Took last week off from recapping, fortuitously enough, so let me just say this about the penultimate episode's ... unpleasantness.
First, I understand this was a show that started with a guy throwing a kid out a window after he just got caught having sex with his sister, but what bothered me about burning Shireen was the way they'd previously attempted to humanize Stannis, both in the greyscale speech and in his pointedly telling Melisandre not to mention sacrificing his daughter to the Lord of Light again, and then walking that back for what seems like no other reason than to keep the shock factor high.
But also, maybe I've just reached my recommended series allowance of atrocity. Speaking only for myself, I don't need everything to be sunshine and lollipops, but I occasionally like my entertainment to be, you know, entertaining and not a constant parade of misery. Your mileage may vary. Speaking of that, how about that season finale?
Locations (* = new): King's Landing, Winterfell, The Wall, Braavos, Dorneh
Ser(s) Not Appearing In This Episode: Roose Bolton, Prince Doran, King Tommen
Well hey, looks like murdering your kid worked. Temporarily. The way to Winterfell is now clear for Stannis (Stephen Dillane), first of his name (if his name is Daughter Murdering Asshole, that is). Unfortunately, throwing a kid on the pyre proves a deal breaker for his mercenary allies, as well as his previously devout wife, now swinging from a tree. Oh, and Lady Melisandre (Carice Van Houten) has buggered off as well. What was that about reaping and sowing and something?
They march on Winterfell regardless, drawing the attention of Pod (Daniel Portman) and Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), who finally have something to do. And of course they leave just as Sansa (Sophie Turner) lights the Brienne signal. The Boltons march out to engage Stannis, which turns out to be all she wrote for the man who would be king. And who better to put an ending to his miserable life than a former member of Renly's Kingsguard?
Also! Theon/Reek (Alfie Allen) finally grows, well *re*grows a pair, and jumps with Sansa off the castle walls as Ramsay returns. Surrounded by enemies, winter closing in, what could go wrong? See you in Season 6, you crazy kids!
Jon Snow (Kit Harington) tells Sam (John Bradley-West) of the events at Hardhome and discusses the merits of Valyrian steel (mirroring the endless Internet discussions following that particular episode). Sam also wants Jon to send him, Gilly, and baby Sam to Oldtown so he can become a maester. Jon agrees, thus bidding farewell to one of his last friends, minus Edd and Ghost (more on that later).
In Braavos, Arya (Maisie Williams) avenges Syrio (still no proof he's really dead, dammit), taunt-murdering Meryn Trant in the brothel. It's just gratifying enough to make you think Benioff and Weiss realized they went too far last week and are trying to bring us back. Still, Trant's life wasn't hers to take, and she has to pay, with ... her eyesight? Seems harsh for lancing that particular boil on the ass of humanity, but the Many-Faced God works in mysterious ways.
Back in Dorne ... you know what, who gives a shit? This storyline has been mangled like Rick Perry's grasp of the English language all season. Myrcella (Aimee Richardson) knows you're her dad, Jaime. Further, she's proud to be the child of blasphemy. Sadly, the union proves to be short and not so sweet, once Ellaria's kiss of death takes hold. Tommen's an only child now, as B&W continue their kid murdering ways.
In Meereen, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) gets his Valyrian corrected by Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), while Daario (Michiel Huisman) finds himself in what I assume is the unusual role of peacemaker. He leaves Missandei, Grey Worm ("He's the toughest man with no balls I ever met") and the "foreign dwarf" in charge of things while he goes with Jorah (Iain Glen) to find Daenerys. And heeeeeeere's Varys (Conleth Hill)! It's a wondrous reunion with Tyrion, and will doubtless prove to be much more entertaining than the Tyrion/Bronn show.
Speaking of the Mother of Dragons (Emilia Clarke), she and Drogon are far, far away from Meereen. He's not inclined to fly, and in what is probably an unwise move, Daenerys decides to stretch her legs and is immediately surrounded by Dothraki hordes. They don't seem inclined to bow to the former Khaleesi.
In what might have been this week's most kvetched about moment if not for a certain Lord Commander-cide, Cersei (Lena Headey) confesses her cousin-cest to the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce). She denies her kids aren't Robert's, and his High Sparrowness buys it and agrees to let her return to the Red Keep to await trial. First thing's first, though: gotta cut that hair, also gotta walk naked back to the castle. It's pretty excruciating, and as deserving of vituperation as Cersei is, and as textually accurate as the almost 10 minute ordeal might be, it still feels gratuitous. I know, I know; on *this* show?
Then again, ZOMBIE MOUNTAIN.
Davos (Liam Cunningham) returns to the Wall to plead Stannis' case (belatedly, of course). Melisandre also returns, but before Jon has time to parse much of this out, he's murdered with extreme prejudice by his "sworn brothers." And by Olly, which — if we're being honest — we saw coming five weeks ago. Still, the real question in all this remains: WHERE THE HELL IS GHOST? The furry bastard gave a shit enough to save Sam's bacon last week, but he can't be bothered to defend his blood brother? Direwolf? More like direwuss.
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Thus endeth Season 5, and we have once again been trolled. Predictions for next year: Arya embarks on a new career as a Braavosi blues singer; Jon Snow joins his Uncle Benjen in the afterlife as ghost detectives; Cersei keeps her saucy new haircut; Hodor rescues Danaerys, and she renamed Drogon in his honor; finally. Sam takes the Iron Throne by discovering an obscure bylaw in Oldtown and becomes Samwell, the Neckbeard King.
Hey, it's at least another year before the next book comes out. Anything goes.
Stuff That Will Piss Off Book Purists: Shireen and Selyse are still "safely" back at Castle Black; and so is Melisandre ... wait, that's actually accurate; for that matter, Stannis is currently freezing his ass off and talking with the Iron Bank, not dead; Myrcella is scarred, but also not dead (they killed a lot of people this season), but that's in keeping with the whole Dorne arc; in the books, Stannis has Reek/Theon in custody, and of course Sansa is nowhere near Winterfell; Arya does go blind, but it's actually part of her training and not punishment for killing Trant (who was only a garden variety asshole and not a child rapist in the books); Jon does get assassinated, but it's for telling the Watch they're assisting Stannis against the Boltons, not for bringing the Wildlings through the Wall.
Next Week: Watch season two of True Detective.