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62
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Viewer
71
/100

Game of Thrones

HBO

64
/100
Viewer
71
/100

Episode 1 - The North Remembers

6 April 2012

Credit HBO

Synopsis: Tyrion arrives in King’s Landing to take up his role as Hand of the King. Joffrey is busy rounding up Robert’s other children and having them killed. Cersei is keen to find Arya to use as a bargaining chip with Robb Stark. Stannis Baratheon announces his intention to become King despite his brother Renly having already gathered a lot of support for his own claim. In Winterfell young Bran gets used to leading while north of the wall John Snow learns to follow. Across the sea Daenerys nurtures her young dragons while searching for a way out of the Red Waste.

The Good: As usual the show looks fantastic with the shots of landscapes being particularly impressive.

Tyrion stood tall again as a character and rattled off the only sharp dialogue of the episode as he matched wits with his nephew and sister. I particularly liked the way he put Joffrey in his place using common decency (see Best Moment). Later he simply comments “Did you? You failed” to sum up Cersei’s attempts to stop the execution of Ned Stark and then smirks “it must be hard for you to be the disappointing child.” His position as a good man in a bad family remains compelling to watch.

The whole court scene at King’s Landing could make for good viewing. Joffrey remains just the right side of pantomime and the dynamics established here with Sansa and Cersei could be really interesting. Cersei learns the lesson of all regents, that one day your child will be old enough to have you bend to their will. The slaughter of innocents provided the episode with a gruesome image, injected a bit of action and made it clear how dark things could get under the rule of the Lannisters.

I thought the interaction between Robb and his mother was solid. Despite being hailed King he is far from secure and so can only trust those closest to him to handle negotiations and can’t let Jamie out of his sight. It was good to see that Robb is one of the few men willing to do a deal in search of peace.

Our brief glimpses outside Westeros were pretty good too. The incestuous lives of those living north of the Wall was interesting to discover. I liked the little touch that those north of the Wall refer to everyone south of it as Southerners. That’s the sort of entirely believable and unnecessary detail that can make a world seem more real. Meanwhile I also like that Dany is just as vulnerable with the dragons as she was before. Despite the impressive power she possesses, it’s clearly not going to be a cake walk to make herself Queen of anything until the Dragons have grown. I liked the use of the comet as a linking visual and the wide ranging superstitious interpretations of what it could mean.

The Bad: The introductory scenes for Stannis Baratheon were something of a letdown. He was portrayed as awkward and foolish and perhaps in thrall to Melisandre of Asshai (the "Red Priestess"). We heard talk eslewhere of the hundreds of thousands of men who stand between him and his desire to be King and so his inflexible demands sound impossible. The destruction of the Northern worshipped Gods was not made entirely clear not how Stannis’ people felt about it. Then we had the scene where Cressen tries to poison himself and Melisandre to free Stannis of her influence and fails. We saw Cressen poison his wine at the table which seemed silly and then the lack of shock at Melisandre’s survival made the scene feel flat. It’s probably not a major problem but last season suffered from similar problems where new characters arrived in droves and much of what they did had little emotional resonance until much further into the season.

The Unknown: Several scenes felt repetitious. We did get to see how huge a Dire Wolf can grow to but Robb and Jamie’s conversation didn’t cover a lot of ground. Similarly Cersei and Little Finger’s little test of strength felt designed for the cameras and made him look foolish for jabbing her so directly.

The world of Game of Thrones is expanding rapidly. I don’t just mean the new characters we are meeting. I mean that one hundred thousand men is a huge army. By the standards of our middle ages that would be mammoth. If the Lannisters, Starks and just Renly can raise that many men (and the Greyjoys have a big fleet) then this world could be encompassing quite the unwieldy narrative.

Best Moment: I liked the dynamic established between Sansa and Joffrey. His petulant arrogance leads him to provoke her constantly and her morality makes it hard for her to enjoy his bloodlust. But she has learnt to knuckle down and find ways of persuading him not to harm others. That could be good to watch and then enters Tyrion onto the scene who offers his condolences to Sansa. Joffrey is quick to point out that her father was a traitor but Tyrion bites back by saying “But still her father. Surely so recently having lost your own beloved father you can sympathise?” It was particularly cutting because it both nailed him on simple morality while also hinting that his own ‘beloved father’ was neither.

Conclusion: A solid return for Game of Thrones. They have a lot of ground to cover and will need to stay focussed.

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  • Not sure I agree that Joffrey is the 'right side of pantomime'. He feels on the wrong side of believability to me. I guess I find blind obedience hard to empathise with. Who would follow what he says about anything? (Obviously everyone because he's the King, but that's how I feel emotionally). His mother is such a strong character, I feel she should have more control over her son. She slapped him... then fell silent when she needed to follow it up with some big words.

    There's so much going on, doesn't anybody else reckon this story would be much better as a novel or two. Someone should write one...

    Viewer score: 55 / 100

    Posted by The G man, 06/04/2012 5:17pm (6 years ago)

  • Yep

    Posted by Brando, 06/04/2012 2:38am (6 years ago)

  • Hi Brando, thanks for the comments. I think if you can restrict yourself here that would be best. I think all "spoiler free rules" would allow for would be comments as you just left. As in "this was better" or "this was worse" than in the books. I know Roberto and Aaron and others have read the books so I would suggest you guys comment in the Forum if you want to about that. I wouldn't want anyone scanning the comments and being spoilt. Cool?

    Posted by The TV Critic, 05/04/2012 4:46pm (6 years ago)

  • Man, it is so nice to have this show back. Just by period and setting alone it is unlike anything on television, so it was refreshing to be watching it again.

    In the interim between seasons 1 and 2, I actually went out and read all of the books. Obviously this will now change my viewing experience, but in this case I feel like it actually enhanced it. When they do a good job of nailing certain things (pretty much all that you mentioned in the "good," as well as Aaron's comment on how great Greywind looks) it just embellished the experience I had reading the book.

    Now on the flip side I will always be comparing scenes in how they played out in the books vs. in the show...so when they fall flat it will be accentuated as well. For this episode I thought the opening scene was just completely flat. It was not only more interesting in the book, but honestly I don't feel like it was very captivating to begin with. This is one of the shows with the most buzz out there...you've had a long hiatus...and your big "back with a bang" moment is this? I also agree that there were major problems with the introduction of Stannis/Melisandre and Maester Cressen.

    I'll leave it at that for now, and instead ask you if you mind me comparing things from the books to the show on here? Only in the sense of directly comparing things that have already happened in both mediums, so as to avoid spoilers and such...but still be able to voice my opinion on those matters. If you'd rather me play by Sepinwall rules and just keep to the show itself, then that's cool, too :)

    Viewer score: 78 / 100

    Posted by Brando, 05/04/2012 1:26pm (6 years ago)

  • As a huge fan of the books, I thought this episode did a great job condensing a TON of stuff into one episode. Very impressed with Greywind the direwolf as it seems that they've upped their special effects budget.

    I think we're in store for a very special season.

    Viewer score: 80 / 100

    Posted by Aaron, 04/04/2012 2:42am (6 years ago)

  • I found this episode very entertaining, although it seemed to be mostly about letting us know where all our characters were in relation to everyone else.
    The montage of the killing proved effective for me, because they led it off with the brutal killing of the child. That put it all in perspective for me and when you consider what kings have done in the past to clean out a rival bloodline; it’s entirely believable to me. Especially since we still have genocide going on in the “civilized” world we live in.
    Every scene with Tyrion was joy to watch and for a change Serci was interesting to watch. Did anyone else feel the room freeze as Joffrey told her mom that slapping him was a treasonable act? Can’t wait to see how that relationship evolves.
    Even the introduction of the new characters was interesting, but I might just be happy to have the show back. Having read the books, I know that keeping up with the number of characters to come is very important to enjoying the show, so I am sure at this point the show has given up on slowing down for newcomers. It’s all speed ahead from now on.
    Thanks for the forum Robin and Roberto

    Viewer score: 75 / 100

    Posted by Kayode from Baltimore, 03/04/2012 8:09pm (6 years ago)

  • I think this episode had a lot to do in a very short amount of time and could have felt very expository. So much was set up and introduced in this episode that it ran the risk of being too busy to be entertaining, I think they succeeded however in making the episode entertaining while still reminding us what's going on in with our old characters and introducing us to new ones. I can't really deny that it might be confusing for someone who hasn't read the books, not knowing who these new characters are exactly like Stannis and Melisandre, but I think the episode and show did a great job.

    I just like about a few of the highlights of the episode. Number one, is Tyrion entrance into King's Landing and his subsequent scolding of Ceresi were so much fun to watch. Peter Dinklage excels in the role and in every appearance, he is instantly the most interesting person on screen.

    I was also happy to see that they didn't forget about Jaime as he was locked up and captured by Robb's camp. They could have easily forgotten Jaime and I hope that scene with Robb and Jaime is a hint of where they will take Jaime (and Robb) this season. Jaime in particular didn't have much of a personality in the first season and not a whole lot is known at him so I hope they continue this trend of visiting Jaime in the cell so we know more about him.

    There is something refreshing about how awful Joffrey is as a person. I appreciate that Joffrey is a complete psychopath but still feels like a real person.

    Am I the only one that found the montage of Robert's bastards being killed a little too unbelievable. It's not that I don't think Robert was capable of fathering and conceiving that many children, he clearly didn't spend a lot of time ruling the kingdom. It just seemed in that montage that Robert had fathered a comical amount of children and it kind of took away from the seriousness of the moment.

    Viewer score: 67 / 100

    Posted by Derek, 02/04/2012 8:20pm (6 years ago)

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