Game of Thrones Season 5 Preview
Warning - Don't read if you haven't watched season four yet!
Second Warning - there are some spoilers
You know you’re back in George R. R. Martin territory when one of your lead characters emerges from a crate covered in excrement, knocks back some wine and promptly throws up.Such is the fate of Tyrion Lannister after absconding to Pentos at the end of season four of Game of Thrones. It’s not been an easy time for The Imp, sentenced to death by his own father for murdering his nephew - although for once he wasn’t actually guilty. His escape included murdering his own lover, who in fairness had betrayed him, followed by a cheeky bit of patricide. So now he finds himself on foreign shores in the company of the spymaster Lord Varys, who wisely decided it was time he got out of King’s Landing as well.The diminutive Tyrion and the portly Varys make an odd couple but then the show is fast becoming a series of surprising double acts. We’ve got Stannis Baratheon and Davos Seaworth; Brienne and Podrick; Sansa and Petyr Baelish; and Cersei and Jamie. Of course there are a few double acts that we won’t be seeing this season, including Bran and Hodor, who are currently absent from both the series and the books. We also won't get anymore of Arya and The Hound but the youngest Stark daughter’s training as an assassin in Bravos should be a highlight of this season.
There’s no doubt that Jon Snow is playing a greater role in events this season and, hopefully, we’ll finally see Stannis actually do something after moping about on Dragonstone for two seasons. It looks as though the introduction of a new religion called the Sparrows will certainly shake things up in Westeros and with Tywin Lannister dead, there will be plenty of lords looking to usurp Tommen from the Iron Throne.
After being intimately involved in just about every nefarious plot so far, it’s a safe bet that Little Finger will be planning to make the most of the situation. In addition, the Tyrells will fancy themselves in a stronger position and no doubt Margaery will be sinking her claws into young Tommen - lucky boy. Which leaves us with Daenerys and her dragons.
The Khaleesi is finding out it’s harder to rule city states than it is to conquer them and teenage dragons can be something of a handful. However, after three seasons we really want to see the dragons let loose and if the season trailer is anything to go by, we might just get our wish. We’re only one episode into the new season but already the battle lines are being drawn and war is the only possible outcome.
This latest season starts to diverge from the published novels and promises to up the stakes.
The first episode was fairly low key, perhaps because the show runners are saving the budget for bigger episodes to come, but the production values are still top notch. The hype surrounding Game of Thrones has become almost hysterical, so it was no surprise to hear that the first four episodes had been leaked early. This sounds similar to the leak that Netflix suffered just before the release of season three of House of Cards.
Does Game of Thrones really need such stunts to attract attention? Hardly, it’s already incredibly popular and holds the title of most pirated show in history - a status of which HBO actually seem rather proud. The series is beginning to diverge from the books, so those who have only seen the show won’t have to constantly put up with smug comments from those that have read the books.
Whilst George R. R. Martin beavers away on the sixth instalment, the show runners have to plough ahead without him. For a show that has largely stayed so faithful to its source material, this will make for an interesting experiment. We might not know what is going to happen, although some of season five will be based on existing books, but we can be sure there will be plenty of twists, turns and surprising deaths.
That’s the beauty of Game of Thrones; its characters behave like real people and are subject to human failings. For all its fantasy trappings, the story is essentially a medieval civil war and all the better for it. For the characters in the series, when they play the game of thrones they either win or die. For the rest of us, we win either way and can be sure that we’ll be hugely entertained in the process. In an age when there's more great TV than there is time to watch it, Game of Thrones remains the king.
Game of Thrones is broadcast on Sky Atlantic at 9pm on Mondays and is also available on NOW TV.
The fourth season of Game of Thrones can be bought on Blu-ray here
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