Four weeks of diligent binge watching, blog writing, and scholarly annotating later, we have completed season one. The game of thrones has officially begun. I’ve been waiting for this moment since we began. Season one proves that trust will be broken and faith will be tested. Lord Eddard Stark loses his head and Khal Drogo festers away. Another son of Tywin Lannister is captured. A new mad king sits on the Iron Throne. And, of course I couldn’t forget, DRAGONS! The world we thought we knew has been turned completely upside down.
One of the most exciting elements of this process has been experiencing this show with my fellow scholars, especially those who are unsullied (first time viewers). Even the second time around, I could barely contain my horror. Just about five years ago, the Internet quaked at the fan response. The rage was most noticeable on Twitter after episode 9 and many, including myself, vowed to never watch another Game of Thronesepisode ever. Yet just one week later, according to tvbythenumbers.com, 3.04 million of us returned for the highest rated episode of the series yet. This show is really about the ride. I always try to keep this meme in mind while watching HBO’s Game of Thrones.
This week’s highlights:
Obviously, the enormous budget of Game of Thrones helps tremendously to make it a stunning series, but it’s the creative choices that really capture my attention while watching. Episode nine, “Baelor”, really stands out in terms of its audio. The most impressive scene for me is when Lord Stark confesses his treason at the Great Sept of Baelor. Joffrey denies Cersei and Sansa’s wishes to spare Lord Stark mercy and demands Ned’s head. The screams from Sansa and the roars of the unruly crowd are deafening until we focus in on Ned. The roar reduces to nothing but a dull hum. Ned’s deep and strained breathing becomes the sole focus. This contrapuntal sound creates an intimate connection between Ned and the viewer. Even the second time around, I found myself breathing heavy alongside Ned, wishing for another outcome. There must have been something that could have saved Ned.
Well, actually there was. Like Hahn discusses in his article, The Death of Lord Stark: The Perils of Idealism, Ned’s greatest mistake was his honor. Hahn believes that Ned should have never told Cersei the revelation about her children, and that “Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell died not for honor, but because of honor” (85). While this may be true, I choose not to think this way. The honor of Ned is much too precious.
It’s very similar to the way I feel about Dany. Her virtue is mercy and it is evident that Khal Drogo died because of her mercy to the witches. These virtues are what propel the series along and keep my undivided attention. While I don’t want my favorite characters to die, it may be necessary to prove that there are some things worth fighting for. Without virtuous characters like Ned and his honor, Dany and her mercy, Tyrion and his promises there wouldn’t be much for me to cling onto in the series.
This week’s lowlifes:
The lowlifes are loud and clear this week. Joffrey’s reign of terror has begun. I don’t even want to think about all that he’s about to unleash in season two.
Petyr Baelish reveals his true self as an untrustworthy snake serving no one but himself. The sexposition in episode seven, “You Win or You Lose” features an incredible monologue from Baelish that reveals much of his character, but it also goes beyond what I feel as necessary. The shows creators, Benioff and Weiss, seemed to really exploit the female characters at Baelish’s pleasure house. I think that this scene could have been more tastefully produced, as it is very hard to focus on what Baelish is saying. I’m not prudish by any means, and definitely not complaining about the nudity. I just simply feel that the visuals did not serve any purpose to the story line and felt very exploitative.
Another key lowlife charatcer is Walder Frey. Played by David Bradley, who also plays the almost equally terrifying, Argus Filch in the Harry Potter series. How perfectly, David Bradley can capture disgusting characters. Obsessed with fifteen year old girls and himself, Walder Frey is bad news. I won’t spoil anything, but Catelyn RUN!!!
Thought Provoking Theme of the Week:
Religion played a powerful role in this week’s episodes. The Old Gods were explored very heavily. Jon Snow and his brothers of the Night’s Watch recite their oath to the weirwood tree and Bran prays to the weirwood tree in Winterfell. Osha, a captured wildling, warns Bran that the Old Gods wont help down south, where his sisters and father are. It’s this opposition of old vs. new religion that intrigues me. As the series progresses there will be even more religions explored. As these begin to clash, it’s amazing to see how similar to our world and our history. I just hope that in our future, we can see days where the Earth’s people fill themselves with love and unity rather then hate and death. I’d much rather leave the latter to epic fantasy tales, like Game of Thrones.