GoT Season 5 Episode 1 brings death to King's Landing
By now you would (read: should) have seen the first episode of Game of Thrones (GoT) season five.
Despite leaving us for months at a time, GoT has a way of sucking you back into the world of Westeros every single season. Even when our favourite characters are (wrongfully) killed, they are replaced with new characters inhabiting different worlds, and just like life, the story goes on; Vlar Morghulis.
This season began with the first flashback scene of the season. HBO show producers David Beinoff and DB Weiss were sternly against any flashbacks scenes. However, by putting the scene at the start of the season, they have managed to save the linearity of the story in the episode.
To the casual viewer, the first scene might seem like the beginning of a new story but the child actor was so phenomenal at embodying the character of Lena Headey’s Cersei Lannister that a Thronie would have surely recognised her even before her name was screamed.
With most of the kings gone, and Stannis relegated to the wall, the fight for the throne is between the queens in King’s Landing. Cersei finally has a formidable foe in her own house in the shape of Margaery Tyrell.
Is she the younger, more beautiful queen that the prophecy referred to?
Their battle for control of Tommen Baratheon, the king, and by extension the kingdom is set up to be the ‘game of thrones’ this season, and as Cersei once told Ned Stark,
“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”
It is befitting that the next shot is of the dead body of Tywin Lannister, murdered by his own son, sitting on the toilet seat at the end of last season; A son that is now hundreds of miles away, shipped in a crate to safety, in Dantos by Lord Varys.
The shot from the eyehole of the crate was particularly well done. Peter Dinklage owns any scene that he is in; Conleth Hill (Lord Varys) matches his every beat leading to a fascinating exchange. An exchange that perfectly sets up the story arc for Tyrion Lannister for the rest of the season and beyond.
What does the future hold for Westeros?
Is it going to be disappointing like the past or does Varys have a plan?
The producers very deliberately take us to Mereen in the very next shot with the golden statue being dragged down from the pyramid. The mother of dragons has been flawless at conquering territory but how good will she be at ruling over it? There is a rebellion brewing with the revolutionary army of the Sons of the Harpy composed of aggrieved slave owners acting against her. The murder of the unsullied warrior, white rat, is an act of war.
Stannis Baratheon’s army swooped in to defend the wall against the Wildlings last season, but now the self-proclaimed king has taken residence there. If he has any hope of getting the North on his side, he needs the Night’s Watch, and particularly Jon Snow on his side.
The Mance Rayder story arc is a bit of a departure from the books but the last shot of the episode of Jon Snow driving an arrow through his heart as he was burning at the stake wrapped up a near perfect first episode.
We got to see a new, darker Sansa Stark, a glimpse of Kevin Lannister coming in to fill in the shoes of Tywin, our first look at the Sparrows who will play a big role this season, and sight of the dragons.
My only pet peeve is the treatment of Loras Tyrell; he is filling the roles of multiple characters in the books but this season, his role has been simply reduced to his sexuality. I realise that the show, and the books, are completely different beasts, and I approve of many of the changes made to the original source material that works better for television, but Loras is where the show runners seem to have it wrong. All we know about his character is his sexual orientation.
This season would go beyond where the story is at the end of A Dance with Dragons; we have already seen what directions it could take considering how the writers set up the season. The first episode has shown us of the war to come between Cersei and Margery, the tension between Jon and Stannis at the wall, the creation of a new order in King’s Landing, the Sparrows, and the difficulties Daenerys might face in ruling over a kingdom of her own.
We will also see how much Sansa has, or has not, learned from Little Finger but probably the most exciting is the prospect of Tyrion and Daenerys joining forces guided by the experience, and spiders, of Lord Varys.
The only wretched part of a Game of Thrones episode is how quickly it ends. Expect to see some of Arya Stark in the next episode.
I am not complaining though, it could be worse, only one character death in a Game of Thrones episode is an episode I can live with.