So, Sunday night ended the season of sadism on Game of Thrones, and if you're thinking that could technically be every season, then you haven't seen the finale yet. It was a pretty stark, brutal, depressing year, and though it was still consistent and in the GoT wheelhouse...I don't know, I think I might just be getting tired of it.
It was yet another year of "people getting from one place to another," as Tyrion and Varys left King's Landing to make the long journey to meet up with Danaerys (we get several episodes of them bickering on the road, which isn't too bad because a lot of the wisecracking King's Landing crew are the some of the better characters to spend time with), and then Tyrion gets kidnapped by Sir Jorah, who's also set on taking him to Dany, so he can get back in her favor after being outcast for his betrayal. And you guessed it, that also takes up a few episodes of Tyrion and Jorah on the road, bickering, before finally getting to face the Queen herself, and we get a whopping two episodes of Dany and Tyrion, together at last after five seasons. It's kind of cool that they finally met, and it looks like Dany will hire Tyrion to be her new advisor, but then Dany gets attacked by the former slaves of Mereen and her rebellious dragon Drogon comes whooshing in to fly her to safety. This ends up stranding her in yet another part of the world, where it looks like she's back with her original Dothraki people, while Jorah and others will have to go looking for her on yet another road trip that will likely last all season next year.
And if that all sounded tedious, it was probably the storyline that I was most interested in this year, if only because Peter Dinklage makes everything he's in watchable. If this show was allowed to have one main character instead of the mass, sprawling ensemble, there's no doubt Tyrion would be it, but truthfully he had something of a smaller role this season than usual, and that's too bad, because I realized as we spent so much time with the other Game of Thrones cast this year how little I really care for any of them. I've always liked the King's Landing characters more than the others, because their deviousness and manipulations make them more entertaining, but this season Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) spent the whole season traveling as well, all the way to Spain (okay, it's not really Spain, it's Dorne, but that's where they filmed and all the actors there are Spanish, so it's like the Spain stand-in), to rescue he and Cersei's daughter Myrcella, who it turns out was perfectly happy to stay there and marry her prince. This entire plotline was contrived and boring, and the Sand Snake women acting in revenge for Oberyn's death were the least interesting villains the show (or books I suppose) have ever created.
Back at King's Landing, Cersei's story was a little better, as she spent her time empowering a group of religious zealots so she could use them to imprison Margaery and her brother, but of course it backfires on her and she herself finally gets what's coming to her, as she's thrown in prison and forced to confess and atone for her sins, resulting in a literal "Walk of Shame," naked, through the streets of King's Landing. That was a pretty good payoff for one of the show's best villains- if they can actually make you feel sorry for Cersei Lannister, that's quite an accomplishment. But we've reached the limit on the stories I find interesting now, as we must go through a laundry list of characters whose plights aren't compelling enough to stop me from becoming distracted by other thoughts as I watch, which is always a bad sign.
Jon Snow and his quest to recruit the Wildlings for Stannis. I yawn just thinking about it. I've never been enamored by Snow, even if I have grown to like him more, if not his storylines at the Wall, which I've never been exactly thrilled by. He went out like a champ though, as one of the season's big deaths in the finale, so hats off to Kit Harington for sticking around this long. Stannis and his quest to march through to the Iron Throne- all for naught apparently, and since I've never liked him either, I wasn't sad to see him finally struck down by Brienne of Tarth, after losing the battle to retake Winterfell. He was also the topic of one of the most controversial moments of the season, when he chose to sacrifice his daughter to the gods, burning her alive at the stake in one of the most awful moments in the show's history- after that, I guess he had to go fast and he did, so bye-bye Stannis. Sansa returning to Winterfell- horrible. This is mostly because after seeming to want to empower Sansa at the beginning of the season, with Littlefinger training her to become devious and manipulative, aware of the power she possesses, it comes to nothing when Sansa marries resident sadist Ramsey Bolton, who immediately rapes her (the other galling, controversial scene of the season) and keeps her as his prisoner wife, which so shocked fans that many wanted to stop watching altogether. My biggest beef with the storyline was that it ended up being a catalyst to gain Theon Greyjoy his agency back, after being tortured by Ramsey himself, and by the end of the season when he finally wakes up, it all ended up having more to do with him than Sansa, which is a little insulting, considering she was the one being abused this year. Also, Ramsey is the most disgusting, purely evil asshole on the show, which seems to be using him as the King Joffrey replacement for character you most want to see die a gruesome death. I'm sure we'll get there, but it doesn't happen yet, unfortunately.
Finally there's Arya, who met up with her pal who works for the Many-Faced God and spent the season attempting to be his apprentice and become a no-face herself. More yawns. I've never totally loved Arya's storylines, which have become more and more tangential to the plot, although I'm sure it'll come back around eventually, and her big revenge moment this season came on a character who apparently was on in the first or second year, but who I have virtually no memory of, which made his death less impactful than I think it was supposed to be. The one good thing about this year was that there was no Bran, who was last seen in the magic underground elf lair (I think, right?), and to be honest, he wasn't missed at all. The show is diverging from the books now, and by the time the next season comes out, the sixth book may or may not even be published. I'm not sure what that means for the quality of the episodes going forward (George R.R. Martin is still a consultant, so he of course knows what's going to happen), but I'm all but ready to start spending all my time with Dany and Tyrion as they finally make their way to King's Landing and take back the Throne, aren't you? I think it's time to start wrapping things up and getting rid of a lot of subplots that aren't going anywhere. This season was okay, but nothing wowed me, and when I feel the tediousness creeping in I start getting restless and thinking about something else to watch.