The Limits of Revenge: The Fifth Season Finale of 'Game of Thrones'
The fifth season finale of “Game of Thrones” was all about the hollowness of revenge (warning: spoilers ahead):
- Arya Stark finally gets Meryn Trant alone, No. 1 on her hate parade (“You were the first person on my list, you know?” she says), and plucks out his eyes and slits his throat. For this she goes blind.
- Brienne of Tarth finally gets revenge on Stannis Baratheon for the shadow-killing of his brother three seasons ago. But by then he's a defeated, wounded man, slumped against a tree. Worse, by taking a revenge that doesn't need taking, she misses her chance to help her charge, Sansa Stark, who is still imprisoned by her husband, Ramsay Bolton, and who instead jumps (seemingly) to her death.
- And we finally get revenge on Cersei Lannister, who has wreaked havoc on the show with a small, contempuous smile for the past five seasons. After her son Joffrey died, and before Ramsay took over the slot, she was No. 1 on our hate parade. Oh, to see her humiliated by the people of King's Landing! Well, in this episode, we finally get to see it. And it's awful.
In some ways, this is the most underappreciated aspect of HBO's show. the characters change; they can be redeemed in our eyes. Who, for instance, didn't want Jamie Lannister dead after the very first episode? Over time, he's become a favorite.
That said, the final death in the episode made me want to take revenge: on George R.R. Martin or the show's producers. Someone. It's not that I was a huge fan of Jon (“Winter is cooming”) Snow or his storyline. The opposite, really. But I endured his trials and tribulations because I figured it was going to lead somewhere. It seemed like it was important even as it bored me to death. I mean, what was all that “Kill the boy” talk a few weeks back? Maester Aemon essentially tells Jon to make the difficult decision, he does, he pushes it through (and surivives it: wildlings and white walkers, all), only to get the shiv for it. And this is what Sam wants to be? A maester who gives crappy advice? Shame. Shame. Shame.
Cersei being prepped for the Walk of Shame.