Well, there we go.
Some have called this the weakest season of Game Of Thrones to date – and to be honest, they’re probably right. Saying that, the last few episodes have bore witness to a definite improvement, and ‘Mother’s Mercy’ caps it off, being everything a good Game Of Thrones episode should be.
It’s packed with suspense, delivers brilliantly barbed exchanges between some of the genre’s most fleshed-out and well-realised characters, and possesses a capacity to shock that few others have.
The saying goes that “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”, and judging by how the people who gain power – whether they seek it or not – end up, the writers of the show have clearly been playing lip service.
First off, Stannis. He literally sacrifices everything or a lost cause encouraged by a false prophet, and meets a distinctly ignoble end – unless Brienne had a sudden change of heart, that is.
Then there’s Daenerys. Despite all the promising early signs of her rule, she made mistake after mistake. Now, as we leave her, all she has to her name is a surly dragon and a Dothraki horde surrounding her.
Still, she’s arguably faring better than Cersei. Another who has sought power for the sake of power, her penance walk (an incredibly brave piece of acting from Lena Headey) has utterly humiliated her, and with Uncle Kevan back in King’s Landing, it’s hard to see where she’ll go from here.
And finally, Jon. Be afraid for the good guys in this show. Be afraid for those who are being built up toward hero status, because it doesn’t end well. Despite what Kit Harington may have said in interviews, we’re sceptical over whether this is truly the end for him (especially considering how wide open the books leave his fate). Either way, no one can doubt the effectiveness of that final shot: the death of hope. Even in its darkest moments, Game Of Thrones has never been this unremittingly bleak.
It’s almost like a passing of the torch of sorts. Long-standing characters like Selyse Baratheon, Meryn Trant and Myranda met their ends, with Stannis, Jon and Myrcella all looking pretty much doomed. Coupled with Arya’s unfortunate case of blindness, and Sansa and Theon’s leap of faith, and you have a lot of cliffhangers to keep you fretting until next year.
Still, if we’ve learnt anything, it’s that Game Of Thrones relishes playing with viewers’ expectations, neatly tying up resolutions, only to promptly shred the know. Witness Jaime, who at the show’s outset was one of the most morally repugnant characters there. Now, he seems like one of the few who’s determined to do the right thing – and just as it looks like he might be finding peace, along comes Elaria Sand to take it all away with a literal kiss of death.
With the series having fully caught up with the series now, it’s safe to say that anything could happen. Even if sixth instalment The Winds Of Winter is released between now and next year, Game Of Thrones has established itself as something apart from its pen-and-paper kin.
Even at arguably its weakest, everyone’s talking about it. It may not be a case of ‘full marks’, but it’s certainly a case of ‘job done’.
Roll on Season 6. Valar Morghulis indeed.