Oh wow oh WOW. So for about 9 months in the year, I just kind of float around and exist, but when Game of Thrones is on, I thrive. In highschool, during those long 9 months, people would ask me how long until Game of Thrones premiered and I'd be able to give them a countdown on any given day.
So you cannot imagine my excitement when Season 5 FINALLY went up. Now, as excited as I was about this episode, there were some hits and some misses (especially coming from a book fan).
- Maggy the Frog Flashback: I noticed Dan and David like to skip a lot of the history of Westeros, or flashbacks that a lot of characters have: anything kind of "lore"-ish doesn't really seem necessary to them. (I'm pretty upset that they cut out Patchface the Fool...). I'm really happy that they gave some context as to why Cersei hates Margaery. It's this Snow White, mirror-mirror situation-- I like that they point out that this is Cersei's deep fear and not some petty jealousy that appears against every woman to walk into King's Landing.
- The existiantially-wrought Tyrion and Varys: Tyrion's old love is a whore named Tysha. When Tywin found her, he gave her to the Kingsguard and sent her off. This was never mentioned in the show, though, which is his entire personal reason for going to Essos. I really liked that they didn't draw up some other reason, like dredging up Shae's death and making a big deal about it. Instead, he's just purposeless, with Varys constantly around for him to verbally reflect that nihilism.
- Brienne and Pod meet Sansa and Littlefinger: This is more of a minor thing, but I think it's an interesting choice. I like where Sansa's storyline goes in the books, but it's not very action-y, or made for television. So instead, Brienne does find her. I like the idea of really pushing and making this "hardened" Sansa overt-- she doesn't trust anymore. It gives us more satisfaction than what has happened all the way up until Winds of Winter: Brienne is still searching for her.
- Mance Rayder: In the books, he's not really dead. Melisandre casts a spell. It's really a different, crueler wildling made to look like Mance, burned alive. In the show, it really is Mance who is dead. I think it adds more dynamic to his character. The actor, Ciaran Hinds, commented that it wasn't just pride-- and he understood that about Mance. It's this deep seated belief that dying for his people, to show them strength, is the right and best thing for them. I will miss him, for sure, but a big part of me respects his choice. (+ big ups to Jon Snow for being a) being humane and b) being a good shot).
- The Harpy Statue: It's in the trailer so we think it's this big event, but no. It's in the first episode. It's like "Bam, she's taking over and there was nothing you could do about it. It happened already." That's it.
- Lancel: He's supposed to be this old man. His illness and then his piousness make him all wrinkly and gaunt, and his hair starts to fall out, and he's really quite homely looking. I don't like that they just made him look all clean-shaven and new, and then he's on his way. I thought it would have been weirdly satisfying to see this youthful, blonde-haired boy fallen from grace (I swear I'm not evil....).
- The Sons of the Harpy: Not really explained. My boyfriend said that he was a little confused as to who they are after the episode. The Sons of the Harpy are supposed to be the Masters and Sons of the Masters killing their former slaves; and that's kind of a big deal. It sucks that without context, showwatchers only really see them as something of a "pro-slavery terrorist group" and not the fallen Masters themselves. I do love those sweet masks though. They're just the right amount of creepy + ornate.
- Viserion and Rhaegal: It seems pretty clear to me that Danaerys has bonded with Drogon, the biggest dragon, and so she'll never be able to ride Viserion and Rhaegal (after all, "a dragon may have many riders, but a rider may only have one dragon"). The dynamic is interesting now, where the "Mother of Dragons" can't reign in 2 of them, and the other one does whatever he wants. We'll have to see where it goes though.
- (Bonus Points) Melisandre: I like what they're doing with her, I just don't like her. Don't you ask Jon Snow if he's a virgin, you cougar. It's weird.
Overrall, the episode has set up some very exciting things for us, but it was a little underwhelming in terms of the wow factor. Episode 2 is primed to be much better paced.
I'd give it a 7.5/10, which is low for Game of Thrones. But it's still Game of Thrones.