It's "Game of Thrones" Season 5 time! This new season promised to be the most surprising yet, with series creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss adapting and condescending two novels while also forging a new path for the show. The "Game of Thrones" Season 5 premiere did all of that by setting up some interesting storylines and delivering the first surprising death of the season.
Warning: Full "Game of Thrones" Season 5 spoilers ahead
Perhaps the most noticeable thing about the season premiere is the sense of confidence the show has with the material and characters. Last season proved this was not going to be a mere translation of George R.R Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series. Whether it was the scene with the White Walkers or Bran's storyline, "Game of Thrones" has developed its own identity. In "Game of Thrones," Season 5, episode 1, "The Wars to Come," viewers were treated to the series' first flashback, the death of Mance Rayder and Brienne's likely encounter with Sansa Stark.
What's Happening In King's Landing
The flashback to Cersei's prophecy is pretty straightforward and helps explain why she might be so paranoid about what's happening in King's Landing. Maggy the Frog accurately predicted Cersei would not marry Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, but would marry a king who turned out to be Robert Baratheon. Maggy's prophecy correctly mentions the number of bastards Robert would have and the number of children Cersei would have. "Gold shall be their crowns and gold their shrouds," Maggy says. Gold could mean hair color, but also their status as king or queen. Joffrey and Tommen will be kings, but what about Myrcella? The shroud part means they will die as kings or queen.
A younger, more beautiful queen will overthrow Cersei's reign, according to Maggy. It's easy to see how that could mean Margaery Tyrell and the seeds of conflict between Cersei and Margaery are planted with shared glances dripping with disdain. There's a beautiful queen across the Narrow Sea, but it's easy for Cersei to see Margaery as the clear and immediate threat.
Tywin's funeral is only covered in passing. Rather than dwell on the ceremony, "Game of Thrones" quickly sets up the growing dissent between Jaime Lannister and Cersei. The Kingslayer is right about their being enemies at the gate, but Cersei has already made up her mind about what she wants to do next. Cersei is in power and that's dangerous for everyone.
Last we saw Cousin Lancel, he had long blonde hair and was sharing a bed with Cersei and survivng an arrow wound from the Battle of Blackwater. He's joined the Sparrows -- a fanatical group dedicated to the Faith of the Seven -- and it looks like religion will be a big factor in "Game of Thrones" Season 5.
Loras is supposed to marry Cersei, but she's having none of that. She's too busy being protective of her son and soon-to-be king, Tommen. Margaery is playing her part well and is setting herself up to be a powerful player in King's Landing.
The trend of interrupted sexual encounters continues in this episode. Loras and Oliver just want to talk about Dorne, but Margaery is hungry. She's proving herself to be quite the player for the Iron Throne. She's been trained well by the Queen of Thorns. "Perhaps," Margaery says with a knowing smile.
Tyrion and Varys
The only thing better than Varys and Littlefinger sparring verbally is this interaction between the Spider and Tyrion Lannister. Varys quickly makes his allegiances known -- he's team Targaryen all the way -- but Tyrion is not quite over killing his father or spending a trip across the sea in a box. While Varys might not know what it's like inside the box, he does know what it means to clean up for the person inside said container.
Varys and Tyrion have always had a great mutual respect, and it makes sense Varys would trust him with his biggest secret. Varys is playing the game to get Daenerys into power and there will be a war to get her on the throne. Practically speaking it's about "earning power" and Daenerys and Tyrion make for a powerful and formidable team. It'll be interesting to see how much Daenerys will trust trust Tyrion when the two meet. For now, Tyrion will drink his way to Meereen. "I never said you were perfect," Varys says in response to Tyrion's concerns about killing his father and being fit for such a mission.
Sons of the Harpy
While a member of the Unsullied gets comforted, he's killed by someone from the Sons of the Harpy. The little scene continues the trend of interrupted brothel visits. In Season 4, all Oberyn wanted to do was spend some time in a brothel, but that was ruined by a couple of loudmouth Lannisters. Brothels are quickly becoming as synonymous with death as weddings on "Game of Thrones."
Daario and Daenerys continue to be an item and the sellsword continues to offer some great advice. Hizdahr zo Loraq wants the fighting pits open, and Daario seems to think it would be a good idea. For now, there is unrest in Meereen and the sons of the Harpy -- the symbol associated with the slavemasters -- will continue to require Daenerys' undivided attention. Dany's dragons are quite large and unmanageable. Drogon, her largest, has not been seen in weeks while Viserion and Rhaegal were chained up in the "Game of Thrones" Season 4 finale. Daenerys' rule has constantly been challenged, but her dragons are a looming threat. Unable to control her children, Daenerys will have to find a new way to rule, and that means compromise.
Too Many Kings At Castle Black
At the Wall, Allister Thorne still hates everyone, especially the Wildlings. Meanwhile, Jon Snow has a thing for red hair, no? First Ygritte and now Melisandre. The trip up the Wall leads to an awkward conversation and one that may have some important implications later in the season.
Stannis continues to be all business and wants to take Winterfell. This quickly sets up a future battle with the Boltons and conflict with the Wildlings, who Stannis wants as his army. Stannis wants to be recognized as the only true king, which means Mance Rayder must swear his allegiance and bend the knee. Knowing Mance, that was always an unlikely scenario and Jon is powerless to change that. Before he dies, Mance makes some good points about freedom. "Good fortune in the wars to come," are Mance's last words before he is set on fire. Before the flames devour him, Jon offers Mance mercy by shooting him with an arrow.
Quick Trip To Eyrie
We get some moments with Littlefinger and Sansa in the "Game of Thrones" Season 5 premiere. Lord Robin is terrible with a sword, which helps lighten the mood in the episode. Not much happens other than some chatter about secrets and trust, but the most exciting thing is a possible encounter with Brienne and Podrick. The odd couple are having some trouble on the road -- Brienne does not want to be a leader and Pod just wants to be her squire -- but the duo soon could find themselves face-to-face with Sansa Stark. That would be a huge change from "A Song of Ice and Fire." Without Lady Stoneheart appearing, this would create a whole new trajectory for Brienne.
"Game of Thrones" Spoilers and "A Song of Ice and Fire" Discussion
-- If anything, "Game of Thrones" Season 5 will be about action. There is barely any wasted time in "The Wars to Come" and many of the storylines -- Tyrion and Jaime -- have been streamlined.
-- The show changed Maggy's prophecy slightly, but that could have some interesting implications for the season. The last part -- "And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you" -- makes clear Cersei will outlive her children. The "valonqar" means little brother in High Valyrian, which explains why Cersei hates Tyrion.
-- The "Game of Thrones" Season 5 premiere also changed Mance's storyline. He's still alive in "A Dance With Dragons" although he may have been captured by Ramsay Bolton. We'll see how Mance's death affects Jon's story and the upcoming marriage between Ramsay and a fake Arya Stark.
-- No Dorne or Arya Stark, but there's always next week. "The Wars To Come" had a lot to do, but it never felt rushed. The show has been doing a better job of late giving each storyline some room to breathe.