A secret threatens to send the Seven Kingdoms into all out war.
Game of Thrones starts with a snowy ambush of some rough men by things that we don’t understand. And if you haven’t read the book the HBO show is based on things get tougher from here on in. The show adapts a very dense book with no apologies and very little exposition. Again if you haven’t read the source of the show you might have to watch episodes more than once and even then only realize somethings many episodes later. While that might seem tough, it’s refreshing to see a show that just does shows you a story without interjecting what you are seeing. It reminds me of the first time I saw Star Wars, the characters just did what they did and I was peering into their world without regard to my voyeurism.
What happens after that snowy assault sets up many things to come. The lone survivor is caught by a hearty and good man, Lord Eddard Stark (Sean Bean). Will, the deserter, belongs to a group called the Night’s Watch that mans an enormous wall to keep unwanted things out of the southern Seven Kingdoms. Unfortunately for Will being part of the Night Watch is for life and desertion is punishable by death. Lord Stark unhappily administers the sentence to show his sons that it will one day be their responsibility to stand behind the things that must be done even if they are unpleasant. This lesson will become very important because unbeknownst to the honourable Starks, the Kingdoms are about to come to a cross-road.
The King’s Hand, a man-at-arms, has just died. Some feel their was foul play. And the fat, dark-haired King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) has travelled all the way from the south to see his old war buddy Lord Stark. But the King hasn’t travel half a continent just to relive war stories, though there are some great stories. Like how the King usurped the throne from the Targaryen Dynastry because the Targaryen King’s mad son abducted Robert’s true love and Eddard’s sister. Or that Robert’s Queen’s brother killed the Targaryen king while he was part of the old king’s elite bodyguard. And don’t forget that along with coming back from war Eddard brought a bastard son, Jon Snow (Kit Harington), to his household. Strange thing we never really find out about Jon Snow’s origins other than vagaries.
No, the King has come to ask his old and trusted friend to come down to the capital and help him reign in the court. Roberts’ blonde queen, Cersei Lannister (Lena Hedley), has brough most of her fair-haired siblings to the north. Her handsome brother and head of the King’s guard, Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), and her outcast dwarf brother, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage). Unbeknownst to anyone Cersei and Jamie have an incestuous affair going on, which Lord Stark’s youngest, Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright), accidentally comes across while climbing his own castle walls. For his trouble he’s given a push an a three-story drop that leaves him with a slight memory loss and no use of his legs. And that’s when you realize this isn’t broadcast TV with some swearing and nudity thrown in, like a lot of premium cable shows.
Lord Stark must obey his Lord even though he has no wish to go to the capitol. And the journey down south shows how capricious Cersei and her blond son, Joffrey (Jack Gleeson), can be. Robert and Eddard have betrothed Joffrey and Eddard’s eldest daughter, Sansa (Sophie Turner), to be married. And Sansa falls under the sway to the Lannisters in court even before arriving there.
Across the sea, the youngest son of the Targaryen King and his sister live on the graces of others. Viserys Targaryen (Harry Lloyd) is called the Beggar King, as he has no money and no kingdom. But he so wants the Seven Kingdoms back so much that he basically sells his innocent sister, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), to a horse lord called Drogo (Jason Momoa). Viserys thinks he can use his sister’s body to get the brutish Khal of the Dothraki to invade and retake his homeland. Daenerys is given some dragon eggs as a wedding present. They are very pretty and expensive, but dragon’s have faded into fable as one hasn’t been seen in a very long time. Did, I mention the symbol of house Targaryen is a dragon. Daenerys and Drogo eventually fall in love and find her ambitious brother very irritating. And for his trouble, the Beggar King finally gets his crown of gold… in liquid form with fatal side effects. Daenerys’s son is supposed to rule the world, but instead her husband is fatally wounded while making his way back to the Seven Kingdoms to put his wife back on the throne. A witch promises to take a bit of life from her unborn child and save her husband, but instead curses both to death. After killing the witch Daenerys walks through the funeral pyre for her husband with her wedding gifts, the dragon eggs, but is not consumed in the fire. Instead a naked Daenerys, reborn of fire, is clad in newly hatched dragons.
Meanwhile down at King’s Landing, Lord Stark finds the court to be even worse than he thought. Everyone is self-interested and finding out each other’s secrets to use as leverage. When Eddard starts looking at what got his old friend and the previous Hand of the King dead, he comes across a bunch of clues that don’t add up until his own daughter points her betrothed Joffrey’s beautiful blond hair. Then Lord Stark realizes the Barathons and all Robert’s bastard have dark hair yet all his children are blond. Yes, all of Robert’s children are actually Jaime’s children. And foolishly he confronts the Queen and tells her to leave and take her children so they all won’t be executed for treason. Unfortunately Robert is out and has a hunting accident and its Lord Stark who ends up getting framed for treason.
Up at the wall, Jon Snow is trying to fit in, but the Night’s Watch isn’t what it used to be. Mostly made up of criminals trying to escape the noose or axe, it is an unruly mob of time wasters. Rob attracts a group of men who are loyal to him because he is loyal to them. When it comes time for placement in the different branches, Jon is upset he to be a steward to the Lord of the wall. He is unaware that he is actually on the fast track to leadership. At least someone in the Seven Kingdoms recognizes quality men and rewards them for it. But there are indeed strange things going on around the wall. And word that his father has been arrested for treason test Jon’s oath to the Night Watch. His friends keep him true and he focusses on keep the south safe from the Others.
Back at the Stark’s home in Winterfell, the eldest son, Robb (Richard Madden), starts to build and army to take on the new King Joffrey. Their intent is to release his father. Robb marches and meets the armies of Joffrey’s grandfather the very powerful Lord Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance). Rob proves to be a formable opponent and outmaneuvers a large army and takes Jaime prisoner. Back at King’s Landing King Jffrey shows why a teenaged boy shouldn’t have absolute power. After confessing to treason and asking for mercy, Joffrey goes against all advise even from his mother to show a point. Eddard Stark will be executed and his head stuck on traitor’s gate. That action upsets everyone on both sides and now the disturbance in the north is an actual war.
Renly Barathon, the king’s brother finds out that Joffrey is not the King’s son and proclaims himself the true heir. Robb Stark is called the King of the North. Lord Tywin sends his dwarf son who he releases is one of his best assets to reign in his out of control grandson. All this and Robert Barathon’s other brother is about to enter the picture as another claimant to the throne.
But really, go and get the discs and watch the show if you haven’t already. It’s entertainment for adults that doesn’t dumb anything down or pull any punches. It’s like the love child of Lord of the Rings and Rome and it needs to be seen to be truly appreciated.