Game of Thrones – Season 5 Episode 1
“The Wars to Come”
Season 4 ended in typical Game of Thrones style with lots of death, surprise and action. As mid-April approaches and the new season begins we start to see the different story threads link together. Stannis asserts himself over the Wildlings and Tyrian goes on the run with Varys in an attempt to find Daenerys and support her claim to the throne. Cerci and Jamie meanwhile try to come to terms with the death of Tywin and the prospect of the circling sharks who will want to take advantage of the Lannisters weakened position. An eye of the storm type episode that sets the foundations nicely. Winter, is most definitely coming…
Cerci’s character is one of the most unlikeable and a flashback to her childhood shows us that the young Cerci was just as demanding and despicable in her treatment of others. She is given a prophecy by a witch that drops clues of Robert Baratheon’s adultery, as well as her own. The flashback perhaps evokes a bit of pity towards her as her life seems mapped out towards disaster from the start.
At Tywin’s funeral Cerci scorns Jamie and blames him for the death of their father “Tyrian may be a monster but at least he killed our father on purpose, you killed him by mistake.” Lena Headey is well suited to the role of Cerci and is the best actress on the show in my opinion. Whoever she is with she always dominates the screen. The losses of Joffrey and now Tywin has shown us a more three dimensional side to her rather just playing the controlling bitch all the time. Jamie is a character of good intentions who has more conscience than his sister or Tywin ever had- but sometimes this interferes with the Lannister interests. He did the right thing in setting Tyrian free and it will be interesting to see if his reckless and unpredictable behaviour will cause more problems for his own family.
Tyrian has teamed up with Varys and I think they are a likeable duo who bounce well off each other and often have great banter. He removes Tyrian from the crate that he used to escape on the ship across the Narrow Sea “Do you know what it’s like having to stuff your shit through one of those air holes?” Varys replies “No. I only know what it’s like to pick up your shit and throw it overboard. ” Tyrian’s capacity for alcohol consumption must be well above that of the daily allowance for a dwarf. The act of vomiting while drinking heavily in this scene only seems to make room in his stomach for more drink. Aw well, we’ve all done it… The intentions of Varys become clearer as he shows himself to be a man who isn’t power hungry or ambitious in that sense. He asks Tyrian for his help in putting Daenerys on the Iron Throne in the hope of making Westeros a fairer and more prosperous society. Or as he puts it “a land where the powerful do not prey on the powerless.”
Daenerys meanwhile has her own problems to deal with over in Meereen. One of her dragons has gone missing and the other two are too dangerous for her to control. A terrorist group called the Sons of the Harpy are murdering people in protest of her rule. If one thing is clear it’s that only the savvy and the ruthless survive in the Game of Thrones world. So far she has shown she is more than capable of getting past her most obstacles.
A character who is really starting to develop the skills necessary for her situation is Sansa. Under the wing of Littlefinger she has gone from an innocent wanna be princess to a woman with a sharp mind who a shows a knack for “the game”. She most definitely learned the hard way after watching her family disappear or be murdered. It will be interesting to see the relationship between her and Littlefinger evolve as Sansa now seems to have trust in his intentions, or she at least acts like she does. I found their short conversation, in which they talk about their lack of trust in others is one that has the potential to become ironic. Littlefinger is the type of character who’s plans can change at any moment to fit his own aspirations- and Sansa knows it.
In the North, Stannis has Mance Rayder prisoner and wants the Wildlings to help him win back Winterfell from the Lannister backed Roose Bolton. Jon Snow is sent to convince Mance to “bend the knee” and agree to a deal with Stannis. I think there they could have explored the rest of the Wildlings here as they seem to ignore any input from them. But anyway, the deal is refused as Mance holds onto his principles, a decision that results in his unnecessary death and the uncertainty of what will happen to his people. There is a mutual respect between him and Jon, who grants him a mercy killing by shooting him in the chest with an arrow as the Mance stands at the steak with the flames licking higher. A nice touch from him which shows his preference for doing the right thing over authority. An attribute that could either help him achieve a great deal or cause him to come to a bad end.
A slower moving episode but one that keeps all of the story arcs going.
The Lannisters face a crisis in the wake of Tywins death. Cerci will need to come into her own here and stop any inevitable rebellions as cracks will start to appear in Lannisters power.
Tyrian and Varys are on the search for Deanerys in the hope of restoring the Targerians to the throne. The combination of Tyrians knowledge of the Lannisters and those dragons promise to be a potent one.
Meanwhile Mance won’t follow the demands of Stannis so is burned at the steak. They possibly missed out on an opportunity to engage more with the rest of the Wildlings and explore their feelings over it all. They seemed to just focus on Mance. This situation looks to leave the North in turmoil as the Wildlings, Stannis and Roose Bolton, are all seeking to claim it. When you add in the White walkers to the North of the wall it all adds to a melting pot of inevitable conflict.