A long, nine-month wait for the return of Game of Thrones ended with maces and shields smashing together with glorious clamour. All for the entertainment of a boy-king absolutely drunk with the power of the Iron Throne sitting patiently under his lanky, undeserving rear. Patiently, in wait, for numerous contenders ready to raze the world for a chance at it.
An opening image is everything in the cinematic art, even for an episode, or better still a season of television. What does the Hound’s crushing defeat of another soldier tell us about this new season to come? What tone does this scene set for the year?
Bloody fucking contest. Orchestrated violence. Unequal rivals set against one another. The paramount nature of power? A king getting whatever he wants, no matter how he laid claim to the crown.
Littlefinger reminded our good Eddard Stark last year that succession hardly mattered, when Ned pushed for Stannis to claim his elder brother’s throne. After all, Robert took it with Ned’s help by taking it by force from the Mad King. Right, wrong, whatever it was, it was Robert’s throne, and he knew it, even if he bankrupted the realm, and whored and drank his way to an early grave proving it.
Power! A lesson not lost on Joffrey, who writers Weiss and Benioff remind us quickly with their opening scene, is enraptured by power and misusing it grossly. And that he should be justly hated for it.