Top five, baby! This is serious business, ladies and gentlemen. I don’t want to overstate it, but wars have been waged over the upper half of a quality top ten list, and the fate of humankind now sits firmly in my hands. I don’t want this to change your opinion of me, but maybe you could just look down at your feet when I pass by? That would be great.
Jk obviously because attention makes me uncomfortable. #truth Let’s do this thing!
#5: Game of Thrones
Oh, Westeros, you are one cruel mistress! And I say mistress because I think it’s time we all agreed that, contrary to the thoughts of many characters, women — or rather, one woman in particular — will inherit this earth. The continued empowerment of Daenerys Targaryen provides the storytelling throughline to which viewers can cling, especially given the show and source material’s habit of killing off beloved characters along the way (RIP Barristan Selmy). Plus, now that Tyrion Lannister stands beside the Mother of Dragons to provide council, there’s really no stopping her. I couldn’t be more excited about the future of this show, can you tell? #tyrionneedstorideadragon
With the “fire” aspect covered, the “ice” side took huge strides forward this year, as well, particularly in the episode “Hardhome,” a ruthless battle against the White Walker army that proved how much we need those three cuddly dragons. In my mind, this was one of the two best episodes of the year (the other belonging to an as-of-yet-unmentioned entry): directed to perfection, the choreography of chaos never looked so flawless. In one episode, Benioff and Weiss reasserted their dominance of the television epic. Heart-pounding and brutal, it was the show at its best.
Elsewhere, Thrones used its fifth season to perfect what it’s already done so well. Namely, the excellent writing masterfully characterizes the Westerosi flora and fauna in surprising ways. I never expected to feel as deeply for Cersei Lannister as I did this season, but how painful was it to watch her, imprisoned by the High Sparrow, licking water from a dungeon floor? Or, an episode later, witnessing her horrific Walk of Shame through the streets of King’s Landing? Needless to say, I’ll never look at Cersei the same way again, and her character — not to mention Game of Thrones itself — is better for it. So few shows reveal the dimensions and facets of its characters as well as this one, making for a more complex and challenging experience.
Surprise abounds this year, too. Everyone from Braavos to Dragonstone has been yammering on about the death of Jon Snow at the hands of the Nights Watch brotherhood (as well as predicting the details of his likely resurrection), and with good reason. The best of television surprises, but Game of Thrones is the only show on television unafraid to knock us completely off our axis and force us to redraw the lines of our expectations time and time again. We might scream and cry in the moment, lamenting the sadistic mind of George R.R. Martin, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Television is a braver, more uncompromising place thanks to the ten incredible episodes per year that transport us to Westeros.
We’re scaling this list like Tormund Giantsbane scaling the Wall! Stay tuned for number four tomorrow! #top20in20