Not all television pilots can pull off a fantastic debut, but Game of Thrones is excellent right out of the gate.
Although this opening hour can be somewhat overwhelming with its multitude of subplots and influx of family names, the pilot as a whole oozes confidence and nuance. The script carefully lays the groundwork for a sprawling world populated by a variety of complex characters. Our protagonist is Ned Stark, the Warden of the North, who is faced with the difficult choice of leaving his family behind and serving his King in the capital. Sean Bean capably sells his character’s pain and steely resolve, and Michelle Fairley is equally formidable as his wife Catelyn Stark. The pilot also briefly introduces us to their five children (Robb, Rickon, Bran, Arya, and Sansa) as well as Ned’s bastard son, Jon Snow. Amidst all the chaos, the family dynamics feel lived-in and realistic, and that’s no easy feat when there’s so much exposition to relay.
And then there’s Daenerys Targaryen. Emilia Clarke is perhaps the pilot’s MVP, perfectly tapping into her character’s vulnerability and fear as she is married off to Khal Drogo – the warlord of the vicious Dothraki. The scene in which the savage strips Daenerys and starts to rape her is particularly heartbreaking, but it cements our emotional investment in her horrifying plight.
The pilot’s ending is also an unforgettable stunner: Bran Stark stumbles upon an incestuous sex-romp between Queen Cersei and her brother Jaime, and gets shoved off a ledge as a result. It’s a jawdropping and gutsy development that singlehandedly establishes Thrones as anything but your average TV show.
Bits & Beheadings
– The opening teaser is suitably effective with our first glimpse of the creepy White Walkers (and a swift decapitation).
– Okay, who wants a direwolf? Because those rascals are seriously cute.
– The introduction of Tyrion Lannister is perfect: his first moment on screen is that of him receiving a blowjob. Peter Dinklage is a definite highlight throughout the pilot, brimming with charisma and wit.
– Love Daenerys getting into the boiling bath and not feeling the heat. Are we foreshadowing something perhaps?
– And the award for most despicable human being on the planet undoubtedly goes to Viserys Targaryen for selling his sister so heartlessly.
– Fascinating moment between Cersei and Catelyn as the former watches her husband toying around with whores. Also, the way Cersei addresses Sansa is just venomous.
– How lovable is Arya? Unlike her traditional (and dull) sister, the little rebel is just too kickass.
– It must be noted that the show’s production values are top-notch. This pilot looks great.
– Dothraki weddings are seriously nasty.
– Every time I see that image of Daenerys holding a dragon egg, I automatically think of this brilliant meme.
– So I guess we’re to assume that the Lannisters did in fact kill Jon Arryn, the King’s Hand?
Kings & Quips
Jaime: Robert will choose a new Hand of the King, someone to do his job while he’s off fucking boars and hunting whores. Or is it the other way around?
Robb: (about Jon) Go on, Tommy, shave him good. He’s never met a girl he likes better than his own hair.
Viserys: (to Daenerys) I would let his whole tribe fuck you, all forty thousand men and their horses too, if that’s what it took.
Tyrion: Let me give you some advice, bastard: never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.
Jon: What the hell do you know about being a bastard?
Tyrion: All dwarves are bastards in their father’s eyes.
Illyrio: A Dothraki wedding without at least three deaths is considered a dull affair.
Jaime: (before pushing Bran) The things I do for love.
An ambitious and highly engrossing opener that sets the stage for an epic saga.