Game of Thrones features a large ensemble cast, including Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington. The season introduced a number of new cast members, including Jonathan Pryce and Alexander Siddig.
Critics praised the show's production values and cast, giving specific accolades for Dinklage's portrayal of Tyrion Lannister. Viewership yet again rose compared to the previous season. This season set a Guinness World Record for winning the highest number of Emmy Awards for a series in a single season and year, winning 12 out of 24 nominations, including Outstanding Drama Series.
The writing staff for the fifth season includes executive producers and showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, producer Bryan Cogman, and Dave Hill, who was promoted to staff writer this season after previously working as an assistant to Benioff and Weiss. Author George R. R. Martin, who had written one episode for each of the first four seasons, did not write an episode for the fifth season as he was working to finish writing the sixth novel of the series, The Winds of Winter. The directing staff for the fifth season is Michael Slovis (episodes 1 and 2), Mark Mylod (episodes 3 and 4), Jeremy Podeswa (episodes 5 and 6), Miguel Sapochnik (episodes 7 and 8), and David Nutter (episodes 9 and 10). Nutter is the only returning director with the rest being first-time Game of Thrones directors.
Filming for the fifth season began in July 2014 in Belfast and ended in December 2014. Locations in Northern Ireland included Titanic Studios, Belfast and the cliff edge of Binevenagh Mountain. The Winterfell sets were in the village of Moneyglass.
Some of the scenes that take place in the principality of Dorne were filmed in Spain, beginning in October 2014. Locations explored for the production included the Alcázar of Seville and the University of Osuna. On October 14, some scenes were filmed on the Roman bridge of Córdoba. Benioff and Weiss said that season 5 would include flashbacks, which they had previously avoided, and that Córdoba would represent the city of Volantis.
In the fifth season, the region of Dorne is introduced as a location. Alexander Siddig joins the cast as Doran Martell, the ruling Prince of Dorne, and elder brother of Oberyn Martell, while his son Trystane Martell is portrayed by Toby Sebastian. The role of Cersei's daughter Myrcella Baratheon, who is Doran's ward and betrothed to Trystane is played by Nell Tiger Free. The role was portrayed by Aimee Richardson in the first two seasons. DeObia Oparei portrays Areo Hotah, the captain of the Dornish palace guard. The three eldest bastard daughters of Oberyn Martell (collectively known as the \"Sand Snakes\") are portrayed by Keisha Castle-Hughes (Obara Sand), Jessica Henwick (Nymeria Sand), and Rosabell Laurenti Sellers (Tyene Sand).
Across the Narrow Sea, Enzo Cilenti joins as Yezzan, a Yunkish nobleman and slave trader, while Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje was cast as Malko, a slaver, who does not appear in the novels. At Castle Black and beyond the Wall, new cast members include Michael Condron as Bowen Marsh, First Steward of the Night's Watch. J. J. Murphy, who was cast as Night's Watch officer Denys Mallister, died in August 2014 shortly after filming his first scenes; his role was not recast. One role that was recast for season 5 was Ross O'Hennessy as the Lord of Bones. O'Hennessy replaces Edward Dogliani who was last seen in the season 3 premiere \"Valar Dohaeris\". Charles Dance, whose character died in the previous season, returned for one episode to portray Tywin Lannister's corpse. Isaac Hempstead-Wright (Bran Stark), Kristian Nairn (Hodor) and Ellie Kendrick (Meera Reed) are absent this season because their part in the story has reached the end of A Dance with Dragons.
The fifth season was met with mostly positive reviews, though many deemed it to be weaker than its predecessors. On Metacritic, the season (based on the first four episodes) has a score of 91 out of 100 based on 29 reviews, indicating \"universal acclaim\". On Rotten Tomatoes, the fifth season has a 93% approval rating from 52 critics with an average rating of 8.61 out of 10. The site's critical consensus reads, \"Bloody action and extreme power plays return full throttle, as Game of Thrones enjoys a new-found liberation from the world of the source material, resulting in more unexpected thrills.\"
The Daily Telegraph stated in regards to the premiere episode, \"Essentially, this was an exercise in scene setting, the chess pieces being laid out on the board.\" New York Daily News praised the season to have \"little trouble keeping its pedal to the metal\" due to its \"cold-blooded characters treating personnel turnover as the natural order\", when other shows \"are starting to run out of gas by Season 5\". Slant Magazine gave the season 3.5 out of 4 and stated, \"There's plenty of death in the fifth season of the show, and it's understood as a cautionary symbol of power.\" Vanity Fair called this season \"rich, satisfying and fantastically put together\". Variety gave the season a positive review and stated, \"Operating on a scale like nothing else on TV, and creatively liberated to play a long game stretching into the future, perhaps no project better distinguishes HBO's status as the leading premium player.\" IndieWire gave the season a score of 'B+' and found the \"first few episodes skew dry, concerned largely with the establishment of allegiances\", but still praised them for keeping the audiences \"connected to those who have managed to survive thus far in the battle for power.\"
The Boston Globe gave the season a positive review and stated, \"The funny thing about Game of Thrones is that it's built on familiar genres and yet it appeals to those who may not be fans of those genres.\" James Poniewozik of Time gave the season a positive review and stated, \"Game of Thrones is flying, full tilt, toward a destination off the edge of our map of the known world. I can't wait to see what it finds there.\" Salon.com gave the season a positive review and stated, \"In the fifth season, the story has been distilled to just the moments of pathos and characterization and gorgeous direction that make the story work.\" Slate was concerned about the fact that the season \"pulls even further away from the novels (the Sansa plot will drive some fans crazier than King Aerys)\", though still thought it was \"better for it\".
The only major publication to give the season a negative review was John Doyle of The Globe and Mail who stated, \"A certain character says to someone who had been believed to be dangerous: \"You're not terrifying, you're boring!\" I'm with that character, all the way. Yes, everyone's a critic, Ms. Atwood.\"
Season 5 featured more significant changes from the novels. Some of the changes were more well-received than others (the sexual assault scene was heavily criticized and caused great controversy). The various plotlines for the season also differed significantly in reception. The Dornish subplot received an overwhelmingly negative reception. In particular, the hyped Sand Snakes were maligned by critics and fans alike, as many found them cheesy and unlikeable. In contrast, Tyrion's storyline was highly praised. Many fans felt that his subplot progressed overly slowly in the novels, and his meeting with Daenerys was particularly lauded.
Business Insider noted a significant difference in the ratings between this season and previous seasons. The typical pattern involves \"Solid premiere viewings followed by a slow but steady gain of momentum through to the finale. Historically, the finale episodes of each season have beaten the premiere for total number of viewers\". However, this season showed a significant decline from 8 million viewers at the premiere to 5.4 million at the seventh episode, \"The Gift\". Business Insider cites two likely reasons for the lower ratings: backlash over the rape scene in \"Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken\", one of many deviations from the novels throughout the season that \"have upset fans,\" and increased online streaming through HBO Now. It also acknowledged a possible effect of the first four episodes leaking online before the season premiere and the decision to air on Memorial Day weekend in the United States (a weekend that had been skipped in previous seasons). Business Insider reached out to HBO for comment, HBO responded that it is seeing an increase in overall viewer numbers this season taking into account streaming services, which are not included in Nielsen ratings. The dip in ratings did not extend to the eighth and ninth episodes, \"Hardhome,\" and \"The Dance of Dragons\", which were both seen by over 7 million viewers. The season finale, \"Mother's Mercy\" was seen by 8.11 million people, setting a new record and making it the most watched episode of the series.
The season was simulcast to 170 countries by HBO and its broadcast partners. In some countries, it aired the day after its first release. Sky Atlantic, the network serving the United Kingdom and Ireland, aired the premiere the day after HBO, but joined the simulcast for the rest of the season.
A half-hour documentary, Game of Thrones: A Day in the Life, aired on HBO on February 8, 2015. It covered one day of production of season 5 on three sets in Belfast, Dubrovnik and Osuna from the viewpoint of key crew members. The first official trailer for season 5 was released on January 30, 2015, and the season's second trailer was released on March 9, 2015. The world premiere of the first episode of the fifth season was held at the Tower of London on March 18, 2015.
On April 11, prior to the airing of the season's first episode, screener copies of the first four episodes were leaked to several file sharing sites. According to TorrentFreak, 18 million different IP addresses downloaded the leaked episodes, totaling 32 million downloads during the first week. The fifth season of Game of Thrones was the most-pirated TV series in 2015. 59ce067264