Welcome back one and all to the wonderful world of Westeros where I'm sure we're in for yet another season of the uplifting, light-hearted enterainment that we've come to associate with this fine show.
We kick off this year's sunny season opener with something slightly new. A flashback no less. We get a look back at a younger version of Cersei skipping merrily through the forest with one of her little friends. The reason for this little excursion soon becomes apparent as the plucky young Cersei tracks down the mad, scary witch lady who lives in the woods. Apparently she wants to know her future, and recieves what turns out to be a particularly accurate divination of what's in store for her in the years to come. Including a warning of one younger and prettier who will take everything she holds dear. So, I'm imagining that the Margaery and Cersei plotline is going to be pretty key this year.
The prospect of flashbacks is rather exciting. It opens up the possibility for the return of those beloved characters that have been dispatched over the years. I really hope this is the case and that this isn't just a one-off.
Cut to the present and Cersei is attending her father's funeral. What follows in an interesting back and forth between her and Jaime in which she blames Jaime for their father's death. I doubt thier relationship will go well from here. While they are talking, it occurs to me to wonder how much Charles Dance earns being a corpse in this episode and I file that one away for the day when I get to interview him.
And it's off across the sea we go to catch up with what looks likely to be my favourite double act of this season, Tyrion and Varys. The spider outlines his plans to find and ally with Daenerys while Tyrion attempts to drink himself to death. As for the Mother of Dragons and her army of Unsullied, things do not appear to be going well. There's a new cult in town, the Sons of the Harpy, and they seem to be taking out Daenerys' army one man at a time by hiding in brothels and slitting their throats. I can't really see this being a sustainable approach in the long run, but it does provide this season's first blood after a whole 22 minutes.
Back up in the frozen north, Jon Snow is busily training the new recruits until he recieves an interesting proposition from Stannis. He has a day to convince Mance Rayder to pledge his allegiance and the backing of the Wildling army to his cause.
The Dread Pirate Littlefinger and Dark Sansa seem to have disposed of Robin Arryn in an army boot camp and, on their way home, pass within a hair's breadth of Brienne and Podrick, who may as well give up now and head home themselves.
Now that we've touched base with most of the major players, it's back to King's Landing where the newly religious Lancel mounts a laughable attempt to help Cersei find peace from her past sins.
A lot of the rest of the episode revolves around a whole bunch of hand-wringing on the part of Daenerys which leads her to go and check up on her Dragons' welfare. Given that they have spent quite some time chained and bricked up in an underground cave their response of trying to eat the shit out of her is actually pretty understandable.
The episode closes out with Jon Snow's attempt to persuade Mance to join Stannis. As expected, this doesn't go well and it ends up with Mance being 'cleansed' at the stake. Just as it's about to get a bit unpleasant, Jon steps in and ends it with an arrow. An act of mercy that will likely come back to bite him in the ass in the coming weeks.
So, as a first episode it's actually a pretty low impact one. We've caught up with pretty much everyone barring a few noticable exceptions. I really want to see what's going on with Arya, but I'm reliably informed that next week is fairly Arya centric as she goes off to the Jedi Academy and begins her Padawan training. Or something like that anyway.
Quote of the week:
Tyrion: Do you know what's like to stuff your shit through one of those air holes?
Varys: No, I only know what it's like to pick up your shit and throw it overboard.