Season 5 ends with the most heartbreaking loss yet

Credit: Courtesy HBO

Six. Six Game of Thrones characters died in the season 5 finale, “Mother’s Mercy.” And one of those deaths marks arguably the show’s greatest character loss yet (we felt every gut stab). Oh, and Arya (Maisie Williams) is blind. Shireen (Kerry Ingram) is still dead. Cersei (Lena Headey) just totally redefined a term for walking home after a hookup. And –

There is so much more. The finale followed two extreme, full-throttle episodes, and some may have expected Sunday’s episode to take a breather and hit the brakes. Instead, Thrones continued the same relentless pace and emotional magnitude for its finale. Taken together, the last three hours of the season were incredible in their scope, ambition and narrative significance. While Thrones has been playing at a higher level in terms of its production values than the rest of television for years, I have a difficult time thinking of any series that – purely on a storytelling level – has had a triple-episode arc as intense as the past few weeks.

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