After a slow start this season really picked up steam quickly. Every single episode was either extremely exciting or deeply upsetting. I was annoyed that the first episode had so much talking as opposed to the action I wanted. Well they clearly wanted to get all the talking out of the way because the rest of the season was action packed. I'm not going to recap each episode (because that would take forever), but I will hit the important plot points with plenty of exposition, of course.
First we got to see Bran having visions of his father, aunt, uncle, and Hodor as kids. We all knew this was foreshadowing to him being the one to reveal who Jon Snow's parents really were, but I was not expecting it to be foreshadowing for Hodor's death. Sadly, I'll get back to that later. Ramsay murders his father, step-mother, and brother because he's irredeemably evil. Jon Snow is brought back to life much more quickly than we expected. I was really worried they would drag that out Walking Dead style.
Then there was the Tower of Joy tease where Bran can't get up the damn steps to show us what the hell is going on up there, but the sword fight was awesome. Daenerys is hanging with the Dothraki so Tyrion and Varys are left to dick around in Meereen on their own. Jon Snow quits his job, but we don't really know if he's alive for real or a reanimated corpse. I assume alive for real because they can't have a zombie as king. The Umbers hand Rickon and Osha over to Ramsay Bolton, along with another dead wolf. So now only Jon and Arya's wolves are alive and what does that mean? There's got to be some reason that Arya's wolf is still alive out there somewhere.
After that Osha is smart enough to keep Rickon alive and hidden for 3 seasons, but can't manage to kill one evil bastard. At this point you know Rickon is going to die. Brienne gets Sansa to The Wall where she reunites with Jon Snow, and admits she was a bitch (see, she's growing). There is a bit of slower political stuff in King's Landing and Meereen before Daenerys burns all of the Dothraki Khals to death. She spends so much time doing nothing that you forget she's a bad ass sometimes.
And on to the Iron Islands finally getting interesting. I knew this storyline was coming, but they changed it just enough to make it more concise, and interesting than it was in the book. Bran is an idiot (really all of these Stark boys make terrible choices that get people killed), and causes the Three Eyed Raven, the Children of the Forest, his wolf, and Hodor to die. Not only did he get Hodor killed, but fucking with his head in the past is what made him go "full retard" in the first place. I never thought there would be an explanation for why Hodor was Hodor. I just took it for granted that he wasn't all there, and that was that. I almost cried (on my birthday no less) because it was such an upsetting death.
On a happier note: there was no way that Bran and Meera were going to survive on their own so Coldhands (and book readers wet their pants. Or was that just me?) shows up to save them. Long lost Uncle Benjen is part White Walker or something so he can't cross the wall, but he can at least keep Bran from getting his last friend killed (for now). The Sam and Gilly stuff doesn't really grip me, but it was pretty ballsy of Sam to take the family sword. I haven't mentioned Arya before now because she was still getting smacked around at ninja school, but now she finally does something. Even if that something is trying to save a person she was ordered to kill.
We then learn that Margaery hasn't gone quite as religious as we were led to believe, but is instead using Tommen and the High Sparrow to save herself and Loras. Jon and Sansa get help from the best new character on the show. The Mormonts don't add much to the army, but that little girl is kick ass enough to make up for it. I had called the Hound's return a few weeks earlier only due to the fact that I knew Ian McShane was only going to be in one episode, and with his look there was only one character I could see him playing. I had help from the books on that one though so I didn't really know the future. Please don't burn me at the stake.
I don't think the Blackfish should have died off screen. He was a tough old man, and deserved to go out fighting onscreen. I don't know that the Hound will join the Brotherhood given how much he dislikes Beric and Thoros (but he kind of hates everybody), but I do know that Beric being alive means no Lady Stoneheart for an absolute certainty. I know, it sucks, but Beric gives up his life to bring her back. If he's alive she can't be. Arya is FINALLY done with ninja school, and sets off for home to use her hard-earned skills on people who really deserve to die.
Theon and Yara (or Asha. I still don't understand why they changed her name from the books) hit Meereen to team up with Daenerys. They have boats, she has an army, and oh my god is she finally going to get off her ass and leave Meereen? Rickon was going to die anyway, but might have had a better chance if he knew how to run serpentine. Jon Snow still knows nothing (like how to listen when Sansa told him that Ramsay would use Rickon to draw Jon out), and falls directly in to Ramsay's trap. Like I said, Stark boys get people killed. Thanks to Sansa's sneakiness the knights of the Vale show up in the nick of time because that makes things more exciting. If they showed up early in the battle there wouldn't have been enough gore and death to make this better then Hardhome. Wun Wun's death was kind of sad, but since Tormund and Davos are still alive I'll take the trade-off. Ramsay finally gets his comeuppance, and Sansa gets some gruesome justice. The second to last episode of the season is usually the best since the last episode sets up what's coming, but not this season...
Since the last episode was fucking amazing. Rather than spend any more time trying to maneuver around the Faith Militant, Margaery, her uncle, and pretty much everyone else Cersei decides to blow up the sept where her trial is supposed to be taking place, and kill them all (plus a shit ton of other people while she's at it). Tommen is so upset about it that he hops gingerly to his death, and Cersei doesn't even seem that sad her last kid died. We go back to fucking Dorne, but only long enough for Varys to get the Queen of Thorns and Ellaria Sand (or the two toughest pissed off bitches in Westeros) to join Daenerys against the Lannisters. Davos finds out about Melisandre killing Shireen, and has her banished which is kinder than I thought he'd do to her. He sure loved that ugly little girl. The truth about Jon Snow's parents is mostly revealed. We now know for certain that his mother was Lyanna Stark, but she doesn't say the father's name. It's a given at this point that it was Rhaegar Targaryen, she just dies before she can say his name. Jon doesn't know any of this though so is surprised when the remaining northern lords bend the knee to him, and name him the King in the North. Sansa is surprised too, and that look she shares with Littlefinger means something important will come of it later. I had thought to see Arya land at the Wall, and maybe find Jon and Sansa. Instead she turns up as a serving girl at the Twins to give Walder Frey what he's had coming since the Red Wedding. Sam and Gilly reach the Citadel, and find...books. Please tell me this storyline is going somewhere eventually (like some sort of weird Maester plot that Sam uncovers. Those guys know way too much to not be up to something). Speaking of things happening eventually: Daenerys has finally left Meereen! No more dicking around, thank god. She's got three dragons, the Dothraki, and the Unsullied on the ships provided by Theon and Yara heading for Westeros, but she had to leave her man candy at home in case she needs to get married. Poor Daario. Jamie arrives back in King's Landing to see Cersei being crowned Queen, and neither of them look very happy to see the other. Considering that Cersei got her crown by doing the exact thing that Jamie killed King Aerys to prevent he's probably right to be a little pissed.
It was a hell of a season. But now what? Technically there are two seasons left, but since I just read that they're going to be shorter than we've had so far to me it sounds more like one season broken up over 2 years. Way to milk it HBO. They are also delaying the next season while they wait for colder weather to start filming. Since winter has finally come it makes sense (speaking of which, do the Starks have to change their family motto?), but that means we have a long time to speculate. Let's start now shall we?
Arya can go one of two ways from the Twins. She can head north for WInterfell, and her family (where I also assume Bran is heading) or she can turn south for King's Landing and more vengeance. I hope for the former since it'd be nice to have all the remaining Stark kids alive together again. I doubt that it'll pan out that way though since Sansa doesn't seem likely to take Jon's coronation as King in the North lying down. Winterfell is hers by rights, and no matter how happy she is to have her half-brother (but really cousin) back she isn't going to let a bastard take what's hers. Bran does have to reach Winterfell though because he's got to tell everyone who Jon really is. No matter how it plays out a falling out will occur, and Arya should meet back up with the Hound whichever direction she goes because they were great together. Jamie is trying to be a good person, and there will have to be a confrontation between him and Cersei at some point. Hopefully he gets out of King's Landing alive before all the vengeance starts hitting Cersei. He could easily end up as collateral damage, but he's done enough good to deserve to live (sort of. It's weird to go back and watch early episodes and see how terrible Jamie and the Hound are. And these are the men I'm rooting for now). Maybe Brienne will save him before she settles down with Tormund to raise enormous, hairy babies. Melisandre's part isn't done, and hopefully Jon didn't make an enemy of her by casting her out of Winterfell. Ooh, maybe she finds Catelyn Starks's body and brings her back to life and we get Stoneheart after all. Probably not, but maybe. It's impossible to say anything about this show for certain. The only thing that is certain is that no one can have any idea what Littlefinger is going to do, and that it is about to go down in King's Landing. The Northern armies, Daenerys's army (after a quick stop by the Iron Islands to kill Euron Greyjoy), the new alliance between Dorne and Highgarden, and possibly Arya are all on their way to take out Cersei. And then they'll all have to figure out some way to work together or quickly decide who's in charge before the White Walkers turn up and kill them all. It's going to be a long winter...
Beth got her start writing for a site called Movie Criticism for the Retarded (which has been reborn as dorkdroppings.com. Check it out sometime), but was pulled out of an early retirement to write for Needless Things. When she isn't writing she plays video games and watches bad horror movies while eagerly awaiting the zombie apocalypse. She may try to save her husband and/or their cats, but luckily hasn't had to make those tough decisions yet.