Editorial Featured Game of Thrones Season 5

Small Council: What’s your opinion of Season 5 one year on?

Jon Snow dead--Official HBO

With Game of Thrones Season 6 around the corner, let’s take a look back at Game of Thrones Season 5, a year that elicited a lot of strong opinions from fans. Have opinions changed since Jon Snow died in the season finale? If so, how? What kind of legacy did Season 5 leave Season 6? The Small Council is in session.

the pointy end sansa small council cersei

DAN: Season 5 was a turning point for the show—that much is clear. If word about the show lasting for eight years is true, it kicked off the second half of the series, and indeed, Season 5 found many characters navigating new plotlines. Tyrion and Arya both left Westeros while Cersei tried to make herself the big cheese in King’s Landing. Winterfell rose again under new management, Daenerys put down roots in Meereen, and beyond the Wall, the true threat to humanity came into focus. If people like Joffrey and Tywin were the villains to watch in Seasons 1-4, the White Walkers will surely take center stage as we go into the home stretch. Season 5 set them up well.

According to some fans, Season 5 also marked the point when the show began to dip in quality, or at least when it became more like a normal TV show. By and large, I agree with them—the amount of coincidences and inconsistencies mounted, and most of the problem areas don’t get better on re-watch. The show still rushes through Stannis’ downfall, too many details are fumbled (why were there no Northern lords at Sansa’s wedding, what was with the scene where Arya goes blind, etc), and the less said about the show’s excursion to Dorne, the better.

Then again, the show still excelled in many of the big, flashy moments. I think Game of Thrones struggled with details in Season 5, but there’s no way the producers can be accused of apathy when they produced sequences like Tyrion and Jorah’s trip through Valyria, the Massacre at Hardhome, and Cersei’s walk of atonement. These are not scenes put together by people who are phoning it in. I was impressed particularly by Cersei’s walk—that’s a sensitive scene that could have easily been bungled, but the production gave it the respect and gravitas it needed. Channeled in the right direction, there’s no reason that energy can’t produce a terrific Season 6.

Before I give up the floor, I do think that Sansa’s plotline improved on re-watch, at least so far as Sansa’s motivations are concerned. When I watched it knowing what was coming, it became a story about a woman who thought she was more ready to take on the world than she was, where before I was expecting a story about a woman prepared to take her place in “the great game,” as Tyrion calls it in the Season 6 trailer. We’ll see if Season 6 adds more texture to it.

Sansa and Theon at Sansa's wedding--Official HBO

RICHARD: I tend to agree with much of what Dan has said above. It is also worth noting that Game of Thrones Season 5 did set the record for winning the highest number of Emmy awards for a series in a single year (12 out of 24 nominations), although such accolades may not temper fans’ sense of an overall loss of cohesion and quality. I do think Season 5 was the weakest Game of Thrones season so far, but it also had some of the most incredible moments of the entire series. Hardhome may well go down as one of the best action sequences I’ve ever seen on television. The detail and character problems may well have to do with the pivot into the second half of the show, where the stories are breaking away from George R.R. Martin’s source material.

Since the basic negatives of the season have already been covered, I’d like to talk about what kind of dramatic gold Season 5’s bit of stumble and pause may be setting up for fans. Daenerys (once she comes out of the wilderness with a new Dothraki army?) will be part of a wily, experienced triumvirate with Tyrion and Varys. I love the relationship between Tyrion/Varys and Tyrion/Daenerys, and if the stories give time for Daenerys and Varys to get some decent interplay, this trio promises a lot of fun and a lot of new plots as they make their way towards the Iron Throne.

As for King’s Landing, well, we can surely expect Cersei to be on the rampage. Enraged by the death of Myrcella, she’ll surely loose her dogs of war (Jaime and Frankenstein’s monster-Gregor Clegane) upon the High Sparrow and make up for her lame apathy, which allowed him and his fanatics to seize power in Season 5. Blood will flow in the corridors of power, and we can surely expect many to fall, including poor innocent Tommen.

Bran’s return should be interesting, as well, returning as he is trained by the Three-Eyed Raven in greensight, and his storyline is going to be instrumental in some pretty awesome reveals.

I won’t wax poetic on every storyline, but we can expect the White Walkers pouring over/through/under the Wall while Jon Snow remains dead or transforms into something else, Ramsay Bolton getting what’s coming to him in spades, Sansa starting to win and Arya really starting to lose. I’m hoping for the show to bounce back big here, and, as Dan also mentions, I think it can. Season 5 spent some time rearranging chess pieces and rolling powder kegs under ammo dumps and it didn’t always flow well, but if Season 5 sets up a Season 6 of well-executed drama and wildfire-level explosions of action, it’ll prove worth it.

Gregor Clegane, or Frankengregor--Official HBO

ANI: Season 5 was always going to be the toughest season. This isn’t really the show’s fault, either. Seasons 1-4 were cleanly mapped out in the books, especially after the producers chose to cut A Storm of Swords in twain. The problem was always going to be when the show hit A Feast for Crows. That problem was compounded when A Dance with Dragons was released in 2011, 3/4 of which overlapped with Feast, timeline wise. Unlike before, where the show was able to divide books in half in order not to have to rush, now it was faced with weaving two bloated and increasingly meandering novels together into a single clean narrative. This was never going to be pretty.

Some of the choices they made worked. The decision, for instance, to reroute Jon Snow to Hardhome was genius. Not only did it show us the true stakes behind the threat “Winter Is Coming,” but in doing so, it exponentially increased the impact of Jon’s death to the point that show-watchers are now in more denial that book-readers were back in 2011. Streamlining Dany and Tyrion together was absolutely the right move, not only for impact onscreen, but to set Tyrion up with a far more interesting position than he has on the page. And I agree with Dan—upon rewatch, Sansa’s storyline comes across better. This was a problem of managing the expectations of the audience—people thought she had entered the Great Game, not realizing that just because the piece now knows it is on the board does not mean it will be able to perform a blitzkrieg maneuver on the first outing.

And then…there’s Dorne. Sorry, Dorne. The show had a good concept—take a plot that is inert on the page and inject some action and sex appeal by upping the Sand Snake quotient and tossing Jamie and Bronn into the mix. In the end, the only person who didn’t seem like a bad comic book character who had accidentally wandered into Westeros was Prince Doran. Perhaps they should have just let Alexander Siddig sit and ponder after all.

1Doran

KATIE: Generally, I’m pretty easy to please when it comes to entertainment I’m already invested in, and this remains true for Game of Thrones. There are a few things here and there that I don’t like, but in a series with this many characters and journeys, that’s to be expected.

Season 5 brought forth a few uninteresting (from my perspective) plotlines—namely, the Sons of the Harpy, the High Sparrow and his band of misfits, and Dorne. More disappointing than anything else, I still feel that the Dornish plot can and will be redeemed, but the others? I’m iffy. While they play their part in the story, the Faith Militant wasn’t well enough explained for us non-book readers, and the fact of the matter is, when you adapt one form of media to another, you have to treat the other like its own entity without expecting the audience to rely on the source material. As for the Sons of the Harpy…well, the aesthetics were cool, but I just didn’t care, and I still don’t understand how they bested the Unsullied.

Some of the season’s drawbacks are shed in a better light when examined by book-readers, who have a good sense of why this year was rockier than the ones before. And while I’ve already discussed Sansa’s trials as much as I possibly can, I also agree with everyone that her story is better in retrospect than it was the first go-round.

The other scene that stands out from Season 5 is Cersei’s walk of shame; it didn’t really jive with me from the beginning, but the more I think on it, the less I like it. Cersei has tried her hand at plenty of villainous deeds and should be punished accordingly, but her walk went above and beyond a fitting penance. For me, this is one of the most difficult scenes to watch. I know, I know, this show is filled with blood and guts and murder, but—with the exception of the Red Wedding—that doesn’t tend to be so emotional or drawn out. Of course, Cersei’s walk was necessary to move the plot forward, but did it have to last so long? No, I would say not. I felt no sense of satisfaction watching Cersei so humiliated, and I counted the seconds until it was over (which was, perhaps, the point of the whole thing).

Ultimately, I thoroughly enjoyed the season—there’s a lot of forward momentum, especially with all the White Walker talk and action, so we’re finally revving up for what will probably be the battle to end all battles. Since season’s end I’ve been intrigued to see what Daenerys’ next move will be, how Sansa will rise to the occasion, and what Cersei will do to fight back against the Faith Militant. Despite its shortcomings, Season 5 absolutely set me up for more excitement to come, so I say job well done.

Son of the Harpy

RAZOR: I’ve gone back and re-watched Season 5. I took some notes, I watched with an open mind, I tried to approach it as an Unsullied. Season 5 still had its problems. It was rushed, the Faith Militant were not well-explained, and I still stand by my earliest Razor’s Rant: Loras Tyrell is the most poorly written and under-used character on the show. Season 5 only exploited him further.

However, there were storylines that I found myself enjoying more upon a second viewing. While most of the show’s time in Dorne was wretch, there were moments of brilliance, although it took a rewatch to find them. I am now of the mind that Prince Doran was fully aware, and in fact behind, the poisoning of Myrcella. To me, the subtle almost-nod he gave to Ellaria proves it.

I am still strongly opposed to the killing of Barristan Selmy. By having the Sons of the Harpy kill him in some back alley, we the fans were robbed of moments like him jumping into Daznak’s Pit and taunting Drogon. Barristan should be part of Season 6, fans should be allowed to see him train a whole new set of knights, and they should see him take on the pit fighter Khrazz, and utter the most badass phrase in the books, “Then come.”

Stannis’ demise was too fast. The supposed greatest military mind in all of Westeros was caught on a forced march, with no heavy horse to fortify his position, no trenches dug, and caught in an open field against an army of superior numbers. Stannis died too soon.

Of course, I loved “Hardhome.” I loved when Dany rode Drogon out of Daznak’s Pit. I loved seeing Robert Strong for the first time. I hated Shireen’s burning, and even though Lena Heady’s acting was amazing, her walk of atonement was too awkward, with her head on a model’s body, and it lasted way too long for me to be comfortable. I hated that Sansa was once again the weakling of the season, and that once again, crazy Ramsay got everything he wanted. Finally, I hated the whole “Let’s trick Lord Commander Jon Snow with his Uncle Benjen” moment.

How much disrespect do you have to have for your audience that you have to make up some convoluted story about a character that no one has seen since Season 1? Then, when Jon gets to the spot, HE’S NOT EVEN CARRYING HIS SWORD! This isn’t Disneyland or Sesame Street. Mr. Rogers isn’t going to pop out and wave hello. You gotta carry your sword everywhere, and Jon, who knows he has enemies everywhere—who just got through telling Sam that before sending him away—didn’t carry Longclaw or allow his personal guard, or Ghost, to follow him. I guess it’s true: in the end, Jon Snow really didn’t know a goddam thing.

Has your opinion of Game of Thrones Season 5 changed one year on?

  • No. I still love it. (37%, 360 Votes)
  • No. I still think it's okay. (26%, 252 Votes)
  • Yes. I think better of it than I used to. (18%, 173 Votes)
  • No. I still don't like it. (12%, 119 Votes)
  • Yes. I think worse of it than I used to. (7%, 71 Votes)

Total Voters: 975

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80 Comments

  • Season 5 was probably middle of the pack as far as the seasons go. I would say better then season 1, but inferior to 3 and 4 for sure. Great t.v. nonetheless.

  • Ok guys. Hear me out for a second:
    Season 4 of Game Of Thrones, in my opinion, was the best one to date. This was after they had managed to already do three seasons, then they came along with a fourth one that knocked all the others out of the park.
    Even when Game of Thrones is bad, it is still pretty good.
    So, I beg you, DON’T judge season 6 because season 5 wasn’t good. Every season kind of has its own format, and season 5 just happened to be set in the unfortunate fashion where everything built up to the last few episodes. If Game of Thrones makes an amazing fourth season after three seasons, then I have all faith that they can really make season 6 amazing as well, even after what season 5 was. Like Ani said above, season 5 was indeed always going to be the toughest season. But now the plotlines have smoothed out by the end of “Mother’s Mercy”, and they are ready to make Season 6 amazing from the start. IMHO, Season 5 was more of a set up for season 6 (Dany taken to the Dothraki, Sansa & Theon on the loose, Tyrion having a city to rule, Cersei seeking revenge, Brienne finally having something to do, Bran & Osha & Rickon coming back, and the aftermath of the mutiny at the wall).
    Season 6 WILL be good. The show is not in any way going downhill just because it is diverting from the books. I have faith that if these are the same people who made this show what it is today, that they can still deliver.

    • I gave them the benefit of the doubt with Season 5–mainly because, like you, my love of the first four seasons gave me faith in D&D’s stewardship–and they still fell far short of my already-lowered expectations due to how much the last 2 books bored me. And it was largely due to the changes they made to the source material, which wasn’t that good compared to the first 3 books to begin with.

      I’m not making that same mistake with Season 6. There is no guarantee that it WILL be good–especially when we’re now in entirely uncharted territory.

    • Well thank you Roose we all know the real Stannis would have worked you and your boy over, can’t wait for Winds!

  • Season 5 Dorne storyline was horrible. Hardhome episode was one of the best epiodes of the whole show. And arguably the best battle scene in tv history. So..

    • The only horrible thing about Dorne was Ellaria’s will to kill Myrcella – there was no believable motivation for that. Other things, even the Sand Snakes, were more or less OK.

      • Her motivation was revenge.
        She wanted to make the Lannister’s hurt the same way that she had been hurt by the death of Oberyn (at the Mountain’s hands) and by the death of Elia Martell (at the Mountain’s hands).

  • Season 5 was an utter disaster disaster an demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of what was great about the story. Philosophical question, what are the odds that the so called “superfans” that run the show think that it is okay to show, in his very first on screen fight, Barristan Selmy someone who’s combat prowess was actually built up in the show as well, dying in the most pathetic, poorly choreographed fight in the whole show? How about the finest military commander in Westeros, Stannis? Oh yeah he makes the actual worst decisions that could be made in any war ever. Not to mention being killed off unceremoniously despite having the most potential to affect the plot in a meaningful way. I can assure you George will not make this same mistake. Then there is Dorne, oh Dorne. What if anything translated well from the book? Not to mention cutting out such a compelling character and potential Iron Throne claimant Arianne Martell! That’s 3 strikes ladies and gentlemen, 3 strikes! The only thing they’ve managed to do was win you over with Hardhome, easily, EASILY the most overrated episode in the show’s history. It was mindless zombie killing really and that was it, worst of all what no one realized is that the next time you see the White Walkers it simply won’t have the effect on you it did before you saw Hardhome, they blew a lot of money on showing something much earlier really then they should have. Last season was an exercise in lazy storytelling and not even George RR Martin’s publisher can defend it! This very website reported last year that she said the show has officially gone rogue and if you want the author’s true vision, read the books! This was in response to the death of Barristan and I can see why. The problem is prior to this season, the show was excellent with season 4 being some of the greatest ten hours of television imaginable! Thing is George used to be directly involved with the writing process of the show essentially writing one ep per season with the other writers building their season around that. Now they think they can do whatever they please with the plot and being biased towards the characters they love while also cutting out ones they don’t know how to handle and trying to please the show watching only fans even though their original fan base were avid book readers. So yeah I’m a little worried about season 6.

    • And don’t give me it’s because they “didn’t have enough source material”. If they bothered to not throw Feast in the trash and tear out most of the pages of Dance they could have EASILY stretched those storylines out, instead they opted for fan fiction!

      • Agreed, they ruined Jamie’s story by cutting out Feast all together. His trip through the Riverlands turns him into a real leader and diplomat. That’s gone.

    • Barristan Selmy is a minor character. Who cares if he died a little early in the show?

      Stannis is a brilliant commander, but he made bad decisions based on Melisandre’s promises. Oops. In the game of thrones you win or you die. Stannis died. And he’s a supporting character at best, despite rabid fans’ efforts to claim he’s among the most important characters in the books and show.

      • It’s not that they happened it’s how it was presented showed a fundamental misunderstanding of the characters! Don’t tell us Barristan is the greatest swordsman in the realm and then break that rule in the first and only time he’s shown in a fight he died in such a pathetic way. D&D could do literally anything to the plot and you’ll buy into all the same despite the fact that it has complete disregard for logic. As for Stannis maybe some of us actually want to see well written grey characters finish their arc instead of being cheaply killed off so they can have a cliche heroes vs villains battle next season something the story has NEVER been about. The excuse being what “It’s GoT bro people die bro and yet no one can seem to let go of there Jon Snow messiah they want to return.

        • Stannis’ arc apparently was to die in the woods outside Winterfell. I think “character arc” is code for “how I think the story should go.”

      • There were plenty of scenes showing Stannis’ face with that look of defeat. Once Stannis realized that he had already taken that fateful leap of faith, all that is left is that sudden stop at the bottom.

      • So by your logic anyone that doesn’t have a pov is a minor character? So that means Robb Stark, Joffrey, Tywin, Jorah, Varys, Littlefinger, Sandor, and Euron are minor characters too.

        But Asha, Samwell, Melisandre, Kevan Lannister, and Arianne Martel must be main characters because they have povs. Yeah nice logic there.

        • Besides so what if some of them are minor? That doesn’t mean you can do anything you want with them just because you perceive them to be disposable!

          • D&D knows all characters’s fate from the books. You not. Anyone who they kill is unimportant from now. End of story.

        • Everyone you mentioned is either a minor or supporting character. The major characters are Tyrion, Jon, Dany, Sansa, Arya, Bran, Jaime, Cersei.

          • It still doesn’t make their blatant disregard for the other characters plots or development any less dishonest

      • I’m wouldn’t have to be a “book purist” if even a little bit of the story translated. Also the only thing D&D know Phil Necro is how it ends. Now in their exciment they’ve decided to go full steam ahead towards it without even bothering to fill in the gaps. They are just going to throw ridiculous moment after ridiculous moment at you to see what sticks even if it means totally misrepresenting the characters they were given in the first place! None of this used to happen before this season and it was all because George decided to leave them alone, something that shouldn’t have backfired as much as it did.

  • Hardhome Is the best battle scene in tv,but with Jon Snow,without i think No,without the true hero, Hardhome Is no good
    And so,GOT 6 without Jon Snow Is nothing ,dear D&D,dear HBO,You know this?I think so…

  • I still think that season 5 was underwhelming compared to the books. I don’t think it’s that bad like a lot of book readers think, but I feel like a lot had to compromised in order to make that season. I feel they wanted to adapt the main plot points in this season and took short cuts in order to get to them thus making the season feel rushed.

  • by plotline-

    KL- Too many plot holes. (Cersei not seeing Lancel as a threat, the stupid mole.) Faith militant too over-the-top violent. Pryce was very good, WoS was good. grade – B

    Winterfell – Sansa’s decision in 503 simply not believable. And she did nothing 504-506. Terrible decision, and executed badly. When it wasn’t horrible, it was boring. Ramsay and Reek have gotten old. grade – F

    Stannis – A plot is like a chain, only as strong as its weakest link. (Ramsay’s 20 good men.) D&D landed a gut punch, but didn’t earn it, which generates a backlash. Dillane and Ingram deserved better. grade – D

    Wall/Jon – should have been an A due to Hardhome, but giving Olly instead of Thorne pride of place in the assassination lowers it to B. (Thorne is one of D&D best creations; Olly one of the worst. Owen Teale got screwed.)

    Dorne – F ’nuff said

    Arya. C Weakest Arya season. Too slow. Trant’s death should have been a Syrio call-back. (“What do we say to Death? Today.”) Pedo-sadist Trant was cheap.

    Tyrion/Jorah – B Started slow. Getting Tyrion to Meereen was a good idea, but the plot was clunky in 506-07. Not enough payoff in 508 with Dany.

    Dany – C Didn’t show any character development. Fight scene dependent on not having enough guards around. Dragon ride was a rare visual effects miss.

    Overall – C, which is shameful given the talent involved. The problem is the writing. Weakest season by far. Season 6 needs to eliminate the plot holes and show the character development better. I fear for the Jaime-Cersei plot, and doubt Ramsay can pull the weight the showrunners are placing on a character without much depth. But we’ll see.

      • Show!Thorne is so different from book!Thorne that he effectively is. Book!Thorne is a bitter, petty man best fit for cleaning the stables. Show!Thorne is a bitter, petty man who has been there and done that, and actually gives Jon some decent leadership lessons in 409. He’s a richer, much more complex character than book!Thorne.

        • His character’s hatred of the Starks make more sense if you’ve read the book and know why he’s at the wall. Which is, of course, ironic. I don’t think he’s so much a creation, he’s just given more to do. One problem with that is that it makes Jon look dumber, because in the book he recognizes him as a threat and takes care of it.

  • Don’t you think it would be wiser to ask this question AFTER season 6, at the very least? We still don’t know where Martin/D & D are going with the series entirely so to judge season 5 now still seems premature.

  • The weakest books get adapted into the weakest season. What a surprise! But Season 5 was still very good. I’m betting Season 6 will vindicate many of the hated parts of Season 5.

  • Agree with Razor: WTF on Loras, Stannis, and Barristan… One item I look forward to most in the WOW release is the update on Selmy. Stannis was purely a rushed, forced plot maneuver – simply terrible. I’m still waiting on way Loras will be important in the show. So far he has had almost zero impact on the GOT world.

    15 days left until we finally get some new episodes, trying to stay HYPE!

  • Overall, I guess part of the problem I have with some of the heavy criticism about Season 5 is the general lack of acknowledgement that both Feast and Dance were also heavily criticized books. And it feels a little like Season 5 is being scapegoated for attempting to work with source material that was never going to make for compelling television. Fans complained about the written word and it wasn’t going to get better just by putting it on TV. So of course D&D made changes and for the most part I do understand why. Having said that, I’ve watched Season 5 multiple times and one of the things I had to learn in order to fully enjoy it was to completely remove from my mind (as best as possible) any thoughts of “what the book would’ve done”. Sometimes I wonder if I would have liked Season 5 much better, even on initial viewing, if I didn’t have to focus on tunning out “what the book would’ve done”. Because once you have the book version in your head, the more the show diverges from the book the more it feels like I’m spending more time translating the story instead of just absorbing and enjoying “as is”. In any case, Season 5 definitely improves on multiple viewings.

  • I also agree with everyone that her story is better in retrospect than it was the first go-round.

    This is the fundamental problem most book readers have. They think they know where the show is going and where characters are, then when the show goes somewhere else, they immediately assume the show is wrong and, therefore, bad.
    Why ANYONE in their right mind would think that Sansa had joined the ranks of the Game players of Westeros becuase of her lie in the Vale and her new dress were simply being delusional. You don’t go from Lala land to political savant overnight.
    Newflash, she still hasn’t arrived and may never get there but she also isn’t dreaming of knights in shining armor saving her anymore…

    • Exactly. And the funny thing is that if Sansa HAD been a great game player right away after lying once and wearing a black dress, then it would have been criticized for being unrealistic that she became an great game player so suddenly. Of course she was going to be in over her head the first time out. But like Bryan Cogman pointed out, she doesn’t just sit and sulk about it like she did in King’s Landing. She takes action to get herself out of there and even inspires Theon to do the same (he probably never would have done that without her). This is progress. The thing is, Sansa started from such a weak starting point, it’s gonna take A LOT of progress to get her to a fully strong place. More than one season, at least.

  • Season Five was awesome.

    Hated it.
    Loved it.
    Quit Watching it.
    Posted rants about it.
    Rewatched it.
    Had my emotions played with.

    Got over it.

    It was awesome.

  • I really disagree with Ani’s statement that books 4 and 5 are “bloated and meandering.” Complete misread of some of Martin’s most elegant writing and subtle storytelling. I will go to my grave defending the Feast/Dance storyline. It seems that D&D would have agreed with Ani, and I think they tried to expedite the storylines too much, too fast.

    That said, I still really like the finished product. This season was a lot like Season 2, which had some strong plotlines and some really weak ones. I wouldn’t call it a failure, but I would call it frustrating at times. Still there were some strong emotional arcs and beautiful sequences. TV is a visual medium and I thought season 5 had some of the series best visuals

    • I know I actually really like Feast and Dance they have a lot of great parts and if they cared to follow even a little bit of their plot it would have been much better

    • I liked the books but they were a bit exhausting to read, and I think that a good chunk of it could be cut.

      As standalone works they are fine and well-written, but they kicked the world-building up to a point that I think it is too unwieldy and GRRM has so many subplots to work out that he has a bit of paralysis at the enormity of the task. That pretty much is the definition of bloat, in that they bloated the entire storyline by adding so many smaller arcs.

      GRRM needed an editor with a firmer hand to help him keep the scope down so that he’s not writing two 1,000+ page novels for the last two books. I am looking forward to Winds but I have a bad feeling that it will be over 1000 pages of stuff, which makes A Dream of Spring more likely to be an unfinished work as it will need to wrap up so many things.

  • Season 5 was riddled with incomplete character arc , incomplete plot lines and poor character introductions. The sand snakes were presented as little more than mere sex objects. Jamie and Bronn roadshow was a waste. The entire season with the exception of Hardhome and Cersei’s walk were mishandled. Jon death was poorly handled. I fully realize that books 4&5 were not the best. I think the reason was the decision to split the books in the way they were. I think that D&D might be losing sight of what the series really is. It is first and foremost a political drama in a fantasy setting. It is not an action drama. D&D have made little use of the fantasy elements which I think is for the best. I don’t mind if they go off book as long as it is well done and they have done well with it up to last season. I blame the people responsible for writing, and D&D as they have oversight of the entire project. It maybe that they had done so well I expected it to continue, but it fell far short of my expectations. I am hoping that this year they will get on track again as it is one of the few shows I look forward to seeing.

    • I can’t say season 5 was bad but I’d say it was for sure the worst season of the 5. I got it 4-3-1-2-5 . Barriston and stannis going out like that was just rushed and clunky ,plus dorne was bad. I do think there gonna use the nod to ellaria in the show as the start of dorans master plan , but how do you fix that ???!? It’s still clearly the best show on tv but I thought 5-6 unbowed unbent unbroken was almost a different show than I watched before I was super disappointed . But 5-5 was pretty good . It was an up and down roller coaster with no consistency . Hopefully they do all the greyjoy stuff right I wanna see nagas bones and all that shit. I’m still kinda disappointed they didn’t add Victorian to this season , especially after killing stannis and Barriston . I think that if this season isn’t a complete bounce back season than the show may just fall flat by the end of it . This article kinda stole some hype from me towards next season , but the premeire is tonight and I think the end of the episode is gonna be Jon opening his eyes and someone’s gonna leak the info. Will see that’s my prediction

  • I am glad to see that people like Sansa’s story line better once they adjusted their expectations. I think it is somewhat true that we were misled, but I think we also read Sophie Turner’s interviews wrong in anticipation.

    I agree that Dorne was pretty terrible, except for Doran.

    And I just want to say that Ani B is my fave. I agree that a lot of these problems are likely the result of having to adapt various book materials to make one cohesive and satisfying sort of narrative. It was awfully back-loaded and I remember being frustrated with how slowly things were moving in the beginning of the season, which has to be the result of coming off of season four, which was such a roller coaster. That said, moving forward I hope that they can do better now that they are off-book. It must be somewhat liberating and I hope it will result in better narrative structure. I think it is telling that everyone involved is so pleased with the new season.

  • I feel that after watching it again, season 5 is still not as good as other seasons, but entertaining nonetheless. One of the main reasons is that the season was left in a bit of a jumble after season 4 (such as Tyrion going to Essos… Arya to Braavos… Stannis ending up at the wall) so they had to build it up from there. I feel that it was the right time for Stannis to go (even as a Stannis supporter) and feel that his development may have been better if they’d started it in season 4, where he was mainly absent. I was very displeased with the reception to Sansa’s storyline. People began to object to the rape by saying ‘it has nothing to do with her character development’ something which can only be said once we’ve seen her whole story arch. I feel that so far, it was necessary both for Sansa’s arch and Ramsay’s (something everyone forgets about) it wouldn’t make sense for her to start wearing black then automatically become super powerful, she still has to learn about the real world, she may have a powerful name and friends, but some people don’t care. Other people argued that ‘it doesn’t happen to Sansa in the books’… And… Who cares? This is the TV show!!!! Also that scene was not at all graphic, especially when we compare it to the flayed corpse of an old lady the episode later… Come on guys… This year also had the strongest storyline for Jon Snow, a far more intriguing one than from the years previous. Dorne was a mess, well… The Sand Snakes and the Pirates of the Caribbean-esque fight scene… Although I like the whole Bronn and Jamie duo!!!

  • To Dan and Richard:
    I’m shocked to hear both of you agree on how Season 5 was subpar. It’s clear to the fans by the votes that most of us love the show the same as we did in Season 4. It’s also very clear that Season 5, like Season 1 had to set up the next 3 seasons.
    And even though the Sand Snakes were not the high light of the season, it was still amazing. I’d still watch any Season 5 episode over ANY episode of The Walking Dead.
    And remember that little story on the 133 BILLION tweets, retweets etc from Season 5 and the next closest is 130 million for the Walking Dead I believe??!!? There’s always going to be a season that is least liked. But gentlemen, you should be getting on your knees begging to “please” George, Dan and Dave and the whole crew who brought us this show.
    Season 6, 7 and 8 will undoubtedly be the best 3 seasons of the show.
    I expect you to join me in this thinking as each episode rolls out from this point to the end of the show.
    And one last note, we all know what happened to Sansa on her Wedding Night was not rape. I’m not sure if you’re trying to keep all your fan base by saying so, but clearly in the text of the show, it was not a rape. What the Mountain did to Rhegars wife was rape. I respect your opinions, I just don’t agree with them in the least. Remember how the Sopranos ended? How Lost ended? Shit, how Fringe ended was a crime in its own right! You really think GOT is not gonna gear up from here for the home stretch?
    Looking forward to you guys changing your tune once Season 6 begins….

  • Ani:
    I couldn’t agree more. The source material was pretty slow for what they covered in Season 5. They did amazing with the last 3 episodes too! And most who rank all 50 episodes puts Hardhome at first or second. And even Episode 9 and 10 of Season 5 is highon this list.
    Season 6 will light a fire to the show. I’ve drank the Kool-aid and it tastes amazing!

  • In Daznak’s Pit, none of the Harpy’s killed the former slaves. Has this been discussed yet?

  • Oh, Robb (or WatcherOn The Wall, or Nissa) using different emails is fun when trolling and being mean to others, but perhaps you should change *your IP address.

    Thank you for *your support. *You’re a valued reader here at WiC and I consider *your opinion quite important. I’m sure *you’re a well adjusted fellow behind *your keyboard, in *your mother’s basement.

    The next time I see you in the comments trolling other commenters (Not just me, because I love feeding trolls), I’ll out *your real name and email address. Have fun, and dream of me tonight.

    Snootchie bootchies!

    Hugs and kisses,
    Razor

  • I disagree many people saying season 5 is not that great. I guess most of them are book readers and the show did not reach their expectations. For me Its amazing. We got Hardhome, Drogon fight, Cersei getting screwed, Tyrion Danny meet which are the best scenes. Of course the Dorne part sucked, it could have been better. The last episode full of cliff hangers where stannis defeated is also filmed well. For me s5 is like watching a Match where the team you support played great but lost.

    • Frankly, I found the quality of the writing to be very much up to par compared to prior seasons, with the exception of Dorne. All of Dorne pretty much sucked, and was pretty much like a bad Xena the Warrior Princess episode, down to the terrible fight choreography. Aside from Dorne, I thought everything else was pretty great really…maybe Mother’s Mercy was perhaps a bit rushed and perhaps needed about 10 more minutes to breathe a little bit. It was a bit of a cut and paste job, but given the material they really had to…I mean, those interminable scenes with Penny and Tyrion? The endless scenes of Tyrion in the boat? The never ending scenes of Danny in the throne room in Meereen mulling over the same problems over and over again? Yep, pretty much all that needed to go…And even with all the cuts, it should be plainly obvious to anyone that has followed the spoilers for the upcoming season that D&D aren’t quite done adapting Feast and Dance just yet, they are combining certain story points there with upcoming events from the Winds of Winter story outline.

  • Season 5 was my least favorite season, but it wasn’t terrible by any means. I feel the same way about AFFC/ADWD. I thought the show would be able to fix some of the pacing problems that plagued the last two books, but unfortunately it didn’t quite work out that way. That said, I still believe that some storylines in season 5 were better than the books:

    King’s Landing: This was kind of mixed for me. I thought the Sparrows were more fleshed out in the books, but Jonathan Pryce as the High Sparrow was brilliant. Cersei’s political maneuvering was better in the show, and I felt like she was too cartoonish in the books. Her book plot against Margaery was too convoluted and was never going to work, whereas the show Cersei’s plan was simple but brilliant.

    Braavos: I liked Arya’s book storyline better, and felt the Faceless Men were more fleshed out. I also liked how we got to see more of Braavos. However, I liked how they made Jaquen her mentor in the show.

    The Wall: Jon’s storyline at the Wall was one of my favorites in the television series. I loved his scenes with Stannis, his beheading of Slynt, and, of course, Hardhome. The book chapters went on for too long, and nothing exciting like Hardhome happened until the end. My only complaint about the show was that I thought they could have built up Jon’s stabbing a little better.

    Winterfell: I thought Winterfell in the show was a little empty and preferred the book version, where Winterfell was filled with Wyman Manderly, Lady Dustin, and an assortment of Freys. Theon’s arc was also one of the best story arcs I’ve ever read in Literature, and wish we had gotten some moments from the books into the show. I also felt that Stannis’s arc was a little rushed at the end.

    Dorne: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I liked book Dorne better, and I hated book Dorne. Show Dorne was pretty bad, with them placing too much emphasis on the Sandsnakes. Arianne wasn’t a very compelling character, but she was better than every other character in Dorne, besides show Doran, who I actually preferred over book Doran.

    Meereen: I liked Meereen better in the show and loved how they portrayed Dany’s struggle to rule. Mossador’s death was well done, and I could see Dany’s struggle with the decision. Also, having Tyrion meet Dany was a very wise decision. I couldn’t help but feel cheated that they didn’t meet in ADWD. I’m one of the few book readers who didn’t have any problem with Barristan’s death. I was never really interested in Barristan in the books, and I thought show Barristan went out in style, cutting done a dozen assailants before falling to their knives. I’m not entirely sure what else people wanted from him.

    • “I thought show Barristan went out in style, cutting done a dozen assailants before falling to their knives. I’m not entirely sure what else people wanted from him.”

      Yeah, I’m not sure what people really expectd either. Aside from some nitpicks about how it was filmed, I don’t buy the criticism about how he didnt fight well enough, because it makes sense that he’s not in his prime anymore. He never fought until then because he never had to. In season 3, Jorah and Daario convince him to sit the raid of Yunkai out because he’s too old. He finally fights and he actually does surprisingly well. He takes out a bunch of SotHs, but eventually just loses out to the sheer number of them. It’s the same with the Unsullied, who people also critized for being taken down too easy. But there’s always multiple SotHs to every one Unsullied that gets taken down. In even fights, the Unsullied handle them fine, but the SotHs have to gang up on them to win, which is exactly what they do. Despite this, Greyworm is still the only one left alive. Unsullied 1, SotH 0. Unsullied won the fight, guys. So what’s the beef?

      Oh right, it’s not in the book, so any problems have to be magnified and used against the show as obsessively as possible!

  • I’m no book reader. I liked season 1 to 4, found them thrilling, entertaining with nice visuals, a charming background and astonishing world building. I didn’t like season 5, no way. I can find no well written story line in season 5 (except maybe Hardhome). Many characters and facts looked stereotyped, cartoonish, poorly built. Faith militant was poorly built. All of Dorne was an insult. Sansa story was totally senseless. Arya’s training was not mysterious or fascinating, was simply boring (cherry on the cake, pedo Trant was ridicolus). Dany in Meereen was also boring. The Arpy was also poorly built and rather cartooinsh (thousand of terrorists going around with a golden mask in their pocket? come on!). The pit scene was also pooerly written and not believable at all (Drogon’s arrival way too predictable). Stannis burning his daughter for melting the snow was beyond any comment I could make (not to mention the 20 good men). Even Jon’s stabbing didn’t work at all, the way they decided to set it up. Hope they repair this disaster with season 6, but I highly doubt.

  • If I’m being honest I’m not looking forward to Dany’s upcoming storyline in season six. To me it feels like we are just going over old ground by having her wondering the desert with the dothraki.

    • Yes, and I blame this on GRRM. He was like “oh no, where do I go with Dany’s story…ummm…I guess I’ll just send her back to the Dothraki!” I hope we are all pleasantly surprised by how it all turns out.

    • Drogon’s gonna light Vars Dothrak up and the display of power will cause the Dothraki to finally pledge themselves to a female leader, conpleteing the arc that began in season 1.

      That’s not the same thing that happened in season 1. Visually, yes, it’s familiar, but that works thematically to juxtapose imagery/a place that Danys been before… with her character and sitution having developed in the meantime, making for a different outcome now. Classic setup and payoff, but done over the course of six years of television… goes to show how well this is all actually planned out and being executed. Not a negative in the slightest. It’s good storytelling.

  • Flippin’ Brilliant. I’d rate every season ***** except the first season, which was a case of a show relying heavily on backstory and everything – acting, cinematography etc. – trying to work things out and get sturdy on their feet. Or whatever.

  • Razor, i actually enjoy you’re articles! Unlike 2 others on WiC.
    Keep it up man

  • What is it that people love so much about Season 4? Sure, it was very good TV, but it had it’s weaknesses. Sansa’s trip to the Vale was about as bad as Jaime’s trip to Dorne if you ask me, there was the shit tier writing in the Tyrion & Shae scenes as well as in numerous Arya & Hound scenes (let’s be honest: half of those only existed for the sake of fan service). I could go on…

    • You are the only person I’ve ever heard complain about any of the Arya and Hound scenes in season 4. Perhaps the purge scene in the Godfather was just filler fluff? The final showdown in the Good the Bad and the Ugly were pointless? I don’t understand how anyone would criticize the Arya- Hound arc. It was bloody brilliant.

      • I too had problems with the Arya/Hound scenes in S4.

        The coincidental encounters with Poliver, Rorge, and Biter for one. The chickens thing wasn’t as hilarious as everyone thinks. And I think The Hound is like Stannis…a good character who is adored and idolized to an annoying degree. I actually wish he was dead and not The Gravedigger…

  • Simply put – S5 was the weakest in my opinion. Hardhome pretty much saved the season. Dorne was a complete flop. D&D had a chance to improve (blasphemy – I know) the relatively weak content of AFFC and ADWD – and they failed. Just my opinion. Hope S6 is better.

  • Calling out the writers under an alias veil is a very weak move, bro.

    Also– I despise internet message board pedants, but if you can’t use ‘you’re’ as in ‘you are’ in a sentence correctly while criticising the authors I’m certain that makes you the worst writer on this site right now. Real talk.

  • Anyone that thinks season 5 sucks has outed themselves as having zero experience in entertainment industry of film, television, or any other visual medium.

    No one with any actual experience of what it takes to make these things, to go from book to screenplay, to actual show, would ever think to say it sucks. They may have disagreements with the way some things have been adapted or the choices made, but they would know that it is BUDGET above all else that call the shots.

    Season 5 was the most ambitious so far, the best visually so far. Had the best special effects of the series so far.

    Visual storytelling at its absolute best with no equal anywhere else on the small screen.

    • Yes, we’ve been spoiled. Season 5 may be the weakest (I’d personally say season 2 probably is) but it’s still so high in quality that even at it’s weakest point, it’s still pretty good. Especially for television. Some people just don’t have perspective, though.

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