It's hard to believe nearly a year passed since we last saw Tyrion, Cersei, John, Daenerys and the others.
Luckily, Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 1 wasted no time dropping us right in the middle of the drama in Westeros. We quickly caught up with all our favorite (and not so favorite) characters - and, in true Game of Thrones fashion, suffered a devastating loss in the closing moments of the premiere.
Below, TV Fanatics Lindsay MacDonald, Amanda Wolf, Doug Wolfe, Jim Garner and Hank Otero discuss the big execution, Tyrion's journey, Daenerys' dragon troubles and plenty more in this week's Round Table...
What did you think of the premiere? Share your favorite scene or moment.
Lindsay: I loved the opening with tiny Cersei asking the witch about her future. We don't often get flashbacks in Game of Thrones, so you've got to appreciate them when they come your way!
Amanda: I love every scene with Tyrion in it. Even after travelling in a box all the way across the ocean on the run from everyone in Westeros he still manages to keep his wits about him and rolls with the punches. I am so excited for how far Tyrion has traveled already this season.
Doug: I’m kind of jazzed that the opening episode included so many of our favorite characters. If I had to pick one scene, it would be Tyrion looking so bad: throwing up and then taking another swig of wine kind of says it all.
Jim: I'm kinda with Doug, you have to admire a man who can hurl his lunch and then just keep drinking. I do hope "moping Tyrion" goes away soon and we get smart-ass Tyrion back.
Hank: I loved everything about the conversations between Varys and Tyrion. Those two have always had some of the best lines of the series, and watching them together never gets old. I agree with Jim though, the moping has got to stop. I'm ready for Tyrion and Dany to meet and see where things go from there.
Varys' motives became clear. Were you surprised Tyrion went along with the plan so easily?
Lindsay: Pretty surprised. Daenerys is his only hope of ever returning to Westeros now, but it would have been more believable if he had something to return for. Then again, maybe it's just Tyrion being unable to quit the game?
Amanda: I was not surprised at all. As much as he may want to Tyrion knows that there is a slim chance of him ever returning to Westeros. Why would he want to considering there is no way that he would ever be able to hold any power again under the current regime? If it wasn't tough enough being a dwarf, now he is a dwarf without a noble family to protect him. Tyrion might as well take the best offer he can get in the East and see if it keeps him alive, and then maybe it will take him where he wants to go.
Doug: I’m not surprised. Given that he has nothing left to motivate him, I can imagine that the thought of Daenerys taking over would at least make him curious. Plus, it would be the final pie in the face to his vicious witch of a sister.
Jim: Not surprised at all, once you've strangled your lying lover and shot your father dead while he sat on the can, there really is nothing left for you in Westeros. Here is hoping that Dany sees his potential.
Hank: That's what I'm wondering too Jim, how will Daenerys react to a Lannister in her world? She has been cut off from the others for so long, that meeting is going to be intense. I'm not surprised he'd go along with the plan, so much as how will things go down when the two meet.
Sansa has clearly grown up. Is she the one manipulating Littlefinger now?
Lindsay: I'd love to think that, but Littlefinger still gives me the creeps. You can still see him subtly pushing and pulling her, and I'm worried Sansa only thinks she's in control.
Amanda: Littlefinger has years of experience manipulating people. There is no way that Sansa can out think Littlefinger, but for her own safety I am glad that she is learning to keep up and getting smarter about how to protect herself.
Doug: I think she’s in full on learning mode at the moment. But yes - I think her ultimate goal is to manipulate him. This is a far different Sansa than what we’re used to seeing. She’s no longer the horrified and trapped little girl she used to be. I can’t wait to see what she does next. THIS is a Sansa I can get on board with!
Jim: Doug nailed it, Sansa is in total "learn everything" mode, while she watches to see what Littlefinger is going to do. It will be interesting to see where this leads.
Hank: Yep, I agree with Doug and Jim. It's all about learning as much from Littlefinger as she possibly can to one day outsmart him. Sansa has always been one of my least favorite characters, but she is becoming more interesting each season.
Cersei's misfortune continues, but a very different Lancel resurfaced. Will he prove to be an ally?
Lindsay: Religious fanatics almost never turn out to be good allies. I'm going with a great big BEWARE for this guy.
Amanda: I seriously doubt he will turn out to be an ally. I agree with Lindsay. Religious fanatics almost never turn out to be good allies. For Cersei, his religious fanaticism would just be an opportunity to manipulate him, although it might be a litte dangerous for him to be around considering the relations they used to have. Ewwwwww.
Doug: I agree with you both. No way is he going to be an ally she can trust. I’m curious to see what his religious dogma might include - and whether there’s a prophecy or two about the dragons in there.
Jim: I was more worried that she would decide to kill Lancel right then and there. With her father dead, Cersei doesn't have anyone that will really call her on her homicidal tendencies.
Hank: I'm not sure about this one. While I agree with the other panelists that religious fanatics rarely turn out to be allies (unless it suits their agenda), Cersei's not done quite yet. Something or someone has to take her side, she's got no one left. I'm curious if this group will turn out to support her.
Will Daenerys gain control of her dragons, and if so, how?
Lindsay: I think it's a great little bump in the road for Dany to have her once loyal dragons turn against her. They're supposed to help her win the war, but right now they're just as likely to kill her as any of her enemies. I've got no clue how she could reign them back in, but maybe Drogon will help her out if he ever comes back around.
Amanda: I am actually in favor of Dany's dragons being mad at her. She did chain them up in a dark pit. I mean seriously where did she expect that one to go? For someone trying to see the big picture I have always thought locking up her dragons for a indefinite period of time was short sighted.
Doug: I’m glad the dragons are angry at her. She’s still their “mother” though - so that gives me some hope that she’ll find a way to control them. Makes me wonder if she’ll undergo some sort of new physical transformation that will overawe them. We already know she came through the fire, and that she’s not a normal person: perhaps that was just the first step in her evolution. Can’t wait to see how this turns out.
Jim: Both dragons made a point of breathing fire near Dany, but not at her. That was a pretty clear sign to me that they are pissed off, but still remember that she's mother to them. I have no idea how she will appease them short of feeding them until they can't move. And anyone who's seen the poster (or the round table image above) has an idea where Drogon will turn up.
Hank: Like Doug, I was thinking it's going to take something monumental to remind the dragons who's boss. Will she undergo some new physical transformation? In order to march toward King's Landing she has to reign them in, that's inevitable. Exactly how that will happen I'm not sure, but I can't wait to find out.
Mance Rayder's execution was devastating. Were you expecting it? Will Stannis take action against John?
Lindsay: I wasn't expecting them to go through with it at all, but I was even more surprised at John's mercy kill. A lot of the brothers have warmed up to Jon though, so Stannis will have to be careful how he deals with any action against him.
Amanda: I wasn't too shocked that Stannis felt he needed to eliminate Mance Rayder, but the way he planned on killing him was the worst. Mance's reaction to the idea of getting burned put me on edge. What a terrible way to die. I predict Stannis will find some ways to hinder John's leadership at Castle Black.
Doug: I wasn’t expecting that manner of execution - but then, we all know that method was entirely one of the Red Queen’s devising. I hope Stannis isn’t too far gone into her religion that he wouldn’t at least appreciate Jon’s mercy shot. Melisandre’s not going to be happy though.
Jim: I'm going against the crowd on this one. I wasn't surprised at all at Jon's mercy shot, I don't think Stannis was either. Jon had to pick his timing so that Mance still looked strong to his men, but Jon looked merciful enough that the men will listen to him when he ask them to follow Stannis... I'm betting Stannis knew what was going to happen the moment he told him he was going to burn Mance.
Hank: I agree with Jim, I had a feeling John would put Mance out of his misery. He respected the man too much to allow that unbearable suffering. That said, I wasn't expecting the "King-Beyond-the-Wall" to die so damn soon into Season 5. I don't think Stannis or Melisandre are going to be too pleased with John. Like Ned and Robb Stark, he's a good guy and that makes me fear for his life.
Here's a quick peek at Game of Thrones Season 5 Episode 2 airing Sunday, April 19 at 9/8c.