The Night’s Cast Episode 7: The Season 5 rollercoaster, with special guests History of Westeros!

Oh, Dorne...we had such high hopes for you and the Sand Snakes.

Oh, Dorne…we had such high hopes for you and the Sand Snakes.

Look, there’s plenty of reasons why Game of Thrones Season 5 doesn’t get the love that other seasons do – but all dunking on Dorne aside, there’s some good stuff to be discussed about this polarizing season. On this episode of The Night’s Cast, the official podcast of Watchers on the Wall, join Vanessa, Samantha and special guests Aziz and Sean from History of Westeros as we do just that!

The Night’s Cast is available on iTunes and SoundCloud, and you can follow us on Twitter as well. Happy listening!

19 responses

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    1. Weird season. Probably my least favorite season, yet it has arguably my favorite episode of the entire show (Hardhome).

      It’s still a good season of television though. I just thought the first half of it was a bore and most of the newer characters were not very interesting (Sons of the Harpy, High Sparrow, Sand Slugs, etc…) and the House of the Black and White was a disappointment for me.

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    2. Mr Derp:
      Weird season.Probably my least favorite season, yet it has arguably my favorite episode of the entire show (Hardhome).
      ……….

      Almost verbatim what I was going to say.

      I did not like the High Sparrow character or story line at all. Eminently fast-forwardable. Septa Unella was okay though. The Shame Bell Nun 🛎🛎🛎 will become a permanent pop culture fixture, if she hasn’t already. (After voting on the controversial tax bill, I saw protesters outside congressmens’ offices ringing bells and chanting “Shame! Shame! Shame!”)

      “Hardhome”, S5e8, is arguably my favorite episode out of the entire show too, though I think S4e7, “Mockingbird”, may edge it out by a razor thin margin in my rankings.

      I will say, Hardhome had one of those immersive moments when I started yelling at the TV screen. [Paraphrasing]

      Edd (to Jon): “F*ck the glass! We’re going to die here!”
      Me (to Jon): “Listen to Edd! Get the f*ck out of there!”

      Though I loved Essie Davis as Lady Crane, “Hardhome” also has the best Guest Actress appearance in the entire show: Birgitte H-S as Karsi. Watching Wight Karsi with the scratched face and blue eyes sit up on the shoreline at the very end of the episode spooked me out more than anything.

      And yet..
      S4e7 is chock full of unforgettable moments:

      “I will be your champion.” – Oberyn Martell

      “That’s where the heart is.” – The Hound

      Sandor’s soliloquy to Arya, e.g.: “The pain was bad. The smell was worse. But the worst thing was that it was my brother who did it; and my father, who told everyone my bedding caught fire…. You think you’re on your own?”

      “Nothing isn’t better or worse than anything. Nothing is just nothing.” – Arya

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    3. Ten Bears: Though I loved Essie Davis as Lady Crane, “Hardhome” also has the best Guest Actress appearance in the entire show: Birgitte H-S as Karsi. Watching Wight Karsi with the scratched face and blue eyes sit up on the shoreline at the very end of the episode spooked me out more than anything.

      Karsi got a lot of love after her performance in “Hardhome”. Personally, I thought she was ok, but tbh, I really don’t get the love for her. To each their own.

      “Mockingbird” is a great episode too. Probably my favorite “quiet” episode of the series.

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    4. Mr Derp,
      Birgitte was good and fine – did a terrific job in a very limited, short-term role. However, similar to but not nearly to the proportions of Bella as Lyanna M., the praise outweighed the role by a large amount.
      ________________
      My opinion on this matter mostly comes from Bella winning the WotW Guest Actress Award for the past two seasons for very little and getting a little miffed about it. 😛 I mean, she did fine, but WOW did people go overboard! Did people really vote based on performance or was it more the idea of the character? Essie Davis did a fabulous job in S6 with a much larger and varied role yet was outvoted for a character that had about six lines of dialogue. Then she won again for S7 for about two lines and barely making an appearance. I understand people not wanting to vote for the Sand Snakes, but Indira actually still qualified as “guest” (13 total episodes) but was moved to “supporting.” I felt she actually deserved the guest award but had little chance against Diana or Gwendoline in supporting.

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    5. Clob,

      I’m not really sure either. I like the Lady Bear, but yea, the love of the character is a bit too cutsie-poo for me. I think some people like the idea of her moreso than anything she actually does.

      IMO, some people oversimplify it to “she’s a badass” and that’s it.

      I hope she gets more to do in season 8 other than be some kind of slogan for strong women. It’s a bit patronizing to me.

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    6. I’ve mentioned before, I’m doing an every 5 day ritual of re-watching the series, which will lead me up to April. I’m currently happen to be right in the middle of season 5 (I’ll be watching episode 5 tomorrow) It is really such a different season than the others. It’s the only season where I have the thought that I want to hurry things up. Arya’s journey during her HOB&W days are frustratingly slow, but I’m looking forward to seeing her more with Faye Marsay as they play the game of faces. There are some huge payoffs at the end of season 5 with Arya scratching Meryn F’n Trant off her list, and Hardhome may contain one of the most amazing and scariest sequences in the whole series when the dead gather on top of the hill and roll down to begin their attack. So the season does eventually get there. I know most everyone hates on Dorne, but I quite enjoy Bronn and Jaime’s scenes. I especially enjoy Bronn’s deadly flirting with the sand snakes. That being said, I almost throw something at the TV every time I see spineless Tommen leave his Queen Margaery’s brother in the dungeons. I know he’s the “sweet sweet king” as Margaery calls him, but with a mother like Cersei you would think he would have at least little bit of a spine somewhere. Anyway, I’m still looking forward to watching episode 5 tomorrow, but I am so anxious to get to the end of the season when things really get going.

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    7. Sure the Dorne stuff was disappointing, to say the least, but Rosabell Laurenti Sellers, who played Tyene, is, to say the very least, adorable.

      I say “is” because I refuse to believe she’s a goner.

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    8. Catspaw Assassin,

      Bronn shouid have rescued Tyene. Their scenes were (for me) the most enjoyable part of the Dorne Detour, notwithstanding the fan-hate for the “bad pu**y” line.

      Oh, another thing I didn’t understand about the Dorne Sand Snakes show-only plot: If the whole idea of the Sand Snakes was to incite a war with the Lannisters, why not just kill Jaime? They could’ve justifiably executed him as a spy for espionage, and accused him of trying to infiltrate the Water Gardens to assassinate Doran or Trystane. Cersei would still be pissed, and they wouldn’t have had to poison an innocent young girl.

      End Mini-Rant

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    9. Mr Derp,

      Karsi got a lot of love after her performance in “Hardhome”. Personally, I thought she was ok, but tbh, I really don’t get the love for her. To each their own.”

      Well, check out Birgitte H-S in a slightly different role. It made me appreciate her performance as Karsi even more.

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    10. Tron79,

      “There are some huge payoffs at the end of season 5 with Arya scratching Meryn F’n Trant off her list…”
      ——–
      To increase my enjoyment of some scenes, I use a “mix tape” approach.
      Before watching Arya’s filleting of MFT in S5, I first watch the S1 scene of a terrified little Arya watching MFT and his goons attack Syrio; Arya begging Syrio, “Come with me! Run!”, and Syrio’s badass response, “The First Sword of Braavos does not run”; and then Syrio – holding his broken wooden sword, turning to Arya…

      Syrio: “What do we say, to the God of Death?
      Arya (meekly): “Not today.”
      Syrio: “Go.”

      Going straight from that S1 scene of sh*tbag MFT terrorizing a little girl, to that little girl turning the tables on him four years later, makes her admittedly savage execution of MFT so much more satisfying.

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    11. Clob,

      “Essie Davis did a fabulous job in S6 with a much larger and varied role yet was outvoted for a character that had about six lines of dialogue.”

      I have to confess that I voted for Bella Ramsey in S6, but if I had to do it all over again I would’ve chosen Essie Davis. I think I got caught up in the way Lyanna Mormont completely outsnarked and shut down Sansa’s attempt to patronize her.

      But when I watch Essie Davis as Cersei in a “play within a play” – first the way the stage role was scripted for grieving fauxCersei’s reaction to the death of fauxJoffrey. and then how Essie Davis played that scene after Arya “re-wrote” it, makes me appreciate Essie Davis all the more.

      I’ve got to say, this show sure attracts top-notch talent.
      .

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    12. That screen cap of the sand snakes just brings back terrible memories. Easily the weakest links the show has ever added. They were supposed to be bad asses but they played more like bad comic relief… Dreadful. Their only well acted scenes were their deaths.

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    13. To increase my enjoyment of some scenes, I use a “mix tape” approach.

      Great idea! I can hear Syrio’s words in my head as I’m watching, but I also hear Sandor’s words… “The first sword of Bravos doesn’t have a sword??” Why didn’t Syrio just take one of the fallen soldiers’ swords??? That’s always bugged me… or maybe he did and we just didn’t see it.

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    14. Tron79,

      It may not have mattered if Syrio picked up one of the swords. Because Meryn Trant had armor and a big f*cking sword.

      But hey, here’s my take on Sandor’s lesson to Arya, when Sandor giggled “the greatest swordsman who ever lived didn’t have a sword?”

      After Sandor reacted with disbelief when Arya told him “the greatest swordsman who ever lived” was killed by Meryn F*cking Trant, and
      remarked that “any boy whore with a sword could bear three Meryn Trants”, Arya said [paraphrasing]:

      “Syrio didn’t have a sword. Or armor. Just a wooden stick.”

      Then, with a smack to her face that knocked her to the ground so she’d never forget it, Arya learned that her fancy spin moves made no difference: Needle couldn’t pierce Sandor’s armor when she tried to drive it into his torso. (That’s when Sandor explained: “Your friend’s dead and Meryn Trant’s not. Because Trant had armor and a big f*cking sword.”)

      I’ve said this before: I don’t know if it was intentional or coincidental, but when Arya saw MFT arrive in Braavos wearing his Kingsguard costime and sword, she didn’t impetuously try to attack him. Instead, what did she do?

      She waited for the opportunity when MFT didn’t have a sword. Or armor. Only a wooden stick.. And then she pounced like a cheetah and drove a blade right into his face and into his chest, over and over, as if he were a human pin cushion.

      As MFT’s blood started pooling on the floor, I could hear Syrio’s words to Arya: “All men are made of water, you know this? When you pierce them, the water leaks out…and they die.

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    15. Another enjoyable episode, and it was great having Aziz and Sean of History of Westeros joining you. The back and forth between the four of you worked really well.

      The problem with S5 is that many people, especially casual watchers, tend to think “It’s the one with Dorne [GROAN] and Sansa’s rape [OUTRAGE]” and forget everything else. “Oh, Hardhome was great, was that S5?”

      I recently rewatched all 7 seasons and I was surprised how much I liked S5 – I’d sort of fallen victim to all the S5 bashing online and actually watching it through after a while, saw it for myself, with fresh eyes, and was pleasantly surprised. There are so many great moments: lots of Olenna! And KL, Cersei’s plotting and downfall in general (I never minded the High Sparrow’s scenes, exposing his hypocrisy and manipulativeness). Jon and Stannis interactions. Maester Aemon (sniff…). Arya hiding Needle. Missandei and Grey Worm. Shireen, and Stannis as the tragic, doomed man. Hardhome! Even some of the Jaime/Bronn interactions, though I’d been growing a bit weary of the smartarse Bronn by the time S5 originally aired.

      And even Arya’s brutal killing of Meryn F Trant was great in a way. I did not like the near sadistic brutality of it but it made me think about justice/vengeance/revenge and Arya’s tragedy. Any good art makes you think, question your own thoughts, your own ideas. Hopefully makes you gain more insight, refine your ideas, your philosophy, hopefully makes you a better person. Celebrating Arya’s murder of Meryn F Trant, rah rah rah, is a disservice to Arya and her story GRRM and D&D are trying to tell. We’re supposed to be disturbed by it, not celebrating. Our adorable, redoubtable Arya is faltering with her moral compass. Just quickly slash his throat, the torture and gloating do not show Arya in a good light.

      I wasn’t even outraged by Sansa’s rape. Yes, I was affected. Saddened to the point of tearing up, feeling all raw and vulnerable because this was happening to a character I care about. However, this is fiction. No actual young woman was actually raped. Marital rape isn’t a thing in Westeros, and the show did not present it in a gratuitous, let alone “glamorous” or “glorified” way, or as an “empowerment through rape -trope” (charges I’ve seen bandied about in some online places).

      From a purely film-making perspective, the wedding scene was filmed beautifully (the flickering lights, the music, everything) – thus adding poignancy to the horror that lay ahead. I also think that the wedding night scene was filmed sensitively. Sure, we see Ramsay tearing the back of Sansa’s gown and throwing her on the bed, her suffering face, but the camera then moves to Reek/Theon and he’s our proxy watching it. We don’t actually see the rape in graphic detail, thank the gods old and new, it’s all implied, it’s all in our own minds in a way. That’s good film making.

      Some of the ire regarding the Sansa rape scene comes not from the rape but from who the victim was. Some book readers are outraged that Sansa is inserted into the North storyline prematurely. In the books,

      Ramsay maritally rapes “fake Arya”, Jeyne Poole. Sansa’s friend from Winterfell, who was seized during Cersei’s/Joffrey’s coup and given to Littlefinger to “train”, until Tywin saw fit to provide the Boltons with a northern girl they can present as Arya to marry Ramsay and legitimise themselves as the new rulers of the North.

      However, reading the books and sample chapters from TWOW, I fear Sansa might get raped in the books as well. Harry the Heir seems like a total dick (Sansa compares him to Joffrey, FFS!) It also seems likely that in the books, Sansa will somehow rally the Vale to go North to fight the Boltons.

      So D&D took a shortcut, ending in pretty much the same place, it seems to me.

      Yeah, the S5 Dorne stuff wasn’t great, but the Dorne plotline in the books isn’t all that great either. Maybe GRRM will make it make more sense in his next book, which D&D did not have when they concocted the thing we got. Also, in the books, Dorne is more relevant because of the

      Young Griff/(f)Aegon storyline. Now, as a book reader, I quite entertain interesting ideas about that character. Blackfyre?

      However, such speculation has no place in show discussion because… well, it isn’t in the show.

      All in all, I think S5 is the first truly “controversial” season. S1 – S4, pretty much universally liked, even loved, with some quibbles. Then comes S5, “controversy”, veering further away from the books. S6 and S7 inherited some of that baggage, especially among some book-reading fans. The show became more its own thing, more “TV-show-y” and cinematic because no source material. In my language, we have an expression, “molempi parempi” (literally “both, better”) which means both are good in their own ways, apples and oranges, no use comparing because both are good in their own respective ways, let’s just enjoy all we get.

      And whatever GoT watchers say about Dorne, I like the men’s costumes in S5 (the female costumes not so much, though I love love love Ellaria’s coat in S7) and Ramin Djawadi’s “Dornish” music.

      Season 5 is a mixed bag but there’s a lot of good stuff there. Also, I didn’t mean to write such a long diatribe, ha ha!

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    16. Fun podcast.

      I personally don’t dislike this season that much even though it is my least favorite.

      The SandSnake stuff is bad. But the amount of screen time is fairly minimal. Maybe 20-30 minutes over the course of the ten episodes?

      I really don’t get the Jaime backsliding thing. What is Jaime backsliding on exactly? At no point in Season 3 did he come to some realization that he no longer loves Cersei or needs to break up with her. His arc felt much more about knighthood and reconnecting with those ideals of knighthood and over time that breaks the relationship apart as she goes furthet and further beyond the pale. But its not like he had some realization in season 3 that he steps back from. And even in the books, sure the relationship ruptures sooner but the guy is still out enforcing Lannister rule.

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    17. talvikorppi,

      “And even Arya’s brutal killing of Meryn F Trant was great in a way. I did not like the near sadistic brutality of it but it made me think about justice/vengeance/revenge and Arya’s tragedy. Any good art makes you think, question your own thoughts, your own ideas. Hopefully makes you gain more insight, refine your ideas, your philosophy, hopefully makes you a better person. Celebrating Arya’s murder of Meryn F Trant, rah rah rah, is a disservice to Arya and her story GRRM and D&D are trying to tell. We’re supposed to be disturbed by it, not celebrating. Our adorable, redoubtable Arya is faltering with her moral compass.”

      I wanted to say how much I liked the entire post. However this section in particular resonated greatly!!!

      Your eloquent words on the art captures some on own thoughts. Well said!

      On Arya, also so accurate. The savage manner (trant) and indiscriminate (Frey) in which she kills is markedly different to the efficiency of how her teacher Jaquen kills. I cannot celebrate Arya’s. I am surprised that some many do. And I think they miss the point as Arya loses of her way. Her conduct is sad.

      Your comments on art make me think a bit of how GOT will end. I hope it goes for an ending that reinforces the better elements of the series so far and some of the books. For me some of that is the complexity of the characters (like Jaime); the greyness of the characters; the randomness of fate; the conflicts in the heart etc. I fear however that we are heading into a Hollywood blockbuster ending.

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