Season Five, Episode One — “The Wars to Come”
By Jarrod Jones. Winter is coming… eventually. But it totally is, so… y’know. It’s coming. *sigh* It’s been a long time waiting for the fifth season of Game of Thrones, and now that it’s finally here it seems that the show is going about its business as usual. The pieces are yet again set in opposition to each other, only this time under a drastically different context; Tywin Lannister is dead, Tyrion has absconded with a second (third?) lease on life, and Daenerys has to deal with two petulant (and growing) children. After all our anticipation, this premiere episode has the feel of a long exhale after a really, really long run. (Only with so much more bare male tush.) And reliably, Tyrion gets all the best lines.
WHAT WORKED: When it comes to Game of Thrones, the show is always at its best when the actual fate of Westeros feels like it’s right around the corner. (Even though we all know it’s probably not.) And that usually means the narrative has to deploy one of two people: Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) or Jon Snow (Kit Harington). Sure, there are those downright charming schemers who choose to skulk in closed rooms and dark corners, but whenever the Mother of Dragons or the Stark Bastard is onscreen, the stakes are ever at their highest (especially since there’s now several vacancies in the House of Stark). It’s just so sad that the most interesting things that happen on the show occur around the two least charismatic people on the face of the Earth.
Jon Snow fighting against the righteous pride of Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds). Now that the King Beyond the Wall is under lock and key, Jon has the unenviable task of asking a proud man to forsake his nobility. The back and forth between Harington and Hinds asks great things of a show where altruism is typically rewarded with a swift and unceremonious death. Moments of true nobility are rare, and I’m grateful they were momentarily explored here. (There would have been more time given over to it, but, y’know. Dragons.)
WHAT DIDN’T: There’s rarely an opportunity missed for Game of Thrones to interject some post-coitus scheming, however no amount of boobs or butts could ever make any of it even remotely interesting. (Which might explain why the show seems hell-bent on providing us all the boobs and butts. They do try so hard.) Daenerys Targaryen and her mercenary lover, Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman), prattle on and on about prosaic things (that will only matter later) with little chemistry between them, with even less charisma than you would expect from those who would otherwise one day claim the world.
“Gold will be their crowns; gold will be their veils.” – Maggy the Frog, to young Cersei.
“You know what it’s like to stuff shit through those airholes?” – Tyrion, to Varys.
“The future is shit. Just like the past.” – Tyrion, truth telling.
“The freedom to make my own mistakes was all I ever wanted.” – Mance Rayder.
BEST MOMENT: Jon does the right thing. Even if it means he loses what little standing he had with Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), Jon gives a former ally the dignified death that fate would otherwise deny him.
EPISODE’S MVP: Tyrion Lannister. Even when he’s down, beaten, and grown a big ol’ depression beard, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) remains the lively spark just begging to ignite the traditionally dour proceedings of Game of Thrones. There’s still a long way to go for Tyrion (or not; I’ve not read A Dance With Dragons, and get the hell off my back), and so long as the Little Lion draws breath within this show, I’m 100% on board.
– Where Rayder ends up is ostensibly a foregone conclusion, seeing as though HBO didn’t pay for a pyre for it not to get used.
– Though it looks like Rayder’s death is going to be a hell of a lot more final than it is in the books.
– Daario still hasn’t dyed his beard. So he’s even more unappealing than ever. Feh.
– Varys (Conleth Hill) and Tyrion have a real Riggs/Murtaugh thing going on here.
– When Maggie the Frog (Jodhi May) speaks to Cersei (Lena Headey) about her future, Circe is in for a bit of a shock: Instead of marrying a prince from the House of Targaryen (she thinks she’ll be promised to Prince Rhaegar, that cad), Circe is told that she’ll instead marry a king. What she isn’t told is how much fun she’ll have just fucking her brother instead.
– At least Tywin was offered the dignity to not have his surviving children have all kinds of rape-y sex on/near his corpse.
– Still no Arya, but it looks like she’ll be knocking on the ol’ Oreo Door of the House of Black and White soon enough. *cough*