game-of-thrones-season-5-posterDoesn’t time fly when there aren’t dragons, trials by combat and giant scythes to intrigue, horrify and entertain us all? But here we are, one year later, and one season further into Game of Thrones. Come Monday (or Sunday for those lucky people in the US) we’ll be back in the swing of things and wondering how we managed to cope with all this time off.

After all, no comparable show has such a long downtime, with most of its competitors either having far more episodes per season and/or a mid season break to stretch the series over a longer period of time. With Game of Thrones standing at an uninterrupted 10 episode run every year, the wait has been far, far too long to bear. So here are three aspects of the show – among many – that I’m looking forward to this year.

Westeros Takes a Backseat as Essos Comes to the Fore

Up until now, Daenerys has been the sole character not on the main continent of the world, travelling around the Free Cities and Slaver’s Bay, largely separate from the other plots of the show. This season however, she isn’t alone. Tyrion and Arya, characters who are both fan-favourites, ended last season crossing the Narrow Sea into Essos.

To me, the most interesting aspect of this is seeing the continent from outside of Dany’s sheltered viewpoint, and watching the writers develop the Free Cities at ground level (to some extent – Tyrion and Arya both being highborn of course), as well as rounding them out a bit more than just setting them up as a particular archetype for Dany to take issue with.

Religion and Revolt

From the trailers it seems that revolution is in the air on both continents. There are those gilded masked people over in Mereen for Dany to deal with, whose motive and identity are unclear to those of us steering clear of book spoilers, and – far more intriguingly – Jonathan Pryce’s introduction as the religious High Sparrow causing trouble in King’s Landing.

The scene with what looked like his followers blocking the steps of the Sept of Baelor to Tommen was easily my standout moment from the trailer, and seeing how we get to that point and what comes after is what I’m most excited for going into the season.

Ice and Fire Finally Singing
game-of-thrones-season-5-stannisIt’s long been apparent that Game of Thrones (and A Song of Ice and Fire) are going to have to end in one of two similar ways: with Dany and her dragons fighting the White Walkers, or with Stannis and the power of R’Hllor fighting the Whites. Which makes Stannis’ presence at the Wall this season all the more surprising.

Given the budget it took to stage the ‘Watchers on the Wall’ episode last season, can there really be even grander battle coming so soon after? I think not, meaning we’ll likely see some very significant developments on that front. Jon’s role in that storyline will also be good to watch. Perhaps Melisandre will leech him too…
game-of-thrones-season-5-sansaThere we have my three highlights to look forward to, but then there’s still King’s Landing and the fallout of Tywin’s death, the continued degradation of Theon/Reek, Sam and Gilly, the introduction of Dorne, Sansa’s progression and probably a couple of surprises to factor in too. Any other show and you’d be worried how they’re going to fit it all in but with Game of Thrones it’s just a case of sinking into the action.

Game of Thrones Season 5 premieres 13th April, 9PM on Sky Atlantic in the UK.