Game of Thrones Season 5: A Recap of the Realm – Part One

Game of Thrones returns worldwide for its fifth season on April 12th, and with it comes the dozens of familiar (and sometimes not so familiar) faces, as well as a few newcomers, and it can be pretty damn tough keeping track of who everyone is, what they were last up to, and where they currently reside. In an effort to please R’hollor and to help re-light the wildfire in our brains, I’m here with a Season 5 primer to get you locked, loaded, and ready to go for the premiere. Unless of course you’re Daenerys, in which case you’ll be sitting still for the foreseeable future, ogling at Daario’s firm behind.

This week, we’ll begin in the south with the half-misunderstood and half-crazy (and zero-parts Baratheon) Lannisters, the patient and devious Tyrells, and the venomous and vengeful Martells. Warning: this post is dark and full of spoilers from Seasons 1 through 4 of Game of Thrones, as well as some light speculation and news from Season 5.

Tyrion Lannister

Tyrion Lannister is played by Peter Dinklage.

Tyrion’s tumultuous ride through life and Game of Thrones can be wholly represented by last season’s duel between Oberyn Martell and Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane. Like Oberyn, Tyrion came into being as a heavy underdog – one very unlikely to succeed. Oberyn relied on his long-reaching and poison-dipped spear for creating an advantage, just like Tyrion relied on his sharpened wits. Eventually, the doubt surrounding both Tyrion and Oberyn began to dissipate. Tyrion excelled as an interim Hand of the King, just like Oberyn manipulated The Mountain’s size and landed some crippling attacks. Tyrion used his cunningness to defeat Stannis Baratheon’s army on the shores of Blackwater Bay, just as Oberyn sent The Mountain toppling to the ground. Unfortunately, this was the peak moment for both Tyrion and Oberyn. When Tywin Lannister returned to King’s Landing, he retook his role as the King’s Hand, making Tyrion less and less important. It was this obsoleteness that simmered in Tyrion, never fully boiling over until it was forced out of him while he was unjustly convicted of murdering his nephew-king Joffrey. (To quote Ramsay Bolton: If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.)

Oberyn fell victim to similar ideals; when he had The Mountain on the ground and ready to die, he committed the gravest of sins when it comes to killing your enemy: he went into a monologue. (It’s a shame Oberyn never saw The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, because he could have learned a thing or two from Tuco: “When you have to shoot…. shoot, don't talk!) And as a result, The Mountain literally turns the table on Oberyn, flips on top of him, and delivers in my opinion the single most heartbreaking and disturbing sequence in the series. And just like that, Oberyn was no more. Similarly, Tyrion couldn’t let his rage subside, and when Jaime Lannister broke Tyrion out of his prison cell the night before he faced execution, Tyrion knew he had to leave King’s Landing, and he would do so with the help of Varys, who had set him up to be smuggled out by sea. That's where we'll pick up with Tyrion in Season 5. But Tyrion couldn’t leave before he exorcized the ghost that had been plaguing him his entire life, which brings us to our next Lannister:

Tywin Lannister

Tywin Lannister is, err was, played by Charles Dance.

Dead on the toilet at the hands and crossbow of Tyrion. I guess what everyone said wasn’t true; Tywin Lannister did not, in fact, shit gold.

Jaime Lannister

Jaime Lannister is played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.

Jaime was last seen freeing Tyrion. He had no idea that his little brother would delay leaving town by murdering their father, so it should be interesting to see how he takes that news. Jaime is currently servings as the Head Knight of The King’s Guard, but early looks at Season 5 have confirmed that Jaime will be journeying to Dorne (where the Martell’s reside), possibly to bring Oberyn’s body home, but definitely to look after our next Lannister:

Princess Myrcella “Baratheon”

Beginning this season, Myrcella will be played by Nell Tiger Free.

Who is that, you say? It’s okay if you don’t remember her vividly, as she hasn’t been seen on-screen since Season 2. Princess Myrcella is Jaime and Cersei’s other child, and back during Tyrion’s brief stint as Hand of the King, he shipped Myrcella off to Dorne to further bolster the Martell’s allegiances to the crown. Needless to say, Cersei was not pleased. It’s been a few years since we’ve seen her (though she was mentioned last season by Cersei in a conversation with Oberyn), and you definitely won’t recognize her because the part has been recast, with actress Nell Tiger Free taking over the role. Dorne is a tinderbox waiting to erupt in flames, and with Oberyn’s death, the match is officially lit – all we’re waiting for is a reason for it to drop, and when that happens, there’s no telling who’ll be devoured by the flames. (Easy there, Melisandra, that was a metaphor.)

King Tommen “Baratheon”

King Tommen is played by Dean-Charles Chapman.

A few years ago, Tommen would have woken up as the youngest of three children, with a father sitting on the throne, and a realm at peace. He would have suffered through a plate of beets and played with Ser Pounce. Now, the Iron Throne has almost literally fallen into his lap, and all it took was a sabotaged boar hunting trip and a poisoned chalice of wine. Thus far, Tommen hasn’t shown any signs that suggest he’s anywhere near as sadistic as Joffrey was, but with Tywin dead, and his pragmatism gone too, it might only be a matter of time until Cersei does some irreparable damage. Stay strong, King Tommen! While I have no faith that you’ll live to see yourself into manhood, the realm could do a lot worse than you.

Queen Regent Cersei Lannister

Cersei Lannister is played by Lena Headey.

Some of you may remember when I defended Cersei’s character last season – a post that was greeted with an array of emotions ranging from yeah! to how the f*ck?! I still stand by my argument that Cersei is more of a tragic character than a bringer of tragedy, but I fear for the longevity of my opinion. Without Tywin around to serve as the stopgap for chaos, the floodgates will open soon enough. The last time we saw Cersei, she was living in a world where her father was still alive and her grotesque little brother was moments away from execution. The world she’s about to wake up in will look vastly different, and we know she's not the type of person to welcome change. Cersei will be serving as the Queen Regent of the realm until Tommen comes of age.

Queen Margaery Tyrell

Margaery Tyrell is played by Natalie Dormer.

Cersei makes no effort to hide her disgust of Margaery, but she’d be better off learning from the young queen, as Margaery plays the game of thrones better in just about every way. The smallfolk love Margaery, and if you can keep the masses happy, you’ll go far politically. Margaery armors herself in courtesy and wields her wits as weapons. She’s adapted to each of the kings she’s been with, and Tommen should serve as her easiest partner yet. While it’s only a matter of time until Cersei comes gunning for Margaery (and we’ll learn why in Episode 1), Margaery should feel safe in King’s Landing under the protection of her brother, Loras, who together are one incestuous relationship short of being just like Jaime and Cersei. 

Loras Tyrell

Loras Tyrell is played by Finn Jones.

Known throughout Westeros as a skilled and valiant knight, Loras remains in King’s Landing, still betrothed to Cersei, but with Tywin Lannister out of the picture, who knows how long that arrangement will last. Despite being around since Season 1, where Loras unseated The Mountain in a joust during Ned’s Hand of the King tourney, Loras has been underused on the show. If the showrunners stick to his book arc, we should be getting more Loras in the next season.

Olenna Tyrell (Queen of Thorns)

Olenna Tyrell is played by Diana Rigg.

Whether she’s calling Loras a sword-swallower through and through or demanding more cheese, the Queen of Thorns continues to bring the snark. Last we heard from Olenna, she was leaving King’s Landing to return home to Highgarden, but this season’s trailers, as well as some casting news and interviews, have proven that she’ll be back. Who will she set her sights on next?

Mace Tyrell

Mace Tyrell is played by Roger Ashton-Griffiths.

I’m willing to bet that Mace Tyrell is one of those characters who you vaguely remember seeing on screen a few times last season, but you’re not really sure who he is or what he’s up to. Mace is Margaery’s father and Olenna’s son. He’s the head of Highgarden, and his word and allegiance can singlehandedly swing a war because of the Tyrell’s vast supplies, soldiers, and land. This is why Margaery is continually being sought after from king to king, because with her hand in marriage comes a massive army and a huge tactical advantage. And yet, despite all this power, on a scale from Moonboy to Tywin Lannister, Mace falls in the middle at best. Mace will remain in King’s Landing in Season 5 to oversee Margaery’s new marriage to Tommen and to serve on the King’s High Council, so we should get a bit more of him this season. If you remember him though is a different story.

House Martell

The words of House Martell: Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken

Until now, the only Martell we’ve seen on on-screen is Oberyn, but that will change in Season 5 when we journey south to the arid land of Dorne where we’ll meet a handful of new characters who I’ll introduce below, from top to bottom, left to right:

Doran Martell: the head of House Martell and an older brother to Oberyn. Doran suffers from gout, leaving him immobilized, which often leads to a presumed assumption that he’s weak, especially when compared to his aggressive brother. Doran is a plotter and should not be taken lightly. He will be played by Alexander Siddig.

Trystane Martell: the son of Doran, Trystane stands to inherit Dorne one day.* Trystane is betrothed to Myrcella, thanks to the arrangement constructed by Tyrion in Season 2. Trystane will be played by Toby Sebastian.

Areo Hotah: the captain of Doran Martell’s guards. His weapon of choice is a large axe, and he’ll likely be tasked with making sure Princess Myrcella is safe. Areo will be played by DeObia Oparei.

Ellaria Sand: the paramour of Oberyn, Ellaria actually appeared in parts of Season 4. Her most memorable bit was her tragic scream after Oberyn’s death. Ellaria returns to Dorne in Season 5 and will continue to be portrayed by Indira Varma.

Obara Sand: the oldest of the Sand Snakes, which is what all of Oberyn’s bastard daughters are referred to (there are eight Sand Snakes, though we're likely to only meet three this season). Just like Snow is the name for royal bastards in the North, Sand is the name used in the South. Obara takes after her father and is very skilled with a spear. Obara will be portrayed by Keisha Castle-Hughes.

Nymeria Sand: the 2nd oldest of the Sand Snakes. Nymeria is considered the prettiest of the group – a high-class woman well-versed in refinement and grace. But that doesn’t stop her from also being deadly. Nymeria will be played by Jessica Henwick.

Tyene Sand: the 3rd oldest of the Sand Snakes. Tyene is considered a master of herb cultivation and poison making. Judging by Oberyn’s keenness towards poison, she may have learned a thing or two from her father. Tyene will be played by Rosabell Laurenti Sellers.

*Note: The characters of Arianne Martell and Quentyn Martell have not been announced in the television show, despite their heavy presence in the books. This makes Trystane the presumed heir to Dorne.

Thanks for reading, and check back next Friday for my recap of the North, including a Stark, a Snow, the Night's Watch, and a nomad King.

Joe Brosnan is an editor and writer for Criminal Element. He’s a New York Giants fan, a Petyr Baelish supporter, and is only now realizing how weird it is to write in the third person. You can follow him on Twitter @joebro33.

Read all of Joe Brosnan’s posts for Criminal Element.

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