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TV Review: Game Of Thrones 5.1 “The Wars To Come”
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Game Of Thrones Season 5 Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant – photo Macall B. Polay/HBO

Game Of Thrones
Episode 5.1 “The Wars to Come”
Directed by Michael Slovis
Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
Starring Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Aidan Gillen, Kit Harington, Diana Rigg, Natalie Dormer, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner
Air date: Sunday, April 13, 2015, 9pm

Game Of Thrones, one of the most highly anticipated television shows of the year, made its return on Sunday night. But Episode 5.1 “The Wars to Come” felt more like a “where are they now” installment that could have been summed up with a 5-minute preview video instead of an hour-long episode that moves the story forward.

For this Season 5 debut we catch up with most of the cast of Season 4 — those who made it through the Season 4 finale, that is. In that finale, we saw Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) finally use her magic coin and utter the words “Valar morghulis” (All men must die) to gain passage to the free city of Braavos, where we know she will start her new life. Unfortunately, this first episode doesn’t feature her at all — we’ll have to wait for 5.2 to pick up on her story.

Instead, we get Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) — past and present. The episode begins with a flashback of young Cersei, as bitchy and mean as we know her now, who persuades her frightened friend to accompany her through the muddy woods to the home of a fortune-telling witch. Once there, the witch reveals that Cersei will marry a King, who’ll have 20 children, yet she’ll only have 3, and their shrouds will be gold. Young Cersei doesn’t understand this psychic vision, but flash to the present and it’s obvious that it’s clear now to Cersei, who’s arrived to the sept in King’s Landing where her dead father Tywin is laying in state and his mourners await their turn to pay their respects (and plot their next power moves, according to Cersei).

Once in the sept, Cersei sees her twin brother/lover Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), still captain of the Kingsguard, protecting the body of their father. (Who else expected another rape/sex/twincest at the sept scene between these two?) The Queen Regent, still spitting those metaphorical ashes out of her mouth, doesn’t seem to be too upset that their father is dead. Rather, she’s just angry that their younger brother Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) — who has escaped the city — was the one who committed the murder and blames Jaime (as usual) for all her problems. Why does he love her again? She’s such a damn bitch.

Episode 5.2 also shows us Tyrion and his accomplice, the eunuch Varys (Conleth Hill), who smuggled him out of King’s Landing in a crate, where the dwarf apparently stayed their entire journey across the sea to Pentos. Tyrion sees no future for himself except to kill himself slowly via massive wine consumption, but Varys has a plan to save the future of the Seven Kingdoms and it involves a certain female.

This is when we see Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) — foreshadowing! — once again sitting on her thrown in Meereen receiving all those complaining free people who don’t know how to live free. They want the Fighting Pits to be reopened, but the Mother Of Dragons — who we see is still having some trouble with her angry, fire-breathing “children” — says no. That’s not how she wants her people to live. It’s up to a naked Daario (Michiel Huisman) to convince his queen to give the people what they want. Also in Meereen more of Dany’s deadly enemies come to the surface, as do the sexual proclivities of her eunuch Unsullied soldiers — and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) seems to have little more to do in this show now than wonder what those are.

Now over to the Wall, where Alliser Thorne is still a jerk and Jon Snow (Kit Harrington), the Bastard Of Winterfell, is tasked by “King” Stannis to convince their captive Mance Rayder, the King Beyond the Wall, to have his united Wilding factions fight for Stannis so he can reclaim the North from Roose Bolton. Here, we get a Jon Snow who knows more than nothing, and one of the best sequences of the episode.

Other quick scenes feature Brienne of Tarth and her “squire” Podric who have zero to do now, and Littlefinger and Sansa dumping off wimpy Lord Robin Arryn, who at 13-years-old only recently got off his mother’s teet, so they can go far away and plot.

Episode 5.1 “The Wars to Come” really represents what’s to come as for Season 5 goes, but does little to bring us there. There was really nothing here to blow us away after the 10-month wait from the Season 4 finale. Loras still likes men; Cersei, she mad; the Lord of the Light, blah blah blah; and Winter is still coming (seriously, it is — it is!). Not to say I didn’t love seeing all the characters back on screen, but I wanted this debut episode to be amazing, leaving me pumping my fist in the air, saying “That’s right!” But no, there was none of that. This was a Prologue to Season 5 really, but judging by the way this show has run in the past, we’ll undoubtedly have some great moments and jaw-dropping reveals in the coming episodes.

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