Mother’s Mercy: Game of Thrones Season Finale Analysis

Oh, boy. I was fairly busy last night. I didn’t get to watch last night’s Game of Thrones as it was airing, because I was knee-deep in amazing E3 action. I did however stay up late, and I chose to watch Mother’s Mercy afterwards.

WARNING: Unlike the helpful Billy, who wrote our Jurassic World review, I intend to include spoilers in my analysis. If you haven’t seen the season finale, you can scroll down to the final thoughts section to get an overall verdict, or watch it and come back!

I’m not really mad about Game of Thrones anymore. You may have recognized a trend from some of my past posts, where I criticized the writers for losing faithfulness to the books. I quickly realized watching this finale I wasn’t really that invested anymore. The television version of A Song of Ice and Fire is entertaining enough. I just have to reconcile the fact that it’s quality will never mirror that of George R. R. Martin’s sprawling epic saga.

That being said, the finale wasn’t too bad. Stannis swiftly realized that all of the work and child-burning he did last week was all for naught. As I predicted, the morale of Ol’ Burny Baratheon’s army spiraled, and the majority of his men were gone the following morning. Also, Lady Selyse could no longer stomach her guilt for sacrificing her only child and hung herself. Melisandre did a classic “smell ya later,” and just straight hoofed her way back to Castle Black. Having very few people left on his side, Stannis and his remaining men were made short work of.

We got to see a little bit more of Brienne, as we saw her doing ONE THING by finishing Stannis off to avenge the murder of the king she had stock in. The writers just did not handle Brienne very well this season. She did even less on the show than she managed to in the books, which is really saying something! We also missed out on the most interesting part of her journey, with Lady Stoneheart. Maybe they’ll save it for Season 6. Who can say? All she did this season really was stare ominously at Winterfell. Gwendoline Christie’s talent is worth more than that.

Sansa found herself in dire straits, as Ramsay Bolton’s side girl, (I’m sorry, “mistress”) threatened her with bodily harm upon the Winterfell parapets. Theon had a ridiculously trite, super cliché and out-of-character redemption sequence as he hopped in to save the day. Theon and Sansa literally jump right off the side of the 100+ foot wall of Winterfell against all logic and reason. No idea where they’re going with that. At least Ramsay’s psycho babe got her head smashed in.

I actually liked Arya’s arc. Of all of the arcs, hers is the least insufferable of the massive book changes. Arya stuck it to Ser Meryn in the most brutal of ways. She stole one of the faces in the chamber of…faces, pretending to be the little girl she mercifully killed earlier in the season (which was a nice tie-in). Trant was just casually beating these young girls (HBO trying to paint him as the pure embodiment of evil, apparently), but Arya would not shriek. In moments she was leaping through the air, bringing a severe and pointy reckoning down upon him.

Things were not all sunshine and rainbows, as the mystical J’aqen punished Arya for thinking only of herself. Arya’s blindness did not occur this way in the books, but this iteration of the tale actually makes sense, and the story that lead to it was flushed out and well paced. So kudos on the Arya adaptation, guys.

Dorne was just plain bogus this whole season. I was excited to see these new characters introduced, but they weren’t given any good material. Arianna Martell was replaced by Oberyn’s spiteful wife, who defies all logic in her plans. Arianna’s motivation made sense, and there was much more subtlety involved. Elaria is just spiteful, even though her husband died fair and square. Just for that, she would risk their allegiance with Westeros by murdering Myrcella Baratheon with poisonous lips. What the hell was the point of that? Her relative is on the boat. There is literally nothing stopping Jaime from pummeling young Trystane to death with his golden hand and tossing him overboard. It looks like Dorne is going to have a lot of trouble on their hands because of this stupid move. I don’t get it.

Cersei finally got some of what she deserved. A little shame and humility. Lena Headey bravely strolled down the streets stark naked in front of hundreds of people, as extras hurled all sorts of disgusting stuff at her. I didn’t get nearly as much satisfaction out of the scene as I thought I would. This was because she was made out to be so much more sympathetic on the TV show. Cersei in the books is so much more foul and conniving. So much so, that I actually laughed when she was forced to endure her walk of shame. The show just felt like a scene straight out of Passion of the Christ, so I just ended up feeling bad for her. Also, the big reveal of “Frankenmountain” was fairly cheesy. I don’t know how you make it work, but Robert Strong didn’t have a visible and puffy gray face that I remember. It was at least a little more subtle that the guy was an enormous zombie.

I wonder if Kevan Lannister is going to have a more prominent role on the show. In a random turn of events, a character that actually died survived on the show. Two actually. Kevan Lannister and Grand Maester Pycelle get murdered by Varys of all people at the end of A Dance with Dragons. Maybe they’ll delay that for later.

Speaking of Varys, it looks like he’ll be joining Tyrion as they rule Meereen in the interim, for some reason? I don’t know why Varys has any interest in Meereen. He was talking about putting a rightful ruler on the Iron Throne, not the throne of Meereen. It will be cool to see Tyrion in a position of power again, as he will be much more of an interesting leader than Dany, who is just all like “Bah, look at my dragons”.

Daenerys found herself in between a rock and a hard place as Drogon was too weakened from the arena battle to handle a flight back to her city. Much like the book, she encounters a pack of Dothraki Bloodriders, and it looks as if she’s about to come full circle to where she began. Hopefully, her friends can catch up to her and offer their assistance, otherwise her years-long journey will be utterly pointless.

Speaking of utterly pointless journeys (sorry about all of the segways), Jon Snow met his end at the hand of his brothers, including the young Olly, or whatever his name is. Jon was lulled into a false sense of hope, as he was told his uncle Benjen had surprisingly returned. Instead, he was led to a hastily scrawled sign that labeled him a traitor. Ser Alliser leads the charge this time (which makes him look like a spiteful tool), and the emotional impact this scene was supposed to have just felt lost on me. This is largely due to how little I care about Kit Harrington’s portrayal of one of my favorite ASOIAF characters. When I heard the news that he was actually dead on the show and won’t be returning for Season 6, I was actually partially relieved.

Final thoughts….
This season of Game of Thrones suffered due to trying to do too many things. They wanted to push boundaries and surprise the audience, but I think they fell short in their adaptations of key events. It wasn’t all bad, as some of the action sequences were the best yet on the series. Unfortunately, it all just felt like meaningless violence added merely for shock value. I gave it a chance, but was quickly soured early on when Barristan was punked out by the Sons of the Harpy. It will be interesting to see where the show goes from here. Aside from one story arc in particular, they are mostly caught up with the books. I know I come off as grumpy — I’m just a huge ASOIAF fan. I need to just accept that these properties are two very separate entities and try to enjoy the show for what it is. It’s likely best to watch the show with blissful ignorance of the books. I’m sure I would appreciate it much more in that regard.

I still intend to watch next season, if only to help justify the $15 a month HBO Now subscription. Some of the actors on the show are great. Hopefully, the Iron Islands will get a much better treatment than Dorne next year. Only time will tell.

What did you think of last night’s finale? Were you particularly shocked at any of the events that transpired? Did you lose a personal favorite character? Let us know in the comments below. Winter is truly coming in Westeros. Hopefully you have a blanket ready.

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