The new season of Game of Thrones begins tonight but that doesn’t mean people haven’t watched nearly half the season already. The leak is an interesting happenstance for this show, specifically. Rife with spoiler-heavy plot lines, and with dozens of character’s lives on the line each week, it’s usually in the best interest of fans everywhere to keep most talk of past episodes to a lull around those who haven’t caught up yet. In this case, the onus is on the casual torrent seeker in possession of these new episodes to keep their traps shut for the next month or so. Reviewers aside, most people would not have had the chance to see a television episode prior to air until now. Call it the new age of technology or possibly just an intern from the show that had nothing to lose, but instant gratification without commercials on multiple platforms is no longer good enough for the internet republic. We must now see things before anyone else is supposed to and then complain about it when we can’t. The spoilers will now require pre-spoiler clarifications to see how far ahead we cheated in order to know what the hell we can even discuss.
Speaking of self righteous behavior, the first episode of season five begins with a flashback to Cersei’s childhood. It’s not obvious who the little girl is at first glance but very quickly we see the strident, snarky disregard for others and it clicks. Tiny Cersei lives up to her adult counterpart by overstepping her confident bounds only to be put in her place by someone who knows just a little bit more than she.
Back in present day (at least in this timeline), the funeral of Tywin Lannister is upon us. Cersei, furious that she won’t be Queen anymore once Tommen marries Margaery Tyrell, implores Jaime to help her seek revenge over the dead body of their father while surprisingly little sex takes place. Margaery and Loras Tyrell seem to be some of the most dangerous characters that will emerge this season. Both are promised to Lannister folk and may soon come into a position to take power in their own ways. The most intriguing part of this new season is that it’s surpassing the books and the show runners are finally able to leave the books behind to strike out on their own for awhile.
The show wastes no time by throwing us right into where we left off with Tyrion’s escape. Not unlike when The Walking Dead was stuck on Hershel’s farm, GoT suffered from some fatigue that it seems to have finally left behind. Tyrion sheds the box that was his hidden passage the past few months to emerge in Pentos (which is where we first met Daenerys way back in season one) with Varys, who helped him to escape. While Cersei and Jaime plot across the sea, Varys and Tyrion may soon have a plan of their own to take hold of the Seven Kingdoms that involves Daenerys, who has her own problems over in Mereen trying to keep the newly liberated city under control.
The Brienne and Podrick/Sansa and Littlefinger story lines are lightly touched upon just enough to fill us in and get us wanting more but featured fairly heavily in this first episode is ol’ Jon Snow. Boring, monotone Jon Snow. Full disclosure, I’ve only read the first four books and I happen to like his character because I see big things coming for him but I have no knowledge past A Feast For Crows. The infiltration of the wildlings came to a close last season with the attack on the Wall and the arrival of Stannis to take back the crown by any means necessary. Which in this case, means using the defeated wildlings as his army to take King’s Landing. Jon is tasked with trying to get Mance Rayder (the unofficial leader of the wildlings) to cooperate with Stannis but Mance ultimately refuses and is set to be put to death by fire, the culmination of which ends with Jon putting him out of his burning misery by arrow.
If this episode tells us anything, it’s that there is a lot of story to catch up on and a lot of story to come. Fans will finally not actually know what is coming as the books are mostly behind us and deviations from the source material have been promised. The only way to know what happens next is to cheat and download the leaked episodes. Legalities aside, I’m not sure I’m going to participate in the jump ahead. Getting a copy of a movie while it’s still in theaters is one thing, but half the fun of watching TV (barring full season releases from the likes of Netflix or Amazon) is the waiting. Especially when everyone else is playing along with you, it’s lonely being one of the few who have seen behind the curtain. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the blood. And sex. And dragons.