A Year Of Thrones: Game of Thrones Season 1

This year I resolved to read George R. R. Martin‘s A Song of Ice and Fire and watch HBO’s Game of Thrones, both series. For all of you who have seen the entire series and/or read all the books, here is your chance to experience it for the first time all over again!

If you haven’t seen the series, there will be spoilers as we go along. If you have seen it, I’d love to hear what you think in the comments, but please, please, please, don’t spoil future seasons or books for me.

Why I Chose it: I had tried watching the series a few times and only ever reached the half-way point of the first season. Then I was in Calgary visiting my friend, and she wanted to watch Game of Thrones. I was curious to see it, and it was fantastic. I had to know everything that happened. But I’m not just satisfied with the TV show. I love to know all the details from the books too. I expect this is going to be a momentous task, and I hope I’m up for the challenge.

Game of Thrones: Season 1

I’d like to comment first on the characters that stood out for me, the things I loved or didn’t love in specific episodes, and end with a few summarizing thoughts.

Characters

Eddard Stark: Probably the only reason I had any interest in watching Game of Thrones to begin with was that Eddard Stark was being played by Sean Bean. I’m a fan. Probably the reason I stopped watching half-way through was because Eddard Stark was going to die (because of course Sean Bean had to die, all his characters die). I think of him as an instigator. Though his involvement is due to the death of John Arryn, Eddard’s actions really are what stirs up all the conflict. He couldn’t last, and in all honesty, I’m not sure I particularly care about him one way or the other, except for the fact that he is a father and his death has serious implications for his children.

Arya Stark: She has to be one of my favorites. I adore her spark, her fierceness, and her need for more in life than needle-point. I love her relationship with Jon Snow, that there is a connection there that she doesn’t have with her other siblings. She has an affinity with those who don’t fit into the social norms. My heart breaks for her when she witnesses her father’s death.

Sansa Stark: For a good part of the season, I really, really couldn’t stand her. I know you can’t have two daughters in the family that fight expectations, and it would only be natural for Sansa to want pretty things and to get married and do needle-point and be a lady. But the moment Joffrey showed his true colors, I was on her side. She has a quiet, powerful, sense of survival that I’m not sure Arya has.

Tyrion Lannister: Also one of my favorites. I think he is probably the best, most complete character, so far (though dare I say Sansa has the potential for great depth that I hope gets mined). He is witty, he is smart, and I adore smart characters. But I think the two lines he says that won me over to him were the following, both to Jon Snow:

  • Early on, when the King’s arrival is being celebrated at Winterfell, Tyrion says to 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.” Crucial advice to the character? I expect so. Snow is, after all, a bastard, and therefore without a real place in the Stark family or anywhere. But I also love the line because it is great advice to anyone, especially for those who have been, or are being, bullied. Embrace who you are, what you are, and people can’t use it against you.
  • The second line is on the road to The Wall where Jon is to become a brother of the Night’s Watch. Jon asks Tyrion why he reads so much. In a world where war is a constant threat, Tyrion understands his part, and it is not to weird a sword and so he must have a sharp mind. “A mind needs books like a sword needs a whet stone.” Now perhaps it’s because I’m a writer, and I love books so much, but I cannot argue with this logic. I wish more people in our own day and age believed knowledge could be as powerful, or more, than a weapon.

Joffrey Baratheon: Is a vile little shit, and I hope he dies a painful death.

Daenerys Targaryen: Her story was one of the reasons I stopped watching the series the first few times. I got tired of the raping and killing, and especially the raping of Daenerys, first by her brother, and then by Khal Drogo. It infuriates me that all too often the disastrous toll such a thing takes on a girl is not taken into account, but rather this is used as a plot device to “make the woman stronger” while also using the excuse of, “that’s what was done back in the middle ages.” Having said that, I do love Daenerys Targaryen. She is the Mother of Dragons, and I hope that is what makes her strong and powerful throughout the series.

The Episodes

Episode 1: Winter is Coming

Wow. Way to start with the raping and nudity. I remember seeing a sketch on Saturday Night Live where a pubescent boy was credited for making Game of Thrones so amazing because he thought every scene should have more boobs, so they added more boobs, and everyone was praising this kid’s genius. It’s not my thing. I’m not opposed to nudity, it just seems excessive. Is it wrong that I kind of like Jamie Lannister’s heartlessness when he pushes Bran off the window ledge?

Episode 2: The Kingsroad

I loathe Joffrey. That is all.

Episode 3: Lord Snow

I adore Eddard Stark for allowing his daughter to take up sword fighting.

Episode 4: Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things

This is probably one of my favorite and least favorite episodes. I like that Daenerys is embracing her role as the Khaleesi and shutting up her asshat of a brother. I love the compassion Jon Snow shows to Samwell Tarly. Arya’s just adorable with her “Water Dancing” lessons. I enjoy a good joust, but the death of Hugh of the Vale, with all the blood spurting, could have ended a lot sooner. We got the point. That almost made me turn it off, again. Though my favorite moment is when Catelyn Stark, at an inn on the road back to Winterfell, calls on the loyalty of the men to help her arrest Tyrion Lannister for the attempted murder of Bran. It’s a beautiful moment.

Episode 5: The Wolf and the Lion

Eddard Stark getting stabbed in the back is low, and this is where, I believe the first time I watched the series, I said I was done. Sean Bean is going to die. Don’t really care about the rest. I am inclined again to not continue. It isn’t like I don’t know what’s going to happen. I mean, maybe not specifics, but of course there will be twists and turns and betrayal. It wouldn’t be called Game of Thrones if that weren’t the case. I’m not particularly invested in any character, and there is excessive violence and nudity. But I resolved to persist, so I shall continue on.

Episode 6: A Golden Crown

Bran’s joy when he gets to ride again with his new saddle, made just for him, is infections. “Woooo! Woooohooooo!” Theon Greyjoy is a prick. I’d seen it earlier, but it’s really starting to come out now. Catelyn’s sister, Lysa, is truly mad, as is her son. Definitely not sorry about Viserys dying.

Episode 7: You Win or You Die

I think that we all suspected Joffrey was Jamie’s kid, not King Robert’s, when we all saw Jamie and Cersei together in the first episode. Still, I appreciate Eddard’s finesse in writing Robert’s last words to say “True Born Heir” rather than “Joffrey.” King Robert was a bit insufferable, and I’m not sorry to see him go, but now that means Joffrey’s going to be king, whatever Eddard Stark does, and that pains me greatly. When does Joffrey die? He dies right? Don’t answer that! And I can’t help but want to quote Wash from Firefly in when he says “Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!”

Episode 8: The Pointy End

I’m beginning to feel for Sansa, being stuck with Joffrey, without her father, without her mother, really having no one but herself to rely on.

Episode 9: Baelor

Poor Arya! I blame Cersei for Joffrey…

Episode 10: Fire and Blood

I don’t think the death of Eddard Stark, or the dragon’s eggs hatching, or Jon’s debate about joining Robb at war, come as any surprise. It is well set up, and definitely sets the scene for season 2. Does it make me want to continue on? I have developed some investment in Arya and Sansa for sure. I am interested to see how Sansa will survive the Lannisters, and how Arya will survive the loss of her father. Daenerys still has probably one of the most clear-cut character paths, but I am interested to see how she carries it out. And there are dragons! You can’t go wrong with dragons!

General Thoughts

I’m glad I persisted. Not every episode had a specific highlight for me, but in general, the setting, the costuming, and the writing is spectacular. The first half of the season really was a set up for the second half, and I get the feeling it was intentionally extra bloody and rapey as a means of drawing in viewers. I don’t know what that says about those of us who watch it. It was still bloody and rapey, but the creators of the show struck a better balance so that it wasn’t excessive, which allowed for greater character development and storytelling.

Next up, Book 1: A Game of Thrones!

 

11 Comments

  • Ron Edison January 5, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    Love your assessment of Joffrey!

    Reply
  • Shara White January 5, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    I love your commentary of Sansa. That poor girl got so much hate the first season….

    Reply
    • Sherry Peters January 5, 2018 at 1:38 pm

      The first few episodes I really couldn’t stand her even though she was simply being who and what she was supposed to be. It makes me wonder why we tend to believe girls who are good, who want pretty things, who want to get married and have blonde babies, and one day be queen, are seen as weak and therefore to be hated. Is it because those things are all traditionally feminine? Surely Sansa’s mother wanted the same things for herself and for her daughters, otherwise (I assume) she would not have married Eddard Stark, nor approved of the betrothal of Sansa to Joffrey, and Catelyn is anything but weak. Clearly my brain is still churning on this one. Because those are the reasons I didn’t like Sansa. Is it ingrained misogyny? Or is it that women have fought so long and hard to be seen as equal to men: just as strong and tough and warriors, than traditional femininity is so loathed? Do we fear that accepting such traditionality in a person takes away our own, and their own, empowerment? Hmmmm….

      Reply
      • Shara White January 6, 2018 at 12:18 pm

        There is definitely a backlash against anything girly and traditionally feminine, though there shouldn’t be, so long as it’s a choice, you know? In context here, I think it’s because people like Arya and Dany so much that they see Sansa as an enemy, and plus the viewer knows from the start what a little shit Joffrey is (and his family) that we take that knowledge and ire and use it against Sansa, because she can’t see it.

        But she’s so much a teenaged girl here in the first season: of course her head is in the clouds and she doesn’t really have the ability to see beyond her dreams. Just because those dreams are traditional does not mean we should hate her (or anyone) for it. But the backlash is there because viewers/readers are tired of seeing that trope/stereotype.

        I hope that makes sense, I’m babbling.

        I meant to say, unrelated:

        1) I applaud you for liking Jaime’s heartlessness. For a lot of people, that moment was like the worst thing ever, and don’t get me wrong, it’s BAD and it’s SHOCKING and not something people expect to see in their epic fantasy, but for me, it’s a great and interesting choice because it informs so much of his character, the situation, and what we’re really getting into.

        2) See, I hated the moment Caitlyn had Tyrion arrested. Of course, I knew she was wrong in that he wasn’t responsible, but I find a lot of the actions and reactions of this show stem from people making wrong decisions because they didn’t communicate properly beforehand. They took the information that they had as truth without proper investigation, and it drives me crazy! But then again, it’s been a while since I’ve seen season one, let alone read the first book, so I had more informing my opinion of that scene. 🙂

        Reply
        • Sherry Peters January 17, 2018 at 10:18 am

          I’ve been thinking about your comment on Catelyn and Tyrion, and why I liked that scene so much. I think that even though everyone else knows Tyrion is innocent, Catelyn doesn’t. She is blinded by her grief over the attempts on her precious son’s life. She’s been told by a childhood friend, someone who still professes to love her (even though we all see he’s a slimy git), she believes she can trust Littlefinger. And so it is a powerful moment for her, because she is calling for the loyalty of the men in that tavern, calling them to be loyal to her and her family, not the Stark name. And I love that powerful moment for her, even if she is completely in the wrong.

          Reply
          • Shara White January 17, 2018 at 12:57 pm

            Good point on that. It’s so hard when the audience knows more than the characters, but in some cases in the series, that’s just not possible. So I can see it being a powerful moment from her POV.

  • Tricia Tighe January 6, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    I love your assessments! I still laugh about that SNL skit because it’s so true. The egregious nudity was what turned me off to the show at first. I had read all the books Martin had written of the series way before the show came out and thought the show went overboard at times.

    But I’m a sucker, I guess, because this past year I binge watched the entire series and had a great time. Yes, the violence and nudity/denigration of women was problematic, but I stuck around for the characters. To find out who would rise out of the muck.

    Reply
    • Sherry Peters January 17, 2018 at 10:23 am

      Now that I’ve pushed past the first six episodes, I’m with you. I’m staying for the characters. And I do love stories with intrigue and shifting loyalty.

      Reply
  • Kelly McCarty January 10, 2018 at 12:41 am

    I feel like it has been forever since I watched the first season of Game of Thrones. I stopped watching the show when it went past the books. It does seem that the nudity/sex on any HBO show is wildly over-the-top. I remember several scenes where characters randomly went to brothels to discuss plot points.

    Reply
    • Sherry Peters January 17, 2018 at 10:21 am

      Yeah, the brothel scenes. I find, in particular, the extended “whore interview” scenes entirely unnecessary to the plot. As a writer, I’m always asking myself if a scene is necessary to the plot. If it isn’t, cut it.

      Reply

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