Game of Thrones never relents. The exhilarating, exhausting fifth season of HBO's crown jewel took its final bow Sunday night, leaving fans with 10 months to digest a number of major deaths, cliffhangers and shocking imagery. The show may inspire plenty of criticism for basically desensitizing viewers to atrocious violence, particularly against women, but the jam-packed Game of Thrones season five finale was undeniable proof that there's nothing on TV even a fraction as epic.
Let's do a quick rundown of what happened (obvious spoilers ahead):
Arya crosses a name of her list, but revenge isn't so sweet.
Using the new talents she's acquired from the Many-Faced God, Arya exacts a measure of revenge by gouging Meryn Trant's eyes before slitting his throat in a brothel. This doesn't sit well with Jaqen H'ghar, who blinds her for taking a life that wasn't hers to take.
Theon/Reek wakes up and saves Sansa.
After Sansa is finally able to send out a distress signal, she's confronted by Reek and Myranda, who aims an arrow straight at her. Whatever shreds of Theon are left deep inside Reek stir up enough to push Myranda over a ledge to her death and save Sansa. The two peek over the castle wall into the snowy depths, grab each other's hands and jump into a literal cliffhanger.
Stannis meets his deserved fate.
After pledging himself to blood magic, killing his brother, briefly appearing as a good father only to later burn his own daughter alive at the stake, and generally being a terrible human, Stannis leads what men are left to follow him into slaughter at the hands of Ramsay Bolton's army. Brienne finds him injured in the woods and finishes him in the name of her late master, Renly Baratheon.
Jaime gets to be a proud father for all of 30 seconds.
On the docks down south at Dorne, Jaime and Bronn board a ship back to King's Landing with Trystane and Myrcella, but not before Ellaria plants a kiss on Myrcella's lips. After they're already out to sea, Jaime tries to confess to her his status as her true father, but she cuts him off to tell him she already knows and accepts him. What follows is a sweet father-daughter embrace that, because this is the cruel world of Game of Thrones, can only be punctuated by heartbreak — in this case, Myrcella's painful death by poison. Back on the docks, Ellaria wipes her nose and lips, takes the antidote and enjoys her brutal revenge.
Cersei takes the long walk to freedom.
Back in King's Landing, Cersei is ready to confess (some of) her sins. To repent, she is stripped naked and forced to do a walk of "SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!" through the streets of the city, getting spit on, bloodied and battered on her way back to (possibly temporary) freedom. Franken-Gregor Clegane picks her up, having taken a vow of silence until all her enemies are dead.
Meereen's queen is suddenly lost and vulnerable once again.
After the injured Drogon shrugs off her attempts to fly back to the city, Daenerys wanders into the middle of a Dothraki army that probably doesn't care much about her claim to the throne or previous relationship with Khal Drogo. As new buddy-comedy duo Jorah and Daario set off together to find their queen, Meereen is left in the hands of Tyrion, Grey Worm, Missandei and the slithery Varys, back to banter as if he'd never left.
Jon Snow's big-picture view gets him shivved.
In the closing moments of the season, Jon gets betrayed by the men sworn as his brothers when they take turns stabbing him "for the Watch," lastly by Olly, whom Jon had taken in as an understudy. Although it's possibly the most devastating death since his father Ned was beheaded in season 1, it's not altogether unwarranted. Game of Thrones has a way of punishing those who strive for the greater good, and as actor Kit Harington pointed out in his interview with EW, Jon "had blinders on" in trying to prepare for the impending war with the White Walkers. Bringing the Wildlings across the wall was one step too far for the dangerous men around him and earlier in the episode Jon shipped away his one remaining ally.
It remains to be seen just how dead he is, given that Melisandre just showed up in Castle Black, but until season 6, all we can do is speculate.