After an unbearably long wait, Game of Thrones finally returns with tonight's Season 5 premiere episode, "The Wars to Come". We'll be reviewing every Season 5 episode on Sunday nights from now until the season comes to an end, so be sure to check back for our thoughts on each week's episode. Be warned, if you haven't watched the Season 5 premiere, yet, there will be plenty of SPOILERS below, so read on at your own risk.
The Season 4 finale ended with two pivotal characters characters leaving Westeros, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) and Arya Stark (Maisie Williams). Tyrion fled across the Narrow Sea after he killed both his lover Shae (Sibel Kekilli) and his father Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance). With the help of Lord Varys (Conleth Hill), Tyrion escaped to Pentos, and the Season 5 premiere finds the Imp discussing the future of the Realm with Varys, and what it's like to discard human excrement through the holes of a wooden crate. Unfortunately, we don't see Arya at all in the premiere, but we have seen her arriving at the House of Black and White in Braavos in a previously-released clip, so hopefully we'll get to see that in next week's episode.
As for Tyrion, he learns that Varys has taken him to Pentos because that is the home of Varys' colleague Illylio Moptais, who is part of a group that realized former king Robert Baratheon was a monster, and try to support a Targaryen restoration to the Iron Throne. When Tyrion asks why Varys saved him, he reveals that he thinks Tyrion has a part to play in "the wars to come," eventually revealing that he wants Tyrion to help Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) take the Iron Throne. Oddly enough, Tyrion and Daenerys have never met in George R.R. Martin's books, but it seems that will happen in the near future. The author has also revealed that several characters who are still alive in the books will die in this season. There is one major death at the very end of the premiere, which happens in quite a haunting fashion, which I'll discuss a bit later.
The premiere opens with the show's first ever flashback, showing a young Cersei Lannister and her friend visiting a mythical future-teller, who tells Cersei that she will be queen one day. When Cersei asks if she will have children, the future-teller says that the King will have 20 children, while she will have three. Cersei is reflecting on this memory when we cut back to present day, where she arrives to her father Tywin's funeral. It is here where Cersei runs into her cousin (and former incestuous lover) Lancel Lannister (Eugene Simon), who is now part of a fanatical religious group called The Sparrows. Lancel reveals that Cersei's soul can be saved, but she doesn't seem to pay him any mind. This exchange also hints that it was Lancel who may have been responsible for King Robert's death during that fateful hunting trip, since he gave him the wine that ultimately caused his death. We know that one of the new characters this season is Jonathan Pryce as the High Sparrow, leader of this religious organization, but he does not appear in the premiere. We also learn at the funeral, when Cersei mourns privately with her brother Jamie (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), that she wants Jamie to undertake a secret mission to kill their brother Tyrion, although it isn't explicitly said that this is what she wants Jamie to do.
The premiere also takes us to Meereen, where Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) has freed the city's people from their ruthless slave owners. One of the Unsullied soldiers named White Rat is killed while visiting one of the city's many brothels. Dany learns that one of the Sons of the Harpy's committed this crime, and Dany wants whoever is responsible to die. Dany's handmaiden Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) visits Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), asking why an Unsullied would visit a brothel, but he does not have an answer for her. Along with this surprising and brutal death, Dany is also dealing with residents who want the fighting pits re-opened, and the fact that she can't control her dragons anymore, one of which is missing and hasn't been seen in months. It remains to be seen whether or not Dany regains control of these powerful dragons, but perhaps her potential alliance with Tyrion could be enough to bring her the Iron Throne.
While this is a great episode,it's certainly not perfect, ending on a rather anti-climactic note with the death of Mance Rayder (Ciarán Hinds). At the end of Season 4, Stannis Baratheon made his way north to The Wall, where he now plan to rule, but he needs more men to take the North. During a chat with Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Stannis reveals that he needs more men, asking him to convince Mance to join his army and "bend the knee," or be killed. While Mance obviously doesn't want to die, he also doesn't want to betray everything he believes in, so he decides not to pledge fealty to Stannis, resulting in his death by fire, where he is literally burned alive. However, Jon Snow spares him, sort of, by shooting an arrow into his chest, so his men don't have to watch him scream as he is burned to death.
We also briefly catch up with Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) as they watch Robin Arryn's pathetic attempt at "dueling." When Sansa and Littlefinger leave, he tells her that they are going to a place so far away that Cersei Lannister will never be able to get her hands on her. Where that place is remains to be seen, but what's ironic about this scene is it takes place just after a downtrodden Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) tells Podrick (Daniel Portman) that she doesn't want him around anymore. She failed in her mission to bring Arya back to Winterfell, but, as Podrick points out, Sansa is still out there, and may need her help. Of course, Podrick and Brienne don't know that Sansa is riding in the cart right past them.
Possibly the most intriguing aspect of this episode is a brief scene with Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), who interrupts his homosexual brother Loras (Finn Jones) and his tryst with a young man. Last season, Loras was set to marry Cersei and Margaery would wed the new king Tommen, but now that Tywin is dead, these weddings may not happen, since no one can force them to marry anyone. Loras says that if he doesn't marry Cersei, Margaeryy will be forced to stay in Kings Landing, to which Margaery says, "Perhaps." It's clear that Margaery has a plan of some sort, but what that me be is unclear.
That about wraps it up for my review of the Season 5 premiere of Game of Thrones airing tonight on HBO. Chime in with your thoughts below, or let e know what you think on Twitter @GallagherMW. Are you looking forward to the rest of this highly-anticipated season?