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Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The Game of Thrones - Episode by episode

The end of this month will see Game of Thrones returning for a third season, and in anticipation I picked up the season two box set which came out in the UK this week. Yesterday I started on the first season which I've already seen twice (once when it was televised and then again when the box set came out) and after that I'm gonna' continue through the second season which I've only ever seen the once.

I plan to get through the two seasons before season three kicks off, which should refresh me on the happenings in the land of Winterfell and beyond, and allow me to provide a recap episode by episode here on the Archive before the third season kicks off.

Thanks to the TV series I am a true Game of Thrones addict, and have also started reading the books - if you think the TV series is good then you should try the original books. I've read the first three books and although I found the first one a little slow to start I was soon lost in the remarkable fantasy world created by George R. R. Martin, and this world's been brought to vivid life in the TV series, which may in time come to be recognized as the best TV series ever made.

 This isn't silly fantasy but an epic adult story that just happens to take place in one of the most realistic fantasy worlds ever created -I use the word realistic which may seem strange when we're often dealing with dragons and magic, but the series does strive for realism and if there was a world where dragons existed and magic was practiced then this is what that world would look like. It comes across as more medieval than made up.

I've just re-watched the first episode and so here's a recap-

The episode opens in a snowy landscape and we learn a little something about the white walkers, called the others in the books, before we cut to the Winterfell where Sean Bean rules as Eddard ‘Ned’ Stark . We learn that Ned is a close friend of King Robert Baratheon who is palyed by the Full Monty's Mark Addy. When the Hand of the King, a kind of protector of the realm, dues King Robert makes the journey to Winterfell to ask his old friend Ned to become the new Hand. It is here that that story starts to flush out and we learn a little of the four houses of Baratheon, Stark, Targaryen and Lannister and the political struggles and intrigues that go on between them. When the show first aired it was hyped as being The Sopranos meet Lord of the Rings and that's not far from the truth, but where in The Sopranos we had the four families of New York, here we have the four houses and the interplay between them provides for  compelling viewing.

We learn that the Hand of the King was in fact murdered but this only makes Ned Stark determined to take the position offered and protect his king from the unknown schemers who plot against him. We soon learn that it is the Lannisters, or rather the queen and her brother Jamie who are the chief plotters against the throne, and this first episode ends with a shock when the incredibly handsome Jame Lannister (think Shrek's Prince Charming given flesh) tosses Ned Stark's ten year old son out of a tower window after the boy witnessed Jamie making love to his own twin sister who just happens to be married to King Robert. This incestuous affair is just one of many shocks in this excellent episode that sets up the world of intrigue the viewer is asked to journey through.

Despite the constraints of a TV budget no expense has been spared in terms of location shooting , giving the series a cinematic feel. Filming took place in Northern Ireland and Malta to recreate the gloom of Winterfell and the Mediterranean feel of Essos, with a variety of other locations in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

"It’s difficult to single out the most accomplished parts of Thrones. The ambition is immense, the fantasy world exceptionally well-conceived, the writing and acting elevating the entire series beyond contemporaries like The Borgias and Camelot, and the visual appeal continues to surprise with each episode." The Hollywood Reporter.

My rating for episode 1.1 - 10/10

How could I give it any less? In the duration of a single episode it manages to introduce so many different plot elements and yet never once does it lose the viewer. Sean Bean's character is set up as the lead,the character we will all identify with and Bean's performance was wonderfully nuanced. Ned Stark is a compassionate man who nevertheless can be brutally hard when his duties dictate. The scene in this episode where Ned passes judgement on a deserter from the wall chopping his head off  is awesome- he who passes sentence should swing the sword, Ned Stark tells his young son, Bren. The lovable character who, so full of boyish mischief, is tossed to almost certain death at the end of this episode.

Next episode 1.2 - The Kingsroad.

1 comment:

Davieboy said...

This is gonna be good!
BTW The 4th and 5th books mark a bit of a change, the pace slows as many more characters and locations are unveiled. GRRM came in for some criticism after the feverish pace of the first 3 books; personally I loved them and have re-read many times as they always throw-up new stuff each time. The Master...

BTW Don't know if "Wool" by Hugh Howey (post-apocalyptic sci-fi) has hit your radar yet but it's going to be HUGE. The author was in London last week, the PR is working well, posters on the Underground, film-rights sold (Ridley Scott will likely be directing the movie). But never mind all that, bottom-line is it's a cracking read. I've bagged myself a signed special edition..
HIGHLY recommended.