NOTE: This review and those that may coincide after are from the point of view of someone who has never read the books. I planned on doing it, never got around to it. I’ll probably read the first book after the first season is over, because I actually enjoy not knowing what is going to happen for once. Also, spoiler alert.
Episode 1: “Winter is Coming”
Let’s just say, it did not disappoint. I’ve always been on the fence about Game of Thrones and ambivalent about watching the series, but I’m really glad I forced myself to sit down and actually give it a shot. Mainly, because I adore Sean Bean (even though every time he came on screen all I could think was “BOROMIR!”). After Legend of the Seeker got cancelled I’ve been seriously craving a really good fantasy series. Yes, I realize LotS is an incredibly different type of fantasy (more light-hearted, cheesy fun).
Anyways, this will definitely fill the hole until The Hobbit comes out. Which I am also ridiculously excited for. (The music gives me warm fuzzies.)
BACK ON TRACK. Game of Thrones is HBO’s new series based on the bestselling and adored book series ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ by George R.R. Martin. The opening scene was great, I wasn’t expecting to be completely creeped out by the end of the first scene. But, dammit. I was. (I personally love dark subject matter, I really don’t know why at this point I haven’t read the books yet. Shame on me.)
The show opens up with a small group from the Night Watch riding out beyond ‘the Wall’ hunting tribes of wildings. I’m not quite sure what those are. Regardless, one of them runs across a bunch of body parts spread out on the ground (children and all) complete with the above girl hanging from a tree. When the rest of the group gets there they refuse to believe the poor sap (of course) as the bodies have disappeared by the time they finally get around to looking for them. They then decide the best course of action is, of course… to split up and look for the missing parts. Because, you know, the best thing to do when you are looking for some unknown horror that you can’t see is to split up.
Anyways, jackass gets his deserved end, and after a scene change (and some pretty cool credits) we learn the first dude survives, although he is now a deserter. We get an adorable scene with Bran and Arya (who I adore already), and then Sean Bean learns that the deserter has survived. Beheading time! At least Ned doesn’t seem to enjoy it. My opinion of him so far is that while he can be a little cold and detached, he does seem to follow an honor code of some sort (one of the few that do in this show). HOWEVER, perhaps when the only survivor from a group of Night Watch that went beyond the wall tells you that are some undead creepy women/things walking around and killing people, maybe you should listen to him before you chop his head off.
On the way back they run across some dire wolf pups and Jon Snow barely convinces Ned to spare them. Thus, each child takes one, including Jon, who finds a small albino pup, the runt of the litter. I imagine there is something significant about these pups. Scene change, and we then get introduced to the twins Cersei and Jaime Lannister who are (obviously) not up to something good, some old dude dies, Catelyn tells Ned that aforementioned old dude is dead, and that the King and Queen are coming. You know what that means! Time for a slightly homoerotic shaving scene.
Bran scales some more rock (of which his mother does not approve), and Arya runs around with a helmet on (:D) as the Royal Party arrives (of which father does not approve). Also, creepy prince child is creepy. UGH. Sansa has eyes for him (as all of her siblings notice), and obviously has no taste.
The King asks Ned to become his right hand so he can keep the Iron Throne. Oh, and then he tells Ned that he’s going to marry his son and Ned’s daughter to combine families. Ned doesn’t give an answer but it’s obvious he’s gonna have to say yes. After this, however, is pretty much my favorite scene of the entire episode. Peter Dinklage plays Tyrion Lannister, the dwarf brother of the Queen. Also known as “The Imp” and “Halfman”. (I love him! He’s acted in other things such as: Penelope, The Station Agent, Nip/Tuck, etc.) Tyrion’s pastimes so far seem to be whores, whores, and booze. Oh, and whores.
Switching continents, we meet Viserys and his sister Daenerys… the last remaining heirs to the throne that Robert stole. Viserys is preparing his sister to meet her future betrothed, while creepily groping her. He tells her to be good, so she doesn’t “awake the dragon”. I hope that isn’t a euphemism for his penis. Her betrothed, Khal Drogo, arrives shortly after. He examines her briefly, and then rides off without a word. Don’t worry creepy brother, he liked what he saw.
While discussing the future marriage with his Magister friend, Daenerys FINALLY speaks up and tells her dear brother that she doesn’t wish to marry him. Viserys then explains, “I would let his whole tribe fuck you, all forty thousand men and their horses too, if that’s what it took”, while stroking her face.
Daenerys and Khal Drogo then get married, and what Dothraki wedding is complete without sex and murder? Afterwards, Khal sexes her on a cliff against her will. Though, from what I’ve seen from the rest of his tribe, he could have been way rougher about it.
During the festivities, Jon Snow has a conversation with his uncle, Benjen Stark (/fans self), where he pleads to join the Night Watch. Benjen is unsure, but promises to talk about it later. Cue Tyrion, who actually has an intriguing conversation with Snow. They have a pretty interesting dynamic, as they both have ‘unwanted child syndrome’. Tyrion tells Jon, “Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.” It’s good advice, and I’m interested to see where this will go.
Oh, and once again Ned refuses to believe that the White Walkers could possibly exist. Sigh.
I just wish Arya had some actual talking lines.
To wrap things up, Catelyn finds out her sister is on the run, and that the last hand for the King was murdered. This solidifies that Ned must leave as he is the only one left that the King trusts, much to Catelyn’s dismay.
Bran scales some more walls after his father leaves for the Capital, and happens across Jaime and Cersei doing the nasty. She freaks out and Jaime grabs him before he can get away. He asks Bran’s age (10), and he appears to ponder something before… well. Yeah.
The locations and effects and sets are fantastic. There is gorgeous scenery around every corner, seriously. Probably because they shot the thing primarily in Ireland and Scotland. Regardless, I enjoyed it. There wasn’t a casting choice that I had a problem with (have I mentioned Sean Bean yet?) but I can’t really comment too much on this because I haven’t read the books. The characters are great. To me, nothing is better than villains that I love to hate. Game of Thrones had no shortage of these, for sure.
The acting is superb, and the storyline is definitely interesting. However, I do believe the show kind of targets itself to those who have read the book. Meaning, some people just won’t understand certain things unless they watch it again or look something up. I didn’t have too much of a problem. The only other negative thing I can think of is that it does move a bit fast. On the other hand, I get it. It’s fucking long book and they have to cover the entire thing in 10 episodes. I feel like, however, HBO put so much money into this, they could have easily made this episode a 2 hour premiere, and it would have made a bit more sense, and we could have gotten to know the characters a bit more (and learned more history).
Although the pace was fast, it was all put together very well and I very much enjoyed it… even with the abundance of incest and titties. (But hey, that’s HBO.)