Conleth Hill, left, and Peter Dinklage star in the fifth season of "Game of Thrones." Click through the gallery for a quick refresher of where we left off. (HBO)Link
Jon Snow (Kit Harrington), left, as de facto leader of the Night's Watch, planned to assassinate Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds), but ended up capturing him with the help of Stannis Baratheon and his army. (HBO)Link
After escaping execution with the assistance of his brother, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), right, murdered his father and his former lover, then set sail across the Narrow Sea, accompanied by Lord Varys (Conleth Hill). (HBO)Link
After evading rescue by Brienne of Tarth, and leaving her traveling companion, the Hound, to die, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) used her special coin given to her by the Jaqen H'ghar to buy herself passage on a boat bound for Braavos. (HBO)Link
Having conquered the city of Meereen, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), faces concerns about the behavior of her dragons. After Drogon kills a child and vanishes, she locks the other two away in a secure vault. (HBO)Link
Though Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) won't be in Season 5, his story is still important. After finally traveling to the far north, he descended into an underground chamber where he met a old man who had summoned him there through Bran's visions. (HBO)Link
Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) showed brotherly mercy to Tyrion and helped him escape execution. (HBO)Link
In a bid to salvage their chances of controlling the Seven Kingdoms after their failed assault on King's Landing, Stannis (Stephen Dillane), right, and his adviser Davos (Liam Cunningham) traveled north of the Wall to use their army to defeat the planned Wildling invasion. (HBO)Link
Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) is staying with the treacherous Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) in the fortress known as the Eyrie and posing as his niece after her escape from King's Landing following King Joffrey's assassination. (HBO)Link
The fifth season of “Game of Thrones” kicked off Sunday night with a flashback, angry dragons and a grisly death.
The premiere episode, titled “The Wars to Come” and co-written by series creators and executive producers David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, offered something of a slow burn, gradually reintroducing fans to the sprawling cast of HBO’s lavish fantasy drama, which is based on George R. R. Martin’s bestselling “A Song of Ice and Fire” book series.
Hero Complex examines some of the most intriguing moments in the premiere. If you haven’t seen the episode, read no further; instead, catch up on where we left off in the gallery above.
Cersei’s creepy flashback foreshadows more deaths
The season began with a flashback to young Cersei Lannister (Nell Williams), some 25 years prior to the events of the show. Cersei and another noble friend traipse through the woods in search of a fortuneteller (Jodhi May), better known to readers of the book series as Maggy the Frog.
Cersei uses her father Tywin Lannister’s powerful position to threaten the witch (“Tell me my future or I’ll have your two boring eyes gouged out of your head.“) until she gets her way and has her fortune told.
Will she marry the prince? Will she bear children with the king?
“You’ll be queen, for a time, until there comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all that you hold dear,” Maggy tells young Cersei.
Fan theories abound as to whether the usurper is Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) or someone else, perhaps a man; the prophecy doesn’t specify that the younger person is a woman or even another queen, and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) certainly qualifies as beautiful.
The witch goes on to say that the king will have 20 children, and Cersei will have three.
“Gold will be their crowns, and gold their shrouds,” Maggy warns, presumably foreshadowing the deaths of Joffrey (poisoned near the end of Season 4), Myrcella (currently in Dorne) and the young King Tommen.
Varys comes out on Team Daenerys
After strangling his lover, murdering his father and escaping across the sea in a cargo crate, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) tumbles onto dry land, drunk and bitter.
Tyrion wants to drink himself to death in Pentos, but the so-called master of whispers, Varys (Conleth Hill), has bigger plans for the diminutive fugitive, enlisting him in his mission to save Westeros from those who would rule in tyranny.
“Westeros needs to be saved from itself,” Varys tells Tyrion. “The Seven Kingdoms needs someone stronger than Tommen, but gentler than Stannis. A monarch who can intimidate the high lords and inspire the people. A ruler loved by millions with a powerful army and the right family name.”
“Good luck finding him,” Tyrion snorts.
“Who said anything about him?” Varys responds.
Will Tyrion sober up enough to aid Varys in his plans to install Daenerys on the Iron Throne? Perhaps only the Three-Eyed Raven knows.
Daenerys’ dragons don’t like their chains
Meanwhile in Meereen, Queen Daenerys Stormborn, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, mother of dragons, breaker of chains, etc. etc., is having a bit of trouble keeping her newly conquered kingdom from falling into chaos.
Hizdahr zo Loraq (Joel Fry) petitions Daenerys to reopen the fighting pits, where the slaves used to fight to the death for the entertainment and profit of their masters. She refuses, but later, in bed, her lover Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman) persuades her to reconsider.
Naked Daario also advises her that she needs to assert her authority, and it’s time to stop relying on her soldiers and guards.
“You’re not the mother of Unsullied,” he says. “You’re the mother of dragons.”
Dany decides to pay a visit to Rhaegal and Viserion — who have been chained up underground after Drogon killed a child while hunting and flew away — and her babies are none too pleased with their captivity. They attack, and she escapes unsinged, but shaken.
Jon Snow expedites the season’s first death
At the Wall, Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) orders Jon Snow (Harington) to convince the captured wildling leader Mance Rayder (Ciarán Hinds) to bend the knee.
Jon warns Mance that Stannis’ closest advisor, the red priestess Melisandre (Carice van Houten), will have him burned alive if he does not cooperate and convince the wildlings to serve Stannis. But the King Beyond the Wall is unyielding.
“If he gets what he wants, I expect he’ll be a better ruler than the fools sitting on the Iron Throne the last hundred years, but I’ll never serve him,” Mance tells Jon. “I don’t want people to remember me like that, scorched and screaming. But it’s better than betraying everything I believe.”
Jon tells Mance he’s making a mistake.
In perhaps the best line of the episode, Mance replies, “The freedom to make my own mistakes is all I ever wanted.”
Later, when flames lick at Mance’s feet on the pyre, Jon shows his respect for the wildling king, killing him with an arrow before he can start screaming.
– Noelene Clark | @NoeleneClark
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