GAME OF THRONES – Season Five (2015)

Tywin is buried and Lancel, one of Cersei’s cousins and her partner in fornication returns, now a devoutly religious man and a member of the “Sparrows”. In Pentos, a despondent Tyrion agrees to accompany Varys to Meereen to support Targaryen’s claim on the Iron Throne. In Meereen, the insurgent “Sons of the Harpy” murder an Unsullied, forcing Daenerys to launch more restrictive measures without respecting the old traditions. At the Wall, Stannis seeks to enlist the Wildlings in his war against Roose. Snow is unable to convince Rayder to accept Stannis’s authority.

Arya arrives in Braavos and is accepted into the “House of Black and White” by H’ghar, who calls himself and his colleagues “no one”. Jaime tells Cersei he is going to Dorne to sneak out Myrcella, who is promised to Prince Doran’s son and recruits Bronn to assist him. Podrick recognizes Baelish and Sansa in a tavern; Brienne offers Sansa her protection but is rebuffed. However, she decides to follow Sansa secretly. Tarly nominates Snow as a candidate for Lord Commander, and he is elected by the casting vote of Aemon. Daenerys faces a riot after she decides to execute a former slave who murdered a captured member of the Sons of the Harpy before he could be tried. Drogon reappears to her but leaves again.

Baelish conducts Sansa to Winterfell to cement an alliance with Roose through her marriage to Ramsay, behind the Lannisters’ back. Tyrion and Varys arrive in Volantis and visit a brothel, where the former is abducted by Mormont, intending to take him “to the queen”.

Cersei provides weapons for the Sparrows, who arrest Loras. Margaery is enraged, but Tommen proves too weak to arrange his release.  In Winterfell, Baelish prepares to return to King’s Landing. Before leaving, he tries to dispel Sansa’s misgivings towards Ramsay, telling her that even if Stannis does not defeat the Boltons and rescue her, she can easily manipulate Ramsay. The Sand Snakes learn from a sea captain that Jaime has come to Dorne for Myrcella. Ellaria convinces the Sand Snakes to plan to avenge the death of Oberyn by abducting Myrcella before Jaime can intervene. Mormont plans to redeem himself to Daenerys by giving Tyrion to her as a prisoner.

H’ghar takes Arya to a chamber with the faces of all the people that have died in the House of Black and White. At Loras’ inquest, Loras and Margaery both deny his homosexuality. The male prostitute Olyvar contradicts their testimony, and she is arrested for lying to the gods. In Winterfell, Sansa is married to Ramsay, who rapes her in front of Theon. The High Sparrow arrests Cersei due to her former incestuous relationship with Lancel. Cersei learns that her uncle Kevan is appointed as the Hand. She is left thirsty in order to force her to confess, which she does not.

Arya assumes the identity of Lana, an oyster merchant. H’ghar tasks her to study a man who sells marine insurance but has defrauded benefactors. She is to learn everything about the insurer and then poison him. Arriving in Hardhome, Snow and Tormund convince about five thousand wildlings to join them before Hardhome is attacked by an army of wights. Snow kills a White Walker with his Valyrian-steel sword. As he, Tormund and the other survivors sail away, they witness the Night’s King reanimating the deceased wildlings as wights.

Cersei confesses her former relationship with Lancel and is forced to face atonement by walking the streets fully naked. Upon reaching the Red Keep, Qyburn introduces a new member of the Kingsguard with complete loyalty. Jaime, Myrcella, Bronn and Trystane sail from Dorne. Myrcella dies of poison by Sand on the ship. Arya infiltrates a brothel and kills Trant. She is blinded for violating the terms of the Faceless Men. Varys arrives in Meereen to rule the city with Tyrion, Grey Worm, and Missandei, while Naharis and Mormont leave to search for Daenerys, who, far away, is found by a large group of the Dothraki. Tarly, Gilly and her child leave for Oldtown for the former to become a Maester. Snow is stabbed several times by mutineers, including Thorne and Olly.

When I thought of the different genres that Game of Thrones has circumnavigated throughout the last four seasons, the only thing left to experience was a Zombie Apocalypse and we get that in this season. The action sequence involving a marauding horde of wights attacking Hardhome as the Wildlings try desperately to fend them off deserved an IMAX treatment like the battle sequence in the previous season. I was absolutely blown away by the innovative action choreography that had a lot to offer in terms of new experience but also successfully brought back memories of some of the old and much-loved zombie horror epics.

If the zombie action was one end of the spectrum, the other end had some sublime interpersonal drama that was brought to life by Jonathan Pryce playing the High Sparrow and Lena Headey’s Cersei. It was interesting to see the character of Cersei give power to the Sparrows to bring her enemies to their knees and then watch the same Sparrows imprison her. The chats between the High Sparrow and Cersei are both amusing and grueling. The scene where she learns that she will be imprisoned is played out beautifully. The culmination of this drama on the street where Cersei has to take the walk of atonement is a heart-wrenching watch. The season ends in yet another cliffhanger when one of its primary protagonists is killed by his own brothers. Another amazing sequence is the one where Tyrion sees a dragon for the first time and then faces off against a couple of stone men in the company of Mormont.

Apart from the visual finesse, this season belongs to Jonathan Pryce, Lena Headey and Kit Harington for their superb performances. While Harington is coming to his own with every passing episode, Jonathan Pryce was a surprise. The situations that Lena’s character had to go through makes it easier and at the same time tougher for her to bring out what is best in her act and she brings her top game to the table. What is now left to be seen is how she comes down upon the ones who wronged her so violently. It should be a treat to watch.

Rating : 3.75/5 (3.75 Stars out of 5)

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