'Game of Thrones' Podcast: The Season 5 Premiere, Revisited

Game of Thrones Main Still - Publicity - H 2018
Helen Sloan/Courtesy of HBO

Game of Thrones season five, much like the series of novels it's based on, was a song of ice and fire. 

In the burning-hot department, the HBO drama earned a record-setting amount of Emmy Awards for its 2015 edition, including outstanding drama series and Peter Dinklage's second award for his work as Tyrion Lannister. But some of its storylines were met with frostier reactions, including the arrival of the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) and his disciples, the misguided trip to Dorne and the frustrating death of Jon Snow (Kit Harington) at the tail end of the season. While it was an awards darling, season five surpasses only year two in our official Game of Thrones season rankings.

With that said, whatever creative hardships lie ahead in our "Winter Was Here" rewatch, it can't be denied that the season five premiere — "The Wars to Come," written by series creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and directed by key Breaking Bad teammate Michael Slovis — is one of the strongest opening hours of any season. It's filled with standout scenes, whether it's Tyrion emerging from a box in Pentos and immediately crawling down into the bottom of a bottle; the Jon and Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) storylines finally colliding in a meaningful way; or all of the political intrigue in King's Landing in the wake of Tywin Lannister's (Charles Dance) death.

The season five premiere is particularly strong on a rewatch, due to the way it sets up many characters' final moments of the year. Some examples:

• In her first scene (opening flashback notwithstanding), Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) walks up the Sept of Baelor in full command of her regal position. At the end of the season, she'll walk down those same stairs much worse for wear.

• In his first scene, Jon Snow is in the courtyard of Castle Black, training young steward Olly (Brenock O'Connor) how to fight with a sword. He'll come to regret that decision, as the final scene of the season features the two members of the Night's Watch in the middle of Castle Black's courtyard once again, this time with Olly stabbing Jon in the heart.

• Elsewhere at the Night's Watch, "The Wars to Come" ends with Stannis Baratheon ordering the execution of Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds) via burning at the stake. While Stannis and his wife look on in delight, both of them (not to mention Carice Van Houten's Melisandre) will come to look at such a fiery act very differently by the end of the season: the burning of Shireen (Kerry Ingram) will mark the end of the Baratheon storyline as we currently know it.

• Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) begins the season surrounded by the threat of the Sons of the Harpy, while simultaneously worrying about the growing distance between herself and her dragons. Her story will end this season with her Harpy problems in the rear view mirror, thanks to her reunion with Drogon — only to find herself surrounded by a Dothraki horde instead.

Whatever other problems lie ahead beyond "The Wars to Come," at least the season begins on an incredibly strong note. Listen to the "Winter Was Here" recap in the player below.

Make sure you don't miss an episode of "Winter Was Here" by subscribing to the show on iTunes or your podcast catcher of choice. Send in your comments and questions using the podcast's email address, got@postshowrecaps.com, or our feedback form. Keep checking THR.com/GameofThrones for news, interviews, theories and more.

"Winter Was Here," and so is this handy guide collecting every episode of the podcast:

• Season 1, Episode 1: "Winter Is Coming"
• Season 1, Episode 2: "The Kingsroad"
• Season 1, Episode 3: "Lord Snow"
• Season 1, Episode 4: "Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things"
• Season 1, Episode 5: "The Wolf and the Lion"
• Season 1, Episode 6: "A Golden Crown"
• Season 1, Episode 7: "You Win or You Die"
• Season 1, Episode 8: "The Pointy End"
• Season 1, Episode 9: "Baelor"
• Season 1, Episode 10: "Fire and Blood"
• Season 1 in Review: Feedback and Theories
• Season 2, Episode 1: "The North Remembers"
• Season 2, Episode 2: "The Night Lands"
• Season 2, Episode 3: "What Is Dead May Never Die"
• Season 2, Episode 4: "Garden of Bones"
• Season 2, Episode 5: "The Ghost of Harrenhal"
• Season 2, Episode 6: "The Old Gods and the New"
• Season 2, Episode 7: "A Man Without Honor"
• Season 2, Episode 8: "The Prince of Winterfell"
• Season 2, Episode 9: "Blackwater"
• Season 2, Episode 10: "Valar Morghulis"
• Season 3, Episode 1: "Valar Dohaeris"
• Season 3, Episode 2: "Dark Wings, Dark Words"
• Season 3, Episode 3: "Walk of Punishment"
• Season 3, Episode 4: "And Now His Watch Is Ended"
• Season 3, Episode 5: "Kissed by Fire"
• Season 3, Episode 6: "The Climb"
• Season 3, Episode 7: "The Bear and the Maiden Fair"
• Season 3, Episode 8: "Second Sons"
• Season 3, Episode 9: "The Rains of Castamere"
• Season 3, Episode 10: "Mhysa"
• Season 4, Episode 1: "Two Swords"
• Season 4, Episode 2: "The Lion and the Rose"
• Season 4, Episode 3: "Breaker of Chains"
• Season 4, Episode 4: "Oathkeeper"
• Season 4, Episode 5: "First of His Name"
• Season 4, Episode 6: "The Laws of Gods and Men"
• Season 4, Episode 7: "Mockingbird"
• Season 4, Episode 8: "The Mountain and the Viper"
• Season 4, Episode 9: "The Watchers on the Wall"
• Season 4, Episode 10: "The Children"
Season 5, Episode 1: "The Wars to Come"