With the premiere of the fifth season of Game of Thrones, a lot of digital newspapers and TV/Film bloggers have begun with their reviews.
Obviously I won’t post all of them, just the ones coming from ‘serious’ sources. Here’s one from The Independent – Lena’s part is at the end of the review.
If you’ve spent the last 300 days in a state of starvation waiting for HBO to satisfy you with a juicy serving of Lannister drama then sadly you might still have a hole in your stomach.
Season 5 started promisingly (and predictably) enough with an horrendous throat slitting, a burning alive and a glimpse or two of bare boobies.
But while the threads that intertwined so dramatically at the end of last season continue to weave their merry way through George RR Martin’s fantasy land of Westeros, proceedings seem so brief as to leave one wanting.
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series. And with more players than your average primary school to give airtime to, it’s no wonder matters feel rather rushed.
The season premiere opens with a curveball creators David Benioff and DB Weiss haven’t thrown at us before: a flashback. The shadowy glimpse of a childish Cersei threatening a cave-dwelling witch with having her eyes gouged out in return for a prophecy foretelling the demise of her three children (all of whom will be monarchs, she reveals) is an interesting, if not exactly earth shattering, insight into her twisted nature.
After this matters kick off where we left them with Twyin Lannister (Charles Dance’s evil twinkle will be badly missed) having been removed from the privy where his son dispatched him with a crossbow and laid out for the lords and ladies of the seven kingdoms gathering for his state funeral.
Meanwhile his murderer, Tyrion “the Imp” Lannister (Peter Dinklage), despite having at last sight shot daddy dearest and strangled his ex-lover with a gold chain, provides the episode with some much-needed humour. He emerges angrily, and drunkenly, from the crate where Varys (Conleth Hill) stowed him away, in the sunny clime of Pentos and doesn’t do a great deal other than spit out some of the show’s best lines (“A drunken dwarf will never be the saviour of the kingdom”), vomit and plan the trip to Mereen to unite with Khaleesi that we’ve all been hankering after.
Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) herself is still attempting to rule from the pyramid in Meereen and is enjoying the company of Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman) as her grip on power – and control over her dragons — appears to be on the wane.
The most important action takes place up north at the Wall as Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) and Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) continue their uneasy collaboration with Mance Rayder (Ciarán Hinds) their unfortunate prisoner at Castle Black. Stannis’ bid to create a Wildling army with Snow’s help looks set to be among the biggest storylines this season.
The frustrating nanosecond glimpses of major characters such as Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) succeed in reminding one of the myriad paths the drama could yet take. So far there is no sign of Arya (Maisie Williams) or the other Stark siblings, but Sansa (Sophie Turner) has undergone an impressive Goth makeover and appears happily in the clutches of brothel-owner-turned-creepy-uncle Little Finger/Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillan).
The most interesting transformation is limp Lannister cousin Lancel who has gone from simpering halfwit into a follower of the Sparrows. Cersei (Lena Headey) appears appalled at her other incestuous lover’s (the first being her twin brother, Jaime) appearance in rags and with his once bouffant blond locks shorn off. Religion has not reared its head in King’s Landing so far, and the possibilities it provides are exciting.
Five seasons into Game of Thrones it is no wonder the focus has become rather blurred. I suspect tonight’s episode is the creators setting up a stall advertising their wares before the gutsy stuff is served up later. All told the writing and production value remain superb. It is just the nature of the beast that instead of whetting appetites it leaves one chomping hungrily (and perhaps irritatedly) at the bit.