All aboard the Hype Train! In preparation of Season 8 of Game of Thrones, Kelly is doing a rewatch for the greater good to refresh our memories, catch the things we might have forgotten, pick up the things we might have missed, and maybe make predictions! Hold onto your fur rugs from Ikea and AWAY WE GO.
Rules of this series: We’re deep diving into these episodes and I’m watching them on a per-episode base because I like digesting the episodes. Spoilers lie ahead. As much as I can, I am going to try and keep things episode/season specific. It’s out of respect to the narrative as well as the later seasons. Onwards!
5.1 The Wars to Come
Here we are, at Season 5! This is the last season that has a corresponding book and even with that, you can tell where things start to stray from the source material. The opening credits start out innocently enough and for some reason, Charles Dance is still credited. He must have made bank just laying on that stone! Everything looks familiar, until we get to Winterfell. It’s no longer on fire but the Stark direwolf has disappeared and it’s been replaced by… the flayed man of House Bolton. That’s right. Remember, the last time we saw Roose, he was marching on Winterfell to assume his duties as Warden of the North.
The Wars to Come is a reference to the upcoming battle(s)- on one side we have Dany who is plotting her move on King’s Landing for the next seven million episodes, and then Stannis, who needs to get through the North, then Winterfell, and then King’s Landing. And I guess Jon and White Walkers and all that.
This is a weird season opener as there’s no cold open- but there is a flashback to pre-Robert’s Rebellion which feels like a cold open. We get a young Cersei who visits with Maggi the Frog,a green seer in the Westerlands. (Fun fact, Maggi is played by Jodhi May- the younger sister from The Last of the Mohicans! Pleasant surprise.) Cersei has always been after power and wants to immediately know if she will wed the prince, meaning Rhaegar Targaryen (nope) and Maggi says no, you’ll wed the king, which foresees Robert succeeding Aerys. Maggi continues to say that Cersei will be queen only briefly before a younger and more beautiful queen comes along.
Maggi also predicts that the king will have 20 children but Cersei will only have three and they’ll all have blonde hair, with gold shrouds. I mean, she wasn’t wrong, but now I know Robert had 19 other bastard children not named Gendry and I want to know their whereabouts! Did they all die!?
Flash forward to Cersei as she attends Tywin’s funeral. She and Jaime discuss Tywin’s legacy while standing over Tywin’s body and agree that all the other visitors are just waiting to pounce- without Tywin, the Lannisters are left without a leader and are divided- Jaime hasn’t made any sort of impact similar to Tywin’s reign and they’ll never take Cersei or Tyrion seriously as a woman and as the Imp. Cersei asks Jaime’s role in Tyrion’s release and also demands that he bring Tyrion to her to repay Tywin for his betrayal.
In this scene, it’s fair to say that Cersei resents Jaime for being born a male and being their father’s favorite- but she’s also using Tywin’s death as a way to manipulate Jaime, making him feel guilty and act on her behalf. She’s not too displeased that Tywin is gone since that means she doesn’t need to marry Loras or do whatever else Tywin had her doing. Jamie has nowhere near the intelligence or intention of wielding Lannister power- he simply wants to maintain what they have and he assumes Cersei wants the same- so he’s blind to this side of her.
We cut over to Pentos, where Tyrion is released from Varys’ crate. And they’re not at just anyone’s house- it’s Illyrio’s house, where Dany and Viserys kicked off Season 1. Varys reveals himself to be in favor of a Targaryen restoration , but Tyrion stops listening and goes straight for the wine.
A bit more east in Meereen, the statue of the slave cities is torn down from Dany’s pyramid. One of the Unsullied makes his way to a prostitute- “Wait what, what about his lack of penis!?” you cry. It’s irrelevant, as he’s just there to have a lullaby. As he drifts off into a slumber, his throat is slit by someone wearing a very ominous gold mask- the mask of the Sons of the Harpy.
Dany’s confused as to why there would be people acting out against her because she still doesn’t see herself as a conqueror. She doesn’t see any of her actions as uprooting culture, values, and ways of lives. Dany’s still under the impression that her liberation is what Meereen wanted, even if they didn’t know it, because what they were doing before was wrong. Mind you, she still hasn’t sat down to really understand Meereenese ways of life from someone who doesn’t fall over backwards for her. Now, with that being said, her scenes in Season 7 of counseling with Olenna, Jon, Yara, and Varys shows just how far she’s come- but I just want one shred of recognition and remorse that she didn’t do any of these slave cities any actual justice and left them hanging in the wind.
It also goes to say that Dany might have acted differently if she hadn’t sent Jorah away- he was the only one that was willing to caution her against irrational decisions and she listened to him… but who’s to say Dany wouldn’t have steamrolled over his advice? We’ve seen it happen several times. Anyway, with or without Jorah, Dany is a bad ruler. Bad.
At Castle Black, Jon is passive-aggressively beating up Olly for killing Ygritte under the guise of combat training. Sam can’t stop gloating to Gilly about killing a White Walker and a Thenn and he keeps looking around for validation that he is a badass. Sam knows that if Alliser gets elected as Lord Commander, Gilly will get sent away but he did promise her that they would never be apart- so his wheels start turning on how to either keep her there or find an excuse to go with her.
When did they change Mel’s hair to black!? Mel escorts Jon to meet Stannis and she’s checking him out the whole elevator ride up. She hits on Jon by touching his hand and asking if he’s a virgin- she clearly sense that he might be useful for something and its not too far off from her attitude towards Gendry. It’s the first big and obvious confirmation that there is more power in his blood than that of a Stark. Stannis tells Jon that Roose, the man who murdered his brother, sits at Winterfell but Jon refuses to leave as he has an oath to uphold. Davos says that Jon is well loved by his men, as well as the Wildlings, and so Stannis wants Jon and whatever men follow him on his side. He tries to entice Jon by saying his first stop is to get Winterfell back from Roose in honor of Ned, but Jon won’t have it as he knows that the Wildlings won’t bend the knee and shouldn’t have to, in order to be free men. Besides that, they don’t want to have anything to do with the Realm anyway. Stannis gives Jon the rest of the day to convince Mance, and thus the Wildlings, to bend the knee.
I’m still confused on Mel’s warning to Stannis that the real war was to the North- did she really mean the war to the North was with the Boltons and not the White Walkers? I could have sworn it was the White Walkers. Anyway.
Down in the Vale, Sansa went from watching Loras Tyrell jousting to Robin Arryn with a stick and you can imagine how exciting that must be. Littlefinger receives a scroll, which he hides from her in a very subtle way that wouldn’t call any attention to his sleeve at all. Nearby, Pod and Brienne when she tells him its safe for him to leave and that he doesn’t owe her any loyalty at all- the Hound’s comment that both Renly and Cat were killed, with Jaime losing a hand under her protection has really gotten to Brienne, as she’s been spurned by Arya and is now ready to give up on Sansa. Conveniently enough, Pod spots a carriage bearing the sigil of Littlefinger.
Inside, Sansa interrogates Littlefinger with questions of his decisions of leaving the Vale, why he trusts his men over the people at Lord Royce’s castle, and where he is taking her- she’s smart enough to know that they are heading west and his answers, I would say, are honest enough so that it’s understood Sansa is getting a good understanding of how his mind works in addition to his mentoring. Littlefinger’s taking Sansa so far away to where Cersei won’t follow and right on cue, the Winferfell theme kicks in.
Back in King’s Landing, Loras is trying to talk to Cersei about Tywin, but she’s too busy spying on Margaery making moves on Tommen. She brushes by Pycelle only to run into Lancel, sporting a buzzcut and barefoot. Kevan is disappointed in his grungy son and says Lancel’s taken up with fanatics of the Light of the Seven who call themselves sparrows- and also implies that since Tywin’s death, they’ve grown more bold and outspoken in the streets. Lancel finds Cersei again and he chastises her for conducting their affair and thus committing several sins, including tempting Cersei, and his part in Robert’s death. His new friends have brought him peace, mercy, and justice. It kind of sounds like a threat!
Since Loras can’t find any warmth in Cersei, he goes back to Olyvar, the male hooker from Littlefinger’s brothel. He’s tracing a birthmark on Loras’ leg and compares it to the shape of Dorne. I guess he now knows the shape of Dorne pretty well after being with Oberyn and Ellaria. Margaery walks in on them without knocking and tells Loras to get dressed so they can go to dinner. She’s completely unperturbed by Olyvar’s presence in Loras’ bedroom, and we know from her time with Renly that Margaery didn’t really care about the sexual proclivities of others. Loras has stopped caring since Tywin’s death means that his marriage to Cersei is likely off the table and points out that if he’s not marrying Cersei, that means she’s staying in King’s Landing with Tommen and Margaery simply replies, “Perhaps.” The wheels are turning and she’s already planning on Cersei’s exit.
In Pentos, Varys is trying to convince Tyrion to stop drinking because he still believes that Tyrion has a big part to play in the war to come due to his upbringing in politics and compassion for others. Varys is truly a servant of the Seven Kingdoms and wishes for a world where the weak aren’t preyed on and sees Dany, who is apparently loved by millions for some reason, as the right leader with Tyrion by her side. K.
Back in Meereen, Hizdar and Daario return from Yunkai bring good news back from Yunkai, who now wants back in with Dany under a few “concessions.” Hizdar points out that good leaders make compromises and Dany throws him some sass and JUST SHUT UP DANY AND LISTEN TO WHAT THE PEOPLE ARE ASKING FOR. Hizdar asks her to open up the fighting pits for those who want to fight, not just slaves, and Dany says absolutely not because she doesn’t want people to die fighting as this would just make the masters rich again. Daario counterargues, saying that for the poor, the fighting pits are a chance at fame and will provide Meereen with some relief and distraction from combating her other decisions. Good point, Daario. Just deliver these things oozing more sexiness next time.
Halfway convinced, Dany goes to visit her dragons because we need to see DRAGONS in the premiere and they’re openly aggressive with her. She leaves because she can’t even. At first I thought this might have been a throwaway scene, but I see this as an indication of how unconfident Dany is without Jorah. Daario reckons he’s the only person that will talk back to Dany, but we know that’s not true and even if Michael Huisman isn’t doing the greatest job playing Daario, it’s pretty obvious that Daario is a yes-man and will say whatever he needs to in order to placate his queen in the moment. He lacks the skill of thinking longterm.
Back at Castle Black, Jon counsels with Mance, who knows Stannis wants to use his army and refuses to serve Stannis as the King Beyond the War. Mance doesn’t want his people bleeding for Stannis, even if he thinks Stannis will be a better king and Jon asks that if Mance isn’t there to conquer and was willing to bring them south to save them, then what’s the harm of serving Stannis? Mance doesn’t want to bend the knee to Stannis as he sees it as undoing all of his work in uniting his people and his image would be tarnished. It’s a male ego factor. This scene also sets a really strong foundation for the problems Jon encounters in Season 7, when he meets Dany and he’s in the same spot Mance was in- Jon is facing the White Walkers as Dany (in Stannis’ place) has her sights on King’s Landing. Mance’s mistake here gives Jon the right perspective when negotiating, as he then rightfully concedes to Dany in order to give his people the resources he needs.
Stannis then takes Mance to the square of Castle Black, where he’s burned alive as a sacrifice to the Red God- either way, Stannis will find a way to make Mance of service. Tormund and some other Freefolk are brought out to show them who’s boss (Stannis) and most of the Night’s Watch is visibly uncomfortable with the idea of burning a man at the stake even if they were enemies just hours ago. It’s not a good way to go and also not a respectable way to chalk up a win. Jon shoots Mance in the heart from afar to put him out of his misery and Olly, whose village was DESTROYED by WILDLINGS, gives him and his pity a dirty look. It’s a quick middle finger to Stannis as well, as it implies that Jon isn’t afraid to speak up against injustice or wrongdoing when he sees it. Cut to BLACK.
5.2 The House of Black and White