‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 5, Episode 1 Recap: The Wars To Come

(Photo: HBO)
(Photo: HBO)

Every Monday, our resident Game of Thrones fanatic E. Spencer Kyte will recap the previous night’s episode. Here’s his take on Season 5, Episode 1—The Wars To Come.

Warning: what follows is a review and analysis of what happened on Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones. If you haven’t watched it and don’t want to encounter spoilers, we suggest you go read something else on this site. Consider yourself warned.

Game of Thrones Season 5 kicked off on Sunday night and it was glorious. It was so good that all the pent up frustration of waiting so long for this season to arrive has already faded because after just a single episode, it’s already clear that this season is going to be rad.

Flashback Cersei

Season 5 starts with Cersei as a young girl, sneaking through the woods with a friend and entering a witch’s house, where she asks to know her future. The witch obliges and answers Cersei’s questions three. She reveals that the brazen and entitled child that grows up to be a bitchy and entitled woman will be queen, but only for a moment until she is replaced by someone younger and prettier. The king will have 20 children, but none with her. She’ll have three – their crowns will be gold and their shrouds will be gold.

Following the flashback, we cut to modern day King’s Landing, where everyone is lined up to pay their respects to Tywin Lannister. Cersei demands a moment alone with him before the gathered masses are allowed to enter and inside the church, she tears into Jaime, declaring Tyrion the enemy and holding him responsible for the trouble ahead. While she hates Tyrion, she begrudgingly respects his will to act and be forceful, criticizing Jaime for setting Tyrion free and not thinking about what he might do. She adds a little salt to the fresh wounds by closing with a terse “He loved you more than anyone.” Cold blooded.

At the post-funeral reception, plenty of people pay their respects to a disinterested Cersei, who is distracted by Margaery being Margaery and holding hands with King Tommen. One of those paying their respects is a now reformed Lancel Lannister. You remember him – he was the cousin that Cersei was sleeping with in the first two seasons because she’s all about keeping it in the family. He’s found religion and tells Cersei as much, offering her a chance to repent and be saved for the joint sins they committed – the incest and the whole “Give King Robert Baratheon extra strong wine on his boar hunt” situation. Cersei denies knowledge of said matters and laughs off Lancel.

A Conflicted Crow

At Castle Black, Jon Snow is summoned before King Stannis Baratheon, who gives the polarizing Night’s Watch member a task – convince Mance Rayder to bend a knee and have The Wildlings join his army as they attack Roose Bolton in Winterfell or get burned at the stake in the center of Castle Black.

Jon brings the offer to the captive leader of the free people, but Mance has no intention of bending a knee and declaring his allegiance to Stannis. He also doesn’t want to be burned alive either, preferring a nice beheading or something a little more sudden and painless if he could have his pick. He’s marched out to the center of Castle Black where a platform has been built so that all my watch the immolation, but first he’s given a chance to take a knee in front of Stannis.

He refuses and gets tied to a stake as “The Red Woman” gives a speech about accepting good or bad, the light or the dark before she sets fire to the platform. As the flames climb, Jon Snow walks away, Sam and Gilly can’t bring themselves to look and Tormund Giantsbane and several other Wildling fighters look on in anguish. As the flames continue to climb, an arrow pierces Mance’s heart. Jon Snow gives him the death he wanted, sparing him from being burned alive.

A Queen, Not a Politician

In Meereen, the giant Harpy statue is pulled from atop the pyramid where Dany is presiding before a member of The Unsullied visits a prostitute, who asks if he wants the same as always. They lay in bed, where she sings to him as they cuddle… and then a dude in a gold mask slits his throat. They call themselves the Sons of the Harpy and they’re pissed, natch.

Hizdahr zo Loraq and Daario return from Yunkai and the former nobleman explains that the people are keen to agree to Dany’s wishes, but they have a couple requests. Hizdahr suggests this is how politics work and Dany reminds him that she’s a queen, not a politician. The people of both Yunkai and Meereen want the fighting pits re-opened so that free men can fight free men, but Dany wants none of it. Hizdahr presses and Dany declines, repeated.

She then discusses the situation post-coitous with Daario, who is back in town and back in her bed. He urges her to open the fighting pits, telling a story about how he ended up where he is now (naked, sexing her up on the regular, being a bad ass with a sword) because he earned his former master enough money in the fighting pits that he was eventually set free. He also encourages her to show off her power by bringing the dragons out of hibernation. Dany admits she has no idea where Drogon is since he busted out at the end of last year, but she does go to check on Viserion and Rhaegal.

The dragons are not at all happy to see their mother, screeching at her and launching fire in her direction, sending her rushing from the catacombs with a “I’m in trouble and I don’t know what to do about it” look on her face.

Out at The Eyrie

Robin Arryn is getting some training with a sword, but it’s painful to watch as the hapless little weakling flays about. Littlefinger and Sansa, still sporting the all black, Madonna in her video for “Frozen” look, watch, but then take leave, heading down the road on a journey to an undisclosed destination. All we know is that Littlefinger intends to take Sansa somewhere far enough away that Cersei Lannister can’t get to her.

On the side of the ride they’re traveling on, Brienne and Pod continue their little love/hate relationship, with Brienne telling Tyrion’s former squire that he’s far enough from King’s Landing that he can kick rocks and not worry about getting in trouble. Pod, of course, wants to stay with her and help her find Sansa given that Arya already bolted when Brienne offered her assistence. Unhappy, Brienne sharpens and cares for the sword Jaime gave her and stews.

Imp in a Box

Tyrion and Varys arrive in Pentos, where Tyrion is finally freed from the box he’s been travelling in since killing Tywin and fleeing King’s Landing. He and Varys banter, Tyrion hits the sauce hard and pulls a “puke and rally” right out of the chute. He’s also sporting a sharp new beard. It’s a good look. Varys is still bald and a eunich, of course, but it works for him.

They talk about the future of The Realm, which Varys believes is both in peril and capable of being saved. He speaks about Tyrion’s positive qualities and how even though he won’t ever sit on The Iron Throne, he can be of great service to whomever does in the future. Tyrion offers him luck finding “him” to which Varys responds, “Who said anything about him?”

Varys wants Tyrion to travel with him to Meereen to meet Dany and see if she’s “Future Ruler” material. Tyrion is happy to tag along, provided he’s allowed to get drunk along the way.

# # #

As far as season openers go, this was pretty good – it provided a refresher on everything that happened last season without feeling forced or drawn out and set the table for where things are going to go this season.

Tyrion will spend some time with Dany and the dragons, which means she might finally start making some real headway on her march to King’s Landing. Cersei is going to keep plotting and battling with Margaery, who is ready to go toe-to-toe with her mother-in-law. Jon Snow, who echoed Tyrion’s Season 1 comments about the Wildlings simply being born on the wrong side of The Wall, looks on course for more internal turmoil as Stannis attempts to rally the Wildlings to be his army. Littlefinger is going to keep scheming as Littlefinger does.

Every other season has been outstanding and Season 5 appears primed to follow suit. Welcome back, Game of Thrones. We missed you.

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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