Warning: This article contains spoilers for both season one and two of Game of Thrones.
April 2011. The hype and excitement that surrounded a new show, Game of Thrones, was unbelievably high. At the time, I didn’t know what it was and I didn’t care. I probably just passed it off as some kind of reality show or something. Of course, once I saw pictures and read some information throughout the internet, I realized just how wrong I was.
Learning that it was a medieval fantasy show only made me want to watch it less as I was not a huge fan of the genre. Superheroes, sci-fi, drama: those were more my niche. But having too much time that month, I craved anything that could help me pass the time. The first two episodes had already received excellent reviews and not every show gets renewed for a second season merely two days after its premiere. I couldn’t help it; I just had to see what it was about. And so, I decided to give it a go.
I can’t say exactly what made me like the show. While I enjoy some fantasy stories, the medieval setting should have put me off. Wars aren’t exactly the type of thing I care to see on my screen and with Game of Thrones, you just knew a war was coming at some point. Now let me get this out of the way, if I wanted to see people having sex, there are many other means to do so without having to endure an hour of drama to get there (not that I necessarily know what those means are). The nude scenes are not what drew me in. Honestly, they’re not.
I could imagine what the fans of the book might have felt as the characters and stories they loved on paper finally came to life in front of their eyes. It was surprising to me that the readers embraced this adaptation very quickly and found no major faults within it. A very impressive feat indeed, but nothing new in the fantasy genre as both the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter franchises were highly successful.
As a non-reader of the books I was at a disadvantage (or maybe an advantage?) since everything was new to me. Every twist and turn I had not seen coming and every time something big happened I’d wonder how the readers were able to keep shut about it for so long.
The actors were brilliant and the dialogues they sputtered, interesting. If nothing else, they kept me coming back each episode. Within just a few weeks I cared for each character’s fate, some more so than others.
I could go on raving about each and every person but I think it’s easier to just agree that this is one of the most perfectly cast shows, ever. Each and every actor is perfect in their role and each character is fully realized and well written.
Ned Stark appeared to be the main character, the hero of the show, and so naturally I rooted for whatever he was doing. Starting with finding the people responsible behind Bran’s crippled legs, the show branched off into many different story lines and I was excited to see what happened next. Soon i realized there was no underlying story in the show; it was just an ongoing saga. A story of people vying for power for different reasons in different ways. Frankly, I can’t see how this show/book series can actually end.
Ned Stark’s death was when it hit me, like many other fans, how bold this show actually was and how real it could be. The ‘good guy’ was dead and for that I admired the show even more. By then they already built up another ‘hero’ in Tyrion Lannister, the other person to root for even though he was with the ‘bad guys’. I think it’s fair to assume that he’s the favorite of many, in book or on screen. Peter Dinklage‘s portrayal of the clever and deceptive dwarf is perfect as he hits all the right notes every time he is on screen. His crisp delivery of dialogue had made him the star of the show once Sean Bean was gone. I for one cannot imagine this show without him. Then again, that’s probably how I felt about Ned Stark.
Let’s move across the waters now and over to Daenerys Targaryen, who along with her dragons, is ready to make her mark on King’s Landing and take back the throne.
When I saw the dragons at the end of Season 1, I was in awe. Not at the beautiful CGI or the fact that Dany was standing there stark naked, but at the fact that the show actually went there. Maybe I hadn’t been paying enough attention but it never occurred to me that the dragons would actually be real in the show. It worked extremely well and since then, everything else seemed plausible: the magic, the ‘shadow monster’, whitewalkers (once they were finally shown in all their glory in the Season 2 finale).
Despite all that, this was still not a show I geeked out about. Sure, it had some awesome cliffhangers and the stories moved in exciting new directions. It could leave a lasting impression and it was something I could randomly discuss with other people. But it still wasn’t enough, it wasn’t the type of show where I felt the need to force people to watch it for themselves. Well, not until towards the end of Season 2 anyway. That moment can be summed up in one word: Blackwater.
Blackwater was arguably the best Game of Thrones episode so far. I’m not sure if there’s one solid reason why. I’ve never read George R.R. Martin’s series so I can’t tell if it’s because he wrote the episode or maybe because the episode stayed in one location the entire time without focusing on any characters outside of King’s Landing.
The battle itself was a ton of fun to watch but the real treat however was when the episode delved more into the minds of a few characters, namely that of Joffrey, Sansa, Cersei, Stannis, the Hound, and of course, Tyrion. It was the chance to see Tyrion be a proper hero, leading the fight intellectually and physically. It showed us the true colors of Joffrey, exposing him as the selfish and coward king that we all knew he was. It explored the complicated character of Cersei who almost killed herself and her son rather than face defeat at the hands of Stannis. And perhaps my favorite, we got to see the Hound do something more than just kill people. He showed some heart as he was willing to take Sansa back to her family. By the end of it, it left me wanting more.
While we got a glimpse of what happened to everyone with the recent season finale, I can’t wait to see more in Season 3. It dawned on me that this was just the beginning, a tease. There are many more battles just waiting to happen, many other people fighting for the throne. And Stannis isn’t even done yet. We have the whitewalkers’ return and the dragons slowly growing up and getting ready to attack. All these different stories have yet to converge.
Maybe it will take a few more years for us to get there, but Blackwater was the episode that finally locked me in for the long haul and made me a proper fan.
Game of Thrones instilled within me a new found respect and admiration of the fantasy genre. With its beautiful settings and brilliant actors, the show has done much more than I expected it to do when I initially began to watch it. It surprised me. In fact, as soon as I get the chance, I plan on picking up the book and start reading it simply because I am an impatient guy and I can’t wait to know what happens next.
In short, I lose 10 hours of my life every year to this show. But you know what, it’s worth it!