• Aled L Griffiths

Review - Game of Thrones Episode 5

".. you can literally see the moment she decided to make it personal and she's taken it one step too far and this I believe will ultimately be her downfall .. " ** WARNING! The night is dark and full of SPOILERS **



This episode has seriously caused me some harm this week. Once the credits on Game of Thrones season 8 episode 5 began to roll, I couldn't help but sit there on my sofa at 3:30am or whatever ridiculous time it was and not feel a huge sense of disappointment. I go over to twitter (in hindsight probably not the best decision) and I see the vast majority of people are in agreeance with me, but why? ------ I feel these "reviews" are becoming something else, they're not so much reviews anymore but more a piece of writing which critically analyses why season 8 just isn't living up to the hype and I feel there are many many reasons, though I believe there's one factor that is the overwhelming catalyst for all this mystery.

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I've watched this episode 3 times now and every time I go back to re watch it, I enjoy it more and more and I think I know why. There's a massively distinct difference in my reaction to the three times i've viewed this episode and it's totally bizarre because I've never experienced anything like this it before. It's an accumulation of what I understand when it comes to storytelling but also a clash of understanding how hype + time constraints + unreachable expectations can only ever lead to disappointment. Throw all that away and go into this objectively and it's a far more enjoyable experience and that's what I think is the problem here. They've rushed the ending, BIG TIME.

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I have a hand-full of theories here so let's dive deep into this shit show.

When you posses the biggest pop-culture event of the year, why on earth would you make the decision to end it so early when there's still so much left to wrap up?! I do not buy the notion of "End it whilst on a high" or anything like that. They have the best of the best working on this show, they'll get given whatever budget it takes to make the very best for this show so why end with a season that only has 6 episodes?! It was never, ever, ever going to work. Regardless of how long those 6 episodes were going to be, its just not going to do what this show needs to correctly wrap it up. You could've made each of those 6 episodes 3 hours long and it still wouldn't be enough! There's a reason why most television series' use the 10 episode / hour-long format, it's because IT WORKS! My theory is that the people involved with this show, both in-front and behind the camera are beginning to hit the heights of their careers, the likes of Sophie Turner starring in the biggest television series on the planet and a tent-pole Hollywood blockbuster, these guys want to explore and take on different projects. We have to understand that this is almost a decade now, a decade signed to a contract, a decade of having to say no to exciting new opportunities and you have to understand and accept that these creatives want to take on new opportunities. My belief is that there was pressure to get things finished and wrapped so that these actors / crew members can take on whatever they want to and not have the majority of their schedules dedicated to something they've been doing for literally almost ten years. As shitty as that is, you have to understand their point of view.

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I've harped on about how seasons 7 & 8 have felt so rushed and so on, most people are blaming DB Weiss and Benioff but I don't think it's as simple as putting all the blame on them. In fairness, they've been involved throughout so it simply can't be as black and white as that. Social media and the virtual vortex of opinions is harmful, simple as. We all have easy access to an online forum where we all share our opinions, I'm doing so right now. I think when you find yourself on a platform, whether that be facebook, instagram or twitter, it's so easy to get wrapped up in it all. We all LOVE this show, we're all so invested in these characters and we all have thoughts about where we think the narrative is taking us so when those certain narratives don't go the way the think / want, it's really easy to be disappointed, angry and hurt because we've devoted a lot of time into this series and it's heroes. On top of this, it's likely you'll find someone on your timeline with the same opinion, which makes us feel like our opinion is then validated which then births a confidence in publishing our frustrations and anger which then spreads and repeats itself. I think this sort of reaction would happen in we'd had access to this sort of platform back when the likes of Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi was released today. Do I think season 8 is rushed? yes. Do I think season 8 could've been better? yes. Do i think season 8 is terrible? no. Do I think season 8's quality has dramatically fallen compared to previous seasons? no. For me there's been a somewhat steady dip in the series' quality overall. The best being in the region of seasons 1-4. the next best in seasons 5-6 and finally seasons 7-8. So as the show has gone on it's gotten worse and worse and that's not me saying I think it's terrible now because it's not. I think the fact that this is the final season has a lot to do with it, expectations etc etc.

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So episode 5 was.. explosive to say the least. Did it like it? I did, I thought visually and sonically it was a beautiful episode. The music and the score might be up there as my favourite episode. King's Landing gearing up, Daenerys' imminent arrival, The Hound and Arya marching into the red keep's walls, the golden company lining up, the beat, the music, honestly it's stunning, it's absolutely stunning. Let's just jump straight into the big WTF moment. The mad queen's turn. Emilia Clarke's acting was superb, the look on her face once the Lannister army admit defeat, it wasn't enough, she did it but she was alone and a Targaryen alone in the world is never a good thing. Not a word came out of her mouth during that sequence but her face said it all and it was unbelievably good, you can literally see the moment she decided to make it personal and she's taken it one step too far and this I believe will ultimately be her downfall. She's been fabulous during the course of this season. So, that moment, the moment that seemed to have divided opinions, her "sudden" turn. For me, I buy it and it's been there all along, what the problem for me is that it was too much of a snap and again, the real problem here is pace and timing. In fairness, all season long she's lost those around her and with the vast vast vast majority of the north more or less against her, she's been isolated. So the turn works and it's done well but it's arguably the biggest moment in all the series. Daenerys Targaryen's turn into the mad queen needed to be the best thing and the series' decision to conclude using only six episodes is the problem.

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Cersei and Jamie's reunion. This for me was my biggest gripe. Fist of all Jaime's return, I understand he was always going to return to Cersei, she's his weakness, the one person he cannot change. She's his kryptonite and that was always going to be a thing. My issue was just how anticlimactic it was. He went back to her and they just simply died together. There are so many renditions and versions they could've easily done and I've not seen one thing that sways me to agree with how they did it was the best possible way of doing it. This moves me swiftly on to Cersei. Cersei Lannister is undeniably one of television's greatest characters, not even villain. She is so unbelievably complex and twisted. So I was surprised at how little she was given to do this season. I was convinced there would be a twist, she would have an ace up her sleeve and for her to go out crying and pleading with Jaime to not let her die only for the red keep to just collapse and engulf her and Jaime was frankly heartbreaking and borderline insulting. She's been the direct cause of so much grief and heartache in this series so how on earth did they not take it all away from her in a more memorable and poetic way? Oh right, because we've only got six episode's to wrap all this up. **SIGH**

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All that's left is one episode, one episode to wrap it all up and honesty I haven't got a clue with that's going to happen. How they'll end it all, who'll do what and who'll be left where when the screen cuts to black. My prediction will be that the final scene / shot will be Jon Snow returning beyond the wall to live, looking for Torrmund, Ghost and the rest of the wildlings (under what circumstance, I don't know) and for him to find evidence of white walkers. A hint that the threat of the dead isn't over.. maybe Tyrion to be left with the iron throne. Arya to die heroically and Sansa to rule the north.

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Verdict - ★★★★ (was originally three but the more you watch the better it is)