The Game of Thrones season five finale, Mother’s Mercy, was a reflection of the season as a whole; it was filled with significant moments, but it failed to impress due to structural flaws.
The season began at a meandering pace, as character arcs were set up in an excruciatingly slow fashion. This strategic positioning took up far too much of the season’s time, meaning that the final episode collapsed under its own weight as too many of the character’s storylines required satisfying endings. None of these storylines were afforded enough time to develop over the course of the season or in this episode, so when they concluded they felt both hollow and insignificant. Never before have I felt so disconnected to the fates of Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Arya (Maisie Williams), or Sansa (Sophie Turner), characters who I previously loved as though they were a part of my own social circle.
As we flittered around Westeros I couldn’t help but feel frustrated at the fact that we didn’t spend a prolonged period of time with any one character. The longest continuous stretch of time spent with a single character was in King’s Landing, as we watched Cersei’s (Lena Headey) humiliation at the hands of The High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce). We looked on as Cersei transitioned from a proud Queen to a snivelling peasant, which demonstrated just how quickly the tide can change on Game of Thrones.
However, the scene itself wasn’t particularly enjoyable. Cersei is an arrogant and hateful antagonist and the source of a lot of pain for fans of the series, so it was impossible to care about her torment in this episode. I wasn’t able to empathise with her because a part of me knows that she deserves everything she gets, but I was also unable to revel in her suffering because her punishment came in such a vile and rotten form. As a result, the scene was dull and took any sense of urgency away from the episode.
The storylines that have really impressed me over the course of this season finished in infuriatingly anticlimactic ways. Stannis, Daenerys, and Jon Snow all found themselves in dire straits, but by the time the credits rolled we had no idea where their stories were going, or if they’d even make it to season six. Stannis is presumed dead but we didn’t see his body, Jon is in a similar predicament but Melisandre is at The Wall, and Daenerys is right back where she started, at the mercy of a Dothraki horde!
All in all, Mother’s Mercy was a bland and frustrating Game of Thrones finale, capping off a season which has failed to live up to expectations. There were cliffhangers and character deaths galore, but nothing was properly resolved and many of the character’s fates were left up in the air, leaving me with a very sour taste in my mouth.