SPOILER ALERT, everyone. This is an essay about the end of Season Five of Game of Thrones. If you haven't seen it, don't read this.
Forget about Jon Snow. Especially forget about whether he'll be resurrected or not. The next season of this miserable, masochistic yet unquittable show we love to let Debbie Downer our Sunday nights isn't premiering until, like, March 31, 2016 at best. Ten months of agonizing over a theory that may prove to be a hollow fan-concocted wish is just something I can't do to myself emotionally, fam. As if this show doesn't take enough of a toll. (Peace and love to book readers who've been wrestling with this cliffhanger since Dance of Dragons dropped in 2011.) No, if there's one death from last night's finale to truly bum a player out that this show is one dark, at times, at best, very gray, grim pit of human, dragon and zombie savagery, it's the demise-by-poisoning of Myrcella Lannister, er, Baratheon.
I know—trust—I never thought I'd type these words myself. This season's arc in Dorne was borderline trash and (as I tweeted earlier in the year) Myrcella, as written and acted, is the closest GoT has ever come to wallowing in Annoying Kid syndrome. (For 45 out of her total 75 seconds on screen, that is. Her last scene opposite Jaime was quite nice.) Last year during Season Four I (foolishly) signed up for Team Oberyn as soon as he sauntered on screen. As played to perfection by Pedro Pascal, he was charismatic and engrossing, and as a Lannister-Targaryen siege truther, a rogue with a respectable agenda. A rarity on this show. Besides, who doesn't love a good revenge plot?
Moreover, he seemed like a safe bet, because apparently I didn't learn enough from Ned Stark or basically every other Stark at the Red Wedding. Here was a new character introduced in the back half of the show as someone with heroic-ish goals. Surely, this was a countermeasure to the narrative subversion George R.R. Martin deployed in killing half of our previous heroes. Here was the guy who would triumph, right? I went into “The Mountain and the Viper” 95% sure it would end with Oberyn victorious in some way shape or form. Instead what I got was a cruel, sadistic, almost darkly humorous inversion of classic revenge tales like The Princess Bride. (Rewatch the scene—the nods to exactly how the fight will play out are plentiful and winking.) Unlike previous fan-fave deaths, this didn't even at least feel narratively rewarding. It was just mean, which is not to say I don't love the sick twist of it all deep down.
But at least whenever heroes fall on this show it gives way to or emboldens others. Cue my glee when I learned the fifth season would take us to Oberyn's homeland and introduce us to three of his daughters, a bastardized Charlie's Angels squad called the Sand Snakes. Surely, they would wreck shit. Now that Season Five is over, we can admit it: their arc was handled poorly. Blame it on the choreography if you want, but fighters skilled as their father, they are not. And the acting chops of the three women cast (whose respective identities barely shone through at all) are suss, too. But really, their avenue of revenge is what's really the biggest disappointment. I wanted them, and Ellaria Sand, who dropped a Top 5 Real Shit Line on Oberyn before his death—"Don't leave me alone in this world”—then let loose a Top 5 Cinematic Bloodcurdling Scream upon his demise, to fuck shit up. And by shit, I mean the Mountain. Cersei. But blank slate as Myrcella is (was?), I can't get down with them poisoning an innocent if empty-headed and ultimately inconsequential girl. It's cowardice. Oberyn didn't lose his wisdom teeth, then his eyes then his brains for this shit, fam. And it's just another in a long line of instances where the villains on this show aren't truly punished—the dead not truly avenged. Which, yay for realism.
Avoiding happy ending tropes is the mission statement, one George R.R. Martin, D.B. Weiss and David Benioff are sticking to oppressively, while tossing us no bones in the process. A Stark child didn't put a dagger through Joffrey's face—he died by means of covert assassination, quivering in his mother's arms, his death wrongfully pinned on Tyrion. Oberyn didn't get to body Tywin for orchestrating his sister's rape and murder—the Lannister patriarch died on the shitter in one of the most somber scenes to date. Cersei deserves to pay for five seasons of scheming, manipulation, and double-crossing—but her humiliation at the hands of the High Sparrow successfully endeared the audience to her struggle. Now you kind of want to see her at least ride on the Faith Militant before she gets what's coming to her... and she'll likely do that with the help of ZombieMountain. Yep—Oberyn didn't even manage to take The Mountain down with him. Arya crossed a name off and then failed out of assassin school. Dany's awesome dragon exodus just rendered her stranded and probably captive.
No one gets what's coming to them on this show as they should. The night is dark and devoid of fist-pump moments. We watch Game of Thrones to feel like trash. But yo, when does Season Six start again?
Frazier Tharpe is a staff writer for Complex. At this point, he's placing all bets on Rickon Stark. Follow him @The_SummerMan.