Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Game of Thrones: "Winter is Coming"

I've started watching Game of Thrones.  I'm only six years, 4 months, and 25 days late to the party.

After years of enduring fawning posts all over social media regarding this show, I've decided that it's something I should look in to.  I generally enjoy medieval fantasy, but being too cheap to get HBO, this one has passed me by.  I decided last week I should probably check this out, and I had several people offer up their DVD sets of the first 6 seasons.  Because, you know, the best thing about fandom is spreading fandom, so I accepted the sets from my stepmother in exchange for the first 4 seasons of the DOCTOR WHO reboot.  (Which reminds me, I should check in with her and see if she's watched any yet.)

So, last Saturday, I tucked in for Season 1, Episode 1:  "Winter is Coming".  I've managed to avoid most spoilers for the series in general.  The biggies, like the Red Wedding and death and resurrection of Jon Snow were impossible to miss, but I'm virginal for the most part.  (Huh, first time in a while that I could say that.)

SYNOPSIS (The short, short version):  A patrol spots what they think are White Walkers. We meet the Starks. The sole survivor of the patrol is executed for deserting the Night Watch after the encounter, but relates the sighting of the Walkers, which is dismissed.  The Starks find direwolf puppies.  Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, dies of fever, and Queen Cersei asks her brother Jamie Lannister if he gave out "dangerous" information abotu the siblings before his death.  Jamie states that anyone hearing the secret would have been executed by now.  Ned Stark receives notice of the death of Arryn, and that King Baratheon and family are en route to Winterfell.  Across the sea in Pentos, Viserys Targaryen is preparing to marry his sister Daenerys off to Kal Drogo, leader of the Dothraki in order to use his troops to wage war and claim the throne from Baratheon.  The King and his family arrive in Winterfell, where the King asks Ned to be the new Hand of the King, as he is the only one he can trust.  He also suggests that his son Joffrey be married to Ned's daughter Sansa.  We meet Tyrion Lannister, the younger brother of Cersei and Jamie, who also happens to be a dwarf.  After a particularly uncomfortable dinner party (for everyone save the King), Ned receives a notice that Arryn was murdered.  He agrees to go back to King's Landing as the new hand.  In order to watch his father leave, Ned's youngest son Bran climbs to the top of an old tower where he comes across Cersei and Jamie having sex.  In order to keep the secret, Jamie pushes Bran out the window.

INITIAL THOUGHTS:  World building is boring, you guys.  But, you need to set the ground rules of your story's universe before you can go on telling tales in it.  I had a little difficulty holding my attention to the show, but I'm sure it will pick up within the next few episodes.

MY HERO:  Tyrion Lannister.

Debauched characters are always fun.  But Tyrion carries a sense of worldliness and dignity that was immediately endearing.  His speech to Jon Snow about being a bastard is a prime example.

THESE IS DICKS:  Jamie Lannister and Viserys Targaryen

Really just about every member of the Lannister family (save Tyrion, though he has moments) is dicks.  Jamie wins due to his smug nature and attempt to kill 10-year-old Bran Stark to hide the fact that he's slipping his sister (and queen) the high hard one.  Viserys comes off as a spoiled little shit who didn't get what he wanted for his birthday, so he is going to sacrifice everyone (including his dear sister, who actually exhibits signs of an abuse victim through most of this episode) to get it for himself.  I'm hoping for a spectacularly messy death for this asshole.

FORESHADOWING, MAYBE?  The slaughtered stag and direwolf.  Because this show stars Sean Bean, and Sean Bean always dies.  And I know little shithead Joffrey becomes King at some point.  So, I guess maybe not "maybe".  Upgrade to definitely.  Also the dragon eggs for Daenerys.  I already know about the "Mother of Dragons" stuff, so again, not maybe.

IN CONCLUSION:  It's tough to go back and watch a series clean after virtually every other punter in the western world has already seen it and posted about it endlessly.  That being said, I'm happy to finally see the story behind these big events that everyone seems get off about.  However, this was a little dull.  First episodes are tough, and I expect the next several to be in the same vein.

NEXT UP:  "The Kingsroad".  Whenever I get around to it.