Game of Thrones

HBO's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' TV Show


EP501: The Wars to Come

Written by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
Directed by Michael Slovis

Cersei and Jaime adjust to a world without Tywin. Varys reveals a conspiracy to Tyrion. Dany faces a new threat to her rule. Jon is caught between two kings.



Two young noble girls walk through the mud in a forest, fine dresses and shoes stained. One of them speaks, telling her fair-haired friend that they shouldn’t be out there alone. Her friend—a young Cersei Lannister by the lion-head pendant she wears—asks why not, and the girl replies that if Lord Tywin finds out—Cersei interrupts her, saying he won’t know they’re gone, and then adds that she need not be afraid of her father. The implication lies heavy that the girl should be more afraid of Cersei than of Tywin.

Hand in hand, they continue on to a hut in the forest. The girl is frightend and doesn’t want to go in, but young Cersei insists. Within, a fire burns and various herbs hang from the rafters while a woman sits in shadows. There’s a sudden screech when Cersei’s friend bumps into a cage containing a rat. The woman comes out of the shadows to yell at them to get out. Cersei stares her down and notes that she isn’t frightening at all, despite stories claiming that she had cat’s teeth and three eyes.

Cersei decides that she’s boring. The woman claims she doesn’t know what she is, but Cersei is sure that she does: she’s a witch and capable of seeing the future. Cersei demands to have her future told. The witch says that everyone wants to know their future, until they know it. Cersei insists, claiming that the land belongs to her father, and so to her, and she’ll have her “two boring eyes” cut out if she doesn’t do as she asks. The woman smiles enigmatically, laughing… but finally offers up a knife blade. She tells Cersei to cut herself with it, so that she can taste her blood.

Cersei does as asked, and the witch pulls her closer to suck the blood from her thumb. She offers three questions, but notes that Cersei won’t like the answers. Cersei notes she’s promised to the prince, and wants to know when they’ll wed. The witch informs her that she won’t wed the prince, but she’ll wed the king. Cersei asks if that means she’ll be queen, and the witch says yes, “for a time”, until another queen, younger and more beautiful, cast her and all she holds dear down. Cersei looks troubled and then asks if the king and she will have children. Twenty for the king, the witch says, and three for her. Cersei immediately retorts that makes no sense, but the witch goes on, noting their crowns and shrouds will be gold. At the look on Cersei’s face, she begins to laugh. Cersei’s friend grabs at Cersei, insisting they have to go.

The scene shifts to the present day as a litter carries Cersei to the Great Sept of Baelor as bells ring. Escorted by Ser Meryn Trant of the Kingsguard, she mounts the steps to where the High Septon awaits, passing Margaery Tyrell and her companions as she does so. The High Septon notes that the crowd of mourners have been waiting; when Cersei says they will keep waiting as she wishes to be with her father’s body alone, the High Septon protests that many of the lords and ladies have ridden “day and night to be here from all Seven Kingdoms.” Cersei continues up the steps as he speaks, and repeats they will wait.

In the sept, Jaime Lannister stands vigil alone over his father’s corpse. Cersei joins him, silent, until she speaks to say that Tywin never wanted Jaime to be a Kingsguard. Jaime says that what their father built was for them, and warned that “they”—their enemies—will try to take it from them once they see that Tywin is really dead. Cersei says they have nothing to do with it, because it’s the man who murdered Tywin who was the real enemy. She accuses Jaime, saying she’s told him for years, warned him for years, about Tyrion, but only for Jaime to defend him. Jaime tries to argue that their enemies want them divided but Cersei presses on that Tywin is dead and “that little monster” is free.

A pause, and she asks Jaime if he freed Tyrion. Jaime is silent. She responds that Tyrion may be a monster, but he killed Tywin on purpose while Jaime killed Tywin by accident, by his rash stupidity. She tells him to look at the consequences of his actions, staring at her father’s body. Then she tells Jaime that Tywin loved Jaime more than anyone. She bends over to kiss her father’s forehead, and then she departs, leaving Jaime behind.

A hole in a crate sees a ship, then a foreign city, its docks and alleyways, and then a pleasure garden. The box is dropped, a man inside grunts, and the crate is opened. The man—Tyrion—falls out of it, looking the worse for wear. Above him stands Varys. Tyrion looks around at his surroundings and then with great effort works his way to his feet. Tyrion stares at Varys, who apologizes for the mode of travel. When Tyrion questions why he had to travel in the box all the way across the narrow sea, Varys replies that if anyone caught Tyrion, they’d catch him and so he feels no great guilt over it. Tyrion then asks if he knows what it’s like to shove one’s own feces through the holes in the crate. Varys replies that no, he doesn’t; he only knows what it’s like to pick up Tyrion’s feces and throw it overboard.

Tyrion recognizes their location as Pentos. Varys responds that it’s the palace of the merchant Illyrio Mopatis, a colleague of his. He informs Tyrion they met through mutual friends, a group who saw that Robert was going to be a disaster and did what they could for the realm by secretly supporting a Targaryen restoration. Varys explains that that led to a “chain of mistakes” that have led them both to where they are. Tyrion, having meandered over to a table, takes up acup and a bottle of wine and begins to steadily pour himself drinks as Varys continues about Westeros’s plight.

Tyrion has nothing to say to that, and when Varys prompts him, “My lord,” Tyrion muses on whether he’s still a lord or not for killing his father, while he supposes that killing a prostitute isn’t sufficient cause to have one’s nobility revoked as it’s a common occurence. Varys complains that Tyrion already drank himself across the narrow sea, but Tyrion sees no reason to stop now. Varys says that he should because they’re talking about “the future of our country.” Tyrion thinks very little of the future, and the past… and then proceeds to vomit, and then pour himself another cup of wine as Varys looks on unimpressed.

In Meereen, ropes haul at the Harpy from atop the Great Pyramid, dragging it down to fall with a great crash to the ground hundreds of feet below. The Unsullied look at their handiwork, and one in particular of their number removes his helmet and stares at the brazen figure. Then we see him walking through an alleyway where women offer their naked bodies to him, but he pays one in particular who seems to be familiar with him. She rremoves his armor and proceeds to take off his trousers, but he stops her. She asks if he wants the same as before, and he nods. She takes off her top and then undoes her skirt but he tells her she can keep it on. She joins him on the bed and lays him down with her behind him, rubbing his head as she hums a song to him.

He relaxes, eyes closed, enjoying the comfort of her touch… and then a hand reaches down with a blade and cuts his throat. The prostitue stands, and beside her is the Unsullied’s killer: a man in a bronze harpy mask. The same mask is shown in the Great Pyramid, where Barristan informs Daenerys of what has happened, noting that the Sons of the Harpy left the mask on the Unsullied’s body. Daenerys is shocked, saying they’ve never killed before but Barristan replies that it was only a matter of time since conquerors are always resisted. Daenerys cannot accept the term, saying it was their own people who defeated he Masters.

At that, Mossador—a young slave who was the first to take up arms against the Masters when Daenerys sent weapons to the slaves of the city—replies that the Sons of the Harpy do not see the freedmen as people. Daenerys insists they will learn differently. Daenerys insists that that White Rat, the Unsullied, will be buried with honor in the Temple of the Graces. Barristan seems uncertain, noting the Sons of the Harpy will see a message in that, a message which Mossador says will make them very angry. But that, Daenerys says, is what she wants: if they lash out, the easier it will be to apprehend them. She sends Grey Worm and Barristan to find the men and bring them to her.

Missandei, who was present, follows Grey Worm to where the Unsullied prepare to go out into the city. Missandei wishes to speak with him, and he dimisses his companions. She wonders why White Rat was visiting a brothel, and rumors have it that other Unsullied have visited the brothels. She asks Grey Worm why the Unsullied would go to a brothel, and Grey Worm indicates ignornance before excusing himself. Missandei watches him go as he takes up a spear.

In Castle Black’s yard, Jon Snow spars with Olly while Ghost gnaws on a bone. Olly complains the shield is too heavy, but Jon insists he use it properly. Samwell and Gilly watch, and Gilly asks if Samwell shouldn’t be training too. Samwell notes he’s not a new recruit, but Gilly seems dubious. Samwell protests by arguing that he might be the first man in history to have killed a white walker and a Thenn. Elsewhere, Ser Alliser Thorne speaks with Janos Slynt, informing him that something needs to be done with the men, that they’re poachers and thieves rather than soldiers. He stops to stare at Gilly before going on, and Gilly tells Sam once he’s out of earshot that Thorne doesn’t like her.

Samwell responds that if Thorne becomes Lord Commander, he hates the wildlings—all the wildlings, he adds, as he looks at Gilly’s son—but doesn’t complete his thought. Gilly reads into it what he’s thinking, that Thorne will want her and her child gone. Gilly insists Samwell doesn’t let them send her away. Samwell tries to assure her that Ser Denys Mallister will likely win instead, but when Gilly insists he says that he’s promised he’ll go whereve she does. She notes that if he were to desert the Watch, they’d execute him.

Back in the yard, Jon and Olly continue to spar when Melisandre arrives. She tells Jon that the king wishes to speak with him. Taking the cage up to the top of the Wall, Jon asks if Melisandre feels cold and she insists that she never feels code. She takes the glove off his hand and has him feel her cheek, to prove that the Lord of Light’s fire is in her. Then she asks if Jon is a virgin. “No,” he replies. “Good,” Melisandre says.

Atop the Wall, Davos and Stannis look to the north. Melisandre introduces Jon as the Bastard of Winterfell as he drops to a knee.  Stannis asks if Jon knows who rules in Winterfell, and Jon responds that it’s Roose Bolton. Stannis wonders if Jon wants revenge for Roose killing his brother, but Jon reminds him that he’s a man of the Watch. Davos notes that his sworn brothers are of mixed opinion on Jon: some love him, some hate him. Davos wonders why Jon was seen taking a wildling girl’s corpse north of the Wall, but Jon says it’s where he belonged. He notes that the wildlings are not monsters despite being born on the wrong side of the Wall.

Stannis breaks in to say he means to take the North from those who stole it, that with Tywin gone there is no one to protect them and that he means to place Roose Bolton’s head on a spike. However, Stannis needs more men he says. When Jon replies that the Watch is sworn to take no part, Stannis interrupts him to say he wants to have the wildlings in his army. Stannis promises to pardon them if they follow him, and if they win Winterfell and the North for him he’ll give them land to live on. However, Stannis needs Mance to kneel and swear his loyalty. Jon thinks it’s doubtful Mance would do that, but Stannis insists that Jon convince Mance or he will burn.

Stannis turns to leave when Jon asks how much time he has. “Nightfall,” Stannis responds.

In the Vale, Robin Arryn practices against a squire and proves absolutely woeful despite a master of arms directing him. Lord Royce sits with the dark-haired, dark-gowned Sansa Stark and Littlefinger, and seems upset at how clumsy, weak, and untalented Robin is when his own sons had swords in their hands from the time they could walk. Littlefinger attempts to assuage his concerns, to little avail. A messag arrives for Littlefinger, which he reads privately. He puts it away, tucking it into a sleeve, and tells Royce that Robin has other gifts… such a the gift of a great name.

Departing together, Sansa thanks Lord Royce for what he’s done for her. Littlefinger adds that he expects Robin’s skills will improve immeasurably by the time he’s back. Yohn Royce promises he’ll be safe… but as to his skills he can make no promises.

In the Vale, Brienne stares at Oathkeeper while Pod brings in the bed rolls. He asks if they’ll go north, that they’re just a few days from the kingsroad. “That will take us—” he starts, but Brienne questions, “Us?” She wonders why Podrick is staying with her. When he says he’s her squire, she asks if he knows what a squire is. “An attendant to a knight,” he replies, and she notes that she’s no knight, therefore he’s no squire. She makes it plain he doesn’t want him following her, and when he asks where he’ll go, she replies in a surly tone that she doesn’t care: “I’m not your mother.” He takes that in silently, then continues rolling out the bedroll.

He argues that she swore to find the Stark girls, and Brienne replies that Arya didn’t want her protection. Podrick again starts on finding Sansa, and Brienne angrily silences him as she sharpens her sword. Podrick returns to his work as Brienne says she’s no leader, that all she wanted was to fight for a lord she could believe in, but all “the good lords are dead and the rest are monsters.” Podrick hears a sound, and turns to see a large coach escorted by a number of Vale knights.

Inside, Sansa notes that they’re going west instead of to the Fingers as Lord Petyr told Lord Royce. Sansa notes that Royce would have betrayed them already, if he had ever meant to do so, but Littlefinger replies that however honorable Royce may be there’s man others in that castle: knights, ladies, stable boys, serving girls. Sansa counters, asking if Littlefinger trusts his knights or his carriage driver. Littlefinger says no, but he pays well and they know what happens to those who disappoint him. Then he tells her he’s taking her to a land so far away that even Cersei can’t get her hands on Sansa.

At the funeral feast, Loras attempts to offer his condolences as Cersei drinks and ignores him, her attention on the court, particualrly Tommen and Margaery who whisper to one another and hold hands for a moment before Margaery moves on and Tommen looks after her. Cersei murmurs some courtesy and leaves abruptly. Pycelle offers his condolences and she ignores him entirely as Lancel Lannister—hair cut shorn and wearing a plain robe—stands gravely. He approaches her, barefoot. Then his father, her uncle Kevan, appears to apologize for Lancel’s appearance. He says they call themselves sparrows, and considers them fanatics. He then steps away from her to face her and notes that they would never have dared come to the city if Tywin was alive. Cersei supposes they’ll grow out of it, and excuses herself.

Above the feast, Cersei stands alone looking out a window and drinking wine. Lancel arrives. She notes his wounds had healed. He replies that it wasn’t his wounds that needed heeling. He asks her forgiveness for leading her into their “unnatural relations”. She replies that she doubts he’s ever led anyone anywhere. Cersei is dismissive until he brings up the king, the board hunt, and his wine. She denies knowledge of his meaning. Lancel says he’s found peace in the light of the Seven, and urges her to do the same, but she ignores him. Lancel finishes, stating that the world of the Seven is at hand, and that he’ll pray for Tywin’s soul. Cersei chortles at the idea that Tywin’s soul would ever need help from Lancel or someone else. She turns back to the window, swallowing more wine, and Lancel leaves.

Loras Tyrell is abed with Olyver, who admires a birthmark on his leg and insists it looks like Dorne. He maps out the various seats where they belong, but Loras corrects him at one point when he forgets the right name of Sandstone. Olyver kisses his fingers and then places them on the birthmark. Loras kisses him and accepts that it looks like Dorne. Olyver suggests they should go there, thinking they’ll enjoy it if his recent experiences (with Prince Oberyn Martell) were anything to go by. Loras is happy to go to Dorne, or Highgarden, or any place but King’s Landing. They kiss again when Margaery bursts in; they don’t even stop until she complains that they’re late for dinner as it is. Margaery, rather than leaving, simply enters the room.

She eyes Olyver with obvious interest, while he and Loras both are naked and barely covered. She suggests Olyver leave, as Tommen is waiting, and Olyver shamelessly gets up to collect his clothing. Margaery glances sidelong at him. Then as Loras lounges in the bed, she suggests that he should be more discreet. Loras notes that everyone knows about him, that in fact “everybody knows everything about everyone” so there’s no point keeping secrets. Margaery throws his doublet at him and says he’s keeping Cersei, his intended, waiting. Loras points out that with Tywin dead, no one can force Cersei to marry him. However, he argues that if he marries Cersei, it’s Margaery’s best hope to get Cersei away from Tommen and the city. “Perhaps,” Margaery replies, between bites of a fruit, but she doesn’t explain.

In Pentos, Tyrion looks out to sea, cup in hand and decanter of liquor beside him. He’s dressed in new clothing and has had his beard trimmed. Varys joins him. Tyrion throws out Varys’s titles and bynames, and Varys replies in kind. Varys notes there’s faster ways to die than drinking yoruself to death. “Not for a coward,” Tyrion quips, but Varys says that while Tyrion is many things, a coward isn’t one of them. When Tyrion wonders why Varys freed him, Varys replies that Jaime asked him to do so. Tyrion doesn’t see why Varys wouldn’t say no, to which Varys says that refusing the Kingslayer would be dangerous. No more dangerous, Tyrion responds, than freeing him.

Varys explains he did it for the Seven Kingdoms. Varys doesn’t believe in saviors, but he believes that talented men have a part to play in “the war to come”. Tyrion tells him to find someone else, because he’s done with Westeros and Westeros is done with him. Varys notes any fool can be born into power, but that earning it takes work. He adds that Varys has Tywin’s political instincts and Tyrion’s compassion. “Compassion,” Tyrion notes, pointing out that he murdered Shae with his bare hands and shot his father with a crossbow. Varys merely says that he didn’t say Tyrion was perfect.

Tyrion asks what Varys wants. “Peace. Prosperity. A land where the powerful do not prey on the powerless,” the eunuch replies. Tyrion mocks that vision, but Varys thinks there’s another way. Varys informs him that Tyrion could help someone take the throne, a monarch stronger than Tommen but gentler than Stannis, a ruler who can intimidate lords and inspire the people, a monarch loved by millions with an army and the right family name. “Good luck finding him,” Tyrion says sarcastically. Varys responds, “Who said anything about ‘him’?”

Varys gives Tyrion the choice of staying in Illyrio’s to drink himself to death, or he can ride with Varys to Meereen to meet Daenerys. Tyrion wonders if he can drink himself to death on the road.

In Meereen, Hizdahr and Daario enter the gates to find Unsullied patrolling the streets. Hizdahr is surprised, and Daario supposes that Hizdahr’s fellow former Masters are not behaving. In the Greaty Pyramid, Hizdahr has an audience with Daenerys and informs her of the success of their mission to Yunkai, where the Wise Masters agreed to give power to a council of elders made up of both freedmen and the former Masters. They asked for concessions, however, Hizdahr adds. When Daenerys asks about that, he explains that politics is the art of compromise. “I’m not a poltiican,” Daenerys replies. “I’m a queen.” Hizdahr says that it’s easier to rule happy subjets than angry ones. Daenerys reveals that she doesn’t expect them to be happy because of the end of the slave trade.

But it’s not the slave trade they want to start again, but rather to reopen the fighting pits. Daenerys refuses with visceral distaste at the idea, but Hizdahr argues that the combats would be between free men. He points out that the pit fighters themselves are pleading to be able to fight again. As he taks, Daario pulls out his stilleto with its hilt shaped like a wanton, naked woman, and he smirks at Daenerys; it’s clear he distracts her. Daenerys refuses Hizdahr’s requests unequivocally, refusing to respect the traditions of Meereen.

That night, Daenerys is in her bed and arguing with Daario about the issue. Daario, naked, pours out wine for the both of them. Daario argues that she should reopen the pits. He tells her the story of how his mother, an alcoholic whore, sold him to a slaver when he was twelve. He notes he was a bad child, not big, but quick and loving to fight. He was sold to a man in Tolos who trained fighters, and he had his first fight at sixteen. Daenerys is amazed at his defense of the pits given his history, but he responds that he is where he is now because of the pits: he learned to fight “like a Dothraki screamer, a Norvoshi priest, a Westerosi knight.” He became famous, he said, and made so much money for his master that he was freed when the man died, leading him to join the Second Sons and ultimately meeting Daenerys.

Noting that she’s the queen, too many people are afraid to speak the truth to her, everyone but him. He tells her not to show weakness in the face of enemies across the world, and to show her strength. She explains that that’s why she has the Unsullied in the streets, but she’s not the Mother of Unsullied, she’s the Mother of Dragons.

Daenerys is troubled by that, and says that she doesn’t want the bones of another child at her feet, and in any case Drogon has not been seen in weeks and could have flown half way across the world. She says she can’t control them anymore, to which Daario replies that a dragon queen with no dragons is not a queen.

Deep beneath the Great Pyramid, a stone door is rolled aside to let Daenerys into the chmaber where she left the two smaller dragons. She goes down, calling for Viserion and Rhaegal. Chains rattle… and then suddenly out of darkness one of the dragon breathes flames as another lunges at her. They roar and scream, breathing fire, and Daenerys flees in terror.

At Castle Black, Jon Snow visits Mance Rayder in his cell to try and convince him to bend the knee to Stannis. Mance notes that Jon was once his prisoner. Jon says it need not be their last meeting, but Mance insists it will be. Stannis, he says, is bold, and he respects him, thinking he’ll be a better ruler than most of the fools who’ve ruled for the last hundred years. However, Mance says, he’ll never serve him. Jon reminds Mance that his people had bled enough. Mance admits he said it… but he doesn’t want them bleeding for Stannis either.

Jon notes the wide variety of wildlings that he brought together to save them: “Thenns and Hornfoots, the ice river clans, even the giants.” Jon argues he did it to save them, and asks if their survival isn’t more important than Mance’s pride. Mance insists it’s not about pride, however. If so, Jon indicates he should bend the knee and save the wildlings. Mance replies that all the respect of the wildlings goes if he bends the knee. Jon argues that Mance is afraid of seeming afraid… but Mance is happy to admit he’s afraid, and sees no shame in it.

Mance asks how he’ll die, whether he’ll be beheaded or hanged. “They’ll burn you alive,” Jon says. Mance takes that hard, saying it’s a bad way to go and that he doesn’t want people remembering him that way, burning and screaming. However, Mance argues it’s better to die than to betray what he believes in. Jon reminds him of his people, though, and how the white walkers are coming and there’ll be no one left to sing about Mance and his deeds. Mance says Jon’s a good lad, but he can’t explain to Jon why he doesn’t want to get his people involved in a foreign war.

Jon prepares to leave, but tells Mance that he’s telling a terrible mistake. Mance replies, “The freedom to make mistakes is all I ever wanted.”

Later that night, Mance is in shackles as he’s lead to the courtyard where a stake awaits him. The Watch is prsent, as are Stannis and his family, Davos, and Melisandre, as well as Tormund and a number of wildlings. Mance is brought before Stannis, who says there can be only one king, but that he’ll give Mance mercy if he bends the knee. Mance looks at Stannis, then the wildlings, then Jon Snow. He refuses to kneel and instead notes that Castle Black was once his home for many years. “I wish you good fortune in the wars to come,” he tells Stannis. Stannis nods, and Mance is chained to the stake. Selyse and Shireen watch from a baclon as this happens.

Melisandre steps forward and speaks to those watching, informing them that all must choose betweem right and wrong, and between the true and false god. Taking a torch, he informs the Free Folk that Stannis is the one true king while calling Mance the “king of lies.” She sets fire to the pyre beneath the stake. Mance suffers as quietly as he can as the flames begin to lick at his feet. Tormund holds his gaze on Mance as the fires rise.

Jon watches… and then shakes his head. Pushing past Olly, he departs. Gilly looks away as Mance starts to cry out, and on the balcony Shireen shuts her eyes while Selyse smiles. Mance almost screams—and then out of nowhere, an arrow takes him in the heart and he dies. The archer is Jon Snow, who turns and walks away.