Ok, here we go.
As I said last week, I have been tasked with writing a column on Game of Thrones – under protest. As someone who’s never been particularly interested in the fantasy genre and eschews popular culture with a vengeance, I was, to say the least, daunted by the prospect. Still and all, I am fully aware that GoT is a phenomenon that deserves acknowledgement and commentary from this site.
In my opening piece, I listed my general impressions of what the show is about, just stuff that I picked up from the ether. They were as follows:
- Everyone looks like they’re cold.
- Everyone is white…like liquid paper white.
- Maisie Williams looks like Isaac from Children of the Corn.
- It reminds me of Dungeons and Dragons – I hated Dungeons and Dragons.
- There are too many moving parts, too many characters to keep track of.
- Peter Dinklage is probably the coolest character on the show.
- I’m sure there’s a large and kindly oaf who is there for comic relief and to be the best friend/protector of the main protagonist.
- I’m sure he dies at some point.
- Maybe he’s not a kindly oaf – but a childhood friend.
- He still dies.
- There might be one magical negro.
- There’ll definitely be a damsel in distress who winds up locked in a castle.
- She’ll eventually turn into a warrior.
- All the nudity and sex I’ve been promised will give me a giant soft-on.
- Kit Harrington looks like a constipated lion cub.
So after binge watching Season 1, I am here to report that I was right about quite a few of them.
Everyone does look cold, most everyone is white, there are indeed a lot of moving parts, Peter Dinklage is the coolest character, there was a damsel in distress who turns out to be a warrior – or what they refer to as a khaleesi – and Kit Harrington does look like a constipated lion cub.
All that being said…I fucking loved it.
Though I will say, the first couple of episodes were a tough slog. Establishing a world as grand as the ‘seven kingdoms’ is no easy task. The groundwork had to be properly laid out. It was all a bit tedious but I’m glad I stuck with it because once it started rolling I found myself completely engrossed. As I predicted there are a lot of moving parts and intersecting plot lines. At its root, it’s a show about the illusion of power and control and the struggle of the entitled to maintain dominion over the masses. It’s a fascinating theme and well-expressed.
Our introduction to the series is through the Stark clan who reside up in the North. The head kahuna, Lord Eddard Stark, is requested to serve as long-time friend King Robert Baratheon’s right hand man. Baratheon sits on the iron throne, ruling over the united seven kingdoms. We soon find out it is a tenuous reign – “winter is coming,” and it will be every tribe for themselves before too long.
The most pleasant surprise about GoT is its impeccable pacing. I went into it thinking the story would be bogged down by the sheer number of players involved, but it turned out that the opposite was true. By having so many disparate and well-fleshed out characters, the viewer is always rewarded with something new just around the corner. The writing is superb and deliciously free of political correctness. It’s a rollicking adventure, full of action, intrigue and gratuitous sex. There’ve been other shows that have attempted this type of epic, Rome springs to mind, but this is the first time I’ve seen it executed with such a sublime deftness.
So what happens? A shit-ton. Baratheon dies, leaving Eddard Stark to maintain control…he loses his head over the attempt. Baratheon’s queen is involved in an incestuous relationship with her twin brother, resulting in the devil spawn that is Joffrey. After Robert Baratheon’s death – killed in a boar hunt – Joffrey takes control of the Iron throne. He is a psychopathic, inbred monster subject to his nefarious impulses. Then there’s the imp (Peter Dinklage) Joffrey’s uncle who rises from his clan’s drunken, whore mongering embarrassment to its greatest strategist. When Eddard loses his head, it becomes an all-out war throughout the lands with every tribe jockeying for position. It is the ‘game of thrones’ – tallyho! Along the way, we meet the beautiful Daenerys Targaryen of the dragon clan. She is forced by her brother to marry the Khal (leader) of the Dothraki – a savage tribe known for their supremacy in the raping and pillaging department. Ultimately after the death of her husband, she becomes the leader of her people – or Khaleesi.
Then there are the adorable baby dragon, the white wlakers, the direwolves, the scheming eunuch, the Red witch, the northern wall, the gorgeous breasts…ahem. It’s really just way too much to break down. So I’ll just wrap it up thusly. Season one ends with the seven kingdoms still in turmoil. Who will ultimately rule – I have no idea. So far the episodes have been a feast of gorgeous cinematography, brilliant dialogue, and flawless editing. The acting is committed and un-self conscious. There’s always a great risk, with this type of story, of cheese and silliness. There’s none of that here. It’s a hearty tale told with gusto and occasional levity — and I’m all in, baby!
It’s a rollicking adventure, full of action, intrigue and gratuitous sex.