Like all of ”Game of Thrones” season premieres, the April 12 episode, titled “The Wars to Come,” is a largely utilitarian affair, showing us who’s alive, who’s dead, who’s on top and who’s on the lam — a basic recap for fans on what happened in the previous season. But Cersei’s flashback, which is the first flashback in the show’s history, definitely sets the tone and provides the theme for the big Season 5 kickoff. Once you’ve seized the power you’ve spent a lifetime fighting for, what do you do with it — and what does it do to you? That is the big question.
A young Cersei Lannister finds a witch to demand her future in the recent flashback, but she has no idea that getting exactly what you want can be the worst thing in the world. The witch tells her that her reign will only last until another queen, “younger and more beautiful,” sweeps her aside. And what about her three royal children? “Gold will be their crowns,” the witch coos, before adding her cackling kicker: “and gold their shrouds.” “She’ll get to the top, but the royal won’t like what she finds there.” Could it be Margaery Tyrell she speaks of or could it be the Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea and Queen of Meereen? That is what viewers will soon find out.
That kind of eerie foreshadowing of Cersei’s future rings very true according to the past four seasons. This is the season where the games of war really begin and what the fans of “GoT” have long waited for. The past four seasons have been a roller coaster ride of emotions, but this season is where we the viewers will begin to see progress with our favorite characters and as always see one of our favorite characters perish by the hands of George R.R. Martin. We still love you George.
So, to recap what is happening in the realm of “GoT” since Season 4:
In the case of Stanis Baratheon, he is beginning to look pretty darn good. Of all the rival warlords we’ve met, Stannis is unique in that he’s both hard to love and hard to hate. But that was before he decided to stop demanding the Iron Throne and start earning it. He saved the realm from the wildling onslaught as we fans remember in Season 4. Now he’s prepared to make peace with the very people he just defeated, using them as reinforcements to take down Roose and Ramsay Bolton, the loathsome Lannister cronies occupying Winterfell. When you see a guy like that standing on top of the Wall, lord of all he surveys, you can’t help but feel he belongs there.
Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys Targaryen, doesn’t look quite so comfortable. She’s tearing down monuments Saddam-style and playing the game of politics very badly. Her troubles begin when her most loyal unsullied troops are getting slaughtered by insurgents in the streets — or in the sheets. I shan’t disclose too much information about the episode.
As for her dragons, they are either on the run or in chains; judging from how the pets fume at her in their prison pit, they’re none too happy about it. Who could blame them? She locked them away in a prison pit as if she were discarding away old toys. She was their mother and she abandoned them and this has led to resentment for the Khaleesi. Her fear of not being able to control her dragons is affecting her role as a ruler. The truth is if Daenerys can’t control her dragons then she will eventually lose the upper hand she has been gradually earning these past four seasons. “I am not a politician … I am a queen.” Right now, though, she doesn’t seem much of either.
She’s still doing a sight better than Tyrion Lannister. Wanted for the murder of his nephew (innocent), his father (guilty), and his concubine ex-girlfriend (sadly, it’s unlikely anyone in the Seven Kingdoms cares), Tyrion has fled Westeros. Varys, the smooth-talking spymaster, got Tyrion out of King’s Landing in hopes that he can join him to win over the Mother of Dragons, for he still sees potential in the brilliant Imp.
This former Master of Whisperers has been one of the show’s most endearing characters from the start, even though we know full well he’s got a lifetime of dirty deeds behind him. He’s won the trust of Ned Stark, Tyrion and the audience. The question now is whether he can win the Mother of Dragons over, too — and whether he’ll screw everyone over if he does. Sorry, but you don’t earn a nickname like the Spider for being a pussycat.
If being a relatively decent guy gives Varys his power, other players are finding slightly less benign ways to get it and wield it. In the Vale, Littlefinger insists that “a great name” is all you need, and as the caretaker of both little Lord Robin Arryn and Lady Sansa Stark, he’s got two. In King’s Landing, Queen Margaery Tyrell and her brother rely on family and charm to sharpen their edge against their rival-in-law Cersei, who’s busy browbeating her brother Jaime for his involvement in Tyrion’s escape.
For the King-Beyond-the-Wall, Mance Rayder, he has taken his defeat by Stannis and Jon Snow relatively well, but he refuses to tell his subjects to serve in the coming Baratheon-Bolton war. As a result, Stannis orders Mance to be burned alive publicly. The camera lingers on his face as he watches the flames that are about to end his life in agony — until Snow casts cold water on the sacrifice by putting him out of his misery. Jon’s earned power too, after all, risking everything to keep the Wall. And his willingness to risk the wrath of a king if that’s what it takes to do the right thing indicates that power might suit him well.
The shift of power and immense growth in the characters is going to make this season of “Game of Thrones” the season of all seasons. Things are heating up between characters and as some houses begin to rise for power others are beginning to fall from their Iron Throne. The game is definitely afoot in “Game of Thrones” this season so prepare for the worst and for the best.