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'Game of Thrones' recap: 'The Wars to Come'

‘Game of Thrones’ returns for season 5 with a revealing flashback and one character meeting a horrible fate.

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Helen Sloan/HBO

Game of Thrones

TV Show
Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
run date:
D.B. Weiss
Current Status:
In Season

The Game of Thrones season 5 premiere has finally aired!

Or as the illegal downloaders are calling it: “That one I watched three episodes back.”

But no matter, we’re staying on the official path and Sunday’s eagerly awaited premiere gave us plenty to talk about: The fantasy hit’s first-ever flashback scene starring Mean Girl Cersei, a game-changing conversation between Tyrion and Varys that we’ll recap in a singularly unique way, Daario’s butt makes return appearance, and we see a brutal burning at the stake for one recurring character (a.k.a., what HBO’s lawyers are planning to do to whoever leaked its Thrones screeners online).

Let’s start our recap with—

Westerlands: Two teen girls squelch through the mud in the forest, looking like characters out of a fairy tale. We don’t realize it when this scene opens, but this dour marsh is the first-ever scene in the wealthy and powerful Lannister family lands ruled by Casterly Rock. Presumably the rest of their homeland doesn’t look like Dagobah. The brunette resists going further, and the blonde who we will soon learn is a supremely bratty young Cersei says, “You don’t need to be afraid of my father” with a look that makes it clear her BFF should be afraid of displeasing her instead. Even back then, Cersei was trying to get out from dad’s shadow (yet she does hold her friend’s hand like they’re the dead Shining twins—nowadays, Cersei barks at any female who dares to touch her).

They enter a hut seeking legendary local seer Maggy the Frog. In George R.R. Martin’s books, the character is described as an old crone, but the HBO series has made her young and chesty, like a pirate wench who escaped from Starz’ Black Sails. You wonder what kind of drugs she smokes in that hut all day while applying black eyeliner.

Young Cersei demands her fortune and ignores Maggy’s warning that she really doesn’t want to know what her future holds.

So Maggy gives Cersei a prophecy that messes up her life forever: She will be queen, but “then comes another, younger, more beautiful to cast you down and take all you hold dear” (hmm, Margaery? Daenerys?). She notes the king will have 20 children (because of all his bastard offspring) but she will have only three. Then she’ll see all of her kids die—”gold will be their crowns, gold their shrouds.” Maggy then cackle-laughs like she’s the Wicked Witch of the Westeros.  

Thrones then cuts to present day. This is a shame because I was digging this flashback and really wanted to see more, like a special Cersei Lannister episode of MTV’s My Super Sweet Sixteen (“I told daddy I wanted a dragon, but instead I had to settle for these stupid ponies”).

King’s Landing: Grown-up Cersei walks to Great Sept of Baelor, where her father lies in state. She practically hisses at Margaery on the way up. We now have a bit more insight into why she hates Margaery so much and why she’s so paranoid about losing her kids.

She goes into the Sept and there’s Jaime, standing vigil and looking busted. In the books, we learn Tywin’s body smells so awful nobody can enter the Sept for days afterward, but the show spares us this detail. Jaime warns his sister that now that she’s running the show (since King Tommen Baratheon—First of His Name and Petter of Ser Pounce—is still so young) that their enemies will try to steal her power. But Cersei is only focused on hating Tyrion for killing her dad. This is so Cersei. For somebody who’s been trying to avoid an all-encompassing prophecy, she’s so rarely focused on the big picture instead of individual enemies.  

Cersei shoots back: “Tyrion may be a monster, but at least he killed our father on purpose.” Ah burn, Jaime. As a Kingsguard charged with protecting the royal family, Jaime has been rather terrible at his job. And if anybody else had set Tyrion free, Cersei would have them executed immediately. Lucky for him, these two are rather close.

Thankfully, Jaime doesn’t get annoyed and push Cersei like last season. Their love life is already pretty impractical and would be a tough fetish for any couple to sustain if “close family member laying dead nearby in the Sept” became the only way they could get off.

NEXT: Margaery interruptus; Tyrion unpacked