Spoilers for all of Game of Thrones follow.
It was all going so well but season five of Game of Thrones has to be the weakest of them all. It’s not unwatchable, but when compared to the strength of the four seasons which came before it’s a miracle the show retained its fanbase that it had accumulated since the beginning. This week, as a break from talking about why each season has been the best so far, I’m going to talk about the five reasons why the fifth season is undoubtedly the worst (so far).
Tommen As King
Tommen is one of the blandest and most aggravating people in the entire show. While the other less interesting characters can cling to the fact they’re boring because their environment is boring, Tommen has no such excuse. Why? He’s the King of the Seven Kingdoms and the Protector of the fucking Realm, yet even when his brother-in-law, wife and eventually mother are imprisoned he does precisely nothing about it, except whine.
I’ll say this for Joffrey, had the High Sparrow started his crusade while Joffrey was King, he would have found his head decorating the Sept of Baelor by the end of his first afternoon.
Arya’s Story Stalls
I feel like the bulk of Arya’s story in this season could have been shown as a brief flashback in season six, and that in reality she didn’t need to be a part of the season at all, like Bran Stark wasn’t. She begins her training to become a Faceless Man assassin, but as she won’t properly begin to exhibit any benefit from the training until the end of the following season, her segments only exist to pad out each episode.
Arya has been one of the most interesting characters with the best development arc thus far, but everything she does in season five is noticeably dull compared to what she’d endured to get here.
The younger brother of the late Tywin Lannister, Kevan throws his toys out the pram immediately at the start of season five when he is not named Hand of the King. Seemingly not content with the offer to name him Master of War on the small council, he goes one step further by marching the Lannister army back to their stronghold, Casterly Rock, where he says he will wait to hear from the king about his instatement as Hand.
Following Cersei’s imprisonment, he immediately rushes back to Kings Landing to elbow his way to the king’s side and appoints himself to the small council. Kevan is an absolute embarrassment as a Lannister but fortunately he won’t make it out of season six so I’ve got that to look forward to!
Despite being described by Ned Stark as a ‘proven battle commander’ in season one, Stannis decides to march his greatly diminished force into battle against a bigger army who are experienced at combat in the cold while his own has no experience in the climate whatsoever.
Burning his own daughter at the stake in an attempt to gain the upper hand for the upcoming battle, instead he alienates the remainder of his men, and faces the full Bolton host outside Winterfell despite being outnumbered four to one. Executed by Brienne for the murder of his brother Renly when she finds him after the battle, a character who had shown so much promise since being introduced in season two dies as a dull footnote in the story of the rise of the Boltons.
The Death of Barristan Selmy
One of the greatest warriors of all time, butchered in a back alley in Meereen. It is clear the showrunners had no idea what to do with Ser Barristan and so unceremoniously killed him off as an afterthought during one of the Sons of the Harpy attacks. It didn’t work, and I don’t feel like the Sons of the Harpy ever carried any mystery as to their intentions as they only ever attack when the practise of slavery was threatened, making it clear to the audience (but not the characters somehow) that slavers had to be behind them.
Ser Barristan’s death rang hollow for me, and while it was a significant death for the season that’s not saying much when compared to the rest of the season.
Thanks for reading. If you disagree with me that season five is the weakest season I’ll be interested in reading your defence of it in the comments. Don’t forget that I’m watching the seasons in order, so if you’re going to nominate a later season I just might have you covered in the coming weeks. Time will tell and so I’ll speak to you again next week after I’ve watched season six!