Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 1 – The Wars to Come – Recap

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Tonight’s episode of Game of Thrones started off with prophecy and ended in flames, making the season premiere unpredictable even for an ASOIAF fan!

Read our book reader’s recap shortly to see what we thought of the episode, and stop in to share your opinions on “The Wars to Come” in the comments section below!

Spoiler Note: This post is for those who have read the A Song of Ice and Fire series. The post and the comments section will contain spoilers! If you haven’t read the books yet, please check out our non-book-reader recap. Thanks!

“Everyone wants to know their future…until they know their future.” Maggy the Frog

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The long-ranging repercussions of Tywin Lannister’s death were felt around Westeros in tonight’s season premiere of Game of Thrones. The Lannister patriarch may have been nothing more than a corpse in “The Wars to Come” but he was as dominant as ever, his presence hanging over his children still. From King’s Landing to the Wall, the death of Tywin forces reactions and irrevocably alters the status quo on Game of Thrones.

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The premiere begins with a move that while audacious for Game of Thrones feels very respectful of the show’s roots in A Song of Ice and Fire. At long last, there’s a flashback sequence, this one fleshing out Cersei’s motivations and showing her as a young teen (played by Nell Williams in a stellar performance). The witch Maggy the Frog (Jodhi May) prophesizes that Cersei will be queen until a younger, more beautiful one takes her place, and that her children will also have crowns- and golden shrouds to match. Suddenly, Cersei’s behavior towards women like Margaery and Sansa makes more sense.

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Back in the present time, the trek to Tywin’s funeral leads Cersei to cross Margaery’s path and it’s clear who the prime candidate is to cast Cersei down from her regal perch. In the great sept where they mourn, Jaime realizes that their father’s passing has made them vulnerable, but Cersei is too busy blaming Tyrion for their predicament. Speaking of Tyrion, he makes a spectacular debut in Pentos, spilling out of a box courtesy of his savior/restroom attendant Varys. The journey has been hard on Tyrion, but it’s obviously not the trip that’s broken him- it’s the weight of having murdered his father and his lover Shae.

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Further east in Meereen, a Harpy, the idol of the locals, is torn down from atop a pyramid, making a grand statement and more enemies for the Targaryen camp. One of Dany’s Unsullied, White Rat, is murdered by a prostitute while he lies with her chastely, proving that it isn’t just the nobility of Meereen who resent Dany’s presence. Mossador, a former slave she freed, tries to explain the situation to Daenerys, but she doesn’t yet understand the nuances of this city she has conquered.

Back in Westeros, election politics are increasing tensions around Castle Black and the Wall, with Alliser Thorne a strong contender to be the next Lord Commander. This doesn’t bode well for Gilly and Sam, who look on as Jon and Olly spar. Melisandre flirts with Jon Snow as they go to meet Stannis, which makes you wonder just what the Red Woman saw in the flames last season when she gazed at the Bastard of Winterfell.

Stannis is more forthright- he asks for Jon’s help in securing the wildlings to help him march on Winterfell and take down the Boltons. He needs Jon to help persuade Mance Rayder to kneel so his people will go with Stannis, but the King-Beyond-the-Wall is no kneeler, even with the tempting offer of land and freedom for his people.

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Littlefinger and Sansa continue their journey out of the Vale, leaving Robin Arryn behind at the keep of the Royces. Baelish makes it clear he’s taking Sansa somewhere he thinks Cersei can never get her hands on Sansa.

On the road very nearby, Brienne is downtrodden after being rejected soundly by Arya in the season 4 finale. Podrick is more optimistic (as usual) but Brienne is distraught that she is once again a soldier without someone to follow, and is not even really a knight.

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The funeral festivities for Tywin continues with Loras reminding us all of how very awkward it is trying to say nice things about someone you don’t like very much even after they’re dead. The lurking Lancel does his best to make Cersei uncomfortable about their past indiscretions with each other. The young knight has taken up with a religious movement called the Sparrows, his father Kevan explains- yet another repercussion of Tywin’s death, as the Sparrows would never have flooded King’s Landing while Tywin Lannister lived.

Blissfully unaware of the grimness elsewhere, Loras and Olyvar dally until Margaery interrupts. She cautions Loras to be more careful about his actions, despite his thought that people in King’s Landing don’t care about his actions and are aware of his sexuality.

Tyrion Lannister in episode 501

Back in Pentos, Varys reveals his plan to Tyrion finally- he is sending him onward to Meereen to join Daenerys Targaryen, the only person strong enough and worthy to rule with the right name and backing to do it. Tyrion is uncertain, having lost all his interest in the game of thrones, but it’s plain he has nowhere else to go, and now he has only one decision to make: is the world worth fighting for?

In Meereen, Hizdahr zo Loraq and Daario Naharis return successful from their Yunkai mission, and suggesting a compromise: they wish for the fighting pits to be reopened. The pits were closed as they used to be filled with slaves, and Dany is reluctant to reopen the pits now. Later, engaging in pillow talk, Daario shares his personal story of rising from a life of poverty and slavery by becoming a pit fighter. The world is not so black and white as Daenerys sees it sometimes, and she still has a lot to learn about Meereenese society.

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After opening up more with Daario, she admits she can’t handle her dragons anymore- her power isn’t in her control anymore. Making one last attempt with Viserion and Rhaegal in the cellars beneath her pyramid, Daenerys is frightened by her now-huge dragons snapping and flaring at her. The dragons have indeed grown beyond her mothering.

Jon makes one last attempt with Mance Rayder, but he is unwilling to kneel. He denies Jon’s accusations of pride, and makes it clear that he sees this as enlisting his people in a foreigner’s war, if he did encourage the wildlings to ride for Stannis. And he won’t do that, even if it costs him his life.

Mance

Mance accepts his death sentence on the pyre in the courtyard.

“I wish you good fortune in the wars to come,” he tells Stannis, and there is some measure of respect between the men.

Melisandre lights the pyre, and the flames begin to scorch him.

Jon takes action and takes the execution into his own hands. Mance was a man of the Night’s Watch; it makes sense that his death should be handled by one. Jon fires an arrow into Mance’s chest as the flames are burning him, and he cuts his his agony short.

Highlights

The Flashback: I loved the mini-Cersei and the flashback altogether. I need more flashbacks and memories now, this just whetted my appetite.

Pentos and the locations: Absolutely gorgeous! GoT continues to be a feast for the eyes.

Actors! Yes I’m stating the obvious: The cast is in top form, and it’s wonderful to see Stephen Dillane going toe to toe with Ciaran Hinds. Even little moments like seeing Tara Fitzgerald watching the fire. I mean, damn this cast is great.

Hmmm, not so sure about…

A missing quote: When Missandei asks Grey Worm why White Rat went to the brothel, why didn’t he answer her with his quote from A Dance with Dragons when a similar question is posed to him? A book-reader quibble perhaps, but it’s a great line, and I would’ve loved to hear Grey Worm discuss it with Missandei, given their relationship. It seems like a bizarre line to leave out.

Tick-tock: After last year’s rollicking season premiere, I was hoping for something similar this season that would establish the new stories while not dragging. This episode did move at a slow pace with thoughtful scenes. It was good, but the pacing crawled occasionally.

Sue the Fury
Susan Miller, Editor in Chief of WatchersOnTheWall.com

215 Comments

  1. The show is so much better then the books at the point in the story. There, I said it.

    Loved the episodes for a 1st episode. The show is only getting better and better.

  2. As a longtime book reader I LOVE the fact that I don’t know the nuance of what is going to happen. Like, was the end of the episode for real or going the book route? I DON’T KNOW AND IT’S AWESOME!

  3. I think it wasn’t the best first episode!!! Last season was much better, this one was kind of boring

  4. Took five years to get Rhaegal and Viserion named, not sure why that was.
    Seem to remember even ,off screen, Emilia knew their names.

  5. Holy shit that totally blew my mind. And to think reviewers were criticizing this episode. Game of thrones has never been better.

  6. The episode was definitely slow. A lot of scenes with non-major characters. My favorite scenes were the final one at the Wall, and surprisingly, the ones in Meereen. I thought Emilia did well in her bedchamber scene with Daario. Better than anything she did in season 1. I was expecting more Cersei scenes, tbh. I liked the flashback, the young actress who played Cersei was great.

    Overall, a decent first episode. I would rank the premiers as S4>S1>S2>S3>S5. I’m reassured that the reviews state that each episode gets better. I’ll be interested to read the unsullied reaction to the episode.

  7. Wow! It’s so good to have Thrones back. I thought that the episode was pretty strong, despite being a little slow and short. However, it really felt that all the scenes mattered.

    I think it was a good idea to leave Arya and the Bolton’s out, as it left a little more breathing room. I don’t really think any other character could have been shifted up instead, because even Sansa and Brienne were linked, so that’s more time in a way.

    I was also impressed with Ciaran Hinds. Yes, he was probably miscast, and definitely under used, but better to go out shining in only a few episodes than whimper out after dozens.

    I might have some more interesting things to say in the morning, but it’s 3.15 am for me, so I need some sleep.!

  8. Excellent pace. Wonderful performances. Mereen starts to expand as a city. And yes the Wall is definitely a better place with all these presences. Ciaran Hinds gave an emphatic and consistently nuanced and humane performance throughout the series and in the end that streak of light during his dialogue with Jon magnified the impact of his overall presence. Well done!

  9. Anyone else think they are setting up that little kid at castle black to replace Bowen Marsh? I also think the faith and Loras’ sexual orientation are in for a clash. We did hear alot about characters being killed who didn’t die in the books. Maybe already saw one?

  10. I love that Kevan is back! I hope they give him enough screen time until the end of the season.

    Definetely a slow episode but it is a premiere so this was expected.

  11. So stupid that Emilia doesn’t do nudity anymore. That’s not very respectful to her cast members who still do. Wouldn’t mind a recast now, I wonder how Caitriona Balfe looks with a blonde wig!

  12. Seemed really slow, but then again, I think all the season openers except the very first one have been really slow. Seems like its a necessity of making sure viewers are back up to speed on everything. I’m hoping things pick up next episode, but with Arya, the Boltons, and Dorne still needing their season introduction, I imagine it will be taking its time too; at least for those storylines.

  13. I posted this in the other comment section but I’ll post it here too…..

    What do people think about the fact that GRRM has not posted anything on his blog about the premiere today?
    He has promoted season 5 in previous weeks but now he seems to have stopped. There has been a number of reviews bashing his books and praising the show and saying how much better it is for changing plotlines and cutting characters. I wonder if that has pissed him off and caused him to become a little more hostile towards the show now that the media is saying it is improving his story.

  14. Good episode.
    I thought Young Cersei was just a top notch casting.Really like the Wall scenes.Ciaran Hinds was especially great and that scene with Jon was awesome.Ghost a bit bigger than last season and Thorne just returned back to pr*ck mode.What if Tormund was burned alive and not Mance(a bit suspicious about that).Daario well something for the ladies.Emilia was a pretty great as well.Oh yeah,finally RHAEGAL and VISERION.Was that so tough D&D?!

    “Two Swords” is still the best premiere.

  15. I thought it was a lil slow but the episode had a lot of heart and I’ll rank mine -4/1 1/1 3/1 5/1 2/1

  16. Did they really kill Mance or is it a glamour like in the books? Is Rattleshirt even still alive on the show? I can’t remember.

    Anyway, I liked the dynamic of Jon and Stannis/Mel. I liked darker Sansa and am glad they’re ditching Sweetrobin. I was happy that there were more naked men than women in this episode. I’m very glad that the Unsullied getting a cuddle in a brothel was kept in. That was a detail that was really touching and sad in the books and it’s good that they thought to leave it in. Young Cersei was great and I enjoyed seeing Lancel and Kevan again. Yay for the dragon names finally being uttered and yay for Ghost! Tyrion looked a mess and it’s good they didn’t hold back. I’m pleased Varys will be with him for a while. The more Conleth, the better! Margary busting in on Loras’ sexy times was hilarious and Natalie Dormer killed it.

    It sucks having to wait another week for Arya in Bravos and Dorne. I was disappointed that they didn’t show Cersei finding out about Tywin’s death. It lessened the impact of the death. Puzzling choice. That was my only complaint that I can think of though. Not the most eventful episode but very solid.

  17. I loved it, particularly the scenes at The Wall. It was slow but that is a fine way to set-up the season. The last scenes between Jon and Mance were powerful; Kit was great.

  18. In terms of story this was the best season opener . In terms of oh shit moments it was the worst … That’s my short and sweet review … As some1 who has read the books I enjoyed this episode however trying to think of it from a show watchers perspective I don’t think it wud be that awesome for them cuz most of the show watchers I know hate the ‘talky’ scenes and prefer the crazy shocker episodes

  19. Now having watched all 4 seasons of the show and the premiere today, I noticed that Selmy is always giving good advice to Dany and she doesn’t listen to him.

  20. I really thought Maggy the Frog was going to be a Child of the Forest, the same Child who prophesies for the Brotherhood without Banners. I cannot remember all of the evidence behind that theory, but I had really expected Maggy to be diminutive.

  21. I was looking at reactions on twitter and people still do not like new Daario. It was such a mistake for them to recast him. It’s a false rumor that original Daario quit, old Daario did not quit he was fired just like Conan. He could not quit, they sign contracts for a reason. He would have signed a multi-season contract when he got the role. And if they wanted to recast him they could have done a better job. Michel Huisman would be fine in a lot of roles but he is way too dull and generic for a role like Daario.

  22. Saw old Daario in the Transporter trailer. He definitely has smarmy down and while new Daario the actor is more aesthetically appealing to me, Daario the character is nothing, if not smarmy.

  23. It was amazing. I starting to think that Olly will take the place of

    Bowen Marsh and be the first to stab Jon (i know that Bowen has been cast, but have you guys seen his face when Jon refuse to watch Mance getting burned?)

    On the other hand, holy s**t the size of Viserion and Rhaegal. I can’t wait to see Drogon.

  24. I was surprised and actually delighted by how much of the book got stuck to. Also thrilled with the reappearance of Lancel and Kevan Lannister.

  25. Decent episode…felt right at home. Thought the flashback would be a cold open but I enjoyed how it transitioned to our favorite Queen Regent. Cersei’s season began with a walk, surrounded by KL folk and dignitaries….

    can’t wait to juxtapose that walk with her walk at the end of the season.

    I liked seeing Pentos back on the opening credit model, and I growled when I saw the flayed man on the Winterfell model.

    R&V were refreshing. Jon’s mercy toward Mance was perfect. Can’t wait for next week!

  26. JamesL,

    I think it’s a shame people can’t get past the change. At the very least the new guy seems to be a better actor than the last.

    I didn’t realise at first – possibly I wasn’t paying enough attention to the Daario scenes in season 3 for whatever reason – but looking back at those clips now, that first Daario had some truly cringe-worthy delivery on his lines.

    (But anyway, speaking of acting, holy moly Ciarán Hinds today. Excellent.)

  27. WeirwoodTreeHugger: Did they really kill Mance or is it a glamour like in the books? Is Rattleshirt even still alive on the show? I can’t remember.

    It’s weird to hire Ciarán Hinds for such little screen time , that’s it!
    Well in the book Mance is left infective so don’t know where that’s going either.

  28. Anguissette1979,

    Yes, I so agree! We are Unsullied, we are free!

    I knew this was going to be a catch up show – and it was. But the acting and the exposition all fit to get us ready for the season. Loved the actor playing young Cersei and thought Maggie was perfect (I also was expecting older and smaller, but this worked just fine) At the end I was cringing, hoping someone would step up to the plate. And they did!

  29. I’m a show watcher, but pretty spoilt by now, so won’t post in the Unsullied thread. That was my second time watching the premiere ;), and I loved it. It seemed each scene and all the characters had room to breathe and be real, instead of just filling quotas. The Wall scenes were excellent and set up so many dynamics. Same with Meereen, which has now become a real place instead of a caricature (as in Season 4). Pentos – so beautiful. Is that truly Varys’ motivation? Poor Brienne. But having watched this episode, I now feel that she will survive the series, and be a force for the good in the epilogue.
    The flashback scene was great. Margaery walking into Loras and Olyvar – really quite funny how very cool she was.
    R and V were rightly furious with Mommy – I expected it after the way Daenerys betrayed them last season. I think they will never be hers again, and should not.

  30. my take in the mance thing am i the only one who noticed the thing around mance’s neck?, its a piece of cloth, it would be convenient to say, hid something, besides i personally think that mance’s general looks changed, his hair darker and his skin smoother, i do think mance was glamored away, but im not sure if we had a good rattleshirt roast, or more like a tormund one, by the way tormund looked mance..

  31. JamesL:
    I was looking at reactions on twitter and people still do not like new Daario.

    Really? All I see are posts about his ass, and they definitely liked him.

  32. Did anyone else find it odd that Cersei’s flashback made it into the show (which is surprising on it’s own) but then only included the younger and more beautiful figure?

    I would have thought the Valonqar was the more important subject of that prophecy, in terms of explaining Cersei’s character/motivations.

    Do you think we’ll get more snippets of the same prophecy in another episode?

  33. I like Huisman’s Daario. He’s less like the book version and that’s a good thing. The book version is annoying and I don’t get what Dany sees in him.

    He’s a better actor and he’s really attractive. I just wish he could have been cast in season 3.

  34. It’s always so interesting to me to see what other people enjoyed, or didn’t. Overall, I loved the first episode. For me, the pacing was just about perfect. I had a chance to process the major beats of each scene, and then we were off to the next one.

    As many others have noted, the girl who played Young Cersei hit it out of the park, and it was great to see Cirian Hinds go out with a couple of really strong scenes. I do wonder if it will go how the books did, but I think it probably won’t. Had there been even the slightest indication Mance and Melisandre had interacted, I’d think differently, but there wasn’t.

    I think they did a great job of laying the foundation for the rest of the season.

    (Can’t wait for Arya and a little Dorne, next week)

  35. I thought it was a bit slow but it was great. It seemed very dark – like at Castle Black it seemed darker than even before – which is a good vibe considering that winter is supposedly coming and all that.

    I’m so frustrated that Sansa passed Brienne like that. I mean I didn’t expect her to find her soon but these Starks passing so close the people they need to find them is maddening! (like Bran/Jon and Sansa/Arya last season)

    Mance’s death scene was great. Having the Wildings there, especially Tormund, to see him go out like he lived was a good thing. And sadly it shows that Stannis is more barbaric to his enemies that other kings have been (choosing burning over beheading as the Starks do) Stannis needs to read How to Win Friends and Influence People….

  36. Loved the episode. Opening with the flashback was great. Very excited to see the arcs play out. Loved the original stuff. Littlefinger was delightfully creepy. Loras trying to “comfort” Cersei, lol. Loved seeing stuff from the books on the screen. Mance and Jon; Jon and Stannis/Davos; Cersei and Jamie. The inclusion of Kevin and Lancel. However, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say that any tv episode or movie is “better” than the book on which it is based. They are different; and, for me, nothing can compare to the cinema in my head for bringing stories to life. Even Star Wars was told more fully as a book (Biggs, anyone?) in my head. “Better” is not a way I would describe any of this show. It is awesome in its own medium–the directors, the actors, the craftspeople, the writers, producers, showrunners–everyone involved has done a history-making job bringing this world to life. I’d rather watch this than any other tv show. But–and this is my personal preference–I’ll always choose a written story over a celluloid/digitally imaged one because I prefer my images and vision over everyone else’s. To me, it is apples and oranges.

    Brandon Stark’s Monster,

    Hmmm…interesting idea. It would certainly be a dramatic twist.

  37. I thought it was great. The scenery and the acting were amazing and that last scene with Mance was really good. I loved seeing all the reactions from the onlookers. This show is so good at that. Tormund especially looked like he felt as if he was the one being burned. Loved Selyse’s smile and Shireen closing her eyes.

  38. Chris:
    Tormund especially looked like he felt as if he was the one being burned

    that is why i think that mance was indeed glamored

  39. It doesn’t beat Winter is Coming, or last year’s Two Swords, but I think this was a better premiere than Seasons 2 and 3. North Remembers and Valar Dohaeris were not only kind of slow, but not very much really happened by the end of the episode. I think Daenerys’ story and the death of Mance gave this episode more weight, in my opinion. Even Varys convincing Tyrion to go see Daenerys felt more satisfying than the average drop-by in past premieres.

  40. The Bastard:
    The show is so much better then the books at the point in the story.There, I said it.
    Loved the episodes for a 1st episode. The show is only getting better and better.

    I fully agree with you. In D&D we trust!

  41. JrgDM: that is why i think that mance was indeed glamored

    Or, maybe, Tormund was emotionally affected by seeing his friend and leader dying in such a brutal way.

    I think the show made as clear as possible that Mance wasn’t glamoured without cutting to D&D explicitly saying so. I mean, why would Rattleshirt, or Tormund, or someone who isn’t Mance not take the option that Stannis provided him right before going on the stake? Why would the Mance that we saw in his last scene with Jon switch with someone else and be okay with someone else dying? He’s dead

  42. I expected them to just kill Mance for real as I am not sure how they could translate the glamour story to the show. I don’t think the rest of that story is integral to the plot. HOWEVER … The comments about Tormund are intriguing.

    The old Darrio was such a bad actor, really awful. I like The new one much better.

  43. So D&D have actually retconned themselves now, given they added a dark-haired child between Cersei and Robert in season 1 (that died of a fever), but then stuck with the prophecy from the book that Cersei only had three children, none with Robert.

  44. A missing quote: When Missandei asks Grey Worm why White Rat went to the brothel, why didn’t he answer her with his quote from A Dance with Dragons when a similar question is posed to him?

    Actually sue I thought it was quite clear that the reason GW couldn’t tell Missandei the truth about why Unsullied might want to lie with a woman, is exactly because of his own romantic feelings for her.

  45. James,

    I was surprised by that at first, but my guess would be that the valonqar is exactly who everyone would guess it is, and the show doesn’t want to give that away, as they favour shock twists.

  46. Ren Snow,

    It’s for book readers insofar as people are free to discuss things from the books which would be considered spoilers for the Unsullied. There is a separate Unsullied Recap where no book spoilers are allowed.

    For example, the mention of the valonqar is fine in this recap, but wouldn’t be in the Unsullied one.

  47. Schrödinger’s Cat:
    So D&D have actually retconned themselves now, given they added a dark-haired child between Cersei and Robert in season 1 (that died of a fever), but then stuck with the prophecy from the book that Cersei only had three children, none with Robert.

    Could have been possible that Cersei was full of shit and was just trying to get Cat Stark to mercy kill Bran

  48. Turncloak,

    Cersei also talked about the kid with Robert. It’s 100% clear that moment was meant to be genuine. It was the thin edge of the wedge with the show’s much softer take on Cersei.

  49. Were those lemon trees at Ilyrio’s place?

    The Wall scenes were excellent. Wondering if the actor who was upset about being killed off early was Hinds instead of McElhinney?

    Just amazing all around. And the previews!! The House of Black and White looks spectacular! And Dorne is breathtaking. Cannot wait until next week.

    Screw the leaks. I didn’t wait 10 months for the new season to binge watch 4 episodes and then have to wait another month for a new one. I want to savor each one.

  50. Long time lurker, first time poster.

    Was skeptical going in based on the challenge of adapting the bulk of books 4&5 (not to mention the rest of the Wall story from book 3) but D&D delivered;

    NAILED IT:

    Cersi flashback. Young Cersi once again proved that the show is great at finding talented young actors. It was also great to have at least one scene that was more or less verbatim from the books, and I anticipate more flashbacks of this scene as the series progresses..

    Lancel and Kevin are back!

    The epic vistas of the Sept, Mereen and the Wall.

    WHAT I MISSED FROM THE BOOKS:

    Cerci’s conversations at the funeral with the Tommen, Mace Tyrell and Pycell.

    Is Illyerio going to appear, or are Tyrion and Varys just going to stroll around his estate, and never encounter their host?

    CHANGES THAT I WAS SCARED OF BUT MIGHT ACTUALLY PAY OFF

    Stannis’s plans for the wildlings.

    It seems that D&D are definitely combining Daario and Strong Belwas into the same character in more ways than one. Perhaps this means Daario will develop a taste for

    locusts?

    Anything involving Sansa

    OH AND ONE MORE THING:

    No way Mance is really dead.
  51. I just assumed that Cersei was lying to Catelyn about having a child who died. Cat says that she didn’t know there was a child who died… which is odd when you consider that as Queen, every birth would have been announced and recorded. The high lords and ladies would have known if the queen was pregnant and lost a child. They would most certainly have known of a child being born and dying. Would Cat have thought about that when her son is laying there half dead, no, but it might have clicked eventually.
    Schrödinger’s Cat,

  52. Enjoyed 501. It felt quick, but also streamlined in a good way. (Most) every scene felt like a clear set up for what will follow in the next few weeks, especially with regards to the KL dynamic.

    JamesL,

    Michiel isn’t perfect, but I generally feel the opposite way. I couldn’t stand Ed Skrein’s Daario, particularly his performance in 308. I thought he injected zero personality into the character and had a completely bland delivery of his lines.

  53. I loved the premiere. The show continues to get better and better.

    Ciaran Hinds absolutely crushed Mance’s final scenes. I’m aware that some people have expressed concerns that he was miscast or that Mance was underused during his time on the show. I’m not entirely unsympathetic to those points of view. But scenes like the ones he had tonight accentuated the virtues of casting an actor of his caliber in this role. His last conversation with Jon Snow provided a splendid level of insight into the King-Beyond-the-Wall’s mindset (and Kit Harington was great in that scene as well). I was absolutely riveted during his long walk to the pyre – particularly during the painfully extended sequence after Melisandre set the torch to the wood but before Jon put an arrow in his heart. Mance was proud and dignified. He was defiant, but respectful. And yet, when the fire started to creep up on him, you could tell that he was scared. The looks that he exchanged with Tormund in particular broke my heart. It wasn’t the fate that he deserved, but it was a death worthy of a king.

    As for Mance’s potential future … I have made no secret of the fact that I loathed the “glamour” revelation in ADWD. It was my least favorite element of that book by far. As much as I love Martin’s writing, the fake-death has become a recurring element in the books that I find quite tiresome, and the “glamour” was, in my opinion, the cheapest of the lot. Mance’s presence in Winterfell had its merits, but with Sansa heading there, his role would be a bit redundant.
    I believe that this is indeed the end of Mance Raydar on the show, Assuming that is the case, I thought that the way that the show handled this plot point was far superior (Indeed, if the show does somehow conjure up a way to bring him back after the sendoff that they gave him, I will be quite annoyed). The King-Beyond-the-Wall left a lasting impression on Jon Snow, and his role in this story was both significant and memorable. That role is now concluded. Let him rest in peace.
  54. Anguissette1979,

    I suppose the question here is why show Dani would go for smarmy.

    I’m probably willing to accept Michiel Huisman, if only due to seeing his work in Orphan Black. But I think Emilia’s Dani wouldn’t look plausible with Ed Skrein, especial given how he played the role.

    So we lose someone somewhat more book-like (if not with technocolor hair), but we gain someone who feels more real. Not a bad trade. And again, Huisman’s a pretty good actor as well.

  55. Schrödinger’s Cat:
    So D&D have actually retconned themselves now, given they added a dark-haired child between Cersei and Robert in season 1 (that died of a fever), but then stuck with the prophecy from the book that Cersei only had three children, none with Robert.

    Good catch!

    #noone understands

  56. Jared:
    As much as I love Martin’s writing, the fake-death has become a recurring element in the books that I find quite tiresome, and the “glamour” was, in my opinion, the cheapest of the lot

    X This …. GRRM can´t seem to kill anyone important anymore they are either protected or ressurected.

  57. Was anyone else disappointed by the Maggy the Frog flashback? I was really looking forward to that and I know most would be disappointed about the lack of the “valonqar” prophecy but I was disappointed by the casting. The young girls were good but why did they cast a young somewhat attractive woman to play Maggy? That scene should have had a much creepier atmosphere but that casting ruined it. Maggy should have been a creepy old witch.

  58. I’d say… 8/10?

    Not the best opener ever (last year’s Two Swords was probably better)… But, I do see huge potential for the season.

    Not sure I liked the Sansa scene very much. A bit worried about that storyline.

    Mance made me sad. So, is it a change from the books? 🙁

  59. QueenofThrones,

    Yeah, I don’t know if the missing quote from Grey Worm is so much a missing quote as one that they’re saving for later, like when Sam killed the White Walker and Oberyn told Tyrion about their previous meeting. They might just be saving that interaction for later.

  60. Sean C.,

    I agree it was a genuine conversation between Cersei and Cat, but could Maggy have meant children born and lived not born and died shortly thereafter.

    My thoughts on pacing, very slow episode, probably my number three season opener, but I understand they are having to rebuild new story lines and develop them. The reviewers say the season starts off with a slow burn but everyone will freak by the fourth.

  61. tyjon,

    Yes. I doubt D&D even considered the story of the dark haired baby. It is easy to interpret the prophecy as only mentioning her children that lived beyond infancy. It would have been clunky to add that into the mix.

  62. I need to stop giving my comments after my first viewing. As usual, the episode was much better the second time around. I think it was still the 5th best premier, but it was pretty much equal with the ones from seasons 2 and 3, I just liked a few scenes from those episodes a tad more.

  63. A little off topic, but the comment about Cersie’s black haired child reminded me of an episode in season 3 that I binge watched the other day. In the episode where Sansa is talking to Loras, Loras makes mention of French style clothing. He uses the word “French”. I practically screamed at the TV “THERE IS NO GOD DAMN FRANCE IN WESTEROS!!!!!!” Was suprised no one has ever caught that one. It was a major screw up.

  64. I don’t understand how so many book readers complain that the show is slow.How are you guys ASOIAF fans then?In the show everything is more condenssed and you get way faster to the climax.As a book reader and show watcher I don’t see any of them as slow,I just pay attention to the dialogue and the plot.Everything is important for the characters story,it’s not just there to be there.

  65. Production wise, acting wise etc all excellent

    Have some issues about how the deeper themes are explored but great to finally have a flashback, hopefully more are brought it. Better late than never

  66. Ghost is a bit bigger,ain’t he?Dragons are amazing(finally with names) and how huge Drogon will be.Damn.

  67. RabidXdog,

    I’ve heard numerous people say that, but on my first viewing, and after seeing that scene several times, I think it’s pretty clear that Loras says ‘fringed’ sleeves, not ‘French’.

    I think we can credit D&D, Cogman, the directors, actors and all the other people that would have seen the script before filming, with enough intelligence to know they wouldn’t have made such a stupid error.

  68. -The angrier “Breaker of Chains” music cue when Dany visited the dragons was awesome, as was the Rains dirge that played over Jamie and Cersei’s conversation.

    -Did no one else crack up at Jon and Stannis? “…how much time do I have?”

    -I love the way the story is being condensed and streamlined, and in this way, in this aspect of the writing, I feel the show does a better job than the book. However, I’ve come to notice with less and less Martin lines to quote, the Common Tongue sounds increasingly more common. So in regards to dialogue and language of the piece, I think the book is better. Just my opinion, though.

  69. Well I wasn’t blown away by this season premier.

    I LOVED the castle black/Jon Snow scenes. Tyrion with the spider scenes were really good.

    I wasn’t really feeling any of the kings landing stuff and the Loras bedroom scene fell flat for me IMO.

    But the Jon Snow stuff was definitely Good.

    I have a feeling Jon’s storyline this season is going to be the strongest and most interesting.

  70. Too many people just want sword fights and battles. Game of Thrones is more than that. Personally I like the dialogue-heavy episodes.

  71. I thought that that was probably the best opening episode at least since season 1. It may have been a bit slow, but let’s be honest that is what a first episode is always going to be, and they pulled it off really well. It was more dialogue heavy and thoughtful, but i think that that is part of what GoT is, sure if we had an entire season worth of these it wouldnt be that great but in a first episode it works just fine. Personally, from what I had seen in the previews, I was concerned that the show was going to get a bit too action orientated and lose some of its other complexities, but this episode went a way to stop me worrying about that.
    It was also surprisingly close to the books, aside from a couple of changes we already knew about, which added to it. Particularly enjoyed the final scene with Mance’s burning, it was emotional and really well done. GoT is back, and this episode made me realise just how much i missed it!

  72. I really really liked this episode.

    I’ve always been more in it for the characters than the action, so for me this was wonderful. A slightly slower pace, longer scenes given more weight and allowed to breathe rather than dashing on to the next and the next. And letting the actors show what they can do. GoT has such great actors, and several of them were given a chance to do their thing in this episode, often without words, just facial expressions, body language, slight voice shifts. Like Jaime when Cersei told him he got Tywin killed, Brienne with her sword, Mance when told he’d be burned alive and then later facing the reality of it, everybody watching the burning… The show’s not afraid to let their actors have a moment to shine, and it pays off.

    There will be plenty of time for action in later episodes. This was the moment to show everybody grappling with the repercussions from the end of last season, and to set up the conflicts of this season. Mission accomplished.

  73. James,

    I agree. The Maggie was supposed to reveal 3 truths and only 2 were revealed. Maybe we will get a snippet of it when we see Cersei imprisoned towards the end of the show…maybe they didn’t want to overwhelm the audience and to just focus on just how badly she is going to mess up with the second prediction.

  74. JrgDM,

    I agree. I think they’ve swapped Rattleshirt for Tormund. They cut to him looking pained far too often for that not to be the case.

  75. I’m glad Mance is dead in the show. There is nothing worse in Fantasy when everybody either comes back to life or has fake death. The show is fixing the wrongs of the books in that regard.

  76. I don’t know when the Maggy the Frog bit happens in the book, but I presume the reason that D&D didn’t include the Valonqar bit now was that they’d already clearly established her reasons for hating Tyrion. It’s unnecessary at this juncture in the television story.

  77. Hat tip to Yohn Royce. Throwaway character with one of the best throwaway lines in the history of Game of Thrones. Poor Robin.

  78. How great is Lena Headey? I can’t wait for the rest of her arc, because Lena is just so damn good and subtle.

  79. René,

    I don’t think that’s true. Those rumors started during S2, yet Emilia appeared nude in S3. They’ve only used nudity to show either Dany’s vulnerability, or confidence. In that scene with Daario it would’ve been unnecessary.

  80. Just came to say, to those wondering if Mance is really dead:

    Ciaran Hinds is joining Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet this summer in London. Rehearsals start at some point in June/July and the play is on from August to 31st. October at the Barbican. So it seems that he won’t be in season 6
    I know it because I’ve got a ticket!!!!!

    And now I’ll leave this thread before I read something about the leaked eps.

  81. René,

    That has never been confirmed as far as I know. IIRC that rumor started before season 3 and she had some nudity in that. – That said, who cares if she has nude scene or not as long they’re not required? Nude scene are a good thing in a show like GoT. They add to the realism of the show in the sense that when people have sex they’re most likely naked and don’t hide it. Dosen’t mean every actor has to have a nude scene every time that’s possible.

  82. George too busy writing extra long posts about Sad Puppies to ever finish the books. This is all we’ve got.

  83. Brian,

    He can’t be happy. No mention of the premiere episode on his website. Releasing a Sansa Stark chapter to try and get “ahead” of the shows story lines. Telling fans he will change a story line that the show can’t.

  84. Man I keep rewatching the final few minutes.

    That might be the saddest death in GoT so far. Dude was a hero who believed in freedom above all else, and he saved the lives of 100,000 people.
  85. Can anybody tell me (can’t remember from the book) – did Jon shoot an arrow through Mance’s heart to put him out of his misery in DWD? I remember the burning but don’t remember Jon taking part.

  86. I feel sorry for him now. He doesn’t have it in him to finish his opus magnum. I was always quick to make fun of him, but now I genuinely feel sorry for him. The first 3 books he gave me some decade or two ago change my reading habits, I returned to the genre, and while waiting for him to finish encountered many great genre writers and novels.

    At this point, IMO, he should stop pretending about writing ASoiaf and join HBO writing team. To salvage as much as he can about HIS legacy and HIS story.

  87. JamesL,

    He’s too busy pondering/writing about this ridiculous puppygate non-issue. Prime example of a first world problem and perhaps he should get a grip. I’m not one of those constantly on his back to write faster, however: priorities.

  88. It seemed like the typical GoT season opener–deliberately paced, setting the stage for the next nine episodes…

    -The flashback was a great scene. If only they had been open to the idea earlier.
    -So Lancel is going to be taking the role of the missing Kettleblacks?
    -Very intrigued for what the season holds in store for Sansa. As far away from Cersei as possible….is LF taking her to the Wall, or something?
    -Brienne is directionless. And if Jaime will be going to Dorne….so I also have no idea what to expect for that storyline.

    This is a feeling with which as a book reader I am entirely unaccustomed. It’s a lot of fun!

  89. Actually think the Puppygate issues are not ridiculous. I would always use Hugo awards to determine my reading priorities but now it looks like that will not be reliable. Also, completely agree with George about the level of our discourse and how the Internet has negatively affected it. Guess you have to be an old person (like me) to fully appreciate those comments though!

  90. Overall, that was a solid start. It put lots of pieces into place quite quickly. It is a little weird seeing some of the coalescence: Stannis et al. at the Wall and Tyrion in Pentos look out of place; it’s almost as if you are getting a “cross-over” episode between two TV shows.

    What I really liked: it set up the story beautifully. Daeny, Tyrion, Brienne, Jaime and Cersei all make very clear opening statements about working out who they now are at this point: i.e., the first part of “killing the boy, becoming the man.” Oddly, Jon has not yet: but it’s very much set up for him to do in the next episode of two. At any rate, the audience should now have a very good idea of what the story is going to be for this season.

    On a side note, I actually did not recognize Lancel at first. I knew that he was going to be in the show, but I still didn’t figure out who he was until Kevan re-appeared and apologized for him! And that was even after the very extensive “previously on Game of Thrones” sequence, too.

    Cersei’s memory was well-done: the young actress did a really good job of playing Lena Headey’s Cersei. (My understanding is that is one of the toughest things to do in acting: I’ve read many actors state that it is much easier to make a character “your own” than it is to do someone else’s rendition.) I’m sure that people are irate that it didn’t mention the Valonqur, but I think focusing on what will really be important (Cersei’s inability to see the obvious about who the rival Queen will be) is going to be much, much more important to plot and story this year. (If they want to make

    the Little Brother stuff

    important, then they can show “the rest of the memory” next year, or in year 7: whenever that becomes important, but not before then.

    But, like every season opener for every series I like, it left me frustrated: I wasn’t doing anything for the next 9 hours, why not just keep showing it? 😀

    The Bastard: No mention of the premiere episode on his website.

    GRRM wrote about it extensively already: why would he do so again? (Remember, he saw the premiere weeks ago.)

    Geralt of Rivia: What if Tormund was burned alive and not Mance(a bit suspicious about that).

    Yeah, we wondered the same thing. It never was quite clear to me

    how they got the Lord of Bones into that situation in the book. Oh, I’m sure that he was duped somehow, and it really was not important to the story or plot.

    If it was Mance, then I doubt that it’s important: he’s probably not going to live much longer in the book (or be in much shape for doing anything if he gets out alive.)

  91. Cersei’s Brain,

    I think he has a small number of brothers he gives the order to, who shoot a bunch of arrows at once. Just to make certain one finds its mark.

    They changed it a little here for dramatic effect/coolness – which is fine, too.

    Oh also, I take it last night’s episode will be the last time we’ll see Yohn Royce? I’m genuinely going to miss staring at his breastplate. I had an odd fascination with it.

  92. JamesL: What do people think about the fact that GRRM has not posted anything on his blog about the premiere today?

    Nothing: GRRM posted his thoughts & feelings about it weeks ago. What else could he post?

  93. Fat Wall-duh: Maybe we will get a snippet of it when we see Cersei imprisoned towards the end of the show…maybe they didn’t want to overwhelm the audience and to just focus on just how badly she is going to mess up with the second prediction.

    Also, this is Chekhov’s Law: do not hang a gun unless you are going to fire it. The “younger, more beautiful queen” gun is going to get fired this year (albeit with some bullets left in the gun). The issues regarding the golden crowns and golden shrouds will get fired this year (albeit with some bullets left in the gun). The other gun will not get fired at all.

    So, hang that gun in a later season when it will get fired: and not before then.

  94. The hype is still present and I liked the episode!
    BUT
    the fact the two arcs that interest me the most (Winterfell and Arya) were both not present it’s already sad to me. Still delighted by how they are handling Jon’s arc, I like everything happened at the Wall. The burning of Mance was incredible to me… I’m just disappointed it’s pretty much a death-death. (Bye bye Abel) And Sam with Gilly during that literally broke my heart.
    Mini Cersei was brilliant and just HER and this Maggy is kind of hot! Just sad about the missing Valonqar prophecy but I will survive.
    I agree with your “Hmmm, not so sure about…”, Sue.

    Oh and the Bolton sigil on Winterfell in the opening made me so sad on so many levels. #theNorthRemembers

  95. Hm, I’ll say it’s the strongest premiere in terms of where theyre going with pacing and writing. It definitely feels headed towards an endgame, not just elaborating on events we’ve already started, if that makes sense. Missing the oh shit moments maybe, but I’m finding that doesn’t matter given the richer feel the show has now. Honestly, I’ve been starting to side with D&D over GRRM lately, and now I’ll agree with those above who have said the show is better than the books, at this point of storytelling at least. Really superb and with this buildup I can’t wait until the big moments at the end of the season.

  96. Wimsey,

    If one of the golden shroud bullets does indeed get fired this season, I may pee myself. I’ve certainly been preparing mentally for being unsullied again!
  97. My quick thought on the premiere: We’re not in Kansas any more. (Translator’s note: Kansas means the books.)

    Longer thoughts: It was a bit slow, even for a premiere.

    Stuff I liked were all the Tyrion/Varys scenes, Lancel’s return, and the flashback. (I now need, NEED, to see the Tower of Joy.)

    Stuff I didn’t like was boring Daario is boring, mean Brienne and Mance is dead dead (is this the character who dies who is still alive in the books?).

    (That’s a rhetorical question BTW. Don’t answer it, if you know).

  98. Very solid first episode. A few highlights:

    –Jon schooling Ollie in swordfighting. I like how he backed away a bit from being harsh with him and tousled his hair on the second go-round. So a bit of a mentor relationship developing, which is good. Kit’s getting better and better.

    –The second half of the episode was particularly strong – basically, the stuff dominated by The Wall. Everything with Ciaran Hinds and Kit; it was interesting to see, with his big puffy garments removed, how diminutive Mance Rayder looked just before being set aflame. The series of quick expressions when being told how he was going to die – a mix of shock, horror at the brutality of Stannis, and fear – was particularly notable, great stuff from Hinds. “Bad way to go.” And I liked Jon’s act of mercy as well, which shows something about the development of that character too.

    –Tormund’s pained expressions, but not looking away, at the end. Also great wordless work from Kristofer Hivju.

    –I wasn’t so worried about not hearing the reasoning from Grey Worm on why an Unsullied would be at a brothel. It may come up later; I took it as a suggestion that Grey Worm himself has done the same.

    One question: is this a spoiler-free space in terms of not revealing what may have happened in the coming episodes that were leaked? Obviously us book readers know a lot, but I wouldn’t want to be spoiled on coming episodes.

  99. is it just me , or David&Dan made Varys look kind of silly and naive this episode? cause without you know who (the Griffs) he kind of seems left fighting for something he does not believe achievable : “Peace ,prosperity” yeah ,right!
    Also , something that bothers me, why would Mance refuse Stannis’s offer ?it doesnt make sense ,he gets protection for its people and lands to feed them , isnt that what a true leader should require for his people?! and the fact that in the end he wishes Stannis good fortune ,is kind of ridiculous! i want Mance back :))

  100. This was seriously the best episode of GoT in quite some time imo. Not as flashy as WotW was perhaps, but better imo. No logic fails, smart adaptation choices, nice acting, just great throughout. This is certainly the best opening episode we had so far.

    EDIT: because I just can’t help myself I have to have one minor nitpick :p The eye rocks were ugly in season one and they are ugly still :p

  101. Still laughing over superhot Maggy. Never change, D&D. I do think the actress worked very well, though.

    The actress for Young Cersei blew me away. A lot of beats to hit in a short scene, and she nailed them all.

    Mance’s execution was a great scene. Good use of music.

  102. I’m of mixed opinions on the two Daarios. The first one wasn’t a great actor but seemed to have the swagger down. He also had better chemistry with Clarke. This actor is better but he seems like he could be anyone rather than someone unique, which IMO is important to that character. He’s just too bland.

  103. By accident I found out today there are first four episodes available for illegal download on pirate sites. I tried to restrain myself, but couldn’t, I am a weak man, in spirit and flesh.

    I posted it here for other weak people who can’t wait another three weeks. As an act of mercy and compassion, not as an act of instigation to crime. I sinned, mods forgive me that I wanted to share my sin with other sinners.

  104. I liked very much the episode overall, but yes, like another poster said, it wasn´t clear to me why Mance would refuse Stannis´ offer. All he wants is for his people to get behind the Wall, he said so himself. So how else are they going to do it if not by submitting to some authority below the Wall? They have to accept the king/queen/oligarchy/parliamentary democracy, whatever system lies below the Wall, no? Or else what, they are going to fight against them? Then they come as conquerors, which is the opposite of what Mance claims.

    Sure, leading your people to yet another war is not good, but what other choice is there ? The country they want to migrate to is at war, they want to be it´s citizens, so? Unless they just wanted safe passage to another counrty (Essos for instance), which is never hinted at in the series, I don´t understand Mance´s refusal. In fact even if he says no, Stannis is just going to ask the next leader in line to submit, or force them to submit. It didn´t make sense to me, and I would like it to, because I loved all the scenes in the Wall and especially Ciaran Hinds´ acting.

  105. So I think this season is going to be the one where I really start liking characters I didn’t focus on before… Jon, Jaime, and Sansa mainly. Jon was never really a top fav of mine (shock I know) but he really won me over in s5ep1. That last bit with Mance had me crying! Really heart breaking stuff.

  106. JamesL:
    I was looking at reactions on twitter and people still do not like new Daario. It was such a mistake for them to recast him. It’s a false rumor that original Daario quit, old Daario did not quit he was fired just like Conan. He could not quit, they sign contracts for a reason. He would have signed a multi-season contract when he got the role. And if they wanted to recast him they could have done a better job. Michel Huisman would be fine in a lot of roles but he is way too dull and generic for a role like Daario.

    Totally disagree. Michiel’s much better than Ed Skein. And when he speaks I don’t think instantly ‘over the top fake accent’. I thought Ed Skein was a bad actor and his voice – like Aiden – makes me think of a pedophile.

  107. Queen of the Keys:

    Oh and the Bolton sigil on Winterfell in the opening made me so sad on so many levels. #theNorthRemembers

    That makes me so so mad too lol I mean I knew it was coming but seeing it was different. In the books, didn’t the Boltons only get to claim Winterfell because of fake-Arya? I don’t think they got Stark property just because Tywin made Bolton Warden of the North did he? Or was he just using Fake Arya to win over the Stark loyalist more than he was using it to have a legitimate claim to Winterfell.

    Also, in the book they spun a crazy story about the northmen turning into wolves and tried to blame them for what happened at the twins and no one in the north seemed to know what Bolton did. Is that still the case? I just wondered because Stannis knew. I figured it was too hard to convey on screen that Bolton was playing innocent to his non-allies because they haven’t established that the Starks are the bomb-diggity to the loyal Northmen.

    I was surprised that Stannis didn’t offer Jon Winterfell last night though.

  108. Queensmoot,

    I think on some levels that’s the point. To kneel, to him, compromises the choice he made to go to war to force the Night’s Watch to accept his lot, one way or another. And it’s entirely possible as well that his choice is not a smart one. That the smarter move would have been to bend the knee, get everyone south of the Wall, and be done with it.

  109. Queensmoot,

    Mance says that if he were to bend the knee then the Wildlings would lose respect for him and probably reject his authority. Best thing was to die principled and a martyr to embolden the Wildings in a dark time.

    The Wildlings as a whole take the concept of freedom to an extreme. Thomas Carlyle once mocked democracy as the “freedom to die hungry”, and Mance echoes this in his last line to Jon – but for him, death is a worthy toll.

  110. Wimsey: But, like every season opener for every series I like, it left me frustrated: I wasn’t doing anything for the next 9 hours, why not just keep showing it?

    That’s just it – the show is so much like a 10-hour movie each season. It’s not at all like any other TV show I watch. It ought to be called a mini-series each season, really! 🙂

  111. I liked the premier but can’t chime in with any criticisms until I’ve seen the whole season. Each episode is different but you can’t quibble over details until you’ve seen the whole thing play out.

    That said things I enjoyed.

    Young Cersei nailed it. She really hasn’t changed in 30 years.

    Melisandre asking Jon if he was a virgin.

    I like that they kept drunk set pitying Tyrion. When I saw that crate I kept wondering what he did with his feces. Glad they explained it. Pentos looked beautiful.

    Return of pious Lancel and Kevan.

    Natalie Dormer played her scene really well. Her facial reactions really conveyed her varying thoughts.

  112. Greatjon of Slumber,

    Valaquen

    Thanks for your replies! They were helpful in better understanding Mances motives.

    Valquen, yes it makes sense that since his people would not recognize him as a leader anymore if he bent the knee,he choses to become a symbol of freedom for them like you say, while clearing the way for a new free folk leader to emerge and to make the necessary compromise. That seems logical! I am sure pride had a part to play too, even though he denies to Jon. That was my initial take, but it just didn´t make sense for a seasoned leader like Mance to be solely governed by pride.

  113. Great episode. Happy to see that they cut the valonqar prophecy; not only would “now let me explain what valonqar means” be even clunkier on screen than it was on the page, it’s not like Cersei ever needed another reason beyond the death of her mother to hate Tyrion.

  114. Cersei’s Brain,

    He doesn’t personally shoot the arrow. He just gives the order to several men to shoot him while the cage is burning. Not a huge difference but awesome statement, taking the matter into his own hands after the discussion with him previously in the ep.

    The big difference in this execution is the way Mance/Rattleshirt attitude when confronted with death by fire. Books have him caving at the sight of the cage and fire, no Mance Rayder in that one. Here he quietly and dignified accepts his end while burning. Pretty badass. Like a true King Beyond the Wall. Which makes me think he really is the one the show killed.

    EDIT: Cersei’s Brain,

    Never mind. I see someone already responded. Sorry for doubling up. 🙂

  115. M,

    I thought there was an implication that Maggy the Frog might work as both a fortune teller, and a prostitute. She’s young and wearing a rather revealing top.

    Still, I think the scene would have worked much better if they stuck to the “old crone” trope. A misfire, IMO.

  116. Sean C.:
    James,

    I was surprised by that at first, but my guess would be that the valonqar is exactly who everyone would guess it is, and the show doesn’t want to give that away, as they favour shock twists.

    I’ve been leaning more and more toward Jaime, noticing how his character arc seems to be drifting further and further from Cersei as the books go on. Surely it won’t be Tyrion the Obvious.

  117. Just chiming in again, on several more hours of reflection, to say again how impressed I was with how Ciaran Hinds handled Mance’s last scenes. It really did give the episode a notable gravity to it. It’s a premiere – so it moves a bit slow (“Two Swords” is an exception, honestly) – but the dread that overhung the proceedings, especially in the last minutes, really stuck with me.

  118. Didnt read all the comments so not sure if someone mentioned it….
    Was anyone else bummed out that the part with the volanqar wasnt mentioned in Maggy’s prophecy?

    I know they cant adapt everything… but i cant help but want to see some of the characters say certain lines… so i do share the sentiment of not hearing the explanation from Grey Worm and not hearing the Night’s watch say “and now his watch has ended” when Mance was shot.

  119. King Stannis,

    That guy was funny at first when it seemed like satire of purist fan rage but the more you look at his twitter feed the more you realize that it is not really satire. He may be hyperbolic for comedic effect but he really doesn’t like the show and neither do many of the people who retweet his stuff.

  120. mariamb: If that is what “boring” looks like, I can deal with it.

    I’m not sure if this is a joke about him being naked or not… 😉

    I just missed the bravado and cockiness that Skrein brought to the role, which was some of the defining characteristics of Daario in the books as well. Huisman seems like a good actor, so I wish they would have just had him play Daario with more swagger as opposed to essentially rewriting the character.

  121. Winter,

    Yes, it is a joke about him being naked.

    That aside, I agree that Huisman doesn’t have any of the “Daario swagger” from the books. For the most part, I think that’s a good thing even though it means that he has become more of the typical “good-looking bad boy.”

    Ed Skrein played it with much more swagger/bravado but he was only around for a few scenes. Its hard to make a judgement about how that would have played out in the long-term.

  122. Lion of Night,

    The gun could get fired without a “hit.” In a very real way, the preview for next week showed a firing of that gun. (And, of course, it got fired last season, too.)

  123. Winter: I now need, NEED, to see the Tower of Joy

    Heh, there is no way we are getting that until next year. GRRM hasn’t provided it yet, and although the conjecture approaches consensus, it is still conjecture.

  124. Chip: cause without you know who (the Griffs) he kind of seems left fighting for something he does not believe achievable

    How would the Griffs change that? Varys is not being naive: he is being realistic. He’s not hoping for perfection: he is hoping for improvement.

  125. Winter,

    Having such a noticeable recast is such a sloppy thing to do on a prestigious show like this and should never be done unless 100% necessary. And that is what makes it so much worse, it is very doubtful that the recast was necessary. It was most likely just a creative or personal choice by the producers and writers. People keep saying he quit to do movies but there is no proof of that and highly unlikely because they have actors sign contracts for a reason. That way Peter Dinklage can’t just quit GoT midway through the shows run if he gets bored. Original Daario would have signed a multiseason contract.

  126. JamesL,

    There’s more proof that he quit to do movies than there is that D&D just did it because they felt like it, considering he actually is starring in a movie, and there’s no evidence for the latter theory.

  127. Maggie reminded me of a nasty, but still sort of attractive, version of Osha.

  128. Winter,

    Skrein definitely had the bravado and cockiness of book Daario, but that wasn’t enough to make him work, at least for me. I thought he fell completely flat. Yes, the way they’ve written the new Daario does turn him more into a “typical good-looking bad boy,” as mariamb put it, but that doesn’t bother me so much because at least I can believe Daenerys wanting to sleep with new Daario. I don’t think I could have ever found Clarke’s Daenerys sleeping with Skrein’s Daario remotely believable.

  129. Yivo,

    There is no proof whatsoever that he quit. He wasn’t cast in Transporter until Feb 2014, almost 2 months after they finished filming season 4. He would have signed a contract for the show therefore he wouldn’t be able to quit . He could have potentially asked for release of contract though.
    I think they fired him just like Conan. Everybody assumed Conan quit to make movies too but he didn’t. He was just never asked back for season 2.

  130. mariamb: If that is what “boring” looks like, I can deal with it.

    Amen sister! 😉 I know it’s a bit shallow but I was happy to see Daario’s ass make a return performance!

  131. Nymeria Warrior Queen:
    Winter,

    Skrein definitely had the bravado and cockiness of book Daario, but that wasn’t enough to make him work, at least for me.I thought he fell completely flat.Yes, the way they’ve written the new Daario does turn him more into a “typical good-looking bad boy,” as mariamb put it, but that doesn’t bother me so much because at least I can believe Daenerys wanting to sleep with new Daario.I don’t think I could have ever found Clarke’s Daenerys sleeping with Skrein’s Daario remotely believable.

    I agree. I was going to put this all in one comment but I’ll put my Daario thoughts here. I feel Michiel Huisman is a much more talented actor. What he lacks in swagger he makes up in not wearing a Legolas wig and actually acting. Neither of them really look or act like Book Daario so that’s off the table, and frankly, I find Book Daario annoying. So I don’t mind the change for those reasons. Plus, Michiel is smoking hot and as a lady I can see what Dany is about, as Nymeria Warrior Queen said! As for Ed Skrein’s departure, I can’t remember the source but I heard he was an unbearable ass on set and that contributed to them parting ways, he wanted to do whatever it was, and no one wanted to keep him in the cast anyway. But I have no source so that’s totally unverified. I for one am happy with the re-cast.

    That being said, I thought S5 ep 1 was the worst scene they’ve given Daario and the worst performance since Michiel took the role (besides his lovely ass which was stellar as always). I got the point of the scene, but I didn’t feel it was compelling.

  132. Great episode- so nice to have Game of Thrones back 🙂
    Overall I thought the pacing was too slow at times but it was very solid all around and you could clearly see the threads they established for different storylines this season. Not my favorite premiere but very good.

    -That girl who played child Cersei was fantastic! No valonqar ref despite doing the prophecy. And we spent all that time debating whether it would be in valyrian or the common tongue, they just cut it!
    -Gilly and Sam’s conversation was hilarious.
    -Ciaran Hinds acting the shit out of every scene he was given. Sorry to see him leave so soon as he adds so much talent!
    -Welcome back Ghost, Lancel, and Kevan! 🙂 So so so happy Kevan is back!
    -Eugene Simon grew up a lot, wow. Definitely foreshadowing Cersei’s conflict with the faith (ditto for the Loras/Olyvar/Marg scene, Natalie killed it as usual)
    -I thought Jaime and Cersei’s scene with dead Tywin was great. You can clearly see what a bad position they are in, and how they’re both handling it differently, and how their relationship is fraying, which is what needs to be established. Would have liked to somehow have let the viewer know that Jaime had been standing there feeling guilty for about a week without sleeping though. But the rest of the funeral stuff didn’t do it for me, somehow the emotional part was lacking and it didn’t have the same effect to have dignified Tywin rather than smelly Tywin.
    -F yeah Stephen Dillane. I didn’t realize how much I missed Stannis being Stannis. Bonus points for Kerry Ingram for conveying Shireen’s feelings clearly without even a line of dialogue. Looking forward to seeing more of the two of them this season, along with Davos. Oh yeah and Selyse was batshit as usual, glad to see nothing’s changed.
    -I could have lived without the Grey Worm/Missandei scene.
    -I enjoyed Royce’s line, and the knowing look between Petyr and Sansa. They seem more comfortable with each other now, like they have settled into this practical alliance. But you know Creepy is Coming.
    -Croatia is so gorgeous!! 🙂
    -Varys’s speech was a bit obvious but I suppose it’s necessary for unsullied. Where was Roger Allam though?? Glad we’ll get to see more of Conleth Hill! Tyrion was appropriately depressed without asking where whores go a thousand times.
    -Dany, when are you going to start listening to Ser Barristan? Seriously.

    Can’t wait for Dorne (Alexander Siddig!!!!) and Arya in Braavos next week! 🙂

  133. Winter: I’m not sure if this is a joke about him being naked or not…

    I just missed the bravado and cockiness that Skrein brought to the role, which was some of the defining characteristics of Daario in the books as well. Huisman seems like a good actor, so I wish they would have just had him play Daario with more swagger as opposed to essentially rewriting the character.

    If they didn’t tone down Daario’s Daariosity he wouldn’t make a believable Euron.

    That’s happening.

  134. days,

    Really? I don’t see that much. Arya superfans are becoming really annoying. She is not the center of the show, and she is now completely separate from the rest of the story. Take it as a compliment to the character and Maisie that Arya”s ‘training’ is being shown, and not skipped over like Bran, and to a certain extent, Sansa.

  135. Phaelin,

    Yes, the Ghost of High Heart was thought to be the same as Maggy the Frog, and some speculated that this small fortune teller was a Child of the Forest.

  136. JamesL:
    King Stannis,

    That guy was funny at first when it seemed like satire of purist fan rage but the more you look at his twitter feed the more you realize that it is not really satire. He may be hyperbolic for comedic effect but he really doesn’t like the show and neither do many of the people who retweet his stuff.

    Also his grammar and spelling are pretty appalling if that last review is anything to go by.

  137. Skrein had a very punchable face, which made him an ideal candidate to portray book Daario imo. He’s much better than Huisman in that regard. Fortunately for us, the showrunners saw the error of their ways and decided to recast Daario.

    Book Daario is by quite a large margin Martin’s worst creation (Penny is bad to, but not that bad). The show shouldn’t touch the book character with a ten foot pole. Diverging from Book Daario should be applauded.

    I mean sure, his backstory was bit cheesy, but still better than whatever Book Daario is supposed to be. Huisman is a pretty great actor and his relationship with Daenerys is a lot more credible than in the book imo. Job well done by the show.

  138. Jaime’s girl,
    Nymeria Warrior Queen,

    Glad to know that others can dip into the shallow end of the pool and offer their appreciation for Huisman.

    I am not a fan of Book Daario; he is a one-dimensional “comic book” cool guy. Either show version is an improvement. Importantly, Huisman is a much better actor. One thing that bugged me about Skrien’s Daario was the ridiculous styling. He and Emilia could have compared long, blonde wigs.

    Overall. I wasn’t a fan of the Daario-Dany scenes last night.

  139. mariamb:
    Jaime’s girl,
    Nymeria Warrior Queen,

    Glad to know that others can dip into the shallow end of the pool and offer their appreciation for Huisman.

    I am not a fan of Book Daario; he is a one-dimensional “comic book” cool guy. Either show version is an improvement. Importantly, Huisman is a much better actor. One thing that bugged me about Skrien’s Daario was the ridiculous styling. He and Emilia could have compared long, blonde wigs.

    This image says everything I want to say about Ed Skrein’s wig 😉
    https://www.pinterest.com/pin/77124212341649159/

  140. Tyrion Pimpslap:
    days,
    Really? I don’t see that much. Arya superfans are becoming really annoying. She is not the center of the show, and she is now completely separate from the rest of the story. Take it as a compliment to the character and Maisie that Arya”s ‘training’ is being shown, and not skipped over like Bran, and to a certain extent, Sansa.

    The trolling is weak here.

  141. days,

    I love Arya, she is one of my 3 or 4 favorite characters, but there are certain fans of hers that annoy me with always questioning how many episodes or scenes she is in, and commenting that D&D aren’t fans of hers or that she is always being underutilized, despite the fact that she is only behind Tyrion,Jon, and Dany in total screen time.

  142. Tyrion Pimpslap,

    I guess I’ve missed most of that. I’ve seen a lot of that with Sansa (before anything which may happen this season was even being discussed)…that D&D must hate her because they’ve absolutely ruined her, etc… I get the reticence about her arc this season. I’m definitely waiting until I see how it all pans out before I make my judgement whether it works, or not, but it seems like some people have been flipping out over Sansa for a long time. Like I said, I haven’t seen anywhere near the same level of flipping out over Arya, but again, maybe I’ve just missed it.

  143. No appearance of Mord, the gaoler in the Vale. D&D are hacks and the show is going to be cancelled!

  144. Good season opener, though nothing extra special and fairly slow as you’d expect from the source material. They have to re-establish the characters in a new environment or situation for the most part and a little exposition was obvious in the dialogue. Final scene was suitably uncomfortable watching.

    As for Arya, well the producers know she’s an asset to the story and I’m sure we’ll get plenty and as much as the story needs in the new season, there’s too much going on to fit in extra stuff for the sake of it. Most of the Braavos stuff in the books doesn’t make for interest televisually anyway so they need to condense it to the key points of her development and where it fits in to what’s happening with other characters.

  145. I’m not sure what happened to my previous comment but I’ll go again! Thoroughly enjoyed the episode and won’t bother reiterating everything that has been said above…but…one small detail bothered me. Did anybody else think that Mance’s top was like an expensive, tailored turtleneck rather than a black loose rag to wear under your furs? I loved the whole scene and thought he was fantastic as Mance but the clothing kept distracting me!

  146. Winter,

    I think new Dario is better choice for the show. He is much more believable as someone showDany could fall in love/lust. Hormonal bookDany could be attracted to flamboyant clown but for older showDany is new Dario more suitable.

    Generally i think D+D are making good choices to adjust a behavior of characters to their show ages. Dany dont act as hormonal teenager because she is not one in the show. They made Joffrey´s and Tommen´s favorite hobbies more adult, that is a good thing. Brienne is more cynical and rude, but again in the books she is much younger, and that extreme amount of naivety and idealism would not fit to Gwendoline Christie´s age.

  147. Sorry of this has been discussed already.

    Do we think the death of Mance means that Hinds was likely to be the actor who wrote the letter to D&D about their character’s untimely death?

    Or am I just clinging blindly to the unlikely possibility that it isn’t

    Selmy

    ?

  148. JamesL,

    I didn’t tweet because I really needed to pay attention to the show because there was a lot in it, overall maybe a good sign?

  149. It seems I was one of the few who was a bit disappointed by the episode, which to me showed one thing above all else: Feast for Crows was a fantastic book. The episode felt all over the place for me, giving expositions for new conflicts, all of which I’m looking forward to a lot less than I was in the books. Examples:

    – Tyrion going to Mereen. I know it will take ages and I know that without the Aegon storyline, there is not much to look forward to, few surprises until the Pit.
    – The Mereenese knot. It convinced me in ADWD because several shady people were involved – the Green Grace, the Shavepate, etc. I fear the show will have Daario and Hizdar. For nine episodes. Oh dear.
    – Brienne and Pod. I have no idea what they could run into that could be remotely as interesting as Lady Stoneheart. They seem to be stuck in a D&D plothole.
    – Sansa going North. An interesting twist I’m open about, but it all happens so very damn fast. This could end great, but I think there is reason to fear it doesn’t.
    – Jaime and Dorne. I loved Dorne in the books – loved Doran, loved Arianne, loved the Queenmaker plot. Jaime there just feels wrong, and open provocation, as the trailer for the next episode suggest, could be the most awful thing to do with Dorne.
    – Cercei in KL. AFFC is brilliant at preparing Cercei’s downfall. In the show, it could all be reduced to Loras and Lancel. Dropping the minor characters (Merrywheater especially, but also the Stokesworth plot and the Kettleblacks) could make this ridiculous.
    – The Wall. Stannis and Jon were great in their scenes, but if we have to trade Mance in Winterfell, the Manderlays, Jeyne, Theon’s escape for, well, Sansa being there – I think the result of the battle at Winterfell could be the most uninteresting thing ever.

    Maybe I’ll be more optimistic next week, but so far it feels that the show is trying to cut away all the fast to be done in three seasons, without realising the fat is half the taste. I hope I’m wrong.

  150. King Stannis,

    No, actually almost everyone who has posted here does NOT understand. Especially about appreciating the awesome humor AngryGOTFan puts out there. You go, AGOTF! And hopefully some of these other people will be able to get over themselves someday.

  151. A missing quote: When Missandei asks Grey Worm why White Rat went to the brothel, why didn’t he answer her with his quote from A Dance with Dragons when a similar question is posed to him? A book-reader quibble perhaps, but it’s a great line, and I would’ve loved to hear Grey Worm discuss it with Missandei, given their relationship. It seems like a bizarre line to leave out.

    For those of us who haven’t memorized ADwD, what did Grey Worm say?

  152. Stella,

    I hope so. In ADwD, GW actually said those words to Dany, which humanized him greatly for me. I thought he would say it in that first Dany scene…then I really hoped that he would say it with Missandei. It’s an iconic phrase for him, imho.

    But then again, the show has already humanized GW to an extent. The White Rat/Stalwart Shield scene, which is another example of the show bringing to light something only discussed via 3rd-party in the books, was sort of self-explanatory, I guess.

  153. Hodor’s Bastard,

    I hope so, too. I do not know what will happen with GW, but a scene with Missandei in which he says this to her would be lovely. I am a fan of M+GW and I appreciate the delicate nature and tone of their relationship. So much feeling, so many questions–about the past AND the future. We do not have many examples of this kind of interaction in the show. They are very special characters. To me.

  154. Steady opening

    Not much flow or deep action

    But what you would expect given they want to show where everyone is at and set the arcs up for the season so no major grumbles

    A bit sad some of book Mance’s awesomeness wasn’t conveyed, I felt he could have done with the training yard combat against Jon Snow and he could have stuck around a little longer to give Jon some advice but I guess it is a fast-paced show

    Not surprised they’ve written him out, writing was on the Wall (excuse pun) when there was a lack of Dalla, baby, Val, singing and musical instruments etc in previous seasons so can’t say I was surprised at all

    I hope Lancel isn’t emblamatic of the Sparrows at large, Pryces line and how it is delivered in the trailers gives me hope

  155. Ginevra:
    I really thought Maggy the Frog was going to be a Child of the Forest, the same Child who prophesies for the Brotherhood without Banners.I cannot remember all of the evidence behind that theory, but I had really expected Maggy to be diminutive.

    Nar Maegi the Frog is more like Mirri Maaz Duur than the Ghost of High heart

    She was brought out from East by a merchant I think, it’s implied she is Jeyne Westerlings grandmother and that Jw’s mother was using an infertility formula on JW

    Don’t reckon it will be relevant to show Talisia though, don’t reckon the Ghost of High Heart will be in either

  156. Stella,

    Yeah people find this annoying but I don’t mind it as it’s a way to explore the Unsullied humanity rather than just have them all one-dimensional soldiers

    So it was good that they showed White Rat/Stalwart Shield the right way, he’s a tough soldier but wants to hark back to his innocent childhood before he was enslaved etc

  157. i think mance the character is dead. no glamour in this show.

    i think theyll use tormund instead.

  158. Hodor Targaryen: Why would the Mance that we saw in his last scene with Jon switch with someone else and be okay with someone else dying? He’s dead

    Aftee rewatching the epidisode i reached the same conclusion, i guess i was hoping them to follow the line in the books, after all mance was a key character in winterfell in ADWD, but its goig to be interesting to see how they are going to manage that plotline

  159. Thinking about the lack of the valonqar being mentioned and here is my theory: Since prophecies always have some twist what if the valonqar’s hands used to strangle Cersei are actually Tyrion’s hand necklace that strangled Shae. They can’t mention it on the show because Tyrion never had the hand necklace on the show. So then it really could be anyone.

  160. Leuf,

    I really like that theory. It could be anyone. I’ve always wondered what Cersei’s endgame would be. It seems too obvious for the valonquar to be either Tyrion or Jaime, so why not someone else? A Sand Snake? The Martells should get some sort of satisfaction out of what has happened to them. It could be Arya for similar reasons. It could also be Margaery & Lady Olenna, who could also take out Tommen. And I love the idea of using the hand necklace!

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