He’ll live.

    Why would Sansa willingly walk into Winterfell, knowing perfectly well what was in store for her?

    Because Littlefinger convinced her that she was the shit. And, because she was a Stark and it was her home she could manipulate the Bolton’s and get what she wanted. She didn’t count on Ramsey being a complete psycho. Also, I thought Reek and Sansa killing that murderous bitch and jumping the wall together was up lifting.

    Why would Myrcella’s killer choose that moment to strike, when it places the Dornish Prince Trystane at risk of retaliatory killing?

    Because the Sand Snakes don’t care about Tyystane; he’s his father’s son and its revenge on him as well.

    How did the Boltons so effectively incapacitate Stannis’s army, and why did Stannis?known for unshakeable resolution?resort to fire magic at the very first sign of trouble?

    What? He’s resorted to blood magic previously to kill his own brother. He’s a ruthless dick. It wasn’t the “first sign of trouble”. He’s had nothing but trouble since he killed Renly. Half his army deserted and he had no horses or food.

    It was a bloody and depressing season for sure, but that leaves the door open for some resurrection and revenge in the next.

    Stop boo-hooing and grow a pair, Robby.

    1. “Stop boo-hooing and grow a pair, Robby.”

      You’ve become kind of nasty since Postrel complimented you, what with your determining that I’m an Irish Sex-Bear and Robby is a eunuch. Did getting called ‘Ladylike’ go to your head?

      1. Oh, I was nasty before Postrel complimented me. But, yeah, Virginia (we’re on a familiar terms; I can call her that) certainly can spot quality.

        You’re really not a sex-bear. That would mean you engage in sex. I’m pretty sure you’re just a matted, passive depository for Molly’s tears and stuff.

    2. You be nice to Sweetrobby.

  17. The show writers must really think killing characters is the key to ratings. Everyone killed this season is alive and well at the end of the last book except Jon. And he’s only partially dead. Mance, Selmy, Hizdor, Myrcella, Stannis. That’s a lot of dead people who will still be in the next book.

    1. He’s only mostly dead.

      1. Yes – I was waiting for the giant to carry him off too.

      2. Which is also slightly alive.

    2. Most or all of those people will be dead soon, and the show is trying to wrap things up in the next 20 episodes.

    3. I kind of agree with Mint Berry above. I don’t think Stannis is dead. Brienne has that weird facial expression when Stannis says “due your duty” and then they cut away before she kills him. It has a scene with her screaming in rage and hacking the sword into the tree above his head written all over it.

      And then Jon gets resurrected and his oath to the Night’s Watch is severed and Jon can now accept Stannis’ offer of the Stark name and he goes on a muthafuckin rampage of retributive murderboning.

      Or Weiss and Benioff will crush my dreams.

      1. Who cares if Stannis is dead or not?

        Personally, I think the books and the show need to start wrapping up storylines so they can focus on the important plotlines. Jon, Daenerys, and Tyrion. They need to kill off all the minor side characters and focus on just a few important ones.

        Nobody seriously thought that Stannis was going to end up on the Iron Throne, did they?

        1. Stannis is dead. He died in the book. His story line’s completed.

          I found the way the show deviated from the books quite annoying. Why didn’t Jaime go to Riverrun? Hmmmm? Where’s Theon’s sister? Hmmm? Why isn’t Davos pursuing Rickon? Hmmmmm? I really wanted the whole meat pie thing.

          Some of the non-Martin writing is terrible, especially the dialogue.

          Martin goes off on too many tangents, too many character and side stories, but the show is shitting the bed on how they deviate from Martin. I’m guessing we get another season or two of okay but not great story before it goes completely Lost.

          1. I do miss the Manderlys and all of the chaos at Winterfell, and Jaime going to Riverrun would be great if only to see all of those characters again. It’s sad to think we’ll probably never see the Blackfish, Edmure, Thoros or Beric again, roles that were perfectly cast.

            But who cares about Rickon? And while I have quite the crush on the show’s Asha, there’s no time for her and what ever use she is supposed to be.

  18. But when the good guys always lose, or are always shown to be bad guys themselves, or are gratuitously killed, raped, or maimed? well, the show loses some of its stakes.

    The good guys don’t always lose. Cersei is a “bad guy” and she got what she had coming. She had Margery thrown in the same prison for no reason but her own ambition. Stannis is a “bad guy”. (Let’s face it, his habit of burning people at the stake has been going on for some time. If you havn’t noticed that’s your problem.) Arya killing a pedophile hardly makes her a bad guy. That was the good guys winning.

    Daenerys hasn’t “lost”, it’s equally likely that she’ll return to Mereen with a horde of Dothraki. Drogon is nearby all he has to do is show up again and burn a few. She is still “Khaleesi”.

    And Jon Snow …. there’s no fucking way he’s really dead. There’s no other POV character on the wall. Mellisandra is on hand to revive him.

    1. The good guys may not always lose but it seems to be taking a very long time for the bad guys to get what they’ve got coming to them.

      I have never read any of the books so I won’t get into the discussions about how the TV series deviates from them but it is getting very tiresome to have to wait to see the worst of the bad guys get it. It is distinctly unsatisfying.

  19. Which pet was more useless in the season finale: Drogon or Ghost?

    1. Did the writers actually spend one minute of this season explaining why Ghost is nonexistent?

      1. Do you know how expensive it is to render that wolf in CGI?

        1. I have no doubt. And it’s not as nice as getting to shoot on location in Croatia. I just don’t understand why, when they are taking liberties with the story already, they wouldn’t just shoehorn in some explanation of why this animal that is mentally bonded with one of the main characters just doesn’t appear at all.

          1. If I recall, they even have a nice, lazy answer from the book: Ghost goes beyond the Wall to hunt.

      2. Well he did show up in that one scene to save Sam and Gilly

  20. Seriously, Reason writers: For that volume of comprehensively spoily spoilers, put them below the frickin’ fold already.

  21. Why would Sansa willingly walk into Winterfell, knowing perfectly well what was in store for her?

    It was her best chance at vengeance and she didn’t know that Ramsay Bolton was a psychopath.

    Why would Myrcella’s killer choose that moment to strike, when it places the Dornish Prince Trystane at risk of retaliatory killing?

    She was willing to plunge them into war. I doubt she cared.

    How did the Boltons so effectively incapacitate Stannis’s army, and why did Stannis?known for unshakeable resolution?resort to fire magic at the very first sign of trouble?

    They outnumbered him, and winter’s approach had meant time was running out for Stannis. He was convinced he was the only one who could save the realm from the White Walkers. He’d been sacrificing allies and family to the fire god up until now. His daughter just went on the pile.

  22. Robbo Suavee,
    I enjoyed the books also(kinda had to hate read through some of it, what with killing off all the favorite characters and all), and I enjoy the HBO series too. Just relax and watch it til the end, or if you prefer hate watch it and complain on twitter and hate write an article or two. Love ya.

  23. Lesson here = Rape is terrible, burning your children alive is just tedious.

    1. Cutting dicks off, totes OK.

    2. Give ’em a break! It’s hard to sustain a high level of shrill outrage throughout an entire show.

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  25. Exactly right.

  26. The fourth and fifth books brought the whole series to a screeching halt, so I don’t mind that the showrunners have strayed far afield. Those books were interminable, and the absence of Covington and Aegon leads me to believe that HBO has a better understanding of how to wrap things up than Martin ever will.

    And the absence of LSH makes much more sense when you consider why they were saving the Thoros/Berric resurrection device; the only question is whether they use it at the very beginning of S6 or whether Jon spends a few episodes chilling as a wight or wolf.

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