Focusing on the television premiere because he definitely hasn't seen the other stolen episodes, James McGlade brings you five talking points from the opening episode of Game of Thrones Series Five.
The biggest show in television has finally returned to our screens. An extraordinary leak of the first four episodes wasn't ideal preparation for the HBO juggernaut but the BBC report that it continues to break viewership records regardless. Warning: this article contains spoilers. Duh.
Cersei is ever aware of Maggy the Frog's prophecy
In the show's first ever flashback sequence, we witness the prophecy that a young Cersei Lannister demanded from Maggy the Frog. Her friend Melara Hetherspoon had the right of it, that nothing good would come from the foretelling but she wouldn't listen. "Queen you shall be," the witch revealed. "Until there comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all that you hold dear." That memory is never far from Cersei and doesn't seem any more prevalent than on the day of her father's wake.
Cersei despises nobody more than her little brother Tyrion, who finally validated a malicious spiel by shooting their sire with a crossbow in the Series Four finale. However, she does not fail to note that her misfortune has coincided with the arrival of Margaery Tyrell from Highgarden. Her first born child Joffrey died at his wedding to the scheming minx and now she is on the verge of losing influence over her much softer son Tommen. In the coming episodes she will do all she can to prevent what Maggy saw from coming true. This is causing her to take her eye off a new religious cult that her cousin and former toy boy Lancel has pledged his life to. But, sure, they're probably harmless anyway.
The flashback was a risk, given that the show creators had previously said that they wouldn't use them, but it's been generally well received. We can expect further glimpses of the past in this series with a creepy witch telling us that Sean Bean has even returned to film scenes for the show as the late Ned Stark.
Littlefinger has quite literally got something up his sleeve
While watching his pathetic stepson wield a sword in the Vale, Littlefinger receives a message that he quickly conceals while a black-haired Sansa (dark roots, dark destiny) looks on curiously. He keeps the contents of the message to himself but it's clear that he's up to something. After leaving little Robin with Lord Yohn Royce, they set off west despite stating that they were heading back to the Fingers. The fact that Sansa is codding onto any of this shows that she's learning how to play 'the game'.
The eldest Stark girl is undergoing a massive change of character and will adopt the Lady Stoneheart persona for the coming season, fighting back against her tormentors. Meanwhile, Aiden Gillen's accent continues to journey into uncharted territory. It feels as though he's subliminally selling Strawberry Smiggles with his outrageous 'Oirish' tone. LARD PAYTAR BAYLASH.
The Sons of the Harpy are killing off the cuddliest of the Unsullied
Not everyone is a fan of Daenerys Targaryan. Namely the Sons of the Harpy, a rebellious group of advocates suspected to consist of the masters of Meereen. They're slitting the throats of even the cuddliest of the Unsullied. Poor White Rat only wanted to be held and soothed after a long day at work but he found out that you find no care in a brothel in the harshest manner possible. Now Daenerys must tame the Harpy. Having already tamed dragons, this shouldn't be hard.
But wait, a visit to the basement in which she keeps her dragons and her old records shows that they've still got a bit of fire in their bellies. Ahem. If she is to ever conquer Westeros, Daenerys has to overcome her latest challengers and give those dragons a stern talking to.
Tyrion is out of his box
After finally arriving in Pentos, escaped fugitive Tyrion Lannister is released from his box by saviour and shifty ally Varys. Yet, although the Master of Whisperers is famous for being deceptive, it appears as though he's finally put all of his cards on the table. He helped to rescue Tyrion because he feels that the dwarf has a role to play in helping Daenerys to power. If Tyrion can avoid drinking himself to death then his political nous and compassion can be of aid to the Dragon Queen when she sits upon the iron throne.
When he hears about how compassionate he is, Tyrion scoffs and reminds Varys that he shot his father dead while he sat on the toilet. This was after strangling his former lover in the Hand's bedroom too. It's clear that he's riddled with guilt over his heinous crimes and we suspect that, rather than embrace his inner monster, Tyrion will atone for his sins in the coming series.
Jon Snow knows nothing except how to be a good bloke
The closest thing in Thrones to a clear cut good guy, Jon is used as a diplomat by King Stannis in a bid to get Mance Rayder to bend the knee and pledge his fealty. But that doesn't go too well as Mance refuses, preferring death to a spot of knee-bending, stating that all he ever wanted was the chance to make his own mistakes. As mistakes go, this is a doozy. He struggles to contain his screams from the pyre as red priestess Mellisandre sacrifices him to the Lord of Light and it's more than Jon can take. His respect for the 'King-beyond-the-wall' leads him to put Mance out of his misery and preserve his dignity by sticking an arrow in his chest.
We're led to believe that Mance is dead but the fact that the Lord of Bones has been recast should postpone a notice in the paper. Stannis won't be pleased that Jon interfered in his bidding but his fondness for the Bastard of Winterfell might get him off the hook. As Davos points out during their chat on top of the wall, Jon would do well to be weary of his own brothers. The suspicious men of the Night's Watch haven't forgotten his allegiance with the wildlings and this latest act of heroism will raise further questions about his loyalty.