People often ask me why I took so long to watch “Game of Thrones,” and it’s pretty simple, really. For one thing, at the time, “The Walking Dead” had premiered, and my attention was completely on its season runs, and number two: I just didn’t want to invest time in it until I understood what it was about. In the past I’d invested time in period series based on source material, and came up with no real rewards for my investment. I spent many years watching “Deadwood” only for HBO to give it the shaft and never deliver the finishing movie that we deserved. “Carnivale” bored me to tears, and despite my best efforts to dig in to the world unfolding, “The Tudors” was just a tedious droning drama that offered nothing in return. I gave up after the second season, and I never tuned in to “The Borgias.”
It’ll be a cold day in hell before I watch a period show on Showtime ever again. No thank you.
In either case, I unfortunately wrote off “Game of Thrones” as another boring period show. And again, I was wrong about it. “Game of Thrones” is one of the very few popular properties I’ve ever sat down to watch and thought to myself: “I get it.” It’s not just the astonishing set design, and fantastic special effects, it’s the brilliant cast, and excellent writing that has HBO really aiming for a long haul television run. It’s barely in to season four and HBO has already renewed it for two more seasons. And who can blame them, really?
Just when you begin episode one, “Game of Thrones” is set in such a complex and harrowing world where centuries of history have already taken place. And much like modern times, it’s based on civilizations at war with one another where its people want to believe in magic and the supernatural. That time has long come and gone, unfortunately, and all the world’s dragons and ghosts have been believed to be extinct for many centuries. This is supposed to be a world where the reality is based around kingdoms fighting for the rule of the mythical Iron Throne, and the families at war to take control of it.
The king that rules over the Iron Throne completely rules all, and thanks to a series of horrific events, the iron throne is handed over to the sadistic monster child known as Joffrey. He’s the bastard child of manipulative harpie Queen Cersei of the widely known and respected Lannister family, forced to take the throne when his father is killed during combat. There are so many sub-plots and threads of family scheming against one another, and seeking to destroy their enemies that attempting to explain it would take at least thirty pages.
Suffice it to say, it’s easy to think that HBO likely cut out a large portion of the George RR Martin books to bring the series to television. My experience with “Game of Thrones” is almost parallel to my experience with “The Walking Dead.” They’re both adapted from critically acclaimed books with massive fan bases. Except, with “Game of Thrones,” I’ve only watched the series, and haven’t delved in to the novels just yet. In either case, much of “Game of Thrones” is based around a mythical world where magic is there, but is now presented in the most horrific fashions you can think of.
The dragons are still existent, except that they’ve required a special kind of blood line to bring them back in to our world. Enter Khaleesi, the Mother of Dragons. And outside the walls of the kingdom lie the White Walkers. We only gander at them in the opening of episode one of the series, where a soldier comes face to face a zombified young girl, and flees for his life. His cowardice grants him a beheading, despite insisting he’d seen a White Walker. The refusal to heed his warning comes of great consequence to the entire war of the five kingdoms. We learn in the season two finale that the white walkers are indeed very real, and absolutely horrifying.
Season three lets us know that this war for the throne is pointless, because the white walkers are nearing ever gradually, and they intend to murder and consume every man, woman and child, regardless of what family they belong to. My hunch is that they will all have to band together to stop the white walkers with the crows coming in to play. Tylant will reveal the Dragon glass can kill the white walkers, the dragons will help create dragon glass, and the war will end with many fallen, but the white walkers completely destroyed. And then they will all turn around and go back to fighting for the iron throne. That’s just how petty these characters can be.
The series has a long stretch ahead of it, and I’m anxious to see where it’s heading because the first three seasons have been so emotionally trying, already.
There’s been the death of Ned Stark, the controversial Red Wedding, and the incredibly graphic depiction of women being tortured left and right. Though the characters and sub-plots are numerous, I have a penchant for rooting for the underdogs, so naturally the underdog characters are my favorite Jon Snow’s journey from bastard son of Ned Stark to powerful Crow falling for a barbaric woman of the snow has been great, Tyrion’s battle to garner the respect of his family all the while hiding his love for a prostitute is gripping.
Finally, (my favorite) Arya Stark’s transformation from princess, to orphan, to runaway posing as a young boy, to warrior in training is compelling. Arya has many people she wants to kill for destroying the very family she treasured, and she’s going to raise hell the first chance she gets. And she has plenty of fuel for her hatred. It’s not enough they murdered Ned Stark and hung his head on a pike, but the massacre on Robb Stark and her mother Catlyn was despicable and gruesome. May they rot in hell.
Maisie Williams is adorable, and has raised Arya up to a level where she’s an empathetic and absolutely riveting heroine destined to strike down those that killed her brother and beloved father. I really hope Arya gets to murder King Joffrey. And I am anxious to see how her relationship with the Hound progresses. Especially considering she still hates him for engineering the murder of her friend at the kingdom. There are plenty of elements that fantasy and drama fans can fall in love with, along with so many characters to root for and hate. “Game of Thrones” is that pop culture phenomenon I hope stays around for a while. It’s rare a show like hooks me in so quickly, these days. I’m officially a fan and intend to see this excellent series to the end.