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Game Of Thrones S5.01 "The Wars To Come" review

Season Five’s first episode opens with something we’ve never seen before in Game Of Thrones: a flashback. The books are studded with the occasional glimpse of what came before the current events, but they’ve never been included in the show. It’s good that the showrunners have changed their minds, especially since Young Cersei’s trip to see Maggy the Frog and have her fortune told is such a pivotal moment in her life. (So pivotal in fact, that Cersei seems to have barely changed her style since; her hair, dress and jewellery choices are all very familiar.)

Maggy’s prophecy has certainly come true so far: Cersei did have three children and none of them were the King’s. So that means Tommen and Myrcella will meet untimely ends. You could shout spoilers at this – not everyone wants to know the future, but then this is Game Of Thrones, everyone’s going to have an untimely end.

Next up is Tyrion, who is busy being tumbled about in the box we saw him in at the end of Season Four. The Imp’s lengthy journey across the Narrow Sea is brilliantly shot, so that we only catch fleeting glimpses of the world around him as he is jostled about and then unceremoniously dumped onto the floor of Illyrio Mopatis’ garden. Cue excellently witty dialogue between Tyrion and Varys and a rather graphic explanation of how Tyrion took care of business while imprisoned. It’s good to see these two together, as always Conleth Hill and Peter Dinklage perfectly complement each other. Tyrion is still coming to terms with his murderous actions, mostly through drinking rather than talking and Varys has decided to openly declare himself for team Dany.

Speaking of the Dragon Queen it seems the people of Meereen aren’t so happy about being occupied by a conquering army, even if that army did conquer with the help of half the city. Or maybe they’re just annoyed about Dany redecorating the great pyramid by pulling down the statue of the Harpy? It was a very exciting moment, with great CGI, that has featured in almost all the trailers… but seemingly had very little to do with the story other than to look cool. Which, actually, we have no problem with. Looking cool is something Game Of Thrones does very well, and if they’ve got the CGI budget to tear down giant statues then we say go for it.

Dany has a rebellion on her hands in the form of The Sons Of The Harpy, who slay White Rat, one of the Unsullied, while he has a cuddle with a prostitute. A literal cuddle that is, he just wanted to be held. It was kind of sweet, until the throat slashing part. It reminds us of our favourite doomed love story: Missandei and Grey Worm, who share a brief and touching conversation about why a castrated Unsullied would visit a prostitute. They’d be perfect together; it’s rather heart breaking that nothing can, ahem, happen.

The Sons Of The Harpy are going to be trouble this season and the Meereenese Knot is tightening around Daenerys. Will she leave this trouble behind and head for Westeros? Almost certainly not. Better get used to seeing her in Meereen for quite some time.

Titles, Titles

Blink and you might miss it, but House Bolton is proudly flying the sigil of the flayed man over the clockwork castle of Winterfell.

Up at the Wall the dynamic has changed – Stannis is here and his whole entourage is with him. It’s good to see familiar faces finally interacting and we can’t wait for more scenes between Davos, Jon and The One True King of Westeros. Melisandre is there too, and is busy creeping on Jon, asking if he’s a virgin and having him stroke her warm cheeks. We wonder if she’s planning to have Jon stroke her other warm cheeks… although the fact that she wanted to burn Mance Rayder alive might put Jon off her a bit. He’s a fan of those who have been kissed by fire, but he probably doesn’t want to get burned again. And Jon giving Mance a merciful death might make Melisandre a little colder towards Lord Snow. But fans of Ciarán Hinds’s King Beyond The Wall will no doubt have cheered at Jon’s act of defiance. Mance will be missed – he might have been the wildling king but that didn’t make him any less likable.

There are some interesting diversions from the books already beginning to show: Sansa is going somewhere with Littlefinger rather than staying at the Eerie, Varys is sending Tyrion straight to Dany rather than introducing The Young Griff plot line and Jaime is off to bring Myrcella home from Dorne. How far will these stray from the books? Only time will tell.

With the exception of White Rat’s murder and Mance’s death the episode is quite slow – as ever it’s about getting familiar with the plot lines and faces we have missed so much in the year between seasons. But that doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable – we’re sure there’s plenty of action to come. Somehow, despite the fairly mundane episode, the show seems grander. The sets feel larger, the costumes more ornate, the CGI more detailed and definitely more prevalent. It seems Game Of Thrones grows bigger and better with every passing year.

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Flashback To The Future

Maggy’s prophecy is pretty close to what happens in the book, but leaves out one vital bit of Cersei’s future: her death. In the book Maggy says “Gold shall be their crowns and gold their shrouds. And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.” Valonqar means "little brother" in High Valyrian. Tyrion is the obvious choice for this, but there are plenty of little brothers who’d love to wring Cersei’s neck.

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They Said The Thing!

This week’s episode title is part of Mance’s final words: “I wish you good fortune in the wars to come”. Maybe they should add it to this supercut.

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The Other Lannisters

Ser Kevan’s back in King’s Landing with his son Lancel, to mourn the death of the more important Lannister patriarch. Kevan (played by Ian Gelder) was last seen in Season Two advising his older brother on matters of war, not that he needed the advice. He’s the second of Tytos Lannister’s four sons and the only one left alive. Tywin we know about, but there was also Tygett, who died of a pox and Gerion, who sailed to explore the Doom of Valyria and never returned. The Lannister brothers have one sister, Genna, who’s married to a Frey.

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The Spider's Web

In Season One Illyrio Mopatis (played by Roger Allam) was host to Daenerys and Viserys Targaryen, helping to broker the marriage deal between the Targs and Khal Drogo, and is the one who gave Dany her dragon eggs. We also saw him in the vaults beneath The Red Keep, talking (in a roundabout way) to Varys about the coming war and what it meant for the hopes of putting a Targaryen on the Iron Throne. He’s been working with The Spider the whole time.

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Best Line

Brienne: “All the good lords are dead and the rest of them are monsters.”

More Info

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