This post will be the first in a series, talking about the fifth season of Game of Thrones. Let that serve as a spoiler warning.
The fifth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones recently ended, covering most of the same ground as the fifth book in George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (and some elements from the fourth book in the series, A Feast For Crows.)
This season was expected to be controversial among book readers as the pre-season trailers hinted at major deviations from the books, particularly in regards to Jaime Lannister and Sansa Stark. Fans also feared that the show would begin to heavily spoil the unwritten sixth book in the series, The Winds of Winter. I believe some book readers were actually looking forward to specific spoilery information, in regards to a certain Snow fall.
The show did bring some changes from the books, like Jaime traipsing through a watered down Dorne, and Sansa plucked from her tranquil (arguably boring) respite in the Vale and shoehorned as a substitution in Theon Greyjoy’s story.
There were spoilers for the next book, I suppose. We’ll have to wait for book six to verify this but in general where the books ended, so did the show.
I feel that the fifth season was not derailed by these story changes, nor did it provide much new insight (for the book readers) regarding what things lay in the future. Instead the season acted more like a mirror to the past, to Game of Thrones’ sophomore season.
Ye Olde Season Two Recappe: A Clash of Kings
Here’s a summary of the big events in Westeros during season two. (Feel free to skip ahead.)
- With the North and the Iron Islands seceding from the Seven Kingdoms, and with Renly and his brother Stannis declaring themselves kings, the War of the Five Kings had begun.
- Renly Baratheon was assassinated by his older brother Stannis, who then massed an army to take King’s Landing and seize control of the throne.
- Robb Stark achieved battlefield successes, retook Riverland territory from the Lannisters and threatened their lands in the West. Both the Lannisters and the Starks held valuable hostages: Sansa Stark and Jaime Lannister respectively.
- Balon Greyjoy weakened Robb’s position by unexpectedly capturing strategic locations along the North’s coastline and more importantly, Moat Cailin, a swampy castle that could prove a chokepoint for troops trying to move from the Riverlands into the North. Balon’s son Theon rubbed salt in that wound by taking Winterfell, the seat of Stark power and legitimate authority.
- Stannis sailed into a Wildfire fueled trap laid by Tyrion Lannister, who rallied the defenses of King’s Landing until Lannister/Tyrell allied reinforcements scattered Stannis’s army.
That’s exactly like season 5, right? Well, not exactly.
If we look at the big picture, there doesn’t seem to be that strong a connection between the events of season 2 and season 5. Just what am I going on about?
Hey, we can’t always look at the forest, sometimes we need to look at some trees.
Actually, I’m not pointing at the overall big-storyline, but I’m considering individual characters’ narrative journeys through both seasons. Each plot this season had a mirror-like aspect from the second season.
Mirrors have two notable characteristics:
- The reproduce the scene being reflected.
- They do so in reverse. Right is left, and left is right.
For many of the major characters this season the discrete elements of their stories reflect back to their personal moments from the second season.
In season 5, the characters experienced consequences of previous actions, or repetitions of previous actions, or the reversals of previous situations, or in some cases living the same story again, but backwards.
Don’t believe me? I’ve prepared lengthy examinations of major character storylines. (I’ve also included Too Long; Didn’t Read summations. I’m not a monster.)
For my own convenience, I’ll be posting separate articles about the major Houses, you know, the old standard Starks and Lannisters. I’m combining the Targaryens and Baratheons in one post, because there’s so few of them.
Hopefully at the end I’ll have made my case how season 5 was such a mirror-like example of season 2, and more importantly, why that’s the case from a story-telling perspective.
Next up: the frustrated monarchs (Daenerys and Stannis)
(Comments are always welcome. Super welcome! But if you want to talk spoilery Game of Thrones talk with me (also welcome) I’d invite you to visit my Safe Spoilers page on my backup blog. That way my non-book-reading friends won’t be shocked with foreknowledge.)
Images from HBO’s Game of Thrones (obviously.)
I make no claims to the artwork, but some claims to the text.
If you liked this article, thank you! I have all of my Game of Thrones related articles on my handy-dandy Game of Thrones page should you want to read more but don’t want to navigate around my site.
© Patrick Sponaugle 2015 Some Rights Reserved