“The good lords are dead and the rest are monsters.”
– Brienne of Tarth
The season 5 premiere, The Wars To Come, sees House Lannister grappling with the loss of its powerful patriarch at the hands of one of their own. To the North Stannis deals with his wildling captives and to the east Daenerys finds Meereen chaffing under her rule. Tyrion arrives in Essos but it yet to be seen if he will take action or merely drink himself to death.
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The episode opens with a rare flashback scene. We see a young Cersei and her childhood friend Melara going to see a woods witch known as Maggy the Frog. Though the woman tries to shoo them away Cersei demands their futures be told. Cersei is given an ominous reading foretelling her marriage to the King. Maggy says that she will have 3 children, but all will die before her and warns that she will be queen for a time, but only until a younger Queen casts her down taking all she holds dear.
In present time Cersei climbs the steps of the Great Sept and demands a moment alone with her father. She finds Jaime standing over Tywin’s body and berates him for his decision to free Tyrion. Jaime is more concerned with what comes next, knowing their enemies will begin to close in on them now that the great Tywin Lannister is dead. He argues they must be united, but she cannot forgive his actions.
Across the Narrow Sea Varys removes Tyrion from his crate and finds himself at the Manse of Illyrio where Daenerys and her brother once stayed before her marriage to Drogo. He reveals he has been working with Illyrio for years with the aim of a Targaryen restoration, but much has not gone according to plan. Tyrion’s only concern is more wine. In his view “The future is shit. Just like the past.”
In Slaver’s Bay Daenerys remains in control of Meereen as her unsullied remove a Golden Harpy, symbol of the slavers, off the Great Pyramid. After his work an unsullied soldier seeks relief from a prostitute. Though castrated, he pays her to simply hold him. However the prostitute, Lara, proves to be in league with The Sons of the Harpy who slit the soldier’s throat. His body is brought to Daenerys who is disturbed as this group opposing her has never killed before. Barristan seems unsurprised noting as a foreign conqueror there was bound to be resistance. Daenerys decides to bury the soldier publicly with honor hoping it will anger the Sons of the Harpy and force them to lash out.
Vala earns 3 Alliance points for working with the Sons of the Harpy.
At the Wall Jon trains the new recruits in the yard while Sam and Gilly worry over her future at Castle Black. Election for the new Lord Commander will begin soon and should Alliser Thorne win he will surely send her away. Melisandre comes to Jon Snow telling him Stannis begs a word. They share an uncomfortable lift ride up the Wall where she inquires if he is a virgin, but he seems unmoved by her flirtation. Davos points out to Jon that his popularity is mixed, with some believing him too sympathetic to the wildlings. Jon says that being born on the wrong side of the wall does not make them beasts. Stannis explains that he plans to take back the North from the Boltons and wants the wildlings to march with him. He tasks Jon with convincing Mance to bend the knee. Stannis give Jon till nightfall to convince him or he will allow Melisandre to burn Mance as a sacrifice.
In the Vale Sansa, Littlefinger, and Yohn Royce watch Robin’s pathetic display of swordsmanship in the yard. Littlefinger admits he will never be a great warrior, but has other gifts, “The gift of a great name.” Littlefinger receives a message and quickly puts it away. Royce agrees to foster Robin and continue to train him in martial skills. Before parting Sansa thanks him for keeping her presence secret.
On the road Pod suggests heading north as Sansa may seek her half brother Jon. Brienne questions why he is with her as they are now miles from the capital and he is safe, but Pod protests that he is her squire. Brienne is still hurt by Arya’s refusal to trust her and contemplates giving up her quest all together. Just then a carriage rides by carrying Sansa and Littlefinger. Sansa notes that he told Lord Royce they were going to the Fingers, but are headed in the wrong direction. He says though Royce may be trustworthy his staff isn’t and intends to take her somewhere far from Cersei’s grasp.
Back in King’s Landing Cersei is besieged by condolences from her least favorite members of court, Loras and then Pycelle. She is then surprised to be approached by her cousin Lancel, once her lover not seen since taking wounds during Blackwater. Now healed he has become a zealot of The Faith becoming a “sparrow.” His father Keven is appalled and apologizes for his son’s appearance calling these Sparrows a plague on the city. Lancel approaches her privately and begs forgiveness for leading her “into darkness.” Cersei seems genuinely amused by the idea that he could lead anyone anywhere. He tries to broach the topic of Robert’s death, but she feigns ignorance claiming to have no idea what he was talking about.
Loras lounges in bed with Olyvar. He traces Loras’ birthmark saying it looks like Dorne. Margaery interrupts annoyed she has been kept waiting, but not surprised to find her brother in bed with a man. She tells Loras he should be more discreet, but he doesn’t see the point in trying to keep a secret in a city where everyone has spies. With Tywin dead he does not expect Cersei to continue with their engagement leaving Margaery trapped in King’s Landing with Cersei her mother by law. Margaery does not seem so convinced Cersei will stay.
Across the sea Varys tries to motivate Tyrion. He believes Tyrion has the skill to earn power and the compassion to be a good ruler. Tyrion says he will never sit the Iron Throne and Varys agrees. He could help someone else though. He implores Tyrion to come with him to Meereen and meet Daenerys Targaryen to decide if the world is worth saving.
In Meereen Daenerys gets good news with the return of Hizdahr and Daario. The Yunkish slavers have agreed to her terms and will turn over control to the council, but they ask that she reopen the fighting pits a practice she is staunchly opposed to. In private Daario argues in favor of the pits as it is where he learned to fight. He tells Daenerys she must show her strength and mentions the dragons. Daenerys fears more children’s bones being laid at her feet as she can no longer control them. Drogon has not been seen in weeks and she fears he could be halfway across the world. She visits Viserion and Rhaegal in the pit and finds them even more aggressive than before.
Daenerys Targaryen earns 3 Alliance points for the Yunkish slavers agreeing to her demands.
Hizdahr zo Loraq earns 3 Alliance points for negotiating the agreement with the Yunkish slavers.
Daario Naharis earns 3 Alliance points for helping negotiate the agreement with the Yunkish slavers.
At the Wall Jon speaks to Mance Rayder about Stannis’ offer. Mance refuses to bend the knee saying it would cost him the respect of the wildlings and that is the only reason they follow him. He says he cannot ask his people to fight another man’s war. Jon thinks he is making a mistake, but Mance is resigned. That night Mance is marched to a stake in the yard while the captive wildlings and the night’s watch looks on. He again refuses to kneel and is bound to the stake while the pyre is lit. Terror seems to take him as the flames begin to consume. Jon cannot take it anymore and gives Mance a merciful end by shooting him with an arrow.
Stannis Baratheon earns 2 Morghulis points for ordering Mance’s death.
Jon Snow earns 3 Morghulis points for mercy killing Mance.
Mance Rayder receives -5 Death points for his execution.