When we last left Westeros the land was in shambles and its people were even worse off.
To The North at Castle Black, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and the less than 50 men of the Night’s Watch were licking their wounds after being saved from the wildling army of Mance Rayder (Ciarán Hinds) by Stanis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) and his host.
Ayria Stark (Maisie Williams) had decided to leave her life behind and travel to Bravvos with her coin given to her by Jaquen H’ghar.
The oldest of the true born Stark children left living, Sansa (Sophie Turner), was under the protection of the cunning Lord Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen), the very man responsible for her father’s death and destruction of her family.
In Meereen, Queen Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) had just outcast one of her top advisors, Sir Jora Mormont (Iain Glen) after she found out he came into her service as a spy for the late Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy).
Episode one sets the stage where each character, with the exception of Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright), is at and where they are heading. A general sense of not being in control haunts each character, some deal with this better than others.
It opens with Cersei (Lena Headey) and Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) mourning their father’s death in the Great Sept of Baelor the Blessed. Cersei blames Jamie for the death of Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), saying that Tyrion might have killed their father on purpose, but Jamie killed him on accident, implying that he was worse then her hated brother Tyrion.
Meanwhile Tyrion is brought to Varys partner’s house in Pentos where Varys offers Tyrion the chance to make a difference and bring peace to the realm by supporting Daenerys.
In the Vale, Baelish leaves Robin Arryn (Lino Facioli), heir to the kingdom of the Vale, with Lord Royce (Rupert Vansittart) to continue his combat training. Baelish says that he and Sansa are leaving for the Eyrie, but in truth tells Sansa that he is taking her to a place where Cersei can’t harm her.
Meanwhile Ayria reaches Bravvos and ventures to the House of Black and White to begin her training as a “Faceless Man.”
With Castle Black teaming with people, Jon Snow is asked by Stanis to convince Mance Rayder to swear loyalty to him and “bend the knee.” Stanis tells Jon if Mance complies he will be spared from being burned alive as a sacrifice to R’hllor, the Lord of Lights.
Stanis will also pardon the Wildlings, make them citizens of the realm and grant them land if they help him take back The North from the Lannister allies and the new Wardens of The North, The Boltons.
The one catch is that he has until nightfall to sway Mance to come around.
Finally in Meereen, Daenerys is struggling to hold her conquered lands together. The old slave masters of Yunkai and Meereen want the fighting pits reopened but Daeneys’ pride prevents her from allowing it.
At the same time a cultish resistance has been emboldened and is assassinating members Daenerys army of The Unsullied. It is here she is learning that conquering a land is not the same as ruling it; and ruling without compromise is not going to go unchallenged.
Although the season premiere was not jam-packed with action, it was instrumental in lining up all the separate story arcs. Season five is shaping up to be every bit as successful as its four predecessors.
Despite the online leak of the first four episodes on Saturday, which HBO can’t be thrilled about, this season had record breaking viewers with 8 million, which is a 17 percent (or 1.16 million) increase from last years premiere.
That’s not the only problem HBO is having though. The series creator, George R.R. Martin, has yet to publish his sixth book in the series “A Song of Ice and Fire” which the show is based on. Many fans are scared the show will spoil the ending of the books.
While the books and the show have some differences in plot line, the ending was told to the show’s producers by Martin long ago when they realized the possibility of this happening.
In an interview with Metro, Benioff said,”I kind of wish that there were some things we didn’t have to spoil, but we’re kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. The show must go on!”
Episode two airs this Sunday 9 p.m. on HBO and remember “when you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”