Episode 501 “The Wars to Come”
It’s been a long and excruciating wait since June 15, 2014, when Game of Thrones last aired. Seasons have come and gone, and in some parts of the world, winter is just leaving. But for those of us who saw Arya Stark jumping on a ship to Braavos, Tyrion Lannister murdering his father while he sat on the royal throne (not the Iron Throne, the toilet), and Daenerys putting her beloved dragons in the catacombs for an indefinite time out, we know that winter is just arriving.
During the agonizing months of waiting, spoilers were released, as well as previews and sneak peeks that would put our souls to rest (Seven blessings, Tyrion is still alive), but nothing could compare to actually listening to the beloved theme song and feeling our heart rates accelerating with the minor changes in that beautiful intro that never gets boring (Wait, no Braavos means no Arya?). It’s been four seasons and the trust issues are more acute than ever; it’s impossible to take any character’s existence for granted until they get some airtime proving that they are actually alive.
The episode starts with an unconventional flashback of our beloved Queen Regent, a preteen Cersei that already had the world at her mercy thanks to her noble lineage, breaking the rules in order to get her future predicted by the local witch from the woods. The fearless and power-thirsty tween gets her fortune accurately thrust in her face: she will be queen until a prettier one comes along (Margaery?), her husband will father 20 children (don’t let Melisandre hear) but she will mother only three golden-crowned children of her own (John Arryn was here). All of this followed by another poetic metaphor hinting little Cersei that her little lions probably won’t last very long (Joffrey dying was more satisfying than Christmas itself, but the fandom will rise like the White Walkers if sweet Tommen as much as sheds a tear of despair) And so we go back to present time, to Tywin Lannister’s funeral. Cersei is angry, Cersei hates Tyrion, Cersei loved her father and Cersei loves Jamie (We love him, too).
Across the Narrow Sea, in the lovely Pentos, Tyrion Lannister and Varys find themselves out of harm’s way for the time being. They have a lovely banter going on that almost seems friendly, but at this point, the trust-radar is way too dizzy to safely signal an unbreakable bond. Their future has to be worked out and it was such a pleasant surprise when The Spider suggested joining Daenerys’ side, to support her as the legitimate ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. Tyrion agrees and there are no words to describe the excitement over potential interactions between The Imp and The Unburnt.
In the meantime, we see how apparently the Unsullied can only nap whilst being held by prostitutes. But something goes awry, causing the warrior (Not Grey Worm, phew) to get murdered by a stranger wearing a golden, venetian-styled mask. Turns out, the Slaver’s Bay is still rebelling against their newfound liberty. Anarchy has risen under the name of “The Sons of the Harpy”, a resistance group. Ex-masters want to keep being masters and slaves want to fight in gladiator pits to get back some of their pride (This show is so annoyingly human, our frustration could match Drogon’s strength). Dany’s perfect philanthropic ideals keep coming back to bite her behind and I swear, the girl’s patience really is a force to be reckoned with. And the show, once again teaches us how doing the right thing guarantees nothing. Nothing at all (The philosophical subtext can push anyone to the edge of a very dangerous nihilist abyss).
Oh, and Viserion and Rhaegal are still serving their catacomb time-out. But dragons may not be very keen on reflecting upon their destructive actions, because when Daenerys went in to check on them, she almost served as their dinner. But all of the above makes sense if we take a second to think that the young dragons are probably just going into their teenage years. Puberty is always hell. (Drogon likes to carbonize children. No, it’s not a phase. It’s who he is and you will never understand, Mhysa)
Bad news, that gorgeous image of Robyn Arryn tripping over his own feet and plummeting after his mother through the Moon Door was just a dream (Joffrey’s death isn’t, that will never be taken away from us), a beautiful dream. The kid is as useless as it has been said countless times since season one, and he makes Dontos look as talented as Bronn while handling a sword. Littlefinger, Sansa and Lord Royce all agree that he is useless and will probably be useless forever. But I would not let my guard down, since he breastfed from his mother until he was like ten years old and who knows what kind of lunatic evils he may have suckled (Trust nobody ever. Remember the Red Wedding) And so, Littlefinger and Sansa get bored and embark on a journey to an undefined place where the Lannisters won’t be able to find them (Is Mereen the new King’s Landing?)
Cut to Podrick and Lady Tarth, who are still roaming around Westeros, trying to fulfill late Lady Stark’s promise. But nobody wants them (What if they knew Podrick’s secret weapon?) and Sansa’s carriage passes them by while they are blissfully unaware.
The Wall still stands and life goes on after that nerve-wrecking battle. A new Lord Commander has yet to be chosen, and word on the street talks about Ser Alliser being the ideal one for the job (Yes, all of us are rooting for Jon Snow, it’s no secret. Plus, Sam’s casual chat about the youngest Commander was painfully obvious. You know nothing, Jon Snow) Melisandre and Stannis summon Jon to make him convince Mance Rayder and his billion wildlings to fight for Stannis’ side or else Mance will be burned alive (Would they need to be converted into the Lord of Light’s faith? Because that’s going to be a hell of a long baptize. A billion wildlings to season a Light omelette for the White Walkers) Of course, Mance refuses admirably, stating that his people will lose their respect for him if he bends the knee to another king, submitting to another world. And with his faith sealed, Mance is tied to a pyre and Melisandre burns him (In a very boring way, without her traditionally weird things like leeches or shadow babies) But before Mance can agonizingly perish in the flames, Jon Snow pierces his heart with an arrow, showing him well-deserved mercy (Ugh, those puppy eyes. Dumb puppy eyes)
And so, expectations were met, hearts are still racing and promises must be made. Promises that we will not stay up until 4 am, binge-watching the next four episodes that have been illegally leaked into the world wide web.