It’s finally here. And not only is it here, the first four episodes of the season (meaning almost half the season) were leaked online and are now forcing us to practice extreme self-control. Just remember: if you watch it all now, you will have to wait an entire month for the next episode. It will be rough. So we’re going to stick to the schedule and go week by week, as the HBO gods intended.
The episode starts with a flashback, which is quite out of character for Game of Thrones. At first we wonder if we’re just seeing an unfamiliar young girl who happens to look a lot like Cersi, but once the creepy witch starts telling her what her future holds, we know for sure that it is indeed the young Cersi, as sassy and harsh as ever. I really appreciated this little glimpse into Cersi’s past, which taught us a bit more about why Cersi hates Margaery so much. The witch tells her that a younger, prettier (of course) queen will take everything from her. That would make anyone a little untrusting.
The flashback also makes us question Cersi’s determination to fight what’s coming, considering that she knows that everything the witch predicted came true. It seems that Cersi is now officially GoT’s Oedipus, fighting her fate, killing her husband and sleeping with her brother. The only difference is that she seems pretty okay with having done those things.
Coming out of the flashback we see Cersi and Jaime dealing with their father’s death. Cersi blames Tyrion and Jaime, but Jaime is more concerned about protecting their interests now that daddy can’t do it for them. I was just happy to see Tywin gone, although I kept feeling like he’s just going to sit up, knock those creepy stones off of his eyes, and reassure his children that he will never let go of his power. Luckily, that doesn’t seem to be the case and we can all sit back and enjoy Cersi’s quest for power and control, without the inhibitions of her evil-but-fair father. I don’t know about you, but I’m a little scared.
While Cersi and Jaime mourn their dad and possibly their power, Tyrion and Varys arrive at Pentos and Varys explains to Tyrion that his goal in life is to get a proper ruler to sit on the throne, and he needs help. Their little exchange about this is my favorite part of the episode:
Varys: “The seven kingdoms needs a ruler loved by millions with a powerful army and the right family name.”
Tyrion: “Good luck finding him.”
Varys: “Who said anything about ‘him’?”
And so in this brief feminist moment we find out that Varys has actually been team-Khaleesi all along. I can get behind that. Varys seems to be one of the only characters on the show that is actually concerned about finding the best ruler for the seven kingdoms, although I’m sure he’ll find a way to make it benefit him personally as well.
Daenerys is still enjoying her time as the white savior of all slaves, but things aren’t going as smoothly as you might expect in her now-free city of Mereen. She still has one missing dragon and two locked up in chains, and I really can’t tell how she’s going to find her way out of this one. In addition, someone in the city murders a member of the Unsullied as he is cuddled by a prostitute in a brothel (you didn’t think we’d make it through an entire episode without seeing at least three pairs of breasts, right?), and Dany has to decide what to do about it.
Missandei is intrigued by the fact that the Unsullied patron brothels (as they are all eunuchs), thinking what it might mean for her and Gray Worm, who watched her bathe that one time (which in GoT is considered a very romantic form of flirting, I’m guessing). She asks him about it but he remains composed and distant. I’m all for this couple despite the weirdness of having the only two people of color on the show be together.
At the wall things are quite tense since, well, it’s the wall. But in addition to the general “winter is coming” atmosphere, now the Knight’s Watch also has to put up with Stannis hanging around, wanting everyone to bow to him. Let’s be honest, I want to see the Lannisters kicked off the throne as much as the next person, but Stannis is the worst. I don’t even know what it is about him that is so off-putting, but I can barely stand watching the scenes he’s in. Actually, the only worse character in the show, IMO, is Melisandre, AKA the red woman. I mean, we get it, she’s very sexual and dangerous, women in power use their sexuality, blah blah blah, it gets old pretty fast. And now she’s trying to put the moves on Jon Snow? Hell no.
Either way, Stannis wants to get the Wildlings to fight for him in exchange for him not killing them and making them citizens with land to live on. This honestly seems like a pretty good plan considering that the Wildlings are trying to cross the wall because they’re scared of winter. But obviously things are never that easy in this game of thrones, and the Wildling leader refuses to “bend the knee” and follow Stannis into war. As a result, he is burned at the stake. That is, until Jon Snow decides to put him out of his misery and shoots him with an arrow. Thanks, Jon, we really weren’t looking forward to sitting through this one.
Brienne is completely defeated after Arya refused her protection at the end of last season. She is a woman of her word and knowing that she will not be able to keep her oath to protect the Stark girls is very rough for her. She takes it out on Podrick, telling him that she’s not a knight or a leader so he has no business following her. As Podrick tries to remind Brienne that Sansa is still out there, possibly needing her protection, the carriage carrying Sansa and Baelish to some unknown location rides right by them, but they never see who’s inside. Cruel, cruel world.
In a way, this episode felt more like the end of season 4, as opposed to the beginning of 5. We go a bit further into each character’s struggle, but not much really happens. It’s more about setting the scene for the adventures to come and letting us know who will be the focus of this season. It’s all about the wars to come. I mean, only a couple of people died! A slow day indeed.
It looks like Varys and Tyrion working for team-Khaleesi is going to be a great storyline, because so far these worlds have been almost completely separate. I’m excited (and scared) to see what happens with the Cersi-Margaery showdown, with Brienne and Podrick’s hilarious relationship, with Jon having to deal with Stannis, with Sansa and Baelish, the creepiest of all, and with Khaleesi and her superiority complex. We have an exciting season ahead of us, so get pumped and cross your fingers that your favorite character won’t be the one to die next.