Game of Thrones, a review of the season 5 premiere

Here we go, ladies and gentlemen, the premier of the fifth season is finally upon us. It was a good episode overall, probably the second or third best opening episode of any season of this show so far. The first season of course had the best opening episode, that score is probably gonna stand two seasons from now as well, but this one was definitively among the top two of the remaining four.

WARNING! I have read the books, stay away if you haven’t!

Like I said, a well-made episode, especially considering the difficulties that first episodes are always plagued with. There was a lot of catching up to be done, each character had to have their own scene of course (except apparently Arya). This was done well, and the writers also made the wise choice of not introducing new characters yet, leaving more time for the old ones. Well, that’s not technically true, the High Sparrow may have made a brief appearance, but since new viewers weren’t formally introduced to him that could slide by smoothly. The sandsnakes will wait for a while, and they are the new characters that matter anyway.

So, having established that we liked the episode, let’s get down to the dirty details. The episode started with a Cersei flashback, down in the hut of Maggi the Frog. I think this will work really well for non-readers, it highlights the coming Margery-vs-Cersei-conflict and so on. I do have one small question though. Why in the name of the flying spaghetti monster did they skip the last part, instead of pulling it straight out of the book? I’m talking here of having the witch say that Cersei’s brother will be her bane, and then having Cersei curse her right back and throw a jar-full of some fouls stuff in her face before running away.

The episode didn’t last a full hour anyway so there was definitively time for it and it would have made the viewers speculate about weather it meant Tyrion or Jamie, making them think about the long term developments. It wouldn’t actually have committed the writers to anything either, since there is bound to be a reckoning with Cersei and either Jamie or Tyrion in the show anyway.

The following funeral discussion was, to be honest, a rather well done deviation from the books. I don’t remember Cersei thinking all that much about weather Jamie let Tyrion loose in A Feast for Crows, but the way she was going paranoid it would totally have made sense if she did. The whole scene, with the accusation and Jamie’s obvious reaction was really emotionally powerful.

The joker making an appearance later on at the wake at the wake, Lancel, is clearly going to be the one who does Cersei in and rats her out to the High Septon. This isn’t surprising since there are no Kettleblacks, but I hope that the dude playing Lanccel finishes the job in a better way than he started it. Or maybe it’s the writers, I don’t know, but that glib way he referred to the murder of Robert didn’t sound to me like a man seeking redemption. Maybe I read it wrong, but to me it felt like he was mocking her, in a “I know what you did and I’m telling mommy” sort of way. I shall not say more on the subject now, but that scene somehow bothered me, I hope we don’t get more of that.

We of course did see some of Tyrion in this episode, to skip briefly to the other side of the sea. Mostly it was just to clarify where he is and where he is going. I now declare fake Aegon dead and burried, as everyone probably guessed months ago. Tyrion is going to see Dany, and that is it. Peter Dinklage and whoever plays Varys are both great actors and any scene with them is bound to be good.

Likewise we got some of Daenerys and Mereen, the expected stuff with the fighting pits and Stalwart Shield morphing into White Rat. There was also some catching up with Sansa, Birenne, and at the wall. I could go through it all but since it’s nothing out of the ordinary I’ll leave it be. Except for the scene on the wall, there I do have something to say.

When it comes to the last scene I want to first and foremost pat myself on the back, at least a little. I wrote, not long ago on this very blog, the following snippet in a post speculating about the fifth season:

What’s going on with Mance Rayder? I honestly don’t remember if the show has mentioned fake Arya, if it never does then they have to make up a completely new arc for Mance. The dark version would have him going to the pyre instead of Rattleshirt.

And well, I was right. To the extent that they have to cut and change things, and they do, skipping the secret Mance/Rattleshirt swap makes sense. The story can work without it, television viewers tend to not like magic anyway and would be confused since they have probably forgotten who the Lord of Bones is. Mance did his thing, he went out in a decent way and Jon and Stannis got to have a moment too, this was probably the strongest segments of the episode. I do take issue with how Kit Harrington’s facial expression didn’t seem to change at all from scene to scene, always that brooding look sideways down, but that’s a minor detail.

To summarize my thoughts about this episode, I liked most of it. It wasn’t fantastic, first episodes seldom are, but it did what it had to do without screwing anything up too much and there were some good scenes in there. As for the coming nine episodes, I found this list on the Wikipedia page for Game of Thrones Episodes, currently listing the names of the first seven.

  1. The Wars to Come
  2. The House of Black and White
  3. High Sparrow
  4. The Sons of the Harpy
  5. Kill the Boy
  6. Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken
  7. The Gift

Most of these seem to have obvious implications, number two is about Arya, three about making The Faith a player, four about further insurgency in Mereen. Number seven could be both about The Gift as in the piece of land that the Nightswatch operates for farming being given to the Wildlings and Cersei receiving that snake in a box we have seen in a trailer somewhere. If I may leave you with a parting gift it would be that Doran Martell’s fire and blood speech is somewhere in there and that it is as well done as in the books. It could be in episode six.

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