A Sashurai’s Review: Game of Thrones – Season 5×08 (Zombie hordes and breaking the wheel)

GOT 5x08

A legitimate threat long whispered and seldom scene has made its presence viscerally known on the eve of GOT’s 8th winter episode. The bitter frost and army of blue eyes ravaged and cleaned wildling house as the whitewalkers took it straight to Jon Snow and his men while he rallied those who would return to the wall. It was a cavalcade of sheer mayhem while far below the south, a queen and a Lannister traded formidable words and may strike an alliance yet.

There wasn’t a better time to give us the most awe-striking hellish winter of evil than now. Payoffs had been mentioned earlier and many of those came true tonight, from the simple exchange between favorable characters to the simplest truths that finally met the ears of Sansa Stark. Here lies the comeuppance of a queen so used to having her way, and a girl begins her first mission of assassination. Everything worked hands down and I couldn’t find a single moment that wasn’t a fabulously well done scene. Even Sam’s speech to Ollie spoke volumes of trust and necessity of survival. Even in Westeros to the folk know how to battle the zombie invasion.

In Meereen, Tyrion convinces Daenerys to spare Jorah but still has him banished. Later, Tyrion and Dany converse about her plans to take the iron throne while Jorah returns to the master he fought for, this time as a willing participant wanting to fight for Dany in the pits. Theon reveals to Sansa that he never killed Bran and Rickon but flees when Sansa tries to push for information on their whereabouts. Arya begins spying on a local businessman as her first test of subterfuge. In King’s Landing, Cersei continues to defy her captors while in captivity. In the North, Jon and Tormund reach the wildling camp and convince most of the people to join them, but the whitewalkers invade, slaughtering many of the people there. Jon and his men narrowly escape as a whitewalker commander raises all the newly dead as zombies in his army.

To begin, it was simply a surreal moment finally seeing the witty Tyrion square off with the tempered Daenerys as they conversed over history and intent to rule. While much of Dany’s words felt a bit reserved and cautious, Tyrion chose his own carefully and tactfully ultimately resulting in her statement to make him her advisor. It’s what everyone wanted and we’ve witnessed the first step in that direction. Dany intends to not only lay claim to Westeros but forge her legacy and the Targaryens forever. Tyrion may be in it for the ride of his life, but he focused and driven and whether truly loyal or not, he’ll do what he can to ensure not only his safety but perhaps the safety of all common folk in Westeros.

Sansa now knows that her younger brothers are essentially still alive. I don’t think it will take any more convincing since Theon’s hesitancy to even speak on the matter was basic proof enough. Now Sansa has just enough of a reason to hold out hope that her family it larger than just herself. Now, as we all know, Bran is beyond the wall and well out of her reach, but that doesn’t mean Rickon is lost. In fact, I’d wager if Sansa does make it out of Winterfell intact, there’s a strong possibility that she can be reunited with Rickon and maybe, just maybe Brienne will be in charge of finding yet another Stark in service to the family. I can see Sansa trusting Brienne with such a task if Brienne in fact saves her from the Bolton’s regardless of the battle with Stannis and his men.

Arya’s training has now reached the next level that involves the studying and spying of someone who the faceless men were hired to essentially take out. There’s little doubt that Arya will be up for the task and she’ll most likely pass with flying colors. Her character is bound for this lifestyle and it’s unlikely she’ll mess anything up unless the truth of her blade, needle comes into play. I suspect it won’t be an issue at this point in the plot and I genuinely look forward to her first kill. Does this mean she’ll get to change faces this season? Maybe, maybe not. I wouldn’t be surprised either way.

There wasn’t much on the Cersei front save for her conversation with Qyburn. His comment before he left could have been rushed for the sake of the religious woman being in their presence, but more so it’s likely that he’s referencing his experiment laying on his table. I was surprised he didn’t mention a trial by combat, but we’re not quite there yet as it would appear Cersei is still in defiance mode and won’t let down so easily for the sake of pride. In any case, her battle is far from over just because she’s extremely thirsty.

The meat and bones of this episode was surprisingly Jon’s venture into the deep north to acquire the remaining wildlings. The speeches circling the chieftains, Jon, and Tormund were all well spoken moments, but truthfully once the horde came crashing through the snowy blizzard, it was delightful carnage. Skeletons, half bodies, full corpses, and whitewalkers themselves brought the chaos as the wildlings fought for their lives. For the first time, Jon understands that his valyrian steel blade can not only deflect a whitewalker’s blade, but disintegrate them as well. Perhaps dragon glass isn’t the only weapon in their arsenal. Everything was intense and brutal and the best qualities didn’t even need the extra gallons of blood and teeth mashing that we usually are accustomed to on other zombie shows. It was cold and callous and unbelievably fast in some segments that created a fantastic rush while watching and hoping Jon got through unscathed. His look after the dead wildlings risen was priceless as he only understands all that more what Westeros is up against. An undying army that can only grow with each dead person they claim. At least they have a giant making it back with them.

FAVORITE MOMENT

As much as I thoroughly enjoyed the last twenty minutes of the episode I still have to give Tyrion and Dany the credit for giving us a scene five years in the making. Good acting means letting characters handle their personas and deliver in their unique ways while the camera eagerly catches their mannerisms and inflections from moment to moment. Once more, Tyrion proves how invaluable he is and Dany easily perceives this and so far is encouraging their alliance. These are two “good-natured” characters that are trying to survive and thrive the only ways they know how. It was about time they hooked up as allies and only more great scenes can come from this. Whether Tyrion fouls up because of his lust for wine or something he might say under heated breath remains to be seen, but for now it was just an amazing scene to watch.

CHARACTER MVP

Jon Snow led the charge and battled bloody and beaten against a whitewalker and survived. He’s no joke and if the wildlings aren’t convinced of his stature and demeanor, than nothing more can be asked. He’s taking on as much responsibility as he can knowing just how much is truly at stake. He just met the cold jaws of evil death and he’s still alive to fight them again. Let’s just hope Ollie didn’t take Sam’s advice and do something stupid like betray Jon for the greater good according to him.

ENDING THOUGHTS

It remains to be seen but I wonder if the whitewalkers can in fact talk. Doing so could deflate the majesty that they portray every second they’re on screen. With simple gestures alone, they command new troops freshly made for their devices.

With Bran out of this entire season and the dead army on the foot-heels of the wall, what part will he play aside from becoming the master of wargs(wards)? Will he in fact be forever embedded to his new home by the tree?

The formula usually calls for a huge battle during the 9th episode, but will they have the Bolton’s and Stannis fight so soon after we witnessed the undead massacre? Is this fight one we have any stock in? Surely Stannis is the lesser of two evil’s but even Ramsey has a plan that he thinks needs only 20 men. This will be interesting.

I guess the Lord of Bones won’t be soul-swapping with Mance Raydar anytime soon. Ah those lovely book moments that never reach the tv show’s script lines.

Clearly Littlefinger won’t be able to return to Winterfell before Stannis reaches it. It’s interesting that Sansa may never see him again and in many ways I hope that’s the case. Although, I doubt Sansa will be taken from Winterfell as her situation is more politically driven and having her run around with Brienne looking for Rickon just doesn’t seem like it’s the nature of her character. Still, if she does encounter Littlefinger again, they either one be the same?

OVERALL SCORE

9 out of 10. Almost a perfect episode. It has grand moments finally fulfilled and a rip-roaring ride with the real evil of the series. There wasn’t much in the way of complaints and they wisely kept on Jon for the entirety of his segment instead of chasing back and forth. Those who were sandwiched between Tyrion and Dany and the whitewalker battle played to their strengths but were more filler than anything because not much was accomplished accept for Arya’s new task to undertake. Other than that, it was a highly enjoyable episode that promised more big things are coming. If only Ned was around to witness this turn of events. Oh, and when the whitewalker raised his arms, even though I knew the newly dead were going to rise all I really wanted to see were undead frost dragons emerging from the blizzard snow and wind. Food for thought.

No more words

A Sashurai’s Review: Game of Thrones – Season 5×06 (There’s always death at a wedding)

Thrones 5x06

Virtue is cast aside to make room for more sinister agendas as the lone daughter of Stark becomes wife to House Bolton, and with it, a new sense of terror. This week’s episode of GOT delivers more uneasiness as nearly every showcased character gets rattled and captured in the snares of their rivals, save for the girl who wishes to become no one, but for now will become someone else.

Like Theon, this was a hard episode to watch and keep a positive outlook that good things will happen to those who seize the moment. In fact, it’s rather likely the only one’s who will prevail to some high degree by season’s end will be the ones who truly master the game and put forth devious effort and unrelenting conviction. “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” reminds us that no one is trustworthy, not for second in this wicked world. People will be used and manipulated just like they always are and in the end, becoming stone is the only way to endure it. Tonight’s fractured tale was one of multiple cliffhangers conjured forth to make the second half of this season a captivating one. While there was little to feel at ease with, the sensation of dread is ever growing.

Arya discovers that the bodies she cleans are stored and their faces used to change the faceless men. In Dorne, Jamie and Bronn are ambushed by the sand sisters just as they find Myrcella. All are captured however by Doran Martell’s guards, including Ellaria. Jorah and Tyrion get to know more about one another when they are captured by slavers at a shore. Tyrion convinces the leader (Mr. Eko!) not to kill him and to let Jorah take part in the pit games. In King’s Landing, Olenna Tyrell arrives to help Margaery, but due to evidence against Loras and his sexual acts, he and Margaery are taken into custody by the High Sparrow with Cersei ever the puppeteer. Littlefinger speaks with Cersei and offers to take over the north after Stannis and the Bolton’s battle. Cersei agrees to make him warden of the north as long as he brings her the head of Sansa Stark. At Winterfell, Sansa and Ramsey are wed. At night, Ramsey keeps Theon in his bedchamber to watch as Ramsey forcibly takes Sansa on their wedding night.

Sometimes the number of times you can count certain characters having good moments never exceed the amount of fingers you have on one hand. Ramsey has officially taken the place of Joffrey as the king of sadistic men. Not only does he reveal his nature to Sansa so suddenly but he continues to punish Theon in obscene ways. This trio will be going through a lot of trauma although Ramsey won’t be suffering from any of it unless Miranda, Theon, or Sansa take some kind of stand against him. But that’s not likely to happen because GOT plots don’t utilize conventional plot mechanics. Theon may have been crying but he’s absolutely broken to do anything about it. Unless there are plans to turn him around, they should seriously just kill him and be done with it. Now Sansa knows what kind of person Ramsey is and the worst of it is she’s alone, for now. We as the audience know that Littlefinger is all but offering Sansa on a silver platter all for the art of playing sides against one another and being the one to be ontop. His game is the most dangerous, but is he really planning on using Sansa so carelessly, or does he have something else going on? Sansa has hidden allies, and she’ll be calling on them soon I imagine. If she’s the one to put a dagger in Ramsey, after all she’s done, it will be a good day.

Arya is learning little by little the difference between true stories and the lies that come with becoming no one. The remarkable thing about her character is she’ll always be safe while she trains. I have no doubts of her training and in the end, she’ll be that much stronger having sustained her new lifestyle. Whether she can truly let go of herself remains to be seen.

Bronn and Jaime both surviving their capture I thought was a bit odd. And neither them nor the three sand sisters were gravely wounded which means all five fighters are that good at what they do. That day, nobody died in Dorne. How many times can that be said? No doubt Doran can’t just kill Jaime, but he’ll have to play it safe if he’s to keep down a possible civil war in his own lands.

Margaery and Loras are also in hot water no thanks to Cersei, who is so busy playing the game that she can’t see past her own rival. Olenna will have to jump into this somehow and I imagine Cersei’s acts with Jaime will undoubtedly make their way to the High Sparrow. Since it was Littlefinger who made the off-handed comment, maybe he’ll be the one to help Olenna. But then, that wouldn’t put him in any position accept seizing some alliance with the Tyrells. There’s a lot of back and forth coming up I’m certain. Cersei can’t win every single round, that’d be boring.

FAVORITE MOMENT

Arya’s discovery of the faces. It was a magnificent set piece with an immense musical number behind it. On her path toward this new state of being, she’s finally unlocked an important segment that will continue to draw her in. After all she’s been through, things are starting to pay off and that was more or less the only “good” moment to come out of this episode in retrospect.

CHARACTER MVP

I’m giving it to Sansa. She really did try to put on a strong face when Miranda tried to frighten her with Ramsey’s past relationships. But in her current state, she really has no control. Still, she won’t become broken like Theon is, and that alone should be a reminder what not to turn into. She’s learned only a small bit from Littlefinger, but against Ramsey, she’ll have to become something so much more. And the symbolism with her dark hair being washed away is not lost on me. She’ll call on her allies, it’s her only ace she has left.

ENDING THOUGHTS

With a crisis temporarily averted, I can’t imagine Doran executing any of his own people including Ellaria, but how Jaime and Bronn will make it out of Dorne alive, I have no idea.

Olenna won’t waste time. Since she’s the only one who has any modicum of power to react to Cersei, she’ll need to undo what’s happened fast or share some similar fate with all the Tyrells. Question is, who would help her against the “real” queen?

I wonder if Jorah’s greyscale will be some kind of sympathy move with Danaerys. Not that he’d use it persay, but if he were in trouble of that nature, could it in fact be a way for her to forgive him? Or is that just not in the cards and he’ll likely just die ten feet outside the gate because this show is known to do dastardly things like that?

The scene with Ramsey and Sansa was originally supposed to be with Jeyne Pool (I think) as a stand in. Why they decided to do away with this plot and actually use Sansa as the victim is beyond me. I guess in the grand scheme of facial recognition, and Theon’s broken mind, there’s no way he’d let someone else be called Sansa in her place.

The five-way fight scene honestly felt sloppy, and the only reason it felt sloppy was because no one was supposed to die in that scene. Cool moves were had, but at no point was there a fear that any of the those five would be mortally wounded. The Sand sisters are new and they wouldn’t kill one or two off that fast. Maybe coming up, but not tonight.

OVERALL SCORE

7 out 10. There was a lot more dismal occurrences than I would have anticipated. The end was certainly shocking if not for the sake of watching a beloved character suffer the rampant acts of a psychopath who technically owns her now. This was very much a set-up episode and the hope is the seventh episode will be the pay-off. Arya’s continued growth was the most well-received scenes and the rest were quite frankly, a disjointed band of evil marionettes having their way with the decent characters of this show. Arguments can be made for who’s decent nowadays, but I stick to my sentiments. Until next week. Thank you for reading.

No more words

A Sashurai’s Review: Game of Thrones – Season 5×03 (We all know who is under that huge sheet, right?)

Thrones 5x03

**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 third entry sets the mark for everyone who has either chosen their destination or are gradually taken there. Even after five seasons there’s no shortage of time nor space that will eventually close the distance and bring every major character into the same realm with one another. When they do happen, don’t blink, for they may never happen again.

With a Dany-less episode, we concentrate on familiar lands including the rebuilding of Winterfell by Roose Bolton and his now fully recognized son Ramsey. Not too far north is Jon who kindly declines Stannis’s offer to be named Stark of Winterfell. He doesn’t wane on his duty at the wall and even more, shows a bit of ruthlessness when he beheads Janos for refusing take station at one of the more damaged towers along the wall. Cersei battles Margaery with even more kindness now that Tommen is now married to her. In the midst of normality in King’s Landing, the High Septon is caught at Littlefinger’s brothel by a religious group led by the High Sparrow who, when confronted by Cersei is possibly offered a role rather than arrested. In Braavos, Arya forfeits all her belongings to begin her training yet hides needle, unwilling to part with it. Brienne continue to follow Peter and Sansa as Sansa realizes she is to be wed to Ramsey to gain alliance in the north with Roose. And Tyrion is abducted by Jorah Mormont at a brothel with plans to take him to Daenerys directly.

There’s an eerie sense of foreboding that has already made its presence known on the season and it starts with Jon Snow. On the front, he’s showing capable leadership and the practical tip of the hat by Stannis who watched the beheading take place. What seems to be missing is the unwavering effect that people still don’t trust him for reasons that include his acted betrayal to the wildlings. For now he’s proving a point and swinging the sword as a leader must do. Was it too much of a point though? Should he have shown mercy? Jon may have learned that a condemned man may say anything and in truth, Janos would have turned against him. This moment was very similar when Robb took the head of Rickard Karstark. Except Rickard was more accepting of his fate. We all know what happened to Robb eventually, even if one death had nothing to do with the other.

King’s landing is still anything but interesting. Tommen is clearly not his brother Joffrey, and Margaery is quick to begin pitting him against his mother, something Cersei is already aware of. The religious act will play a much bigger role in the future and it needs to because there really is no one left in King’s Landing that demands attention than the plot between Cersei and Margaery. This is a very different game Cersei is playing and how she plays it could be dangerous. And lets not forget the body inside Qyburn’s lab that did a little shake at the end. I can’t point out a theory because of certain obvious realizations, but suffice it to say, Qyburn is experimenting on the mountain. How far does this go? Just wait and see.

Where things get a little changed up is Littlefinger’s plan to wed Sansa to Ramsey Bolton. This is a very bold and a bit sideways move considering how fast Littlefinger is moving to secure his place in the north. I will say this either hasn’t happened in the books yet or this is entirely a new direction they’re going with. There’s certainly things Peter is keeping from her which should show her that she’s not on a leveling playing field quite yet. She’s committing to her role for now, but one has to wonder how insane this wedding could be if it is gone through with. Ramsey is a twisted and perverse individual and Sansa is in real danger if both she and Peter are not careful.

Arya is given an ample amount of time to absorb the decision she’s making with becoming a faceless one. Even though she’s eager, there are rules and ways she doesn’t understand before she can even begin the process. Headstrong and resolute, she’s abiding by what she has to do and that includes letting go of her identity, which is proving to be harder than she anticipated. I believe her scenes were some of the strongest of the episode not to mention she’s in safety and can only elevate herself with where she’s at. Great things are coming her way and it’s good to finally see the start of it.

FAVORITE MOMENT

In comparison to the book scene, I felt Arya’s reluctance to drop needle in the sea was done really well and echoed that small sliver of hope that she’ll see Jon again and just as importantly, that she hold onto some essence of her family. It would have been tragic if she had disposed of the sword considering everything she’s done to hold onto it. Will that lead to a struggle later on this season? Anything’s possible, but for now she’s following through with her change and it’s character development that Arya has been overdue for.

CHARACTER MVP

It was a tie between Jon and Brienne until Jon followed through with killing Janos. The look in his eye and the discipline his father showed him when it came to executions all came at that crucial moment. Had Jon shown mercy it would have meant he had certain weaknesses he had yet to overcome. For his growth, he not only needed to show how he commanded but how to reprimand even at the slightest sign of dissention. He can’t afford any kind of split in the wall and in his mind, what he did should in theory solidify that. In theory.

LONG TERM THOUGHTS

One other absent family are the Greyjoy’s. After a failed attempt at rescuing Theon, Yara disappeared and we haven’t heard much if anything from her and her side of the family that should be playing a new part soon to come. I wonder if they will be forgotten this season or if they’ll be more spread out in the second half of our main arc. To make room for Dorne, the Greyjoy’s have been cast aside, for now.

They need to put Tyrion on a boat. They can’t skip the boat. The boat is important, just put him on the boat already!

Brienne is in an interesting position. On the one hand, she could swoop in and take Sansa to safety should something really awful happen, but that seems a bit too obvious. On the other hand, Brienne could be easily shifted into another side-plot that puts her away from Sansa, something this show does quite a lot. It’s hard to root for virtuous people, they have so little going for them in the end.

Three episodes in and no direwolves to be seen or heard. The evolution of this show is so rampant that it’s extremely easy to forget certain elements that at the time seemed ironclad such as the roles of the direwolves. We know most of them are still around, but even Ghost, who still has relevance on the show seems to be missing. I just hope they’re not forgotten. After all, it should be known that Bran isn’t the only one who can see the way he sees and the direwolves are a somewhat of a key to that, to a lesser extent.

While it’s good to see the image of Jaqen H’ghar, I don’t quite agree with the continued representation of his character. Arya knows it’s not the same man, but for familiarities sake, we’re continuing to see her teacher as the man she once knew. I suppose if the real Jaqen was never going to be seen again in book or show, then this would make it okay, but we’re not sure yet. I would have thought that character would be changing his looks all the time, of nothing else just to confuse Arya or show her more of what they’re capable of.

OVERALL SCORE

8 out of 10. Jon and Arya had equal moments of growth and had some poignant scenes. Even Sansa is showing a little persistence in wanting to understand more of how the game is played. Tyrion’s kidnapping at the end was a great teaser into the next part of his journey now that Jorah is back. This could also mean that we won’t see Varys again any time soon, but this show has made interesting changes before. Kings’s Landing plots are still a bit forgettable, but we’re seeing the semblance of Cersei’s plan to fight Margaery on possibly her own terms. All this and the ominous phrases “Winter is coming” and “The North Remembers” to settle on some nostalgic catchphrases. Winter needs to get here soon, because everyone is too mellow for their own good.

No more words

A Sashurai’s Review: Game of Thrones – Season 5×01 (The deviation from dragons has begun)

 Thrones 5x01

**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.

FAVORITE MOMENT

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.

CHARACTER MVP

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.

OVERALL SCORE

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