5 Things to Look Forward to in 'Game of Thrones' Season 5
The night may be dark and full of terrors, but -- thank the gods -- starting soon it will also be full of new "Game of Thrones" episodes. GoT Season 5 premieres Sunday, April 12 on HBO, and there are dozens of things we're excited to see from the mix of George R.R. Martin's books, "A Feast for Crows" and "A Dance with Dragons." Here are just five things we're looking forward to in the 10 episodes ahead. (No major book spoilers here, but several references and hints -- and anticipation of surprises when things are changed.)
1. Leadership Struggle at The Wall
The Wall isn't normally a popular place to be, but it could get pretty crowded there in Season 5, with a leadership struggle to rival any in the Seven Kingdoms or across the Narrow Sea. They are a kingdom unto themselves up there, but now they have (King?) Stannis Baratheon, Melisandre, Jon Snow, Mance Rayder, Sam, Gilly, the surviving men of the Night's Watch, and the surviving wildlings trying to figure out how to survive in a world where The Others seem to be gaining strength. Can they all work on the same team to fight a common enemy? Crazy talk! The Night's Watch still needs to elect a new Lord Commander - and you know Stannis and Melisandre are going to want a say in that. If they follow the book on this, expect some very interesting political maneuvering from an unexpected source. Frank Underwood would be proud.
2. The Real Housewives of King's Landing
The Wall may face a clash of kings, but things are really going to get tense when two women who want to be THE queen battle for control of The Iron Throne. Cersei Lannister is the queen regent and mother of King Tommen. Margaery Tyrell was married to King Joffrey and she's bethroned to Tommen; the Season 5 trailer shows the Margaery/Tommen nuptials, so she's about to be the queen. And considering her knack for PR, she could be a very popular one. Now that Tywin Lannister is gone as Hand of the King/official rug that tied the room together, Cersei will be even more grasping than usual to try to retain power. This is the Tyrell family's moment and we don't expect them to miss it. Don't expect Cersei's grief for her father or fight for more power to bring out the best in her, but by the end of the season she may have us running the gamut from loathing and disgust to schadenfreude and then something close to actual sympathy. Why? Let's just say Margaery isn't her only sparring partner this season, and there's someone out there operating on a much higher plane.
3. First Trip to Dorne
Dorne is a place we've heard about for a long time but we'll finally get to see it in Season 5. The timing is perfect -- Dorne's Prince Oberyn Martell went to King Joffrey's wedding with a mind for revenge, and just about everything went wrong after that. Joffrey died, Oberyn was Tyrion Lannister's champion, and Oberyn just had a horrible death by the very man who raped and killed his sister, which launched the Martell/Lannister feud to begin with. Now we're about to see the fallout of Oberyn's death. Don't forget: Cersei's daughter, Myrcella is still down in Dorne, so how will they treat her? And have they heard the news that Tywin Lannister is dead? They, at least, should be thrilled about that, although we're expecting very different brain vs. brawn reactions from Oberyn's brother, Prince Doran Martell, and Oberyn's daughters, the "Sand Snakes."
4. Transformations for Arya and Sansa
The Stark girls are no longer the Stark girls - not as we know them anyway. Sansa now has dark hair and a dark attitude -- Littlefinger may be rubbing off on her. (Sorry, that sounded creepy.) Actress Sophie Turner told Zap2it that, in Season 5, Sansa "has this whole new mentality to her and she's shed this innocent, vulnerable skin," adding, "She goes through a lot of hardships this season, but she approaches it very differently and it's really interesting to watch." No more naive little bird. "I hope people start to rally behind her and see her as a badass." Speaking of badass, Arya was last seen on a ship to Braavos, and we can expect a major transformation from her too. Actress Maisie Williams told the Guardian (via Huffington Post) there's a "big ending" for Arya. "It's the end of Arya, as far as anyone knows." But maybe not a death as much as a rebirth?
5. Tyrion on Team Dany?
Did anyone else get chills watching the Season 5 trailer, when Varys made his speech to Tyrion? He said the Seven Kingdoms needs a ruler loved by millions with a powerful army and the right family name. Tyrion replied, "Good luck finding him." Varys countered, "Who said anything about 'him'?" Cut to Daenerys Targaryen! Chills. This is a slight twist on what we know from the book, so it'll be interesting to see if the trailer is just trying to hide the bigger spoiler or if Tyrion will be drafted for Team Dany. Why not? As Varys said, men of talent will have a part to play in the war ahead, and Tyrion has exactly the kind of shrewd, quick-thinking, manipulative but not too ruthless mind that Dany desperately needs in her entourage. Plus, Tyrion knows all about dragons. And Lannisters. And what it takes to get things done the *right* way in King's Landing. What do you think -- Dany on the Iron Throne, Tyrion back in his role as Hand of the King? We can see it. Maybe those pieces will be set in motion this season. At the very least, we're hoping their paths cross in some way.
What are you most looking forward to in "Game of Thrones" Season 5?