Kit Harington as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones S5 E1

Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 1, “The Wars to Come” Review

We’ve all been waiting for it, let’s get right to it!


I always like guessing where or with who an episode of Game of Thrones will begin. Season premieres are especially exciting to guess. My guess was King’s Landing, with the Lannisters coping with the loss of Tywin Lannister. It took a moment to recognize, but I was correct after a fashion.

Even as girl, Cersei was confident about the authority her house afforded her. She strolls right into Maggie the Frog’s tent at least trying to act like she owns the place. How satisfying it is to listen to her prophesy and know it’s true, while frustrated little Cersei struggles to comprehend it.

She did indeed marry a King she ended up loathing, had three children that weren’t Robert’s, and now stands to be replaced by a younger, more beautiful queen. Margaery’s wit could just be the less misanthropic kind of political style that could beat Cersei.

Cersei certainly wasn’t in any mood to give any one the time of day once Tywin died. You get the sense that she’s possessed of this heady realization that there’s no one’s approval she has to keep, no one to tell her, you must play nice with the Tyrells or the Martells or the small council or the Septons. How will she act with this realization!?

“The Wars to Come” really is an episode about just how much things have changed in the show over the course of the last season. Tywin Lannister, Lord of Casterly Rock, Warden of the West and Hand of the King is dead. As Jaime says, all the rest of the realm will be looking to pick at whatever scraps are left from the rotting-from-the-inside-out-carcass of the Lannister House that Tywin was holding together. Jaime almost looks like he regrets helping Tyrion escape, he can’t even deny it when Cersei accuses him. Major change up from the books; Cersei never finds out, never even asks if Jaime freed Tyrion. Maybe this will lead to him being curtly sent to Dorne.

Tyrion, with his redeeming helpings of wit and compassion (as Varys puts it), has left his family and house completely behind and now Varys is trying to convince him to help the last Targaryen scion to claim the Iron Throne. How long has Varys had this plan in mind and who specifically does he mean and include by We? We (the audience) saw him meet with Illyrio all the way back in season 1 but is that all?

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones S5 E1

Lancel Lannister has turned over a religious new Leaf. We even see him confess that he made Robert Baratheon drunk enough to die hunting on Cersei’s orders. He seems to have filled out a bit more too. Cersei clearly doesn’t care, but a repentant Lancel could be a threat to her.

The Starks are now completely scattered. In one of the subtlest and yet most heart sinking details in the series to date, we saw the flayed man of House #@$%ing Bolton as the center cog of Wintefell in the opening credits, instead of the Direwolf of House Stark.

Sansa has become Little Finger’s political partner in the Vale. While Robin is unceremoniously thrust into combat training, Baelish and Sansa are taking a trip to some place more politically safe.

Where could this be? What news did Baelish pocket immediately? I’d guess it was news of Tywin’s death, and I’d guess it’s his new ally Olenna Tyrell. Wouldn’t seeing the two of them discuss politics be just grand!?

Daenerys, the Unburnt, the mother of Dragons, has either lost or lost control of her dragons and now fights and politics tooth and nail to keep her subjects in line and her city safe.

You may recall, I predicted the toppling of the Harpy of Meereen would come in a much more climactic moment of the season. On the other hand, watching it go down, and then seeing White Rat lured into a brothel and killed in cold blood by the Sons of the Harpy proves just how merely symbolic that toppling was. The Sons of the Harpy will not let the old order die. Not without a bitter fight.

Daario seems to be getting into Daenerys’s good graces in more ways than one. At least he has the sense to give her council she doesn’t want to hear in private. Between Daario, Loras and Olivar, we’re starting out with plenty of fan service for those that like the men folk. Good.

Despite the grizzly plot, I’m a huge fan of exploring the Unsullied in this way. They are not merely killing machines when, despite being castrated, they would pay to just lay with a woman and be gently held and serenaded. Both Grey Worm and Missandei are curious about that too.

The Night’s Watch, a historically neutral order in the politics of the realm, is now playing host to a would be King, who is asking a King Beyond the Wall to kneel and pledge his people to his cause. After barely repelling the Wildlings, the Night’s Watch has some reorganizing to do like deciding what to do with Wildling prisoners and deciding a new Lord Commander. It was also pretty interesting watching Jon spar with Olly, considering Olly was the one who killed Ygritte.

Melisandre looks like she’s got a new man in her mystical sights. What does Jon Snow’s virginity matter to anything? I’d like to know.

Stannis is a demanding King, he expects results even when he demands seem enormously difficult or unlikely. Difficult decision for Mance. He doesn’t want to let his people die, or worse for nothing North of the Wall, but conscripting them into a long war they have no stake in seems equally pointless. I suppose, between two distasteful choices, the one that means sticking to your principals was the obvious one for Mance.

Jon Snow’s been hesitant in the past about executing people. Ygritte once told him that an arrow through the heart is a better way to die than choking on your own vomit. I suppose an arrow through the heart is a better way to die than burning alive too. I also think that Jon didn’t like the death of a man he had profound respect for being made into a spectacle.

George R. R. Martin has said that characters still living in the books will be killed off for real in the show. Well, now we know at least one.

In other important character moments, Brienne of Tarth is feeling pretty bummed out that she finally found Arya Stark but let her get away. If only you would notice the carriage with SANSA RIGHT INSIDE IT! UGH! Although, maybe she will. We’ve seen Brienne and Podrick making haste somewhere, going after Sansa in Baelish’s clutches would be quite an interesting conflict.

I suppose, Arya, The Boltons and Reek, the Greyjoys and of course the Martells had to wait for episode 2.

After the Storm of Swords, many crows are indeed feasting and fighting to assemble the scraps so they will gain the most. Though it seems to be taking an understandable breather, there’s no doubt that new, exciting conflicts and interesting developments are in store for Game of Thrones Season 5! It’s back every Sunday folks!


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