TV Review: "Game of Thrones" 05x01: "The Wars to Come"

As always, no real spoilers for the episode in question, but yes spoilers for everything before it. Don't read the observations at the bottom unless you've finished A Dance with Dragons.

The first four episodes leaked today, but I'm not going to watch them. I'll be writing these reviews weekly, like the leak never happened.

It's that time of the year again! Millions gather around the TV every Sunday night for the next couple of months for a new season of Game of Thrones, one that promises to be the definitive segment of the show. Was this a solid opener? Sure was, but that's mainly considering that with the possible exception of the first, no season opener has been a highlight. Just like the season finales, which generally occupy themselves with reshuffling of the cards, the premieres of this show are pure setup.

Considering that, "The Wars to Come" still worked very well in terms of pointing the characters in new directions. This is the point when Martin kinda lost track of his plot and scattered it way too much, so this will be a very tricky season; the show will diverge more significantly from the books (not a bad thing), and with some plots we don't know if we're looking into the future of the books, or if it's going on an entirely different direction. I hope it's the second.

Part of the reason why I'm so excited about this season is that I no longer know what's gonna happen. Of course I know the inexorable fates of some of the characters, but it might surprise me big time and since that's the reason why I'm watching, I really want the show to take me to new places.

There was a lot of ground being covered but it feels like the episode is spread too thin. Though there were many important setups for the increasing number of storylines, there were many which feel unnecessary. Brienne's scene, for instance, didn't work for me. Why did they feel the need to recap their story? The scene with Loras and Margaery also went on for too long considering the only relevance it had was one single line. It needed to be tighter.

Did we just witness the first ever flashback in the series? Can't remember but it was pretty cool. Props on the casting choice for a young Cersei; I swear I said "Is that supposed to be Cersei?" after a minute. They did a great job at characterizing the young actress. It feels strange that they actually skipped some of the witch's prophecies from the book (or well, the third one), but I appreciated the scene. It sheds some light on Cersei, a character I suspect will have an important role this season. As always, Lena Heady was entirely on-point. She f*cking dominates her character.

I loved the introduction to Tyrion's arc in A Dance with Dragons. The character felt weakened and lacking in his usual sharpness, but considering what he's coming from, it's acceptable. I just hope this isn't Tyrion's personality throughout the whole thing. There were two things I really liked here: one, it told me that it's going to skip many of the steps he takes in book five, which is great because most of his story was boring as seal tits; two, Varys. He's awesome, and we finally get to understand his endgame a bit better, something that until now had been a mystery.

Speaking of, I actually enjoyed the scenes with Dany. After a couple of uneventful seasons, her story is finally beginning to show signs of life. Also, I love that the character herself is becoming likable again. I like that her surroundings are finally beginning to teach her that she's not hot shit, and that not everyone (and at this point not even her dragons) really love her. Most of her boring segments from A Dance with Dragons happened last season, so I'm glad we're finally at the point when it becomes interesting again. The scene with Viserion and Rhaegal was fucking terrifying. She knows she dun goofed.

I'm very excited about Sansa. Though I have a theory about where her story is going (and it's terrifying), it's nice to see new material. At this point we're past the books, so wherever she goes means either book six stuff, or a new plot. Or filler. Either way, I'm excited. She's had one of the most consistently interesting storylines in the series (right up there with Arya, who was sorely missing this episode) and I hope they keep that momentum going.

The very obvious highlight was Jon Snow. There is a very important development in his story that happens at the end of book three, so the fact that now we're covering book five and it still hasn't happened feels like the writers are stalling. I can't understand why, but I have a lot of trust in them. This also involves Sam Tarly, some key things I noticed in his one scene told me we might see him begin his own journey from A Feast for Crows this season, but that kind of clashes with the "stalling" problem I mentioned earlier. In general I have concerns about Jon Snow's plot; there's a lot of story left to be adapted at The Wall and it has to be covered this season.

But hey, that closing scene was killer. It was way more brutal in the book, but I really appreciated the final twist because it took a chance to give Jon a few more fans (he already won me over last season, though). There was a setup to one of my favorite plot twists in A Dance with Dragons (and boy howdy that book had many of them) which left me looking forward to a very specific future scene.

Overall, this was a strong season opener that needed, in my opinion, to be tighter. It's already hard to keep track of the seventeen billion storylines so I'd appreciate it if the show didn't waste time with unnecessary recaps and redundant story beats. I'm very happy to see the show back, and very happy to see it being in top form, setting up what I expect to be one hell of a climax for pretty much everyone involved.

Reader Observations:

  • The point that has me guessing is what's going to happen with Mance Rayder's switcharoo. Rattleshirt has been MIA for a while, so I'm afraid they might do the twist with Tormund instead (did you see the look on his face when "Mance" was being burned alive?). It would break my heart if it happened because Tormund is fucking awesome, but it would make sense.
  • How much are they going to skip in Tyrion's story? I don't expect we'll have anything in The Sorrows. Penny will not be appearing probably. Are we getting Aegon at least? We should because that is kind of an important plot point.
  • I haven't kept up with casting news but I wonder if Quentyn Martell will be making an appearance. I hope so because holy shit I love his death scene.
  • What's going on with Brienne? Is she gonna be wasting everyone's time like she did in the book until she meets Lady Stoneheart? I hope they give her something to do; her scene this episode was pointless.
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About The Damn Beast

Pre-op trans-minotaur, sci-fi/fantasy/horror author, metal singer, videogame journalist, pop culture blogger. I also lift heavy things and put them down again repeatedly to occupy more space.
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  1. Are you fucking kidding me I wrote a lot of stuff and this thing erased it all.............

    In other words...

    Spoilers ahead (I guess):

    That's the problem with Brienne's story and one of the reasons some fans are upset; there was no Lady Stoneheart casted for this season (someone joked that if she was called Lady Stoneboob she would've).

    Also, Quentyn will probably appear or something because Arianne was not casted either (another reason some fans are upset including me).

  2. Now I don't know if my first comment did go through but I didn't see the "Your comment will be visible after approval." thing.

    I should go sleep.