Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers from the Game of Thrones episode “The Wars to Come.”
The Game of Thrones season 5 premiere Sunday night was centered around choices. Almost every major character had a choice to make, and the impacts of the paths they chose will surely ripple through the rest of the season.
(For the sake of clarity, these recaps will be divided by geographical location.)
Season 5 opened with a flashback during which a pre-teen Cersei Lannister spoke with a fortune teller. The woman told her fortune and said that she would one day become queen, only to have her crown stolen by a younger and more beautiful woman.
Flash forward to present day, and Cersei has more to worry about than just a newer, prettier queen. Her father, Tywin Lannister, was murdered by her younger brother, Tyrion, and now she must play the part of the grieving daughter, while ignoring the rival factions attempting to topple the weakened Lannister dynasty.
Cersei’s brother Jaime tries to create a united front with his twin, but she wants nothing to do with him, as she partially blames him for Tywin’s death since it was Jaime who let Tyrion out of his cell.
To make matters even worse, Cersei’s cousin Lancel, who astute fans might remember as the man she slept with following Jaime’s kidnapping in season 1, has returned a newly religious man. He has aligned himself with an organization known as the Sparrows, and urges Cersei to repent her sins.
Meanwhile, inside the castle, Margaery and Loras Tyrell discuss each other’s impending marriages while Loras and his lover help fulfill the episode’s nudity quota. Margaery isn’t happy about having Cersei as a sister-in-law, while Loras is doubtful the marriage will even take place with Tywin gone. Whether this holds true or not, Margaery is definitely plotting something.
After she had to lock up two of her dragons at the end of last season, it seemed things couldn’t get worse for Daenerys Targaryen. However, a group of assassins known as the Sons of the Harpy are murdering Dany’s soldiers, the Unsullied, in protest of the radical changes she has brought to the city. Hizdahr zo Loraq, a former slave-trader turned ambassador for Dany, urges her to reinstate the fighting pits of the city, but Dany refuses to aid an institution she helped dismantle.
However during a tender moment in bed, Dany’s lover Daario Naharis convinces her to consider reopening the pits, sharing his tragic backstory as a former slave in the process. He also convinces her to try to tame her dragons once more. Dany tries just that, but Viserion and Rhaegal aren’t having it, and by the end of the segment both the viewers and Dany find themselves doubtful of the strength of her rule.
Tyrion and Varys have arrived in Pentos after months at sea following their escape from the Red Keep. Tyrion wants nothing more than to drink himself to an early death in order to forget the murders he has committed, but Varys wants none of that. As Varys waxes poetic about optimism and what it means to be a ruler, Tyrion delivers a line that I’m sure angsty teenagers on Instagram will be quoting for months to come:
“The future is shit, just like the past.”
But then, Varys reveals that he is a supporter of Daenerys, and convinces Tyrion to come along with him to find the Mother of Dragons.
No spoilers, but I’m sure all of my book-readers know why I had my jaw dropped at this part.
Sansa is still pretending to be Littlefinger’s bastard daughter and though the two laid low this episode, they surely have something up their sleeves. With Lysa’s son Robin now safely f at another castle, who know what Littlefinger and his young charge will be up to now that they have the Eyrie all to themselves.
Meanwhile, in a valley not far from the Eyrie, everyone’s favorite lady knight Brienne doubts her abilities after failing to recover Arya Stark during last season’s finale. She takes out her anger on her squire, Podrick, completely unaware that the other Stark girl she was tasked with finding is riding by in a carriage.
Last season ended in a narrow victory for the brothers of the Night’s Watch. In this episode, Stannis Baratheon reveals to Jon Snow his plan to take Winterfell back with the help of a wildling army. However, to get the wildlings aligned with his cause, he will need the allegiance of their king, Mance Rayder.
Jon Snow has always been sympathetic to the wildling cause, if his romance with Ygritte is any indication. He attempts to sway Rayder’s. But after a terse discussion between the two, Rayder refuses to kneel, and the episode ends with Jon Snow putting an arrow through the wildling king’s heart to spare him an agonizing death by fire.
Rather than creating new plot threads, this premiere was a way for the writers to deal with the consequences of the action-packed season 4 finale. Since the audience now expects plot twists from this show, it was smart of them to go with a slower, more plot filled opening.
Major kudos to Nell Williams, the actress who played young Cersei. Cersei Lannister is not an easy character to play, but Williams brought all the ruthless pride that fans love to hate.
A few fan favorites were missing this episode, mainly Arya and Bran Stark, but there is no doubt they will be showing up some time soon.
Overall, this was a fine premiere that set the tone for the season to come. Though a little on the slow side, fans will be excited to see the stories of Westeros and its citizens back on the small screen once more.
Have an opinion on the season 5 premiere? Leave a comment below!
Rosie Brown is a sophomore prospective journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.