Two of ShowVote’s most talented (and attractive) writers, Richie Pepio and Shea Weekley, also happen to be huge Game of Thrones fans. Richie is a GoT connoisseur of sorts. He’s read all the books and regularly theorizes about where the story is headed. Shea has not read any of the books, but is a big fan of the show.
Watch and learn how both sides of the fandom feel about the Game of Thrones Season 5 premiere, as they give some initial thoughts, reactions, and predictions for where it’s all heading.
Beware of minor spoilers regarding the show’s past seasons and one big spoiler for potential future events (marked in nice, big, bold letters below).
So after a year away from Westeros, what was it like to be re-submerged into the depths of this world?
RP: It’s good to be back! Honestly, it feels like we haven’t left. The show is always impressive in its ability to match the nuanced characterization with sheer cinematic spectacle and this episode did not disappoint! That shot of the harpy statue being dragged off the top of the pyramid can go up against any shot in a blockbuster film (funny enough, X-Men: Days of Future Past was ending right before Game of Thrones started, and the harpy fall may have bettered the post-credits Apocalypse-builds-pyramids-
We start with the show’s first official flashback, played in a way that feels like the present – and keeps the uninitiated audience guessing until the reveal that this is, in fact, Cersei. After we fill in the blanks with the B- in the Red Keep, we see everybody right as we left them. Sure, we missed a couple fan favorites in the process, but they’ll be back (ex: Arya; did anybody miss Theon?). This episode had the slow-burn feel of an early season episode, and it accomplished everything a Game of Thrones episode is expected to have – high stakes, tension, nudity, and the setup for several possible downfalls.
SW: When you talk about some of the great escapist franchises credited with creating whole worlds and devising universes worshiped by fanboys ’round the world, you would quickly think of Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter, and now….maybe at the tip top there might just be a new reigning Lord. I just find it so comfortable to slip into. It’s the most comfortable and emotionally damaging pair of tv pants that I own. Other than being slightly hazy on some of last season’s details it really was like a day hasn’t passed (I wonder if that’s what alzheimers feels like?). And while Westeros may feel like the most murderous snuggy ever worn we are slowly coming to a point where other regions are becoming a mainstay of our experience. Arya has left the home shores and now so has Tyrion so our world is growing which is delightful because we are afforded the familiar comfort of places like King’s Landing and The Wall but get to have our curiosity and sense of wonder tickled by expanding into new and vibrant lands.
A lot has been made on the television series slowly steering away from the books….what is your take on the effect it’s had on the shows storytelling?
RP: That’s necessary for the adaptation to survive – it’s got to be its own thing. I love the books and I love the show, both accomplish what they’re after. The books tell us what’s going on in each character’s mind, the series has to show us instead. It’s got to be a bit more presentational than the books and sacrifice some extra characters in the process. That being said, when the show’s writers have trusted themselves, even in earlier seasons, and invented necessary moments of dialogue, Game of Thrones’ has often done its best work. The season one conversation between Cersei and Robert Baratheon, where she asks him if there was ever a chance for them and he responds with painful honesty, would never have appeared in the books. The structure of the POV narrative would never have allowed us to see this perspective. But when you have two great characters portrayed by two great actors, you have to play up your strengths.
And with last season’s finale – sure, I mourned the loss of Lady Stoneheart (I’m still holding out hope she’ll show her judgemental resting (zombie) bitch face in some form), but I’ll be damned if that Mountain/Brienne fight wasn’t one of the best scenes this show has had to offer. It was a great way for the Hound to go out, and a great new direction to push Brienne.
SW: I represent one of the many who watch this show having never read the book. Some would say that is to my detriment….I would say ignorance is bliss. Experiencing the show as a universe contained only within the walls of the television screen has been wonderful. I love to read but the roller coaster of the show fully realized in all it’s gory, gratuitous, sexual ambivalence is wonderfully realized on the screen for me. So at this point it doesn’t seem like any deviations they may have made away from the source material have affected my viewing experience.
We saw some major character transformations at the end of last season, at the start of this season who do you think will be the most interesting to watch change?
RP: Having read the books, I know we’ll be meeting a lot more characters soon enough, whether in Dorne or during Tyrion’s journey through Essos. This episode mostly excelled at showing us new colors of those we love (to hate). Specifically, the prophecy that stubborn young Cersei coerces out of a “boring” soothsayer. BAD MOVE, Cersei. You could’ve had a blissfully ignorant life as an arrogant highborn lady who got the short-end of the scepter. Instead, you get to self-fulfill a prophecy you don’t want coming true. We also get introduced to the sparrows’ religious fanaticism in the form of Lancel’s pious conversion. The exchange between Cersei and Lancel over him finding god and Cersei scoffing in his face, hints at some of the opposition Cersei may face as the world around King’s Landing changes. Dad’s gone, most of her small council is spread out across the globe, and, as Jaime pointed out at their dad’s wake, their enemies are all just outside, waiting to get in.
SW: Sansa Stark is the horse I’m backing for most interesting arc. Many other characters already have incredible arcs, but Sansa for the most part has always come off as weepy and helpless to me (understandably…I mean…she watched her Pops get decapitated) so I was thrilled to see the seed of her transformation begin to blossom at the end of last season. Not to mention the relationship between her and Littlefinger has a lot of gravity and I’m not sure who will end up changing the most as a result of it.
Overall thoughts on the first episodes and hopes and predictions for the season moving forward?
RP: I’m excited to see Arya starting fresh. Also, Mance’s final moment not only topped off the complex Mance/Jon relationship, but spiced up Jon’s rapport with Stannis. The last surviving Baratheon might not take too kindly to Jon cutting Mance’s execution short by shooting an arrow through Mance’s heart. I wonder what Stannis will do in response. Every first episode is table setting for the main course, and while huge game changer events (like the Red Wedding) seem far behind us, there’s still a lot that could blow up later this season. There’s tension at the Wall over what to do with the Wildlings, Tyrion is about to begin his quest for Danaerys, all while Danaerys has an insurgency in Meereen to deal with. We know it’s all going to blow up, it’s just a question of when.
SW: I thought it was an extremely solid first episode. It didn’t offer any moments as revelatory as Joffrey’s death last season but it was such a confident and engaging first step. We finally get to see concrete steps being taken towards story lines merging. All eyes are on Daenerys and Stannis as they gather strength for an assault on King’s Landing. And without the protection of his grandfather what will become of young King Tommen on the throne? Margaery Tyrell has more to say about that than I think we are giving credit for.
If you were stuck in barrel on your way to Essos, which character would you most want to join you on your voyage?
RP: Varys. He’s always one step ahead of everyone else. Or Hot Pie – maybe I’d need a cake or something.
SW: Marjarey Tyrell for obvious reasons.