Game Of Thrones: 5.01 The Wars To Come

There it is that theme. Well done to Ramin Djawadi who produced one of best pieces of theme music on television today. When that theme plays it’s the cue for an hour of true escapism as the world of Game Of Thrones consumes your very being. As the fifth season begins there is even more hype than ever before, and if any TV show is responsible for this new golden age it’s this one.

What we get in this first hour is a whistle stop tour of the highlights of Westeros and beyond, and a setting of plotlines that are likely to last long into the season. It’s worth noting at this point that even to book readers we’re into the unknown as certain storylines and characters have moved past George R R Martin’s most recent book. And the writing team have taken that as a chance to use the end of season four as the end of a volume. So the Lannisters are no longer the power they were in King’s Landing, the Starks are all set on new journeys, and Stannis may actually have a point now.

New threads are set in motion with Jaime Lannister sent to Dorne, Sansa and Littlefinger travelling somewhere unknown but away from the reach of King’s Landing, and a quick glance at Brienne and Podrick showing how closely the story strands are moving. The meat of the episode is taken up in three places: The Wall; Slaver’s Bay; King’s Landing. In King’s Landing Cersei and Jaime are acutely aware that with their fathers death they are weaker to their enemies and maneuvering is what they need to do now. Unfortunately for our newly reformed Kingslayer it seems his sister/girlfriend is intent on drinking her way to enlightenment.

Over in Slaver’s Bay Danys is troubled by continuing challenges to her authority and as Daario neatly summarises “A dragon queen with no dragons, is not a queen.”. Turns out she’s got a tough time ahead making friendly with her locked up children; and Drogo is still on the loose somewhere. Better times may be ahead though as arch schemer Varys (the ever excellent Conleth Hill) is bringing the arch politician Tyrion (the also blooming brilliant Peter Dinklage) to her aid. Two things are happening with this storyline, two great actors and characters are now occupying the same space and lead to some fantastic verbal sparring; and the Imp and Dragon Queen are on a course to meet: the first time this will happen with two strands so unconnected.

Lastly, at The Wall it seems there’s finally a cause for Stannis Baratheon who has spent the best part of two seasons mooning about in caves. Now he’s got his sights set on the north, and incorporating the wildlings into his army. At the moment it’s unconnected and we’re unsure as to whether he’s going south or will have to stand and fight at The Wall. Alongside him is the most noble character left, Jon Snow; with Kit Harrington talking more here than in the last four seasons together. Special mention to Ciaran Hinds for the best five minutes work on TV this year as Mance Ryder. His subtle looks, and the fear in his eyes at times were an acting masterclass. It’s a pity we haven’t seen more of him.

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