1.01: Winter is Coming

And so begins the big re-watch. I have a plan to re-watch the entire first 2 series of Game of Thrones before series 3 starts at the beginning of April. I’ll try to remember to use a cut for the sake of anyone who’s not seen it before and is planning to.

The opening scene somehow strikes me. It always did, the gate opening slowly into the tunnel under the wall of ice, and the small company heading out through the tunnel. I’m not sure why but, well… it’s one of those things. Anyway, the company of riders is heading north on patrol and finds more than they were expecting. One gets away and runs south where he’s taken by soldiers from Winterfell and beheaded for desertion. This is another powerful scene, setting the tone for the story.

Returning from the execution, Winterfell’s Lord Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) and co find a dead dire-wolf (their house sigil) and her surviving pups. They take them in a not altogether wise move, to raise as pets.

We’re next introduced to the Gods’ Wood, and the heart tree, and learn the king is coming to town soon. It’s in the next few scenes that we’re introduced to the royal household (The Baratheons). It seems friendly on the surface but there’s obviously tension, and not all of it between the families either. Eddard takes King Robert to see his sister’s tomb while the queen’s siblings have a humorous interlude.

Meanwhile, across the sea, a very young Daenerys Targaryan is treated to some implied sexual abuse by her brother Viserys, before being given in marriage to who she sees as a barbarian, Khal Drogo of the Dothraki, in return for the promise of an army. While not as obvious as it gets later, we see that Viserys is not what you’d call a nice person. To be honest, I’d be careful about calling him a person, but that’s another thing entirely.

Back in Winterfell, Sansa Stark is worried that Prince Joffrey won’t like her. Pity she doesn’t know what he’s like really.

We meet a couple more main characters around the feast that follows. There’s a telling conversation between Jon Snow (Eddard’s bastard son) and Tyrion “All dwarves are bastards in their fathers’ eyes” Lannister. Both turn out to be strong and likeable characters later in the story.

There follows a discussion between Eddard and Caitlyn Stark about his accepting the king’s offer, and the scene fades to the wedding party for Daenerys and Drogo.

The wedding party is rather wild! “A Dothraki wedding without at least three deaths is considered a dull affair”. Among the gifts is a set of fossilised dragon eggs, which figure prominently later on. Drogo gives Daenerys a gift of her first horse, and then takes her away to consummate their union. Daenerys learns that Drogo speaks only one word of her language; “No”.

Back in Winterfell, Eddard and King Robert embark on a boar hunt. Meanwhile, Eddard’s son Bran is climbing a tower, and through a window spots Queen Cersei and her twin brother Jamie mid coitus. Jamie catches him and pushes him from the tower, where he falls and… the episode ends.

My feelings are that it’s a very powerful start to the story and gets you hooked right away. Certain people are obviously being tabled as the baddies of at least this part of the tale. It’s easy to feel sorry for Daenerys, for example or for Bran. Most of the kids seem bratty at best, and the royal party, (apart from the king) seem cold if not dark from the beginning.  I’ve seen this episode a lot, so I’m not sure I picked up anything new this time round. I am sure though, that I missed something.

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