Four Letter Nerd

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode One Review: “The Wars to Come”

 

 

Deliberate Pace Sets Stage for Season 5 in Premiere

Game of Thrones Season 5 premiere Sunday night stayed true to form with the previous three season openers, relying on dialogue and character interactions in order to set-up (as opposed to actually moving them towards), the various directions each character will be taking. But when considering how last season ended, with the death of Tywin Lannister, Stannis’s arrival at the Wall, and two of Westeros’s primary characters on boats crossing the Narrow Sea, a reset was necessary before everyone could get back to the business of the Iron Throne. One positive sign from the premiere that I did see was it appears that, unlike last season when several story lines (the Wall, Dany, Stannis and Davos), hit the pause button while waiting on King’s Landing to catch up, everyone will have plenty to keep them busy the entire season. But while much of the premiere could be considered slow, it did start with a first for Got: a flashback!!!

The Past

Though we are not told who she is at first, a young Cersei and a friend are walking towards a hut to receive a prophesy from a woman (in the books she’s named Maggy the Frog. Her name is not mentioned here). Cersei’s friend tries to convince her not to go, but the young version of the future queen is just as stubborn and head strong as the adult version. Nell Williams, the actress playing young Cersei, was fantastic in this scene. I bet many viewers figured out who she was before it was revealed. The prophesy is not kind to young Cersei. She is told she will not marry the prince her father promised her (more on him later), but instead she will marry a king (well that happened). Second, she is told the king and her will not have children, but he will have 20 and she will have 3 (well I’ll be, Maggy is 2 for 2!!!). In the third part of the prophecy, Maggy tells Cersei she will be queen, but will be replaced by one younger and more beautiful (well this hasn’t happened, but Natalie Dormer sure is attractive). So much about Cersei’s animosity towards Margaery can be explained by this scene, the best scene of the episode. In fact, so many of Cersei’s actions can be explained by the one moment about 25 years before. Think about Cersei’s treatment of Sansa. Of course she wanted to subdue Joffrey’s future queen and make her submit to Cersei’s will, trying to keep Lady Stark from fulfilling this prophecy.

King’s Landing

We return to present day, where Cersei is talking over her father’s body with Jamie. What is interesting here is Cersei seems to know it was Jamie who freed Tryion, the man she believes killed her son (wrongly) and her father (rightly). If she knows, why does she not show more anger towards her brother here?

The mourning for Tywin continues with the return of Tywin’s brother, Kevin (I’ve trimmed down and aged a bit since you last saw me) Lannister and Lancel (I got a haircut and wear a sackcloth for clothes) Lannister, Cersei’s cousin. Lancel’s look is strikingly different from the last time we saw him as he was sleeping with Cersei back in Season 2. He has become a sparrow, one who gives up material possessions in the name of the seven. He later apologizes to Cersei for “tempting her” (yeah Lancel, because you were the one doing the tempting in that relationship) and for putting poison in King Robert’s cup when he went out hunting (major reveal right there)!!!!

                                Season 2 Lannister

                                          Season 5 Lancel

 

Loras (who does not seem genuine about it, and Cersei can tell) tries to flatter Cersei with compliments for her late father. But not much longer after that, he is in bed with a new man piece, unconcerned about the arranged marriage pact he has with Cersei. Margaery walks in on Loras and his lover and she is more annoyed than embarrassed by it (of course the next time Margaery looks startled or embarrassed will be the first). She is still playing the game and worried her brother is not going to do his part with marrying Cersei.

Pentos

I really hope at some point this season Tyrion returns to his hilarious Season 2 form. I mean, it makes sense for him to be depressed after having killed his father and former lover and living in a crate on a boat all that time. But you’re a free man Tyrion!!! The Imp spends his scenes drinking while Varys, who made the trip with him, speaks on all our behalves trying to cheer Tryion up. Varys also reveals that he has been working to get a Targaryen back on the throne ever since King Robert rebelled. Varys also means to go see Daenarys and take Tyrion with him. Let’s hope this journey revives the wit and motivation of the Halfman.

This pairing is so promising if Tyrion will get his act together.

Meereen

Speaking of the mother of dragons, some rebels have risen up in her neck of the woods. One of her Unsullied was killed while visiting a brothel (where they sing to men who have no balls) by a man in a golden mask. It is revealed that that man is a part of the Sons of the Harpy, a group that wants to overthrow Dany.

Daenarys does receive better news from a returning Hizdahr zo Loraq and Daario Naharis. Do you remember what these guys were sent to do? Did you remember where they were sent? Did you even know who they were? These two very important characters have been very poorly developed. Their mission was to settle a dispute in one of the cities Daenarys had left. Hizdar presents the terms: they will stop fighting if she will open the fighting pits again (which featured gladiator style death matches). Dany finds these pits appalling, but must take it under consideration.

While in bed with her, Daario believes Dany should reopen the pits and use the weapon of her dragons that were locked away at the end of last season. Considering that one is missing and that the other two roared and shot fire at her when she went to see them, it would seem the mother of dragons is struggling to harness the power of her beasts.

 

The Vale

“It’s Brave Ser Robyn.” And he’s sword fighting and it is not going well. Bronze Yohn Royce promised Sansa and Petyr Baelish that he would turn the young boy into a fighter while the Littlefinger and Lady Stark are gone. But I think we can all agree about having our doubts on that. And where are Baelish and Sansa going? They didn’t exactly clear that up, it’s just not where anybody thinks they are going to be in the Vale. I know I’m as shocked as you are about Baelish keeping secrets.

Also near the Vale, Brienne is as dejected as we have ever seen here. It makes sense when you consider she has now failed her third task in as many tries on the show and does not believe anyone remains who is noble and worthy of service. With no clear direction or task to fight for, it will be very interesting to see where Brienne’s story goes from here.

The Wall

Sam and Gilly are conversing while Jon Snow practices sword fighting with Ollie. The couple’s discussion centers around who will be the next Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. The Watch has not had one since the Old Bear died back in season 3 and they’ve been too preoccupied to elect a new one. Keep a close eye on this storyline as it develops.

The rest of the scenes at the Wall focus on Jon. Firstly, it’s Melisandre and those seductive eyes she loves to shoot and Jon. She takes him to meet Stannis, who wants a Wildling army to help him take Roose Bolton in the North. All they have to do is bend the knee to Stannis and he will accept them south of the Wall. Not sure what the men of the Nights Watch will think of this considering many of them just died to keep that Wildling Army from getting past said Wall.

But Mance Rayder, the king beyond the wall, has no plans to bend the knee. Seeing Jon and Mane talk for the last time is very bittersweet, especially considering how underused Mance was last season (he’s leading an attack with 100,000 on all of Westeros and you show him in one episode???) Despite Jon’s pleadings with him, Rayder refuses to bend the knee. So Mance must burn!!!!! But before the flames reach Mance, Jon fires an arrow at him and kills him before he can be burned alive. I am sure Stannis really appreciates this undermining by Ned Stark’s bastard In front of everyone at the Wall.

Of Note:

-The prince young Cersei was referring to was Rhaegar Targaryen. Her father promised Rhaegar to her, but the Mad King refused the match because he felt the Lannisters were not of a high enough birth. Rhaegar married Elia Martell instead.

-The location for Varys and Tyrion’s conversation was Illyrion Mopatis’ mansion. We met Illyrio in the very first episode as this was the same house where Dany and her brother, Viserys, stayed while in exile. He is also the one who gave Dany her dragon eggs. I am not sure why the producers chose to use his mansion but then not include him in the plot with Varys and Tyrion, especially considering he was one of the central conspirators in Varys’s plans.

Illyrio Mopatis from Season One

-The books describe Maggy the Frog as short, with warts all over her and no teeth. So the decision to not mention the name Maggy the Frog likely comes from the casting decision of a much younger and more attractive actress than the fortune teller in the book.

Maggy the Frog from the Books

 

 

 

 

Maggy the Frog from the TV Show

          

-The giant statue that was pulled down early in the episode was a statue of the Harpy, the old god of the people of Slaver’s Bay.

Questions to Consider

-What will Stannis’s response be to Jon’s arrow?

-Is Margaery the “someone younger” in Cersei’s prophecy or is it someone else?

-Where are Baelish and Sansa going?

Join me again next week to discuss our first visit to Dorne and see what new things Arya will be up to this season.

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Jeff Merrick

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