Game of Thrones: “The Wars to Come” Season 5 Episode 1 Review

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It’s that time of year again. Game of Thrones mania continues on as the season numbers get larger. If this premiere is any indication of things to come, the show won’t be losing fans anytime soon. “The Wars to Come” was one of Thrones‘ best premieres, setting up the season’s storylines in a brisk manner.

With the end of season four feeling like the close of the first half of the series, the onset of season five already seems to have an endgame in mind. Characters that have never shared a single scene are slowly grouping together.

Take the happenings at the Wall in this episode for instance. Stannis wants Mance Rayder and the wildlings to join his army and attack Westeros, with Jon Snow acting as the messenger. There was no cross-country traveling here, Jon went and talked to Stannis, then to Mance, and then they were all together at Castle Black where Melisandre burned Mance at the stake after he refused to join.

The things that are great about Thrones that we take for granted at this point were all at work here. Top-notch writing, acting, and general filmmaking. But with the bonus of all these character interacting face-to-face, things felt that much more urgent. Jon’s arrow to Mance’s chest was emotionally satisfying. But now he has to answer to Melisandre.

But this isn’t the only corner of the world where characters are joining up. Who knows how long it will actually take Tyrion and Varys to reach Daenerys, but the idea of having the show’s two biggest stars in the same scene is also exciting. And Tyrion helping the Targaryen queen regain her throne in place of his own family would be highly rewarding.

Converging storylines is something we Thrones fans have had to be patient for, but the very prospect of it makes me giddy.

Of course, King’s Landing still has the highest concentration of familiar faces. The season starts with a creepy flashback to a fortuneteller spooking Cersei with her future. Now, she’s burying her father and preparing to give up her reign to a woman she despises. Cersei’s life has never seemed more tumultuous, and that’s great for Lena Headey, who still sells every moment with both tragedy and cynicism.

So in total, “The Wars to Come” had a lot to offer in terms of table-setting. It’s rare to be going into a season this late in a show’s run and it feels like it’s only just getting started. It’s what keeps Game of Thrones perhaps the most exciting show on TV. They don’t even need another Red Wedding to keep things interesting. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be one. Grade: A-

 

Some Other Notes:

– A classic “so close!” character clash came when Sansa and Littlefinger passed by Brienne and Podrick in a carriage. So close!

– With Bran sitting out this season, we only need to catch up with Arya and Theon next week. But then we also have to be introduced to the Martells. Even as characters consolidate, we’re still being introduced to new ones.

– Remember when Dany’s dragons were cute? Yeah, well, they grew up.

 

By Matt Dougherty

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