Winter Done Come: Game of Thrones Review

For those who are unfamiliar with George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series, I can see how the first episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones could be disorientating. You’re being introduced to a lot of characters and hierarchy in just a short hour. But for fans of the series, I think the consensus is that they knocked it out of the park – even improving on some of Martin’s tedious exposition. I got into the series not too long ago and it’s one helluve ride. Thrones, the first book in the series, is essentially a sword and sandal soap opera that is more about political intrigue and power plays than clashing steel.

Thrones is set on the continent of Westeros, home of the Seven Kingdoms. These are ruled over by King Robert Baratheon, a man who has grown drunk and lethargic since taking the throne. He travels north to the Winterfell, a city lorded over by Eddard (Ned) Stark with his wife Catelyn, two daughters, two sons, and bastard son. Robert asks Ned to take his place at King’s Landing as the King’s Hand – a title that entails overseeing the day-to-day politics of Westeros such as finance and whatnot. The former Hand has mysteriously died of a fever.

Also in the mix are the pseudo-albino Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen, the last remaining members of the royal bloodline that Robert and Ned destroyed years before. The rodent-faced Viserys sees himself as the true king of Westeros, so he sells his reluctant younger sister Daenerys off to the lord of the barbarous Dothrakis. As a return favor, Viserys is promised rule over the Dothraki army to help reclaim his throne.

Also in the mix are lots an lots of naked women. Martin’s novel is full of detailed sex scenes and when people aren’t having it, they’re talking about it. I felt uneasy reading these parts at first because they involve underage girls and incest. But it’s all in good fantasy novel fun, right guys? *tugs on collar*

So we’re basically introduced to four different “houses” in the first hour – lots to take in. Thankfully almost everyone in the cast stands out; making each character memorable. The last time I saw Sean Bean not brandishing a sword was in 2009’s Red Riding 1974. Glad he’s back in the saddle (literally!) because he was made to play Ned Stark. He’s got the eyes for it. They light up when he’s watching his children practice archery and they glaze over with gloom when he is forced to discuss politics. Spot on casting there.

The bastard son Jon Snow (Kit Harington) is so far my favorite character in the book. He doesn’t get a lot of screen time in the first episode, but, like all of the Stark children, his story takes some great turns so I really look forward to seeing that. We of course see that tragic turn that befalls Bran Stark at the end of this episode and there is plenty more to come for the daughters Sansa and Arya. Another perfect casting choice is Peter Dinklage as the whoring, silver tongued imp Tyrion Lannister. He’s basically Brando with dwarfism.

With that final scene of Bran stumbling upon what Thrones is all about (see: incest, backstabbing, murder), I’d say we’re fucking ready to do this. As a fan of the series, I’ll try to tone down my enthusiasm but I will say that I got goosebumps during the entire “prologue.” HBO really nailed this. Beautiful cinematography and production design drenched in detail await us all! Winter has come!

This review originally appeared on the Mishka Bloglin, son.