**NOTE** I’ve read the books so there may be moments when I refer to a segment that happened differently than how the book version went down but I’ll do my best to not spoil what that difference was or what’s likely to come. With that said, any review I write on GOT may contain book spoilers. Read at your own risk**
The new season has begun and with it a new set of trials for our heroes and villains of Westerors. After a short flashback dealing with Cersei’s young encounter with a local witch, the present deals with the funeral and aftermath of Tywin Lannister who was killed by Tyrion last season. Cersei, in her watchful capacity continues to suspect Margaery Tyrell of the game. Tyrion now resides in Pentos with Varys for the moment as the latter proposes an searching and supporting Daenerys who continues to rule in Meereen. For the moment, Tyrion is beyond motivation, but Varys is determined to save the kingdom and needs Tyrion’s help.
Jon Snow now deals with Stannis and Melisandre in the north. Stannis wants the wildlings to fight for him to take back the north and work his way down but Mance, former leader of the wildlings won’t bend a knee and is put to death by fire with Jon mercy killing him with an arrow at the end.
Brienne is uncertain where her path leads and Sansa is traveling with Littlefinger to an area he feels will be better for Sansa and far away from Cersei.
The entire tone of the episode felt like it was still reeling from the splash damage each land had been subject to from the end of last season. It’s relatively business as usual for Daenerys who is asked to reopen the city’s pit fights to help with favor from its people. She’s hesitant but Daario brings up her status as the mother of dragon’s once more which prompts her to visit the two she was forced to put in the catacombs. They don’t respond kindly to her and she’s forced to flee in fear for the first time.
The dragons are getting bigger and Drogon is nowhere to be found which could spell a bit of uncertainty if the people question her validity as the mother of dragons. Is it an issue right this very moment, I’d say not, but the signs are there that it will become an issue in the near future. I do want to mention that the city is looking even more grand in it’s impressive CGI shots and I expect we’ll get a few more of those down the line.
All scenes in King’s Landing were somewhat inconsequential as we’re given a few glimpses into Cersei and Margaery’s roles as those two will become primary focuses moving forward. Jaime is of course there to seemingly lend support to his sister, but with his newfound (some may say it never left) sense of duty and obligation it’s easy to suspect that what he desires now and what Cersei would have him do may come into conflict. And yes, that’s me trying real hard not to mention what’s in store in the books. The signs are there if you look hard enough though.
Tyrion is broken, very plain and simple. He drinks, he vomits, he drinks some more and whatever hope he had as a prominent figure and ruler of his home land is a fleeting memory. At first I wasn’t understanding of Varys’s motivations in season 5 only because (and I’ll say it) he’s nowhere near Tyrion during his time of crisis a sea away from Westeros. But Tyrion had something to search for, and at least some grey idea of how to go about finding it in the books. Here, he doesn’t have any of that, what he does have however is Varys helping put purpose to his life and now it makes sense. How long will Varys be on this elustrious voyage and will it in fact be on the road and not by sea/river as some know the trail to lead.
Brienne is essentially the greatest magnet ever when it comes to Ned Stark’s daughters. And to tease us with showing Sansa only a few hundred feet from Brienne in a carriage is utterly cruel to us. It spells unadulterated pity for her character because she’s in such a rut that there’s no certainty as to what she’ll do, honor-driven or not. This also leads to a major gripe that she’s supposed to eventually run into a character who (as of yet) hasn’t made their appearance yet. Without that character, Brienne is swimming in the unknown without a boat or a paddle to swim with. I really have no idea what they’re going to do with her and maybe that’s a good thing. But if Sansa is being taken somewhere far away, there really will be no hope for Brienne to ever find her.
Jon is still Jon and maintain his sense of duty to the wall. He tries but unsuccessfully convinces Mance to let his people serve Stannis. Pride, freedom, and a lot of rhetorical senses are spoken back as Mance tires to dull down what it is he’s about compared to Jon, who doesn’t want to see the wildlings suffer any more than they already have. Alas, Mance is put to fire by Melisandre as those in the tower look on. You can tell Jon hasn’t entirely made up his mind about how he feels for Stannis or Melisandre. Stannis is already planning his next campaign and Jon is still dealing with the winter that will being the whitewalkers through the wall. He has a lot of balancing to do, but he’s staying consistent with his duty and so far that’s holding out for him, for now.
A lot of this show boasts its layered dialogue and zesty nudity, but this premiere had a golden moment it utilized and that was the conversation between Varys and Tyrion. Varys rarely spells out the truth in some vivid detail that his version of peace requires a king strong and wise enough to take the throne. He means Daenerys and now Tyrion knows it too. It’s pivotal that the audience understands the premise here because for for seasons, Daenerys has been nowhere near the edge of close with being brought to Westeros and it may require she be dragged before she’s ready to take on the mantle. That of course won’t be the end result, but this conversation was an honest one between able players and Tyrion is hopefully convinced if not for the sake of the kingdom then for himself.
Screen time is shared almost equally among all major characters and while many have not made their first or revisited appearance on season 5, I felt Tyrion was the best of the lot this week. He’s tired, cranky, and most definitely, broken. If there’s guilt, he’s putting it away for a rainy day. He needs someone like Varys to help put him on a path again, and hopefully he gets there. He can still be as witty as the best of them even when he’s at his worst. He may have been introduced as a mess this season, but he’ll clean up when he has to.
LONG TERM THOUGHTS
No Arya or the Sand this week. I’m not disappointed, but it’s important they make their entrance soon, because they have very important roles to play.
Sam and Gilly are always the cute couple that are too innocent for their own good. Sam said he’ll go where she ends up, and Gilly reminded him that he’ll be killed for leaving the black. Those are portents if I’ve ever heard them.
Sansa is already showing she’s growing up or at the least acting in a role that’s more befitting her position now that she and Littlefinger are allies. I will wonder till the end of time what Sansa would do if she knew all the things Littlefinger did to get to where he was and how her family had to be continually sacrificed for it.
The mountain and the hound at this point will be very loosely mentioned if at all. Whether they lived or died since last season will be guessed on until they decide to tell us, if they tell us at all. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.
You’d think a dragon like Drogon would be spotted here and there considering his sheer size and nature to eat things. Can’t stay hidden forever and the people won’t like it if it keeps terrorizing the countryside.
This premiere felt like a slow revving of the engine before we blast off into high gear. Characters are maneuvering into new places and everyone is getting their bearings straight after the climactic moments of last season’s arc. Cersei’s flashback was an odd place to start but Mance’s execution was a great place to end. He’s not the kind of death that’s going to get the kind of youtube video reactions some may be hoping for, but for those who have read the books, the strangeness has yet to come.
8 out of 10. Still a strong string of segments looping from beginning to end. Daenerys’s role in her new kingdom is still second place in terms of the plot in Westeros, but hopefully things there pick up there. After all, Tyrion and Varys are on the move and just imagine the hilarity if and when Tyrion has his first cup of wine in front of the mother of dragons. This season is warming up slowly because they know they have your attention. They’ll get red hot before you know it. Here’s to another fantastic season.
No more words