Entertainment TV ‘Game of Thrones’ recap: The Wars to Come
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‘Game of Thrones’ recap: The Wars to Come

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Ah, it’s good to be back.

For a show that gets better with every single episode, the last season of Game of Thrones was particularly enthralling, making the 10-month wait for season five especially excruciating.

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Hearing that grandiose opening theme again is like hugging an old friend – albeit a slightly standoffish one who can become violent when drunk.

Spoiler alert: if you haven’t watched the season five premiere, WHY DID YOU CLICK ON THIS?

‘The Wars to Come’ is an aptly named episode as it is heavy on political intrigue and light on the graphic violence for which is the series is well known.

Tywin’s death (at the hand of his own son, Tyrion, whilst on the loo) has left a notable vacuum that many are champing at the bit to fill.

But first, an unsettling flashback …

In the woods somewhere

We meet two young girls, one of them a younger but only slightly less bitter Cersei Lannister, approaching a creepy hut in the woods to seek out a fabled witch.

After being hassled, the witch – who is not as terrifying as expected – reluctantly tells a typically sassy Cersei her future, which is, essentially, about as promising as Theon Greyjoy’s.

Reminder: Theon is castrated, mentally broken and at the mercy of the Boltons.

The witch tells Cersei she will be queen but won’t have any kids with her husband (accurate) and then she will be replaced by someone younger and more beautiful who will “cast you down and take all you hold dear”.

Great.

According to readers of the books, this is an amended prophecy and what the show’s writers chose to omit is interesting in itself. If you want to know more, Google ‘Valonqar’, but beware of spoilers.

got-cersei
A young Cersei Lannister (left) and friend.

 

King’s Landing

Flash forward and Cersei is living out the witch’s predictions. She’s had three kids with her brother and is currently battling to save her youngest son from the clutches of Margaery Tyrell, a younger, more beautiful woman who wishes to be queen.

She’s also grappling with the return of her cousin Lancel, who helped her kill off her husband but also relieved her of some sexual tension when her brother was out of town … gross.

Lancel has apparently joined an anti-religious cult where members are known as Sparrows. Expect to learn more about the Sparrows, who are lead by the “High Sparrow” – a character played by newcomer Jonathan Pryce.

To make matters worse for Cersei, she’s just lost her father and must be getting sick of seeing her family members dead on stone slabs. This time is particularly bad because her brother Tyrion is to blame – a fact that only fuels her fiery hatred for him.

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Cersei Lannister visits her father’s body in King’s Landing.

 

Pentos

Speak of the devil, Tyrion arrives fresh off the boat in the city of Pentos accompanied by everyone’s favourite eunuch – Lord Varys.

After spending what one can only presume was an extended period of time in a wooden crate filled with his own faeces, Tyrion declares, “The future is s**t, just like the past”, before vomiting up some wine.

It’s a feeling anyone who has seen the Red Wedding scene can empathize with.

Varys’ admiration for Tyrion has always been clear — in fact, it’s pretty much the reason he rescued him from inevitable execution – but this time he needs the imp to serve a greater purpose.

Tyrion has proven himself to be a political tour de force and Varys knows having him on-side is the best way to get someone of value on the Iron Throne.

Varys is on the hunt for a monarch who can “intimidate the high lords and inspire the people” with a powerful family and the right name.

“Good luck finding him,” Tyrion retorts.

“Who said anything about him?” Varys says with raised brow.

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Tyrion (left) and Varys recover from a long voyage.

 

Meereen

Enter Daenerys Targaryen, not so much “intimidating and inspiring”, rather struggling to maintain control over her patchwork society of slaves, soldiers and misfits – not to mention her dragons.

To make matters worse, there’s a new band of vigilantes out for her blood, killing off a member of her Unsullied army as he enjoys some fairly innocent female contact in a brothel.

Thankfully, she has the stoic Daario Naharis by her side and one can’t help but think the two would make a seriously excellent King and Queen. He is refreshingly honest with her, encouraging her to allow the city of Yunkai to retain its fighting pits (where he learned his skills) and imploring her to reconnect with her dragons.

This is where Dany has a startling moment of timidity. She visits her chained-up kids, Rhaegal and Viserion, only to cower in fear as they breathe fire at her.

She has a long way to go if she wants to take on Cersei Lannister, who would probably breathe fire right back at them.

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Daenerys (centre) consults with Missandei and Ser Barristan.

 

Castle Black

Over at The Wall, Jon Snow is being Jon Snow.

Stannis Baratheon, in a rare moment of diplomacy, has asked Jon to encourage Wildling leader Mance Rayder to surrender his army to the greater good or be burned alive.

In the great tradition of Jon always being right but NO ONE ever listening to him, Mance says “no thanks” to Stannis’ offer despite Jon’s genuine concern for his wellbeing.

Mance almost certainly regrets his decision once he’s on his funeral pyre surrounded by flames as the sorceress Melisandre waxes lyrical, but what can a man do?

Rely on Jon’s unfailing mercy one more time, that’s what.

The brooding resident babe of Castle Black shoots an arrow through his former enemy’s chest in an effort to end his suffering – and the audience’s.

No one enjoys a public immolation, not even the blood hungry Tormund Giantsbane (his face says it all):

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Tormund Giantsbane watches Mance burn.

 

As for everyone else…

• Brienne of Tarth is downtrodden and defeated all this death – who can blame her – while Podrick, her trusty squire, is attempting to cheer her up. Unsuccessfully.

• Sansa Stark is en route to God knows where with her captor/lover/only hope Petyr Baelish. She looks reasonably content and is probably just happy to get away from the insufferable presence of Robin Arryn and his terrible self defence skills.

• Arya Stark, Theon Greyjoy, Bran Stark, the Boltons and others are yet to bet seen, although we assume they’re all suitably stressed.

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