Slosh out the Dornish and drop your linen, it’s time for season 5 of Game of Thrones. This is the season we run out of book, so I will be retiring the NITB designation. NITB is the new normal folks. Embrace it.
We open with a pair of tween girls being disobedient in the woods, with the instigator being a lanky, haughty blonde. Well hello, flashback Cersei. Cersei was always a bossy boots and a shit-talker, apparently.
And a nap-buster. I don’t know what good she thinks can come of pissing off a witch and issuing demands, but there’s no stopping the girl. I’m not sure if she got to ask all three of her questions, but she got her money’s worth.
Cersei didn’t marry the prince, did marry the king, didn’t have children with him, and 20 bastards sounds about right. Witch Lady’s numbers are good. So I can see why that business about shrouds for her children would make Cersei nervous. And why she hates Marge so hard.
The eye-cookies on Tywin make him look like a White Walker. Jaime is worried that the family legacy will be destroyed, and Cersei is more interested in hurting him than listening. For once, the Lannister family paranoia doesn’t seem excessive at all.
Speaking of Lannisters whose lives are bottoming out, Tyrion is still in a crate. And he’s out. Oof. Damn, we’ve seen Tyrion looking rough but this is truly pitiful.
Varys may be going a bit heavy on the exposition with a man who grew a month’s worth of beard nailed up in a crate. But we know we are at Illyrio’s home for strategically useful waifs and strays, which is where we met Dany all those years ago. And we know that Varys is part of a wider conspiracy backing the return of the Targeryens to power, and that said conspiracy has gone a bit off the rails. Tyrion’s response is to boot & rally.
Meanwhile in Mereen, the Unsullied are doing some redneck renovation on Dany’s penthouse. We get some street-level gratuitous nudity, and one of our Unsullied is visiting a cathouse for a cuddle? It’s very touching.
I think getting your throat slit by a masked intruder is usually extra, but it looks like our boy is getting an upgrade.
Dany is pissed, and is blustering and making rash decisions. Missandei is baffled about the Unsullied visiting brothels, since the rumor is they don’t have the usual gear. Grey Worm isn’t willing to reveal that sometimes a dude just wants to be held.
Way up north, Jon Snow is going easy on the kid who put an arrow in Ygritte’s back, while his vast doggy gnaws a mammoth femur. And even up here in Ice Zombie country, there’s politicking to be done. And sexual bullying from Red Mel for good measure.
Stannis has a plan to take the North back. It’s a great plan that won’t work unless Mance Rayder joins him as a subordinate. So Jon Snow gets to deliver the ultimatum: Kneel or burn. And Mel likes burning people.
Far south in the Vale, Petyr the Poisoner is dropping off his repellant step-son with that guy who plays a dick on every TV show the BBC makes. Sansa is still rocking the hot goth look, which is nice.
Brienne is still in a mood over losing Arya in the process of beating the Hound to death, and is taking it out on poor Pod. This is a great ep for people taking their anger out on the wrong people. Brienne’s sulk is interrupted by Littlefinger and Sansa rolling by on their way out of the book.
Back in King’s Landing, Cersei is pounding wine while enduring the sympathies of people she hates. Then her old catspaw and sidepiece Lancel shows up barefoot in burlap, apparently having taken a vow of weirdness and worrying openness about all the incest and murder they used to get up to. This will end well.
Slow Loras is still banging Littlefinger’s spy, and Marge still has some boundary issues. And the upsides and downsides of Loras marrying Cersei are pretty hard to distinguish.
Back in Pentos, Varys is jollying Tyrion along into joining the Dany Conspiracy (which Dany doesn’t know about, as far as I can tell). Tyrion agrees to hit the road to Mereen, allowing that drinking himself to death can be managed anywhere.
Meanwhile in Mereen, Dany’s political education is continuing without much success in the compromise department. Second Daario gives her some Don Draper story about his whore mom selling him to the fighting pits and how it did him a world of good in the end. Which segues awkwardly into telling her to check on the dragons.
That means we get dragons this ep, which I always enjoy. More than Dany, at least. Chaining the boys up in a dark basement never looked like a good plan, and now they have gotten effing huge, and they are not happy.
Jon Snow provides a fantastic set of arguments for Mance not doing what we know he’s going to do. It’s a shame, but let’s face it, the wildlings aren’t going to follow Mance if he compromises, whatever the reason. Stannis is too rule-bound to compromise either, even if he clearly isn’t going to get what he wants. The only winner here is Mel, who likes burning people.
Mance faces down Stannis with quiet dignity, and makes this ep’s second mention of the war to come. Mel gives us her fundamentalist diva routine and drops torch. The assembled witnesses look on with horror, disgust, quiet satisfaction, and pyromaniacal lust, depending on their affiliations. Some look away, and Jon Snow just bails.
And just as the flames reach face level, here comes the arrow to the heart. Courtesy of Jon Snow, man of action, strong and compassionate. Good qualities in a leader.
Next week looks like Arya, Dorne, and Drogon. I’m looking forward to this, hope you are too.