We all must choose: man or woman, young or old, lord or peasant, our choices are the same. We choose light or we choose darkness. We choose good or we choose evil. We choose the true God, or the false.
(This will be a pretty spoiler-heavy review for episode 1 of season 5 and for Game of Thrones in general. DO NOT READ unless you are caught up or are indifferent to having shit spoiled for you. You’ve been warned.)
When Game of Thrones first premiered, Westeros was a stable country that relied on the establishment of its noble houses to keep the peace in the seven kingdoms. Maybe not every lord saw eye to eye, but no one was willing to risk disrupting that kind of tranquility over a meaningless grudge. Part of that is due in thanks to all of the experienced soldiers and commanders that were at the head of almost every faction and family: Ned Stark, Tywin Lannister, Robert Baratheon, Lord Commander Mormont and on and on it goes. Flash forward to season 5 and that’s simply just not the case.
Ever since Ilyn Payne lopped off Ned Stark’s head, we’ve been conditioned to expect anyone who doesn’t play the game of thrones as shrewdly or quickly as others will likely suffer a grisly demise. Westeros thrives on chaos, you see, and getting swept up in the madness without a contingency plan is akin to joining a game of paintball with a slingshot. By the time you realize that you’ve made a mistake and weren’t prepared, it’s too late. Your enemies will celebrate with a barrel of wine while everything you love and hold dear turns to ash around you.
Not every lord or lady truly understands how to play the game, but even those that do aren’t safe from rapidly evolving circumstances. Exhibit A: Tywin Lannister, the Bill Belichick of Westeros, who always seemed to be 10 steps ahead of everyone who tried to thwart him. The mastermind behind a massacre like the Red Wedding is certainly not the most honorable or popular person, but I’ll be damned if he doesn’t get results. And yet, despite all of the success and victories that Tywin accumulated over the years, he was undone by a member of his own family. How ironic that he withstood so many wars and battles, yet in the end it was his dwarf of a son who ended his life. As Tywin’s corpse awaited a certificate of death from all of his rivals in Westeros, Jaime and Cersei were trying to make sense of a future that is grim and hopelessly uncertain.
After all, what chance does the future have when the boys of the new generation can’t even hold their shields up and swing their swords like girls with palsy?