So this is our second take on Game of Thrones, starting with Season 1, which premiered way back in 2011 (PT, pre-Trump). Our goal with these is to remind our readers of what happened back through the seasons that have gotten us to the point in the history of Westeros that we are now. Our format will be as follows:
Summaries of the episodes
Discussion of themes that permeate the episodes
Extended scenes: these are for our book readers and to illuminate and expound on situations, conversations and the like that are more fleshed out in the books
Observations or questions answered this time around
Characters we met: each episode we will introduce characters we met for the first time
So here we go…
Shauna’s take on episode 1:
An unknown threat is uncovered in the woods by a group of men sworn to guard it. They think it is a foreign race called the wildlings committing these brutal ritualistic killings, but suddenly an unnatural creature with ice blue eyes attack the small group, stabbing one and beheading another, leaving the last one to desert his post and flee.
However, this is not the main focus of this show and takes a back seat, for now, to the political turmoil happening in a place called Westeros.
To sum this up quite succinctly: The ruling family, seated at King’s Landing, has lost a vital member of their council and so the King travels to Winterfell (a really cold place in the North of the country) to ask his childhood friend to become the Hand of the King, his right hand. His wife really doesn’t want him to go, having lost many years with him to battle, and he doesn’t seem keen on taking up the post either. Yet soon they discover, from the widow of the former Hand that there is a plot to bring harm to the King, and so he has no choice but to take up the post and travel to the capital. However, the Queen and her twin brother are not too happy about this choice and as we learn, are harboring quite the juicy secret.. they’re lovers! Soon they are discovered by the daredevil climbing son of the King’s childhood friend mid-coitus and the Queen’s twin is forced to save face by pushing the 10-year-old out the window.
Whew. That was a tough neutral summary to write, knowing all that I know now about Game of Thrones.
Let’s talk about the beginning title sequence for a brief moment–one of, or maybe, the best title sequence of any show that has ever been on television (I’m being very biased, seeing as I saw Ramin Djawadi and his orchestra live in concert performing this and it sounded exactly the same).
Theme of the episode: “The things I do for love…”
In thinking about how to make these reviews a bit different, we thought about the overarching themes that connect one episode to another and the things that many of the characters do for their loved ones became more apparent as we gave this episode a second viewing and so the first is taken right from Jaime’s lips, so to speak.
So first up:
Earl: Ned loves his family, Ned and Robert have a brotherly love for each other, Robert has a love of Ned’s deceased sister Lyanna.
Even though it is wrong by all measures, Jamie and Cersei love one another. All mentioned have things they would do for love. Some things moral and some immoral.
Shauna: In particular with Ned, taking Bran with him, despite misgivings from Catelyn, to watch the beheading of the Night’s Watch deserter.
Ned wants to instill an unwavering sense of justice in his young son:
“The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.”
Earl: Extended scene: As someone who identifies with Tyrion as his favorite character, I would have to choose the scene where he meets Jon outside of the banquet.
Jon who is out there by himself because he is not welcome inside due to him being Ned’s bastard and a source of shame for Catelyn, is surprised to see Tyrion watching him. In the scene, Tyrion gives Jon some advice:
“Let me give you some advice, bastard: 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.” As a dwarf, Tyrion is well aware that he is a source of curiosity and scorn. Instead of letting it hurt you, use it as your weapon.
As a dwarf, Tyrion is well aware that he is a source of curiosity and scorn. Instead of letting it hurt you, use it as your weapon.
By taking ownership of your shortcomings or what hurts you, you use it to your strengths. It’s kind of like the rap battle at the end of the movie 8 Mile–if you know what they are going to say about you, you say it yourself. Why? It will never hurt you that way.
Questions you had or questions that may have been answered better with second viewing and observations:
Earl: I’m far from a know it all when it comes to Game of Thrones but I have watched this first episode so many times that nothing really stands out as a question I may have had before viewing.
However, I have to say that I would have liked a little more exploration of the White Walkers. I understand the need to put a pin in it to revisit them later, but after dedicating a long opening sequence I would have liked a little more of an explanation.
Shauna: A bit of foreshadowing when Ned, Rob, Jon and Theon come across the dead stag, mauled by what Theon guesses is a mountain lion??
Seeing Jaime with two hands!
Lesson for Jon: If someone tells him “we’ll talk later”, this usually means that he’ll never see them again.
Characters we met (as the episode progress, only new characters in this section):
Night’s Watch: a group of men of an indeterminate number that guard the Wall from wildlings and white walkers.
House Stark: sigil is a direwolf. Wardens of the North.
Head of House Stark is Eddard (Ned) Stark, childhood friend of King Robert Baratheon, wife is Catelyn Stark, not originally from the North. Sons are Rob, Bran, Rickon, Jon Snow (bastard), Theon Greyjoy (ward). Daughters: Sansa (soon to be betrothed to Joffrey Baratheon), and Arya.
Maester Luwin is the learned man of House Stark. He provides advice to all members of the House.
Ser Rodrick Cassel is the man of arms for House Stark. He is also a council of sorts but he is also responsible for the training of the Stark men. He’ll train them for combat and will also be a great assistance for Lady Catelyn.
House Targaryen: sigil is a three-headed dragon. Last remaining members are brother Viserys, who claims to be the rightful ruler of Westeros and sister Daenerys, who is now the wife of Khal Drogo, leader of the Dothraki people.
House Baratheon: sigil is a stag. Head of House Baratheon is Robert Baratheon, King of the seven kingdoms of Westeros. As a young man, he led a rebellion that toppled House Targaryen and he seized control of the Kingdoms. Many years have since passed and he’s now a fat whore monger who is more than content to drink and sleep with whoever he wants while others rule in his name.
Joffrey Baratheon is Robert and Cersei’s oldest son and he is the heir to the kingdoms. He does not have much of a role in this episode but you can see the glimmer of arrogance that we will come to know, and hate.
Myrcella and Tommen Baratheon are the other siblings. I pair them together because other than a scene at breakfast they have no role in this episode.
Cersei Lannister is Robert’s wife and Queen. She has a disdain for the North and for House Stark. This is due to Lyanna Stark, who was Robert’s true love and Ned’s sister. Cersei doesn’t seem happy to be there but at least she has the company of her brother and children.
Jaime Lannister is Cersei’s twin brother. He loves his sister, in ways a brother should and should not, love his sister. Jamie is also a member of the Kingsguard who are sworn to protect the King. He is also commonly referred to as the Kingslayer because his stabbing of the Mad King Aerys brought an end to Robert’s Rebellion.
Tyrion Lannister, better known as the Imp, is their younger brother. Short in stature, but long in both brains and sarcasm, Tyrion can also be a drunken whore monger. In this episode he drinks, he has sex and he councils. He did it all.
Khal Drogo is the leader of the Dothraki. The Dothraki are a warrior people and Drogo is their leader because of his prowess in combat. He and his armies have never been beaten and Viserys Targaryen has married off his sister to Drogo in the hopes of using the Dothraki to take the throne.
Magister Illyrio harbors Viserys and Daenerys who both are enemies of Robert and the throne. Viserys was a baby when Robert took the throne and Daenerys was born when her mother fled the capital with Viserys. Illyrio is conspiring to put the Targaryens back on the throne.
Jorah the Andal or Ser Jorah Mormont of Bear Island, is introduced to Daenerys at her wedding to Khal Drogo. He is from Westeros. He will be a translator, and a noted asset in the episodes to come.
And with that, we wrap up episode 1.
Valar Morghulis, Valar Doharis.
S & E