Glazed of Dough: How Game of Thrones has Made Shock and Awe an Art of Stale Craft

Picture this:

You go to your favorite doughnut shop and you buy a box of hot, sticky, glazed doughnuts. They're fresh and shiney. You get home, change into your favorite sweats, pour a cold glass of milk, and dig in. The next day, you open the box and heat up a doughnut. It's still pretty good. It's sticky and soft, but it's not exactly as good as the first one you had. Let's say, you go back to the box a few days later. Now they're stale and cold. The glaze has hardened; it crumbles when you eat it. You want to recapture the deliciousness of the first, but you settle for the old one because, well, you've already invested in the dozen.

This is how I am beginning to feel about Game of Thrones

Season One was tantalizing. The production value and characters were so rich and epic, even for an HBO series. I couldn't believe this was a television show. I thought it was incredibly well casted and the storylines and structure of each episode allowed you, as a viewer, to pour into the next without hesitation. The show was also one of the boldest I'd seen, killing off its lead Ned Stark in the first season. Seasons two and three just added to the demise of the Stark family, who received the bulk of misfortune throughout the series. In season two, everyone split away. Arya went off by herself, Sansa was betrothed to Prince Joffrey, Rob became King of Winterfell, and the children - including little Bran - were separated from their surviving mother, Catlyn. However, season three twisted the Stark fate once again with the infamous Red Wedding episode. Now with only young, unmarried Starks and the bastard Jon Snow joining the Night Watch, everything felt hopeless.

That is, until other royal families began to experience hardship finally. In season four, the Lannister's finally began "paying their debts" so to speak. King Joffrey gruesomley died at his wedding, which caused Tyrion to be blamed for his murder - and imprisoned. This then led to Tyrion's lover, Shea to testify against him, which in turn led to Tyrion murdering his own father - the hand of the king, Tyrell Lannister.

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Since then, Jaime Lannister had his best sword arm chopped off, Cersei was imprisoned for adultery and incest, and her only daughter Myrcella was poisoned. Cersei now has only one living child (and heir!) to the throne presumably.

It's not going well for the Baratheon's either. Robert of course died in the first season, and his brother Stannis, has been trying to conquer Winterfell for four seasons now. The only endearing quality about Stannis, and I mean, the ONLY, is his sweet daughter Shireen. However she was burned alive this season in one of the most difficult sequences to watch in the series, if not the hardest. (That includes the ongoing torture Theon Greyjoy endured by Ramsey, but at least Theon was a pretty terrible person at the time.)

That pretty much leaves us with Danaerys, whose story line since season one (the death of her beloved Drogo) has mostly been positive.
So now that we're up to speed on what is happening (somewhat), one thing that you can always count on from Thrones is lots of death. However, in its more recent seasons, the death scenes haven't been as definite as we're accustomed to. Since the grizzly betrayal of the Starks at the Red Wedding, and Joffrey's poisoning at the Purple, graphic violent deaths have become such a corner stone for the show that any off-screen death is questionable. I for one am still kind of hoping The Hound will turn up any time now, because his character did kind of grow on me in season four and he actually didn't die on screen. But the finale of season five was chalk full of uncertain fates.

Arya's character came into her own in a big way in this episode, but she paid a hefty price. The last time we see her she has realized the full potential of Jaqen and the Many Faced God, and begins to holler in panic as she looses her eye sight. But perhaps the most shocking turn is the stabbing of beloved Jon Snow by the Night's Watch. Once again the show leaves us in the cold - literally - as Jon bleeds out into the snow as the camera slowly dollies in on his face. It's unclear whether he is dead or alive, and murmurs of hope are peppered across the internet that he is saved by either Samwell or resurrected by Melisandre. It remains to be seen, but it's a blessing that Thrones has such beautiful, sweeping landscapes, because that may be all that's left if the bodies keep piling up at this rate.