King vs. king. Queen vs. queen. Even dragons vs. their mother. "Game of Thrones" Season 5's April 12 premiere, "The Wars to Come," had a fitting title for an hour spent preparing for multiple battles ahead. It's about to get messier than drunk Tyrion in a wine barrel. Keep your shields up, people!

Season 5 started with a witch's flashback prophecy of clashing queens and ended with Mance Rayder burned like a witch for calling himself king and refusing to bend the knee to help Stannis Baratheon fight his war. Live free or die, man. Live free or die. The stellar, plot-heavy (in more ways than one) fifth season premiere followed six different locations and several intriguing prophecies and propositions. There was no hand-holding, so if you didn't recognize someone on screen you had about two seconds to figure it out, catch up, read between the lines to decipher what wasn't being said, then move on to the next scene.

Of the various propositions, Jon Snow's was arguably the least successful, but Varys -- as usual -- had the right touch. Tyrion Lannister seems prepared to join Team Daenerys Targaryen, or maybe he's just ready to do more traveling. He's never seen Meereen before, and maybe he can piss from the top of the Great Pyramid, ala pissing off The Wall in Season 1. Varys is right about Westeros needing saving from itself, with young King Tommen on The Iron Throne and Stannis Baratheon burning whoever defies him. And we've seen how cruelly underappreciated Tyrion was as Hand of the King. If GoT ends with Dany on the throne and Tyrion as her Hand, we wouldn't be mad. But what about the dragons? Dany seems downright afraid of them now, which is troubling for anyone whose reputation depends on them. Maybe Tyrion can help on that front as well, since he knows all about dragons. And maybe Tyrion can wean her off Daario's influence, since he seems to be having a bit too much success with his propositions.

Who didn't make the cut for the Season 5 premiere: Arya Stark (Arya and Sansa are the only Starks we're expecting to see this season), anyone and everyone at Dorne, Theon Greyjoy, and the Boltons.

Quote of the night: "The freedom to make my own mistakes was all I ever wanted."

Book spoiler questions of the night: Are they following the book on the end scene there and a surprise revelation is to come, or did they change the story, since several other details of that character's story have also been changed? Also, are Varys and Tyrion really taking a road trip to Meereen together to back Dany's claim or is there a bigger spoiler to come?

Read on for a full recap of Episode 1:

Opening credits

The premiere map shows us King's Landing, The Eyrie, Winterfell, The Wall, Pentos, and Meereen.

Cersei flashback

We see two young women walking in the mud in the woods. The dark-haired girl says they shouldn't be there, and if the blonde girl's father finds out... The blonde girl (young Cersei) says she needn't be afraid of her father. (Yeah, especially several years from now once he's parked himself on a certain toilet.) The girls go into a hut and meet a witch/fortune teller/maegi woman, who tells them to get out. (In the book, she's Maggy The Frog.) The friend wants to leave. Cersei is bold in a Joffrey-ish way, and says the woman isn't terrifying, she's boring. The blonde girl wants to know her future. "Everyone wants to know their future until they know their future." Young Cersei demands to know what happens, so she has to give up some of her blood. She gets three questions. She's been promised to the prince, when will she marry? She will never wed the prince, she'll wed the king. (Not Rhaegar, Robert.) But she will be queen? "Oh yes, you will be queen - for a time. Then comes another, younger, more beautiful, to cast you down and take all you hold dear." The king will have 20 children and you will have three. Gold will be their crowns and gold their shrouds. She obviously thinks the younger queen is Margaery Tyrell, but is it?

Cersei mourns Lord Tywin

We see Cersei walk up stairs, past Margaery. The bells are tolling for thee, Tywin, and your creepy dead eyes. The mourners have come from all corners of the Seven Kingdoms but they're being forced to wait so Jaime and Cersei can mourn privately. Tywin never wanted Jaime in the Kingsguard. "They" are going to try to take everything away, Jaime says. Cersei said the man who killed father, Tyrion, is the enemy. That little monster is out there somewhere drawing breath. She wants to know if Jaime set him free. At least Tyrion killed Tywin on purpose. Jaime killed their father by mistake, through stupidity. How much would Tywin hate this bickering over his dead body? He'd probably rather have Arya, his old cupbearer, at his funeral. Cersei said Tywin loved Jaime more than anyone in this world. Guilt trip.

Tyrion and Varys plan the future of Westeros

Nice camera angles out of Tyrion's barrel hole. We can only see what he sees until he's rolled out. He looks even worse than usual. There's Varys, looking perfectly fine. No wine barrel for him. They are in Pentos, back where we first met the Targaryens in Season 1. Varys to Tyrion: "Apologies." Tyrion: "Do you know what it's like to stuff your sh-t through one of those holes?" Varys: "No, I only know what it's like to pick up your sh-t and throw it overboard." Oh, these two. A bromance for the ages. Varys knows Illyrio Mopatis through mutual friends, they all saw Robert Baratheon for the "disaster he was" and tried to save the realm by supporting the Targaryen restoration. "Thus began the chain of mistakes that has led us both here." Mistakes? Not completely, though. Things have gotten worse, not better. "Westeros needs to be saved from itself." Tyrion: "The future is sh-t, just like the past." Tyrion and that witch lady would get along well.

Masked assassin

Amazing opening shot in Meereen with the bronze harpy statue crashing down the side of the Great Pyramid. One of the Unsullied heads to a whorehouse, even though he's a eunuch, and gets his usual: a woman lies down and holds him, rubbing his head and humming, like a mother holding a child. How sad, but also kind of beautiful. Suddenly his throat is slit. The Sons of the Harpy in a mask.

What will Dany do?

The Sons of the Harpy have never killed before, Dany notes to her council. Conquerors always meet with resistance, Ser Barriston says, but Dany argues that she didn't conquer them, their own people did. This Unsullied didn't risk his life fighting for his freedom so people in masks could take it away. She won't see the city turn into chaos. Dany wants White Rat, the Unsullied, buried with honor, publicly, in the Temple of the Graces. She knows that will anger the Sons of the Harpy. She wants the snakes to lash out so she can defeat them. She's pissed. Missandei asks Grey Worm why Unsullied go to brothels. He says he does not know.

The Wall

Jon Snow is back to training newbies on how to fight. "Keep your shield up, or I'll ring your head like a bell." He's training Olly, the boy who killed Ygritte last season, after she killed Olly's father. You can't say Jon is one to hold grudges. Gilly wants to know why Sam isn't training too. He says he's hardly a new recruit, and he plays his I Killed A White Walker card. Ser Alliser seems well, if as awful as always. Sam notes that, if Ser Alliser is chosen as the new Lord Commander, he hates the wildlings. That's bad for Gilly. It's not a given yet.

Stannis has plans

Melisadre interrupts Jon and says the king wants a word. For her, there's only one king, and it's not Mance Rayder. Is Mel making eyes at Jon now too? They have a love-in-an-elevator moment. She has great taste in young men, but it's officially creepy -- especially when she asks if he's a virgin. "No." "Good." If only Ygritte were here to shut The Red Woman down. (Point to ponder: Does Melisandre like Jon because he's the hottest guy around or because he has certain other qualities? #kingsblood) Jon, Stannis, Davos, and Melisandre have a little powwow on The Wall. Davos notes that many of the men love Jon and many don't. Some of the Night's Watch think Jon has too much affection for the wildlings. Stannis says he'll take back the North from the thieves who stole it, and mount Roose Bolton's head on a spike. He already knows that Tywin died, so the news didn't travel as slowly as it does sometimes. Stannis needs more men to reclaim the North. He wants the wildlings for his army. Once Winterfell is won, he'll declare them citizens of the realm. Oof, but Mance has to kneel before Stannis and declare his loyalty. Not likely. Convince Mance to bend the knee, or he burns. Jon has till nightfall. Why is this Jon's job? If he thinks Mance and Jon really are tight, why give them time together to potentially plan?

Swordplay with dark Sansa

Hey, remember when Littlefinger gave Sansa that play-by-play back at the Hand's tourney in Season 1? Good times. Now Petyr, Lord Royce and Sansa (dark-haired now) watch Lord Robin in sword practice. Robin remains a tragic mess, but he has the right family name. He is being kept there to be trained. Petyr gets a raven's scroll while they watch Robin lose. What's in the note and who is it from?

Brienne and Pod

Will they head north at some point? Sansa had a brother at Castle Black, Pod notes. Brienne says Pod is safe now, he doesn't have to stay with her. He wants to stay with her as her squire. She doesn't care where he goes. Awww. Don't break up the team! People are always so mean to Pod. Brienne is feeling negative and she doesn't want anyone to follow her. She's not a leader. All she wanted was to fight for a lord she believed in. "The good lords are dead and the rest are monsters." She should start drinking with Tyrion.

Littlefinger's apprentice

How will Sansa change under his tutelage? Sansa notes that Petyr told Lord Royce they were heading to the Fingers but they're in a carriage heading west. If he wanted to betray them he already would have. Petyr said he's not alone in that castle. Where are they going? "To a land so far from here even Cersei Lannister can't get her hands on you." They should head to Meereen.


Ser Loras Tyrell is behind Cersei, who is hitting the sauce, prattling on about how Tywin was a force to be reckoned with. Does he know it's just going to irritate her to hear this from him, or is he genuinely, naively trying to be kind? Hard to tell with some of the Tyrells. While he talks, Cersei sees Margaery and Tommen bonding. Cousin Lancel Lannister shows up looking very changed from the last time he was around, in Cersei's bed. He's one of the Sparrows now, "bloody fanatics." Lancel asks for Cersei's forgiveness. He says he tempted her into their "unnatural relations," plus did his part to kill King Robert on the boar hunt with the wine. Cersei smiles but says she doesn't know what he's talking about. Lancel found peace in the light of the Seven and she can too. Their world is at hand. Lancel will pray for her father's soul. Cersei laughs.

First look at Dorne...

... is in a mark on Loras Tyrell's body. Not quite what we had in mind. He's in bed, and we get some Dorne geography from him and ... isn't that the brothel guy who was with Oberyn? Margaery walks in on them and asks his name. Oliver. Loras is keeping the king waiting, so Oliver has to go. Margaery wants Loras to be a bit more discreet. He doesn't see the point since everyone knows. Cersei is still his intended but since Tywin is dead, she doesn't have to marry him. Is it better for Cersei to be married to him or not. He notes that if he marries her, they go to Highgarden; if not, she stays in King's Landing with Cersei. Perhaps, Margaery says. What is she planning?

Varys' pitch

Tyrion is on his way to drinking himself to death. Best way to go if you're a coward. Varys says he is many things, but not a coward. Why did Varys save Tyrion? He did it for The Seven Kingdoms. Tyrion: "A drunken dwarf will never be the savior of The Seven Kingdoms." Varys: "I don't believe in saviors. I believe men of talent have a part to play in the war to come." Tyrion is done with Westeros. Varys is on a charm offensive, flattering Tyrion, laying out all his talents. What does he want? "Peace. Prosperity. A land where the powerful do not prey on the powerless." Tyrion doesn't think that will happen. He will never sit on the Iron Throne, but Varys says he can help someone else climb those steps. "The Seven Kingdoms needs someone stronger than Tommen but gentler than Stannis, a monarch who can intimidate the highborns and inspire the people. A ruler loved by millions with a powerful army and the right family name." Tyrion: "Good luck finding him." Varys: "Who said anything about 'him'?" Yasssss. Tyrion just looks at him. Varys says he can stay here and drink himself to death or ride with Varys to Meereen, meet Daenerys Targaryen and decide if the world is worth fighting for. Tyrion: "Can I drink mysef to death on the road to Meereen?" There's the multitasker we know and love!

Dany just says no to fighting pits

Dany talks to Hizdahr zo Loraq, whose father was nailed up last season. Hizdahr says the mission to Yunkai was a success, but The Wise Masters would like a concession, since politics is the art of compromise. Dany counters, "I'm not a politician, I'm a queen." The masters want the re-opening of the fighting pits. That's where slaves fought slaves to the death, but now free men would fight free men and the liberated pit fighters are begging for the opening. Dany says no. Hizdahr says it would show the people of Yunkai and Meereen that she respects their traditions. She does not respect the tradition of human cock-fighting and gets snippy about having to say no so many times. Is Dany taking too hard a stand here? It's not a good idea to get too Stannis about not compromising, then again, we can't blame her for saying no to fights to the death.

Dany and Daario Naharis in bed

Dany and Daario are still quite close. Ser Jorah would be very jealous, bless him, although he'd also point out that Daario is being much too familiar with the queen. He is not the king. Daario wants Dany to open the fighting pits. He tells the story of how his mother was a whore who sold him when he was 12 to a slaver she had f--ked the night before. He was a bad child. He wasn't big but he was quick and he loved to fight. He had his first pit match when he was 16. He's only here because of those pits. He became famous. He made so much money for his master that he set him free when he died. Daario joined the Second Sons and then met Dany. "You're the queen. Everyone's too afraid of you to speak truth. Everyone but me. You've made thousands of enemies all across the world. As soon as they see weakness, they'll attack. Show your strength here, now." He's too familiar, he shouldn't be acting like her king. Anyone with a chest full of gold can buy Unsullied. She's not the Mother of Unsullied, she's the Mother of Dragons. She doesn't want another dead child dropped at her feet. She hasn't seen Drogon, her largest black dragon, in weeks. "I can't control them anymore." A dragon queen with no dragons is not a queen. Dragons are just a crutch, though, she has to show she's more than just their mother/keeper.

Dany's dragons

Dany listens to him and goes to visit the two dragons she still has. They are huge now and breathe fire at her. She's afraid of them now? They are too much for her. Shouldn't they have at least burned her clothes?

Jon makes his argument to Mance

So here we are. When they first met, Jon was Mance's prisoner. The tables have turned. Mance knows that Stannis wants Mance to bend the knee and for the free folk to fight for him. Mance respects Stannis, but he'll never serve him. Mance doesn't want his people to bleed for Stannis. Jon says he brought the people together for the first time in history. He didn't do it for power or glory, he brought them together to save them. "Isn't their survival more important than your pride?" Jon tells Mance they'll burn him alive. "Bad way to go," Mance knows. He doesn't want to die, he doesn't want to be remembered scorched and screaming, but it's better than betraying everything he believes. So what if he retains his dignity, what happens to his people? Jon tries, but Mance says if he doesn't understand why he won't enlist his people in a foreigner's war, there's no point in explaining. Jon says he's making a terrible mistake. Mance: "The freedom to make my own mistakes was all I ever wanted." Great line.

Burn, baby, burn

Mance comes out to face Stannis. Kneel and live. Not gonna happen. Mance: "This was my home for many years. I wish you good fortune in the wars to come." So they burn him like a witch. If only Dany were there with more dragon eggs. A king is burning. Get your blood, Melisandre, you live for this kind of thing. Melisandre: "We all must choose ... we choose light or we choose darkness. We choose good or we choose evil. We choose the true god or the false. Free folk, there is only one true king and his name is Stannis. Here stands your king of lives. Behold the fate of those who choose the darkness." Not quite the light touch Lancel had with his kinder ask-for-forgiveness religious proselytizing. Jon Snow shoots an arrow into Mance to end his suffering. He's going to take some heat for that compassionate call. Apparently Mance is not a dragon, fire can kill him. There are some book-related questions to ask about this, but we'll leave them alone for now.

Next week

We head to Dorne next week, and The House of Black and White with Arya. Plus, the big dragon is back! Drogon is found.