Sunday, April 12th will be a busy day in the KnippKnopp household, as birthday celebrations will be capped by the much-anticipated opening of season five of the GREATEST SHOW EVER!
We’re going to be hard pressed to top last season. Can’t remember last season? Let’s take a quick walk through all that occurred, right after the break.
Daenerys’ army easily takes Meereen, the last (and largest) of the great slave cities on Essos. She quickly discovers that conquering is much easier than ruling, as she’s forced to hear pleas from thousands of supplicants, including the more honorable members of the very slave-holders she vanquished. She shares some illicit tub time with a face-changed Daario (before sending him off to retake Yunkai, which has fallen back to slavers), provides some advice to help the blossoming relationship between the deadly adorable Missandei and the adorably deadly Grey Worm, and banishes Ser Friendzone when she discovers (through the machinations of Tywin Lannister) that Jorah had started out as a spy for Kings Landing. More worrisome: the behavior of her dragons, the largest of which goes from eating shepherd’s goats to eating shepherd’s children. By season four’s end she’s forced to tearfully chain two of her rebellious teenagers beneath the pyramid, while the Drogon roams the skies unchecked. Based on season five trailers, I think many of these decisions will be coming back to haunt her!
The last innocent in Westeros, Sansa Stark, is delivered from a tumultuous King’s Landing (more on that later) and ends up in the slimy clutches of Petry “Littlefinger” Baelish. Turns out Petyr is engaged to her crazy Aunt Lysa, conspired with said Aunt to kill Jon Arryn (which started this whole game of…uh, thrones), and has set his creepy uncle eyes on young Sansa. Little finger helps Lysa take a long flight out a short moon door, and Sansa proves she can politick with the best of them, as she reveals to the investigating council the truth (“I am Sansa Stark’) while weaving a curtain of lies (“Aunt Lyssa jumped, really!”) to protect a very relieved Littlefinger. The season ends with Sansa signaling her willingness to play the game (and perhaps the inevitable loss of that innocence) by donning a much more adult dress before an approving Littlefinger’s smarmy smirk.
Castle Black, The Night’s Watch, and the Wildlings.
Jon has recovered from the Ygritte-inflicted arrow wounds and is desperately trying to ready a disbelieving Castle Black against the approaching army of wildlings. The initial raiding party of wildlings, joined by bunch of giant cannibals who make the rest of the wildlings look like the cast of Downtown Abbey, are tearing up the North, including Moletown, where Gilly and baby Sam are holed up in the most dangerous safe-house in the world. Jon leads a potential suicide mission to deal with the renegade rangers holed up at Craster’s Keep and unknowingly rescues his baby brother.
The Wildlings beyond the wall finally reach the gates…
…and we’re treated to an epic battle that matched Lord of the Rings in scale and scope. Jon displays his leadership skills, a bunch of crows fill the breach with their English dead, and Sam gets some Gilly lip action as the Night’s Watch hold the castle with great sacrifice. Jon and Ygritte say their goodbyes when she takes an arrow to the back and dies in his arms, reminding him how little he knows.
As the season ends, Jon makes a rash decision to try and kill Mance on his own, only to be rescued by Stannis’ newly bought army.
The Young Prophets Beyond The Wall
The Bran Gang continues their northward trek and in a big departure from the books, stumbles upon the renegade rangers living in Craster’s Keep. Mayhem and death ensue, and Bran is forced to turn gentle Hodor into his own personal Avatar to keep from ending up on the pointy end of double agent Locke’s sword.
Throughout the journey, Jojen reveals a little of the future, Bran starts dreaming of the coming chaos, and Hodor simply Hodors along. The gang finally reaches the end of their journey when they meet a millennia-old, fireball-throwing toddler who blows up white walkers and leads them into a root-filled cave, but not before Jojen falls to a hidden walker. In the cave they discover the three-eyed raven, whose true form is an ancient man embedded in the roots of the tree; and who promises Bran he will teach him how to fly.
Theon goes from Stockholm syndrome sufferer, as he refuses his sister’s daring, and nearly successful rescue from the Dreadfort, to full-on Manchurian Candidate while pretending to be himself and helping Bolton Bastard Ramsay take a key fort in the North. Reese Bolton shows his gratitude by removing the name “Snow” from his son’s resume.
Arya and the Hound get to the Aerie just in time to find out about Aunt Lyssa’s short-lived flight lesson. By the end of the season, they run into Brienne and Podrick (who are looking for Stark girls to protect), and the Hound and Brienne commence an epic sword, tooth, and rock fight that makes the Roddy Piper brawl in They Live look like a game of patty cake. The season ends with Brienne still Starkless and continuing her search, and Arya gaining her revenge on a mortally wounded Hound by not killing him. We last see Arya using the coin given to her by the Faceless Man way back in season one to put the past firmly behind her and sail for Braavos.
Prior to Stannis’ last minute rescue of the Night’s Watch, the least-fun Baratheon spent most of the season looking for a loan from the Iron Bank, alternately freeing and condemning the Onion Knight to death, and listening to red-witch Melisandre as she rounded up Baratheon bastards to use as blood sacrifices. They only ended up at Castle Black because – in between jail time, freeing Robert’s Bastards, and learning to read from Stannis’ adorable, half-lizard daughter – Ser Davos found the missive sent by Measter Aemon and finds an unlikely ally in Melisandre, who has determined the key to the throne, in fact, resided in the North.
We also find out what the White Walkers are doing with all those babies.
The season started with perennial world’s worst dad candidate Tywin Lannister melting down Ned Stark’s sword Ice into two smaller swords to present to Joffrey and Jaime; it ends with Tywin sitting on the privy with a crossbow bolt in his gut. In between we find every sort of political machination ever invented.
We get a royal wedding as King Bad Seed weds the sexy Margaery Tyrell, humiliates his uncle Tyrion, and drops dead from poison supplied by Tyrell materfamilias, Oleanna. Tyrion, of course, gets the blame and spends most of the season in jail awaiting trial. He very quickly finds who his real friends are as the trial includes lies and betrayals, most notably by Shae whose chose the role of spurned lover despite Tyrion’s attempts to protect her. Shae ultimately dies by Tyrion’s hands when, en route to committing some long-awaited patricide, he discovers her in his father’s bed.
Margaery becomes betrothed to the King “Next-in-Line” Tommen, Joffrey’s much younger, sweeter, and more pliable brother. We dodge an icky bullet as Margaery’s seduction of Tommen is interrupted by the timely appearance of Ser Pounce the cat; and we get hit full in the chest by another when scum-side Jaime suddenly reappears and rapes his sister over the body of their dead son. Heroic- side Jaime reappears later to give his new sword to Brienne and charges her to find the remaining Stark girls and protect them from his vengeful sister.
We meet Dornish nobleman and professional Inigo Montoya cos-player Oberyn Martell just long enough to fall in love before he falls to the Mountain in the horrifying, heart-rending, head-crushing conclusion to Tyrion’s trial by combat. Much like the Red Wedding from Season three, this episode even had book readers – who knew what was coming – lying awake and wishing the show runners had somehow skipped that chapter.
The season ends with Varys packing the escaped Tyrion into a shipping crate, looking back as the bells of King’s Landing announce Tywin’s murder, and deciding that the winds of change would not be favorable to spiders.
What’s Next? (Warning book and trailer spoilers ahead).
So many potential paths to follow and storylines too share in the fifth season, which is reported to deviate more from the books than any other. Some outstanding thoughts/questions include:
- Does Arya find the home of the faceless man, the shape-shifting assassin that helped her escape from Hallla? The trailer shows her before the doors of a temple, is this the path she’ll be following?
- Why are Tyrion and Dany sitting together, dressed in finery, watching Jorah in the arena (in photos leaked from the set)? Exactly what hell is breaking loose in another trailer when they all seem to end up on the arena floor while Drogon the Dragon appears breathing fire and the Harpy is pulled down from atop the pyramid.
- Show-runners have confirmed that Bran and Hodor will not be in season five. Are they pouring 16-year old Isaac Hampstead-Wright full of anti-growth hormones to keep him young enough for season six?
- Another Dragon? There are some indications that they’ve cast the role of Griff. Does that mean one of the weaker story arcs of the last book is coming to the screen?
- Melisandre and Jon Snow – why is the Red Priestess so interested in our mopey Stark bastard?
- The Sand Snakes. We know at least three have been cast. In the book the bastard daughters of Oberyn Martell as instigators and radicals. What role will they play in the show?
- Will Sansa continue her tutelage under Littlefinger? How will it change her, and how far will she be willing to go for vengeance?
I guess we’ll find out this and more, starting next Sunday!