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Game of Thrones is ready to unveil its season five endgame.
Characters are in peril, major storylines are at a crossroads, and winter is coming like never before.
The events leading up to Sunday’s season five finale have been among the most controversial in the show’s history, with several scenes diverging from George R.R. Martin‘s books, while other scenes went beyond what he has already published in his five of seven expected volumes in the A Song of Ice and Fire series.
Before watching the finale, take a few moments to refresh yourself with what has happened so far.
Mance Rayder is burned alive (Episode 1)
The King Beyond the Wall failed to bend the knee to Stannis (Stephen Dillane). Stannis decided to burn Mance (Ciaran Hinds) alive, but Jon Snow (Kit Harington) showed the Wildling leader mercy by putting an arrow through his heart. That bold move would later help him earn the respect of the Wildings.
Jaqen H’ghar Returns (Episode 2)
Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) returned to train Arya (Maisie Williams) in the ways of the Faceless Men. His appearance was unexpected, as while Arya receives training in the books, it is not clear if the man training her is actually Jaqen.
“It’s all part of a bigger plan. We still don’t know who Jaqen is and why he showed up in the story in the first place,” Wlaschiha told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this season. “It was never explained why he ended up in the black cells in King’s Landing and then went on that journey. It wasn’t a coincidence. It was all part of a bigger plan — that’s my theory.”
Jon exacts justice (Episode 3)
Jon decided not to spare a man who defied his orders. Following his father’s rule of the man who gives the sentence swinging the sword, he beheaded Janos Slynt (Dominic Carter) himself.
Barristan Selmy dies (Episode 4)
The beloved and badass knight Ser Barristan Selmy (Ian McElhinney) died when the terror group Sons of the Harpy attacked. His death left Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) without an experienced adviser, something that would lead to major problems for her later in the season.
Jorah gets greyscale (Episode 5)
Jorah (Iain Glen) and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) were attacked and nearly killed by the grey men. Jorah got the worst of it, contracting greyscale — an often deadly disease that drives its survivor’s mad.
“It’s a new complication. He didn’t need more motivation to win back Daenerys‘ favor, but in some ways Jorah feels there is a death sentence over him,” Glen said of what the disease did to his character. “He was always willing to lay down his life for Daenerys. But this time his life feels finite to him. He’s willing to put everything on the line because of the greyscale.”
Sansa is raped (Episode 6)
In the most controversial scene of the series to date, Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) raped Sansa (Sophie Turner) on their wedding night. The backlash was swift, with some critics calling it an unnecessary change from the books, in which Ramsay wed a different girl. Others defended it as a valid artistic choice for the show. Martin responded on his own blog to discuss the scene.
See more Game of Thrones’: 25 Best Quotes
“There have been differences between the novels and the television show since the first episode of season one,” Martin wrote. “And for just as long, I have been talking about the butterfly effect. Small changes lead to larger changes lead to huge changes. HBO is more than forty hours into the impossible and demanding task of adapting my lengthy (extremely) and complex (exceedingly) novels, with their layers of plots and subplots, their twists and contradictions and unreliable narrators, viewpoint shifts and ambiguities, and a cast of characters in the hundreds.”
Cersei is arrested (Episode 7)
Cersei’s (Lena Headey) attempt to sideline her daughter-in-law Margaery (Natalie Dormer) backfired in a big way. What Cersei didn’t count on when she armed the Faith Militant and had them put Margaery on trial was that Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen) and Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg) would team up to take her down. They orchestrated to have Cersei’s cousin (and former lover) Lancel (Eugene Simon) testify to their incestuous relationship. Cersei’s fate is yet to be decided and will come to a head in the finale.
Daenerys and Tyrion come together (Episode 8)
The alliance of the two fan favorites has yet to happen in the books, which makes them appearing on screen together all the more electrifying. Daenerys needed Tyrion more than ever, with him potentially being the mind that could get her back to Westeros.
The Night’s King attacks (Episode 8)
In a season of shockers, the battle of Hardhome was among the biggest. The Night’s King, who has not been introduced in the books, totally destroyed Jon and his Wildling allies in a gruesome battle proving just how hopeless it is to fight the White Walkers. Will there be more of him in the finale?
Shireen is burned alive (Episode 9)
In the second-most controversial scene of the season, Stannis burned his own daughter Shireen (Kerry Ingram) alive to free his army from being stuck in the snow so it could march to Winterfell. The move led to condemnation online, with fans declaring Stannis was no longer the Mannis (a nickname fans gave him online because of how generally badass and manly he was).
Daenerys rides (Episode 9)
Game of Thrones gave fans what they’ve wanted for years, with Daenerys finally learning to ride a dragon. It couldn’t have come at a better time, with Drogon appearing just as fan favorites Daenerys and Tyrion were about to be slaughtered by the Sons of the Harpy.
Stay tuned to The Live Feed following the finale for much more Game of Thrones coverage, including a Monday morning post-mortem with director David Nutter.
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