I’m re-watching Game of Thrones from the beginning to get ready for season 7. Watch along if you’ve got the time, or just read my episode reviews because why not? (also, Spoilers, duh) Either way, winter is coming, and I’m getting ready…. *cues up the theme song* DUN, dun, Da da da dun, da da DUN……
I remember the first time I watched this episode. Literally in the first few minutes, when I saw the grandeur of the wall, this huge slab of ice that had no reference in the real world, but there it is, in their world, real as day. Blew me away. A newbie to the show, many weeks after it had first aired, I had no idea what was going on, but after having seen the trailers, talk of dragons and ice zombies had me interested. The Wall had me hooked.
Seeing the men of the Night’s Watch coming across the disassembled bodies in the snow, watching the fear in the eyes of two of the three men (because of course the third has to be a complete jerk), I couldn’t help but think, what has them so scared that they’d risk deserting their duties, especially when you find out that beheading is the thing you get for your troubles if you run away?
But more than the mystery of what happened to the Wildling people the three men are looking for (and also, of course, ice zombies and other dead things) I also fell in love with the costumes and the set decorations in this first episode. I’m not dumb, I know that most of the trees in the forest and the snow on them are fake, but man did the production team ever do a good job!
Then ice swords that look like blue glass and severed heads and body parts all over the place, and BAM! We’re into what is going to go down in history as one of the best opening credits sequences in all of TV history (IMHO). Face it, you always watch the opening credits of every episode and hum (sing loudly and off key?) along with the music. Don’t lie, I know you do. Of course you do! It’s ok, I do too. Quietly, though, so the hubs doesn’t think I’m crazy and I don’t scare the children. Yes, best title sequence ever, and this is even before you find out that each fly-through of the Known World is different and changes depending on where in the Seven Kingdoms the episodes parts will take place. Genius I tell you!
Next we have the Night’s Watch deserter getting caught on the run (unfortunate) and the Stark boys in the courtyard shooting arrows. They were so young and adorable (and alive!) then. We also get our first glimpses of Arya the free spirit and Sansa the sheltered little lady.
And then the Lord and Lady of the house, Eddard (Ned) and Catelyn Stark. High up on the balcony, watching over them all. And what’s with the dirty look Katlyn gives to poor Jon Snow? At this point in the story you don’t quite know who everyone is yet, but it’s obvious Jon Snow is looked at differently.
Off to the hills we go, to watch the beheading of the poor frightened deserter. Bran, allowed to watch this bit of justice for the first time and Jon Snow coaching him through it. A very good big brother he is. I’m looking forward to their reunion in Season 7. And also, in case you’re keeping count. Barely half way through the episode and already two severed heads. Little did I know that this was going to be a running theme in this show…
A dead stag in the forest, gored to death by what turns out to be a direwolf. And a direwolf, dead with a stag antler protruding from its body. Nice bit of foreshadowing there. This is when we discover that a) there are enough direwolf puppies to go around for each of the Stark children, and b) that dierwolves are the sigil of House Stark, of which, for reasons soon to be revealed, Jon is not fully a part of. He speaks of “our father” but Theon calls him the “runt of the litter” when he finds a tiny white puppy, Ghost, a ways away from the other pups. GoT is good with the symbolism on this one. I see what they did there…
Next we get a long wide shot of King’s Landing. Beautiful in red and gold tones up on a great hill. (Haha! Red and gold, I’m just getting the connection now) and we get our first scene with Cersei and Jamie, brother and sister. Some secret that Jon Arryn is taking to the grave with him, the topic of their discussion.
A long shot of Winterfell, a beautiful old castle made of stone and wood. We also get our first glimpse of a Heart Tree, and how it pretty much watches over the whole castle. Catelyn is afraid that the Old Gods don’t approve of her, and brings news of the death of the Hand of the King, Jon Arryn, from a “fever” and the impending arrival of the King and the whole court at Winterfell.
Gratuitous shot of all the Stark boys getting fresh haircuts and shaves, including Jon Snow with digs at how all the girls love his pretty hair. Yes, yes we do.
Bran stark, getting busted for climbing the walls of Winterfel like a little monkey. Prominsing his mother that he won’t climb anymore (liar). Oh Bran, you know, you’re the reason why we can’t have nice things.
The King arrives and we get our first glimpse of Joffrey and the Hound, Arya and all the rest (Hodor!). The north is a very cold-looking and muddy place. This is what I’m thinking when I watch this scene. Also wondering how the costume designers keep the mud off everyone’s cloaks. I wonder if they call it “sexy dirt” like they do on The Walking Dead? But I digress.
We learn that it’s been nine years since the King and Ned Stark have seen each other. They appear to be dear old friends (there must be some benefits to being old friends with the King, right?), and we also get to see Queen Cersei interacting rather snobbishly with the remaining Starks. A Prince Charming in Shrek flash of golden hair from Jamie Lannister, and we also find out, via a curious Arya, that there is a third sibling, an imp, who has gone MIA.
The crypts is the first stop on the King’s mind, so ignoring his wife, off he goes with Ned to visit Ned’s dead sister Lyanna, whom the king apparently loved very much a long time ago. They speak of their dead friend John Arryn and the king demands that Lord Stark take his place in King’s Landing as the Hand of the King to replace thier mentor, and oh, btw, they should join their houses with the marriage of his son Joffrey and Ned’s daughter Sansa.
Over to the brothel, now, where we find Lord Tyrion, with a very bad haircut and no beard, and we find out that he’s the fun brother. Was and always will be my favourite GoT character.
Across the narrow sea, Daenerys Targaryen and her gross brother Viserys discuss her impending nuptials. We also get our first hint that fire can’t harm a Dragon as she descends into what appears to be a bath of scalding hot water. I mean, how hot was that water that it is putting off steam in what appears to be a tropical climate?!
In come the Dothraki, and a generation of women fall in love with Khal Drogo. ‘Nuff said.
Back to Sansa and the girlish stars in her eyes. Man, you just want to smack her! Catelyn totally should have smacked her. She could see trouble from a mile away, you could see it in her eyes.
In the courtyard we meet Uncle Benjen Stark who runs into Jon, putting silly thoughts of joining the Night’s Watch into his head. And we find out that the reason why Jon’s a bit of an outcast is because he is a bastard. Oh Jon, you’re so young. Someone should have been yelling ‘you know nothing!’ at you from the start! Jon meets Tyrion, Tyrion lays some sweet wisdom down on him.
At the dinner feast we find the Starks and Lannisters don’t really get along, in spite of all the happy, happy small talk going on. Ned and Jamie have history. Cersei and Catelyn talk of sharing grandchildren and the King, Robert Baratheon, whores it up with everyone watching (It’s good to be the king!).
After dinner, dark wings, dark words. Except the bad news comes on horseback, not bird leg, because Catelyn’s crazy sister Lysa has sent a message that the Lannisters murdered her husband John Arryn, the former Hand of the King, and here is the once piece of news that gets the ball rolling for so many events to come. We also hear the first bit of the story of what happened to Ned’s father and older brother. “A different time, a different king.” So much past history, mystery and intrigue?
A Dothraki wedding. Lots of outdoor sex and people fighting to the death for fun. Quite the party! Also the first time we get to see the dragon eggs for the first time. I still wonder how Magister Illyrio Mopatis came upon those eggs? And we meet Sir Jorrah Mormont of Bear Island. What is he doing so far away from home one wonders…
Meanwhile, back at Winterfell, the the men are all off on a boar hunt and Bran is up to his wall climbing shenanigans when he spies, with his little eyes, the Queen and her twin brother behaving quite poorly in an old tower. And here we are, at the moment that solidified my love of this show (and also, incidentally, sent me straight to the bookstore for Book One of a Song of Ice and Fire). “The things we do for love” and out the window Bran goes. The show runners, and indeed Mr. Martin himself, have the biggest balls ever, to end the very first episode of this epic tale by shoving a little kid out a window. But there you have it folks. Winter is Coming and no one is safe.