Reviewed By: Jack Dawson
Image Credit: Upout.com
Okay guys, after months of waiting and theorizing, as well as a last minute leak, I can finally confirm what you’ve been hoping and waiting for.
There is Nudity in this episode. Followed by a murder.
That aside, ‘The Wars to Come’ is one of the better Game of Thrones episode that there’s been for a while. After a season that could be best described as ‘a bit uneven’ or ‘how the fuck did this make it past any levels of editing’, it seems like there’s a return to form here. Tyrion actually has something to do this season that doesn’t see him locked in a cell, Daenerys continues to face actual consequences for her rash actions, and Jaime and Cersei decide not to have sex in front of a dead body.
Whereas last season felt like a lot of time was being wasted on things like Chickens, Non-Consensual Sex and Developmentally Disabled relatives crushing Beetles, this episode actually makes me feel like all of that awkwardness was necessary to bring about the conflicts and plots in this series.
This episode also continues the ‘Game of Thrones’ tradition of laying out multiple Chekov’s Guns with loving and detailed care, though god knows which ones will be followed through and which ones will be half-heartedly dropped when they recast an actor or conveniently hand wave it away. And of course it’s impossible to say exactly how I will be disappointed by the expectations set up by this episode until the series end, but as a frequent viewer of Game of Thrones, I am used to being disappointed.
I guess it is possible for this series to fulfill all of my expectations, but then again I’m relying on showrunners who decided that it was totally in character for Jaimie to rape his Sister in front of his Son’s corpse.
We open with a young Cersei, where we find out that her life has gradually been going to shit since the moment she was born, until things advance to the point where her former cousin/lover has become the Westerosi equivalent of a Jesus Freak after the death of her Father and the Lannister’s new-found bankruptcy. In fact it’s quite a Lannister heavy episode, though this isn’t too unreasonable since they are one of the few Noble Houses still living.
Then we get one of the greatest concepts ever conceived, Tyrion and Varys working together, a plot thread I hope they pursue. Though it does give me a sinking feeling that most of this season will be spent on them travelling to Daenerys rather than actually interacting with her.
Then Nudity and Murder! The nudity actually feels pretty gratuitous, though I realize that’s hardly news for HBO series. I wouldn’t mind so much but the woman (and it’s only Women who go fully nude in this show, despite Kit Harrington’s call for Men to let it hang out) puts her clothes back on again immediately, before her unfortunate client gets a slit throat.
That client is an Unsullied, one of Daenery’s ‘totally-ethical-because-they-think-I’m-pretty’ Slave Army. As it turns out, ignoring the local traditions and lashing out at perceived injustices aren’t good qualities in a leader, unfortunately Daenery’s can also add ‘does not listen to advice’ to her list of terrible leadership qualities.
Up at the wall Stannis actually has a purpose instead of the weird and meandering turns his character took in the last series, and he actually adds a lot interesting conflicts and ideas to the Wall. Stannis wants the Wildlings to Kneel, and wants their King to bend first. But Mance Ryder isn’t hot about this idea, and the discussion he and Jon have about it is very mature and nuanced, every party has a legitimate point to make and nobody is reduced to a cartoon character. It’s one of the best moments of the series, and brings about the distinct possibility that Jon Snow might do something interesting this series.
Littlefinger and Sansa show up to be creepy, and we get to watch Jon Arryn get the shit beaten out of him.
Not much else happens in those scenes really.
We return to King’s Landing to see the hilarious awkwardness that is Tywin’s funeral, coloured by Gay Sex, Religious Extremism and really bad consolations. I’ll admit that of those many elements, it’s probably only the rising Religious Fervour and extremism of the ‘Sparrows’ that will return in later episodes. Which is a shame, since the Gay Sex also featured a lesson on Westerosi geography featuring Loras’ inner thigh.
And then finally we see whether Mance Ryder bends then knee or Burns at the stake, and the resolution is easily on par with Dany sacking Astapor with her Unsullied army or the Battle of Blackwater. Which is impressive since it features a fraction of the cast and no Nudity.
And there you have it, Game of Thrones is back!
It’s been a while, and I’ll be interested to see where these many plot lines go, but all in all I am incredibly impressed with this strong opening episode. Join me next week, because that’s when each episode comes out, because you haven’t binged on the first four episodes that were leaked online, BECAUSE YOU’RE A GOOD VIEWER WHO SUPPORTS THE SHOW CREATORS AND NOT A FILTHY DISGUSTING PIRATE WHO WILL GET A STERNLY WORDED LETTER FROM OVERSEAS DISTRIBUTION COMPANIES ABOUT YOUR DISHONEST STREAMING PRACTICES.