After what seemed like forever, Game of Thrones is back! HBO’s adaptation of George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, with its feuding houses, dragons and one Khaleesi, has returned in triumphant fashion. That means of course, so have my Monday morning recaps. So let’s do this thing!
The season starts off with two girls sullying their fine clothes walking through muck in a dark forest. They’re seeking out the house of a witch. One of them is reluctant, wanting them to turn back. She warns that the girl’s father will be mad. Her headstrong companion however replies she shouldn’t be afraid of her father. The two find what they’re looking for eventually, a house of a witch–and it ain’t made of gingerbread cookies like in Hansel and Gretel. It’s a house of one of the creepier witches. But when she sees the witch, the headstrong girl isn’t impressed. She calls the woman boring and demands to have her future read. When the witch tries to wave her off the headstrong girl reminds her this is her father’s land. She says if the witch doesn’t read her future she’ll have her boring eyes ripped out of her head. Nice kid. Protip: don’t run up in a witch’s spot and call her boring. They dislike that.
The witch obliges, cutting the headstrong girl’s finger and tasting her blood. But she warns the girl won’t like the future she’s going to hear. When the girl asks when she’ll marry the prince, the witch says nope–the king. When the girl says triumphantly she’ll be queen, the witch counters yes–until someone younger and more beautiful casts her down. When she asks if she’ll have children, the witch says the girl will have three children but the king will have twenty (it’s good to be the king). Three children the witch says–gold will be their crowns, and their shrouds. She laughs as the reluctant girl urges her headstrong friend to leave, finally saying her name–Cersei Lannister.
Of course it’s Cersei. Making bad personal decisions since way back.
We’re taken to King’s Landing, where a grown up Cersei sits contemplating those memories of her childhood. She’s arrives at the funeral of “He Who Sh*ts Gold” and along the way sees young Margaery Tyrell–a reminder of the witch’s biting prophecy. Telling the local head Septon she wants time alone, she meets her brother Jaime standing over the prepared body of their father. He’s laying there looking all creepy with stones with drawn pupils placed over his eyes. A somber Jaime warns that the two of them have to close ranks because others will be waiting to tear down House Lannister. But Cersei ain’t hearing it. Her anger is focused on Tyrion. And she’s further angry at Jaime for being the instrument that allowed her younger brother to kill their father. She asks him directly if he set Tyrion free. Jamie’s silence is answer enough. At least, she mocks, their younger brother killed their father on purpose–not by accident.
Speaking of Tyrion… everyone’s favorite half-man ain’t doing too well. He’s arrived by UPS crate in the free city of Pentos, spirited away by his savior Varys the Spider. But though he’s alive, Tyrion is only concerned with drinking himself into a stupor–wracked with guilt of his murder of his father and Shae.
We’re then treated to our first glimpse of Meereen where the golden statue of the Harpy is being torn down from a great pyramid. One of those overseeing this work is an Unsullied we’ll later learn is named White Rat. He watches the giant Harpy statue come crashing down and then takes a moment to ponder its serene face. He next finds himself in a brothel where he pays a woman to hold him and hum a lullaby. It’s all rather touching and beautiful: the deadly eunuch who seems to need the love of–OH HELL SOMEBODY DONE SLIT HIS THROAT OPEN! OH THERE’S SO MUCH BLOOD! OHHHH!
As White Rat chokes and coughs his way to death, the woman who had just hummed him a lullaby stands over him. At her side is a figure draped in black and wearing a golden mask–the face of the same Harpy he just threw down.
We next see the Khaleesi, standing in a council with the golden mask. It belongs to a group called the Sons of the Harpy (was wondering when they’d show up). When Ser Barristan Selmy says this type of insurgency is to be expected from a conquered people, Dany quips that she didn’t conquer them–their own people did. One of those “people,” a former slave (Mossador) reminds her that the “good masters” of Meereen never saw their slaves as people. Dany ain’t having it. She first instructs that White Rat will get a public funeral and be buried in a temple reserved for Meereen’s royalty. When Mossador warns this might make the Sons of the Harpy angrier, she says good. Angry snakes lash out. Makes chopping off their heads that much easier. She orders Grey Worm to find those responsible.
While preparing his soldiers, Grey Worm is visited by Missandei. She says she wants to speak with him and he has the room cleared with a look. Just a look. Boss. Thinking on White Rat, Missandei asks why an Unsullied, being eunuchs, would frequent a brothel. Damn.That’s kinda awkward. And a bit invasive. Grey Worm says he doesn’t know. But we get the feeling, he does.
Meanwhile at Castle Black, Jon Snow is sparring with the young boy who put that arrow through Ygitte. Can’t help but notice he’s going in a little extra hard on the kid. Might be some pent up feelings there. Samwell and Gilly are nearby watching, much to the disgust of the wanna-be Lord Commander Ser Allister Thorne (Hater Extraordinaire) and his lackey Ser Janos Slynt who don’t seem to like all the riff raff up in their spot. In the middle of the sparring, the Red Lady Melisandre just kind of appears. She says the king wants a word and the two take an awkward elevator ride up The Wall where she goes on about the fire, blah, blah. She asks if Jon’s a virgin and he says no–which is good, for Jon.
At the top of the wall Jon meets with the dour faced Stannis Baratheon. There, with the Onion Knight Ser Davos Seaworth at his side, the two outline their plan to take back Winterfell and then the Seven Kingdoms. Stannis it turns out wants to recruit the Wildlings, as soldiers. He’ll give the Wildlings amnesty and take them into his ranks if their captured leader Mance Rayder bends the knee. And he wants Jon to do the convincing. If not, Mance will burn.
Elsewhere, the odd couple of Littlefinger and Sansa Stark are hanging out with a noble watching the deceased Lysa’s punk ass kid get beat up on in a sparring contest. It’s just kinda pathetic. Littlefinger is witty and conniving as always. Sansa done something with her hair for reasons that ain’t explained–maybe to escape Cersei who still blames Sansa for Joffrey the Monster’s death. Turns out both are there to leave young Robin with the local lord, so they can do whatever it is they’re doing. Later, we see Littlefinger and Sansa riding off in a carriage. Seems young Sansa is getting the hang of the sinister plotting life, with Littlefinger as a kind of a creepy older guy mentor. He tells her they’re going somewhere far away, where not even Cersei can find them.
Before this scene we catch a glimpse of Brienne of Tarth and everybody’s favorite squire Podrick Payne. So Brienne is not in a good mood since losing Arya and her fight with The Hound. She berates Podrick, trying to get rid of him. He resists, reminding her that they’re charged to find the Stark girls and that Sansa is still out there. This happens moments before the carriage carrying Sansa–unbeknownst to them–rumbles past.
Back in King’s Landing Cersei is drinking wine…again. At a funeral. She’s trying to ignore the condolences coming her way, including one from a stumbling Loras Tyrell–her “intended.” While wandering about she runs into none other than cousin Lancel–her former lover. The young man has gone through a religious conversion, declaring himself a humble servant (a Sparrow) of the Seven–down to stout woolen robes and walking barefoot. He confronts Cersei, not only about their past sexual affair but his role in killing Robert Baratheon. Cersei smiles, saying she doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He starts preaching to her about finding peace in the Seven, rah, rah rah. And we know immediately, that dude is gonna be praahhblems.
We’re treated to some naked man flesh sexposition as Loras Tyrell lays in bed with his latest boy toy. They’re about to get down when they’re interrupted by Margaery Tyrell, who shows up and don’t leave. Eventually her brother’s lover gets the hint and takes off. Margaery berates Loras about being more discreet as he’s intended to Cersei. He retorts that with Tywin dead, that ain’t likely to happen. Cersei is probably going to stay in King’s Landing to keep an eye on young King Tommen–meaning Margaery will be stuck there with her mother-in-law. Margaery simply replies, “perhaps.” *Raises eyebrow.*
Back in Pentos, Tyrion is still doing his brooding thing. He asks Varys why he risked his life to save him? Varys replies he didn’t do it for Tyrion, but to save the kingdoms. He tells Tyrion that men like him are going to be needed for the war to come. He urges that Tyrion help him find someone to sit on the Iron Throne, someone worthy, someone stronger than his nephew Tommen and less cruel than Stannis. Someone with a large army, beloved by the people and and with the right name. When Tyrion says, “good luck finding him,” Varys replies, “who said anything about him?” He then tells Tyrion he has a choice–to stay here and drink himself to death, or travel to Meereen to find Daenarys Targaryen.
Speaking of Dany, we see her next sitting counsel with the Ghiscari noble Hizdahr zo Loraq. He’s arrived to tell her that back in Yunkai the former slaves and masters have formed a council to work together. She does her abolitionist thing for a bit, reminding us all how she ended slavery. Loraq also makes a plea that in Meereen the infamous fighting pits be reopened. Dany balks, remembering that these were once places where slaves fought slaves to the death. Later however in bed, she’s surprised when her lover new-faced Daario Naharis (still prefer old-faced Daario) urges her to reopen the pits. He says he learned to fight in those pits and can see some good in them. He also tells her that part of the reason she’s got all these problems is because she’s been looking weak. He reminds her she’s not the “Mother of Unsullied,” she’s the “Mother of Dragons.” Somebody had to say it! But Dany’s all shook since they burnt up those kids.
Reluctantly, she goes off to the pits where she’s locked up Rhaegal and Viserion. And I dunno what she’s been feeding them, but they have GROWN. Like big. And mean. And ticked off. With Mommy gone they’ve tuned feral. Or they remember how she had em’ locked up in the first place. They first try to take a bite out of her, then do a whole lotta fire breathing. Dany gets gone outta there. SHOOK.
At Castle Black, Jon Snow has the grand job of trying to convince Mance Rayder to bend the knee to Stannis. Mance says no however. He didn’t spend all this time uniting the Wildlings just to give them to some “Southern King.” Jon shoots back Mance is just being stubborn because of his pride. So it goes on for a while. Mance admits between this he isn’t too keen on dying–especially being burned alive. He’s not one for that martyrdom. But it’s preferable he believes to losing the respect of those he commanded. And if Jon Snow can’t understand that, he knows nothing.
So, by the end, we see Mance about to be judged. Stannis asks him to kneel. He refuses. After that he’s led to the pyre. Melisandre gives a fanatical speech about the Red God, telling the Wildlings this is the fate of those who choose darkness. Then she sets the pyre alight herself. Mance Rayder begins to burn, in what appears to be unbearable agony. Refusing to watch any longer Jon leaves. In the middle of Mance’s growing screams an arrow takes him in the heart. He looks up to see Jon with a bow in hand, ending his suffering. Stannnis ain’t gonna be happy.
And that’s it for episode one. Not as much action as some wanted. But it’s a story folks. Pacing. Lots of things set into action. Lots of plot lines coming together. And this is just the beginning. Till next week. Bring on the Sand Snakes!