The Wars to Come
Things have been a little frilly around here, lately. And by frilly, I mean pony. So, let’s inject some testosterone in here by analyzing another television show that is likewise entering its fifth season. That’s right; it’s the Game of Thrones season five premiere.
This premiere is nothing particularly special, I am sad to say. It is mostly a recap of where things left off last season and a reminder of where everyone is. The first scene does throw a curveball, though.
The episode opens with a flashback, which surprises me. This is a change of pace from how the former seasons were plotted. David and Dan were hesitant on flashbacks in the past, but now they see fit to include Maggy the Frog, here. We see young child Cersei and a friend travel through a forest and meet Maggy the Frog. The witch looks younger than she was described in the book. She tastes the girl’s blood and gives Cersei the same prophecy as in the book. She will marry a king and they will have children. Three for her and twenty for him.
In the book, this scene was rather blunt and came out of nowhere. The show does little to improve it. The prophecy foreshadows the deaths of Tommen and Myrcella. Joffrey has already bit it. Maggy does not mention the part about her younger brother killing her, however. If memory serves, her fear of Tyrion is what really fuels her paranoia. I suspect that we will return to this scene in the future.
Tyrion arrives in Pentos by way of crate. I guess Varys was not keen on springing even for coach on this journey. We have not seen Pentos since the first season. The imp quibbles with Varys about what to do. The spider would like for Tyrion to go to Daenarys and be her hand of the queen but the imp is more concerned with drowning his sorrows in wine. He is rather suicidal at this point after committing patricide and whoreicide and abandoning everything that he has ever known. He really has little to live for at this point and Dinklage just sells the melancholy.
Scene switch to Meereen. The huge bronze harpy is pulled down from the top of the pyramid in Meereen. This scene was teased in a trailer with dramatic music playing and I thought it would be a little more, uh, emotional, I guess? I saw online that the scene might be inspired by the sight of the Saddam Hussein statue being torn down in Baghdad.
We then see an Unsullied pays a whore for some company. The man is incapable of sex, but he does pay for some cuddles. It is a rather humanizing moment for the eunuch slave soldier. The prostitute gives us our obligatory boob shot this episode. The unsullied is then killed by a Son of the Harpy, one of a group of Meereenese masters opposed to the liberation of slaves. Interesting to note that the Son of the Harpy wears a bronze mask. This is a trait of the Brazen Beasts in the books, a newly formed police force made up of freedmen and former masters who hide their identities behind bronze masks. It is mentioned in the show that the Unsullied are policing the streets of Meereen, so I suppose that means that the Brazen Beasts have been cut from the show. Kind of a bummer but it does streamline the plot.
Meanwhile, at the wall, things are… still cold. They still need a new Lord Commander, so I suppose the election for that office will be a big part of this season. Stannis is on the wall and is still, well, still crabby Stannis. He is in a better position than he was before, though. He has an army that he bought with the loan from the Iron Bank of Braavos. And now he has defeated the Wildling army. He considers letting the remaining Wildlings join his army in exchange for a pardon. A reasonable proposal, but Stannis does not take into account the foreign culture that he is trying to absorb into his small kingdom.
In the Vale, Robin practices swordplay and blows hard at it. Littlefinger, Sansa, and Lord Royce observe. Interesting to see that Littlefinger makes an effort to preserve the boy’s wellbeing. At least he feigns interest well enough. I do not doubt that he has some plan to take Robin out of the picture.
Nearby, Brienne and Podrick are on the road in the Vale bickering with each other, as we love to see them do. In one of the most aggravating moments on the show, a carriage carrying Sansa and Littlefinger passes them by. I want to yell at Brienne, “The girl that you’re looking for is right there! Look in the damned carriage!”
Loras tries unsuccessfully to comfort Cersei at what looks like a post-funeral gathering in the Red Keep. We see Lancel again; this time in a frugal robe. When was the last time we say him? He’s found religion with the Faith of the Seven after feeling so much guilt associated with Cersei’s ploys. His father, Kevan, mentions that the Sparrows have been congregating in King’s Landing. I imagine that the Sparrows will be elaborated on in the future, so I should not have to explain them here.
We see Loras and a lover in bed. The lover (Oliver) runs his finger along a, um, bruise or birthmark or something on Loras’s leg that he says looks like Dorne. Is this supposed to be some cocktease (no pun intended) for those of us expecting to see the actual Dorne this episode? I guess this gives us a male ass shot to balance out the obligatory boob quota.
In Meereen again, Hizdahr zo Loraq petitions Daenarys to reopen the fighting pits of the city. Daenarys gives this one a thumbs down and says that she does not want any bloodsports in the city. Later, after some casual sex with Daario, the mercenary proposes some arguments in favor of the gladiator games. Dany’s boobs are concealed, curiously enough. Reminds me of a rumor I heard about Emilia Clark getting a ‘no nude shots’ deal in her renewed contract.
Daenarys goes down to the, uh, dungeon I guess, to see her children. Naturally, the reptiles are irritated at being cooped up and let loose their fire. Jeez, Dany, don’t you know better to offer up a nice steak to your pets? They look big enough to ride on, now… Drogon is still at large.
At the Wall, Jon tries to convince Mance to join his people to Stannis’s cause. This does not go well. Mance will not bend the knee to anyone. So, he’s to be executed by burning at the stake. The burning is tough to watch for everyone. Jon breaks ranks and grabs a bow and expedites the execution to end Mance’s suffering. I liked it better in the book, where Jon thought ahead to shoot Mance dead as a matter of principle. The Night’s Watch is expected to deal with deserters themselves.
I remember hearing that one of the male actors on this show has been killed off prematurely this season, even though he is still alive in the books. I cannot rightly tell if Mance is dead, though, or if Melisandre used her glamour magic to facilitate a switcheroo between Mance and Rattleshirt. (Or Mance and someone else.) I definitely remember seeing someone wearing Rattleshirt’s armor in a trailer, so there’s that. If Mance has been killed, then it is a bummer. Ciarin Hinds has been criminally underused in this show. He lacks the roguish charm that the Mance of the books had but he is still a capable actor.
And that’s the episode.
Charles Dance gives some phenomenal corpse acting. Right up there with Jack Gleeson. Man, am I glad that Jaime and Cersei did not bang in front of another corpse.
No Arya or Dorne this episode. At least the teaser promises that we’ll see both in the second episode.
We will not be seeing Bran for this entire season. I cannot say that I am saddened over this development. Bran’s story has been one of the more poorly written in the show and the book. It takes him ages to get anywhere.
Still more romantic tension between Grey Worm and Missandei. Is this going anywhere?
The subplot with Mance’s child has been dropped entirely. With Mance dead and no spawn, I suppose that Melisandre has no intention of sacrificing a king for a mighty spell in the show.
People I want to see: The Sand Snakes, The High Sparrow, Arya and her new… friends.