Show: Game of Thrones
Watched: Episode 41 – April 12, 2015
Title: The Wars to Come
Summary: Great start
Over the last month I did a complete rewatch of seasons 1-4 on Blu-ray in order to “prepare” for season 5. So not only am I fully up on my lore, but in watching the series back to back like that I came to a new appreciation for the scope and craftsmanship of it. Really, that’s the best way to watch it. Bumps that jar when watching week to week smooth out, like the occasional absence of certain storylines for a episodes. It’s no big deal if Arya misses an episode to show at the beginning of the next, it’s only an hour — far from the feel of a two week absence. Nuances and setups in one episode that pay out a few later are far more obvious.
Anyway, on to the eagerly awaited Season 5. This will be an interesting one, both because it may catch up and partially pass the novels and because it has the luxury to restructure around the enormous problems created by the way Martin split A Feast of Crows and A Dance with Dragons (which I talk about here). The show will be restoring the proper chronological order he so grievously botched — and as far as I can tell stripping out and merging some of the boring, seemingly irrelevant, or extraneous storylines (Theon’s uncles, I’m looking at you!).
Cersei flashback – The opening of each season is the only episode to feature content before the titles. This time around it’s the famous “Cersei Flashback,” showing her visit to a witch as a child. Interestingly, this represents the first flashback in the series. We didn’t get Rhaegar at the Trident, but we have Cersei. Undoubtedly this is because of the important Cersei arc this season, represented in the books by her introduction as a POV character in AFOC. The filmed version is appropriately storybook, although the witch looks a little like Osha. The prophecy itself is excellently creepy, as I do love a good prophecy. “You shall never wed the prince, but you will marry a king” and the like.
Or the video of the actual prophecy:
Titles – It’s worth noting a few things about the titles. Ironically, Lannisters dominate the lead credits and it is about 10 people in before we encounter a living Stark. We also have Winterfell, no longer smoking, but crowned with the Bolton flayed man, and back to Pentos for the first time since season 1.
Regular Cersei in Kings Landing – presumably reminiscing about the witch’s words. The show had definitely notched up the budget as the view up to the Sept of Dubrovnik (I mean, Baelor) is gorgeous. All the courtiers including sleeveless Margaery watch her ascend to morn her father. Jaime though is inside. This is the second time they’ve met in the sept over a dead family member. He tries to draw them together to fight for what is theirs but she drives a wedge in, bitching about Tyrion and his own actions. Clearly she knows he let Tyrion free. We will miss Charles Dance, and he looks splendid with his creepy eye stones.
The funeral, or wake or whatever is a dull affair. Reflecting Cersei’s new role as POV character, even if the show treats these more casually than the books, we hear Loras drone on. Margaery cavorts with Tommen, Pycell intrudes annoyingly. Her uncle Kevan is there (we haven’t seen him in a while), and Lancel, looking unrecognizable as a Sparrow (mendicant monk). He approaches Cersei, and when shoved off, finds her later at the window. Boy, even his voice sounds different. I like the reminder of the medieval importance of monasticism, even if the series hasn’t previously emphasized this possible world element. Lancel alludes to the boar, confirming what we suspected in Robert’s death, and to justice. It almost feels like a threat. dum dum dum.
Tyrells – Loras is getting it on with Oliver, who I think is that pimp who works for Littlefinger. GOT of thrones sure loves its boy flesh. And apparently so does Margaery as she busts in to find Loras. Not the least surprised, she does take the time to admire Oliver at length. We are reminded that it’s unlikely Cersei will now marry Loras, and that will leave the Queen Reagent in town to harass Marg — but the youngest rose in the garden seems to have plans.
Tyrion – Our favorite LP is enjoying a long crate hole view of Pentos, and an arrival in Illyrio’s splendid Croatian mansion. I wish Pentos looked a little less like Kings Landing, but it does look good. Varys is there to great Tyrion as he rolls out of his box. No Illyrio. This, of course, is a major departure from the books, but I can only look forward to lots of Varys/Tyrion verbal sparring. Ty starts out the season looking a little worse for the wear. Shaggy, bearded, drunk and still searching for the decanter.
Later, when Tyrion has cleaned up and put on some snazzy new Pentos-style robes, changing up his look for the first time in a while, Varys just comes out and reveals his Targaryen sympathies and pitches Tyrion on going to Mereen with him to meet Dany. In this respect, the show continues to be more obvious than the POV obscured novels. I really think that’s for the best, particularly for those that haven’t read them.
Dany – Her POV opens with a big budget pull down of the Harpy of Meeren. Quite a nice looking shot in an episode full of them. It’s big crash below leads us to a random Unsullied (later revealed to be named White Rat). At first I wondered if they recast Grey Worm, but fortunately not. Rat makes an unscheduled trip in a brothel to be coddled in a motherly fashion by one of the whores and has his throat cut by a very creepy gold masked dude — a Son of the Harpy we soon learn.
Barristan is a bit dull on his own, and continues this trend as he stands with Dany while she learns about White Rat’s untimely demise. Grey Worm goes to arm and has another of his little moments with Missandei — but he doesn’t show her the warmth she wants.
Later, Unsullied march the streets looking for these rebels while Dario returns with the young master from Yunkai. Apparently the city has been retaken and the new leaders want the fighting pits reopened. We know from the previews that this will happen, but Dany drags her feet, never a fan of slave fighting. Dario is, as he grew up in the pits Conan-style. We learn this while regaled with his naked butt, adding to the episodes already considerable bun-factor. He councils her that she needs to show strength — and dragons.
A quick trip down to the basement to check up on the babies find their timeout hasn’t done them much good, the dragons are feisty and fire breathing and Dany quickly retreats. These big highly animated dragons are a far cry for the occasionally shown chickens of season 1-2!
Sansa and Littlefinger – watch with Lord Royce as Robin “practices” his swordplay. The little lord hits like a girl — no surprise. Littlefinger gets a message and leaves Robin in Royce’s care. He says he’s heading back to the Fingers (his home), but…
Brienne and Pod – make camp. Bri is disgusted with herself at letting Arya get away and tries to fire Pod — who has no idea what do without a gig, meanwhile a carriage passes, ironically with… Sansa and Littlefinger again.
The new partners in conspiracy disgust who to trust as Peter tutors Dark Sansa in his wily ways. He doesn’t say exactly where he’s going, only west and far, but presumably it’s to the north. We shall see.
Jon at Castle Black – Apparently Jon has forgiven the boy who shot Ygritte because he’s training him in the courtyard. We see Gilly is still there, with Sam, and so is a somewhat recovered Ser Alister and his crony Slynt. Sam’s dialog serves to inform us of the upcoming election for Lord Commander. The Red Lady Melisandre shows up to summon him to Stannis, who is atop the wall. The ride up includes a very sexy upshot of the elevator. More dollars spent well. The lady asks Jon if he is a virgin — good thing he’s not. Stannis and Davos stand on the edge showing off the CGI. Stannis has a fair offer to the wildlings, fight for him and he’ll give them land and freedom. Jon only needs to convince Mance.
Jon tries his powers of persuasion on Mance. I didn’t totally understand fully why Stannis’ deal wasn’t acceptable. Yeah, Mance doesn’t want his people to die fighting in Stannis’ foreign wars, but it still seems a reasonable offer given the circumstances. Still, he digs in — and Jon admires him — but it’s the pyre for him because Melisandre has a hard on for burning kings. He walks to his fate nobly, if sporting a significant gut. It’s slightly disturbing as he twitches from the heat and everyone watches, including Stannis’ wife and daughter and Gilly. Jon can’t take it and grabs a bow and shoots him through the heart. An admirable act, particularly as Stannis isn’t exactly Mr. Understanding. I saw no hint of Mel’s body switching magic, so maybe Mance really is dead in this version. If not, it’ll be a surprise after and a trick to explain.
All in all, a great episode, with a lot going on. Like most first episodes of a season, this is reestablishing where we are and the new order. Now while this is a show that really changes things up, there is even more new stuff this year. We have Cersei “unfettered” and Marg on the rise. We have Ty on a new continent. Sansa teamed with Littlefinger and Jon dealing with a new balance on the wall. Dany’s situation isn’t that different, but is at least sans Jorah.
I expected us to see Dorne this episode, but I guess it will show next week. Clearly Arya will as the title is “The House of Black and White.” Yay! No Theon and the Boltons either. Can’t wait.
and some HBO commentary on the episode: