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Game of Thrones finale review: From the cathartic to the heart-breaking – will anyone survive?

Contains spoilers throughout: Here's who died in the season finale

By Tim Walker

This week’s noble Westerosi body count: One Lannister, one Trant, two Baratheons, a wannabe Bolton, a Stark, a Greyjoy and a bastard.

Some of the deaths in this gory Game of Thrones finale were cathartic, such as Arya Stark’s stabby dispatchment of Sir Meryn Trant, or Ramsay’s girlfriend taking a long walk off a short battlement. Some were provisional: while Theon/Reek and Sansa seemed to agree silently on a suicide pact, it seems safe to assume their fall was broken by a snowdrift. At least one was heart-breaking – but more on Jon Snow later.

This bloody episode began with Stannis, who last week burned his own daughter at the stake, and who now appears to have found his just deserts at the pointy end of Brienne’s sword. The last true Baratheon’s fanatical adherence to the Lord of Light’s instructions lost him his wife, his heir, his army and perhaps his head.

Misplaced faith – in religion, in ideology, in themselves – has undone many characters this season. Arya Stark’s freelance assassination in a Braavos brothel went down badly with the Many-Faced God, who saw fit to send her blind as punishment, while Cersei’s cynical sponsorship of the Faith of the Seven earned her imprisonment, humiliation and a pixie cut.Most shocking Game of Thrones scenes

In a series that routinely brutalises its  female characters, Cersei’s extended public shaming – a naked stroll through a tough crowd – was nonetheless shocking. Just a few episodes previously, she was the pantomime villain. Next year, I’d like nothing more than to see the reborn Mountain kick some High Sparrow butt on her behalf.

Meanwhile Cersei’s little brother, brought so low by the end of Season Four, is now practicing his pidgin Valyrian as the de facto Mayor of Meereen. I had high hopes for the Tyrion/Daenerys dream team, but thanks to her wayward dragon, we leave Dany somewhere east of the Narrow Sea and south of the snow, likely the prisoner of yet another unpronounceable tribe.

It was Jon Snow’s faith in the brotherhood of the Night’s Watch that finally cooked his goose. Any viewer paying attention will have noticed the many lingering, meaningful looks between Jon and his protégé Olly, which seemed destined to end in a kiss or a killing. And a killing it was, with Olly disloyally delivering the final knife to his trusting mentor’s belly, a la Brutus.

Reports of Jon’s demise may be exaggerated, however. It seems narratively illogical to kill the bastard off before he learns the identity of his mother – the question that George RR Martin supposedly asked show-runners David Benioff and DB Weiss before allowing them to adapt his books. Melisandre has just arrived at Castle Black, and has a background in resurrection.

On the other hand, Kit Harington has already told interviewers that, as far as he’s concerned, he and Jon Snow are leaving Game of Thrones for good. A double bluff? Perhaps. But the snow has reached Winterfell and is steadily moving south. There’s no saying who’ll be left alive by the time it reaches King’s Landing.

Source: Independent

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