8 questions posed by Game of Thrones Season 5 premiere
As is tradition with any new Game of Thrones season, the opening episode spins a whole new web of political intrigue, meticulously setting the scene, and generally eschewing any of the blood-splattered gore we've come to expect from later instalments.
Taking place at the Tower of London – "the Throniest location we could imagine," according to series co-writer DB Weiss – the world premiere was an opulent affair, even by Sky's standards, with stars such as Kit Harington and Charles Dance in attendance. Here, then, are the main talking points from the season five opener.
***Warning: contains spoilers***
1. Is there a sticky fate in store for all of Cersei's children?
In the first ever flashback witnessed in Game of Thrones, we see a young Cersei be given her prophesy by a witch. She was told that "gold will be their crowns and gold will be their shrouds", which implies that she will live to see her three children die. Of course, Joffrey is already six feet under, but things aren't looking good for either Tommen, currently on the Iron Throne, or Mycella, her only daughter. Will either of them make it out of season five alive?
2. Who are the Harpies?
Golden-masked and murderous, the Harpies, we learn, are a major threat to Daenerys. They slit the throat of White Rat, an Unsullied who sweetly uses the services of a whore merely for a topless lullaby. But if the season trailer is to be believed, these Harpies could spell Dany's downfall. How involved are they with Meereen's red light district, and are they tied up with new character Yezzan (Enzo Cilenti), an Essos slave owner who spells trouble for the Mother of Dragons?
3. One small man could be the saviour of Westeros
"Westeros needs to be saved from itself," Tyrion is told by Varys, who's helped him escape. He then urges the imp (who is developing a rather impressive beard, and a slightly less impressive drinking problem) to spend less time hitting the bottle, and more time backing Daenerys for the iron throne. The implication is that Westeros is going to crumble, and its saviour will come from further afield. We reckon Tyrion and the Targaryen would make a pretty formidable duo ... if the exiled Lannister can just stay sober long enough to get to Meereen.
4. Are Westeros's death customs intentionally hilarious?
Charles Dance is back – but only as a corpse. What makes his funeral particularly amusing is the bright blue eyestones placed on, well, his eyes. Whether the scene is meant to be funny is up to debate; we, and the rest of the audience, certainly laughed.
5. What's going on between Jon Snow and Melisandre?
There's a tantalising ambiguity between them in the opening instalment: does she want him sacrificed, or is she attracted to him? "Are you a virgin?" she asks him. "No," he replies, to which she says, "Good."
6. What will become of the dragons?
One of the most heartbreaking moments of the Season 4 finale was when Dany shut away her precious, baby-murdering dragons. Now we've seen her return, and even by her own admission, she can't control her dragons. They nearly barbecue her in their airless tomb. But how, as her lover Daario points out, can she be The Mother of Dragons without them? One of the main promotional posters for Season 5 shows Tyrion facing off with one of them, and they feature heavily in the teaser, so they must be released at some point – but when? And at what cost?
7. What happens to the Wildings now?
So the heroically stoic Mance Raydar pays the ultimate price and burns in the courtyard at Castle Black rather than kneel to King of the North Stannis Baratheon. What will the Wildings do without their unifying leader? Roam free and join the White Walkers, or succumb to the relative heat south of The Wall?
8. It's always awkward when your ex gets all religious
A somewhat uncomfortable encounter between Queen Cersei and her ex-lover (and cousin) Lancel highlighted just how un-fun things can get when your ex gets all evangelical. Lancel is now wearing some sort of dingy, floor-length monks get up – never a good look –, declaring himself a "Sparrow", and repenting of his former wrongdoing (including the secret murder of Robert Baratheon, carried out at Cersei's behest). Awkward.