Winter may be coming, but spring is here, and that means a new season of Game of Thrones is upon us. Rukma Sen, GoT expert and Dylan Sweetwood, GoT “expert”–Rukma won’t stop reminding Dylan that she knows everything because she’s read the books–will be reviewing each episode with insightful (and betchy) scene-by-scene commentary. Here’s what we’re looking forward to this season:
Rukma: I’m excited to see Dorne. Benioff and Weiss have never disappointed in their visualisation of Martin’s landscapes (case in point, all the locations beyond the Narrow Sea) and Dorne should be a sensory treat [worries about possible orientalization]. Speaking of Dorne, the SAND SNAKES! The Sand Snakes are coming! In the books, Oberyn Martell’s six daughters are possibly the most interesting characters around, in spite of being archetypical Martin women, which is to say extremely aggressive and sexy, or aggressively sexy, or sexily aggressive; think Melisandre, Margaery, Dany, Cersei, Catelyn, and now, Sansa Stark.
Dylan: I meant to rewatch all four seasons before the premiere, but I never got around to it, so I’ll probably be confused as fuck; thankfully Rukma remembers literally every character and plot point! I love Game of Thrones but to be honest, I’m really just here for Cersei, Margaery, and Sansa at this point (I know, I’m terrible), so I can’t wait to see what George R. R. Martin has in store for the three of them. Hopefully this season will have fewer heavy-handed political metaphors (though, like, I doubt it) and even fewer scenes north of King’s Landing, because my attention span seriously wavers when the action moves north of the Wall. Bottom line though, I’m literally so excited for this season; Game of Thrones promises to be sexy, violent, and always the most.
[SPOILER ALERT] The rest of this review contains spoilers for Game of Thrones, Season 5, Episode 1, “The Wars to Come”
The episode opens with a young Cersei and her friend venturing into a dark wood in search of prophetic witch.
Dylan: That is a lot of eyeliner, wow.
Rukma: Her smoky eye is Jenny Humphrey level.
Cersei demands the witch tell her future.
Rukma: I want to know my future! I want a job.
Dylan: Two seniors watch Game of Thrones!
Rukma: We just need to find a smoky-eyed witch.
Dylan: It is sorority rush right now… it’s happening right next door.
Rukma: Let’s advertise: “Smoky Eyed Witch Wanted.” It can’t be worse than the “Founder Wanted: Tech Evangelist” posters in Gates.
Next, Cersei and Jaime argue over Tywin’s dead body in the Great Sept of King’s Landing.
Rukma: The Great Sept is a gorgeous set.
Dylan: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is a gorgeous man.
Rukma: This is why I said: if I had to hook up with any two people on the show, it would be Jaime and Cersei.
Dylan: At the same time, probably.
Tyrion emerges from a box (sorry, “a fucking crate”) in Pentos and is greeted by Varys, who pleads with him to consider to future of Westeros. Tyrion drinks a lot of wine, wretches violently, and continues drinking.
The scene changes; a harpy statue topples in Mereen.
Rukma: It’s a symbol of slavery.
Then, an unsullied visits a brothel.
Dylan: It’s been sixteen minutes and we just saw the first topless women of the season.
Rukma: The unsullied are all eunuchs, I’m confused about the mechanics of him visiting a brothel?
Dylan: There are other erogenous zones, Rukma.
Missandei, confused about the same thing, asks Grey Worm how that’s supposed to work.
Dylan: You know, maybe they’re all not eunuchs.
Rukma: …they are definitely all eunuchs.
Waffling at the Wall, followed by Melisandre and Jon Snow winching to the top of the Wall.
Melissandre: Are you a virgin, Jon Snow?
Rukma: WHY DO THEY ALWAYS ASK HIM THIS?!
Dylan: He’s like really hot, why would anyone automatically assume he’s a virgin?
Rukma: “You know nothing, Jon Snow” seems to translate to “I know you’re a virgin, Jon Snow.”
Dylan: On another note Melisandre has got to be freezing, her dress has a plunging neckline!
Rukma: No the Lord of Light keeps her warm, it’s a major plot point. She makes Jon Snow touch her face (like the Adele song) and literally says “I am so hot.”
Stannis inexplicably makes Jon Snow unofficial ambassador to the wildlings and charges him with negotiating with Mance Rayder.
Obligatory Sansa check-in: she’s still with Littlefinger in the Eyrie.
Rukma: Is that a joint?
Littlefinger: [unfurls scroll]
Dylan: …it’s a scroll.
Meanwhile, Cersei continues to drink at her dad’s funeral. Lancel Lannister returns as a hot monk; Rukma has to remind Dylan who this is, as he hasn’t been seen since season one.
Rukma: Cersei hates a lot of people, but then when they die she’s suddenly like, “actually you were okay.”
Tyrion and Varys continue plotting in Pentos.
Varys: I seek prosperity, a land where the powerful do not prey on the powerless.
Dylan: You are in the wrong fucking show.
Back in Mereen, Daenerys refuses to consider diplomacy as a tool for governance.
Random Ambassador: Politics is the art of compromise, your grace.
Dany: I am not a politician. I am a queen.
Rukma: God, Dany you’re so stupid.
Sexposition! Dany and her boy toy named Troy (his actual name is Daario though) argue about the ethics of the Yunkai fighting pits. Rukma and Dylan join the fray.
Rukma: I’m not defending the fighting pits, I just wish Dany had a subtler grasp of morality. I feel like she should read some Kant. Or Fanon.
Back at the Wall, Jon Snow proves what a horrible diplomat he is.
Jon Snow: …because why?
Dylan: Two english majors watch Game of Thrones!
Rukma: List of things Jon Snow doesn’t know about: sex, grammar, how to not have an awful accent.
Mance Rayder gets turnt (sorry, *burnt) at the stake.
Rukma: Oh that’s true, Mance Rayder was part of the Night’s Watch.
Dylan: Why did he leave?
Rukma: He realized they were fucking boring and decided to go fight zombies across the Wall.
Melisandre: We all must choose. Man or woman. Young or old. Lord or peasant. Our choices are the same!
Dylan: That’s just not true…
Rukma: But it’s very Sartre… “you are condemned to be free!”
Dylan: Rukma, your SLE is showing.
Finally, in a shocking twist, Mance Rayder is shot in the heart, killing him before he burns.
Dylan: Jon fucking Snow shot that arrow! FUCK HIM he just ruined this. What a fucking loser. What a loser. Everyone is pissed at him. He ruined the show.
Rukma: As GoT premieres go, this one didn’t break from the mold of slowly sliding back into the war-torn worlds of Westeros. We caught a glimpse of most major characters, with Bran Stark happily absent, and Arya less happily so! Across the Narrow Sea, Dany’s political failures manifest in the revolts of the Masters at Yunkai, and the underground resistance movement, the Sons of the Harpy in Meereen. Dany obligingly encapsulates her own problem in her response: “I’m a queen, not a politician”. Her refusal to engage with moral complexity at any level causes even loverboy Daario to disagree with her. Dany had her iffy moments in season 3; remember her blinding whiteness being borne aloft on the shoulders of an undistinguished brown mass? I’m tired of the rhetoric of the foreign saviour liberating these awful “savage” places from the yoke. In Pentos, Varys and Tyrion plot to put Dany on the Iron Throne. In an uncharacteristically naive move, Varys seems to believe in Dany’s compassionate motives. But Tyrion’s having none of it, cynically disabusing Varys of his notions, even as he agrees to follow the Spider to Meereen.
Dylan: Agreed, the less Bran the better. And there wasn’t even that much Jon Snow this episode, which was great because his accent annoys me. Daenerys might not be the most effective ruler, but at least she’s doing something; here’s hoping both she and Jon Snow mature significantly this season because they both have a tendency to make incredibly dumb decisions. Meanwhile, Cersei spent the entire episode in a terrible mood, possibly foreshadowing a very unfortunate season for her; after all, Margaery and the Tyrells are definitely coming for her (Dorne is holding Myrcella captive as collateral, I think) and Jaime hasn’t been on her side for a while. Three sex scenes and two violent deaths later, this season is off to a predictable but satisfying start, and with several characters venturing into uncharted territory (Tyrion and Arya, for example), I’m stoked for next week’s episode.
Contenders For Best One-Liner Of The Episode:
– Cersei to Lancel, after he apologizes for “leading her into the darkness”: “I suspect you never led me anywhere.” [pointed glance at Lancel’s crotch]
– Varys to Tyrion, after Tyrion says he killed his pop: “Well I never said you were perfect.”
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