Review written by Anthony Tyson. April 13, 2015
Spoilers!!!!!! If you haven't seen the show and would like some quick idea on what my final thoughts are, please skip to the last paragraph. You are warned!
After an insane finish from season 4, let's just say I was counting down the seconds until the next season finally began. As most of us know, the first episode of a new season is usually a prelude to the events that will happen throughout the season. This episode did just that, as well as gave a full recap of what happened last season, and this ultimately made it underwhelming.
The beginning scene with Tywin's funeral was great. As I have read the books, I found that the scene between Cersei and Jamie at the funeral service matched my imagery perfectly. I love how this was set up with the flashback to Cersei's past with the fortune teller. I'm curious as to why they left out the parts concerning her brother however, as I thought the way the book did it (mentioning that Tyrion would be the cause of her death) helped flesh her character out immensely: providing a reason for her trite and seemingly unwarranted behavior towards her brother. A misstep, but not fatal flaw.
The other big highlights of the episode for me were the scenes with Tyrion and Varis, and the scenes with Jon at the wall. Tyrion and Varis have probably the best conversations in the series, and I appreciate that they didn't make us wait to see what had happened to him after the events of the last season. The moments focused on Jon were quite good as well, as the conversation between Mance and himself. That helped bring out the fact that the Wildlings and Mance had a reason for what they did: reinforcing that they aren't simply marauders and reminding the audience that the white walkers are the true threat. Ending the episode with Jon killing Mance to put him out of his misery was also well done, showing that Jon has compassion for these people despite having fought them earlier. Though different than the book, I still really enjoyed that ending.
The unfortunate thing however, is that I wasn't really left with any sense of urgency or impact in this episode. The parts with Sansa and Brienne felt really pointless, as their time on the episode was about 5 minutes or less and they hardly did anything. All Brienne did was yell at Pod, and Sansa just watched Robyn suck at swordplay. It was humorous, but ultimately kind of pointless and waste of time. The time with Daenerys was also a little underwhelming. Debating about keeping a gladiator pit open and worrying about her dragon's just felt like white noise. Nothing is really happening, everyone is just talking about things that may happen. The really interesting stuff was about who might be killing the Unsullied, but this plot line didn't go anywhere, either. It was a ll buildup for later.
My last statement in the previous sentence kind of explains my thoughts on this episode. While it contained a lot of interesting aspects, it is the calm before the storm so to speak. It's setup and it's not the pop that I was hoping for after a year of anticipation. My biggest "oh shit" moment came when I saw the teaser for the next episode. While I'm still hooked obviously, I hope they pick up the momentum. Please let me know what your thoughts were, and what your least favorite/most favorite moments from the episode were in the comments!