Game of Thrones season premiere review: The Wars to Come

Game of Thrones season premiere review: The Wars to Come

We're back in Westeros for the fifth season! Get ready for the next ten weeks to fly faster than the blink of drunk Tyrion's eye.

N.B. I just want to point out that I have read all five books in the Song of Ice and Fire series, but I've only read them once and I finished A Dance With Dragons almost two years ago, which is to say I will misremember things. Consider this fair warning.

The premiere takes a moment to catch up with some (but not all) of our good Westerosi friends. Absent from this hour are Arya, Bran (who will not pop up all season), that sexy bitch Ramsay "Snow" Bolton, and the Dornish folk. It appears as if we'll check in with a few of them next week, but as far as this episode goes...

King's Landing: The episode opens with Cersei flashing back to that one time she really pissed off a fortune teller. Who knows if things might have ended up better for her if she'd have just been a little bit nicer to the lady. Which came first -- the prophecy of Cersei's future or Cersei ticking off the lady giving it to her? What if Cersei had handed the woman a bouquet of flowers instead of a mouth load of sass? Would the fortune teller have said, "Oh yes, m'lady, you will marry that lovely prince and have millions of babies and you will be queen and everyone will love you?"

We'll never know.

What we do know, however, is that Cersei's future is not bright. Everything the fortune teller said has come to pass, or is in the process of coming to pass. Robert had sixty-seven million babies. Cersei had three, and none of them Bob's. They're all going to die before her, it seems (one down; RIP Joffrey). A young queen will take her place. She immediately assumes it's Margaery, but maybe the rose princess is just a distraction. Maybe Cersei is focusing on the wrong young queen. Maybe she'd be better off worrying about Daenerys or Myrcella or one of those Wildling ladies. There are lots of young queens looking for the job, is all I'm saying. Margaery isn't the only game in town.

Cersei and Jaime rendesvous at the site of their last (unfortunate) hook up -- the temple. That's where Tywin's body is laid out and Jaime is guarding it. There are many hard feelings between these two. She longs to avenge their father's death, and Jaime is the one who helped his killer (their brother) escape. Cersei worries that everything the Lannisters have worked to build during their father's life will be gone as soon as the people see his dead body. There is no one left to rule Casterly Rock. Tyrion is missing (and a murder suspect). Cersei is a girl, and Jaime is a member of the King's Guard and cannot be a lord. Yes, Tommen is king, but come on. Ser Pounce would be a more terrifying ruler.

Also paying his respects to Tywin is Lancel Lannister, last seen diddling Cersei before the battle of the Blackwater. He's now a "Sparrow," a religious type who wears potato sacks and cuts his hair short. He regrets the stuff he did with Cersei before converting to Sparrowism (both the diddling and the regicide), and he does not seem pleased when Cersei does not show the same remorse. Ruh-roh.

Margaery is continuing to play her part, openly flirting with Tommen like he's her charity case. When she catches Loras and "Olivar" in flagrante delicto, she appears to have a plan in mind to keep him from having to marry Cersei, which is obvious to everyone from the suspicious face she makes at the end of that scene.

Pentos: Tyrion's alive! A little! He's not in the best way. He's been floating for months on a boat in a box, and it sucks. He has to shove his poo out the small holes in the wall of the box, which is imagery I think we all could've done without. He's a real sad sack, who wants to drink himself to death. He feels like a jerk for killing his dad and his whore girlfriend, he can never go back to King's Landing, and he might never wash the box stink off his body.

Lucky for Tyrion, he's not alone. He has the company of the person who had to pick up his poo and dump it over the side of the boat. Thank you for that image, Varys. Yes, the imp and the eunuch are taking their show on the road! They're in Pentos, AKA the place where we first met Dany and Viserys. Tyrion wants to die, but Varys thinks he should live. Tyrion's brain has much to offer the world. He can help prop up a new monarch -- that blond lady everyone's been talking about.

Meereen: But things are not great, Bob, for that blond lady right now. Yeah, Dany's queen; but she kind of seems to think that just by virtue of her having the title, she'll be able to keep it. Like it's her birth right and everybody living in these foreign lands she's just conquered should forget the fact that she's abolished their way of life (slavery) and taken over their towns. The people are starting to fight back. The Sons of the Harpy are killing Unsullied. The people of Yunkai want to open up the fighting pits again for gladiatorial combat. Dany says, "Ew, no," but Daario thinks she should do it. He thinks it will be a nice way for her to say to her new subjects, "See, I don't think everything you do is gross."

Also, her dragons are ANGRY at her, which is understandable. They're chained up in a dark dungeon. Only Rhaegal is out and about and no one's seen that baby killer for weeks.

There was also a whole scene with Missandei and Grey Worm where she asks him "logistically" why do the Unsullied like to visit brothels? To answer her question, Grey Worm pulled up a YouTube video of the Bluth men spending time with Justine Bateman on Arrested Development.

The Eyrie: Littlefinger and Sansa leave Sweetrobin at home and head out WEST -- not to the Fingers, which is where he told Lord Whozit he was going. And. Scene.

The Wall: Up to this point in the show, I haven't been a big fan of Jon Snow. I have always found him boring; but I will say that after reading A Dance With Dragons, Jon Snow went up for me, like a notch. I'm excited that we're getting to this point in Ned Stark's bastard's journey. (The other character who really popped for me in books 4-5? Davos. I hope they don't give him short shrift on the show. They will.)

On the Wall, King Stannis wants to do king things and he appeals to Jon Snow's Stark-iness when he asks if Jon will help him take back Winterfell FOR ROBB. Jon's all, "I'm a sworn brother of the Night's Watch." And after Stannis rolls his eyes, he says, "I wasn't talking about you. Get Mance Rayder to pledge fealty to me and I'll take all the wildlings over to your old home and kill that jerk store Roose Bolton, the man who killed your brother, ROBB STARK."

Jon tries to talk to Mance, but Mance won't do it. He's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. Or, well, dead if he doesn't. If he does kneel before Stannis, his people will never take him seriously again. Even if he does what Stannis asks, by virtue of his kneeling before a southron king, the Wildlings will never do what he asks. Jon thinks appeasing Stannis is what's best for everyone, but Mance won't do it. (I do love how conflicted he is here, though. It would've been so easy for Mance to be perfectly stoic though this whole ordeal, but he's not. He's afraid, and he admits is.)

When push comes to shove, Mance tells Stannis that he wishes him well and Mance is led to be burned at the stake. Melisandre takes a ton of glee in lighting the fire; and once his biscuits start burning, Mance realizes he's made a huge mistake. Thankfully, Jon Snow takes matters into his own hands and shoots the burning man through the heart. Bow. Drop.

Other Stuff:

  • Mance should've knelt in front of Stannis just to avoid giving Melisandre the satisfaction of lighting that fire.
  • Why is Gilly suddenly such a bummer? She's like every sitcom wife in every sitcom ever. And Sam is her Jim Belushi.
  • Oh, yeah. Brienne and Podrick were there too. She's no knight, so he's no squire.
  • She's still out looking for Sansa, whose carriage passes RIGHT BY HER. Methinks this will not be the only near-encounter this season.
  • Dany's wig is problematic this season.

What did you think of the episode? Are you excited for the rest of the season?

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