Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Game of Thrones (Season 5)

Game of Thrones (Season 5); fantasy series, USA, 2015; D: Michael Slovis, Mark Mylod, Jeremy Podeswa, David Nutter, S: Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Sophie Turner, Aidan Gillen, Natalie Dormer, Carice van Houten, John Bradley-West, Alfie Allen, Iwan Rheon, Iain Glen, Maisie Williams

The fight for the legacy of the Seven Kingdoms continues. Aften fleeing from King's Landing, Tyrion and Varys try to find Daenerys. Tyrion is kidnapped by exiled Jorah, who - ironically - brings him to Daenerys, who accepts him as her adviser. She is attacked by a rebellious gang in the Meereen arena, but escapes thanks to her dragon... On the north, in Winterfell, Ramsay marries Sansa Stark and rapes her in front of Theon. This causes Theon to rebel and help Sansa escape from the fortress. In the meantime, Stannis burns his daughter for the gods as a sacrifise to win in the battle against Winterfell, but Ramsay's army destroys his whole army... Jaime Lannister and Bronn go to Dorne to bring back Myrcella Baratheon, fearing she might get assassinated... Arya works as a apprentice in a temple of assassins in Braavos, with many faces, and kills criminal Meryn in a brothel... Jon Snow manages to unite the wildlings and the Night Watch before the army of Zombies annexes the north, but he is killed because they think he is a traitor.

Season 5 is a waste of time. It is here where the ratio between the viewers' invested time and the actual lack of a payoff or a point reach a breaking point, after which the meandering structure and endless piling up of so many useless subplots cause "Game of Thrones" to collapse on itself from its own weight. The worst season of the series, season 5 went way overboard with disgusting, primitive, vile violence without any sense for measure or subtlety in directing - there are explicit scenes here of a little girl getting burned alive on a bonfire, a man's head getting decapitated in a close up, a man's throat getting cut off with a detailed bloodshed, Ramsay raping Sansa and forcing Theon to watch the crime... - and while the previous seasons certainly had their fair share of violence as well, they at least had clever writing or some kind of a directorial style to compensate for it, but since the viewers are offered so little intellectually this time around, the authors cannot salvage the negative impression left on all this savagery and crap getting thrown at the screen. Season 5 simply lacks highlights, among others because it again resorts to endless filler instead of finally advancing the plot forward. What was the point, for instance, to again and again show that Ramsay is evil? It was established already in the previous season, and thus all his new misdeeds just seem like a repetitive repeat of the same thing. Also, it was done in a really banal way, in the vein of "make the viewers hate the villain, no matter how cheap or how blatant" - the scene in episode 4.5, where Roose tells Ramsay how he got him, namely that he raped a peasant girl under the tree where he hanged her husband, is such a trash that one wonders if it is a parody.

Written in a mediocre manner, where the characters are basically just saying out loud what is going on the screen or repeating what happened, which is very standard and dry, and thus season 5 disappoints wholeheartedly. There is no single great episode, all are either average of good at best, and even the final, "Mother's Mercy", is a mixed bag, except for one - the excellent episode 4.8, where the Zombies attack and annex the peninsula on the north, leading to an epic battle which Jon Snow witnesses, and which is done with such an eerie suspense and virtuoso inspiration that it is the only episode to justify its existence here. It clearly showed how all the tribes and clans are wasting their time fighting each other, and in the process don't see the bigger picture, the larger threat of supernatural (abstract) dimensions. The subplot where Brandon's group encountered a mythical tree with leaves in the middle of the snow was one of the most expressionistic images in the entire 4th season - only to not even be mentioned in this season at all, which is a betrayal: why start such an imaginative story just to drop it? Why does the temple in which Arya trains have pillars covered with faces on it? Does any of it make sense? Are there no criteria left for the authors? Season 5 turned into a Middle Ages soap opera. Just as Stannis sacrificed his daughter on the bonfire, which led to half of his army deserting from disgust, the same fate befell season 5 which was abandoned by many of its fans for having such poor judgement and ill-conceived ideas in this edition.


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