Game of Thrones is a fantasy television series produced by HBO, based on the George R.R. Martin series of novels, A Song of Ice and Fire. It stars Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage, and Lena Headley, as part of a very large cast. Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights.
Each week I will provide a brief recap of the week’s episode and review it. This week’s post will cover the first three episodes of the show, titled Winter is Coming, The Kingsroad, and Lord Snow.
Game of Thrones Recap & Review: Winter is Coming
Directed by: Timothy Van Patten
Written by: David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
A TCC RATING OF:
The season opener, titled Winter is Coming, jumps straight into the action. At an unspecified forest in winter (see image above), a small group of men find a camp of slaughtered men, women, and children, before being ambushed by mysterious blue-eyed figures, including a young girl who was shown to be dead. One man escapes, and we later learn that the ambushers are known as “The White Walkers” and are thought to have been gone for thousands of years.
We are then introduced to Bran Stark, the youngest son of Eddard Stark (Sean Bean), who is the warden of the North, and lord of Winterfell, the Northernmost city in Westeros. Eddard promptly executes the man who escaped the ambush because he was a deserter. On the way back to Winterfell from the execution, Eddard, along with a few other men and some of his sons, encounter a dire wolf carcass and dire wolf pups. The dire wolf pups are taken to be pets, one for each Stark child.
Cut to King’s Landing, the capital city of Westeros. A funeral is being held for John Aaron, who we learn was the “Hand of the King.” We are introduced to the current Queen, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headley), and her brother, Jamie Lannister.
Back in Winterfell, Eddard learns that John has died, and we get to spend some time with his wife, Catelyn Stark. The message they received via raven says that the King and Queen are riding for Winterfell, presumably to ask Eddard to be the new Hand of the King. Once the King, Robert Baratheon, an old friend of Eddard’s arrives, he asks Eddard to be his new Hand, and proposes that his son, Joffrey Lannister, marries Eddard’s daughter, Sansa Stark (13 years old), to join their houses. Also introduced are Eddard’s eldest son, Robb Stark, and the Queen’s midget brother, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage). We learn that Eddard’s sister was killed by the Targaryens, who we later find out are the prior royal family.
Switching locations to Pentos, located on the continent of Essos, across the sea from Westeros and not under rule of the King, we meet Viserys Targaryen, the self-proclaimed rightful heir to the throne, and his sister, Daenerys Targaryen. Viserys has arranged for Daenerys to marry a Dothraki (barbarians) warlord, Khal Drogo, so that he can have an army under his control to re-take his throne by force. In the words of Viserys, spoken to his sister, “I would let his whole tribe fuck you, all 40,000 men and their horss too if that’s what it took” to get back his throne.
Returning again to Winterfell, we see that Sansa Stark is excited to marry Joffrey. We are introduced to Jon Snow, the bastard son of Eddard Stark, and his uncle, Benjen Stark, who is the first ranger of the Night’s Watch, which we later learn is the organization tasked with manning The Wall and protecting Westeros from what evils lurk North of it. Eddard and Benjen speak about the claims that the executed man had made about seeing the White Walkers, and we see there is conflict between Eddard and Jamie Lannister. When Eddard and Catelyn are alone in their bedchambers, they receive a message from Catelyn’s sister saying that John Aaron was murdered by the Lannisters and that King Robert is in danger.
Back to Pentos, we see the wedding ceremony between Khal Drogo and Daenerys Targaryen, where we hear that “a Dothraki wedding without at least 3 murders is considered a dull affair.” Daenerys, who has told Viserys she does not want to do this, proceeds to get raped by Khal Drogo at a very scenic sea-side location.
To end the episode, we see the King’s procession preparing to leave for King’s Landing, with Eddard Stark in tow. Bran, an avid climber, scales the side of a tower just outside of Winterfell, and sees the Queen engaged in coitus with her brother, Jamie, who shoves Bran out of the window to his death.
The biggest problem with this episode was how much content was included in the hour runtime. It is understandable though, considering the series comes from a lengthy and very detailed fantasy novel series. There are a lot of characters, some of whom I did not even mention for various reasons, as well as several locations. I suggest visiting The HBO page for Game of Thrones to help keep track of the characters and settings if needed.
Aside from that, it was an extremely well-done episode. The opening scene of the series, with the men riding through the forest is effectively creepy and beautifully shot. The whole episode has great locations, the HD looks gorgeous, and the production value is on the level of movies, as is expected with HBO. Despite a cast of relative unknowns and a few recognizable actors, it is very well acted, and they are given a solid, time appropriate script to work from. The characters and settings feel alive, and the show does a great job keeping the viewer’s attention with virtually no action. My only concern is that it may be difficult to keep track of all the characters and plot waiting a week between each episode, and the experience may be significantly better on DVD/Blu-Ray where you can watch it all in a week.
Game of Thrones Recap & Review: The Kingsroad
Directed by: Timothy Van Patten
Written by: David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
A TCC RATING OF:
The second episode of Game of Thrones opens with the Dothraki procession, travelling to an undetermined location. We meet Ser Jorah Mormont, who was a close friend to the former Targaryen king, and now serves Daenerys and Viserys.
In Winterfell, we find out that Bran actually did not die, but has been in a coma for some time now after the fall. Tyrion, the dwarf Lannister brother, suspects some sort of foul play in Bran’s fall, and plans to ride to The Wall with Jon Snow and Benjen Stark. Before leaving to become a sworn brother of the Night’s Watch, Jon gives Arya Stark a custom-made sword for her.
On the road to King’s Landing, King Robert tells Eddard about a message he received informing him of the marriage between Khal Drogo and Daenerys Targaryen, and he fears war is coming. They also engage in playful banter over food, with King Robert proclaiming “thank the Gods for Bessie, and her tits!”
Back with the Dothraki procession, we see the Khal have violent sex with Daenerys once again.
On the road to The Wall, we find out from a discussion between Tyrion and Jon that Jamie Lannister killed the last King, who we later find out was Aeris Targaryen, and then Cersei Lannister married the new King (Robert), and her son, Joffrey, became next in the line of succession.
Meanwhile, in Winterfell, a mysterious hooded man appears out of nowhere in Bran’s sleeping quarters and gets in a scuffle with Catelyn Stark before being killed by Bran’s dire wolf (see image above). Later on, Catelyn is investigating the tower where Bran fell from, and finds a long blonde hair. She gathers her closest confidantes and her son Robb, and tell them that she believes Bran was targeted to die, twice, and she thinks the Lannisters are behind it. She decides to ride South for King’s Landing to tell Eddard.
At the Dothraki temporary camp, Daenerys receives love-making lessons from one of her servants, who used to be a prostitute.
On the road to King’s Landing, at a town, Joffrey is flirting with Sansa when they find Arya Stark practice sword-fighting with sticks with a redheaded boy. Joffrey threatens the redheaded boy, before Arya hits him with her stick. Joffrey tries to slice Arya, Arya’s wolf bites Joffrey, Arya threatens him with his sword, and then runs away. The Lannisters find Arya and bring her in front of the King. Joffrey lies, saying he was attacked without provocation, and Sansa says she does not know what happened, rather than siding with either Joffrey or her sister. Since Arya’s dire wolf is missing, King Robert, on behalf of the Queen, orders Sansa’s dire wolf to be killed in its place. Eddard carries out the execution of the dire wolf, and we see the redheaded kid has been found and killed as well.
Back at Wintefell, Bran awakens and the episode ends.
This episode was even better than the first one, partially because it was less full of character and location introductions. Most of the characters were already familiar to the viewer, so more time could be spent with interesting things happening. We learn some juicy details about the history of the kingdom, and get treated to a very tense scene between the Royal family and the Starks.
Once again, the locations and production value of the episode are amazing, and the script and acting are still at a high level. Game of Thrones also has a very effective sound-track, without being conspicuous. It is subtle but adds to the atmosphere of the show. The conversation between Robert and Eddard about the possibility of war hopefully foreshadows a full blown war, which would be amazing to see. In the short term, the tension continues to rise between the Lannisters and the Starks, and Bran could be the key to changing the entire power structure of Westeros.
Game of Thrones Recap & Review: Lord Snow
Directed by: Brian Kirk
Written by: D.B. Weiss & David Benioff
A TCC RATING OF:
This episode begins at King’s Landing, where we see the King’s procession arrive. Eddard engages in some verbal jousting with Jamie Lannister, and attends a business meeting with the other Lords who run King Robert’s kingdom, where he gets upset about the fiscal situation of the kingdom. Cersei talks to Joffrey about his future as King, and tells him he must marry Sansa even though he no longer wants to, but “if you’d rather fuck painted whores you’ll fuck painted whores, and if you’d rather lie with noble virgins so be it.”
Meanwhile, in Winterfell, we find out that winters and summers each last for many years and that the timing is variable, but that the approaching winter appears to be long and difficult. Bran cannot remember what he saw before falling, and no longer has the use of his legs.
Back at King’s Landing, Catelyn shows up and is escorted by armed men to a whorehouse owned by Peter, an old friend of hers, and she finds out that the dagger used by Bran’s would-be assassin used to belong to Tyrion Lannister. Eddard also finds out about Bran’s updated condition.
Over at The Wall, a massive piece of land which naturally sprung up to separate the Northernmost part of the continent of Westeros from the rest, Jon Snow gets ganged up on by the other recruits to the Night’s Watch because he showed them up when training with swords. He is saved by Tyrion, who tells them to work together, and tells Jon about Bran’s updated condition.
Once again at King’s Landing, Cesei confronts Jamie about the Bran issue, and he lets her know there is nothing to worry about, and Catelyn leaves King’s Landing to return to Winterfell.
At the Dothraki procession, Daenerys orders them to stop to rest, which angers Viserys, who feels he should be in control. He yells at his sister, and is restrained forcefully by her bodyguard. Daenerys spares his life, but Viserys received no support from Ser Jorah during the encounter, who he thought served him loyally. We find out Daenerys is pregnant with Khal Drogo’s child. Upon hearing the news, Ser Jorah gets very serious, and must temporarily leave the procession with no explanation.
Meanwhile, at The Wall, Jon helps to train the other recruits, and Tyrion learns from the senior Night’s Watch that there are numerous reports of White Walkers North of The Wall, and that evil things will undoubtedly come with the long winter. They ask him to ask his sister for more resources to keep The Wall staffed and protected.
Lastly, at King’s Landing, we see Arya begin sword training lessons.
By now, the characters are quite well known to us, and the plot lines are becoming more developed. This episode felt a bit slower than the past one though, and aside from the final sword training, provided little real excitement. That is not to say that it didn’t have good moments though. We got to see deeper into the position that the Lannisters have within the kingdom, and once again their relationship with the Starks became more tense. Through the three episodes, it has been hinted at that Eddard and Jamie will duel, and I definitely hope that becomes a reality. The sword training scene with Arya at the end was truly special though. I genuinely got emotional watching her get to do what she wanted, which speaks to the strength of the characters and the script. I anticipate there will be a lot more emotional moments, both positive and negative, on an episode-to-episode basis. The new subplot involving the conflict between Viserys and his sister is also interesting, although it may derail the potential war.