With the arrival of Season 3 tomorrow (the only reason I regret getting rid of my TV), here’s a look back at Season 1 – the season where our jaws dropped, we got hooked and an astounding new series made its claim on primetime and the internet.
The Opening Titles:
One of the most eye-catching and creative opening titles to a TV show along the lines of Carnivale and Dexter, where the titles almost seem to represent a character in itself: the setting for all the stories. With it’s pop-up book like models it’s a great way to get geared up for an episode. Also – who doesn’t sing along to the music in the beginning?
The Opening Scene with the Wight:
Considering these first 5-10 minutes is our very first introduction to the entire series, it works almost like a short film. Incredible atmosphere, scenery, a small power dynamic happening within the three men, and the scariest goddamn monster – demon child with blue eyes! Hellspawn! Devil brood! Gripping, gets your heart right in your throat and just awesome.
Anything with Tyrion:
Does this have to be explained? Tryion ranks as probably the highest fan favourite character in the entire series for his wit, his scheming, lacerating tongue and refusal to ever step down and act the inferior person as everyone else treats him. He is the master at slapping a man down with just words. So he could easily fill up a list of top ten Tyrion moments, but that’s not what we’re here for today.
My favourite Game of Throne Moments (Season 1)
…in no particular order!
Grand Maester Pycelle
The great thing about watching Season One, especially as someone who had never read the books and was coming to this all new, was that every episode had a moment in it, usually at the end, that made you scream “HOLY FUCK WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?” And I think after this moment with Pycelle, completely without dialogue, I was slack-jawed and internally screaming “You magnificent bastard! You absolutely magnificent bastard!”
The Beard is strong in this one.
Because all throughout the series you have a horde of characters whose motivations you don’t know, whose schemes and actions you’re trying to puzzle out, and then when you think you have at least some of the back-stabbing machinations figured out – the show drops another bombshell on you. WITHOUT a single word uttered and in just a minute.
Pycelle, the bumbling, dementia-addled major domo of the King’s court kind of falls under the radar in the previous episodes. You regard him with a little suspicion, because you learn to regard everything as suspect, but this silent moment with him as he bids Roz the exposition whore good day and then proceeds to go through a small series of exercises and stretches – you realize his doddering old fool has been an act right from the beginning.
Everyday Pilates with your favourite Maester
And they drop this shit on you in the last episode of the season,
Amongst other things…
immediately leaving more questions than answers. Who is this old fuck? What pies has his fingers been in? (apart from the redhead) How much of this has he been a part of or knew about? OH MY GOD MY BRAIN IS MELTING.
The Dosh Khaleen ceremony (Dany eats a heart)
Ahh, Daenerys Targaryean….moon-calf, wide-eyed, frightened little sparrow with enough vowels in her name to steal the grand prize at Wheel of Fortune. Naw, I’m kidding – Daenerys is awesome and this scene cements her development and acceptance of being a queen.
This scared, wan, waif of a girl has to make the transition to becoming a fearsome, strong leader and the Dosh khaleen ceremony is where we see the culture and people she’s grown to love rather than fear, love her back.
It’s a beautiful image too…in a grotesque, abattoir-ish way, with Dany’s pale skin and silver hair starkly set up against the dark, red-brown blood smearing her face. The sound design is also great for this too, the squelching as she bites into this massive fucking blood pudding makes your toes curl. It makes one feel aroused…and confused…(*cough*)
I laugh at your pathetic KFC DoubleDown challenge
Most profound of all is, of course, the fierce pride on Drogo’s face as he watches intently. You see a very powerful connection still building between the two amidst this odd savagery, and I think everyone’s heart skips a beat (Ha! Pun!) when Dany retches and almost loses it on the floor.
Bitch, keep it in.
And in a weird way you’re routing for this tiny girl to keep it in, hold it down, and swallow! YEAH! (uh…again, going into weird territory). But she completes the ceremony, Drogo sweeps her up and shows her off with pride, and it’s kind of touching to see the rest of the khalasar assembled accept her and take her in as their own – because just as much as she had to learn to get over her preconceived notions of this seemingly barbaric clan, they also had to learn to get over their xenophobia and meet her halfway.
King Robert and Circe’s chat
If there were a dictionary definition for a poisonous marriage it would be accompanied with a picture of these two (or a Kardashian…or whatever, you pick your own topical gag de jour). Robert and Circe seem to follow that age old trend of hate-filled couples that remain breathing after all these years for the sole reason of sheer spite.
And this quiet moment here is in an odd way, one of the most touching exchanges between them as you see two battle-hardened veterans of pissing in the other’s cup put down their acid-filled invectives for a moment to just talk. Candidly and honestly. And a lot of hard truths are revealed about both characters: in an odd way, they respect each other, despite also being consumed with loathing for the other.
Be prepared for an imperial fisting.
I think it’s especially with this scene that you get a fairer measure of Robert than the drunk, whoring buffoon he normally is – that in a way that’s a front. You get a glimmer of the man Ned Stark saw as a brother; wise, intelligent and with his own brand of cleverness that won him the iron throne in the first place. But he’s also a bag of damaged goods, so lost in his own personal traumas that he’s hated the crown he’s won and wasted away in years of self-indulgence and self-pity.
Circe is also portrayed with a moment of vulnerability, which is probably when she’s the most interesting (though being crazier than a shit house rat is probably why we love to watch her),
That and the height of Westerosi fashion
where you also get the impression that if Robert had ever loved her or had been kind to her in their marriage, she would have turned out to be a very different woman: putting her strength, her determination and fierce loyalty to her husband. Unfortunately, his alienating behaviour put him firmly in the “not my family” camp and she becomes the bitter woman we see today. Both, inevitably, having created this horrible situation.
Which, as they said, has kept the Seven Kingdoms united for seventeen years.
Arya and Syrio / “Not Today”
One of my friends is the sort that you hide in a closet and pretend doesn’t exist when other geeks come knocking around for a game of 40K or Magic: a fantasy-hater. Hated Lord of the Rings (*sigh*), and I thought all hope was lost until she watched Game of Thrones. Her rallying cry being “I don’t care who else dies, but save the Imp and the Little Girl.”
Arya is probably the best loved of the Stark sisters (because she isn’t a self-obsessed, whiny little prat who only starts to see some character development after season one) – spunky, brave, wanting to make her own way, and Ned’s one concession to her wild behaviour is with Syrio Forel, her “dancing master”.
Seven Hells of Beatdown through Interpretive Dance
Now, I have to admit, when Syrio first appeared on screen I was scratching my head and thinking, “What the hell is up with this?” Foppish curly hair, campy Spanish accent, pouffy sleeves – you’ve got to be kidding me. And then the guy moves.
And you realize if you had ever picked a bar fight with someone thinking you could win just off the fact that their silly accent probably resulted in a limp wrist – you would have seven sorts of Spanish leather boot prints on your ass and face. This guy is GOOD. You can tell that the actor (who is a renowned Shakespearean – I’m sorry theatre gods for misjudging one of your own) has been fencing for a long time and he knows what the shit he’s doing.
So the fun back and forth between Syrio and Arya makes for some of the best scenes in King’s Landing. They have a lot of great moments and lines together (“Dead…dead…very dead”), but the one everyone remembers is when the Golden Cloaks come to take Arya away and Syrio prances around them and beats them with a wooden sword like a mad british nanny enforcing a sense of discipline. Guy’s taking on four armoured men with greatswords with a fucking stick.
“What do they put in the water in Braavos?”
But the clincher, the gut-wrencher of the scene of course comes from one of the best lines the TV show placed into canon that you don’t find in the books – “What do we say to the God of Death?” / “Not today.”
The television series has proved well capable of tackling the unwieldy 1000+ page books because they know where to cut, but best of all they know when to add in their own flavour and create memorable moments and lines all on their own.
Khal Drogo’s big speech
First things first – go youtube “maori haka” and then get back to me. Maori tongue dance also suffices. You see that? That is the manliest dance in human history that is a chest-slapping, foot-stomping fuck you of “I will eat you and turn you into my own shit”.
And Jason Momoa did that for his audition as Drogo. He could have also done Vode An (if you get that reference, I salute you).
The scene where Drogo gives his big rousing, slap your manly chest, speech is a perfect culmination of all this. Go ahead, turn the subtitles off – it just makes the scene more badass when you have no idea what this barbarian is saying except that you’re sure it involves a sore rectum, decapitated heads and your brain matter splattered against a wall from the verbal beatdown you couldn’t even understand.
Which brings me to my next point, an aspect of the Dothraki scenes in the show I think is taken for granted – the language. Actually listen to these guys: it sounds real. For the most part every time you hear Dothraki spoken it doesn’t sound like an actor just reciting lines (unlike movie Elvish – sorry Peter), it almost sounds like a weird patois of Farsi and some archaic middle eastern tongue. Doubly so impressive that you can have more than one actor who can deliver these lines with inflection and tone that seems right and real (some actors even struggle with that in English….*coughKeanucough*).
This is another scene that also paints the Dothraki as a shade beyond the barbaric: Khal Drogo has a plan in mind for his khalasar that no other Khal has done before. He has goals and ambitions for them that will take them beyond just being horse lords of a patch of grass – he wants more for his people and he’s got the massive swinging balls to pull it off (weeeeell, until….you know).
And is it just me or while he’s talking about burning villages and enslaving children and raping women, doesn’t Daenerys seem more turned on than ever?
“I WILL SHIT ON YOUR GRAVE!”
Jorah Mormont: forever in the friend zone.
Now I’m going to blast the opening theme and get ready for Season 3. DUH NUH NUH NAH DUH NUH NUH NAH!