HBO’s “Game of Thrones” returned for a fifth season Sunday night, and promptly prepared Tywin Lannister for burial and dispatched alpha Wildling leader Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds) at The Wall … thanks to Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) and his lover/adviser Melisandre (Carice van Houten), the red witch.
They condemn an uncooperative Mance to burn alive for a salivating crowd. Jon Snow (Kit Harington) ended Mance’s suffering by a precise arrow and angers Baratheon, who wants Roose Bolton’s (Michael McElhatton) head on a stick.
Game of Thrones’ season premieres, this episode — titled “The Wars to Come” — is a largely expository episode to remind us the state of affairs in the Westeros, who is in charge, in hiding, warring, presumed dead or wandering about all drunk-like… or driven and on a mission.At first appearance, the episode seems male dominated, but this season will be one where the women drive the story. In fact it opens wit Cersei (Lena Headey) as a haughty girl encountering a witch in the woods (pictured above) who tells her she is doomed to marry a cheating king, and have three children.
Varys (Conleth Hill) and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) are in a strange alliance (Tyrion of course is still on the lam from his sister Cersei) as both heading to Mereen as Varys tells Tyrion that a woman could put peace and order in place for them all. He tips his admiration for Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) to ascend to the Iron Throne.
What we have is a showrunner, George R.R. Martin, who is one of the few male fantasy writers that can artfully write dialogue and create female characters that I will invest in. This season poses to strike pay-dirt.
Guaranteed are more conflicts of duty, love and of course politics, and the drama will be peppered with healthy sexual diversions (gay and straight), and unhealthy ones (incest, rape) that are the eye candy and glue that keep a mass audience while Machiavellian themes are played out in this mythical land. It’s red meat TV, and empowering for female actors so with that in mind, it is a top TV picks to recommend.
Even regional loyalties and allegiances are interestingly played, out – the “North” which represents the imposing Wall and a bit lower, Winterfell more blue collar, more working class and less wealthy folk, the Stark House who seemed to be the most likeable sympathetic and noble of the lot, plus the Night’s Watch of the Wall, a monk like existence where ostensibly no sex is going on (one of the few locales in this potboiler where genitalia is kept covered up). The South represented by King’s Landing is more lofty real estate, pretentious and full of higher class types, hedonists, loads of whores, brothels, who look down upon the dirty cold North.
This onion layer of story that Martin deftly writes is loaded with quality complex female characters. This is where the audience widens, when the inter-generational aspects of the rivalries, the pace of the drama and the psychological aspects pique an audience who crave a layered and interesting yarn.
“Game of Thrones” is set in a harsh environment where fortunes and “fame” are ripped away by whim. Unfair outcomes and happenstance upset personal fortunes and powerplays reverse lifestyles, as with Stark beauty Sansa who became saddled as chattel to insane boy king Joffrey, a child of incest. His death is celebrated, and her maturation goes dark as she allies with the biggest conniver in the cast, Lord Baelish. Sansa has a regal air in the opening premiere, and it foreshadows her elevation to lady of a house – but which house and whose lady?
Audiences love to root for intelligent underdogs with good hearts, ergo Tyrion, played artfully by Peter Dinklage, is a fan favorite and one that has survived unimaginable humiliation, pain and marginalization. We feel for him. His meeting with Dany will be one for the books.
The women, and it appears the dragons, will rule the roost this season. Cersei Lannister, Melisandre, Margaery Tyrell, Danerys Targaryen, late Lady Stark Catelyn, and now her daughters Sansa and especially Arya who appears to be like Tyrion, a survivor, whets our appetite to see what unfolds, as Brienne of Tarth’s journey is still in play and of course Varys the eunuch’s political maneuvering with Tyrion, it should be a brilliant run.