We’re mid-way through Season 5 and our plotlines are shaping up pretty well. One of the challenges in doing these write-ups is that due to the segregated nature of the plot, it’s really difficult to get an overall, macro-level sense of how the season is being structured. To some extent, I think that’s a result of the writers plotting out each set of character’s storyline by season rather than the other way around – for example, it feels like the writers have certain end-of-season goals for characters like Jon, Cersei and Sansa and are pacing those character’s storylines with those end-goals in mind. However, with others like Dany, Bran and even Brienne to some extent, I can’t really tell where the story is going and more often than not, it feels like the story is just continuing because it hasn’t found a place to stop rather than moving towards a specifics objective. It’s possible, even likely, that I’m thinking about this all wrong but compared to last season, I’m just not feeling that same sense of purpose and drive in the characters and story-telling. I feel like the absence of Joffrey is a big contributing factor – without the antagonism he provided, it’s much harder to make the events in King’s Landing as compelling as they were before.
For example, this week Tommen is crowned but it’s so incredibly difficult to care about the coronation because you just know that everyone is going to be proper and well-behaved. I’m basically saying that without Joffrey to add that element of obnoxious douchebaggery, everything becomes tamer and more predictable. Still, that isn’t to say that the King’s Landing plotline was a total wash; Lena Headey continues to be one of the most consistent performers on the show as she shows Cersei’s more manipulative side. It’s actually rather impressive how deftly Cersei influences Tywin and Oberyn. She seems to have a strong grasp on what motivates both men and backs that up with solid execution with just the right touch of emotional deception. I wondered why she was being so very cooperative until she finally got to point where she hits Tywin where he’s weakest – his obsession with the family legacy. Likewise, she knows that Oberyn is just a big softie at heart and uses their shared appreciation for family to win his sympathies. It’s some smooth operating on her part but she has yet to pull out the heavy weaponry.
Pictured above is the exact moment when all hope of plot progression died a sudden and conclusive death. Dany’s decision to stay back in Meeren and rule Slaver’s Bay is easily the most hated moment in the series’ fandom even though Martin attempts to explain the rationale behind it, from an in-universe plot point of view. It’s a relatively short scene, more of an update on what Dany is up to and what conflicts will be keeping her occupied while she learns how to queen. I’m guessing that we’re more or less done with Dany’s story for this season then since I doubt they’re going to go too much further with her story this season, except for occasional updates. It’s surprising that Dany has received relatively less screen time in the last couple of season, especially since Clarke is one of the more recognizable faces in the show. I guess that’s a by-product of how removed Dany’s story is from the main series though I expect when the storylines converge, Dany’s character will benefit the most from the redistribution of screen time.
Back in Westeros, it would seem like Sophie Turner can actually smile again because Sansa is in the seemingly loving care of her Aunt Lysa. It doesn’t last long; Aunt Lysa isn’t quite the most stable person in the world at the best of times and it seems like she isn’t responding too well to have a younger, prettier woman in the house. There’s a lot of tension in this particular theatre and even though everything looks peachy for now, you just know that it isn’t going to last. The odd thing is that Robin Arryn, played by Lino Facioli, is probably the most likable person in the room, but we know that that’s not going to last either. For now though, I guess we can enjoy the relative peace and quit in the Arryn-Baelish household while laughing at how hilariously awkward Littlefinger’s wedding was.
There was an interesting reveal in this episode about Jojen’s fate. Jojen’s hand being on fire is an indication of one of two things to me – either the kid gets fiery superpowers or he is going to burn and honestly, at this stage in the game, I just can’t be sure which is the more unlikely one. The last time I checked, Jojen was alive and well in the books which means that the image above is a sign that he’s going to turn into some kind of fireball shooting badass, but thematically speaking, him gaining fire powers (where would he even get them from?) just seems odd and exceedingly convenient (considering how cold it is). It’s possible that Jojen, Meera and Hodor will die soon (either this season or the next) since their role in the story is going to be very diminished once Bran reaches where he needs to go and I think it would be neater for the show to just kill the characters off rather than have them awkwardly fade away.
The episode ends with a violent end to the ill-fated mutiny led by Karl Tanner, the fookin’ legend of Gin Alley. In all fairness, Tanner was pretty good with those knives and it bugs me that Jon couldn’t just beat the shit out of him in a straight-up, one on one fight. I want to picture Jon as the best of the Night Watch and even though that logically doesn’t mean he has to be the best fighter in the organization, I want him to be at least capable enough to beat the likes of some fucking nobody from King’s Landing. I know that isn’t particularly rational of me but it is what it is I guess. I mentioned in last episode’s write-up that I suspected that this little bit of action was something of an appetizer for the big fight at the season’s end but as far as appetizers go, I don’t think this one was particularly effective. There was barely any fighting on screen and this particular detour forced the show to bring the two brothers agonizingly close together only to deny them at the last moment. I guess we ought to thank Jojen for forcing Bran to stick to the script and not do the logical thing of meeting Bran.