Warning: Spoilers for the first four seasons, as well as mild spoilers for the fifth, to follow.
On April 1st, 300 lucky audience members were treated to an advanced screening of the first episode of the fifth season of “Game of Thrones.” The result? After nearly a year of waiting, the first episode is…fine.
It’s neither among the best nor the worst episodes the show has produced in the past five years. As well, the show still feels very similar, with the same strengths and weaknesses it’s always had. The material featuring Lannisters remains its strongest, picking up with Cersei (Lena Headey) and Jaime (Nikolaj-Coster Waldau) recovering from the death of their father, Tywin (Charles Dance). The show always has fun with Cersei, perhaps because Headey brings much greater nuance to the “evil queen” archetype than most portrayals would. Indeed, her scenes remain highlights.
Conversely, the show’s weakest moments, at least in my estimation, are those featuring Jon Snow (Kit Harrington), who remains the show’s dullest character. Additionally, the episode featured a surprising amount of humor, some of which landed, while others did not. In particular, there’s an edit around the show’s midpoint which is supposed to show the ironic geographical distance between two characters, but comes across seeming especially forced given the solemn tone of most of the show.
However, the episode is filled with strong moments, many of which point to changes on the periphery. While the show’s first four seasons focused on expanding the world of the show, this season seems to be contracting it, allowing characters from formerly separate storylines, such as Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), to begin on paths toward one another.
So, while this episode might not have been perfect, it was still solid. And it promised a thrilling season ahead.
Abrams is a member of the class of 2018.