Game of Thrones is a dark show that isn’t afraid to take its audience on a ride to hell. But what happens though when it reaches one of its darkest points and maybe takes them a little too far..? You get Game of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season.
The ever complex game of claiming the Iron Throne continues with Jon Snow (Kit Harington) in the north battling to complex politics between the Crows and the Wildings. At King’s Landing Cersei (Lena Headey) makes the mistake of trying to manipulate religious fanaticism in her obsession to not lose face against the younger queen Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer). Over the sea Daenerys still struggles to control both her dragons and the people, and Arya Stark has finally found her faceless man, Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha).
While there are many other plot strands than I mentioned above, these are the main ones that shape the direction of Game of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season. There is of course also Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) whose story in this season may be one of the darkest, but her story may be more fleshed out in seasons to come. She is but a pawn in the chess game that is the Game of Thrones and one apparently easy to sacrifice.
While it could be argued this is the weakest season of Game of Thrones so far, I liked it a lot and hope that the backlash over some scenes don’t change the show from what it is. What we see on-screen is a harshness that many shows aren’t brave enough to show. Does it go too far? I’d argue not, especially if this is the direction the show is to go. There are sacrifices, attacks, and murders that hit us hard, and they need to. We need to know that this is a show where bad things happen, even if we don’t like it.
Game of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season works because it doesn’t waste any time that is on-screen. In ten episodes it has a set story that it needs to convey to the audience, and this isn’t strung out over twenty or more episodes to make it more than it needs to be. There is a slow build up through the season, we see the seeds of fate being sown, and we know exactly where it is heading.
The highlights of this season? Jon Snow finally finding out what he is set to face (or isn’t, based on where he finds himself at the end of the season), and Daenerys’ dragon finally showing what a force the creatures will be. Seeing the full power of the White Walkers in action though has to be the most impressive thing seen. We’ve heard that “Winter is Coming” all too often in the show, but to finally see what the Winter will be makes you realise that there is a huge battle coming that may be impossible to win.
Another aspect that is interesting is the question of religion. This is a strong theme in the fifth Season of Game of Thrones. It is something that Cersei tries to manipulate, and pays the price for. It is something that Arya becomes a part of, and just as Cersei falls victim to her misunderstanding the situation she is in. Perhaps the worst is the fate of Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) but the least said about him the better. What impressed me was the fact that as Game of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season focuses on religion, straight away we know that trouble is coming. When Cersei panders to it we know that she is doomed, and the way the makers of the show handle the growth of the fanaticism is very well done. Religion is a danger, we’ve seen that in our own histories, so we know where it is heading. The fact it goes as expected is very satisfying for the viewer, especially as Cersei finally finds she has bitten off more than she could chew.
When looking at the controversy surrounding the show, should it be tamed down as some of its audience seem to want? The fifth season is shocking and sometimes hard to watch, but the show as a whole always has been. Yes, there is argument that maybe it could be tamed but is that what we truly want and need? I’d argue that the show needs to stay as harsh as it is, what we see is not sensationalised to shock us, it is the show that was once celebrated for its bluntness, and it should stay that way.
Game of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season is available on DVD and Blu-ray now.