I wish Daenerys Targaryen would free the nipple: Game of Thrones series five reviewed

Also there's only one throat-slitting and one burning-at-the-stake, moans James Delingpole

18 April 2015

9:00 AM

18 April 2015

9:00 AM

Blimey, there has been so much good stuff to watch on telly of late: the Grand National, the Boat Race and the Masters; The Island with Bear Grylls; the final of University Challenge (bravura performance from Caius’s Loveday, though how the winning Cambridge team’s hearts must have sunk when they realised that the public intellectual chosen to present this year’s prize was that literary equivalent of a Dalí melting clock poster on a pretentious fifth former’s bedroom wall — Will Self); and, of course, the first episode of the new season’s Game of Thrones (Sky Atlantic, Monday).

I’m assuming you’re all on board with Thrones, now, and that it doesn’t need any introduction. Last season (the fourth) it overtook The Sopranos as the most watched series on HBO, so I imagine that by series 12 or 13 (presuming George R.R. Martin lives to write that many books and doesn’t get eaten in a tragic wolf accident) there will be no one left in the world who hasn’t at some time said to themselves: ‘I am Tyrion Lannister.’

Tyrion — played by the coolest, sex-iest dwarf in history, Peter Dinklage — is, of course, the character everyone wants to be because he’s about the only person in the entire series with a glimmer of human warmth. When you identify with Tyrion, what you’re saying to the world is: ‘Yeah, and if I’d been in Amsterdam in 1942 I’d have been the one who sheltered Anne Frank.’

Louche, witty, vulnerable, charming — and only ruthless (plot spoiler alert!) when he has no other option, as for example, when he’s forced to strangle his mistress and shoot his father with a crossbow — Tyrion is our one moral touchstone in an otherwise pitiless universe where weakness, kindness or decency are almost invariably punished by hideous death.

It’s one of the qualities that makes the series so utterly transfixing: as with Zoé Oldenbourg’s Crusades-era classic The World is Not Enough, you’re transported to a realm where all the usual cosy fictive conventions have been suspended. Anyone can die at any time — and quite often does (Thrones averages 14 deaths per episode) — and the correlation between good behaviour and happy endings is depressingly but exhilaratingly inverse. (As, perhaps, you’d expect from a saga whose plotlines are borrowed in part from the Wars of the Roses, where entire noble houses could be eradicated according to the outcome of a single battle.)

All that said, the opening episode of this new season was a relatively dull one. (Just one throat-slitting and one burning-at-the-stake.) It happens sometimes with Thrones — before the inevitable bloodbath later in the series. You’re given a bit of illus-ory quality time to get to know the characters while they’re still alive and planning a bright future, the better that you might care for them should they meet their likely sticky end.

One of the people I’d quite like to die — though for purely selfish reasons: she has delighted me enough — is the Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen. For one thing, she doesn’t show her breasts nearly often enough these days (did I read, somewhere, that Emilia Clarke has had a no-nudie clause written into her contract or is that a wanton slur?), and for another she’s just a frightful liberal fascist.

In the last series, with her dragons and her army of ‘Unsullied’ warrior eunuchs she captured the city of Yunkai, where a minority of effete aristocrats kept the majority in thrall as slaves. But all she has done is replace one tyranny with another: she won’t let the dispossessed toffs enjoy their traditional burial rites; she has banned the gladiatorial games which seem to have been this dismal desert hell hole’s only source of entertainment.

This is typical George R.R. Martin, mind. With a less sophisticated author, Daenerys would have remained just a fanciable bit of stuff for whom we all rooted (or, in the case of the boys, wanted to root). What his Daenerys shows, though, is that immensely high-minded do-gooders can often make the most insufferable zealots. As a candidate for the Iron Throne, she’s probably preferable to the scheming, petulant Cersei or the ineffably dull (but dispiritingly effective) Stannis — but only just. Imagine a world run by a sexier, more strident Harriet Harman, whose every whim was viciously enforced by a pair of evil, killer dragons: the novelty would soon pall, don’t you think?

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  • flaxensaxon

    So much for the Breaker of Chains. Daenerys keeps her own dragons in chains. She is the dullest character in Thrones, so she’ll probably win in the end.

  • fenlandfox

    It was around this point that the novels got a little boring,symptomatic of an author in love with his own creation.

  • Sylv Taylor

    The no nude clause wasn’t Emilia Clarke’s. Clickbait headlines implied so, but it was the actress who played Ros who demanded that, with predictable results.

  • Chelsea Riley

    Watch game of thrones season 5 episode 1-4 Full Stream >>>

  • Mol

    If you think Tyrion is a moral touchstone…you haven’t been paying attention. He wasn’t ‘forced’ to kill his father and his mistress. He could have escaped unnoticed easily. Don’t get me wrong, I love Tyrion, but if you’re looking for moral touchstones may I draw your attention to Jon Snow (boring but bless him he is well intentioned), Sansa Stark (I have no idea how she’s still alive but this girl hasn’t got a murderous bone in her body), Margaery Tyrell (waaay more interesting than the other two and at least usually as the interests of the realm in mind), Sam Tarly (who can fault dear old Sam?) or even Davos Seaworth (always does what he thinks his right, even if it gets him in shit with Stannis). Also saying you think Daenerys should die because she had the nerve to end human slavery, put a stop to forced fighting to the death and not get her tits out enough for your liking is kind of gross.

    • Rik

      Having read the books,far better than the tv show,you are going to be sadly let down when Sansa choses to be the perfect assassin for a death cult.

      • Mol

        Oh bless you sweet summer child, I have read the books and I think you may be mixing up Stark sisters. Good try though 🙂 Then again since the TV series seems to be diverging from the books so much, who knows? Maybe Sansa will join Arya at the House of Black and White!

      • MC73

        I would not say the books are better than the show. The last two were pretty poor and rather tedious. Seems like Martin has lost control of his narrative.

      • Guest

        Erm, sure you don’t mean Arya?

    • Garnet Thesiger

      Jon Snow is an irritating socialist journo, feed him to the dragons…

    • Snows wasn’t without flaws. He cheated to get elected Commander of the Night’s watch, or did in the books. The Tyrells backed Jeoffrey as king, despite his cruelty, etc and could have easily joined the North in their side instead and secured victory for a fairer Westeros

      • Mol

        Technically Sam was the one who engineered Jon’s election and he did it against Jon’s wishes and without his knowledge. He also did this because he knew Janos Slynt, the other lead candidate, would have been a disastrous and cruel commander and because he knew that Jon would be the only one who would co-operate with the wildlings for the safety of all in the North.

        I was speaking specifically of Margaery, not the Tyrell’s in general (Mace is a bit useless). In the show we can see Margaery’s philanthropy towards the people of kings landing and her willingness to help protect the defenseless Sansa. In the books we also see these things as well as her ability to keep Cersei’s crazy in check for the good of the realm. She’s also extremely supportive of the gay characters in the series, especially the relationship between her brother and her ex-husband (and power to her for getting over that spot of awkwardness).

        Re: the Tyrells, their original alliance was not with Joffrey, but with Renly, a man who is generally regarded as being kind and fair and as having the best interests of the realm in mind. I personally think he would have made a good king had he survived. It is only after his death that they linked up with the Lannisters. However it does bear mentioning that while they allied with Joffrey, they’re also responsible for killing him and placing the much kinder Tommen on the throne.

        • Backing House Lannister, whatever.

          • Mol

            Backing the right bits of House Lannister, Margaery gets Cersei locked up where she can do no more harm (and if you’ve read Feast for Crows, you know she’s done quite a lot of it), Olenna kills Joffrey because there was nothing to be done with him. The Tyrells are backing Tommon, the nice eight year old who likes kittens and will do whatever his lovely new wife asks. Backing the Lannisters got them what they wanted, ie pretty much ruling Westeros for the moment. And they’ll do it with a lot more care and consideration than the Lannisters (Cersei and Joffery) would have

          • They’re not really ruling just the Lannisters, Cersi kept pushing back in Small Council meetings, and Kevin Lannisher ended Tyrell positions once becoming Regent

  • John the Fearless

    Stannis for King!!

    • wisewoman

      Stannis the Mannis with the Plannis

  • rtj1211

    Can’t you get your wife to show you hers instead?!

    • HulloHullo

      Not sure if anyone wants to go near Delingpole!
      It is also a great shame that a self described “gent” is so incredibly crass and rude to a talented young actress. Absolutely terrible and very very un-British.

      • IriathZhul

        As an American who occasionally watches your “football” matches, the notion that the British aren’t crass and rude delights me to no end.

        • blandings

          You just don’t get our ironic humour.

          • Sir Roderick Spode

            Exactly right. Most every treatment of GOT so far has been a nuanced tendentious examination of it’s feminist perspective. How it frames strong women etc. They just dont get it.

          • Theycalhimbrian

            V true, doesn’t change the fact that referring to an episode with the lack of a pair of breasts is rather tastless.

        • HulloHullo

          One can always dream that men will strive to hold themselves to high standards. Unfortunately James would desperately like to be a British gentleman but constantly seems to forget that this requires manners…

          • MikeH


    • blandings

      If she’s anything like mine she’d slap his face

      • Mol

        And if you talk about your wife that way I would hardly blame her

        • blandings

          I didn’t mean to be taking literally.
          Oh forget it.

    • Garnet Thesiger

      Oranges aren’t the only fruit…!

  • Gerschwin

    Don’t be silly she’s attractive and succesful…she doesn’t need feminsim.

    • Violin Sonata.

      Indeed she is, thankfully not a hairy tattooed feminist and you’d think differently if she were, I am sure 😉

      • Gerschwin

        I certainly would sweetheart, don’t go troubling your pretty little head over it. Kisses. xxx

        • Violin Sonata.

          ‘ My pretty little head’????

  • blandings

    Tits and dragons and dwarves eh?
    I’m missing something?
    Gimme a real woman and a brace of martinis.
    Amanda where are you?

    • Garnet Thesiger

      Who is Amanda?

      • blandings

        I replied but it was classified as spam

        • Jonathan Tedd

          Amanda Knox oh yes!

          • blandings


          • jeffersonian

            If you’re taste is for sociopathic murderers….

          • Innocent. The killer was Rudy Guede from the Ivory Coast and why he isn’t in for life is a mystery.

          • monty61

            No mystery just an utterly incompetent legal system. Or any other system for that matter. Just back from Tuscany, Italy retains its charm but instutiutionally it’s a mess.

          • Yes, I gathered that: but seems more than incompetent — terrible though that is. At certain points, the ‘legal case’ sounded more like a witch trial than anything else. Americans deserve better than that. So do Italians.

          • jeffersonian

            Travesty of justice.

            A single person could not have done it. Two murderers have gone free.

          • You were there? Motive? And means, esp. since Amanda is a girl and last time I looked, girls can’t do rape.

          • jeffersonian

            Pay attention would you? I said one person couldn’t have done it (which was the finding of the lower/non-political Italian court). Guede was rightly convicted of rape and other charges. The controlling mind, and the person who delivered the killing blow however, was clearly the sociopath.

            To the memory of Meredith Kercher. RIP.

          • I wouldn’t trust anything said or done by an Italian court for which rational inquiry was not high on the menu. But the judges I do trust, who have followed the case, say that there is no evidence that either A. K. or her then boyfriend are guilty of anything.

      • blandings

        Amanda is the girl of my dreams – a harmless fantasy

        • a harmless fantasy
          Story of my life….

          • blandings

            Ah now! If all our fantasies were to be realised, life would become a rather exhausting affair.

          • Would it?!

          • blandings

            Would in my case!

          • You must have a great many fantasies, then. I have only ever had three.

            1. To live in a beautiful home with gorgeous grounds in great wealth.
            2. To have a wonderful lover and be such in return.
            3. To be a part of the cultural conversation and leave a work that matters.

          • blandings

            That sounds pretty exhausting to me – if you’re doing it right.

          • I’m doing it wrong: now what?

          • blandings

            I was on the verge of offering to show you, but then thought better of it.
            I’m going back to bed – before the bird start singing!

          • I wear an earplug when the birds start singing (or when the neighbour’s air conditioning goes on, etc.). The other ear is usually against a pillow so it doesn’t need one.

            My pillowcases are silk and my pillows are feather, in cotton covers. My husband’s are misshapen polyfibre and they have cotton covers. I lay them all out in the hot sun to air and dis-germ them, but his are grotesque all the same and mine, of course, are lovely. : )

          • blandings

            Buy the poor guy a decent pillow.
            Men can be sensitive too you know.

          • No, he won’t have it! I would luv luv luv to have decent pillows that fluffed nicely and made up a nice bed, but he likes the old distorted ones and won’t part with them. Ever. %^[

          • blandings

            Make an issue of it.
            Throw out the old ones.
            Replace them with pillows of your choice and fold your arms and pout – It works.

          • Oh dear: you’re braver than I am! And more lenient than he is. I’d never hear the end of what foul treachery I had served him with. Sometimes it’s better just to take one’s lumps — in this case, literally (his pillows are either squashed pancakes or lumpy and bumpy).

    • Yes, who IS this paragon? :^0

  • Des Demona

    she got her kit off quite frequently in series one. if you’re that desperate I suggest buying the box set.

  • Violin Sonata.

    James, don’t you think Milo would have been more suitable for this discussion,
    games not breasts for obvious reasons ( or maybe not as the case maybe).

  • ohforheavensake

    You’re very, very lonely, aren’t you?

    • blandings

      And you’re not eh?

  • mariandavid

    I would like to go on public record that I have no wish, desire or impulse to gaze upon Delingpole’s breasts.

    • You mean: his nipples. I believe the man is entirely fat-free.

      • mariandavid

        You are more courageous than I – daring to observe so much of a Delingpole.

        • Heh heh. He posted a half-nude pic of himself — ribs showing and all — so it wasn’t so much bravery as astonishment.

  • Farage’s Fried Chicken


  • Violin Sonata.

    James, if you wish to gaze upon some ripe peaches James, sometimes there are
    dress malfunctions at concerts, not the reason for going, obviously.

  • James

    Little baby dragons breastfeeding would have been cute.

  • Good lord, is James talking about it AGAIN?!

    My advice is: don’t feed the appetite. What you don’t feed, shrinks. I realized a long time ago — though I didn’t apply the realization rigorously enough — that the hungriest thing about me is my mind. Give my mind feed like a sardine ball to a shark, and I am almost unconsciously happy. Live in the moment and nothing else matters: the past I can’t bear to think about, or the future with my death in it.


    • Violin Sonata.

      Yes, living for the present is the most productive philosophy of life, but a strong mind
      is imperative to control that chain of thought.
      I’ve some music, for no particular reason but for the joy of sax jazz.………..0.4tTno0IOuUM

      • Gato Barbieri! There’s a blast from the past. Wonder what he’s doing these days…. Do you like the music of the late Wes Montgomery (and his brothers)?

        • Violin Sonata.

          Hello, I googled Gato Barbieri, didn’t get very far, apparently he’s just busy and still living in New York ( well in 2013 that was).
          I’ve a book about Wes Montgomery that I’m yet to read, a true genius, from what I’ve heard.
          A favourite song of his for personal reasons is: Here’s That Rainy Day, just love it.
          I may be wrong but I think Wes Montgomery and his siblings were also known as the
          groove brothers unless I’m thinking of the Marsalis Brothers.

          • Groove Brothers: yes: that’s a fantastic album by them.

          • ‘Here’s That Rainy Day’: not sure if I know that one. Will have to check.

          • Violin Sonata.

            I suppose I could have also said’ Echoes of Indiana Avenue’ another favourite.
            With the man on the cusp of the greatest. The brilliance and experimental part of his
            character you can hear in those early recordings.
            All jazz musicians should learn from those early albums of late 50s until early 60s and
            appreciate this man learned his skill by learning to pick out complex melodies by
            ear alone without ever reading music, highly difficult with jazz.

          • Wow. I certainly recommend his music to any that will listen….

  • gram64

    Agreed, might be the only thing worth watching in the entire series, but you have to admit it’s just titillation.

    • Violin Sonata.

      Oh dear.

  • richbloke

    I stopped rooting for Daenerys the moment she locked up the wrong dragons. If she actually believed they were beyond her control how did she imagine chaining them up in complete darkness would improve things? Mother of Bad Decisions.

    • It is the only known procedure. The Targaryians in Westeros did the same under the Red Keep.

      • richbloke

        I’m pretty sure those dragons were dead long before their skulls ended up in the Red Keep.

        • No, a large section attached to the dungeaons was built for them while alive.

          • richbloke

            The Targaryen kept their dragons in the dragon pit. This was a completely separate structure and acted as a stable not a dungeon.

  • Hippograd

    the public intellectual chosen to present this year’s prize was that literary equivalent of a Dalí melting clock poster on a pretentious fifth former’s bedroom wall — Will Self.

    The metaphor doesn’t work. Dalí is a great artist some of whose fans are pretentious and immature. Self is a third-rate pseudo-intellectual all of whose fans are pretentious and immature. He’s the literary equivalent of a Damien Hirst poster on a pretentious third former’s bedroom wall. All great artists have pretentious and immature fans. Artists like Self have nothing but pretentious and immature fans.

    • blandings

      Nice put-down – must remember it.

  • Author, ‘liberal’ does not mean left-wing in the UK> This isn’t the USA, okay? Sheesh.

  • William_Brown

    I have no idea of what you speak – my children seem to like it though…

  • grape roberts

    Mother of Dragon needs to go. She adds nothing to the show.

  • Precambrian

    I wish people would stop cheering on this porn and violence.

    • sandy winder

      Makes a change from the Green party.

  • Complainathon

    Can this article be as sexist and gross as it seems? YES it can. Grow the f*ck up, dude. Get a girlfriend.

    • He’s married. With children. Yeah. (And no, I am not here because of the article or the writer. I’m here because the people I follow keep leading me this way [headslap].)

  • Dylan

    Emilia Clarke has been entirely nude on a number of occasions in GoT when her character was portrayed as weak or vulnerable.

  • Brogan75

    Totally agree on the dragon lady and her army of illegal ISIS-style immigrants.

  • John M

    I would rather have Daenerys. The prospect of Harriet Harman emerging from a bath is enough to put me off my dinner

  • Tiberii_filius

    Is this what was originally the unofficial coffee house wall? Pete Hoskins got out just in time.

  • Richard Hollis

    Please don’t hate me… I just HAVE to…

    The city she took last season and is currently ruling is Meereen, not Yunkai.

    Phew! That feels better! Now, anyone want to write a poorly spelt comment I can correct…?

  • Seat of Mars

    I am bored of GOT. It has become clear that its philosophical standpoint is relentless nihilism.

    Daenerys sits in her pyramid of judgement joylessly pontificating about how the lower orders should behave. Banging on about right and wrong with a child’s grasp of morality and nuance. Like some sort of fantasy Polly Toynbee.

    Very few likeable characters, no enjoyable storylines. What is the point of it?

  • #skeptical

    I honestly cannot tell if this is satire or not. You’re not seriously faulting the show for a lack of gratuitous nudity…?