No, seriously: how many people died in the finale? How many people are staying dead?
I made a list of possible deaths before the season began, when I heard GRRMartin talking about how Benioff and Weiss are even bloodier than he is. The list included some deaths that I’ve already seen in the books, but of those characters who are still alive in the text, I correctly predicted the on-screen deaths of…
…Shireen, Selyse, Myrcella, Meryn Trant, and Hizdahr zo Loraq. I think Shireen was a no-brainer.
Selyse Florent — I think this is the first time we’ve seen a named character on Game of Thrones commit suicide. Earlier in the season, we saw another unusual manner of death—old age, I tell you!—and now we see a queen take matters into her own hands. And I’m sure that, before the moment that Shireen was tied up to that stake, Selyse never imagined for a second that losing her child would cause her to take her own life.
Meryn Trant — still alive at this point in the books, but Arya got to him, and she made it messy.
Myrcella Baratheon — oh, dear. This one was also an easy prediction, based on the prophecy, but Seven Hells, Oberyn Martell would not have approved of that. He assured Cersei that her daughter was safe with his family. “We don’t hurt little girls in Dorne,” he said, which is bullshit, because of course people hurt little girls in every corner of the world, but he thought his lover and daughters were better than that. Myrcella really believed she was safe with their family. Jaime finally got to tell her she was really his daughter, and he got to enjoy that feeling of being a loving Daddy to his pretty blond teenager for mere seconds before his daughter was literally dying in his arms. Her manner of death had nothing to do with any of Jaime’s decisions, yet I’m sure he’ll find a way to blame himself. And if he makes it back to the Red Keep, I’m sure Cersei will find a way to blame him for not saving their daughter.
Then, there are the question marks.
Theon and Sansa — finally, Theon stops acting like Loyal Reek, Rhymes with Freak! He and Sansa have certainly chosen a quick death over any more time with Ramsay, but as I remarked last night, they are probably walking away from that fall.
Jon Snow — that’s exactly what happens to Jon at the end of A Dance With Dragons. And he certainly looks dead, doesn’t he? The question is whether he’ll stay dead. There’s been a lot of speculation about whether Jon is really staying dead, and honestly, I don’t think he is. Melisandre has similar powers to Thoros of Myr, and she abandoned Stannis to high-tail it on back to Castle Black, and once there, she wasn’t in any hurry to talk with Davos. I think she abandoned Stannis because the fire she used to kill Shireen showed her that Jon was really the king she needed. She’ll find a way to bring Jon back, and when she does, he’ll be free of his Night’s Watch vows.
Stannis Baratheon — I think we just saw the worst day of the Rightful King’s life, yes? Having already suffered major blows to his army due to a Northern winter and Ramsay Bolton’s 20 good men, he wakes up to find that he’s lost half his troops and all his horses to desertion. Before he even gets a chance to catch his breath, there’s his wife’s body swinging from a tree. He and Selyse didn’t have the most affectionate marriage, but she was the last family member he had left. Well, okay, he was all out of family members partly because he killed them, but really, Selyse was supposed to stay with him. Then Melisandre, the one who convinced him to kill his own daughter, abandons the cause. He’s down to a piddling force of foot soldiers and hardly any food to eat, his family and closest advisors gone, and there’s nothing left to do but march on Winterfell! And it doesn’t go so well, does it? The remainder of his army was horrifically outnumbered and outgunned, and they didn’t fare very well in the battle. Already wounded, Stannis manages to fight off TWO Northmen at once. He sits down against a tree, and just as he’s thinking maybe he’ll be lucky enough to die from the cold rather than his injuries, some tall, butch blonde shows up and starts giving him the third degree about his brother Renly.
(I may be just a bit annoyed with my big stubborn Sapphire Islander at the moment.)
They have their little conversation, and at this point Stannis may be thinking: “Okay, this is not how I pictured my death, but she’ll make it quick. Preferably before I have any more time to re-evaluate my life choices.” We see Brienne swing Oathkeeper, and before we get a chance to see where the blade lands, we cut straight to Ramsay fucking Bolton out on the battlefield. Never a sign of Stannis’s body. The killing blow is implied, but not disclosed. Did she cut off his head? Slash him through the chest? We don’t even get the sound effect of the blade reaching his body.
You know how odd it is for Game of Thrones to show a death without letting us see the corpse, or even the killing stroke? I don’t think that’s ever happened before.
We may have seen the worst day of Stannis’s life, but I don’t think we’ve seen the last. I don’t think Oathkeeper even touched his body. The series isn’t finished with Stannis just yet.
(Either way, I was not amused when Brienne showed up in front of wounded, broken Stannis. Her lady’s daughter needed her, and she wasted time on going after that asshole Baratheon. She should have known better than that. Did she bring back her precious Renly? Did she make anything better for herself, her loyal squire or anyone else she cares about? No. No, she did not.)
ETA, 6/17/15: Yeah, we’ve seen the last of Stannis. Fuck me with a chainsaw.