Editors note: Hey everyone, this recap series was kind of a last minute idea. Future ones should be released earlier in the week.
Hello. AsimovLives here and I’m a regular sci-fi contributor to this website. But I also love Game of Thrones! So this is my series of recap articles about the episodes of the season 5 of HBO’s television series Game of Thrones, for your pleasure.
Game of Info:
Series: Game of Thrones
Created by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
Based on the fantasy novel series A Song Of Fire And Ice by author George R.R. Martin
Episode title: The Wars to Come
Written by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
Directed by Michael Slovis
Original Air Date: April 12 2015
Game of Synopsis:
Beware, spoilers ahead
The episode opens with the Dyson sphere globe of the world of Westeros showing the locations of King’s Landing, The Eyrie, The Wall, Pentos and Meereen, where the action takes place.
The episode opens with young Cercei and her handmaid walking deep into the woods of her father’s domain to meet a local witch living in a hovel. Displaying her usual tact and sense of diplomacy we have already become accustomed to, which is, none at all, Cercei threatens the woods witch to reveal her future. Less threatened and more bemused by the haughty lady, the witch asks for Cercei’s blood and after tasting it words a few phrases of prophecy: Cercei will not marry the Prince but a King, she will be Queen but not for long, the King will have 20 sons but she will only have three, her sons will have golden crowns and golden shrouds. Cercei is baffled and scared by the prophecy, while the witch cracks up.
Back to present time, Cercei arrives to the Great Sept where, just as she once was as a child, she displays her usual tact and sense of diplomacy which we have already become accustomed to, which means, none at all, as she orders the already long line of funeral attendants to keep wait while she has her own private moment with dead dad. In fact it’s an excuse to have a few private words with the Captain of the Golden Cloaks, her brother Jaime, guarding his father’s body. Cercei loses no time to take emotional jabs at Jaime, stinging him for freeing Tyrion from jail which lead to their father’s murder, that he’s on the run, that Jaime was father’s favorite with the implication his murder was as much on his head as Tyrion. The emotionally frail Jaime soaks in the jabs and barely even dares to retort.
At the funeral banquet, Cercei barely listens to Loras offering kind words about her father’s death. In one of the episode’s few comedy moments, all that Loras can say is variations of how powerful and feared her father was. At the sixth repetition, Cercei words some cold gratitudes and leaves his company, to his relief. She meets an almost unrecognizable Lancel, her cousin and once King Baratheon’s Cupbearer but better known as the general butt-monkey of the court even to his own family. Lancel is now dressed in very modest garments has be now belongs to a religious order of the Sparrows, which his own father Kevan calls a bunch of fanatics. Kevan apologizes for his son but Cercei is far more interested in being left alone and goes to a corner to entertain her second favorite pastime, pouring down goblets of wine on an hourly schedule (her first favorite pastime: being a royal bitch, literally and figuratively). Lancel goes to her to have a few personal words with his cousin and former lover, and he asks her to repent of her sins and embrace the virtues bestowed by the Seven Gods and seek salvation for her soul. Cercei laughs at Lancel, especially when he mentions that salvation would bring her close to the heavenly bliss that her dead father is now enjoying in death, for Tywin had nothing but contempt for the Gods.
Next, we see Loras and Olyvar having a bit of a gay ol’ time, in both meanings of the word. Into this enters Margaery, who is calling her baby brother to dinner, as he’s making the King wait and she is famished. And while she waits that Olyvar takes his sweet time getting out of the room, she eats both a few dry fruits and the eye candy of Olyvar as he passes in front of her naked. Margaery is not just famished of food but of other appetites as well. She berates her brother for his lack of discreetness, he replies that his homosexuality is an open secret to everybody, so what harm can there be if he’s being open about his proclivities. Margaery silently disagrees.
The Vale and surroundings:
In one of the episode’s few comedy moments, Lord Robin of the Eyrie is taking lessons of sword and buckle, and by that it means he’s constantly getting his ass kicked by a squire his age.
Watching Robyn’s amazing powers of ineptitude is Sansa looking bored, Littlefinger pretending he’s not bored and Ser Yohn Royce who can’t even bother to pretend he sees any future in Robyn. But he has a very important name, remarks Littlefinger.
Sansa spies Littlefinger hiding a crow message he just received and read. He immediately takes Sansa with him out of Robyn’s sparring embarrassment, saying they need to attend pressing matters elsewhere, leaving Robyn to the care of Ser Yohn, who makes no promises he can make much of the supremely inept young lord of the Vale. Sansa and Littlefinger openly show they couldn’t care less.
In the Vale surroundings, we meet Brienne and Podrick. The latter tries to lift her spirits but Brienne is in a sour mood, contemplating her failure with Arya. The Gods of Dramatic Irony are not done with her yet, as just as Podrick tries to spirit her up to try to find Sansa instead, Sansa herself just passes by in a carriage traveling with Littlefinger. Their conversation turns to matters of trust: can you ever trust those under you? Sansa picks on Littlefinger’s cues, and in the final moments of the conversation he has this piece of advice: Money is not just important for those under you to be bought off, but for you to have enough to buy them up in the first place. Fear is not just important to instill on those below, but for you as well to keep on your feet. Littlefinger ‘s lesson to Sansa is to use weaponized paranoia.
Tyrion rolls out of an opened apple crate like a parody of Cleopatra when she was rolled out of a carpet before Julius Caesar. Only it’s Varys with a crowbar that meets the dirtied Tyrion.
In one of the episode’s few comedy moments, we get to know some of the logistical problems of spending days locked inside a crate, like the disposal of human waste – and if you have to know, Tyrion had to shit on his hand and throw it through one of crate’s holes, while Varys outside had to take the shit and throw it overboard (why but oh why didn’t they show this?).
Tyrion is less than pleased with his lot in life, despite being alive and safe. He takes solace by pouring a goblet full of the first wine he can lay his hands on. Varys tries to cheer up Tyrion by assuring he’s in friendly care. Tyrion replies by vomiting on his host’s floor.
A few hours later, Tyrion is still holding to the wine decanter, and considering that in this world Volantis wine is as good as Portuguese wine, it’s understandable. Varys calls out on his pathetic self-pity and proceeds to present his plans: a long game of bringing a proper ruler back to Westeros. One who is both competent and generous. And Tyrion is the right man to help. Tyrion scoffs at the notion of a man who can fills those shoes. Varys replies that the man in question is not a man but a woman. And to meet her, they need to travel to Meereen. Tyrion’s reply is if he can drink himself to death during the voyage.
Daenerys’ regime makes a grand gesture by toppling down the Harpy statue from the Great Pyramid where she holds court. An Unsullied soldier visits a brothel and while vulnerable under the charms of a prostitute, is killed by a man incognito in a golden mask.
This attack is seen as a defiant act by the former status quo, organized under the name of the Sons of the Harpy, to Daenerys’ new order, and she will have none of it. She orders for the streets to be combed for dissidents and the murdered Unsullied to be given a funeral with full honors in the Temple of the Graces, in retributory defiance to the Harpy’s act.
Hizdahr zo Loraq and Daario arrive from their mission in Yunkai with news that the Wise Lords accepted Daenerys’ conditions and her domain over then with a proviso that they are allowed to re-open the Fight Pitts. Daenerys rejects any attempt at negotiations; it’s either her way or no way. Loraz attempts to educate Daenerys that politics is the art of negotiation, but Daenerys rejects anything that is not in conformity to her absolute vision of the world. Even the pure-minded Ser Barristan Selmy is taken aback by her intransigence.
That night, Daenerys is in the company of her new sex toy Daario. He tries to convince Daenerys that opening the fight pits is a good idea because he himself comes from there as a former gladiator – without that experience it would never have lead to a chain of events that put him beside her. He calls her the Queen of Dragons, and urges her to be one. Like a teenager infatuated with the new fad boy band, she sees nothing wrong in his idiotic words and acts on then. But reality doesn’t share Daario’s simplistic vision of the world and when Daenerys returns to the dungeons where she chained her two smaller dragons, they don’t exactly welcome her with open wings, they are now in full I-Hate-You-Mom fury for her abandonment and make it know in no uncertain terms by spitting fire at her. This scares even the Unburned who runs away in panic. Maybe she is no longer the Queen of Dragons after all. Things are not going easy for her.
Jon Snow’s training of the younger recruits is interrupted when Melisandre summons him to King Stannis’ presence. The elevator ride is an awkward event with Melisandre asking cringe worthy direct questions about Jon’s sex life (”Are you a virgin?” Way to break the ice, lady!).
Jon’s answer pleases her, and her second assault on Jon’s moral restrain is by showing why she is never cold despite being scantily dressed by putting his hand on her breast and telling she is always hot with the fire of her god burning inside. Yeah, right, whatever you want to call it, sister. The redheads of this show are really desperate for Jon’s junk!
At the top of the wall, Stannis orders Jon to convince Mance to bend the knee to him, so he can have the Wildlings serve under him as infantry with the promise of land and protection under his rule, or else. He has until nightfall to get results.
Jon visits Mance in his cell. Mance intuits the reason of Jon’s visit and immediately turns down the proposition. Jon asks if Mance would rather sacrifice the lives of his people for his pride, Mance answers “fuck my pride”. It’s not about pride but a concept of freedom that’s alien to Jon given his strict adherence to the concept of chivalry and vassalage.
Since Jon can’t understand Mance, he will not even bother to explain to him. Mance stays steadfast to his resolution, even when he is informed that his death will be by fire, as an offering to the god Stannis serves.
Night falls and Mance sticks to his resolution. Stannis orders him burned. Mance displays stoicism to his fate, which Stannis admires. But still the sentence is passed and Melisandre lights the pyre with her usual religious fervor while intimidating the wildlings to the fate that befalls those who do not follow her god’s commands or bend to Stannis’s yoke. Mance does his best not to crack but when the flames catch him he starts to lose his composure. Jon decides this is one too many indignities and gives him a quick death by shooting him in the heart with an arrow.
Game of Opinion:
This is the last season in which the book readers will be ahead of the show watchers, which have never read the books the Unsullied. I‘m one of those Unsullied. After season 5, the show will be ahead of the future books-to-be, as the next book of the Song of Fire and Ice saga will only be printed in 2016, if that!
The first episodes of each season are never the best. They serve to reintroduce the world and the known characters and introduce the new.
The very first scene of the episode is rife with metaphor, I believe, about Cercei’s character arc in this season. Her visit to the witch might have caused some of the paranoid delusions that are her main character trait. Her over-protection of her children also gains a new dimension. As the reinstated Queen Dowager, Cercei will be the power behind her son Tommen’s throne.
I enjoyed the show’s subversion in the presentation of the witch – it both breaks the stereotype while reinforcing it too. Jodhi May is a young pretty women, but the hovel she lives in and the joy of giving malicious cryptic answers is pure Grimm’s tales.
Jaime is still in complete thrall to his sister/lover’s emotional manipulations. How much will it take until he open his eyes?
We no longer see Sansa as a girl anymore. Sansa is now fully a woman. The ride with Littlefinger again presents Sansa as being in tune to Littlefinger’s mind. Sansa has become one of my favorite characters; I eagerly wait to see the development of her storyline.
I see parallels between Sansa and Daenerys. The difference between the two is that Sansa truly learns through all her setbacks, while Daenerys is the inverse – she is regressing. Sansa is wiser; Daenerys gets more obtuse with each passing success. Sansa has dropped her innocent worldview of pure right or wrong, while Daenerys has become more simplistic.
Daenerys made a tremendous mistake in expelling Ser Jorah, her best and more realistic minded advisor who could open her eyes to the realities of the world, and as such she is piling up mistakes that will certainly come back to bite her hard.
The scene when she received Loraq from his mission to Yunkai , I noticed his expression of contained rage from Daenerys’ rebuffs. Makes me wonder if he will become the Sons Of Harpy’s new recruit?
And now she has taken the execrable Daario has her lover, and worse, as her off-duty advisor. Daario might be street smart but his vision of the world doesn’t go beyond his immediate needs and gutter level of politics. When he gave advice, it came down very poorly as she piled another disappointment from her increasing list of mistakes. She used to be my favorite candidate to the Iron Throne but by now I see her as just another one of the wrongheaded delusionals who mistake position with competence.
This season we have the parallels of 3 women characters exerting power: Cercei, Daenerys and Sansa. It will be fun to see how each will act out.
Game of Predictions:
- Religion will be a major force this season. The more fanatics of the Faith Of The Seven will eventually clash with the followers of the Lord Of Light. The Old Gods will re-emerge and thrown off the balance of the spiritual status quo of Westeros.
- Sansa will become a power to be reckoned with and will be given the Lady Stoneheart actions and revenge the Starks. She’s also the dark horse runner up to the Iron Throne, and in the end it will be Sansa Vs Daenerys.
- Cercei’s rule of Westeros as the Queen Dowager will make Joffrey’s rule look moderate.
- Arya’s story arc will end in an anti-climax, like, after her training as a ninja, on her return to Westeros the ship sinks with all hands, including her.
- In the end, it’s revealed that the world of Westeros is a generational ship and the inhabitants are the human payload.
- Alternatively, the Westerosi are humans abducted by aliens and put on a giant ant-hill for study.
Game of Final Thoughts:
Long story short: I liked this episode; it’s in my opinion a great way to start good things to come for this season.
See you at next week’s episode The House of Black and White.
This is AsimovLives, signing off. Have a better one.