“Game of Thrones” (2011-present) fans, the wait is finally over. Season 5 returned on April 12 with the episode “The Wars to Come.” It was a dark hour, but the show covered a lot of ground. To recap, the Daily Arts section is bringing you the best and the worst of the premiere. Warning: For viewers who have not seen the Season 5 premiere, this article is entirely comprised of spoilers. Read at your own risk.
A long time ago, in a Westeros far, far away…
“Game of Thrones” had its first-ever flashback in the beginning of this episode. A young Cersei Lannister (Nell Williams) walks into a witch’s tent, and demands the witch (Jodhi May) read her future. She tells Cersei that she will be queen, until one younger and more beautiful usurps her place. The real question is: Who is this young queen? The obvious answer is Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). Still, viewers should watch out for Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) and Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner), both of whom are shown to be pretty conniving in this episode.
Road trip through Westeros: Part 1
Sansa Stark is going through her emo phase. She’s dyed her hair and is wearing all black. Viewers only see her for a few brief scenes, as she and creeper extraordinaire Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen) drop the useless Robin Arryn (Lino Facioli) off with a local lord. They then start traveling toward an undisclosed location.
Road trip through Westeros: Part 2
Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) is pissed off. She caught up with Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) at the end of last season only to have Arya run away. Brienne’s feeling glum, and she is treating her squire Podrick (Daniel Portman) quite poorly. Pod asks her what she’s going to do next. Neither Brienne nor the audience knows, but it’s likely that this road trip won’t conclude for a while.
Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) is dead, and Cersei’s not handling it well. First she chastises Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) over Tywin’s dead body, then yells at creepy cousin/former lover Lancel (Eugene Simon). To be fair, Lancel’s religious asceticism is worthy of rebuke.
Meanwhile, resident heartthrob Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones) is getting it on with his boy toy. His sister Margaery walks in, unperturbed by the sex scene before her. Margaery tells Loras to suit up — she wants him presentable. Loras, who is not known for his wits so much for his impeccable body, doesn’t understand Margaery’s preoccupation with politics. But it’s pretty obvious that Margaery is planning something big.
Road trip across Essos
Then there’s GOT’s third road trip pairing: Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Varys (Conleth Hill). After escaping from King’s Landing, Tyrion’s content to drink himself to death in Varys’s friend Illyrio’s (Roger Allam) house. But Varys tells Tyrion he has a plan to put Daenerys on the throne of Westeros, and Tyrion drunkenly agrees to go with him to find the Mother of Dragons.
Things aren’t going great for Daenerys. The vigilante group Sons of the Harpy is killing off Unsullied warriors. The people of Yunkai, whom Daenerys conquered last season, want to reinstate their gladiatorial fighting pits, a request which she refuses. Studly assassin-with-benefits Daario (Michiel Huisman) tells Dany to give the people of Yunkai their fights, but for long-time fans of the show, it’s clear that Dany won’t listen. Meanwhile, her dragons hate her since she locked two of them up and lost another. It’s tough being a mom.
Jon Snow (Kit Harington) also faces trouble this episode. Melisandre (Carice van Houten) corners him in the elevator, asking if he’s a virgin. Stannis (Stephen Dillane) tells Jon to talk to wildling king Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds). Stannis wants Mance to kneel before him and command wildling forces in his war. Jon reluctantly goes to talk to Mance, who refuses to acquiesce. The wildling king is then burned at the stake, in a very unappealing scene. Jon takes pity on Mance, and mercifully shoots and kills the wilding king with an arrow as the flames lick up his body. The last shot of the episode is of Jon, looking like a true leader.
“The Wars to Come” was interesting, mostly because nothing much happened. The show delivered exposition and set itself up for, well, the wars to come. The premiere leaves some burning questions (no pun intended): Where’s Arya? Who’s the queen who’ll usurp Cersei? Will people who have read the novels be able to stop themselves from yelling “BUT THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN IN THE BOOKS” every time the show diverges from the original plot? Will the two most awkward couples in Westeros — Missandei and Grey Worm and Sam and Gilly — be able to work it out? They have at least one avid reviewer rooting for them.
Stay tuned for the Daily’s recap of next week’s episode, “The House of Black and White.” “Game of Thrones” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO and online at HBO Go.