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SEASON PREMIERE REVIEW: Game of Thrones 5×01 “The Wars To Come”

Written by Grace Davis

It’s finally back! It’s been a long winter for Game of Thrones fans but we’re finally here at the beginning of Season 5. The writers have a promised a rollercoaster of a season so it’s time to sit down, buckle up and join the ride…

The show got off to an interesting start with the Cersei Lannister flashback scene. I really enjoyed this as an opener, it was different and it brought Cersei’s concerns to the forefront in a non-forced way. I thought the actor (Nell Williams) did a pretty good job of showing Cersei’s dismissive haughtiness and lack of fear. Cersei’s fearlessness is kind of interesting: it doesn’t really come from her being a brave person. It’s more from her absolute, 100% certainty that her place in life means nothing can bring her down. Slowly she seems to be learning that this is not necessarily true.

The predictions she received were not in themselves revelatory – the usurper to the role of Queen is obviously (in Cersei’s mind) Margaery – so obviously so that I’m wondering if that’s meant to be a little piece of misdirection. But perhaps I’m over-thinking it?

Speaking of Lannisters, I quite enjoyed Jaime and Cersei’s pre-funeral chat over their father’s body. Heavy-handed reminders of last season’s events aside, it did show where the twins are at mentally. Jaime’s line ‘…all of them out there are enemies’ was a nice link to Cersei’s Season 1 line ‘Everyone who isn’t us is an enemy’ while Cersei herself seems to have changed her mind, declaring that the real enemy is in their own family – ‘that little monster…’ Tyrion.

Ah Tyrion. It’s good to see him alive and unboxed. The poor man’s been through it and now he has to put up with Varys’ meandering reveal of his support for Daenarys on the Iron Throne. Personally, I’m all for this: Tyrion, Varys, Daenarys, Dragon team-up? YES. This may surpass my previous favourite (imaginary) team of Double Queens Daenarys and Margaery (although I am still kind of holding out for that – it’d be perfect. They’re smart, fierce, sneaky, both have that ‘ae’ thing in their names. It works.)

This actually (vaguely) brings me to my favourite line of the episode: ‘I did not take up residence in this pyramid to watch the city below decline into chaos!’ I wish my life held the opportunity for me to say such things. Anyway. Daenarys always makes me nervous – I like her, I want her to succeed, but I’m constantly worried that she’s just about to go too far, do something too radical and ruin everything. That said, I’m not sure I’m keen on her getting too attached to Daario Naharis. Ok, so it’s good for her to have someone who will be blunt and honest with her, but do we really want her listening to some bloke? That seems like a whole different kind of risky!

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Back across the Narrow Sea and Tywin’s funeral is in full swing (ok, not swing. The opposite of swing). A very different-looking (not Daario different. Normal different) Cousin Lancel appears to give us a moment of levity as he awkwardly apologizes to Cersei for their previous incest. Cersei seems to have forgotten it ever happened as she dismisses the newly-religious back-up Lannister. The writers drop in a little reminder of poor dead King Robert and the means of his death (something else Cersei claims no memory of) and we continue on our merry way to see what the Tyrells are up to…

Sex. And walking in on your brother having sex. That’s what they’re up to. Ah well, nobody seems bothered by the awkwardness. I love Margaery and I love her super-casual hinting at Cersei’s future not being as certain as Loras seems to think it is. Excellent Tyrelling.

Last but not least: up North. I nearly screamed when creepy old Melisandre popped up behind Jon Snow. I totally forgot she was there. There’s something rather strange about seeing these characters we’ve come to know separately suddenly interacting with each other. I can’t quite get my head around Stannis hanging out at Castle Black. Stannis, by the way, is continuing his increased trajectory of interestingness and seeming like someone who could actually run a kingdom but, much as I liked his idea of getting the Wildlings to join him, it was so obviously not something Mance Rayder would ever go for. Even so, I was surprised that he actually died! I’ve heard a lot about how awesome Mance is and yet I feel like I’ve barely begun to see that. I did wonder if there would turn out to be somehow a trick, a last-minute surprise plan… I’m reserving judgement on this for the moment!

So, overall, how was this as a season opener? I’d have to go with: not thrilling. I know the writers have to remind us of rather a lot of things and I know they have to ease people into the new directions of the story but I’d have liked the episode to just grab me a little bit more. I do think they’ve set up some great potential for the future and it definitely refreshed my memory. I just hope they don’t take too long in getting anywhere!

Final Grade B

Extra Thoughts:

  • 13:52. That was the first boob shot. 14:51 was the first female full-frontal and never, ever, ever was the first male full-frontal. Lots of artfully-hidden penises here, people.
  • I did like how the nudity was swiftly followed by the first death (good bye White Rat, we hardly knew you!) It was like the writers were saying ‘Yes, yes, boobs and murder, let’s get it out of the way.’
  • Brienne is excellent and not anybody’s mother but ugh it was painful how close Sansa was. What are the odds? (And what are the odds that Littlefinger will pick one accent and stick with it this season?)
  • Ew at Stannis’ creepy wife’s creepy smile as Mance burned. That woman ain’t right.

What did you think to Episode 1 of Season 5? Any predictions for the future? Let us know in the comments!

About the author

Grace Davis