Dun dun dun dun duh duh duh! The Game of Thrones theme tune doesn’t come across that well in text form does it? It’s been 5, almost 6, years/seasons since we first heard that awesome tune and were introduced to the many characters and locales of Game of Thrones and if you are A Song Of Ice And Fire book reader like me it was great to see the characters we had read about be portrayed magnificently (for the most part) onscreen. Every couple of weeks my blog will focus on a past season of the show up until season 6 airs in late April; I’ll re-watch each season and give a mini review/ geek out session/ general spoilery thoughts. With this being the first entry in this series let’s revisit the very first season of Game of Thrones.
What makes the first season unique is that it is the only season to have a protagonist. Yes, season 1 does still follow a large cast of characters from around the seven kingdoms and beyond but upon a re-watch Ned Stark is 100% the main character. A protagonist is needed for a first season and Ned was perfect. He’s one of the few wholly good guys and maintains his nobility throughout while being a relatable character for the audience to latch on to. We see a lot of the seven kingdoms and characters through Ned’s eyes and along with Ned the audience discovers the secrets and conspiracies those characters are involved in. It’s a perfect storytelling device which allows the audience to take in a lot of new information at a fairly speedy pace. Of course that kind of device was only needed to introduce us to the world of GOT and so Ned was quickly killed to end this introductory season. The death of Ned Stark is one of the biggest moments of GOT in general, let alone the first season. Upon re-watch it loses none of its intensity and is still a powerful moment mainly due to the scene’s expert writing and direction.
When watching the first few episodes again it struck me just how weird it was to see all of the characters together (and alive). It was odd to see Jon Snow interact with Rob and Bran because this is the only time in the show he does; he leaves to join the Night’s Watch in episode 2. Jon Snow’s interactions with certain characters are some of my favourite scenes in season 1 whether it’s his touching scenes with Arya or his scenes with Tyrion about wearing insults like armour so they can never hurt him. I hope Jon and Tyrion meet up again at some point. Jon Snow’s parentage is brought up in the first couple of episodes with Ned stating he will tell him about his mother when they meet again which obviously doesn’t happen. I’m surprised the issue of Jon Snow’s parentage is a big thing for watchers of the show because this is the only time it’s brought up in the show as opposed to the books where it is mentioned a lot. Similarly I’m annoyed at the lack of presentation of the Azor Ahai theory in the show.
Arya is as awesome as ever in season 1 but I forgot about how annoying Sansa was early on before she realized Joffery was such a little prick. She’s insulting to both Septa Mordane and her father who buys her a present only for her to throw it back in his face but at least at the season’s end we are beginning to see Sansa change into the character we grew to love. Other noticable character changes that were of note in the first season is that it was great to see Jaime as a tortured soul but still putting on the arrogant front that Brienne would later remove. Tyrion cements himself as a fan favourite with his humour (the confessions at the Eerie) and heartfelt recollections when he discussed his past with Tysha which not only develops his character but Tywin also. For a fairly big player in the game of thrones Tywin, brilliantly played by Charles Dance, is introduced quite late into the show but what an introduction where in episode 7 we see him lecturing Jaime while getting his hands dirty by skinning a deer.
As I mentioned earlier season 1 is an introduction and while some big events happen the season is more about getting to know characters and their motives. The politics is probably my favourite thing about GOT and it was introduced very well in episode 3 with the introduction of Littlefinger and Varys and the council meeting in which we learn so much about the characters. The politics could have been Star Wars prequel level bad and so praise has to be given to the writer’s and George RR Martin to the fact it works so well.
Game of Thrones wouldn’t be the same without some big character deaths and season 1 doesn’t disappoint. I’ve already mentioned Ned but another big one is King Robert. He had to die to move the story along to a point where the titular game of thrones could start but it was still a big event and part of me wishes that Mark Addy could of somehow stayed in the show because he was just so good as Robert, and if you haven’t see The Full Monty check it out for another great Mark Addy performance. Another surprising death is Viserys who had to go at some point to allow Daenarys her development to become a strong character who we could see as a Queen but I’m still shocked he was killed off in only the sixth episode with the awesome ‘golden crown’ sequence. Speaking of Daenarys I do think she developed a little too quickly from the shy girl in the first episode to the strong defiant Khaleesi we see half way through the season.
One thing I liked more on the re-watch was the relationship between Khal Drogo and Daenarys. It starts out basically as rape but develops into something genuinely sweet and I completely buy Daenarys’ anguish at Drogo’s death. Also on the re-watch I picked up more references to characters, events and places that would play a part in the future of the show whether it is the wildlings mentioning Dorne or Jaime and Jory reminiscing about Thoros of Myr and his flaming sword which we will see in season 3. Also on the re-watch the scene with Robb, Catelyn and Walder Frey takes on a whole new tone when we have seen what will eventually happen between the three of them on that fateful wedding day.
Just some random final thoughts now that I can’t seem to squeeze in anywhere else. Jorah Mormont is a total badass as usual and it was interesting hearing of his betrayal of Deanarys and his change of heart after seeing the consequences of such actions in seasons 4 and 5. The set of The Wall and Castle Black is great, as is the introduction of the White Walkers. Nice seeing Barristan Selmy be the leader of the King’s Guard before he has his awesome exit, “Melt it down and add it to the others”, and joins up with Daenarys in season 3. And finally it was interesting to see Varys secretly support Deanarys even though that won’t come up again until season 5.
What are your favourite season 1 moments? Let me know in the comments and geek out with me about Game of Thrones on Twitter @kylebrrtt. Like, Subscribe and why not have a look at all the awesome stuff on the site like the many podcasts and blogs. I’ll be back next week so come back then for some more First Time Writing