Game of Thrones “The Wars to Come” Review

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Posted April 13, 2015 by Chris White in Nerdy Bits

*Spoilers below*

For me, Game of Thrones has always been about what is being said just as much as what is being done. There has been a cornucopia of death, sex and destruction since the very first episode of season one but there has also been an abundance of great dialogue. In ‘The Wars to Come,’ the first episode of season five, there isn’t a lot of the latter; however there are some great conversations that play out to set the tone and direction of the oncoming season.

There are four main focuses in the episode: Cersei’s inability to deal with the death of her father, Jon Snow is asked by Stannis Baratheon, King of the North to speak to Mance Rayder about bending his knee to the King, sparing his life in the process. Tyrion Lannister is drowning his sorrows whilst coming to terms with what he did to his father and former lover at the end of season four, and Daenerys Targaryen is struggling to control her two babies: the dragons, amongst the ongoing struggles of being the freer of slaves. We get to see a little bit from some of the other players in the Game of Thrones but they don’t really bring much to the overall attraction of the episode.

The episode starts off with a young Cersei in the first ever flashback of the show as she wanders through a dark, gothic fairy tale-like forest, on her way to see a witch that can see into the future. Cersei is looking for answers and maybe hears a truth she wishes she didn’t; regardless of this, one thing is abundantly clear: Cersei has always been a spiteful and rude person and the fact she is only a child makes no difference whatsoever; I can certainly see where Joffrey got it from. It’s a nice introduction that leads into the present day where Cersei is en route to see the body of her dead father, Tywin Lannister. Jamie, her brother is protecting him (as part of his duty as the Knight of the King’s Guard) and it gives the two a chance to talk (thankfully it’s only a talk; we all know what dead relatives does to these two!). After only a minute or two, the ongoing fate of their brother Tyrion comes up once more. Even though Tyrion shot their father with a crossbow, Jamie doesn’t believe that his death is the answer. There were a lot of times in season four that Jamie and Tyrion grew closer through his trial and after all, it was Jamie that freed Tyrion from prison. I strongly believe that Jamie is siding more with Tyrion but his love for Cersei is still very prominent. It will be very interesting to see where Jamie’s path leads and who it leads to.

In the beautiful city of Pentos, a worn down and fatigued Tyrion is finally let out of that ‘F#@! Crate’ by Varis and heads straight for the red wine (nothing new there). Tyrion is wallowing in self-pity and doesn’t really see a future for himself or for Westeros. He believes he should be dead and there is no place for him to go. Whether Varis is doing this for the good of Westeros or for the good of himself, he believes that Tyrion still has an important part to play in dethroning the Lannisters. After a well-acted exchange between the two, Varis unveils his plan to head towards Meereen and persuade Daenerys Targaryen to head to King’s Landing and take the throne. ‘Can I drink myself to death on the road to Meereen?’ Tyrion asks. For me, Tyrion could do whatever he wanted at the moment. As far as characters go, Peter Dinklage keeps going from strength to strength in the acting stakes and this was the best scene in the whole episode.

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Daenerys Targaryen is struggling in more ways than one. A ‘coward in a mask’ has slit the throat of an unsullied (in an awfully grim and shocking scene in a brothel) and a request to bring the fighting pits back are rejected instantly, leaving Daenerys with more unhappy followers. Not only is her control of Meereen sliding to say the least, her babies, the dragons aren’t willing to behave for their mother. In a rare show of weakness from Daenerys, she turns to Daario and exclaims that she ‘can’t control them anymore.’ As I leapt from the sofa upon the sight of them rapidly emerging from the dark cave in which they are being locked up in, I could see why. They are much bigger, untamed and louder. And of course, the biggest dragon of them all, Drogon is still missing. Gulp!

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Finally, the other main focus of the episode is on Jon Snow and a difficult request that the King of the North has bestowed upon him. Mance Rayder spared Jon Snow’s life on more than one occasion; he was the leader of the wildings and was thought to be a brute and a psychopath, but as we got to know more about him, we could see that he was no different to any of the other ‘kings’ of Westeros. I really enjoyed the way in which Jon Snow dealt with the inner turmoil he was going through. As Stannis Baratheon gave Jon Snow the pleasure of facing Mance and alerting him of the grand ultimatum (to kneel to Stannis and be spared his life or to negate and be burned at the stake), we saw Jon Snow struggle with Mance’s decision. It has become quite apparent that Jon has become fond of him, and in the final moments of the episode where Mance’s stubbornness and pride leads him to the burn despite the repercussions, Jon stops Mance from taking the ‘bad way to go’ by firing an arrow straight into his heart. Maybe Jon isn’t so different from the Wildlings. It certainly begs the question of where Jon’s loyalties lie and whether or not he has more in common with the wildlings than we once thought.

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We get to see Brienne and Podrick decide on what there next course of action is and Sansa and Little Finger are on the move but little screen time is really given to them at all. Hopefully their stories will be given more screen time in weeks to come as they have had some of the best stories to date. There is a short scene with Marjorie Tyrell and her brother but the purpose seems a little wasted. One thing Game of Thrones can do is cram a lot into one episode and I feel that some of the stories didn’t need to feature. We didn’t see anything of Arya so there was no real reason why some of these couldn’t have waited.

Overall, episode one didn’t feature tons of action, violence or debauchery; the kind of which we have all become accustomed to but it didn’t really matter. Once again, the writers relied on detailed and excellently delivered dialogue and it certainly paid off. I’m glad it is back and there is not a single doubt in my mind that episode two will be as good as or better than the first.


About the Author

Chris White

Rock n' Roll Nerd, Gamer, Writer, Lover and procrastinator.