I was a late-comer to the Game of Thrones fandom, and I’ve never read the books. (Sorry, George Martin, but I just can’t commit to reading books that are that long.) My husband and I turned into fans a couple of seasons in after discovering it on Netflix, and we’ve jumped on the GoT bandwagon since.
Despite season 5’s overwhelmingly tedious pace, the finale on Sunday night packed a familiar punch, as several plotlines finally moved (or catapulted) forward just in time to leave me mystified and broken-hearted, again.
As speculation about various plot lines burns through the internet, I am looking back on the seven moments in the show’s history that left me as befuddled and shocked as Melisandre when Jon Snow rebuffed her advances earlier in the season.
(Note: If you haven’t watched the series but intend to—because living under a rock has eaten up your free time—don’t continue reading. Spoilers ahead.)
- Eddard Stark’s death (Season 1)
I was a sucker for Eddard “Ned” Stark from the beginning. His devotion to his family and to his principles had me rooting for him, and, after his capture, I foolishly believed that Joffrey would allow him to live, especially after Sansa’s tearful plea. Because I didn’t realize how twisted Martin can be. I watched in horror as the sword descended and felt my heart shatter.
[gdlr_video url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PW6wfXPeJTw” ]
- Catelyn Stark reveals her inability to love Jon Snow (Season 3)
I can’t imagine having to raise my husband’s bastard son, so Catelyn Stark’s revelation that she used to wish Jon Snow was dead, even as a baby, is not the moment that broke my heart. She said he did get sick and her guilt was so strong that she vowed she would love him as her own child, but she realized she couldn’t keep that promise. What broke my heart is that her overwhelming sense of guilt about the situation led her to conclude that her inability to love her husband’s bastard was the crux of her family’s downfall. Talk about mom guilt to the max.
[gdlr_video url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C40jTRWo_0s” ]
- Arya’s close encounter with the red wedding (Season 3)
Arya’s desperation to reunite with her family was evident as she and The Hound made their way to The Twins, where her uncle’s wedding to a Frey daughter occurred. Arya sneaks away to enter the castle, but is delayed when soldiers rush out and kill the Stark men and Robb’s direwolf, Grey Wind. Her devastation at the knowledge of what is happening to her family surfaces in her shrieks, and I was glad The Hound saved her from a similar brutal fate by carrying her away. She was so close. I understand that she would have died with the rest of the Stark camp inside that doomed castle, but part of me wanted her to see some member of her family again, even if it would have been a short-lived reunion. Also, who wouldn’t want to see Arya wield Needle against the despicable Bolton/Frey clan?
- Arya’s refusal of Brienne’s protection (Season 4)
This heart-breaking moment left me both sad and angry that Arya squandered an offer of protection from a knight who swore to her mother to protect. I can empathize with Arya’s reluctance to trust Brienne and her promise, but my heart ached for her to have some relief in her never-ending battle against the evil in the world. Also, Brienne already felt like a failure for having let the spirit shadow kill Renly Baratheon, so I was really rooting for her to be able to make good on at least one oath of fealty. (Too bad history repeated itself with Sansa’s refusal in Season 5, but by then my heart was already breaking over other slights.)
- Jon Snow burns Ygritte (Season 4)
Jon Snow is one of the best characters in the show. And by best, I mean most noble, most respectable, most honorable. So his dalliance with the Wildling girl Ygritte and his subsequent love for her left me as twitterpated as the two of them in that hot, steamy cave. He survived her arrow attack only to face another arrow aimed directly at him, but Jon’s protege, Olly, delivers the deadly blow when Ygritte hesitates. Jon’s tearful promise to the dying Ygritte to return to that cave someday crushed me. The touching scene where he ventures north of the wall to burn her body in her homeland and then walked away sobbing sent me over the edge. You know nothing, Jon Snow. Except how to pull at my heart strings.
[gdlr_video url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhNF_w3710I” ]
- Tyrion’s murder of Shae (Season 4)
Jon Snow may be one of the best characters in the show, but Tyrion is by far my favorite. His ability to deprecate himself or anyone else who needs it amuses me, and his wry sense of humor and cynicism are inimitable. That’s why his relationship with Shae was such a tender turning point for a character known for his sexual insatiability. He had finally found someone who accepted him completely and wasn’t after his family’s money. Shae’s betrayal during his trial was heart-wrenching, but his discovery of her in his father’s bed and subsequent strangling of his lover ripped my heart in two. His quiet apology solidified the heart break.
[gdlr_video url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZjlagFfNC4″ ]
- Jon Snow’s death (Season 5)
Given what I’ve already stated about Jon Snow, all I need to say is…Seriously? As if Ned’s death wasn’t hard enough to swallow. Now, they’ve thrown salt on a wound still five-seasons fresh and killed the commendable Lord Commander Jon Snow. My only consolation as I drifted off to sleep after Sunday night’s finale was the rumor that he will be brought back to life in a subsequent season. Be still my broken heart.