HBO’s hit drama “Game of Thrones” ended its fifth season on Sunday leaving behind a bunch of loose ends, questions and heartbreak. While the finale contained a lot of big changes worth talking about, one of the largest was the Stannis Baratheon storyline.
[SPOILER ALERT: This article contains information from Season 5, episode 10, of “Game of Thrones.”]
OK, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) is dead and that’s devastating and all, but someone has to talk about the impact of the episode’s second-biggest death – so here we are.
After doing the absolutely unspeakable last week, Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) met his apparent end at the hands of Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie). Say what you want about Stannis, his shadow loomed very large over the show and the political spectrum of Westeros. Without him, the world is immeasurably different. With fans still reeling over the battle of Winterfel, below are a few questions that remain without thelast true Baratheon heir around.
Theirs WAS the Fury
We can argue all day about whether or not Stannis is dead. We didn’t see the killing blow, but as HitFix notes, his dramatic role in the story is pretty much done. So, if we assume that creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff aren’t keeping Stannis in their back pocket for later, that means that the Baratheon name is, believe it or not, more extinct than the Stark’s.
King Robert (Mark Addy) succumbed to his boar injuries in Season 1 launching a battle between brothers Renl (Gethin Anthony) and Stannis. This led to the infamous blood magic assassination for which Brienne sentenced Stannis to death. So that takes care of all the pre-existing male heirs to the Baratheon household.
With his wife unable to give birth to any boys, and stricken with grief about his decision to sacrifice their only daughter to the Lord of Light, she hangs herself. As a result, when the finale began, Stannis was the last true Baratheon left in the world with no chance of making more. As Vulture notes, if he’s dead, then the Stag house is officially no more… kind of.
Bastards and Kings, Man
Given the blonde hair and the council he keeps, it’s very easy to say that the current king on the Iron Throne is a Lannister. However, King Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) is still going by the name Baratheon. Anyone who has watched the show since episode 1 knows that all of King Robert’s alleged children were really fathered by Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). With Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) and Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free) poisoned to death, the only fake Baratheon still around is the king. While everyone knows that he’s not a true Stag, for all political intents and purposes, the name lives on.
In addition, there’s also the long-forgotten Gendry (Joe Dempsie). Ned Stark (Sean Bean) discovered King Robert’s bastard in Season 1 and Stannis once used his blood to persuade the Lord of Light to help him achieve victory. When last we saw him, Ser Davos (Liam Cunningham) had helped him escape and sent him off into the ocean in the tiniest row boat that you ever did see. While he’s a bastard and was not (and now cannot be) legitimized into the family, his blood was powerful enough to be considered “kings blood” by the Lord of Light. So, that’s got to count for something right?
Can Gods Fail?
The audience was introduced to Stannis Baratheon as he was burning non-believers alive as sacrifices to the Lord of Light. Since then, his faith in the Red Priest Melisandre (Carice van Houten) caused friction for the would-be king on a number of different occasions, including the death of his daughter Shireen (Kerry Ingram). While it may be easy to write off Stannis as a religious fanatic, it’s worth pointing out that the Lord of Light seems to be very, very real.
Time and time again we’ve seen those that are faithful rewarded with either a return from the dead, a smoke monster baby or just prophesy emerging from the flames. For all of his religious shortcomings, Stannis was at least throwing his weight behind a god that’s proven him/her/itself. Why then did his biggest and most important sacrifice go so wrong?
The finale opened with Stannis learning that his sacrifice thawed the road ahead clearing the path to Winterfel. However, the act of burning his daughter alive caused his already dwindling army to lose nearly half its soldiers. Not to mention the suicide of his wife. If the Lord of Light wanted Stannis to win, why did he lose so completely? Is it possible that the Red god was tricking Stannis the whole time? Is the Lord of Light all-powerful but really inept at planning battle and morale strategy? Many may have thought that the Lord of Light’s eye turned to Jon Snow instead of Stannis as the prophesized messiah, but that theory was stabbed six times in the gut. Fans will have to wait and see if their burning Baratheon questions are answered in Season 6.
What do you think about the end of the Baratheon line? Comment below or tweet your thoughts to @TylerMcCarthy.