There was a lot of table setting, a little T&A and the death of a king because …well ‘Game of Thrones.’ The kickoff to season 5 featured little carnage, mayhem and social media blazing moments, but it did set the stage for what should be another wholly unpredictable 10 episodes. After devouring ‘Daredevil,’ how many people are wishing ‘GOT’ was on Netflix so they could forgo sleep and take in the whole season in less than 10 hours as opposed to 10 weeks?
We start off with a flashback of young Cersei proving she didn’t become cruel overnight as she threatens to evict a fortune teller from ‘her’ lands if she doesn’t tell her fortune. The fortune teller predicts Cersei will not marry the prince, but the king; will have a childless union with the king and hints that all her children will be the result of incest. Get this woman to Vegas! Assuming Cersei didn’t kill her. We cut to the present as Cersei goes to her father, Tywin’s, wake.
Seeing painted eye stone Tywin makes me a bit sad wondering who will fill the void of pompous jacka$$ now, but my Robb Stark action figure reminds me I don’t care. Die again Tywin! Jaime is already at Papa’s side. Cersei blames him for letting their little brother Tyrion escape, but he tells Cersei they must be united to prevent a hostile takeover. Sounds good provided a united front isn’t code for ‘coffin side rape’ again cause that was more than a little disturbing last time Cersei and Jamie were alone next to a coffin.
Tyrion (sporting a Rick Grimes beard!) has been safely escorted by Varys to an ally’s palace — a location Tyrion should be safe for roughly three more episodes. Killing the love of his life and daddy to boot has made Tyrion more disconsolate than usual and he’s content to just get Imp Man Wasted. Varys reminds him of the desperate state of Westeros, which needs a real leader now more than ever, and surprisingly suggests Tyrion back Daenerys.
The would-be queen, but current Khaleesi is finding her list of problems as ruler of Mereen is not getting any shorter. One of her Unsullied is killed in a brothel by The Sons of the Harpy, a cult sect unhappy with her new rule and her Mereen adviser suggests she reinstate the fighting pits. Daenerys isn’t signing off on it, but considers once her current boy toy Daario Naharis recalls his past and how pit fighting helped hone his skills as a warrior.
To continue our character roundup, Brienne is still smarting over her failure to bring Arya Stark back to safety and is taking it out on Pod, who simply wants to be a good squire. He suggests they continue their search for Sansa Stark to at least protect one Stark heir. And as Westeros luck would have it, Sansa whizzes by them in a carriage with Littlefinger. They drop the flailing Robyn Arryn off to learn how to be a fighter or at least hold a sword without humiliating himself and now Littlefinger has a secret location where they can avoid Cersei’s wrath. Just where does Sansa rank now on Cersei’s hit list, which seems to be growing more and more by the week.
At Tywin’s repast, Cersei reconnects with Lancel Lannister, the cousin she slept with back in season 1 who has now been a convert to the Lord of the Light. He asks for forgiveness for seducing her (you’ve got that the other way around…) and for drugging Cersei’s husband, Robert Baratheon‘s drink, which led to his death and Geoffrey taking over the throne. That’s not the kind of information you want to freely share in the open at the palace.
In the night’s most pivotal event, Jon Snow is helping to train the next generation of Night’s Watch when Melisandre says Stannis Baratheon has summoned him. On the long elevator ride up to the top of The Wall, Jon seems to be glad he’s not an Unsullied as Melisandre glares at him like her next meal.
After updating Jon on the current plight of Winterfell under the reign of Roose Bolton, Stannis asks Jon about his connection with The Wildlings, hoping Jon can convince Wildling leader Mance Rayder to join his army. Stannis isn’t making an empty gesture offering to pay and provide homes for these potential new recruits. Beyond his whole Lord of the Light fascination, Stannis is acting every bit like a unifying ruler should. But if Jon can’t convince Mance to bend the knee, he’ll burn instead. No pressure.
In the episode’s best segment, Jon talks with the leader he’s come to greatly respect and pleads with him to accept Stannis’ offer. Mance knows he’s a dead man, but doesn’t want The Wildlings to look at him as man not strong enough to die for his convictions. The fact that Jon can make valid points questioning if Mance is letting his pride lead to his death shows how far Jon has matured as a character since Season 1.
Mance won’t budge, so he’s going to the stake. The Knight’s Watch and Mance’s captured Wildlings look on as the King Beyond The Wall begins to burn. Before the flames fully envelop him, an arrow puts him out of his misery and all eyes turn to Jon Snow, who holsters his bow and walks off. Yep, there’s not gonna be any consequences with that decision.
This was a slow burn (no pun intended) start to the season, but it establishes most of the hurdles, potential threats and new alliances for our main cast. It should prove to be yet another crazy ride even if rulers aren’t killed every third episode.