Game of Thrones Season 5 Premiere Recap: The future is a puke stain

Game of Thrones 5 premiere

Tyrion Lannister needs a drink.

After spending Gods know how many weeks at sea, trapped inside a small box with holes built in for breathing and defecating, you would be a bit parched on the other side of the journey, too. The enormous weight of having brutally murdered your former lover and your father only further fuels the drive to drink, so the Dink grabs a goblet, fills it up with red wine, chugs it, rinses, repeats, and purges, pantomiming a Purple Wedding of his own, puking all over a nice Pentoshi carpet.

Tyrion Lannister needs a drink

Seconds before vomiting almost directly at the feet of the eunuch Varys, Tyrion says words that will reverberate throughout Game of Thrones, but especially this fifth season premiere: “The future is sh-t, just like the past.” Indeed, the future does not look bright for the Seven Kingdoms and its varying power players, for varying reasons … and yes, the past isn’t much better.

Cersei and the witch

Take the first scene of the episode, and season, for example. For the first time, Game of Thrones gives us a glimpse into the past of one of our main characters: Cersei Lannister. We watch as she and a friend frolic through the woods and harass an old witch in a hut; the woman is said to have the ability to see into the future, so Cersei demands a reading, unless the witch would like to have her eyes gouged out by Tywin Lannister. That’s not what she wants, so she bends to the request. Sipping blood from Cersei’s thumb, the witch proceeds to answer three of Cersei’s questions about what life has in store — though she won’t like the answers.

Cersei and the witch

Among the highlights of the prophecy: Cersei will one day marry a king, but she will only be queen until a “younger, more beautiful” woman comes along and casts her down. What’s more, Cersei and the king will not have children together, but Cersei will still have three. “Gold will be their crowns,” predicts the witch, “and gold their shrouds.”

Aspects of this prophecy have already come true. Cersei did marry a king, Robert Baratheon, and they did not have kids together; she had Jaime’s, three babies born of incest, their hair as gold as the riches of Casterly Rock … and already, one of them is dead, covered in shrouds. Given that the same fate has been predicted for her two surviving children, and that a “younger, more beautiful” woman is actively seducing her son of a King, it’s understandable why Cersei sees her nightmarish childhood memory as a warning of her equally dire future.

Cersei and the witch

And while some of Cersei’s panic is extreme jealousy at best and paranoid cruelty at worst, she’s not entirely off base; later in the episode, we see Margaery Tyrell alone with her brother Loras, and she only acknowledges that “perhaps” she’ll have to continue dealing with Cersei moving forward. “Perhaps,” the single most loaded word in the entire hour.

The restless mother of angry dragons

Far away from King’s Landing, another queen wrestles with her past and her future: Daenerys Targaryen, facing extreme backlash from certain civilians of Meereen, the city she conquered and reshaped in the image of her own moral code. Turns out, not everyone’s morals align with Dany’s, and they want some of their old ways back — fighting pits, for one, where people can make a pretty profit and divert themselves with gladiator games all the while. Dany has no interest in reopening these pits, even if it’s the right political move given her fragile peace with the surrounding cities of Slaver’s Bay.

The restless mother of angry dragons

The Targaryen backlash isn’t just a political debate, however; it’s a literal war in the shadows, as members of an agency called the Sons of the Harpy move against Dany’s forces. One of her Unsullied soldiers, a man called White Rat, dies in a brothel, his throat slit by a masked assassin. It’s an aggressive escalation of the tensions in Meereen, a sign that Dany’s rule is not welcomed by all, and will be met with fire and blood of its own.

But who would dare mess with Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons? Well, just because you’re the mother does not mean you are in control of your kin. Dany’s dragons are very much in the rebellious teenager phase, with Drogon having flown away from home, and the remaining Viserion and Rhaegal furious with their mother for locking them away in an underground cavern. Dany cannot keep the peace in her new city, just as she cannot keep the peace with her dragons — and as her lover Daario bluntly explains, “A dragon queen without dragons is not a queen.”

Stannis, the Wildlings, and Littlefinger

Back in Westeros, at the great Wall in the North, Stannis Baratheon sees a bright future as the rightful King of the Seven Kingdoms, but it’s a future he won’t see without hard work. Step 1: Win back the North from Lannister-loyal House Bolton, the traitors currently occupying Winterfell. In order to wage that war, however, Stannis needs more men — and to that end, he wants to enlist the wildlings he fought and captured at the end of last season; if they agree to fight for his side, he’ll pardon them and name them citizens of the realm. But first, he needs Jon Snow’s help in convincing their leader, Mance Rayder, to bend the knee to Stannis and advise his people to accept the king’s cause.

Stannis, the Wildlings, and Littlefinger

Unfortunately, there’s little place in reality for Stannis’ far-fetched optimism. Even though he is not excited at the prospect of burning alive, Mance makes it clear to Jon that even a horrific death is preferable to bending the knee to anyone, betraying everything he knows. And so, Mance refuses Stannis’ offer. Perhaps he’s second-guessing himself as fire nips at his feet, seconds away from consuming him in front of all his people, and in front of the gathered forces of Stannis Baratheon and the Night’s Watch. Perhaps. We’ll never know, because Jon Snow ends the suspense, plunging an arrow directly into Mance’s heart. What does Jon’s future on the Wall look like after such a public declaration of mercy for wildlings? Like just about everybody else, it can’t be good.

Stannis, the Wildlings, and Littlefinger

Okay, not everyone‘s future is so bleak. Littlefinger looks like he’s having a swell time. The Vale is completely under his thumb, he’s already the lord of Harrenhal, and he has mysterious designs for Sansa Stark, currently posing as his bastard daughter Alayne. As the two ride away from the Vale in a carriage, Littlefinger reveals very little about their future together; but the smirk on his face says it all, as he tells her that they’re about to visit “a land so far from here that not even Cersei Lannister can get her hands on you.”

Tyrion and the road to Meereen

The beautiful thing about the future is that it’s unknown, unless a witch in the woods has already called it for you. The past and present can be “sh-t,” as Tyrion says, but the future doesn’t have to follow suit — and this idea extends to Tyrion as well. Some time after his stomach-churning binge-drinking, Tyrion once again finds himself seeking comfort in the bottom of a bottle. Enter Varys, who does his best to bring Tyrion to his senses. The eunuch believes that “a man of talent has a part to play in the war to come.” He believes that Tyrion can make a difference in the Seven Kingdoms, even from afar, by helping to put a “ruler loved by millions with a powerful army and the right family name” on the Iron Throne.

Tyrion and the road to Meereen

“Good luck finding him,” Tyrion cracks, as he cracks open his bottle of wine. Varys returns with a smile of his own. “Who said anything about him?” Color Tyrion intrigued. Varys offers Tyrion an opportunity to make something of his future, rather than letting it become a sh-t show like his past and present. “Stay here and drink yourself to death,” he says, “or ride to Meereen, meet Daenerys, and decide if the world is worth fighting for.”

It’s a hard call for a low man stuck in the past, but leave it to someone as brilliant as Tyrion to find the middle ground between yesterday’s sins and tomorrow’s opportunities: “Can I drink myself to death on the road to Meereen?”

Movies & TV

'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald' will seem muddled to mere muggles

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald brings magizoologist Newt Scamander back for more adventures, but the sequel to 2016's Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them takes a very deep dive into Potter-verse lore.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in November, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to ‘Dracula’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Movies & TV

Winter coming in spring? HBO reveals 'Game of Thrones' season 8 premiere date

With the eighth and final season looming, Game of Thrones fever has officially become a pandemic. Our list of all the relevant news and rumors will help make the wait more bearable, if you don't mind spoilers.
Movies & TV

How to watch NFL games online, with or without cable

The NFL's 2018 season is here, and we know you don't want to miss a moment of the action. Our comprehensive streaming guide will show you all the best options to watch the games online so you can make the right choice.
Movies & TV

More cast members join Jordan Peele’s ‘The Twilight Zone’ reboot

Get Out writer and director Jordan Peele is developing and hosting a reboot of the classic sci-fi anthology series The Twilight Zone for CBS All Access, and the cast for the first season is filling out with some familiar faces.
Movies & TV

‘Moonlight’ film studio A24 to produce movies for Apple

Indie movie studio A24 has entered into an agreement to produce films for Apple. The studio is best known for bringing Oscar-winning drama Moonlight to audiences, as well as Room and Ex Machina.
Home Theater

From game consoles to 4K UHD spinners, these are the best Blu-ray players

Streaming may be popular, but the disc isn't dead yet. To get the very best picture and sound quality from your system, you need to be watching Blu-ray or 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, and these are the best Blu-ray players you can buy.
Home Theater

What’s new on Amazon Prime Video (December 2018)

Amazon Prime Video adds new titles each month that are available for free to all Prime members. Check out our list to find all the content hitting Amazon Prime Video in November and December 2018, from new original series to classic films.
Podcasts

Remembering Stan Lee, Fantastic Beasts 2 review, Apple goes Hollywood

This week on Between the Streams, we'll discuss the passing of comics and entertainment legend Stan Lee, a spoiler-free review of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Apple's new partnership with indie movie studio A24, and more.
Deals

College sports are yours to watch live online with an ESPN+ free trial

It can be difficult to catch all the college games, especially for smaller conferences. Well, thanks to ESPN+ that’s no longer the case. Now, you won't need to miss any of your alma mater rival games.
Deals

You can now watch soccer games online with streaming service ESPN+

Launched back in April, ESPN+ is a direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service. For a mere $5 a month or $50 per year, you can have access to the best sports content available including multiple soccer leagues.
Movies & TV

Out of movies to binge? Our staff picks the best flicks on Hulu right now

From classics to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.