Valar Morghulis, you guys. “Game of Thrones” is back and it’s time to talk about the premiere. Last night we saw dragons, we saw flashbacks, we saw a bunch of man ass, we saw only one dead body and it wasn’t even that gross. OK, enough introduction, I can’t hold it in any longer. Let’s get to it!
Last night’s episode started with a scene I have been dying to see—the flashback to Cersei’s visit to Maggie the Frog. Who, as it turns out, didn’t look so froggy after all. I’d always imagined Maggie as old and decrepit, not woods witchy in a sexy way. Cersei, of course, didn’t care how on point Maggie’s smoky eye was—she and her friend were there to learn their futures.
Cersei’s fortune is significant for a couple reasons. We get our first look at what Cersei’s life was supposed to be when Maggie tells her that she’ll marry a king, not the prince. This is referring to Cersei’s being promised to Rhaegar Targaryen, who was killed by Robert Baratheon. It was only after his coronation that Cersei married Robert, thus marrying a king rather than a prince. It’s an interesting thought, that Cersei could have been queen either way. Could have, but not would have been, as Rhaegar married Elia Martell. This is also an indication to earlier animosity between her and the Starks—both the prince and the king her fate was tied to fell in love with Lyanna.
Maggie also has two other bits of information about Cersei’s future. The second is that she will be queen, until someone more beautiful comes and takes her throne. This is one of Cersei’s greatest fears, and she’s surrounded by beautiful younger women. Until recently she could have projected those fears onto Sansa, but Margaery Tyrell is a more obvious choice these days. Margaery is more headstrong, more outrightly resistant to the queen than Sansa ever was. But it might not be a woman in King’s Landing. Marcella and Dany could also be contenders.
Then, Maggie wraps up with a foretelling of Cersei’s children. Maggie tells the young girl that she will have three children, while the king will have 20. “Gold shall be their crowns, and gold their shrouds.” It could mean a few things, one being that by “crown” Maggie really means hair, alluding to their parentage. She could also mean that they will all be crowned literally, which isn’t too insane seeing as Joffrey and Tommen already put that number of crowned kids at two out of three. The second part is a little trickier. Death doesn’t have to come at a young age or via subterfuge.
Meanwhile, in the here and now, Cersei and Jaime once again meet over the body of a loved one. Cersei clearly blames Jaime for Tywin’s death, an interesting turn as in the books Jaime keeps his role in Tyrion’s escape a secret. She’s pulling the, “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed,” attitude, and Jaime is looking very sad about the whole thing. The only glimpse of Jaime we got was him being berated by freaky-calm Cersei, and if I don’t get more Jaime in the next episode I will be most displeased.
But Jaime isn’t the only one getting a good talking to. At Tywin’s funeral reception, Cersei runs into her cousin Lancel. Quick refresher: Lancel is the cousin she was gettin’ it in with while Jaime was hostage in the Riverlands. But Lancel is looking different these days. He’s ditched the Lannister red and gold for a greenish gray wool tunic, and he’s shorn his lovely Lannister hair. Lancel is our first look at the Sparrows, a group of pious and devoted followers of the Seven who are growing in popularity throughout the country in the wake of war. Lancel has come to offer Cersei his forgiveness and to ask for hers, and she is not cool with him talking about their brief “relationship” or his role in Robert’s death. But hey, what harm could a cousin who banged Cersei and helped kill her husband but is now repentant and looking for absolution possibly do to her? I’m sure it will all be fine.
Tyrion, on the other hand, is not doing fine. He and Varys are holed up at Illyrio Mopatis’s house in Pentos, the same one where Dany and Viserys were living before Dany was sold to Khal Drogo. The self-loathing runs deep, guys, and he seems pretty set on drinking himself to death. Although it’s hard to see the once-shining light of the show falling into a spiral of abject alcoholism, puking on the rug and pouring another glass of wine, I’m glad the show didn’t erase this part of Tyrion’s story. Varys, of course, is less interested in Tyrion drinking himself to death and more keen on getting him sober enough to help put Dany on the throne. It’s a little less climactic than his big pro-Targaryen reveal in the books, but Varys, as it turns out, supports the dragon. One war is just wrapping up, but Varys’s eyes are already on the war to come.
And because the narrative flow is on point in this episode, we cut to Mereen, where the Harpy is being torn down as Dany set things straight in her new city/kingdom. Of course, things aren’t going well. One of her Unsullied, who is literally cuddling with a prostitute and breaking my heart into a million pieces, is murdered in the streets by a group called “The Sons of the Harpy.” An insurgent movement! Dany, who knew! When she’s implored to open the fighting pits, a tradition in Mereen and one that can easily be tweaked so that slaves aren’t forced to fight, Dany refuses to compromise. Even Daario wants her to open them, weaving her a tale that I find hard to believe about how he became wealthy and famous in the fighting pits of Mereen.
Daario is also all about those dragons, and Dany decides to visit her scaly babies. It doesn’t go well. The dragons chase her out of the dungeon, which is very sad but also, like, they are wild dragons and you should have had them trained, Khaleesi. That’s dragon care 101.
North to the Wall! Where Stannis, Mel and Davos are scheming about how to kick the Bolton’s out of Winterfell and put Roose’s head on a spike. Yes! Retake the North! All Hail the Mannis! Stannis has a plot cooked up when Jon meets him on the top of the Wall—have the Wildlings come and fight, and when it’s all over they will be given citizenship and land. The only catch is that Mance Rayder, the King Beyond the Wall, has to kneel to Stannis as a show of loyalty and to send a message to his people that Stannis is in charge. Look, it’s a good deal and it’s why Stannis is awesome.
But Mance would rather die than kneel, and after an emotional attempt by Jon to convince him otherwise, the King Beyond the Wall comes before Stannis and Melisandre. Stannis offers him the terms—kneel and live—but Mance simply wishes him the best in the wars to come. It was a really beautiful moment when all is said and done, and there didn’t seem to be any cruelty or hard feelings on either side. Of course, Mel had to get weird with the “false king” shit before setting Mance’s pyre on fire, but Jon puts an end to the show by killing Mance humanely.
We get some overlap between Sansa and Brienne, as Sansa and Little Finger leave the Eyrie only to pass Brienne (who is being so salty to Pod) on the road. I’m not going to linger here because I’ve been agonizing over one line: When Sansa asks where they are going, Little Finger says somewhere “Cersei can’t get her hands on you.” Guys, WHERE IS HE TAKING HER? I’ve decided the best case scenario is Dorne, and the absolute worst scenario is … Winterfell. I’m sorry if the idea of Sansa and Ramsey in the same room gives you nightmares.
Let’s all just think about Margaery and Loras, who was caught with his Pol-lover (see what I did there?), gossiping before dinner. They are the best siblings. And Margaery checking out the goods on Polliver as he walked by was enough to make my heart sing.
All in all, it was a good episode. A strong start that didn’t try to stretch itself too thin by catching up with everyone. Early reviews weren’t kidding when they said the show deviates from the books, but so far it looks like they did so in meaningful and smart ways. The episode definitely gave some food for thought—what’s Dany going to do with her dragons? Is Tyrion going to be able to overcome his depression? Is Cersei going to have to worry about Lancel and his Sparrows? WHERE IS SANSA GOING?
We’ve got nine episodes left to answer those questions, and the myriad others that will come up in the next two months. Welcome back, “Game of Thrones,” you life-ruiner.