TV Review: 'Game of Thrones' Season 5 Gets Thorny


Jon drew a line in the snow on “Game of Thrones.” Brienne opened up about her fealty to Renly Baratheon. Sansa agreed to a new marriage, and Tyrion experienced performance anxiety at a brothel before running into an unexpected someone with an agenda of their own. The fifth season has gotten off to a laborious start, and this episode did little to pick up the pace.

Saving the best for last (Tyrion and Varys) worked to keep interest throughout the dullness. It is not that there is not any existing tension elsewhere; it just never goes anywhere. History Channel’s “Vikings” proved you can take your time building a story if there are interesting characters to pass the time with, and “Game of Thrones” is running lean in that department.

Cersei plotting and giving a devious grin has gotten tediously predictable. To hear Littlefinger tell it, the Lannisters are nearing their end. At this point, their doom appears far from inevitable, and Cersei is not acting like a woman who feels her family’s days are truly numbered. 

That could be chalked up to her confidence that nothing will ever catch up to her, her arrogance blinding her to the reality her world is crumbling. It’s hardly a satisfactory build-up to a possible demise. A character such as Cersei deserves to know her end is coming.

The standout performance of the episode came from Gwendoline Christie, whose monologue as Brienne of Tarth offered the painful backstory that led to her allegiance to Renly. The true test of any of these is when a character divulges a backstory. They have to convince you that it actually happened and that the character relives it while describing it. Christie expertly managed to do both with searing pathos. 

Side Notes/Burning Questions: “Game of Thrones” has been delving into the spiritual lately as religious figures have emerged. What significance will they have? How wonderful was it to see a certain long-lost character? Will he find redemption? Is anyone else ready for something that actually counts as exciting to happen?

How exactly does Littlefinger plan on Sansa getting her revenge by marrying her to a madman? Will she run into Greyjoy? Does anyone else find Littlefinger’s fixation on Sansa reminiscent of Heathcliff’s on Cathy’s daughter in “Wuthering Heights”? Arya parting with the last remains of her old life was a sad moment that packed an emotional punch.