In the past three years, the annual return of Game Of Thrones has become somewhat of an institutionalised event, if ever the hype had died down at all. Marketing campaigns are beginning ever earlier and are becoming more grand – if you were not getting Twitter DM’s from the Three Eyed Crow, then “Hello!”, where the hell were you? It didn’t get more impressive than the social media hype of ‘Catch Drogon’, a game whereby the collective followers of Game Of Thrones Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts were invited to catch Daenerys’ biggest (and missing) beast. Luring Drogon – via photos, posts and GIFs and the power of the #hashtag – and re-tweeting or commenting before GIF Drogon “flew off” resulted in the lucky addict winning GoT prizes; whoever came up with this marketing campaign must’ve got a big fat HBO-sized bonus, no doubt.
Or my personal fave…
Such grand nature fully epitomises how the show has exploded in the five years since its première; it is a bonafide cash cow, but one that fully manages to back up its hype by growing better with each season.
Now, I’m not one for spoilers, but I think its apt to presume that – if you’re reading this – then you were one of the horde that have already benchmarked your place on the sofa and hummed the theme as the title sequence commenced. Or alternately torrented the 4+ episodes that leaked over the weekend. This is Christmas. If you are the type that likes to read summaries prior to watching however, you are dicing with death. You’ve been warned.
As is customary of any season, it starts slowly. No one wants to be burnt out after the first episode, after all. Admittedly, after a while since the end of Season 4 aired, it is easy to be at a bit of a loss as to who is where and why and how, especially if you – like me – have bulk watched and re-watched seasons 1-4 in the past year.
BIG SPOILERS FOR SEASON 4, DONT BE A FOOL.
Let’s recap, because that’s one thing Game Of Thrones doesn’t do:
- The Night Watch defeated Mance Rayder’s wildling army, much in thanks to the timely arrival of Stannis Baratheon’s army. Stannis, Melisandre: The Red Woman, and all others it entails, are in the North at Castle Black, because that is what Melisandre envisioned. Ygritte – Jon Snow’s wildling lover – is dead (ironically, Jon appears to have taken a fondness to the orphan that shot her with an arrow, go figure).
- Talking of dead women, Shae – Tyrion’s lover – is also dead, she in thanks to his hands around her throat. Oh, he also shot his father whilst he was on the toilet, so we’ve yet another state funeral to behold. Tyrion himself is being shipped (as cargo) across the Narrow Sea by Varys, who has the dubious displeasure of being responsible for removing any fecal evidence Tyrion may push through the holes of the crate he is in.
- Arya has also left Westeros. Believing all her family is dead and with nothing to lose, she heads for the only place she can think that holds promise; Braavos, the home of the faceless men.
- In Meereen, Daenerys continues to struggle with the consequences of being Queen. Oh, and one of her increasingly unruly dragons is missing. Still.
- Littlefinger is now Lord of the Vale after Lysa Arryn’s, erm, untimely demise. Sansa is still with him at the Eyrie, with Brienne and Pod searching for her.
- Margery Tyrell is still hoping to dig her ambitious claws into the young King Tommen whilst Cersei glares from a distance.
Is that everyone? Phew!
The episode begins with a short flashback of Cersei as a child traipsing through the woods with a friend. Of course, we’re not concerned with frolics in the forest, and the pair are actually searching for a (creepy) witch’s hut in which Cersei receives a cryptic prophecy about her future as queen and all the misery that entails. Her sour, lemon-sucking expression was set from this day, it seems.
Talking of creepy, just when you were done thinking Charles Dance would make a good Dracula, you are treated to an image of his suited and booted corpse complete with childishly decorated pebbles sitting on his slowly decaying face. You are not altogether sure whether or not he is staring into your soul. Circling his body like two lost chicks are his incestuous twins in the middle of another disagreement. Whilst Tyrion killed their father on purpose, according to Cersei, Jamie killed their father “by mistake”.
Elsewhere, Varys offers Tyrion an intriguing proposition – once Tyrion is free from poking poo out of the holes in his crate however; continue to Meereen to Daenerys and offer her their assistance. Varys has always championed Tyrion as the mind the Kingdom needs after all. This progression also doesn’t occur in the books, so it will be intriguing to see where it leads.
As for Daenerys herself, in between a pretty pointless post-sex scene where she is clutching a blanket to her bosom and running scared from the dragons she has left, the Sons of the Harpy are killing her Unsullied; whoever said democracy was easy, eh?
Back at the Wall it’s even more unstable; with Stannis presuming superiority over those at the Night’s Watch, he pressures Jon into sending a message to Mance Rayder: persuade the wildlings into being in his army so he can take the North from Roose Bolton – offering them Northern citizenship when he conquers – or die. It was never going to be pretty, and with Jon’s lacklustre negotiation skills and Mance’s willingness for freedom, he is sent to death in Melisandre’s favourite way, though not before Jon shoots an arrow through Mance’s heart and puts him out of his flame-licking misery. It’s important to stand up to bullies, after all.
What did you think of Season 5 Episode 1? Did you catch Drogon?