Game of Thrones, S. 5, E. 1: “The Wars to Come”

Jon Snow discusses surrender with Mance Rayder in "The Wars to Come." Image source: Viewer's Guide - HBO Game of Thrones.

Jon Snow discusses surrender with Mance Rayder in “The Wars to Come.” Image source: HBO Game of Thrones Viewers Guide

Welcome to season 5, folks! These posts will contain spoilers for the episodes, as well as discussion of book content (but I promise not to spoil any book events that haven’t happened yet). Looking forward to discussing this season with you!

Sometimes, despite excellent acting, superb writing and all-around awesome source material, Game of Thrones is BORING. Season 5 welcomed us with a verifiable snoozefest, even though it did its best to set the stage for action to come. Let me just say that I also found A Dance With Dragons/A Feast for Crows, the two books that this season will be based on (note that they span the same time period, but with different characters), sort of boring. I’m interested to see where the show creators will shake things up, and also what the hell they’ll do once they run out of material! Promises to at least be somewhat interesting, no?

Here we go!

So does anyone ever watch the opening credits? Besides containing an epicly hummable theme song, they also lend clues to where the season’s action will take place. Did you catch what’s happening at Winterfell?

We kick off with a dream sequence – is that the first real flashback we’ve had in GOT? Cersei, on top of being an insufferable asshole, has apparently always known her life would suck, thanks to a super fun fortune telling… Which we see further coming true as we walk into the funeral of Tywin Lannister.

Without Papa Lannister, what will Cersei do next? She’s never been much of a strategic thinker – she’s always had some kind of brains behind her operation. With her deliberate shoving away Jamie, her paramour Lancel taking a more religious route (BTW – the “sparrows” he has joined will definitely come into play later), her daughter in the Sun Spear (thanks, writers, for that strategically stupid conversation about Loras’s birthmark so we are reminded about Dorne), and her son Tommen being lured in by Margaery, Cersei is pretty much out of allies. Her only thought is protecting her babies and revenge – not exactly a great positioning for someone whose whole livelihood is at stake.

Speaking of the Lannisters, Tyrion arrives across the Narrow Sea to the house of Illyrio (who you might remember was strategic in selling Daenerys to Khal Drogo many moons ago). For the purpose of making this plot easier to understand, Varys has skipped the fuck out of Kings Landing and gone with him. Though a deviation from the book plots, I wager that this will make explaining Tyrion’s next steps much simpler. Tyrion is pretty much over everyone at this point – can you blame him? – but with a little urging from Varys, he might just take an interest in helping a certain dragon lady win the Iron Throne.

The future is shit. Just like the past. Blaaaarrrrghhghghghg.

-Tyrion Lannister

On to Meereen… Everyone is confused for a hot minute that Grey Worm was recast, but it turns out this poor guy is just a story mechanism to introduce the Sons of the Harpy and to give Missandei a chance to talk about the logistics of banging a eunuch (god, remember that terrible “pillar or the stones” conversation?). I’m glad she interrupts actual vital national security matters to ask the important questions.

We don’t actually know who the Sons of the Harpy are, but clearly they oppose Daenerys’s efforts to rid Slaver’s Bay of slavery. Coupling her troubles with the Sons of the Harpy are problems with governing her growing kingdom. The powers that be in Yunkai don’t want to play nice with Daenerys unless she reopens the fighting pits – pits she specifically closed down because they’re the cruelest form of sport. Strategic alliances and concessions are not Dany’s strong suit – she’s more of a “burn it to the ground” black and white justice type – so it will be interesting to see if she’ll bend to doing something she doesn’t like to make running her kingdom easier. Without the power of her dragons behind her – clearly they no longer feel loving towards a mother who locked them in a dungeon – Dany’s going to have a tough time conquering the world.

Meanwhile, at the Wall… Oh, poor Jon Snow. Training the kid who killed his boo. He’s tasked with convincing Mance Rayder to submit to Stannis – who still badly needs men – but that’s as much a fool’s errand as anything. Of course Mance won’t bend the knee, and all that’s accomplished is further alienating Jon from his brothers, especially given his sympathetic actions as Mance is burned alive.

Speaking of… So here’s a real puzzler: in the books, Mance is NOT burned alive. A fellow wildling, Rattleshirt is glamoured by the Red Lady to look like Mance and killed instead, while Mance is glamoured to look like Rattleshirt. From what we’ve seen here, it appears that either Mance actually died, or given the amount of reaction shots we saw from Tormund Giantsbane, Tormund might be replacing Rattleshirt’s role. We shall see!

Another interesting deviation: remember how Melisandre likes to use royal blood for her sorcery (recall Gendry?)? In the books, Mance Rayder has a son – making that baby a KING’S son – that she clearly intends to use for more witchcraft. That baby isn’t present here, leaving a lot of questions as to what the next move at the Wall is going to be for her and Stannis.

Who knew Robin Arryn could lift a sword at all? Never mind that he’s getting his ass kicked, at least he’s not being spoiled anymore. He’s left in the care of Lord Royce, while Sansa and Petyr Baelish go into hiding. Hilariously, their caravan JUST SO HAPPENS to pass a seriously grumpy Brienne and Pod. COME ON. Enough with the ridiculous coincidences already.

What’s next? Arya is obviously missing from this episode. I have high hopes for a fantastic storyline for her this season! Bran, not so much – he’s hit the end of his book cannon, so anything that happens for him next is a mystery to me (hopefully it’s going to be less ridiculous than the last scenes we saw him in).

Anyone else wondering if Gendry is still rowing that boat?


  1. I was a fan of Jon’s awkward elevator ride with Melisandre.

    The Cersei prophecy scene was great! I’ve been waiting for the show to indicate that Cersei once expected to marry Rhaegar.

    But there’s a problem with the show, it took the Maggie scene directly from the books, usually not a bad thing.

    Cersei: How many children will I have with the king?
    Maggie: None. Oh, he’ll have 20 and you’ll have 3, but none together.

    (I’m paraphrasing)

    The problem is: the show in Season 1 revealed that Cersei and Robert did have a child, a black-haired boy (I think a boy) who sadly passed away as an infant. That never happened in the books, so either:

    1) Cersei was lying (it’s possible)
    2) Maggie has a strict criteria… the kid has to eat solid food or something before counting…
    3) It was just one of those oversights when they were writing this scene.

    Overall it’s fine, I just like thinking that maybe Cersei was lying.


    • That is a fantastic catch! I forgot about that whole scene between her and Catelyn. My gut feels like it was an oversight by the writers. It might have been the second option (maybe the prophesy meant she’d have three kids grow up to be kids?), or maybe the prophesy was drawing a distinction between her kids with Jamie and Robert’s kids with everyone else (implying she wouldn’t have any legitimate kids with her husband?). That seemed awfully sincere for Cersei to be lying about it!

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  2. legalreader

    I felt slight lesbian vibes from that flashback, which was nice because Cersei is implied to be bi (remember that scene where she spends the night with a woman?). I missed Arya too! And I totally thought Grey Worm and Lancel were recast! Also – I really hate Daario in the books but Michiel makes it so hard to dislike him in the show :s

    Liked by 1 person

    • I did too! I think I remember reading that they didn’t cast her part-time lesbian paramour, so maybe they’ll skip over that? At this point, her allies are pretty thin – sexuality is possibly one of her only weapons.

      And I have to respectfully disagree! While I think this new Daario is miles better than the first baby-faced guy they cast, I REALLY wanted them to cast a beefy Khal Drogo type with a blue beard! I feel like it made sense that after Drogo, the first guy Dany was attracted to was an ultra-masculine warrior type with a beard, even if he was ridiculous and flamboyant. I really wanted to see that blue beard, haha.

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