'The Wars to Come' debuted on HBO on Sunday, and the season 5 premier of 'Game of Thrones' didn't disappoint, jam packed with action and drama and laying the groundwork for what looks to be an awesome season.
A young Cersei Lannister and her highborn friend trudge through the woods in search of the notorious witch Maggy the Frog. Cersei demands that Maggy foretell her future. The woman tastes the girl's blood and answers her questions: Cersei will be queen, until someone younger and more beautiful replaces her; Cersei will have three children, and furthermore, "Gold will be their crowns – and gold their shrouds."
In King's Landing, Cersei arrives at the Sept of Baelor to attend her father's funeral, passing Margaery Tyrell in the receiving line. She requests a moment of privacy and joins her brother, who stands guard over Tywin's body. The twins discuss the ramifications of their father's death on the Lannister legacy. They agree that their hold on the kingdom is threatened – a predicament for which Cersei holds both her brothers responsible. "Tyrion may be a monster, but at least he killed our father on purpose," she tells Jaime. "You killed him by mistake."
Varys frees Tyrion Lannister from the crate he boarded to cross the Narrow Sea. The Spider explains they've arrived at the Pentoshi home of his friend Illyrio Mopatis, his co-conspirator to reinstate Targaryen rule during Robert Baratheon's ineffectual reign. As Varys reiterates the urgency of the cause, Tyrion helps himself to a jug of wine. "The future is s**t, just like the past," Tyrion declares – right before he vomits.
Still drinking steadily, Tyrion asks Varys why he would gamble his life and reputation to free Tyrion. "I did it for the Seven Kingdoms," Varys maintains, noting that Tyrion has a unique collection of leadership qualities. Although Tyrion will never sit on the Iron Throne, he could advise a monarch with the right family name – Daenerys Targaryen. Varys invites Tyrion to ride to Meereen with him to meet the queen.
A team of Unsullied work to pull down the golden harpy atop the Great Pyramid of Meereen. Having completed the task, a soldier named White Rat heads to a brothel where he pays a woman to simply hold him. As he relaxes, an assassin wearing a harpy mask sneaks in and slits his throat.
When she learns of White Rat's death, Queen Daenerys commands he receive a public burial and that his murderers be held accountable. The Unsullied prepare to take to the streets, and Missandei asks Grey Worm why White Rat, or any Unsullied, would visit a brothel. Grey Worm has no answer.
At Runestone, Lord Robin Arryn fails at swordplay. After receiving a mysterious scroll, Petyr Baelish and Sansa depart, leaving Robin in the care of Lord Royce. Sansa realizes they are heading west, and Littlefinger tells her they're going "to a land so far from here, even Cersei Lannister can't get her hands on you."
A defeated Brienne dismisses Pod from her service. "I'm not a knight, so you're not a squire," she barks. Pod reminds her that even if Arya refused her protection, Sansa remains at large.
Cersei, disgusted at the sight of Margaery comforting Tommen, is surprised by the appearance of her cousin and former lover, Lancel Lannister – now barefoot in robes with a shaved head. "They call themselves Sparrows," Cersei's uncle, Kevan, explains. "Bloody fanatics." Later, Lancel approaches Cersei privately. He apologizes and begs forgiveness for their affair and his role in Robert's death. When Lancel asks Cersei to turn to the Faith of the Seven, she dismisses him.
Margaery walks in on her brother Loras with his lover Olyvar. Margaery counsels discretion, but Loras maintains that everyone already knows his personal preferences – and with Tywin dead, no one can force Cersei to marry him. At that, Margaery hints that Cersei may not stay in King's Landing.
Daario Naharis and Hizdahr zo Loraq return to Meereen after completing their mission to restore order in Yunkai. Hizdahr communicates a request from the former masters there: reopen the fighting pits. Dany rejects what she calls "the tradition of human cock-fighting." In bed together that night, Daario advises Dany to consider Hizdahr’s request and open the pits. More than that, he argues, she should show her strength with her dragons. Emboldened by the conversation, Dany visits her children in the catacombs. Viserion and Rhaegal snap and spit flame; Dany flees.
chosen as the new Lord Commander… he hates the wildlings," he says, glancing at baby Sam.
Jon Snow trains Olly until he's interrupted by Melisandre. She escorts him to see King Stannis, inquiring about his virginity along the way. Stannis greets Jon with a reminder that the Boltons hold his childhood home. When Davos Seaworth questions Jon about his decision to take Ygritte's body north of the Wall, Snow replies, "It's where she belonged." Noting his sympathies, Stannis explains his plan: he will invite the Free Folk to join his army and, after he wins the North, he’ll decree the wildlings citizens of the realm and give them land on which to settle. "I'll offer them their lives and their freedom," he tells Jon Snow, "if Mance kneels before me."
Jon approaches the King Beyond the Wall, aware Mance must pledge allegiance to Stannis or be burned alive. "I respect him," Mance admits, "but I'll never serve him." Jon argues Mance's life work will have been for naught if his people die north of the Wall, but the wildling king decides he'd rather burn than betray his principles. Even though he’s scared to die screaming, knowing that’s how his people will see and remember him forever after.
Having refused Stannis one last time, Mance is led to a stake in the Castle Black courtyard. As the wildlings and men of the Watch look on, Melisandre ignites the pyre below him. Mance begins to writhe in agony and is about to scream when an arrow flies into his heart, fired by Jon Snow as an act of mercy.
Episode 2 "You win or you Die" is on HBO on Sunday